Wednesday, 2 October 2013

End of summer, back to York

I cannot believe how quickly the last three months have gone, and boy has this summer been extremely busy for me. When I wasn't on holiday or exploring Europe, I luckily had various internships to give me a great insight into the world of art!

View of Paris from Notre-Dame Cathedral Tower

In July I went to Paris for a few days with my family, immersing myself in all things historic and cultural that was on offer. This was my first time to Paris, and I had an amazing time. We explored all the major art galleries including the Louvre and theMusée d'Orsay. Highlights for myself was going into Notre-Dame Cathedral and Sainte-Chapelle. These are the most beautiful sacred spaces that I have been in, and the stained glass is just exquisite. I could have spent my whole time in each of these places! I am even more fortunate this up-coming term as part of a module that I am studying, Death and Devotion (a module I cannot wait to get started! - it is my ultimate course, all my favourite things for the whole of Autumn term, what can be better?!), we are travelling to Paris in late October for five days to explore - something which I'll definitely be blogging about!

A photo I took whilst in Sainte Chapelle - some of the most beautiful stained glass I've seen.

As well as travelling, I had some internships during my summer - making this probably the most invaluable summer so far. I was told by one of my tutors last year that this holiday is the time to get some vital experience on the CV! It's a scary thought that this year I will need to begin looking for graduate jobs, and the various internships that I have undertaken during this summer will be extremely helpful toward my future.

Internship: Curatorial Intern at the Liverpool Biennial

Throughout July and August I was the curatorial and public programme intern at the Liverpool Biennial. The Liverpool Biennial is the UK Biennial of Contemporary Art, and for ten weeks every two years the city of Liverpool is host to an amazing and extraordinary range of artworks, projects and a dynamic programme of events. Living in Liverpool when I am not in York, has meant that I have had the opportunity to experience the Biennial first hand. Being offered the role of intern was fantastic, and throughout my two months I have had an incredible time. My role was wide and varied, and enabled me to gain an invaluable insight into the world of the Liverpool Biennial and the art/culture world in general. I assisted the head curator and head of public programmes with a variety of tasks; such as researching, helping organise events taking place, assisting with the technical, logistical and administrative aspects of developing and delivering the year-round public programme and conducting research and collating information on artists for press, marketing, grant applications and general archival purposes. During my time at the Biennial I had the chance to handle some pieces of artwork, one of the jobs packaging and archiving them.

It seems naïve and stupid, but before I came to the Biennial I never knew so much hard-work and enthusiasm went behind the scenes of such an organisation, and I cannot wait to see who the choose for the 2014 Biennial and the various events that will be taking place. Hopefully, I will get the chance to come back and work at the Biennial once again.

Apollo Magazine Internship

For two weeks in September I had the opportunity to become the editorial intern at Apollo Magazine in London. Being an avid reader of the magazine, this was a fantastic opportunity, and I had a great time learning all about the practices and processes of an arts magazine. Apollo Magazine is one of the leading Art Magazines in the UK, exploring a mixture of traditional and classical work, all the way to contemporary and modern pieces. A definite wide variety. This is one of the aspects that really attracted me to completely an internship here at Apollo, the fact that it is so diverse means that it encompasses all aspects of the art world without ignoring one. I sometimes feel that some areas of art history get neglected because maybe they're deemed by some as 'too boring', or 'irrelevant in today's society', which is why the magazine is so valuable as it explores all areas of art history.

My role as editorial intern was to help and work alongside Apollo's assistant and head editors, and the two weeks I completed was during press week! This meant that the office was a little hectic, and there was a lot of proof reading to do for the next issue. The various tasks I completed including attending exhibitions at major London museums and galleries on behalf of Apollo to write up reviews for the online blog, picture and copy-righting research, general researching for future articles, proof reading and so much more! I attended my first Arts Fair, and whilst there met the Rolling Stone's guitarist, Ronnie Wood! Very surreal.
York Minster
York awaits.
Apologies for the rambling post, but as you can tell this summer has been incredibly busy! I am excited to return to York and begin my third year. You can read more about my third year at my blog for the department:

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

New History of Art department student blog

I have finally completed and updated my new student blog for the History of Art department at the University of York. This is the link:

I'm a bit wary and unsure about the blog url, as trying to think of something niche and cool etc was extremely hard! However, I guess it sums up what I'm doing but we'll wait and see if something better jumps out at me!

