Thursday, 28 November 2013

Rembrandt's etchings to go on display at Temple Newsam

An exhibition of etchings by Rembrandt from the Leeds Collections will be on display at Temple Newsam, Leeds, from November 29.

The exhibition will consist of two displays. The first will examine Rembrandt's portraits and figure studies and the second, will showcase a selection of Rembrandt's biblical prints.

Rembrandt’s career as a printmaker ran parallel with his painting, but he rarely treated the same subject in both medium and only on a few occasions did he reproduce his paintings in print.

Indeed for Rembrandt, print was a distinct art form which he pursued as actively as he did his painting; quickly learning the technical skills involved in etching

His impact and contribution to printmaking is unprecedented and is so significant that it is still reflected in etchings produced today.

Rembrandt: Etchings from the Leeds Collection will be on display at Temple Newsam, Leeds, from November 29, 2013, to July 20, 2014.


Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Hepworth and Moore go head-to-head

This winter The Hepworth Wakefield opens two new exhibitions that invite visitors to experience the work of two Yorkshire greats - Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore.

For the first time, the gallery is presenting the work of these peers concurrently as the artists go head to head with displays that showcase two recurrent themes within their work. Both Henry Moore's Reclining Figures and Barbara Hepworth's Two Forms will be on display at The Hepworth Wakefield until May 2014.

Barbara Hepworth, Mother and Child, 1934 from the new Barbara Hepworth Two Forms exhibition. Copyright Bowness, Hepworth Estate. Photo Jonty Wilde.

Frances Guy, Head of Collection and Exhibitions said: “It’s fascinating to show the work of Moore and Hepworth side by side and invite visitors to see for themselves the similarities and contrasts between these peers, encapsulated in two of their most popular themes.”

Henry Moore's Reclining Figures spans five decades of Moore’s career and focuses on a theme that was “an absolute obsession” for the artist. The display features two sculptures from the Wakefield Collection, alongside a group of small-scale maquettes and a monumentally scaled bronze sculpture on loan from The Henry Moore Foundation. Visitors can get hands-on with Moore’s Two Piece Reclining Figure No. 4, 1961, by using protective gloves to experience the deeply textured surface of this bronze work.

Henry Moore Reclining Figures Exhibition Opens at The Hepworth Wakefield, featuring Henry Moore's Large Four Piece Reclining Figure, 1972-73. Photo Bob Collier-PA Wire.

The display coincides with the opening of a new Henry Moore exhibits in the region. Working Model for Draped Reclining Figure (1979), the third reclining figure by Moore in Wakefield’s collection, is to go on show at the new Castleford Forum.

In contrast, Barbara Hepworth: Two Forms is a more intimate display that brings together a group of sculptures that trace the shift in Hepworth's work from figurative to abstract through the Mother and Child motif. Wakefield’s much loved Mother and Child, 1934 will be back on display, presented alongside key loans from the Pier Arts Centre, Stromness, Orkney and several private collections.

Many of Hepworth's early sculptures relevant to the new display were lost or destroyed during the Second World War. To represent these, a superb series of photographs taken by Hepworth herself and by photographers William Darby and Paul Laib, appear in the display, documenting the years 1932–1937, a critical period in Hepworth’s practice.

For full details of The Hepworth Wakefield’s winter programme of exhibitions, events and family-friendly activities visit or telephone 01924 247360.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

An interview with Amar Kanwar at Yorkshire Sculpture Park

by Jon Cronshaw

The work of one of India’s leading artists and film-makers is on display at Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Jon Cronshaw met Amar Kanwar.

There have been few exhibitions in recent memory as moving as Amar Kanwar’s The Sovereign Forest + Other Stories currently on display at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

The exhibition reveals how large multinational corporations are destroying rural life in India by appropriating vast areas of land for mining – the authorities are unwilling or powerless to intervene.

“I feel compelled – it’s a kind of need – to find out what is happening around me,” says Kanwar.

