Category Archives: Influences

Albrect Dürer

I’m watching the documentary ‘Ego:The Strange and Wonderful World of Self-Portraits‘ on BBC 4 and what a wonder it is. It begins with the now obligatory nod to the Selfie Revolution and today’s all pervading narcissism.

It then moves onto one of the most glorious self-portraits made by an artist ever.


The self-portrait by Albrect Dürer painted in 1500 is like the ultimate hipster having let his top-knot down for a vain, self-conscious mirror selfie to post on a famous ‘swipe right’ site. His golden curls are tight and precise, draped evenly over his shoulders, like a pyramid, like his capital ‘A’ & ‘D’,  his initials with a cropped crown. He is dressed in silk and fur with the shadow of the latest iPhone just peeking from his hand. The self-portrait is strong and confident and face on to the viewer, yet the eyes are looking over the viewers left shoulder. Like the viewer is less important than the reflection of the artists’ image in the mirror. Dürer is Rock-God and I am his ultimate groupie. Shocking in his time for the likeness to Jesus. This painting is mesmerising and I had almost forgotten how much I love him and his work. A consummate draughtsman and printmaker, one of the artists I had to study during my traditional art school training. Revisiting an artwork, or even an artist, ensures you revisit yourself and your own practice, and ultimately grow & develop  that practice  further.

In addition to the image above, the documentary, presented by Laura Cumming (the Observer’s Art critic), looks at 5 centuries of Self-Portraiture and there are many examples of fine work. In particular, the closer look at the variety of Rembrandt’s self-portraits and her visit to the Vasari Corridor, in the Uffizi Museum, which houses the largest collection of Artist’s Self-Portraits in the world.

The link to BBC iPlayer is only live for a further 23 days and please be aware that you may not be able to access this programme from outside the UK.



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‘Show Home 139’ City Lit Summer Show 2016

Thoroughly enjoyed visiting the student show at Safehouse 1 in Peckham Fri (show ends Sun 10th July 2016).

Like walking into one’s past the venue reminded me of an 80s squat. All bare, patchy, damaged plaster, skeleton walls, non-existent floors & missing fireplaces. Lovely, if slightly scary.

Once over that initial dose of déjà vu one could start concentrating on the work. I really enjoyed seeing the diverse work on show and to see the development of some student’s work since last year’s show.

Here are some images of what/who stood out for me.

All above images by Katrina Nunn. Kate has definitely progressed a huge amount within the last year. In particular, her monochrome drawings, made one a week over a period of months, is equally engaging as it is sophisticated.  On first view these black on white drawings look like etchings. They are precise and detailed but of an unknown abstract form. However, they are indeed one-off drawings, tracings even, of the left over marks and brush strokes by previous students using the same table at City Lit college. These are meditative works of focus and determination. Kate weilds her pen to produce these seemingly abstract pieces. They are in fact true recordings of realism; a realism that is at once familiar to most artists, that what we leave behind, is often more interesting than our intentions.

The two pieces containing colour are a direct development of last year’s work, with the addition of both paper cutting and back illumination. They play with the surrounding peeled plaster of many colours on the aging Victorian walls of this space. The cuts are fine, to the point where it is difficult at first to realise it is light peeking through them, rather than some other painterly trick of luminescence. 

Other really notable work by several of the other exhibitors.

Above is the wearable performance sculpture by Vasiliki Stasinaki, ‘Hoist with my own Petard’ made up of balls of newspaper wrapped in images of people’s protest and revolutionary conflicts throughout this and the last Century. Amongst the faces, those of Diego Rivera and his wife Frida Khalo, staring out at you in defiance, challenging you to a duel of idealogy. Ms Stasinaki, a trained dancer, combines her talents to produce politically charged art. She will be commencing her masters in Belfast in the Autumn and I wish her well and look forward to seeing the work she will produce in and about that city.

Above are some images by John Collier. Channelling his inner John Piper. I love these inky architectural drawings and wonder whether the fire extinguisher has been intentionally placed by that ‘flaming’ red terrace?

Above images by Wendy Charlton. Her work is issue based, in particular focused on planned regeneration of the Broadwater Farm estate and a comment on the social cleansing of London. Her work takes up a whole wall downstairs and comprises of a large mixed media piece pictured above. Displayed alongside are many testimonies from residents. These texts are pinned to the main visual via red threads, making the whole installation seem like a crime scene investigation. Wendy’s work is ongoing and is an important social document that is pertinent to many communities in London and beyond.

Above are some of the works by Emma SpillerShe has a variety of work on show, most of which includes ceramics this year. I thought the skin surfaces and scars very successful and know these are a progression on her work of last year, based on her experience of breast cancer. I particularly liked the display furniture used to enshrine and catalogue her work. A very effective way to keep an audience away from these precious samples of work and at the same time perhaps archiving the emotions that are associated with such a difficult time? There are also some black and white ceramic sculptures on show that are quite removed, on first viewing, from the other body of work. However, their monochromatic stillness, suggest they would look very dramatic upscaled to much larger, even life-sized pieces. 

I look forward to seeing how this work develops further. 

Above is just two elements of an installation upstairs by Pete Hardy.

More use of lovely but discarded and damaged, brown furniture. It is placed in a corner of the house that has a real medley of wall surfaces and textures. The installation has a melancholy feel about it at first but the use of mini copper sculptures within the wireless and pristine white plaster/ceramics (?) displayed next to a clock without a face speak to me of humour and hope. It raises many questions for me, but unfortunately on this occasion I didn’t get the opportunity to have them answered by the artist.

All is not what it seems in 139…especially this weekend. 

Congratulations to the tutors/curators and students for such an inspiring show and choice of venue.

Address & dates in first image of the show poster.

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Good Men Suffer

Os bons vi sempre passar
No mundo graves tormentos;
E para mais me espantar,
Os maus vi sempre nadar
Em mar de contentamentos.

Ever in this world saw I
Good men suffer grave torments,
But even more—
Enough to terrify—
Men who live out evil lives
Reveling in pleasure and in content.

“Esparsa ao Desconcerto do Mundo”, translation from Luís de Camões and the Epic of the Lusiads (1962) by Henry Hersch Hart, p. 111

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