On a level

I’ve just been invited to enter some work into a group exhibition in Oxford in April 2015 on the theme of sea… Which I’m very excited about.

Desperately grasping at straws I’ve been attributing a lot of behaviour to the moon recently (and part jokingly, though I do believe there’s something in it – lunatic!). Which has brought my focus back round to thoughts about ocean currents – contributing factors resulting in activity taking place above and below a surface and their effects on that surface… Existing on a level.


See also The Natural Course of Things.

Angels of Tacloban

The contents of the wonderful Love Your Plane furniture shop and workshop on Oxford’s Iffley Road are great. Great furniture, really well designed, super cool patterns… Great cards, cushions, flower bombs, sketch books, note pads, prints, books, the list of greatness at great prices goes on, AND the guy that owns and runs the place is great too! All kinds of great… Including the great little gallery space, The Bus Stop Gallery, that he has out back.

Coinciding with Photography Oxford festival, The Bus Stop Gallery have adorned their walls with some fantastic photojournalism presented in a very liveablewithable way. Liveablewithable is a funny word to use in this context (not least because the word doesn’t exist), but because the subject of the show by Oxford-based photographer and psychiatrist Nick Rose, entitled Angels of Tacloban, is that of ‘getting by and getting on’ in the aftermath of typhoon Haiyan, which hit the coastal town of Tacloban in November 2013.

It’s not a massive show, but a hard-hitting show… and I actually found really uplifting and inspirational. The images depict ordinary people finding a way through tough times. I particularly liked one image of a family sitting at the ‘foot’ of a massive ship that had by washed ashore. The owner of the gallery remarked how the scratched on the ship reminded him of the scars on a beached whale’s belly. I also especially enjoyed the images of girls in hot pink dresses having a dancing lesson underneath the roof of a sports hall that has been partially ripped to shreds by this aggressive cyclone that swept through it.

The images are beautifully shot by a man who can clearly communicate with others, both his ‘sitters’ and his viewers. Rose has captured so much understated strength and spirit in the face of adversity in these stunning images.

Adding integrity in integrity, all proceeds from the sale of works in this show (each piece is priced at £85) goes to the International Medical Corps.

Angels of Tacloban at The Bus Stop Gallery in Love Your Plane continues until 8 October 2014.





And the beat goes on…


… and THIS is why I love Artweeks!

Amidst a sea rolling with giant waves it’s easy to become disorientated, and faced with the Oxfordshire Artweeks guide it’s similarly tricky to orientate yourself. You’re desperate to dive in the enticing waters, but you’re not sure what kind of an experience you’re going to encounter, as the offer is simply overwhelming.

How to find the needles in the haystacks? Separate the wheat from the chaff? Find those diamonds in the rough? Sometimes I think you’ve just got to dive in and hope for the best.

I hadn’t been to Charlbury until last week. What a charming place it is. Bigger than I’d anticipated; and, that Friday, full to the rafters of Artweeks activities and guide grasping gad-abouts, hubby, off-spring and I included. In and around Charlbury we saw some good art, some ‘fun’ art, some inoffensive living-room ‘art’, some garden art… and at venue 161 we saw some stunning art.

Venue 161 offered everything one really wants in an Artweeks venue. A ‘Through the Keyhole’ style insight into who lives in a house like this. Turns out two artists who’ve recently relocated back to the Cotswolds from the Isle of Wight do. They were both exhibiting in different parts of their house, and exhibiting in the glass house in their back garden, which was once home to a hot tub, was the nephew of one of the artists. The artists’ work was unrelated, the welcome was warm, the exchange was fun, and the art was interesting… In a really good way. Practicing artists, at different stages in their developing careers, working through their concepts, and happy to chat to curious visitors about their processes and inspiration. The artists I’m referring to were George Taylor, Janice Thwaites, and Tim Collard – click through to their websites, and return to check their work out as part of the Oxfordshire Artweeks Christmas exhibition in November (there’ll be more info on the Artweeks website in due course), or get in touch with George Taylor through his website as he offers private studio visits by prior arrangement.

Anyway, the work… it was all good, and all interesting, but George Taylor’s was exceptional (see the below images). You know that slap on the forehead between the eyes sensation? That shock encounter of something really quite special that takes you by surprise because you weren’t actively looking for it? That. I sneaked up on George, he was sat at his computer with his back to the exhibition space. This gave me time to roam, inspect and admire his work without that feeling of being ‘watched by the artist’, which is sometimes a bit uncomfortable, particularly if the work’s rubbish and you spend your time circulating trying to think of positive feedback that doesn’t leave you feeling like a liar. Anyway, as I circulated in his direction I found myself moved to exclaim just how much I was enjoying his work. The layers, the textures, the composition, the application of paint and pastels, the scrapes, the scratches, the scalpel cutting away and revealing unexpected colour combinations – bloody brilliant! All works imbued with a very specific sense of place. Waves and washes of atmosphere, abstracted landscapes and seascapes all with a very real sense of history and time. Many of them watery and Isle of Wight-esque, Taylor’s work is sensational, in the literal sense of the word. These sculptural, almost architectural, paintings take the viewer on a journey, they’re mesmeric, captivating. This is highly idiosyncratic, great painting. It’s the kind of work that you want to invest in, and that you want to invest time in. I can imagine discovering new aspects of it as it grows older with you – like an adventure that you and the painting would embark upon together. I could go on, I could definitely invest, and may very well do just that come November, and THIS is why I love Artweeks!

