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Art Special

#58: An Art Special – 07/07/2019

The Other Art Fair is headlined as an art fair for a new generation of art buyers and it is presented by Saachti Art, BUT ‘This isn’t an end of the line!’ I hear you say so why is this included?

Well I was visiting by invitation from Saroj Patel who I’d met during the street art festival in Croydon last September, and I welcomed the opportunity to attend as during my travels I’ve encountered art in many shapes, forms and sizes. Most recently whilst visiting Battersea Park, where the prominence of large scale art designed around/within new building development is growing, and I for one welcome and enjoy it. 

Not that I’m an out and out art enthusiast, but I know what I like and I’m intrigued by things I don’t understand. This is a relatively short blog, and is more of a means of bringing ART to you as well as providing a platform for those artists I met and whose work I enjoyed and discussed with them.

The Other Art Fair consisted of 100 established local and international artists, and additionally included eight 2019 graduates from Central Saint Martins who had been given the opportunity to show their final graduation exhibition earlier this year.

But what is art? – here are some sayings captured from over the centuries:

  • A picture is a poem without words – Horace
  • Art doesn’t have to be pretty. It has to be meaningful – Duane Hanson
  • Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time – Thomas Merton
  • Art is born of the observation and investigation of nature – Cicero
  • Art is literacy of the heart – Elliot Eisner
  • Art is not what you see, but what you make others see – Edgar Degas
  • Life imitates art far more than art imitates life – Oscar Wilde
  • Painting is just another way of keeping a diary – Pablo Picasso
  • You don’t take a photograph, you make it – Ansel Adams

Saroj Patel – graduated with a BA Hons in graphic design in Leeds and now with an MA in Fine Art at Central Saint Martins in 2019. As part of her final work, entitled Taraxa, Saroj was excited to have been selected to exhibit at The Other Art Fair. Saroj is enthusiastic and passionate about her work and creations and has a vision of creating large scale 3D installations incorporating textile and paints. Have a look at her website and Instagram page for more examples of her work, but here are a few from my collection. 

Chris Close – Chris’ work stands out as the quality of his printed photographs are of the highest standard. Large scale landscape prints, deep in tone give the photographs a moody feel. Such is the quality of the photographs that you could be forgiven for thinking they are very fine art, and this is attributed in part to the materials he uses to complement the quality of the pictures taken.

We chatted for a while about the advent of digital photography and how there’s a resurgence in purists returning to Black & White photography using film – aha, that’s where I grew up. Chris also owns an independent Gallery in Edinburgh where other elite photographers are represented. 

Amber Roper : The Blühen Studio – another graduate from Central Saint Martins with a BA in Textile Designs, Amber’s enthusiasm for her woven work shone through when we spoke. Her works on display were of coloured wool woven over hand prepared frames and she explained her creativity in designing the colour combinations flow from her naturally. A delightful lady who was happy to chat and share her passion for her work, which is now internationally recognised. 

Francesca Borgo: Frabor Art – I stopped by to admire Francesca’s paintings as they had a simplicity about them, and yet a depth in what they represented. To me, they provided a reminder of home in Aberystwyth with a horizon splitting the sea and sky. There was nothing discernable in the paintings but the colour combination, softness and tone made them inviting. Talking with Fransecsca she explained she now lives in Trieste with the Adriatic as her palette overlooking Venice in the distance and the mountains of Slovenia and Croatia behind her. No doubt landscapes that clearly inspire her colour palette. I didn’t take any pictures but please visit her website and Instagram page

Merab Surviadze – born in Tbilisi, Georgia, Merab has on display two particular artworks that caught my eye. Both are representative of his style and consists of 3D acrylic paint works from his latest collection entitled Shadows. One in particular has tiny figures placed on canvass as if they are crossing a zebra crossing, and looking closely at the second, the yellow splashes of paint could symbolise people with black lines emanating from them suggesting a shadow.

