Quentin Blake, The beautiful old 18thcentury manor house at Compton Verney is filled with vast collections of artwork,from the rustic British folk art to the monumental portraits of Naples. A permanentcollection celebrating cultures and art. However into was not the permanentcollection that caught my eye walking the halls, but rather a remarkableexhibition of Quentin Blake. Who is One of the most iconic illustrators, aswell as the most recognisable in my opinion.
Entering through a door you aconsumed, watching people stand and stare. So many different people fromdifferent places, all ages locked in the raw emotions of Blake’s work. Thebalance of realistic emotion with Blake’s recognisable style of illustration.He blends childhood, with images of Roald Dahl’s inspired work, leading to hismore mature work such as “Sadand Clown” which focus on more emotional and artist paths that some ofhis other book illustrations. Never the less all his works are admired bypeople. Their eyes gliding round the room, mouths hung open hushed awe, experiencingspectrum of emotion captured in ink and paint.
As a student of illustrationCompton Verney gave me an opportunity to see the process of one of the mostsuccessful illustrator, to experience the true power of illustration. I wasinspired to see notes scrawled across thumbnail sketches and planningtransformed stage by stage small changes in colour or a face mess images withcut out section layer with different ideas. Until a complete illustrationemerges. The layout of his work reflects this process remarkable showing inkmarked pages, smudged and ripped some traditionally framed other informallydisplayed as a collection of ideas almost as if they had come straight frombakes brain. To see his technique and how he thinks was highly informative.
However the most profound part of the entire exhibition was the last sectionthe viewer follows the collaboration of Quentin Blake and Michael Rosen and thestory of lost cumulates into a heart wrenching, tear jerking final frame of acandle left me standing alone in a room full of people some with tears in theireyes … and that shows the power of Quentin Blake. That is why I highlyrecommend going to this exhibition; it is the perfect blend of knowledge,beauty, emotions and nostalgia shown in a systematic order for a maximumeffect. And an amazing day trip, I would go again and to other Quentin Blakeexhibition. Thank you. Käthe KollwitzThe Ikon gallery in London, has a very few exhibitions but ofthose few Käthe Kollwitz is far above the rest.
She offers a griping look intothe world’s harsh reality. The grotesque images representing human grief anddespair she has an honest look at death and war. She captured the humandecimation and the decay of people after a traumatic event for example herpiece ‘ Woman with Dead Child, 1903’ it shows the way humans react to death, inboth physically and emotion way.
her work dose this through mixed media, her range of materialsusing black ink, charcoal , pen usingthese and a range of printing methods,such as lino and collograph prints all of these layered on top of a print all of these techniques add to the darker areas of the work. Her style ofartwork exaggerates the features of the human face often leaving part of it inshadows, and then the detail of the face fades away as light is introduced tothe art work, the use of tone in her work and the lack of colour reallyisolates the work. She focuses on dark and describing themes of death, abuseand war.
I found this work filled with raw emotions, a difficult thingillustrate but done beautifully by Kathy Kollwitz. She uses human figures indifficult positions, this gives a realistic appearance to the darken images. Theway she uses multiple methods and processes on a single images to layer thetone in the image. I also highlight particular lines in her work. The way KätheKollwitz work was displayed was minimal way that gave the prints a maximumimpact on the white walls, all at eye level. Leaving the viewer just looking atthe image alone this gave the work a more direct impact than if it had beensurrounded by colour. I think this is what got a strong reaction from peoplebecause there is no way of distracting people.
Watching people look at the workwas a slow experiences each person taking in every detail. The large open spaceplayed into the feeling of isolation. Her unsettling work could be a problem for some people but I found thatit needs to be as brutal but not in an insensitive way, Käthe Kollwitz doesn’tglorify the violent actions her work.
She focuses on the impact of the personclearly displaying emotions through their bodies. I would recommend this exhibition,it dark themes lead the viewer into a place that raises question about them. Whichin my opinion is what makes Käthe Kollwitz work a must see artist. It is adifferent experience from other galleys. A really interesting exhibition andone I highly recommend for an emotion connection, and a series of works thatare deeply impactful. The Lost Words. By Robert McFarland and Jackie MorrisThe natural world has become a mystery to present daychildren, words that have been lost, however the combined genius of RobertMcFarland and Jackie Morris found this problem a solution in their works of artand poetry.