This blog is a means of documenting my third year for the History of Art department, and will become an invaluable tool for showing future perspective students what it is like to study at the University of York. I will try my very hardest to keep both that blog and this blog updated, but sometimes I actually live away from my laptop (a shock I am sure for many who know me) therefore I will probably find it hard to regularly update this year.

Anyway, I'm off on holiday! That's all for now folks - till I return!

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Exhibition review: Lowry and the Painting of Modern Life

‘Lowry and the Painting of Modern Life’
Tate Britain
26 June – 20 October 2013
By Roisin Astell

An artist of paradox, L.S. Lowry’s name alone generates mixed opinions; and the current show at the Tate Britain, ‘Lowry and the Painting of Modern Life’ has brought this right back to the forefront. As the first major retrospective exhibition since Lowry’s death in 1976, over 90 works are displayed across six thematic rooms, offering a thought-provoking glimpse into the world of Lowry.

Exhibiting industrial scenes and urban landscapes, Lowry’s visions offer a bleak and unwelcoming portrayal of Northern England. His paintings present an honest portrayal of the every-changing urban landscape of the time, and although somewhat dreary and repetitive, his work has become the staple piece of the north; a representative of the world largely ignored by the south. The choice of the displayed work, which portray scenes of chaotic crowds of working-class people, the monotonous nature of human life, and the uniform and repetitive nature of terraced houses serves to intensify the negative image of the north, and thus heighten the north and south divide. The emotional detachment and voyeuristic nature of Lowry’s pieces are resonating of a modern viewer looking at his work on display. Yet, one cannot ignore the fact that Lowry’s artwork acts as powerful reminders of a time not so long ago.

'Industrial Landscape', Lowry, Oil on Canvas, 1955
Curating this blockbuster exhibition were two highly established academic art historians, T.J Clark and Anne Wagner; whose aim is to bring Lowry back to the limelight of the art-world. However, what is curious is that neither curator has specific connections with the work of Lowry. Wagner is a celebrated historian of nineteenth and twentieth-century French and British sculpture, and T.J. Clark is renowned for his work that focuses on a new social history of art, especially concentrating on French Impressionism.

Their academic practice has clearly manifested within the exhibition. For instance, the title of the show is taken from Clark’s seminal book ‘The Painting of Modern Life: Paris in the Art of Manet and his Followers’ (1985). Straight from the beginning the curators attempt to situate Lowry within the wider parameters of French Impressionism, a notion evident within the exhibition. This choice of title alone has its downfalls, as pre-eminent to attending it sets up preconceived notions of how one should perhaps view the work of Lowry - taking him out from his northern roots and positioning him directly within a different context. In Room 2: ‘The Idea of Modern Life’, the viewer is confronted with works of Lowry displayed in conjunction with works by Van Gogh, Seurat and Pissaro.  The intention being to illuminate the similarities between Lowry and his contemporaries, that being the ways in which modernity affected society and how artists visually represented it.

Inclusion of Van Gogh’s ‘Outskirts of Paris’ (1886) portrays the depressing effects of Haussmannisation, and how the growth of modernity affected the countryside. A notion comparable in Lowry’s urban scenes, such as ‘Blitzed Site’ (1942) and ‘Industrial Landscape’ (1955). However, these connections seem contrived and forced. Lowry clearly was not an Impressionist, and this serves to show how technically different he was compared to his French contemporaries. In an attempt to place Lowry on the same pedestal as the impressionists; the curators inadvertently remove him from his northern and stereotyped ‘naïve status’, further supporting the paradox that Lowry causes with the public.

