Moody girls with shiny noses……..and…..Jazz!

“Inesvigo” (Inconsequential) on YouTube is a constant source of pleasure. The combination of paintings with a musical backing gives a short journey into the imagination and concerns of each artist that he chooses to portray. For instance, I have just discovered the bohemian, metropolitan world of Milt Kobayashi.

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These paintings by Kobayashi give a glimpse of what I assume to be New York and perhaps Hawaii. They are interesting as a documentation of a historical and social context which is as vivid of the era as, for instance, Christian Schad is of the Weimar Period. The execution is quite different however and very expressive and not dissimilar from the Plymouth painter, Robert Lenkiewicz. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Lenkiewicz 

It is clear that his work is much influenced by the famous French Painters like Degas, Lautrec and Manet. Perhaps indeed some were painted in Paris as the bottles and tablecloths seem to intimate. Often the subjects, treated with moving sympathy seem filled with melancholy -that the Germans call “Wehmutig”.

This is what Inesvigo writes:-“He was born in New York but soon moved to Oahu, Hawaii with his family. At age eight he went to Los Angeles. After graduating from the University of California in 1970, he began working as an illustrator. In 1977 he returned to New York and when he visited the Metropolitan Museum his artistic career changed when he saw a portrait of Velazquez’s Juan de Pareja. He began to study the work of Whistler, Chase and Sargent, who had Velazquez’s influence. Then he studied Japanese painting of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The perspective of Japanese art provided harmony in color, composition and drawing – Kobayashi has received two important awards: the National Academy of Design’s Ranger Purchased Award and the Allied Arts Silver Medal. His work has appeared in the magazines Forbes, Fortune and Reader’s Digest”

St Ives in Mid-October

The town is at last fairly free of tourists and today the St Ives Archive Centre-situated presently in Carbis Bay- is presenting an exhibition of St Ives in the 1970s. Actually the photographic display ( of Sam Bennets) goes back a good deal earlier to Doble’s Wall, sailing ships and coaches (which used to be called charabancs)jammed together in narrow streets. The awkward relation between traffic and pedestrians being one constant through the years. The Archive Centre next year is concentrating on the Torrey Canyon and the promenade Fire,{http://www.stivesarchive.co.uk/}

St Ives Archive at the Western Hotel (19/10/16)
St Ives Archive at the Western Hotel (19/10/16)

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View from Norway Square
View from Norway Square

The promenade is still warm enough to eat outside so that Kaffekultur survives despite the horrors of Brexit with a great view of Jumbos and other older craft inside the harbour. Polish, German and other newspapers are available from the tiny newsagents opposite the lodge. The atmosphere is more relaxed and it is much easier to move around the town without the impediment of advertising boards and hawkers. The only guy playing a guitar in Fore Street providing a suitably melancholy, but not too plangent  melody.

St Ives "Jumbo" vessels http://www.stivesjumbo.com/
St Ives “Jumbo” vessels http://www.stivesjumbo.com/

In the Penwith Gallery( http://www.penwithgallery.com/current-exhibition/) the Autumn Exhibition looks more colourful than ever and the sculpture and the ceramics are eye-catching too. This gallery deserves to be better known. In addition there is a section which is entitled Resurgence by Sue Davis and Anthony Fagin which is both inspiring and vivid. The press release states,” The exhibition takes as its central theme the regenerative power of the environment to recover from global despoliation whether from natural processes or human overexploitation. However it also reminds us – although not in any figurative sense – that while we may inhabit a world of ineffable beauty and bounteous resources, there is nevertheless a tipping point beyond which global recovery from continuing abuse will be impossible. Notwithstanding the gravity of their message, the approach of both artists to their work is positive and life affirming” (http://www.anthonyfagin.co.uk/publications/PRESS_RELEASE_resurgence.pdf)si2

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Wilhelmina and Stanley in St Ives

The current exhibition in the Penlee Museum in Penzance lasts until 19th November and is certainly worth seeing for many reasons: its variety of styles, the contrasts between her life in Scotland and St Ives, the photographs, her green transparent glaciers and the more abstract endeavours of her later years. There are paintings which are reminiscent of Christopher Wood, bright touches that are reminiscent of Cezanne and the harmonies of Paul Klee can be glimpsed in the waves and beach scenes. wbg6

The view above was painted in 1940 http://www.barns-grahamtrust.org.uk/ -and features the Catholic Church on the left as well as the Church of St Ia almost in the middle. The buildings are vertically elongated which gives them an interesting attenuated quality, The grass of the Island and the roof tiles appear in orange against the predominate blue of the sea. The tide is half way in and the crane on the West Pier is just about visible.

