Sunday, 28 April 2013

Albert Einstein captured in bronze as fled the Nazis

by Jon Cronshaw
In 1933, Albert Einstein was forced to flee Germany pursued by Nazi assassins. During his flight, he sat for a portrait by sculptor Jacob Epstein. The result is regarded as one of the finest portrait busts in 20th century art – and is currently on display at the Stanley and Audrey Burton Gallery, Leeds. How this sculpture came to be is one of the most dramatic stories in the history of art.

The story begins in summer 1933. Einstein had been falsely associated with a book entitled The Brown Book of Hitler Terror which outlined some of the worst Nazi atrocities to date. Anti-Semitic German newspapers printed shocking stories about “Einstein’s Infamy” and dismissed his Theory of Relativity as “Jewish physics”. One newspaper featured a large photograph on its front cover with the words “Not Yet Hanged” emblazoned across it, and a reward of £1,000 was offered by Hitler for the assassination of the physicist.

Jacob Epstein, Albert Einstein, (1933). Photo courtesy of the Stanley and Audrey Burton Gallery.
The real threat to Einstein’s life became unbearable, and he feared for the safety of those who had hidden him in Belgium. He made the heartbreaking decision to leave his family and friends behind in Europe for the sanctuary of America. With the Nazis calling for his blood, however, this was no simple task.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Phase Revival - when art meet science

by Jon Cronshaw

Science outreach and installation art might seem worlds apart. But a daring collaboration between artists Becs Andrews and Dave Lynch and chemical physicists from the University of Leeds aims to demonstrate scientific concepts to a wider audience.

Recently shown at Howard Assembly Room, Leeds, Phase Revival is a fascinating art installation bringing together the worlds of art, music and hard science. A sharp beam of light is projected through a series of swinging pendulums, each of them swinging at a different rate. The result is a beautifully hypnotic projection that morphs and oscillates along with an abstract musical soundtrack.

Artist Becs Andrews explained how the concept for Phase Revival was formed. She said: “My husband’s a biologist, and a while back we started talking about the idea that it would be interesting to make some art work based on some of the scientific research he’s doing and how you could use theatre to communicate ideas in science in a more interesting way than a lot of science outreach.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Jewish Artists celebrated in Leeds

by Jon Cronshaw

It is 150 years since the first synagogue was built in Leeds, marking the Jewish community’s official establishment in the city. And now a new exhibition celebrates the landmark by showcasing the community’s contribution to the Yorkshire art scene. Jon Cronshaw hears more from curator Layla Bloom.

Jewish Artists in Yorkshire is based around the major Jewish artists in the University of Leeds’ art Collection, including Jacob Kramer, Philip Naviasky and Willy Tirr. Layla said: “We felt this would be the perfect opportunity not only to celebrate the artists in our collection, but also to pay tribute to some of the great patrons in our history. The Stanley and Audrey Burton Gallery is named after some fantastic Jewish patrons – so we’re really thankful to them as well as the artists.”

Philip Naviasky, Street Scene, Staithes (detail), oil on canvas, Private Collection, Yorkshire  © Estate of the Artist

As well as important artworks from the Leeds collection, other works by Jewish artists are also Represented, including Jacob Epstein’s stunning bronze portrait of physicist Albert Einstein (1933) and Jacob Kramer’s painting about Jewish identity, ‘The Jew’ (1916). Layla said: “We were sure from the start that we didn’t just want this to be about the local area. So we’ve got artists featured like Jacob Kramer and Jacob Epstein who are well known internationally. But we also wanted to feature them alongside artists who are well-known locally, as well as some contemporary artists who aren’t as well-known as they should be, but hopefully will be in the future.”

Friday, 19 April 2013

Solo Showing for Otley’s Julia Odell

by Tom Swain

Already award-winning, the teacher-turned-artist presents her debut solo exhibition to the world – via Otley. Julia Odell speaks to Tom Swain.

She has been painting for just four years, having given up on the practicalities of transporting the cumbersome ceramic sculptures she created before turning to canvas - but that doesn’t mean Julia Odell doesn’t know her way around a paintbrush.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Sweeney Todd set to chill this winter

by Jon Cronshaw

With the appointment of new Artistic Director James Brining last year, the West Yorkshire Playhouse has gone through radical change. Jon Cronshaw went down to the Playhouse to preview James’s first season at the helm of one of Yorkshire’s most important theatres.