'Outskirts of Paris', Vincent Van Gogh, Oil on Cardboard, 1886
The overall structure of the exhibition mirrors Lowry’s work – one of repetitiveness. Sectioned off into different rooms pertaining to themes, ‘Lowry and the Painting of Modern Life’ creates a somewhat confusing exhibition, separating and forcing particular pieces into fixed descriptions and creating an incohesive experience for viewers.

What does strengthen the exhibition is the inclusion of archival material. Materials such as photographs, newspaper clippings, personal letters and archive films, situates the viewer right into Lowry’s world.

The inclusion of large-scale panoramas in the final room allows viewers to see the impressive scenes that dominated Lowry’s life. Moving away from the urban cities, Lowry painted sweeping vistas of Welsh mining towns, empty of the mass of crowds that are so inherent in his work. ‘Hillside in Wales’ (1962), offers a calmer and more subdued landscape. Although away from the heart of industry, Lowry maintains it’s looming presence through the inclusion of dark red clouds in the sky.

It’s not all doom-and-gloom however. Within the exhibition are positive representations of life during the 1950s. ‘Going to the Match’ (1953) portrays the action and energy found in the pleasures of the working-class life. Although industry is also presented, our focus is on the crowds of people moving toward the stadium.

The artwork displayed makes Lowry seem like a one-trick-pony. An opportunity to create a broader picture of Lowry was missed through the lack of works such as his seascapes and portraiture. Such inclusions would have aided the attempt to provide Lowry with the recognition so many argue for and to dispel the stereotype of his work confining to matchstick men representations.

Despite the impressive number of works displayed, one cannot ignore the underlying elephant in the room – why has it taken this long for London to produce a retrospective of one of Britain’s most loved artists? The Tate has received much criticism over its neglect of Lowry, and therefore ‘Lowry and the Painting of Modern Life’ carries a great deal of baggage.

Although ‘Lowry and the Painting of Modern Life’ has its downfalls, one cannot deny the positive outreach this exhibition has produced. Transcending to people across the UK who have travelled especially to attend, Lowry’s work is comforting and familiar to many. Despite what people think about his work, Lowry was undeniably a national figure, who through this blockbuster exhibition has been brought back to our attention. As assistant curator Helen Little says, this show is only part of the story of Lowry, and hopefully there will be more to come in the future. 

'Hillside in Wales', Lowry, Oil on Canvas, 1962

You can read my review here on Apollo's website:

Friday, 13 September 2013

Review: 20/21 British Art Fair

Paul Feiler (1918-2013), 'Grey Receding', 1962, Oil on canvas laid on wood, 152.4 x 182.9 cm, Copyright The Estate of Paul Feiler, care of The Redfern Gallery
Sir Terry Frost, 'Blue Harbour', 1953, oil on canvas, 66 x 67 cm.

Harold Cohen, 'Richard Hamilton Suite', 1967, The complete set of 8 screenprints 653 x 740mm each (1.4 x 3.2 metres total hanging space), collection - Tate Gallery; British Museum
20/21 British Art Fair 2013
11-15 September 2013
Royal College of Art, Kensington Gore, London, SW7 2EU
By Roisin Astell

On Wednesday 11th September, the Royal College of Art opened its doors to the annual 20/21 British Art Fair. Spread across two floors, this is the only fair that focuses on modern, post-war and contemporary British Art all under one roof. Displayed are large collections of work by Henry Moore, LS. Lowry, John Piper, David Hockney, Lucian Freud, Bridget Riley, Antony Gormley, Francis Bacon; and contemporary works by Hirst, Emin, Ofili, Banksy and Perry and many more.

Exhibiting 56 galleries and dealers, both first timers to the fair and those with long-standing displays since the very first fair in 1988; dealers offer a variety of paintings, original prints, drawings, sculptures and photography – plenty that appeals to both the young first time buyer and the established collector, a factor so fundamental to the success of this fair and one clearly evident through the flowing crowds that attending the opening day.