Just a few years before, in early summer 1937, much the same scene was painted by Sir Stanley Spencer. It is interesting to compare the resulting works.stan2

The foreground in Spencer’s painting show palm trees and in general the perspective is given a detailed treatment. There is a large boat alongside the pier. The West Pier is shown in full from this angle and the Island and Downalong shown in considerable detail. The tide level is just a little further inshore. The Mariner’s Church and slipway are both clearly delineated. Spencer became a member of the St Ives Society of Artists. He painted other pictures of the town including this atmospheric painting evidently from the promenade.stan3

Here too is a painting showing the coluration of the rocks and fishing boats equipped with sails along with the coast beyond Hayle in the background. Perhaps painted from the rocks on the town side of Porthgwidden. The lighthouse at Godrevy as made famous by Virginia Woolf in 1927.ssfishing-boats-st-ives-1937

Barns- Graham excels in her sketches which are often interesting in their composition and dabs of spare but effective colour. The palette of yellow against grey below shows this in a view crested by The Island.

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Summer in West Penwith in Black and White

Inspired by this Youtube clip of Berlin taken in 2015 in black and white, I decided to take a look at some, mostly “street” photographs I have taken  out and about in Penzance, Newlyn and St Ives this Summer.

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There are two analogue photography websites i would like to recommend:-

www.ishootfilm.de

and for the forthcoming Newlyn Arts Festival

http://www.homemadeproject.net

the latter will be at the Newlyn Art Gallery

Some German Photographers of the 1930s

 

More than twenty years ago there was an excellent bookshop at the bottom of Station Hill in Truro. It was manned by a man who looked like a taller version of Alan Bennet who wore a white pullover and so the shop became known in our family as the “White Man’s”. He may well have read English at University because there was an excellent stock of poetry, criticism and literary collections. It was in the front part of the shop that art and photography books were stocked. It was here that I discovered a magnificent book of photographs by Roman Vishniac. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_VishniacI }that was called “Children of a Vanished World” and was more than I could then afford. It was, however, quite stunning to peruse and an astonishing invocation of the past. As one reviewer on Amazon writes:-

“In this book we can see the faces of the children who disappeared a few years later in the Shoah. Just look at them, they are children like all the others in the world; beautiful, funny, playing, studying, and so on. Lives which were brutally cut in the most monstrous way in human history. If they had lived, they would have been merchants, rabbis, doctors, lawyers; some of them would have been known as novelists, scientists, and so on. Why had the world to live without their talents they wanted to show us?”

Roman Vishniac
Roman Vishniac

Vishniac photographed many subjects including microscopic biological specimens but it is this collection about the Shtetel which made him famous. In a way it provides a complement to the magical paintings of Chagall. Also I started to read “Shtetel” by Eva Hoffmann which is also interesting on this topic.p2

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However, more recently,it is the Berlinische Galerie which opened my eyes to two further interesting photographers in their collection-http://www.berlinischegalerie.de/en/museum-berlin/forschung/grant/ These are Steffi Brandl and Erich Salomon. Brandl’s work is remarkable for it’s portrait and figure photography. Her compositions are unfailingly interesting and captivating. So captivating that I made sketches whist viewing them.p4p5 These are sophisticated photographs that work to capture the essence of the subjects in the lens. She was born in Vienna in 1899 as Stephanie Olsen and trained there under Trude Fleischmann and then married an architect, Ernst Brandl   moving to Berlin in 1926. She had a studio at 211 on the Kurfurstendamm and was forced to emigrate to England in 1933-she moved to New York where she died in 1966.

Erich Salomon’s work is similarly of great interest. In talking of his technique, wikipedia.de says the following:-

Übliche Arbeitsgeräte der Pressefotografen waren seinerzeit unhandliche Plattenkameras für Glasnegative bis 13 × 18 cm. Salomon erwarb wenige Monate nach seinen ersten fotografischen Erfahrungen eine Ermanox-Kamera. Diese war ein neu entwickelter, relativ kleiner Fotoapparat mit dem seinerzeit lichtstärksten serienmäßig hergestellten Objektiv (1:2) und einem Schlitzverschluss, der Belichtungszeiten von 1/20–1/1000 sec erlaubte. Mit der Ermanox waren Momentaufnahmen auch bei schwachem Licht, Fotos in Innenräumen ohne Stativ und Blitzlichtmöglich. Als fotografisches Bildmaterial dienten Glasplatten von 4,5 × 6 cm in Einzelkassetten, von denen man problemlos eine größere Anzahl bei sich tragen konnte. 1930 kam eine Leicahinzu – noch leichter und unauffälliger als die Ermanox.

Esentially this says that press photographers used to have to use large glass plates 13x18cm in size, However, Salomon developed the technique by using a newly developed Ermanox camera which was small with a mass produced lens that allowed exposure times of 1/20 to 1/1000 sec and could therefore be used in low light conditions i.e. indoor photography using flash so that the size of the plates were considerably reduced.and a number of plates could be stored in the box which the photographer manhandled. Hence a series of shots might be made.By the 1930s the even smaller and less conspicuous Leica was developed.