Jonathan Speed – Jonathan’s work had a contemporary feel similar to Franseca’s (see above) although his style was quite different. The impression is one of moody peace and tranquility inspired from cloud formation and sea/sky horizons. Blues and reds are the main colour palettes of Jonathan’s work on display, which has a style not dissimilar to JMW Turner.  You can view Jonathan’s work here.

Talia Golchin – a multi-disciplinary, self-taught artist who explores themes revolving around ‘human behaviour’, her art reflects a novel, intelligent and sometimes humorous perception of the world.

The work on display, entitled Those we love and Loathe ‘…is a series of artwork depicting a sardonic view of the most reviled and admired personalities of the past century. The art is designed to stimulate both visual and intellectual senses as well as question the perception of the world around us when examined in detail…’. 

In essence there are two layers of images. The backdrop comprises of postcards for escort services similar to the type you may find littering phone boxes, and the frontispiece are other cards in a similar style, but of famous/infamous historical figures. The artwork extends boundaries too as you’re invited to ring the advertised number getting you through to a prerecorded voice message in a style you may expect to hear as if you were ringing the numbers from the cards in the background. A provocative piece indeed… Here’s Talia’s Instagram page

Ravji Dedhia Unadkat – this artists’ husband was looking after the exhibition and he explained that the work I was admiring was influenced by the artists enjoyment of playing the piano and the vertical keys were actually bits of canvas cut from other work of hers. The keys are also laced with gold so that in the right light, the piece glistens.

Picture of the Day

I caught this gent studying the narrative about the Graduate Art Prize and he was oblivious to his surroundings so I quickly caught the moment. I’ve cropped the original shot to remove any unnecessary distraction and applied a Google Photos Vista Black & White filter to add a measure of graininess to emphasise the monotone outcome.

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5; Shutter Speed – 1/125; Focal Length – 25mm; Film Speed – ISO100; Google Photo Filter – Vista (B&W)

Social Media

YouTube, Instagram, Google PhotosTriptipedia – here I share some tips I use when travelling around London. A different twist on my ‘end of the line’ story

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#21: West Croydon – 07/09/2018

Other than a fleeting visit to East Croydon during a recent visit to Wimbledon, I’d not been to Croydon before, so my only awareness of the area has been influenced by media reports and personal accounts of friends and work colleagues. But as with other places I’ve been to, by keeping an open mind and a willingness to talk, it’s surprising what can be seen and learnt. Croydon was no different; in fact there was an unexpected surprise that made this visit so memorable – read on…

The Station

West Croydon sits as one of the four terminal stations of services out from HIghbury & Islington and shares its location with Southern rail with onward destinations to Surrey, and adjacent to West Croydon Tramlink.

This is a fairly typical functional commuter station with passengers seen rushing to and from trains eager to look at their mobile phones rather than their surrounds. But a glance up and around will reveal how The Energy Garden project, through its friends at West Croydon are brightening up the station.

It’s fair to say the long hot summer has taken its toll slightly on some of the floral displays, but when I met Helen and Grace, two enthusiastic volunteers just finishing off their watering for the morning, their passion, enjoyment and commitment in what they were doing just shone through as we chatted about their work and how else they could further improve the displays. It was lovely to meet you two ladies, and this meeting helped set my journey into Croydon up with a smile.

Rise Festival

Getting into the heart of Croydon, I was struck by the number of, and quality of street art on display. Why do I call it ‘street art’ and not graffiti? The populist understanding and legal distinction is that of ‘permission’ being given for street art, but a quick Google search reveals a multitude of interpretations. Nevertheless, I knew what I liked and I was in awe of the scale of artistry on display. It turns out I arrived in Croydon in the middle of London’s largest urban arts festival and artists could be seen throughout the town. As the festival moves on, the artist’s work is displayed on the festival’s Instagram account

