Friday, 20 December 2013

256 SOLSTICE: the longest day by PETER RIDE (curator)

Solstice is composed of 365 photographs shared on Twitter, reminding us what happens across the world  in the northern hemisphere on June 21st, when the sun is at its highest and the day its longest.

Context is everything. The art work is shown in St Johns Church Waterloo, built in 1824 to celebrate the victory of the Napoleonic wars; savagely bombed in 1940; restored in 1951 in time to celebrate the Festival Of Britain. Outside are the 400,000 people said to pass through Waterloo Station every day. Across the road are bus stops, including one which the travel writer Simon Calder reckons to be the busiest in England. Inside in a small side chapel is a space welcoming anyone who wants some peace and quiet.

Solstice reminds us that we are connected to each other both in our experience of light and dark and  in new technology The work is shown during short dark days, the season of Advent, when the Christian year focuses on 'The light (that) that shines in the darkness and the darkness (that) cannot overcome it."

Sunday, 15 December 2013


Limited edition (100) print, 48.7 x 46cm (unframed)

 Cornelia Parker visited the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition in 2012 and took a clandestine photo of one of the most successful prints in the show. Every time a sale is made a red dot is added to the piece - and this one was doing so well the red dots began to inhabit the wall as well as the frame. To quote the Gallery notes, at this point 'a rush of covetousness came over (Cornelia Parker)'. The artist doesn't make representational work, especially much- beloved  landscapes and pets and flowers and cottages. She is an abstract artist who displays ideas with astonishing verve, originality, depth  and wit.

Digitally erasing the image that she had stolen, she showed a photograph of Stolen Thunder as her own work in the R.A. 2013 Summer Exhibition, The cool, shy greys and white invite us in to a place where our own fantasies can flourish. What was the original picture? Does the original artist know it's been wiped out, then resurrected? What could you (or me) put in that blank space to take the world by storm? After all, we think nothing of constantly redesigning and redecorating our own homes, obliterating precious occupants' vision with paint and paper and fabric.

The artist kept the red spots as part of the picture, she says, 'in the hope of accruing some of her own sales by a Pavlovian response from the audience'.

 SEE Also Blog 235 PRISON WALLS  by Cornelia Parker     (BBC4 What do artists do all day?)   (Comprehensive illustrated book on the artist's work)

Friday, 6 December 2013


Alpha Gallery, Cork St, London W1S 3NJ
The Meal, 24 x 34 ins, 61 x 86cm, tinted gesso on wood

Eight people gather for a meal.   The table fills the room; the menu is so lavish some of it has to be parked on the deep frame where the painting continues. The ceiling is low, the portraits on the walls, indeed the walls themselves, press upon the diners and draw us into the picture.  We are standing very close. The curved backs of  bentwood chairs and the bowl of sprightly flowers comprise a beautiful but flimsy barrier.

This painting is mysterious yet utterly believable. Most of the diners stare fixedly at a space in the centre of the table which is hidden to us. They are players in a drama about the unexpectedness of life. They could be card players waiting for the next vital winner-takes-all move. Or perhaps those downcast eyes suggest that someone has just made a remark after which nothing is the same? Or maybe they recognise that this is the moment before something irrevocable happens? But this painting is more than a vehicle for a simple narrative.

The Dance (Dancing with the Captain), 36 x46ins, 91 x 117cm,tinted gesso on canvas and painted wooden frame

Tea Dance also both enchants and disconcerts the viewer. These are ordinary people  holiday making (or working) on an ocean liner, bent on enjoying themselves. At least one lady has fulfilled her dream of dancing with the captain. They are centre stage in a dance hall - a  place where people are isolated yet interdependent at the same time.The palm trees flatten themselves against the walls. The figures are superbly organised. So too are the iced fancies on the cake stand, tipped towards us so as to display themselves at their most mouth-watering. Two sedate teapots face each other across the room.  The dreamy  peaches and corals and aquas and greys which everyone is wearing are split in two by the crisp sharp geometry of a diamond tiled floor. You can almost hear the crack and crackle of those heels as they tap out the rhythm.

Hare and Tortoise, 12 x 14 inches, tinted gesso on wood.
Do P.J.Crook's animal paintings also suggest that something odd is going on just below the surface?
The outcome of Aesop's Fable is familiar. Of course the slow patient tortoise triumphs over the hubristic hare. But here the hare, though alert and eager, is trapped inside the frame. Lithe and supple he is not. The  tortoise is watchful, eyeing the viewer. Behind them a couple manoeuvre their tiny rowing boat, and minuscule ships seem to be tethered by the smoke from their funnels.

See 20 more of her paintings at