Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Grayson Perry - Who Are You? - on TV and at the NPG

The fruits of Grayson Perry's recent collaborative efforts about Who Are You? are being revealed this week in terms of
  • a series of programmes about identity on Channel 4 and
  • an exhibition of associated new artwork and portraiture at the National Portrait Gallery which opens on Saturday.  
Grayson Perry is one of my favourite contemporary artists - not least because he's an artist who demonstrably exercises his brain cells on a regular basis! I'm beginning to think of him as a bit of an Artist Anthropologist! He's certainly a major chronicler of contemporary life and culture as well as issues related to identity.

Grayson Perry CBE, RA
(Courtesy of National Portrait Gallery)
I must confess I very much like this new way of bringing art to the public - a structured project about matters of interest relating to contemporary life, an exhibition and an associated television programme - plus a book.

It makes art-making much more accessible in terms of the concepts behind it as well as the actual process of making the art and seeing the end result.

Grayson Perry: Who Are You? - the exhibition (sponsored by Coutts) - opens at the National Portrait Gallery on 25 October 2014 and runs until 15 March 2015. It includes 14 portraits relating to the people who participated in the Channel 4 television series of programmes about identity. You can find it across is across Floor One of the Gallery’s permanent collection displays. Admission free.

Grayson Perry: Who Are You? - the television series - started tonight on Channel 4. This follows Perry as he spends time with people who are at a crossroads or crisis in their own identity, and makes works that try to capture each of them in a single, revealing image.
  • Episode 1 - Individuals (Wednesday 22 October, 10pm, Channel 4). The four individuals who feauture in the programme are 
    • ex Minister Chris Huhne - before and after prison 
    • Rylan Clarke, during a period of consolidation of his celebrity

    • Kayleigh Khosravi - a 27 year old Muslim convert living in Ashford Kent with her four children
    • a young female-to-male transsexual Alex
Some of Grayson Perry's sitters have become miniatures, some large tapestries, some statues and, of course, some are ceramic pots.

The portrait of disgraced politician Chris Huhne is a vase decorated with a repeating pattern of motifs such as his face, his personalised number plate and a speed camera. The ceramic pot was purposefully smashed by Perry and then repaired using the Japanese kintsugi technique, where the cracks are repaired using lacquer resin dusted or mixed with gold.

In the National Portrait Gallery:
  • The Huhne Vase is displayed opposite portraits of Gladstone and Disraeli 
  • nearby The Earl of Essex, a Hilliard-inspired miniature of X-Factor contestant Rylan Clark (in porcelain, digital transfer, electro-formed metal and acrylic), is displayed in a showcase between the Gallery’s cabinet portraits of novelists George Eliot and Wilkie Collins.
The Ashford Hijab, 2014 - as seen in tonight's programme
Courtesy the Artist and Victoria Miro, London 
© Grayson Perry
The Ashford Hijab, a silk screenprint, shows Muslim convert Kayleigh Khosravi and her children on the path from what Grayson Perry describes as ‘the temple of consumerism’ of the Ashford Designer Outlet Centre to the focal point of her Muslim faith at Mecca.

I am a Man, a small patinated brass portrait of young female-to-male transsexual Alex. This has echoes of the Kensington Gardens statue of Peter Pan and is in the style of some of Perry’s favourite sculptures, the Benin bronzes of West Africa. It is displayed close to The Line of Departure, a tapestry in the style of an Afghan rug which shows three wounded war veterans, in a room surrounded by the Gallery’s portraits of Baden Powell, Florence Nightingale, Mary Seacole and soldiers Lord Kitchener and Frederick Barnaby
  •  Idealised Heterosexual Couple, 2013 
    Courtesy the Artist and Victoria Miro, London 
    © Grayson Perry
    Episode 2 - Modern Families
     (Wednesday 29 October, 10pm, Channel 4) explores the idea of family today and how it has changed radically from the conventional notion of Mum and Dad and 2.4 kids.
Three glazed pots depict 
  • Modern Family, Jack and John, white male parents who have adopted mixed race Shea; 
  • Memory Jar showing Alzheimer’s disease sufferer Christopher Devas and his wife Veronica and 
  • Idealised Heterosexual Couple, divorcees who live apart but whose family is brought together through its love of ballroom dancing classes, meaning father Colin sees more of his daughters that many a live-in father. 
Jesus Army Money Box, 2013
Courtesy the Artist and Victoria Miro, London
© Grayson Perry
    Episode 3 will tackle groups
    • Jesus Army Money Box, a glazed ceramic reliquary in the form of a mediaeval style
    • Chasse, a small enamelled chest containing a holy relic, depicts a Christian group that works with homeless people.
    These are articles about the project which have appeared in recent days - plus one of his other ventures - editing the New Statesman. They are by no means all uncritical.