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Much more can be said about the dramatic life of this photographer who would indeed make a good subject for a film. Among the images which interested me that Salomon made was a photograph in 1938 taken in the Austrian Embassy in London. It shows, of course King George and the young Queen but also the Austrian Chancellor Kurt Alois Josef Johann Schuschnigg whose attempts to keep Austria independent were just about to fail before the Anschluss. After the invasion by Nazi Germany he was arrested, kept in solitary confinement and eventually interned in various concentration camps. Salomon’s fate was worse- as a Jew attempting to escape he was caught in 1940 in the Low Countries and died in Auschwitz in 1944. erich

Some views of Cornwall Open Studios 2016

Open Studios can indeed be a pleasant opportunity to travel around Cornwall, meet artists in their studios and, of course, purchase perhaps some pieces of their work. Not least is the fun of returning to Krowji and seeing new artists and new developments in what has become a vital and innovative centre for craft, jewellery, painting, prints and pottery situated in the old Redruth Grammar School and brand new studios.NH4NH1

It was great to view the outstanding ceramics made by Nic Harrison, hand thrown forms rooted in the Leach tradition. Nic having worked at the Leach pottery now has a splendidly appointed studio at Penhale Jakes in Ashton near Helston. Oxides of iron, copper and cobalt produce some wonderful coloured glazes. His work may be seen at http://www.nicharrison.com

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Also of considerable interest, because I particularly like the medium, were watercolour studies done both in Spain and locally in West Penwith of Paul Armitage. He has an exhibition coming up at the Trereife Gallery near Newlyn between 20th June and 5th July, this year 2016. The palette of earth tones and greys which he uses have a charming lyrical quality.

http://www.essextyler.com/artist/paul-armitageNH3

After travelling down the high lanes full with the abundance of early summer flowers, a warm welcome awaits in the surreal atmosphere of the Melting Pot cafe in Krowji. Once a Grammar School staffroom it now has something of what I imagine a Zurich kneipe might have developed in the 1920s. The stage seems about to erupt into some avant-garde spectacle.

Visiting Penwith Gallery-March 2016 in St Ives

Even on an overcast day, walking along Lambeth Walk is a pleasure. Just along from the slumbering elegance of the St Ives Arts Club are the reinforced portholes of the Porthminster Gallery. Currently among the many interesting and varied pieces on display here  are the intriguing ceramic tiles of the Austrian artist Regina Heinz.  http://www.porthminstergallery.co.uk/ The sea has always drenched over Lambeth Walk in Spring Tides, but dull or in the early Spring sunshine, the turnstones are a welcome sight. They seem to have appeared during the time that the seagulls have become more aggressive when swooping indiscriminately down to snatch the lunches or suppers of unwitting and hapless tourists. The turnstones are currently abundant and closely related to sandpipers.Turnstones

Currently the Tate Gallery in St Ives is closed although, of course, the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden is open. Details are available at http://www.tate.org.uk/visit/tate-st-ives/admission-opening-times. A worthy alternative to the Tate Gallery is the Penwith Gallery where at http://www.penwithgallery.com/about/ it is stated that,”In 1960, the present site, then a pilchard-packing factory, was acquired and converted into a gallery, with artists’ studios above. In 1970 adjacent property became available, and the artist members, assisted by Barbara Hepworth, sought funds to create the present group of galleries, studios and workshops. To take on the task of maintaining its buildings and workshops, to arrange the programme of exhibitions and execute the gallery business the Penwith Galleries Ltd. was created.” Just opposite the Ropewalk where, of course, rope was manufactured, it was here that Troika pottery had it’s workshop and showroom.

Jane Yates
Pot by Jane Yates

The current exhibition runs until April 19th and visitors are likely to find it various with many works to catch the eye. There are the well-known and established favourites like Antony Frost, John Piper and Noel Betowski (whose work from a previous exhibition is shown on the clip above)  as well as painters who have recently joined such as Jessica Cooper;mentioned previously on this blog. In addition to the paintings both pottery and sculpture are on display in this well-lit environment.

Classical Head by John Emanuel
Classical Head by John Emanuel

Two works caught my attention and set off trains of thought. The first was a small work by John Emanuel, who moved to St Ives in 1964 (his work is often to be seen at the charming Belgrave Gallery just off Fore Street-http://www.belgravestives.co.uk/) and is a delightful classical head. Hearing the sound of the sea in the distance might prompt us to these lines of Homer from “The King of Asine” in the Illiad:-

And the poet lingers, looking at the stones, and asks himself
does there really exist
among these ruined lines, edges, points, hollows, and curves
does there really exist
here where one meets the path of rain, wind, and ruin
does there exist the movement of the face, shape of the
tenderness
of those who’ve shrunk so strangely in our lives,
those who remained the shadow of waves and thoughts with
the sea’s boundlessness

(http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/181850)

Jason Lilley
Jason Lilley

The second work attracted my attention because it reminded me of the abstract expressionism of Adolph Gottleib. I have often noticed the attractive prints of Jason Lilley – http://jasonlilley.co.uk/gallery_cornwall_artist_jason_lilley.html However, the similarity with Gottlieb may be judged from the accompanying images below. GottliebAdolph_summary

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