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Hanna-Mae Illustration

Illustrator & eco clothing designer

Month

November 2016

Monthly Review: ‘Your Gallery’ Newport

What: ‘Your Gallery’ exhibition

When: Now – 20th January 2017

Where: Newport Museum & Art Gallery 

Admission: Free

About: This summer the public were invited to choose their favourite pieces from the gallery’s stored collection, which is comprised of over 200 pieces of artwork. The choices were put together to create the ‘Your Gallery’ exhibition, including a ‘young choice’ section.

What became blatantly obvious to me was that this was such an eclectic mix of styles! From the more traditional, idyllic scenes by the likes of Stanhope Forbes, to more contemporary and risque pieces such as ‘The Foolish Virgin’ by Gerda Roper, and Mary Fedden’s ‘Maltese Town’ which displays shapes and colours so bold and in contrast with the more reserved offerings. This can only be a good thing, as the collection is not tailored to one specific taste, but offers a plethora of variety, making it appeal to a wider audience.

For those who appreciate technical skill, there are a number of works that demonstrate precision and explore perspective. ‘Newport from George Street Bridge’ by John Meredith is the perfect example of painstaking still life work, with the shapes of the buildings and bridge almost being an homage to architecture, rather than the cityscape. However, one painting which I found myself unsure of was ‘Balloon Barrage’ by George Phillis. This piece in particular fixed my attention. Whilst the shapes boast of accuracy and obvious care, with structures being easily recognisable for what they are, there was something peculiar about the perspective that I couldn’t quite put my finger on; there seemed to be almost a flatness to the lower half of the painting, adding to the slightly surreal angle put on what would ordinarily pass as an ‘ordinary’ scene. The fact that Phillis uses an interesting colour gradient in the sky (orange to yellow, ascending eventually to vibrant blue) combined with a sight we’re not used to in our modern world (Barrage Balloons were commonly seen during the war over cities) makes the painting more than just an observational painting, but conjures some extra depth.

Phillis’s work isn’t the only to make use of colour though, with a particularly striking piece called ‘ Rhondda Sunday’ by Nan Youngman being a prime example of how tone and colour can be used to create an atmosphere. Youngman uses muted tones to convey with perfection the depressing atmosphere of the street. You can almost feel yourself stepping into the soaked street.

In addition to appealing to varied tastes, I also liked the inclusion of explanations on why each piece was chosen. I found it particularly pleasing that one was chosen by someone who had studied at Newport’s old art school, which has now been converted to apartments. I also feel the inclusion of a ‘young people’s’ area was a lovely touch, particularly as I feel art and creativity should feature more in education.

Elsewhere in the gallery (which is limited in space, yet makes the very best of it) there’s the unmissable video/audio space which shows the work of artist David Garner. His exhibition, titled ‘Respond’, was inspired by coins in the museum’s Chartism area. His piece titled ‘Pennies for the People’, which is a chandelier made using two pence coins stamped with words relating to austerity, is shown hanging in the Chartist Cave, Llangyndir, accompanied by admittedly the most unique and offbeat harp music I have heard to date. Rhodri Davies uses music to convey feeling, and I was not surprised to learn that the piece was improvised. Truly from his feelings.

David Garner’s coin chandelier can be viewed downstairs in the museum in the Chartist area, a choice which I feel to be beneficial (as opposed to being on display in the gallery area) as it encourages the viewer to enter into the history of Newport and fully appreciate where Garner is coming from.

Although the exhibition is one of the best I’ve seen in Newport over the years, there were small details that I felt were missing. It would have been valuable to have included the mediums used in each piece (although it’s always fun to look at the textures and make a guess!) and information leaflets like those used to describe David Garner’s work would have been appreciated. However, the desk staff are always more than happy to talk you through the exhibitions and a brief description is displayed on a wall.

Unfortunately if you’d like to purchase a souvenir of the exhibition you won’t find it. As a self-confessed art postcard hoarder, I would love to have been able to bring home a reminder of the wonderful work as I do when visiting any gallery. The exhibition is small and you will only need to put aside an hour to have a real good delve into the art and museum. However, if you’re passing, or visiting the city, it’s worth a look.

 

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Creativity inspires creativity

‘House by the Railroad’, ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’,’The Goldfinch’…what do all these paintings have in common? The fact that they inspired someone enough to fuel their own inspiration, and create a whole narrative.

Over the past two weeks I’ve been considering the way in which we view art and allow our thoughts and impressions to create meaning beyond that intended by the artist. It cast my mind back to my dissertation, titled: ‘Forms of perception: To what extent does our physiology influence our interpretation of symbolic images in comparison to learnt cultural influences?’It’s interesting to see how one persons interpretation of a scenario can differ so vastly from another, which is exactly what happened last week when my writing group was presented with Georges Seurat’s ‘A Sunday on La Grande Jatte’ (1884).

A Sunday on La Grande Jatte - 1884
Seurat,1884,source link

With the majority of us having limited background knowledge on the piece (therefore being influenced  by contextual aspects only to a very small degree) the way in which each individual ‘read’ what was happening in the scene differed from person to person.

Last week I took you on a tour of my work space, including my ‘inspiration wall’, which contains many art postcards. The images that make it to my wall all have one thing in common: they take me somewhere else. They’re not just images, they’re visual stories which set my mind on a path to either imagined places, or evoke a feeling or memory. Below are some wonderful works from very talented artists whose work sets you wondering about the story behind the image. (Please click title links for full size and additional info)

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‘Dark Forest’

Nick Tripiciano

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‘Under the Table’

Dario Mekler

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‘Tribute to Debi Bismarck’

Dustin Panzino (Inkwell Illustration)

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And my own work open for interpretation: ‘One for Sorrow‘ Oil & pencil.

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Did you guess the books/movie linked with the artwork mentioned in the beginning?

‘House by the Railroad’ 1925 by Edward Hopper is said to have inspired the Bates house in Psycho.

‘Girl With a Pearl Earring’ 1665 by Johannes Vermeer inspired the novel of the same name by Tracy Chevalier and was later turned into a film.

‘The Goldfinch’ 1654 by Carel Fabritius inspired the book of the same name by Donna Tartt.

Welcome to my world

From the a tiny Boat House favoured by Dylan Thomas, to JK Rowling’s favourite cafe – we find our creative juices flowing in surroundings unique to our personalities. In this post I’m inviting you to come on a tour of my own work space, and take a peek into a space which has become an extension of myself.

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My work space essentials:

  • Spacious desk
  • DAB radio
  • daylight magnifying lamp
  • tissues
  • A clock
  • My tools

workspacecollage

I find inspiration in the most unusual places, above you’ll see some beautifully illustrated, colourful boxes. These contained coffee, and were just too beautiful to throw away. I love the colour contrasts used and how art can merge with the ‘everyday’. My postcard wall has been building over the years, and is a visual diary of the places I’ve visited and the exhibitions I’ve seen. I also collect quotes and poetry that remind me to be thankful and keep creating when I’m lacking inspiration. The most unusual thing on my wall are authentic 1970’s party invitations (top row) which I found in a junk shop in Cardigan, West Wales; the colours are garish, and I felt they really reflected the aesthetic style of the time.

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I used to store my artwork away in folders but realised they were pointless if I left them hiding away, so over the past year I’ve started to fill my walls with work from the past few years that I’ve been happy with. I think reminding yourself of what you’re capable of can be a boost when you’re feeling frustrated and not achieving the results you want with a piece you’re working on. I also have my degree on display for the same reason – to zap any feelings of uselessness and belief that ‘I can’t do it’.

workspace2collage

 

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