What made this special was that the scale of the art being crafted was no barrier: the size of the murals already painted and outlined ready to be painted were on a massive scale. Artists using spray paints, brushes of all sizes, and even rollers with the artists poised on ladders, scaffolding and even cherry pickers. Once realising what was happening, I became consumed by the colours and creativity and felt compelled to talk to the artists, all of whom were more than happy to share their thoughts and the history of their work. There is a risk I could flood this blog with just this item and pictures, but in the interest of balance here’s a sample of the pictures that caught my eye, and the artists I met:

  • Morgan Davy who could be found painting on the entrance doors of a disused 60’s high rise building opposite the Town Hall. Morgan explained this creation was a re-interpretation of an earlier piece painted on the original entrance but now boarded up to prevent rough sleepers from using the sheltered space. Check out his Facebook and Instagram pages
  • Saroj Patel who I found painting in Matthews Yard and was just outlining her creation, later entitled ‘Shakti’. I felt her work has a particular uniqueness blending light colours with fine art drawing. See the finished Shakti and more of Saroj’s work on her Instagram page
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I also got chatting with Tom, a professional photographer who had been commissioned by the festival to take photos of the various works, as he was taking a time lapse sequence of a work being created alongside the steps leading down from the Arcade into Surrey Street Market…and curiously, he said he had just finished working for a company called the EndoftheLine – how bizarre

Let me indulge you with some of my other collections from the festival I felt compelled to capture.

Social Commentary

By contrast, here are some examples of graffiti, and some interesting wall plaques I found in Station Road, tucked away in a quiet corner of West Croydon used to promote social gatherings.

Buildings

Croydon is sometimes portrayed as a bit of a concrete jungle with high rise towers, and in the northern part I would agree, with modern apartment developments, Government and multinational companies occupying architecturally un-interesting buildings blotting out the skyline and creating wind tunnels. However the deeper into the heart of Croydon I walked, the more I saw of the town’s commercial history, its historic Victorian architecture and its retained facades. The following shots represent an eclectic mix of the town’s delights through its historic facade:

…and its more modern facade:

Places to gather

…and finally, the heart of Croydon, it’s people and where they interact, and there’s no better place than to find the best examples in shared spaces. By that I mean shopping spaces and entertainment spaces. The High Street is Croydon’s main artery and at its northern end, you have the Whitgift and Centrale shopping centres. The High Street is awash with market and food stalls with local workers queuing up for a taste of the myriad of flavours on offer.

Continue south through the entertainment centre, and further into Croydon’s self styled Restaurant Quarter where you’re spoilt for choice by the food on offer; a gastronomic delight I’m sure.

My journey’s end was at Boxpark Croydon, adjacent to Croydon East station. This was an unexpected find as the inside, a shared eating/drinking/entertainment space, was full of folk sharing their end of the week stories whilst listening to the DJ mixing his decks. An exciting place to end the week; or start the weekend…

…and so the weary travels meanders homewards…

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Picture of the Day

This is one of the many wonderful public art on display throughout Croydon as part of the 2018 Rise Festival. A wonderful innovation bringing art to the masses on a grand scale, which really made my day. Not only for the diversity of art on display, but also for the opportunity to meet and talk to several artists who were preparing their own murals.

As soon as I saw this piece, I was in awe of its scale, message and simplicity which is the trademark of its creator – David Hollier; a Wolverhampton born fine artist who now works out of New York.

I stood for quite a while reading the passage, which comes from Sir Winston Churchill’s famous ‘We’ll fight them on the beaches’ speech given to the House of Commons on the 18th June 1940. Quite moving, despite standing on the corner of street in Croydon in 2018. The words make up the final two paragraphs of the peroration.

The only adjustment I’ve made to the shot is to apply a Vogue black and white filter to help contextualise the piece back into the 1940’s era.

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ10; Shutter Speed – 1/500; Focal Length – 30mm; Film Speed – ISO100; Google Photo Filter – Vogue

Social Media
YouTube, Instagram, Google PhotosTriptipedia – here I share some tips I use when travelling around London. A different twist on my ‘end of the line’ story

For more info, look up West Croydon Station on Wikipedia