George Taylor a_DSC3602 (2) a6a (2) a12a (2)































Whilst chatting with George a mutual connection came up in conversation, Claire Reika Wright. We both remarked on how much we both enjoy the opportunity of revisiting artists’ work through Artweeks. Reika Wright regularly exhibits as part of Artweeks, and her work has come a long way in the time that I’ve ‘known’ it. When our paths first crossed three or four years ago Reika Wright was setting out on an experimental journey to take viewers on an audio visual journey using new media stepping inside paintings. Several years ago the work seemed a little clumsy, it was only in its infancy as a concept and Reika Wright was having to learn an entirely new set of skills to realise her ideas. And this has been a journey that she’s taken her Artweeks audience on over the years, and now it’s reached a highly sophisticated stage, and again she has exhibited as part of Artweeks showing off this progress to a local audience (she exhibits nationally and internationally) – see a couple of images taken from her work below… and THIS is why I love Artweeks!

The Eternal Flame Inverted-_xl (2)

Shadows 60x40 Dibond (2)


Next up I’d like to mention a catch it whilst you can multi-venue analogue photography exhibition, Lo-Fi, which continues at O3 Gallery, and The Jam Factory until 25th May, and at the Old Fire Station until the 14th June. This cross venue exhibition sees the various venues seek out artists that utilise a Lo-Fi, or ‘low-fidelity’ process. That is, their photographic practices embrace low quality exposure and prioritise aesthetic effect over digital accuracy. And the venues have unearthed some really great photographers, many of whom were unknown to me… again, THIS is why I love Artweeks!

The Jam Factory show features work by photographers: Marc West, Catherine Lang, Kazem Hakim, Ashley Good, Mirren Kessling, John Hamand, Anna Bruce and Youssef Sida. All of the work in this exhibition in the Boiler Room at the back of The Jam Factory is of a very high standard, almost entirely black and white, some collaged pieces, all possessing a sense of voyeurism, and perhaps a touch of 1970s espionage at times. It’s an excellent exhibition. However, the stand-out artist for me is Youssef Sida. Sida’s website doesn’t do the work exhibited as part of this exhibition any justice, so you’ll just have to hot-foot it over to The Jam Factory before Sunday night to see it for yourselves and make your own minds up!

The work shown below is by exhibiting photographer and curator of this show, Marc West.

ImageImageImage ImageImage

Finally, I’d just like to add, that people may think they know what they’re getting when they think about Oxfordshire Artweeks, the country’s biggest and oldest open studio event, but that’s impossible. New artists sign up to participate in Oxfordshire Artweeks each year, others dip out, and others take their work in another direction… and THIS is why I love Artweeks!

Chop Chop!

Waving a looking glass over the finer things in life, O3 Gallery in Oxford Castle Quarter is currently housing an intricate exhibition called One Thousand Cranes highlighting work by contemporary fine artists and craftspeople working with paper. Taking the familiar sight of fancy greeting cards and the traditional and familiar craft of origami to a whole new level, the exhibition looks simply beautiful and continues until 27th April 2014. Go take a look…

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Paper Ghosts and Analogue Photography in Oxford

Paper Ghosts is a photography exhibition by Kim Shaw showing at Art Jericho from 27 February to 31 March 2014… and the works in it look stunning! Some sit somewhere between soft pencil drawings, and monochrome watercolours, whilst others evoke a feeling of technical drawings, or  studies of urban landscapes.

The exhibition comprises a collection of four series of photographs, you see, and each feels distinctly different, to the extent that it could be an exhibition of work by four different artists, which is interesting given that Shaw shot all of the images on a primitive analogue camera, a Holga made famous (and trendy) by Lomography and the boom in smartphone filters and apps such as Instagram and Hipstamatic.

The Old Vinyl Factory Project is a series of analogue images that gathers together works executed over the past 18 years, and in which the viewer is deserted by an audience that now largely embraces the digital world; Lilliputian Landscapes (2002) play with scale making the macro appear as micro; The Humidity Series sees Shaw explore the wild beauty of fog on Highland beaches and burns, the River Thames and Cherwell, and condensation permeating the hot houses at Kew Gardens, and Pin-hole Flowers is a classically and deconstructed series of images, presented dot by dot. Jenny Blyth, director at Art Jericho commented, “Shaw’s work is quietly beautiful, wistful yet contemporary.”

Shaw is currently a resident artist at Kew Studio, London, but despite coming from a photographically inclined family she started off life studying journalism followed by a career in advertising – perhaps it is this background or the commercial, brief-based photography of her family’s past that enables her to skip from subject to subject, style to style with such ease!?

Here’s a sample of some of the works on display at Art Jericho as part of this exhibition…







… and if this whets your appetite for analogue (which the people of Oxford seem particularly keen on at the moment following on the tail of the pretty popular, even if I do say so myself, Exposed LiveFriday that took place at the Ashmolean in July 2013, and I co-curated with Lomography London) then be sure to check out the forthcoming Oxfordshire Artweeks associated exhibition, Lo-Fi, taking place between 3 and 25 May at O3 Gallery, Gallery at the Old Fire Station and The Jam Factory, which will see aesthetic effect prioritised over digital accuracy in a series of exhibitions and workshops that will explore and celebrate creative analogue photography.

p.s. The Shop at the Old Fire Station sells some Lomo stuff if you fancy getting snappy yourself!