Gallery Girl presents Hidden Visions

April 10, 2015 § Leave a comment

Those who follow me on Facebook will have noticed that the Gallery Girl page is hosting an exhibition. This show will open on Tuesday 14th April and run until Sunday 19th April in the Chelsea Gallery, inside Chelsea Town Hall.

The exhibition, which has been titled Hidden Visions is being staged in an attempt to address the talents of young artists from London and the home counties, who have been affected by mental illness and address it within their work.

The artists are: Maeve Buckenham, Miranda Chance, Darcy Keverian, Bethany Lamont, Stephanie Linne, Tom Plumptre and John Michael Taylor. The name Hidden Visions was chosen to title the show, as mental illness is invisible and very often concealed due to shame or fear caused by the negative stigma surrounding it. The word vision symbolises the notion that visions are very often mental, as well as the fact that the very nature of all art is visual.

The show consists of seven artists, both male and female who cover a range of conditions and media from photography to sculpture. Having suffered from anorexia myself, the idea for the exhibition was inspired by the magnitude of art exhibitions in London that addressed social issues concerning young people. These are often concern topics such as politics or feminism, however I had never seen anything addressing mental illness. The idea for Hidden Visions was spurred by the dissatisfaction with the stigma associated with mental health and lack of its exposure within the arts. I wanted to make people aware of mental health in a format that wouldn’t preach or try to complicate it with facts and figures. By using art as a tool, words are taken out of the equation. Hopefully the exhibition will provide a visual platform for the artists to express how mental illness has affected them and make people think about mental health issues in a different way.

The artists come from a wide range of backgrounds, some of whom have degrees in fine art whilst others are students of such contrasting disciplines as medicine and Chinese, with other artists who make their art outside of other careers, showing that mental health is something that affects many of us. National statistics from the Mental Health Foundation show that mental illness will affect one in four of us in our lifetime. The Time to Change campaign has explained that the portrayal of those suffering from mental health issues in the media are often shown as one of two extremes: as violent or ‘tragic victims’, with characters often being referred to in a discriminatory way. Hidden Visions aims to dispel these negative stereotypes by illustrating that those afflicted by mental distress should not be defined by their illness only.

Throughout history, many artists such as Frida Kahlo and Vincent van Gogh have been the target of mental maladies, yet it did not hinder their work. Thanks to funding from O2 Think Big, I have done my best to ensure that Hidden Visions will provide a different view of young people suffering from poor mental health, and I am certain that these incredibly talented artists will captivate you with their talent.

The exhibition will be on display at Chelsea Gallery, entrance via Chelsea Old Town Hall, King’s Road, Chelsea, London SW3 5EE from Tuesday 14 to Sunday 19 April.

For more information on the show and the artist’s taking part click here

Pangea II @ Saatchi

April 4, 2015 § Leave a comment

This time last year the Saatchi Gallery presented us with its Pangea exhibition of contemporary art from Africa and Latin America. The show seemed to be very popular, however, while much was written about it, there was one stand out work that eclipsed the rest of the art on display: Rafael Comezbarros’s ant installation. This year, Saatchi has again staged a show focused on the same part of the world but does it really surpass last year’s offering?

Like 2014, there is a large gallery on the ground floor that features one huge work. This space, which was overrun by the ants last year has now been recycled into the home of a giant blue structure made up entirely of bright blue plastic bags that have been stuck together by Jean-Francois Bocle, an artist from Martinique. The sea of crisp, clean, unused bags against the white walls seems to attract a lot of attention. For some reason, they are somewhat mesmerising, though I’m not sure anyone would be able to tell you why. Again, like last year, amid reviews and photo-articles, this is the one work that seems to be getting any attention.

The rest of the work on display seems to all blur into one after a while. The show, as is standard Saatchi fashion, is huge, and there is a lot to take in. There are some questionable paintings on display that contain disturbing imagery concerning Barbie-style dolls and tortoises as well as large abstract multi-coloured canvases.

