Tag Archives: sculpture

And another thing…


My last post was meant to be my last post of 2020.

But I saw something that I wanted to share with you.

I took someone to St. James’ hospital in Leeds the other day. Specifically, the Bexley Wing. Which is actually more like a hospital within a hospital rather than a ‘wing’.

What struck me initially is that they have an art gallery space in the atrium. Obviously, I took the opportunity to peruse the stunning work on display.

What was a little bit awkward was the fact that someone deemed it a good idea to place chairs all along the gallery wall. So, I often found myself standing directly in front of a healthcare worker, (who was taking a well earned break), gawping over their head.

I decided to take a few photos for posterity. And soon realised that the juxtaposition of the art on display and the resting workers/visitors oblivious to it, was art in itself. (Well, it was in my head, anyway.)

I think the fact that the majority of people are on their smart phones adds a certain amount of 21st century irony to the pictures. With the art behind them screaming “Look at me!”

Some people may know how passionate I am about the arts and their ability to help in the healing process. Whether that be mental, physical or general wellbeing.

Anyway, the atrium gallery is amazing. The work is amazing. The staff are amazing. And the NHS is amazing. So, all-in-all, well done, and thank you to everyone at St James’ Hospital, Bexley wing. (You are amazing.)

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I have a dream too, you know.


True, it may not be as ambitious and world-changing as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s. But it’s a dream nonetheless.

To be honest, I wasn’t going to post about it until I felt I was in more of a position to realise this dream. But short of winning the Euro Millions Lottery, it aint going to happen without some serious philanthropic backer.

So, what is my dream?

Well, it’s to build a School of Arts for under-privileged kids.

Kids from low socioeconomic backgrounds in large inner-city estates. Kids who might not ordinarily get the opportunity to explore the more creative aspects of their nature.

What good would that do society? We’re in a depression, don’t you know!

Problems in every field of human endeavour are virtually always solved by creative thinking. Even the great Albert Einstein said so himself. Creativity allows us to look at problems from different angles and apply new thinking to solve problems.

Moreover, I don’t see it as a school that produces an unprecedented amount of artists. But an unprecedented amount of creative thinkers – whichever vocation they choose to pursue later in life. Whether it be mathematics, science, business, computers, product design, or economics.

And yes, a few more more artists too. And what’s wrong with that? Art is seen as a dirty word in this country. If I tell people I write poetry, they shift uneasily in their seats. If I said I write poetry in Ireland the response would be a polite smile and a nod toward the back of the queue.

Do you think the first rocket flight to the moon was dreamed up by a scientist?

Sure, scientists and engineers made it a reality. But it is creative people who come up with the ideas and the original solutions of how they can be achieved.

What will the kids do?

The school will develop and encourage creative thinking and self-expression.

It will foster, nurture and encourage exploration of the arts in all its many and varied forms including: painting, drawing, sculpture, ceramics, poetry, literature, screenplays, theatre, drama, dance, music, design, digital arts, film, photography, humanities, languages, and the classics.

Where is this school?

I quite fancy the idea of transforming a derelict Victorian mill. There’s something quite ironic about that. Though it certainly wouldn’t be a prerequisite. (Salts Mill in Bradford is a good example.)

Initially, an inner-city campus close to urban populations that have a high level of low socioeconomic families. Basically, anywhere across the Manchester – Huddersfield – Halifax – Leeds belt. It’s also sufficiently ‘central’ enough to accommodate children from further afield.

It would also be good to have a rural retreat – somewhere like the Lake District, Peak District or the Yorkshire Dales, where children can attend week-long courses/classes which double up as a holiday.

I would also like to open an international sister school in India or Sri Lanka where people from distinctly different cultures can share ideas. These schools could also participate in exchange programmes. (Then subsequently, even further afield: China, South America, South Asia.)

What about science subjects?

This school wouldn’t be a replacement for existing schools and their curricula – more of an extension to them.

Would it exclude people from non low socioeconomic backgrounds?

Not at all. But opportunities for middle-class families in other schools are much more accessible, regardless of ability.

Intake for low income kids would be based as much on desire and enthusiasm to participate rather than ability. There would be a limited number of places for more affluent children. Sort of like Eton – in reverse.

What kind of courses will it run?

Day-long workshops for visiting schools.

After-school classes.

Week-long courses. (Which would include accommodation for traveling students.)

Weekend classes.

Full-time sixth form courses. (A-levels.)

Masters and PhD courses.

What ages are we talking about?

Key Stage 2, up to, and including, sixth form.

Undergraduate, Masters and PhD courses.

What else does the school have?

Apart from studios and classrooms?

There’d be accommodation for students who are visiting from further afield.

Cafe / restaurant.

Gallery to promote and sell students’ work.

Gallery featuring independent contemporary and traditional art.

Masterclasses from guest lecturers.

State of the art library. (Both on and off-line.)

Book shop.

Art-house cinema.

Who will pay for it?

Well, that’s the biggest question of all.

A like-minded philanthropist would be nice.

Arts Council grant.

Lottery funding.

A percentage of Masters and PhD students’ tuition fees could go towards funding.

Sales from restaurant and galleries.

Fundraising / donations.

An Ideal World School of Arts.

Salts Mill, Bradford.

David Hockney at Salts Mill.

Salts Mill interior.

Studio space?

Any constructive criticism and advice about how to get something like this funded and off the ground would be greatly appreciated.

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Enter the Dragon – Kris Kuksi


Welcome to There Is No Cavalry 2012, everyone.

I know I’m a bit late off the mark with my salutations but, what with Chinese zodiacs, Julian, Gregorian and Hijri calendars, (not to mention about 50 others), I didn’t think a couple of days hither or tither would be of consequence.

