Saturday, April 17, 2010

Leighton House Museum

I have been wanting to see Frederic Leighton's house in Holland Park for some time, having heard about the amazing Arab room, when I finally decided to go I found out it was closed for major restoration work. But last week it re opened and I went along.
Leighton was born in 1830 he was a painter and president of the Royal Academy in 1878. He commissioned this studio house in 1864 and sitting in his studio, most of the upstairs floor save for a couple of small rooms one a small bedroom, I thought how marvellous to be able to work in such a space. Full of practical details artists will appreciate, a huge under the floor space for storing canvases and other items, a gallery so that he could work on the top of paintings with out having to stand on a ladder, and an narrow door opening direct to the outside for moving the large canvases in and out of the studio.
Some of the massive easels were in there as well as china pots of pigments, apparently Leighton loved the whole process of making colours, indeed the whole process of making art.

Downstairs the Arab Hall is amazing, the walls lined with tiles, mosaics and columns, the design taken from a reception room at La Zisa at Palermo in Sicily. Walter Crane designed the gold mosaic frieze, and William De Morgan worked on the tiles , most from Damascus, but as many were damaged, he saw to the repairs and copies if necessary. There is one panel where parrots perch on a fountain, on the left hand side is De Morgan's work while on the right are the original tiles.

In the centre of the floor is a sunken pond and fountain in black marble, and above a dome. Small windows are set with bright mosaic stained glass and sofas are places on each side of the room.
Though the lighting is quite dark inside the room, the sumptuous tiles in their blues and turquoise glow in the light. Altogether I am sold on the idea of such a room.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Hilary Lawson and Video Painting and Bharti Kher

The Hospital Club in Covent Garden
is showing Video painting the first decade,by the Open Gallery, info here I have been interested in the idea of video painting since I first heard of it a couple of years ago. Mainly because it is one of the sorts of video work that I'd like to do.

Hearing from Hilary Lawson, who founded the Artscape project in 2001, when he shot the first video paintings, was really good. Video paintings were an attempt to move from traditional narrative in film, to free film making from constraints of editing and structure.

Hilary talked about the process of actually looking more deeply at what you see, how it is a very different way of responding to the world and to filming what you see. I had a sense of connection to my own understanding and the Buddhist perceptions of seeing.
There are a number of different screens and projections on the second floor of the Hospital Club, which seems a very interesting place itself . I particularly liked the large screen showing Lake Baikal by Sarah Turner, slow moving currents flow across the lake and mist rises and clears, though screen size itself can be seductive. More of Hilary Lawson,s work here Collections of other artists videos here

Another show, worth seeing is Inevitable undeniable necessary by Bharti Kher is at the Hauser & Wirth gallery in Piccadilly. She uses the traditional Indian bindis in a range of shapes and colours to transform objects, furniture and upstairs a range of broken mirrors. Here the bindis swirl like galaxies, waves and spirals colourful and mysterious and very seductive in some way. Info on the exhibition here
The gallery has the advantage of being next to St James with the regular market there and lunchtime concerts. The Royal Academy is also just across the road, so it makes a good day out.
I didn't have time for the Royal Academy show this time though.