“I look for multiple ways to comprehend. I find that legal ways, journalistic ways, formal ways, forensic ways – many of these established ways which are used to comprehend these crimes – they do illuminate, they do inform, but they do not necessarily help you to understand the scale, the meaning, or the depth of what is happening. A lot of my work has been to try and find a method to do just that.”

Kanwar aims to present stories and evidence through films, poems, photographs, documents and objects to highlight the deeper meaning of land and community.

“In one way there’s this economic boom taking place in India, which is a positive development. But at the same time, there are many things being destroyed along with it,” says Kanwar.

For Kanwar, land is linked to communities, knowledge and traditions. When that land is lost, generations of knowledge disappear with it.

Within the exhibition is a display of 272 different species of rice. Beautifully lit, and carefully arranged, they demonstrate Kanwar’s issues with industrialised farming.

“Land is not just dimensions. If you lose a piece of land, and the state wants to compensate you for that piece of land, the method for working out the value of the land is a multiplication of the area on the basis of real estate price at that time,” he says.

“You have 272 varieties of rice here, which is a knowledge system. So if you lose this knowledge system which has been tried, tested, shared and re-tested over so many decades, how do you place a value on this loss?”

Not everything in the exhibition is symbolic or poetic. The final room in the exhibition presents mountains of evidence from deeds and documents to one particularly graphic photograph of a victim of brutal violence.

“Sometimes if something is quite graphic and hard to see, then you have to consider the intention with which you show that,” say Kanwar. “First, and most important, is your intention. If you’re clear and honest about your intention, then I think people understand why you do that.

“Violence is a part of our lives, and people need to know that these things happened in a particular way, so it’s necessary for me to include that image, but I try and do it in the most respectful way that I can.”

The exhibition continues outside to the gardens of the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. A series of ‘Listening Benches’ use audio recordings of Kanwar telling stories to add further layers to those presented in the gallery.

“For a long time I’ve wanted to find a way I could take the stories and give them a form that exists outdoors,” he says. “The benches are very simple – they are functional, they have a use.

“I wanted to make the benches here out of local wood from Yorkshire – some waste wood from either fallen timber or pre-existing wood.”

The benches were built from wood recycled from a large disassembled church organ which was once housed in the Sculpture Park’s chapel.

“Nobody knew what the wood inside of the organ would be like – all you see is what's on the outside.

“When the organ was ripped apart, they had all types of wood – small pieces, long planks. So we made the benches as they emerged from the wood,” says Kanwar.

“We just picked up pieces of wood to see what goes with what. We didn't cut it, we didn't define it, we didn't saw it, we worked with the material that was there.”

Have you seen the exhibition? What did you think? Leave comments below.

The Sovereign Forest + Other Stories is on display at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park until February 2, 2014.

Monday, 25 November 2013

The Tetley - Leeds' newest contemporary art gallery

The inaugural programme for The Tetley will unpick the fabric of the building, its history and future use, to present a series of exhibitions, discussions, events and residencies that will involve artists and audiences.

Entitled A New Reality, the building will be repurposed as a contemporary art space, taking the themes of labour, the telling of overlooked or fading history and the process of change as a starting point for its transformation.

A mixture of contemporary artists have been invited to create art that is sensitive to its past. These creative interpretations of the building’s heritage will present an opportunity for visitors to experience the future of contemporary art through the work of emerging artists, within an environment steeped in history.

From November 29 to Spring 2014, A New Reality will encourage audiences and artists to consider the role of a dedicated home for contemporary art in Leeds, helping to map out its future curatorial approach.

Managed and curated by Project Space Leeds [PSL], a contemporary visual arts charity, The Tetley will maintain a focus on emerging and innovative art.

Projects within A New Reality will occupy the full range of first floor spaces at The Tetley, including a new triple-height central atrium gallery and smaller spaces within the former offices.

Selected by co-founder and director Kerry Harker and curator Zoë Sawyer, artists featuring in A New Reality include James Clarkson, Emma Rushton and Derek Tyman, Simon Lewandowski and Sam Belinfante, Rehana Zaman

Have you visited The Tetley? What were your first impressions? Please leave comments below.

The Tetley will open on November 29.

Photos courtest of the The Tetley.