Standout works for me include what might be termed ‘sculptures’ that are constructed of hanging trees, complete with roots. They may literally be likened to someone being uprooted from a culture and placed in a new context where they may not be fully assimilated yet – an artwork taken from a foreign land then replanted into the Saatchi gallery. I was also impressed by a set of canvases, which had been adorned with straw hats by Colombian artist Alexandre de Cunha, however this may be because I was wearing a very similar hat on the day I visited the exhibition and the likeness between the artwork and my outfit amused me greatly.

On the top floor of the Saatchi gallery, a small room has been filled with a piece of last year’s Pangea exhibition. Here we are again confronted with Comezbarro’s ants. It is as though the curators at Saatchi wanted to leave us a remnant of last year’s success, just in case we weren’t impressed with this years offering.

While I can’t say that I was particularly thrilled by the 2015 version of Pangea, there are some moments among the exhibition that are worthy of appreciation. The main problem that the Saatchi gallery has failed to learn from last year concerns the difficult of displaying work from such a large geographical space under one roof and trying to draw a link. Nevertheless, you may wish to take a visit, even if it is to see the ants again.

Pangea II is on display at Saatchi Gallery until 6 September

Cinderella @ Leicester Square

March 25, 2015 § Leave a comment

A pop-up exhibition like no other has landed in the heart of Leicester Square. A magical show has opened that reveals the history of one of Disney’s best-loved movies: Cinderella! It documents the fairytale’s history as well as revealing its modern re-incarnation in the form of the new movie starring Lily James.

The exhibition begins with a look at the 1950 original movie with interactive books and memorabilia from the much-loved film which is now over 60 years old! Here we get the chance to see illustrations for the film, many of which are very different in style from the finished product that we are all familiar with, but beautiful nevertheless.

Following the historical introduction we move into a world of sparkle. The following galleries present the costumes featured in the new film. These have been designed by Sandy Powell and adorned with over 1.7 million Swarovski crystals in the form of dresses, tiaras and accessories. The gowns are stunningly displayed on mannequins, which move like the dolls that can be found inside of musical jewelry boxes so that the viewer can admire them from every angle. These are presented alongside hand-drawn illustrations by Powell and the beauty of the display demonstrates exactly why she has already won 3 Oscars for her costume designs.

Also on display is a breath-taking Swarovski glass slipper that really looks like something that has come straight out of a fairy tale. As well as this is a stunning golden carriage that has been filled with a giant pumpkin.

This exhibition is magical and a perfect treat for the whole family. It has been presented by Swarovski and it is clear to see why they are keen to show their costumes off! The staff our keen to inform the viewers all about Cinderella’s history as well as the upcoming film. The best part is that the show is free and in my opinion is just as good, if not better than many fashion exhibitions that I have seen recently, it simply must be taken advantage of!

The exhibition is open in Leicester Square until 10 April and the release date for Cinderella in the UK is 27 March

Reynolds @ Wallace Collection

March 17, 2015 § Leave a comment

I am not a fan of Joshua Reynolds. He may have been president of the Royal Academy but his paintings have never left much of an impression on me. Last weekend, I was invited to a bloggers event at the Wallace Collection that was held to support its incumbent exhibition on Joshua Reynolds, and, while I do not really love Reynolds, i do love the Wallace Collection, so I decided to go along and see if they could change my opinion of Reynolds.

The exhibition at the Wallace collection is divided into two rooms and comprises of 11 of the 12 paintings by Reynolds already in the collection as well as loans from other galleries. Of these images are the portraits by Reynolds of the Hertford family who founded the Wallace Collection.

The bloggers event centred on a talk about the work by one of the exhibition’s curators, Alexandra Gent. What Gent made clear is that an enormous amount of work went into the exhibition, which illustrates Reynold’s painting process and gives the gallery-goer an insight into this through the presentation of X-Ray’s and infra-red images. Through these images we can see the artist’s thought processes, where he decided to paint over work and how he came to use strange materials like beeswax instead of varnish.