    A new book - Playing to the Gallery

    The Channel 4 series and display coincide with the publication of Grayson Perry’s new book Playing to the Gallery: Helping Contemporary Art in its Struggle to be Understood published in the autumn by Penguin.

    I was sent a preview copy and it's an excellent and thought provoking read

    A House in Essex



    In the meantime, his other major project A House in Essex - a house designed by Perry which has been constructed to tell the story of a mythical Essex woman called Julie - is nearing completion and will soon be available to rent!

    There are various articles about this:
    but I saved the best to last ;)

    Who is Grayson Perry?

    Winner of the 2003 Turner prize, Grayson Perry is one of Britain's best-known contemporary artists. He works with traditional media; ceramics, cast iron, bronze, printmaking and tapestry and is interested in how each historic category of object accrues over time’s intellectual and emotional baggage.

    Perry is a great chronicler of contemporary life, drawing viewers in with beauty, wit, affecting sentiment and nostalgia as well as fear and anger. His hard-hitting and exquisitely crafted works reference his own childhood and life as a transvestite while also engaging with wider social issues from class and politics to sex and religion.

    Grayson Perry has had major solo exhibitions nationally and internationally including the critically acclaimed Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman at the British Museum. His monumental suite of tapestries The Vanity of Small Differences, which were inspired by his BAFTA winning Channel 4 series: In the Best Possible Taste, are currently on a national and international tour led by the Arts Council Collection and British Council. In June 2013 Perry was awarded a CBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours List. Grayson Perry is represented by Victoria Miro Gallery, London.

    Tuesday, October 21, 2014

    A brand new RHS Show for Botanical Art


    The Royal Horticultural Society have just published their schedule of shows and dates for 2015 and their is a first - a dedicated Botanical Art Show at a totally different time to the usual one.

    We've only once had the major Botanical Art Show at the same time as the Annual Exhibition of the Society of Botanical Artists so it's a pity they are not at the same time. However I guess it's the orchids that get "first dibs" on those April dates.  At least RHS members will no longer have to pay to visit a show (as always happened when it was combined with the Orchid Show) instead of free entry with membership as per usual.

    I've asked the RHS via their Facebook Page for the schedule of which other shows will also be showing botanical art. If I don't get it via that route I'll pull out my members number and ask via another route.

    In the meantime - 27-28 February are dates for the diaries of all Botanical Art fans!

    If you'd rather see botanical art vying for RHS Medals at an earlier date, get down to the Horticultural Halls right now.  There are 12 botanical artists exhibiting at the RHS London Shades of Autumn Show today and tomorrow - including


    I'll be visiting tomorrow and will be doing a review of the artwork on show.

    You can also see botanical art by Anna Mason at a solo exhibition in the Glasshouse Gallery at RHS Wisley. Anna will be demonstrating her techniques in the Glasshouse Gallery next weekend 1 – 2 Nov (11am - 4pm) and signing copies of her books at 2pm each day.

    Botanical art in November issues of Artist Magazines


    Check out the botanical art in current editions of popular art magazines in the UK




    Friday, October 17, 2014

    Review: Royal Society of Miniature Painters, Sculptors and Gravers Annual Exhibition 2014

    Earlier this week I visited the 2014 Annual Exhibition of the Royal Society of  Miniature Painters, Sculptors and Gravers at the Mall Galleries in London.  

    The exhibition continues until Sunday 26th October 2014 in the North Gallery of the Mall Galleries. Admission is free.  There are also free daily demonstrations by members in the Gallery - see my listing for the remaining days below

    A comprehensive catalogue for the exhibition which comes with a signed endorsement from the Prince of Wales who is a Patron of this Royal ArtSociety!

    Annual Exhibition 2014 in the North Gallery

    Magnifying glasses are available in the exhibition to view the art
    As usual the standard of the exhibition is high with many excellent examples of miniature art as well as some stunning innovations. It's also good to see awards going to new exhibitors who are not members.