Since being established 26 years ago by Gay Hutson and Angela (Bunny) Wynn, the fair continues to flourish; becoming the event that opens the autumn season in the art world, and this year those visiting are in for great selection of some of Britain’s finest works.

Throughout, there is the ever-present collection of St Ives movement works, including artists Barbara Hepwoth, Peter Lanyon and Patrick Heron. On stand 12, The Redfern Gallery have a poignant display of 6 works by Paul Feiler. Speaking to one of the managing directors of the gallery, Richard Gault explained that the displayed works “represent a tribute to Feiler, and are great examples of his varying range as an artist.” Joining the gallery in 1953, Feiler had a long relationship with The Redfern Gallery. As a commanding figure in the history of post-war British modernism and as a prominent member of the St Ives School of art, Feiler’s work can also be found at Tate. Displayed work includes the impressive ‘Grey Receding’ (1962).

What is fascinating about the fair is the sheer variety of new and emerging dealers exhibiting. Dominic Guerrini Fine Art offers a wide selection of the modern and contemporary names, including prints and sculptures, including Hockney’s ‘Paper Pools’ lithograph print. Dominic Guerrini usually sells online and told Apollo that displaying at this fair is a great way to reach a wider audience of collectors. Dominic Kemp Modern British Prints is similar, operating only online. This is the first year that Kemp has exhibited at this fair, and states that is a “privilege to be offered a stand.” His collection includes some original prints by Terry Frost and Bridget Riley.

Also first time exhibiting is Beetles and Huxley, offering a fantastic selection of some of the world’s most sought after iconic photographs; including works by Cecil Beaton and Terry O’Neil’s ‘David Bowie – Diamond Dogs’.  

The prestigious 20/21 British Art Fair has an extensive audience, including the Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood. Speaking to Ronnie yesterday, he told Apollo that “it’s a great fair”, and that he had come especially to see John Monk’s work after “taking a shine to him.” Ronnie left 20/21 with two of Monk’s works purchased from Long and Ryle, with their future home being in one of his houses.

This years 20/21 British Art Fair proves to be the pivotal date in every dealer and collector’s diary. Displaying some fantastic and rare works, this fair continues to go from strength to strength. 

You can view my article here on Apollo's website:

My first arts fair: 20/21 British Art Fair

This week as part of my internship here at Apollo magazine I ventured to my very first arts fair at the Royal College of Art - the 20/21 British Art Fair. Myself and a colleague's role was to hand out the latest September issue of Apollo and tempt people in to purchasing a subscription. As well as manning the desk, I got the opportunity to write a Blog report about the first day of the fair.

Being my first arts fair, I had no idea what to expect. Spaced out on two floors, there were 56 dealers and galleries exhibiting work to potential collectors. I was surprised, although looking back now it seems naïve of me to be so, at such big names on display. Looking at one stand there were a plethora of contemporary 'house-hold' names, such as: Emin, Hockney, Gormley, Hirst, Banksy... (by 'house-hold' I mean well known obviously...) The list goes on and on. Exploring the fair, there were also a vast variety of modern artists including Henry Moore, L.S. Lowry and Hepworth.

It was a great experience, one that I am thrilled to have shared with Apollo. Meeting and talking to both subscribers and avid fans of the magazine, as well as those taking an interest and learning all about it, was
also a highlight. I got the chance to speak to some very interesting dealers, and this encounter has only served to intensify my longing to work in the arts sector in the future! What was wonderful was seeing the
relationships evident between the various exhibitors. They obviously exhibit at the same fairs and thus friendships and work relationships are formed.

When exploring the fair (it was pretty expansive might I add!), I spoke to a really friendly dealer, Dominic Kemp. He owns Dominic Kemp: Modern British Prints, and it was his first time at the fair. On his stand were a vast collection of superb prints. One of my favorites was Harold Cohen's 'Richard Hamilton Suite', a collection of 8 screen prints which are very Warhol-esque. This image just jumps out at you - very energetic and lively. Imagine this hanging on the living room wall. One can only wish.