Friday, 15 November 2013

Interview with Dana Schutz at the Hepworth

by Jon Cronshaw

The walls of the Hepworth have been brought to life by the colourful paintings of acclaimed US artist Dana Schutz. Jon Cronshaw met her.

One of the brightest hopes for the future of American painting, Dana Schutz, has finally made it to Yorkshire from her home in Brooklyn, New York, for her first UK solo exhibition.

“I’m really excited because I’ve never shown my work over here before – it’s been amazing,” says Schutz. “The Hepworth is so gorgeous, the way it sits right on the river and just lets in all this natural light. The sky is amazing in Yorkshire – it’s just incredible. How low the clouds are, and the shifting light – it’s insane, it’s really beautiful.

“I wondered how it would work because all the rooms in the gallery are different sizes, and there are no right angles in the entire building. I didn’t see at first how the paintings would work on the walls, but it’s actually been great.”

The exhibition brings together 13 of Schutz’s large-scale paintings produced between 2010 and 2013 which all give a strange twist or an unusual composition to familiar everyday scenes – from shaving to dressing.

A new painting which dominates an entire wall depicts a familiar scene at all art schools – a life drawing class with a group of students sitting at their easels.

The scene is given a surreal spin with the inclusion of a giant octopus modelling for the students, its tentacles thrashing around and causing the type of chaos one would expect from the presence of a giant octopus in a classroom.

“It’s been really weird – some of these paintings have never been seen together,” says Schutz.

“It’s been really interesting for me to see how my technique has changed, or how themes and ideas have cropped up in different places. There are a couple of paintings in the show that I haven’t seen in a long time, so it’s been really nice to see them again.”

The pictures take their inspiration from some of the greatest painters of the 20th century, but bring their ideas up-to-date with references to popular culture and her use of bright and bold colours.

There are subtle references to paintings by artists such as Pablo Picasso, Francis Bacon, Alex Katz and David Hockney.

“I like the way that space is constructed and the way the colours work in those paintings,” says Schutz.

“I do look at a lot of paintings, and I think that the way I relate to other art is that I don’t think I’m trying to make a comment on it or anything like that – it only becomes a problem if it’s too heavy with the reference.”

Schutz started painting as a teenager growing up in Livonia, Michigan a suburb of Detroit – a city with a heritage of car manufacturing and soul music. “When I was 14 or 15 I remember thinking that art was something that I could see myself doing,” she says.

“I knew at the time that I wasn’t very good at it – but I liked it, and that was enough to at least get me started. If you like something, and you have a lot of time, you can really put a lot into it.

“I think there’s something quite romantic about art when you’re that age. When you’re in school, it doesn’t feel like a lot of people were making paintings, so it’s 
quite an exciting thing to be doing.

“I remember taking one of those aptitude tests that you have to take when you’re in the ninth grade in the US, 
and it said that I’d be a bricklayer because I liked the outdoors and could work with my hands. At the time I thought that was really depressing – but I think secretly I would have quite liked to do that.”

Have you seen the exhibition? What did you think? Leave comments below.

Dana Shutz’s exhibition is at The Hepworth, Wakefield until January 26, 2014.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Review: Sign Painters @ Leeds International Film Festival

The decline of traditional crafts and industries is at the heart of Faythe Levine and Sam Macon's documentary about artists who, in the face of technological advances and cheaper production methods, dedicate their working lives to the creation of hand-painted signs, shop-fronts and murals.

The film-makers travelled across America to document a once great industry which was destroyed virtually overnight by the invention of vinyl cutting machinery, rendering the role of the traditional sign painter as practically redundant.

In the 1950s sign painting houses across America employed thousands, today the industry is kept alive by dedicated individuals who spend years as apprentices to perfect their craft and work on a job-by-job basis to earn a meagre living.

You get the impression from the artists that continue to paint signs, that the craft is more than a mere job – it is a calling.

It's difficult not to be infected by the passion to keep the craft from being lost in annuls of time, to be replaced by computer-designed, soulless signage that saps the identity out of our towns and cities.