By them exploring the natural world these forgotten words have beenfound again, Displayed in the halls of Compton Verney. Walking through thedoors, leading to the exhibition I was transported back into my childhood. Theroom filled with paintings. Jackie Morris’ work is filled with natural realism;she brings out the personality of her birds. A particular favourite of mine isher Wren she captures the magic of the wren by showing is small size but stillkeep the power the bird has.
She has truly captured what the birds are likemaking them interesting and visually pleasing her style reminds me of oldfashioned bird spotting books and the illustrations they have. Making Jackie’s workhave another element so people can reconcile the plants or animals she paints. Whilegazing in amazement at work so realistic, you could reach out and feel thefeather of a raven, the mischievous glint painted in its eyes. I drifted acrossto the words of Robert McFarland whose words breathe life into natural world. Hisdescriptions bring Jackie Morris’ art forward.
Their works are enhanced by thedisplay of the exhibition. The works are placed near a board with thecorresponding words. The order is the same as the book so you follow the lostwords in order.
Another part of the display is small cluttered desks andbookshelves hide in the corners, filled with field guilds, bird books, sketchesof birds and plants. A thinking process in motion. The entire display wasdesigned for children. A small interactive element that captures childrenattention.
The blend of words and art reminiscent of story books aperfect design for children. The works perfectly capture the wonder of being achild. Even with the exhibition and book being aim towards children. I foundthat it brought nostalgia out in its audience. Bringing back old memoriesmaking with work almost timeless. Raising the issue of nature, technology andit constant struggle between the two. This not only brings up the issue butprovides a solution.
Giving the lost words there meanings again. The lost words exhibition is a creative wayof connecting children and by extension families to the natural world. It use oftext and art blend together seamlessly creating a flowing narrative between theworks.
I would recommend going to this exhibition and buying the book as it istruly a beautiful way to experience wildlife in a creative and interestingbook. Compton Verney was a good location for work with its natural groundsfilled with trees and animals. It felt like a companion piece to the book, withthe desks in the display, it felt like walking into research project. A brilliant piece of work made by excellentartists. Monday the 27th of November, and sat in a roomslowly filling with students, ready to learn how to fly. The poster for ourlecture told use ‘Dan Fern, Learning to Fly’ and says that he will talk abouthis work as a fine artist and how we could develop an individual voice. However at the end of the talk I felt stuckon the ground.
I found this lecture unhelpful for me as an art student. Myfirst problem was in the presentation of this lecture, as some who strugglesinformation this lecture was difficult for me as it felt impersonal, Staring ata screen as image after image is dragged across it with long talks about each one, with our lecture satstaring at a laptop screen. It gave the impression that Dan fern wasn’t reallyinterested in connecting with his audiences.
With the lecture seemingly boredwith us I found myself getting lost the streams of places and names for eachimage feeling confused. The idea of asking questions shot down by listening tothe sharp responses to others who asked. The next problem came with the lectureits self something I had imagined more as a guild to the art industry through experienceswas actual just Dan Fern talking about his project and where he goes forinspiration and the thought behind his work witch would be interesting if thatwas what I was the lecture I was meant to see. I feel that this lecture wasaimed at a different audience that the students present. Despite my dislike of this lecture its savinggrace was the art work its self. Using very simple colour and natural materialshis work shapes vast landscapes, and the out of the box way of creating his artwas intriguing as is the complex research and the personal connection Dan fernhas with his work that reflects his life and the places he’s been is present inevery image. I love his use of text to draw focus to certain areas in his workthe use of mixed media and shapes makes the art bold and in any other artist hand some of the workwould be crowed but Fern manages to give each individual part its own spotlight.In conclusion I didn’t not enjoy the lecture for the above reasons however Idid enjoy the art work, I think the best way to have experiences this workwould have been and exhibition not a lecture as it was unique and interesting butsmothered in an unpleasant lecture.
This review is entirely my opinion. I wouldrecommend Dan ferns as an artist and I do enjoy his work, I will not beattending any more of his lectures. Thank you