I went to Sudbury, Suffolk recently, to see Gainsborough’s house. Very interesting – we devised a slightly alternative version of his life, piecing together the concrete information. I reckon he had quite a stressful working life, going to London early on (the right place for middle-class patrons) – whilst there he would have been obliged to get a posh studio in the right area whether he could afford it or not – posh clients wouldn’t want to be seen in a poor area. Then he went to Bath – maybe that was a bit cheaper, but still posh – we wondered why he moved? Then he returned to Sudbury and we wondered if that meant difficulties, not only in terms of making ends meet, but also he wasn’t entirely in line with Joshua Reynolds, the first principle of the R.A. Looks like his brother (who had made enough money to live elsewhere) moved out and allowed him & family to live in the house their father had originally bought. Looks like Gainsborough felt under pressure to keep up appearances as it were, and we did notice an increase of more ordinary local people in later portraits, so maybe he felt he had to take whatever work he could. What really inspired him though was aristocratic ladies with a bit of va-va-vroom, like ‘Mary, Countess Howe’ – now there was a fabulous woman!
I have been a member of Artspace Loughborough for a decade now having been a member, moving abroad, and come back so I thought it apt to write a few lines about belonging to an art group.
As artists, we tend to work in a fairly solitary manner. However in order to evolve, it is essential we communicate with like-minded people every so often, to support one another and divulge ideas.
One thing which I particularly like about being part of the group, is the diversity of the work of our group members. We often have positive critiquing sessions before we collectively exhibit. These are useful, insightful meetings where we show our work, conceptually, part way through, or finished and talk it through with others.
Skill sharing is another positive feature, which allows us as artists to evolve. We all use a wide variety of media, and can learn and share other skills on a didactic level as well as really useful things like setting up an exhibition (and all the jobs it entails!)
We all share a common interest which is a love of art in all of its’ forms. I highly recommend to anyone who is considering it. Find your tribe and stick to them.
This is a fabulous retrospective of ben Nicholson’s first wife at Djanogly Gallery at Nottingham University. First and foremost she was a terrific colourist, and also as an older person I found her inspirational as she remained so inspired, positive and interested in all things beautiful. Her subjects are often flowers, typically in a jar on a window sill, but then she was left with four children to look after while Ben went off with Barbara Hepworth – so are we surprised her subjects are often home-based? Anyway, I found the colour a real WOW! It’s inspirational, and her flowers are thick gutsy affairs, playing beautifully against the immediate surroundings. There are also her letters (nice friendly open handwriting). This show lifts the spirits – and it’s free.