    The standard of display is also excellent with special stands lined with black velvet onto which the paintings are pinned. Plus lots of magnifying glasses are available. These are essential equipment if you ever want to sell miniature art.

    As usual this is an art society which understands well the needs of its collectors. It provides a special private view for those art collectors who have purchased work at previous exhibitions and this had been held earlier in the day. Several works already sported red spots - and more were purchased while I reviewed the exhibition.

    Awards and Commendations


    Tuesday, October 14, 2014

    Annual Exhibition of the Royal Society of Marine Artists - Review (Part 1)

    These are some views of the 2014 Annual Exhibition of the Royal Society of Marine Artists.

    I visited two exhibitions at the Mall Galleries yesterday. The RSMA was having its Private View which, oddly enough, I never find an ideal time to view an exhibition - because of all the people!

    RSMA 69th Annual Exhibition 2014 - Private View at the Mall Galleries this afternoon
    So I had a general look round at what looks to me like a very well presented exhibition of excellent paintings - but I didn't have time to have a really detailed look at paintings.

    I will be going back for an end of exhibition and  "who did well (prizes/sales)?" review (Part 2) towards the middle/end of next week after a short trip I need to make which takes me out of London.

    The subject matter of the paintings is defined as follows
    The subject matter must be essentially marine in nature, relating in some way to tidal waters of the world; topographical, historical, still life, and figure painting are all welcomed. Most media are acceptable, including oils, watercolour, acrylics, pastels, drawings, prints and sculpture.

    Anyway - here's the exhibition as per the panoramic feature on my new iPhone. I discovered yesterday that this takes better pics in artificial light than my camera!

    You can see these bigger if you right click and open in a new tab.











    Demonstrations and workshops


    These are the artists doing demonstrations during the course of the exhibition plus a tour of the exhibition
    • Friday 17th Oct, afternoon - Fred Beckett (oil) and Ben Mowll (watercolour) working in the gallery (free with admission)
    • Saturday 18th Oct - President's Tour, 11.00am (free with admission).
    • Sunday 19th Oct, afternoon - John Lines (oil) working in the gallery (free with admission).
    • Tuesday 21st Oct, morning - Lorraine Abraham (drawing) and Alan Runagall (watercolour) working in the gallery (free with admission).
    • Thursday 23rd Oct, afternoon - Keith Noble (watercolour) working in the gallery (free with admission).
    • Friday 24th, afternoon - Colin Allbrook (watercolour) working in the gallery (free with admission).

    You can find out about the workshops on this page of the RSMA website

    Thinking of exhibiting next year?



    Registration & Digital Submission (for pre-selection) to the 2015 RSMA Open Exhibition: Please note that from 2015 ALL work must be submitted on-line in the first instance. On-line submission dates below.
    • On-line Submission opens: 6th April 2015, 12 noon.
    • On-line submission closes: 10th July, 12 noon.
    • Log-in for results: 17th July, from 12 noon

    Previous 'Making A Mark' Reviews of the annual exhibition of the RSMA

    Monday, October 13, 2014

    More videos by the creator of 500 Years of Female Portraits in Western Art

    Lady with an Ermine
    Portrait of Cecilia Gallerani
    by Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519)

    500 Years of Female Portraits in Western Art was uploaded to YouTube in April 2007.

    You've probably seen it before.

    However I'm guessing you're like me and think this is one of those wonderful compilations - which you never bore of taking one more look at.

    Which possibly explains how come it has now achieved over 14 million views on YouTube.

    However this post includes another couple of interesting things about this video and its compiler Philip Scott Johnson

    How did you do with guessing the portraits?

    This is the sort of video which prompts you to try and see how many portraits - or at least artists you can get while watching it.

    So you may have seen the video - but have you seen the list of works complete with titles of portrait and names of artists?

    If not I suggest you watch again (see below) - and then click this link to the listing produced by Boni of the Original Art used in 500 Years of Women in Western Art. According to her website Boni is an instructor at the Soldier Development Center on Fort Bragg.



    Has Philip Scott Johnson produced any other videos?

    I bet you wondered - I know I did!

    So I went looking for more Philip Scott Johnson videos - and found some.  It also appears that he works in Reinsurance and lives in St Louis, Missouri.


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