Obviously I enjoyed speaking to dealers and collectors, and visiting the various stands; but the highlight for me was bumping into the Rolling Stones' Ronnie Wood! I got the chance to get a quote or two for my Blog post for Apollo's website. He was super nice, and told me about two paintings by artist John Monks whom he has come especially to see. Wood left the fair with these two paintings, with the vision of hanging them in his holiday house!

You'll be able to read more about my thoughts and experiences of 20/21 British Art Fair when the article is uploaded to Apollo's website which I will link to on here.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Photos of around London - Week 1 of internship

Richmond park

My view as I surfaced up from the underground on the way for my first day at my internship. What a sight!

A walk one early morning to work. What a great way to start the day!

Spending my lunch breaks at St James's Park

Little cottage in the woods at St James's Park. When can I move in?

A nice walk to see the Queen...

Night time stroll around the Thames.

Westminster Abbey 

The Houses of Parliment

Monday, 9 September 2013

Lowry: and the Painting of Modern Life, Tate Britain

I was very lucky on Friday be allowed to go and see Tate Britain's summer blockbuster show, 'Lowry: and the Painting of Modern Life', by internship in order to write a review for the blog.

This is actually the first time I've seen a specially curated exhibition at Tate Britain, and I was really glad that Lowry was my first chance at experiencing it.

Lowry, the legendary artist from the North, produces many mixed opinions with regards to his work and this show is an exemplary example. I really did enjoy the show. I like Lowry a lot, despite the repetitive nature of his work. However, this show had many downfalls, some of which I will discuss in the review I am currently writing about.

It was great to see this exhibition in person, as one of the curators is a guest lecturer at my University - T.J.Clark. So seeing this exhibition was a fantastic opportunity to see our lecturer's work in the form of a show, and not just on paper! Having studied Clark's work throughout my degree, the choice of title and inclusion of French artwork was interesting - but more of which I dwell upon in my review.

Despite whether I like Lowry and think the show did him justice, what I found most poignant about the exhibition was the way in which it brought joy to the many who attended. Arriving at Tate Britain for 10.15am I thought it would be quite quiet, but how wrong I was! It was already packed! Just seeing people's reactions to the artwork in itself was one way of experiencing the exhibition. Many, it seemed, had ties or connections somehow to the North in general and the scenes represented. So in that respect this exhibition provided a personal relationship for viewer and artist.

It does seem a shame that it has taken this long for Lowry to have such an exhibition. The last being a retrospective just after he died at the Royal Academy. For an artist that many deem as one of Britain's 'Greats' this was a long wait. A wait that I was glad to encounter.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Internship at Apollo Magazine

The latest edition of Apollo Magazine!

Gosh, this summer seems to be the 'internship special'! In fact, since June I have completed nearly three internships in three different cities!

On Saturday I packed my bags, and headed down to the capital city - London, to begin a two week internship at Apollo Magazine. Filled with nerves and excitement, on Tuesday morning I entered the office ready and raring to go!

Apollo Magazine is one of the leading Art Magazines in the UK, exploring a mixture of traditional and classical work, all the way to contemporary and modern pieces. A definite wide variety. This is one of the aspects that
really attracted me to completely an internship here at Apollo, the fact that it is so diverse means that it encompasses all aspects of the art world without ignoring one. I sometimes feel that some areas of art history get neglected because maybe they're deemed by some as 'too boring', or 'irrelevant in today's society' - and I think nay!

Located in the heart of London in Westminster, I am having an amazing time so far, and this is only day 4! My role is to help our assistant and head  editors, and I am currently in the process of completing some research for
an article for the November issue. Alas, I cannot tell anymore on the matter as it is top secret! But it's definitely very interesting.

Even though I've only been here for a week, I've been given an invaluable and precious opportunity into seeing the processes and practices behind the working of an arts magazine. Currently we are in the middle of press week
for the October Issue, so I was warned for chaos - but everyone here is calm and collected... So far! Which is probably the best environment that you can look for in a work place at such a time.
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