Thursday 27 October 2011

Peter Jarvis Watercolours

Peter Jarvis (here is his website - look at his blog) is exhibiting his watercolour paintings in the foyer of Southampton Solent University from today.  The pieces are built around precisely replicated architecture.  The best images include settings of very convincing depth; vivid trees and graded skies.

Most of the exhibition is given to the sites of Southampton's old town.  Tudor House, God's House Tower and the others are rendered with great appeal.  More fascinating, though, are the close-ups of ancient stonework dotted with plant life and shifting shadows of branches; and two studies of metal boats rusting on the River Itchen.  These are more engaging than studies of stone and iron should be.

Aside from a view of Stokesay Castle, Shropshire, the main departure from the south coast is a set of nine round-towered Saxon churches in Norfolk (out of the one hundred and twenty-six in that county):  Bedingham, Brooke, Freethorpe, Geldeston, Hemblington, Morningthorpe, Seething, Surlingham and Thorpe next Haddiscoe.  They take me back to a happy holiday cycling in Norfolk, seeking out these little churches, and they're a great subject for a series.

A case of sketchbooks of all sizes shows Peter Jarvis' practice of sketching on site, usually outdoors.  It's easy to deprecate "Sunday painters" and the washy chocolate-box landscapes associated with watercolours.  These pieces, however, are a concert of three elements.  The stunning architectural draughtsmanship is made appealing by Peter's command of the subtlety of watercolours, making the views crisp, yet softened by every variation in colour.  In turn, Peter's eye for strong colours and warm sunlight in the surroundings brings the viewer half-way into the quiet, unpopulated scenes.

Of course, it's all pretty enviable and very different from my work, but it's a pleasure to see Southampton given such a treatment and, having met Peter now and then in the past couple of years, to see a proper display of his work.

A Point Of View:  a solo exhibition by Peter Jarvis
28th October 2011 to 7th January 2012
Concourse Gallery, Michael Andrews Building,
East Park Terrace, Southampton

Solent Website

Wednesday 26 October 2011

Essay Work

Books for my dissertation thus far:
  • Diane Cole Ahl "Benozzo Gozzoli"
  • Michael Baxandall "Painting and Experience in Fifteenth Century Italy"
  • Bernhard Berenson "The Italian Painters of the Renaissance"
  • Edward Chaney (ed.) "The Evolution of English Collecting:  The Reception of Italian Art in the Tudor and Stuart Periods"
  • Milton Grundy "Venice - An Anthology Guide"
  • Hugh Honour "The Companion Guide To Venice"
  • Andrew Martindale "The Triumphs of Caesar by Andrea Mantegna"
  • Derek Patmore "A Traveller in Venice and in Cities of North-East Italy"
  • John Steer "A Concise History of Venetian Painting"
  • Anabel Thomas "The Painter's Practice in Renaissance Tuscany"
  • Vasari "The Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects"
  • "The Grove Dictionary of Art"
  • "Larousse Dictionary of Painters"
  • "The Thames and Hudson Dictionary of Art and Artists"
I need to decide how much time to give to the different angles and which to drop.  The main areas are:
  • A case study of The Triumphs of Caesar
  • The artist/patron relationship
  • Processions in art
  • Representation of patrons in art
Right now I am overwhelmed.

Monday 24 October 2011

Memoirs Of Venice

I'm looking back on my time away in Italy after a couple of months headlong at life back in Britain.

Only now am I realising what I miss.  I've said all along that the effects of the trip would be clearer in hindsight.  Going through my diary, I see how much I did in my 194 days in Italy.

While based in Venice, I had nights away (sometimes multiple) for trips to Florence and Pisa; Ravenna, Rimini and San Marino; and Mantua, Parma and Bologna.  I made day trips to Udine, Aquileia, Grado, Treviso, Asolo, Padua, Vicenza and Verona; and explored the immediate area pretty thoroughly, from Jesolo to Chioggia.

The tutors asked me to give a talk about the experience:  what I did; how the Erasmus experience worked; what I learnt and how my work changed.  It was good to see my sketchbook pages on the big screen - they formed the basis of the talk.  I showed off my genuine Venetian masks and a few pieces of work.

The college is hosting a student from Li├Ęge this term, so Miriam will give a talk about her experiences in Southampton when she finishes.

Here is one of the first sketches for the Pisa booklets.

Saturday 22 October 2011

Tooled Up For The Job

"Don't draw your pens."