While I can’t say that the evening changed my mind of Reynolds as artist, I was very impressed by the exhibition, especially as I am particularly fond of shows that allow the viewer to step inside the painters studio and learn about exactly how artists approach the canvas. Regardless of if you are a fan of Reynolds or not, the Wallace Collection is a treasure chest that needs to be discovered, and as it is free to enter and just behind Selfridges, you really have no excuse not to!

Joshua Reynolds: Experiments in Paint is on display at Wallace Collection until 7 June

Rubens @ Royal Academy

March 4, 2015 § Leave a comment

The first essay I ever wrote as an undergraduate History of Art student was about Rubens’s Peace and War (1629-30, National Gallery). While most of the art that I choose to study and write about now is starkly different to the Flemish master – I currently study the contemporary art of Asia and Africa – I still hold Rubens in high esteem.

Peter Paul Rubens had a profound influence on the artist’s that came after him. Our very own (although adopted from Belgium) Van Dyck was educated by the master, and countless other great painters owe much to Rubens and his paintings. The Royal Academy exhibition places Rubens on display beside the works of those artist’s that succeeded him historically, showing his influence on their work. In effect, Rubens is portrayed as master, where his followers (the likes of Watteau, Constable and Cezanne) are his students.

The show moves thematically, with each gallery devoted to a specific genre of painting, illustrating that Rubens could turn his artistic talent to any genre: portraiture, allegory, landscape. The artwork is often presented in the form of the Rubens masterpiece in the center with his followers’ interpretations being presented on either side of it. Where the show really succeeds in my opinion is in the display of multiple preparatory studies by both Rubens and his admirers, which enable the viewer to see the work done in anticipation of creating a work of art.

I was impressed with almost the entirety of the show’s content until I came to the final room. A single gallery seems to have been attached to the show, which doesn’t flow at all. A bright white annex has been attached to the luxurious shades of greens, blues and purples that make up the gallery walls of the majority of the exhibition. This room has been curated by Jenny Saville and contains modern artwork, which she feels relates to the work of Rubens. Unfortunately, I did not quite share the same opinion about the work in this room, which contains prints of Jackie Kennedy by Andy Warhol and a rather vulgar sculptural offering by Sarah Lucas. At a push, I could perhaps see the link with Cy Twombly, but in all honesty, I feel that the exhibition would have been much better off without Saville’s offering.

Regardless of the show’s disappointing conclusion, for anyone with a genuine interest in the history of art this show is unmissable.

Rubens and his Legacy: Van Dyck to Cezanne is on display at Royal Academy until 10 April

A trip to the Barbican Conservatory

February 25, 2015 § Leave a comment

The Barbican Centre is a mass of grey buildings that is best known as host to a theatre, several concert halls, a cinema and an art gallery. However, what many people don’t know is that high up on top of this iconic building, thousands of tropical plants have made their home, overlooking the City of London.

The vegetation is housed inside the Barbican’s Conservatory and allows the viewer to step out of rainy London and into a tropical haven. It is only open to the public on select days, often Sunday’s but I really wish I took the opportunity to visit much sooner! The interior is stunning and contains over 2,000 species of tropical plants. The lush shades of green are a startling and welcoming contrast to the Barbican’s grey exterior. As a viewer, you are able to climb up multiple levels and admire the beauty of this oasis from every angle. At the top I found a room full to burst with cacti while on the lower level is a pond full of koi fish. This blog normally concerns itself with the more classical visual arts, but I assure you that you would be able to appreciate the conservatory just as much as any art gallery or exhibition.

The conservatory has a sense of tranquility and serenity that I certainly find difficult to locate in central London. It was the perfect place of refuge during a dreary Sunday afternoon and is something that everyone should be able to have the joy of discovering. I thoroughly recommend spending your next lazy Sunday reconnecting with nature.