The major show of the Autumn/Winter season will be James’s own production of Stephen Sondheim’s spine-chilling musical Sweeney Todd – The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. James will be revisiting his award-winning production that was originally staged in Dundee, 2010. It is a collaboration between the West Yorkshire Playhouse and Manchester’s Royal Exchange theatre, and will run September 26 to October 26.

This year’s Christmas show will see the Quarry Theatre transformed into award-winning director Liam Steelinto’s vision of India with his production of Rudyard Kipling’s classic novel, The Jungle Book. The show will bring together dance, puppetry and physical theatre to tell the coming-of-age story of a feral boy, Mowgli.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Ocular spectacular: Stan Brakhage honoured at Bradford International Film Festival

by Jon Cronshaw

He is one of the most important film directors of the 20th century, yet very few people have had the opportunity to see his work on the big screen.

Stan Brakhage is acknowledged as an enormous influence on directors Martin Scorsese (Goodfellas), Richard Linklater (A Scanner Darkly) and David Fincher (Se7en). His series of short films Dog Star Man (1961-64) are regarded as masterpieces of avant-garde film.

Many of his works are abstract and experimental – he wanted to strip film of all unnecessary elements such as sound, character and storyline, instead painting and scratching images directly onto the film’s celluloid surface.

Friday, 12 April 2013

Leeds flash mob raises awareness of homelessness in city

by Jon Cronshaw

A flash mob came together at 5pm yesterday on City Square in Leeds city centre to raise awareness of homelessness in the city.

City Square flash mob

The gathering was organised by homelessness charity Simon and the Streets, and saw around 30 protesters holding makeshift signs to raise awareness of the wider issues effected homeless people.

Monday, 8 April 2013

The Hate Camel cometh

by Jon Cronshaw

A Horsforth writer has bucked the trend and has unleashed his own unique take on the print magazine to an unsuspecting public.

The Hate Camel is a magazine that harks back to the days of early 90s grunge ‘zines, with a mish-mash of handwritten and typed articles being stuck down and photocopied onto low quality paper. The magazine’s founder, Stevie Kilgour, 30, said: “The whole basis of it is satire. It’s an opportunity for Leeds to take a look at itself and have a good laugh. It started off as a bit of fun. I wanted to poke fun at the glossy magazine culture in Leeds – they’re about 90 percent adverts, five percent listings, and maybe five percent interest in what’s going on.”

Instead of your usual magazine fare, Stevie wants to publish bizarre and unusual writing that would never make into a commercial magazine such as unedited free-writing, and hate-filled teenage stories. He said: “Parts of it are handwritten. I’ve had one contribution that was an old birthday card that contained very vicious story from when they were in school about setting fire to a ginger kid. It’s obviously complete fairytale, perhaps more nightmare, but I’ve photocopied that, cut it out, stuck it down with gaffer tape, and sent it off to the printers so that it looks even more tatty than it did first time round.”

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Contemporary art takes on Scouting.

Leeds-based artists Rob Goodall and Alex Sickling are about to embark on a series of exhibitions under the title Mates.

The first exhibition in the series will feature graphic art on the theme of Scouts. The show will highlight the positive, inquisitive nature and valuable skills learned at Scout groups.

Alex Sickling works on paper, through innocent, intricate, black and white drawings in ink as well as through ceramic objects. Rob Goodall celebrates the deeper value Scouts learn through a variety of media, including wood carving.

The exhibition will be held at Mexico Project Space, Wharf Chambers, Leeds, April 12-14.

Review: Robert Filliou: The Institute of Endless Possibilities

by Jon Cronshaw

The Henry Moore Institute has taken a punt with its latest exhibition, ‘Robert Filliou: The Institute of Endless Possibilities’. The exhibition seeks to explore the nature of gambling and the absurdity of games by utilising a bizarre array of cardboard boxes, double-sided playing cards and a dice-filled, room which were produced by Robert Filliou during the ‘70s and ‘80s.

Robert Filliou, Eins, Un, One, (1984)

Patrons are invited to learn the rules to the bizarre card game called ‘Leeds’. The game features double-sided playing cards and requires the players to be blindfolded while an onlooker makes bets. This is an exercise in pointlessness and ridiculousness, but it is one that can be quite appealing in the visual arts.