January Art Scoop: Print Making, Painting, and Tufting

January 30, 2022

We often talk about the importance of art and culture, their impact on communities’ individuals, health, and wellbeing. However, as a team how do we engage with and support artists and the creative sector. 

There is no one voice for the art we are interested in at the Creative Land Trust, understandably we all have different interests and opinions. Whether it is Gemma taking her daughter to children’s spaces in galleries and museums, Gordon’s love of the Beano exhibition, or Rosie going to the theatre, we’re all experiencing art and culture in diverse ways. 

Each month, in this feature, we will be featuring some of the shows, installations, and exhibitions we’ve come across and what they meant to us.

Gemma: “I loved watching the video clip of the artist at work in her studio, gaining some insight into what makes her work stand out.” 

Helen Frankenthaler: Radical Beauty – Dulwich Picture Gallery until 18 April 2022 

“a trailblazer of the printmaking movement, who endlessly pushed possibilities through her experimentation” 

I set the bar quite high with my first exhibition of 2022, a long awaited visit to view Helen Frankenthaler: Radical Beauty at Dulwich Picture Gallery. This is a series of gorgeous prints, the kind of painterly images and colours that make you swoon. Yet the process of woodcut prints is not something that would typically be expected to produce this. That is what makes the exhibition and the artist’s work all the more special and deserving of the title Radical Beauty. I loved watching the video clip of the artist at work in her studio, gaining some insight into what makes her work stand out. Her decisiveness. Her commitment to her practice. No rules but an overriding sense of wanting to achieve a better outcome. I really want to go back and take it all in again, including the wonderful side-by-side view of Monet’s Water Lilies and Agapanthus with Frankenthaler’s monumental painting Feather. 

This theme of no rules is something in common with the Beano exhibition at Somerset House that we recently visited as a team. While aesthetically very different, it made me reflect on the role of the artist and the importance of experimenting, pushing boundaries, seeking better results. A reminder of how creativity can steer us through cultural transitions and shifts. 

Jess: “The saga of the Barton Hill Banksy” 

Banksy Valentine’s Day Mural, Barton Hill Bristol. 

In January 2022 an artist known as _peachyofficial on Instagram added another chapter to the saga of the Barton Hill Banksy. Banksy created the original image, which showed a young girl firing a slingshot with flowers, on Valentine’s day 2020 in one of the poorest areas of Bristol,. This was vandalised shortly after it went up, and the girl was then boarded up, leaving only the flowers visible behind a plastic screen. Peachy’s addition of a man attempting to crowbar the board is a witty addition and helps to counteract the sense of temporariness and abandonment created by the board. Certainly my neighbours on the street Whatsapp group seem to be in favour! 

Gordon “all subtly beautiful and displaying understanding of form.” 

India Copley at Cockpit Arts  

An open studios day at Cockpit Arts in Deptford is always a treat.  On my most recent visit I encountered the beautiful work of artist India Copley.  India uses tufting techniques to create artworks that combine soft textures and colours with crisp lines and curves, and that somehow command the spaces around them.  The pictured work was inspired by the lines of twisted metalwork in an unloved children’s playground, and yet capture the clean and hopeful modernity of 1950s/60s British design.  At India’s studio there are works using various media, all subtly beautiful and displaying understanding of form as well as perfect execution. 

Yves: “she questions ideas around the place and the structures we live and work in.” 

Lubaina Himid at Tate Modern 

There is a gentle unease about the body of work by Lubaina Himid, CBE RA, in her current show at Tate Modern. I visited last weekend, and in her paintings I felt immediately both drawn in – their quite formal composition often create a window that you can nearly walk into – and yet at the same time where there is the backdrop of a brooding sea or a seemingly awkward interaction between figures in the scene, there’s an unsettling sense of displacement. The exhibition feels like it has been curated in this way too, playing with space in a theatrical way that keeps you on edge, as you try to piece together a narrative and find your place within it.  

These themes seem central to Himid’s work as she questions ideas around the place and the structures we live and work in. She does this in particular from the lens of the African diaspora, at some point themselves perhaps migrants or refugees, looking to find a new home. To some extent it’s the making of spaces that genuinely work for everyone that is key to a successfully supported and integrated community, work that is in constant need of addressing and improving on. 

Rosie: “art, comedy, and culture through a new lens.” 

Beano: the Art of Breaking Rules, at Somerset House.

Earlier in the month, Gordon insisted we shouldn’t miss the Beano Exhibition. Having never really read the Beano I wasn’t expecting the exhibition to resonate with me much, I couldn’t have been more wrong!

It was apparent walking in that Andy Holden had not curated your average exhibition, it included larger-than-life recreations of Beano’s backdrops and an eclectic collection of contemporary artworks from ‘creative rule-breakers’.

The exhibition showed me art, comedy, and culture through a new lens, and its impact on cultural references, commentary, and influence. Cartoons by Heath Robinson reminded me of phrases my mum always uses. Huge posters introduced me to the work of Sarah Lucas an artist, part of the YBA’s, breaking the rules combining photography and collage, and I now follow the social commentary and doodles of Bedwyr Williams on Instagram. Lastly, footage of Alex Wheatle of Small Axe describing the importance of the Beano to him growing up cemented how interlaced all these cultural influences are. To think I could have written it off because I’d never read the Beano.