Rosie Chomet @ Karamel

February 18, 2015 § Leave a comment

The most famous artists are painters. Yet it is illustrators who have drawn a lot of the art that we are exposed to. Everyday things that we do not even think about artistically: food packaging, advertising, greeting cards and books, are all usually the domain of the humble illustrator. I grew up with Peter Blake’s pictorial accompaniments to Road Dahl’s books yet I am (embarrassingly) hard pressed to list the names of many other illustrators. Recently however, I had the pleasure to get to know Rosie Chomet, a young London based illustrator who’s images are colourful, fun and witty and has been commissioned by the likes of the European Cultural Learning Network, Gail’s Bakery and the Quarter Newspaper. Luckily for all my London readers who have not had the opportunity to see Rosie’s work, she is currently on display with the LCC Illustrators at Karamel Restaurant. I also got to interview Rosie here on Gallery Girl!

Gallery Girl: How did LCC Illustrators come together?
Rosie: I wanted to put on an exhibition at Karamel that showcased a diverse range of fresh new illustration. I thought the venue would be the right size for about four illustrators to exhibit, so that each would be able to display around ten pieces and show off a good range of their work. So I asked three other students from my course, whose work I thought would compliment each other’s and provide an interesting variety of styles, if they would like to exhibit with me.

Where do you get your inspiration?
I am inspired by everything around me, even the seemingly mundane- there is always something of interest to pick out. Often I will just perceive the slightest oddity and my imagination runs away with itself! I am constantly inspired by the work of other artists too, whether it be on Instagram, from books or in galleries.

You recently did some work for Gail’s Bakery, are there any more food collaborations to look out for?
Yes, last summer I did the promotional illustrations for Gail’s Bakery’s Ice Cream Sandwiches, which was great! I am currently working on another food-themed collaboration but it has to be kept secret for now!

The exhibition is inside a vegan cafe and many of your images contain a lot of food imagery, are you hoping the exhibition space will help people get involved with your artwork?
I actually had a piece called ‘Meat Heads’, the same concept as ‘Cake Heads,’ but I didn’t think it would be appropriate to exhibit inside a Vegan cafe! Yes, I hope the exhibition will lead to more exposure for my work and connections with people who might be interested in using me as an illustrator or graphic designer.

What are your plans after University and what do you hope to achieve with your art in the future?
I still have another year left before I complete my degree, so I haven’t decided exactly what I will do afterwards – I may do a Masters or just go straight into work as a graphic designer and illustrator. In the future my aims will, as they have always been, to achieve clear visual communication whilst still being playful and pushing the boundaries. Through my work, I want to make people think, to see things in a different way, to stretch their imagination just a little bit more.

When I think about illustrations, the first thing I think about are children’s books. Your artwork proves that illustration is not limited to literature, however, would you ever consider working on books and if so, what would be your dream book to contribute artwork for?
I would love to do children’s book illustrations. I feel that words and images can have such a magical pairing and that illustrations can truly bring a story to life. I think much of my future work will definitely involve both words and images. Ideally, I would like to write and illustrate my own books and create my own stories and characters. My dream book to contribute artwork for would have to be Illustration Now! It is the most incredible series and has been one of my biggest sources of inspiration.

You have an impressive range of products in your online shop, what is your personal favourite?
My personal favourite would have to be ‘Crazy Heads’, although I like ‘Falling in Love’ as a throw pillow design- and you can never have enough throw pillows!

What are your favourite things to illustrate?
People, people interacting, faces, long hair, animals (particularly cute ones), food and interesting objects like light bulbs.

Any illustrators that we should know about?
Oh an infinite number! A few that come to mind though are Barbara Wurszt, Yumi Sakugawa and Beatrice Alemagna.

I personally think many of your prints would make amazing fabric – would you ever consider selling fabric or making clothes from your art?
I would like to explore that possibility more, definitely. In my online shop, many of my designs are already available on throw pillows, tote bags and t-shirts. I would like to expand my designs not only on fabrics but also across things such as stationary, notebook covers, pencil cases, bowls etc. The possibilities are endless!

The LCC Illustrators are on display at Karamel Restaurant until 6 March

You can find more about Rosie on her blog, instagram and shop


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