2012 Year of the Dragon

Of course, we are entering the Chinese Year of the Dragon. As you may or may not know, I too, am a dragon. So I’m expecting some pretty extraordinary things from 2012.

First of all, I don’t want to see another episode of the shambolic Heinz Beans & Sausage debacle where, to my horror of horrors, there were only three frankfurters lurking beneath the beans rather than the requisite four.

For that alone, 2011 could be classed as an absolute shocker.

But I’m nothing if not an optimist. So am looking forward to sharing with you all manner of manna from my creative cassoulet.

First up, for your delectation is Kris Kuksi.

Incredibly intricate sculptures on a biblical scale.

The Emperor, by Kuksi

I urge you to click on the images and visit his website. There you will find a veritable smorgasbord of sculptures that you can zoom in and out of to really appreciate the delicate and painstaking detail that you just can’t see from my screen grabs.

For me, they are reminiscent of the Chapman Brothers and, to a lesser extent, Grayson Perry. I don’t mean that in a bad way, as Kuksi’s work appears infinitely more complex. But I haven’t seen them in the flesh like I have with the aforementioned.

What I find extraordinary about Kuksi’s work is the juxtaposition of religious symbolism and iconography with 21st century western greed, imperialism and materialism. (I know, I can’t believe I said that either.)

Below is a detail of The Retreat of Daphne.

The Retreat of Daphne

You can also see drawings and paintings on his site too. But, to be honest, whilst he is obviously a very gifted draughtsman, they don’t really arrest me in the same way his sculptures do.

Right, that’s all you’re getting for today, it’s time for my dinner – All Day Breakfast in a tin. And woe betide anyone at Heinz if these shriveled up sausages aren’t actually handmade by a master butcher from Cumberland.

Keep reading. More posts to follow shortly. (If my ticker holds out.)

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Grayson Perry Goes Large


The reason I’ve been quiet on the blog front for the past month is that I’ve been away on holiday in France, (which was very nice, thank you for asking).

I didn’t want to say it in advance as I was worried that some of you might actually be burglars. Or, at least, be acquaintances with members of the criminal fraternity.

As stunningly beautiful as Brittany is, my poor soul has been deprived of art this past while so to satiate my yearning for redemption, reflection and inspiration I took the train into Manchester to visit the Manchester City Art Gallery on Mosley Street.

Now, my only experience of Grayson Perry in the past have been as a guest on Have I Got News For You.

So, to see his work for the first time was a bit of an eye opener for me. And I wasn’t disappointed.

His work is quite traditional on one level, in that he’s a very good draughtsman. (Which means he can actually draw.) But on closer inspection the subject matter is quite deviant. Which I also love. I think it’s the adman in me that loves the unexpected.

This particular piece is called: Print for a Politician. It’s done in the style of a Chinese watercolour / etching.

Print for a politician by Grayson Perry

Here’s the blurb that the gallery use:

“Print for a Politician (2005) is only the second print that Perry treated as a major work; it took over a month to draw. The etching shows groups of people including academics, fundamentalists, northerners, parents and transvestites in a landscape setting, each group given a name, like a place name on an old map. All the groups are armed for battle, with weapons of war from different periods and cultures. Perry’s intention for this work is to show the complexity of human society. He hopes audiences will identify with one or more of the groups and realise it is possible to live together peacefully despite our differences.”

What the blurb doesn’t say is that it’s actually quite funny. You look at the ‘groups’ like ‘Middleclass’ and they’re depicted as whip-toting sexual perverts.

Print for a politician, detail.

PFAP detail.

A word of caution if you’re thinking of going: There are only about half a dozen pieces of Perry’s work in one of the smaller rooms. Don’t let that put you off though as there are loads of other brilliant paintings to look at.

What with this depression and all, I think we’re on the cusp of an important era in art.

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Gruesomely grisly porcelain sculptures


These remind me of the statuettes my mum used to collect and put on the mantlepiece – but with a slight twist!

Whilst I absolutely love them, I also can’t help thinking about The Chapman Brothers.

These deliciously dark figurines are by Jessica Harrison.

To see more and get the full low-down visit Empty Kingdom.

Jessica Harrison

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Just a pile of rocks?


David Nash

“Don’t climb on the statue,” I said to my eldest daughter.

“It’s just a pile of rocks, Daddy,” she replied.

Now, it sounds like I’m going to write a post dissing modern sculpture. But I’m not. I love the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. I’ve been many times now with my family and although my kids may not appreciate the subtleties of modern art, they do love a good run around and a clamber over randomly placed rocks.

There are permanent works by Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth and Sophie Ryder amongst others. They also have an exhibition on at the mo by an artist called David Nash. He works mainly in wood and his sculptures are very organic.

 

David Nash

YSP is a pretty unique place. Set in vast grounds, (if you want acreage you can look on their website), it’s just as much fun going for a stroll around the park, worrying sheep and enjoying a picnic as it is perusing the indoor galleries.

It’s free in, parking’s four quid and they have a decent gift shop and cafe. Though, my one criticism would be that, even though the food is lovely, the prices are a tiny bit steep for my liking. Well, I am a Yorkshireman, after all. It’s somewhere between Wakefield and Barnsley in south, West Yorkshire and north, South Yorkshire. Er… I’d Google map it if I were you. We go over from sunny Stocky which is a lovely jaunt over the Woodhead Pass.

I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone. If you like art, you’ll love it. If you’ve got kids, they’ll love it. If you like oxygen, you’ll love it.

Very unworried sheep

Sophie Ryder. (The sculpture, not my daughter.)

Barbara Hepworth

Henry Moore

Henry Moore?

Sophie Ryder

Sophie Ryder

David Nash

David Nash

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