There's a heartbreaking sadness that runs through the film, a sense of nostalgia for a more innocent time. It's a nostalgia not just for the heyday of sign painting, but a yearning for individualism and the return of home-grown, craft-led industries that have declined in the face of faster and cheaper world.

But the film ends with a sense of hope – the traditional crafts are seeing a resurgence, and the documentary leaves you feeling that we're on the cusp of a sea change.

Four stars

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Material questions raised in new exhibition

An exhibition which explores how light is reflected in different sculptural surfaces will be on display at Leeds City Art Gallery from November 21 to May 1, 2014.

Polychromies: Surface, Light and Colour will be exhibited in the recently refurbished sculpture galleries on the lower floor of the museum and will feature a range of artists from Antonio Canova to Rebecca Warren.

The exhibition has been made possible by a substantial Arts Council Renaissance National Programme grant and will be curated by staff at the Henry Moore Institute.


Image courtesy of Leeds Museums and Galleries and the artist.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Preview: Leeds International Film Festival

by Jon Cronshaw

Yorkshire's film fans are a lucky bunch. With a great selection of independent cinemas and film festivals across the region, and of course the National media museum on our doorstep, there's plenty to keep even the most discerning film buffs interested.

Perhaps the jewel in the crown of Yorkshire's ilm calendar is the Leeds International Film Festival.

Now into its 27th year, the festival attracts ilmmakers and movie lovers from around the world for a fortnight of cinematic bliss – and this year's line-up doesn't disappoint.

For the festival's gala opening at Everyman cinema last night, audiences were treated to the Uk premiere of Alfonso Cuarón's glorious science fiction saga Gravity, screened in breathtaking 3D.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Poppy sculpture to commemorate war dead

Visitors to the Royal Armouries, Leeds, will be invited to dedicate and insert a poppy into a brand new sculpture due to be installed on November 4.

The sculpture honours the one million UK and Commonwealth servicemen who died during the First World War is part of an exciting new venture, organised by The Royal British Legion and international award-winning artist designer Mark Humphrey. A share of donations will also go to the Never Such Innocence Charity.

From next year, the Royal British Legion and Royal Armouries are hoping the public will personalise and dedicate a poppy to an armed forces or family member who has died as a result of conflict.

Royal Armouries is home to the national collections of arms, armour and artillery. The poppy sculpture will form one of the focal points at the museum’s Armistice Day service on Monday, November 11, from 10.45am to 11.30am, led by the Rev Gordon Warren, Chaplain of the Royal Navy.

Royal Armouries’ Head of Creative Programmes Karen Whitting, said: “As Britain’s oldest public museum, Royal Armouries aims to honour and acknowledge the huge debt that Britain owes to those who made the ultimate sacrifice and their role in shaping history. This sculpture allows everyone to pay their own personal and individual tribute and we are delighted to be participating in this way.

“The sculpture will be placed within our Leeds museum’s Hall of Steel, and we are sure people will appreciate the poignancy and significance of the sculpture at a time when our minds are firmly focused on Remembrance.”

Artist Mark Humphrey said: “Our poppy sculptures are temporary memorials of remembrance, utilising The Royal British Legion’s poppy appeal, designed to be installed in public spaces across the UK.

“The installations are an emotive and interactive symbol, commemorating the great sacrifices made by all the soldiers who died in World War One. An educational Public Art Centenary, generating pride for our communities: built by us, for us, remembering us…’

This year, sculptures are also being placed at London landmarks, including Victoria, Cardinal Place and Waterloo Station, plus the RAF Museum.


Friday, 1 November 2013

Last remnants of war documented in photo exhibition

The work of acclaimed photographer Marc Wilson will be on display at the Royal Armouries, Leeds, from November 8.

The Last Stand exhibition documents some of the last physical remnants of 20th century warfare in the UK and Northern Europe through a series of carefully composed photographs. 

A winner of the prestigious Terry O’Neill award for photography, Wilson is renowned for powerful but understated images that encourage people to reflect on the defiance, pathos and tragedy of war.

The Last Stand will be on display at the Royal Armouries, Leeds, from November 8 to March 8, 2014.

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