That's what I told myself when I started my time as an art student. I thought it too easy to focus on the mechanics of artwork and produce images that would strike a chord only with other artists.

Last month I was commissioned to do just that.

Before the start of this term, my tutors asked me to draw simple pictures of each of the items of stationery and equipment that the new students should have. Jonny and Derek came up with a list and sent me away for a few days.

We scanned the best drawing for each item and Jonny arranged them into a poster. He and Pete screenprinted a few dozen copies [pictured right] and I stamped them with "Unsinkable Press", for prints by the tutors.

Most of them were on pink cartridge paper, but here is one of the few on manila.

The posters were folded up and included in the first-years' welcome pack. I like to imagine them all heading down to Perry's art shop and showing the assistants what they need - before wincing at the prices.

It was fun to collaborate with the tutors and to stretch my drawing muscles before term started with time away from the drawing board, working on the dissertation, as I've mentioned.

The sketchbook work started a bit shakily, as it always does. Here is a page of attempts at scissors and stanley knife from the point when I hit my stride; and a couple of early stabs at brush pen and scissors.

Thursday 20 October 2011

Mantegna Cartoons

I'm writing an essay about Andrea Mantegna's "The Triumphs Of Caesar" series. For easy reference and to help me to analyse the nine canvases, I've sketched them from the reproductions in Andrew Martindale's book.

Monday 3 October 2011

Back In The Jug Agane

The third year of my degree started today - except that now it's called Level 6. In fact a lot has changed. We're in a new building; the staff have changed about; the grading system is different... and the grades will all count towards my final mark.

At two o'clock this afternoon we had our first assembly, back from the holidays with the staff lined up in front of us. On this day last year I got the times mixed up and missed the first meeting. Thus it was only today that I was taken back to new school years. It all reminded me of this passage from "Back in the Jug Agane" (1959) from Geoffrey Willans and Ronald Searle's Molesworth series - especially when Jonny made a reference to Proust.

Chapter 1:

It is the skool bell which sumon us to asemble in big skool into which enter anon GRIMES, the headmaster surounded by a posse of thugs and strong-arm men in black gowns. The beaks, of course, alias 'my devoted staff'.
Now GRIMES stand on the platform, smiling horibly at the pitiable colection of oiks, snekes, cads, oafs and dirty roters below.
'Welcome back,' he snarl, 'Welcom back to st. custards for a new term. I hope you had a good hols? i did myself - spane, the s. of france, then on for a couple of weeks to the italian riviera. This term, of course, the fees will be higher to meet the mounting costs.'
But this evidence of good humour is short-lived. Without warning, he bare his fangs.
'Now listen, scum,' he yell, 'The last mum hav departed in tears. You are in my clutches agane and there is no escape. And its going to be this way this term. More work, increased production, trades unions supresed and the first boy i hear who sa poo gosh at a skool sossage will get 6. And strikes won't help you. If you go out the shop stewards will be flogged.'
'Remember this,' he leer, 'You never had it so good.'
'And wot,' sa GRIMES, 'have we all been reading in the hols?'
Tremble tremble moan drone, i hav read nothing but red the redskin and Guide to the Pools. i hav also sat with my mouth open looking at lassie, wonder horse ect on t.v. How to escape? But i hav made a plan.
'fotherington-tomas,' sa GRIMES, 'wot hav you read?'
'Ivanhothe vicar of wakefieldwuthering heights treasureislandvanity fairwestwardhothewaterbabies and ---'
'That is enuff. Good boy. And molesworth?'
He grin horibly.
'What hav you read, molesworth?'
gulp gulp a rat in a trap.
'Proust, sir.'
'Come gane?'
'Proust, sir. A grate fr. writer. The book in question was swan's way.'
'Gorblimey. Wot did you think of it, eh?'
'The style was exquisite, sir, and the characterisation superb. The long evocative passages---'
'SILENCE!' thunder GRIMES. 'There is no such book, impertinent boy. I shall hav to teach you culture the hard way. Report for the kane after prayers.'
Chiz chiz to think i hav learned all that by hart. It's not fair they get you every way. And so our first day end when we join together singing our own skool song.
St. custard's is brave.
St. custard's is fair.
Hurrah hurrah for st. custard's.
As lashed by the beaks we join our boyish trebles in this fine old song we feel positively inspired i do not think. We are in for the joliest term on record. In fakt, i am back in the jug agane.