R5 – Looking at artists – brief study notes

From the courseebook list of 26 artists we’re asked to select three to research in greater depth.  I spent some time looking at all of them and made the brief notes which follow, before homing in on my chosen three artists, which I write about in my next post.

Aide memoire

  1. Anna Atkins – photographer, cyanotype, algae, leaves
  2. Audubon – Birds of America
  3. Sİckert – eg Dİeppe
  4. Marİa Merrİan  – insects forensically painted in bright watercolour
  5. Delaney – cut and paste flower collage
  6. Karsten Bott – collects and displays mundane, unwanted objects of our time
  7. Christian Boltanski – lost and forgotten people, mountain of clothes
  8. Marcel Broodthaers – Belgian conceptual artist, mocks art establishment – Musee d’art moderne.?
  9. Charles Avery –  fictional island, watercolour drawings
  10. George Shaw – suburban landscape paintings
  11. Lisa Wilkins – small china ink drawings of her experience of growing up in the nuclear age
  12. Lee Maezler – oil painted ruins of peoples rooms, bomb sites, dirty kitchen sink
  13. Hayley Field – abstracts – colour fields, vestiges of figuration
  14. Nathan Eastwood – monochrome, tough, mundane lives, laundrette scene
  15. Robert Priseman – celebrities as religious icons; execution, murder and murderers
  16. Kathy Prendergast – city drawings; painting over maps
  17. Tanya Wood – photorealist drawings of surfaces (pillow) and commuters
  18. Cornelia Parker – sculptor and installation artist – 30 pieces of silver
  19. Alex Hanna – serial painter of simple objects, in gentle coloured greys
  20. James Quin – pass
  21. Archie Franks – small impasto oil paintings of food – leg of lamb, monster munchies, crumpets; and watercolour land/town scapes
  22. Tim Stoner – colourful oils – interiors, inside looking out, landscape from his homes
  23. Karen Densham – cute subjects made sinister
  24. Terry Bond – highlighting the everyday in witty readymades, photos
  25. Mario Rossi – photographer creates geometrical overlays of repeated images
  26. Michael Landy – 


Brief notes

Anna Atkins – 19c. botanist and pioneer photographer, made cyanotypes of algae, published first book illustrated with photos.  Some examples of her cyanotypes of natural objects are at  http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/anna-atkins-google-doodle-celebrates-216th-birthday-of-botanist-who-produced-first-photographic-book-10109935.html#gallery .

I did some research on the cyanotype process and think I’d find it hard to source the necessary chemicals here.

John James Audubon – ornithologist, naturalist and painter, famed for studies depicting American birds in natural surroundings.  Preparatory watercolours for Birds of America are held by New York Historical Society.  This Trumpeter Swan is painted in watercolour, graphite, oil, black ink, black chalk and white gouache.  The bee-eater, the turtle dove and the swallow are the birds I love to watch when they visit us.  The sounds of the little owl and scops owl, and the nightingale are part of our summer night times.


Walter Sickert – painted his environment in Dieppe – shops, cafes, architecture, people, townscapes. See my POP blog here.  My village is a rich source of subject matter – architecture, people and animals, landscape, people’s household things and farming implements, shops and cafes.


Maria Sybilla Merian – German 17c. naturalist, entomologist and scientific illustrator.  Studied and painted the insects of Suriname, esp. the metamorphosis of the butterfly.  Her paintings, such as the one below, are mainly watercolour.

https://www.royalcollection.org.uk/collection/themes//maria-merians-butterflies/the-queens-gallery-buckingham-palace/branch-of-pomelo-with-green-banded-urania-moth Branch of Pomelo with Green-Banded Urania Moth   1702-03

Watercolour and bodycolour with gum arabic and gold paint over lightly etched outlines on vellum | 36.7 x 28.9 cm


Mary Delaney – 18c. artist, she created detailed, precise images of flowers by cutting and pasting hundreds of tiny pieces of coloured tissue-paper – flower collages.  She also created garden designs, made shell decoupage decorations, and embroidered elaborate designs on dresses and furniture.  

Karsten Bott – collecting and categorising everyday objects is central to his practise.   He displays unwanted detritus of our consumer culture in his ‘archive of contemporary life’ within another museum. He also photographs his collection of objects for a sort of encyclopedia ‘One of Each’.   His collecting is a process which can never be finished.   His displays “trigger memories and associations in visitors, revealing the power objects have in the construction of individual and collective identities” Karsten Bott Museum of Life Gallery Guide page 2, Nicholas Thornton, Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery, at  http://www.museums.norfolk.gov.uk/view/NCC081823 and http://www.formfollowsbehavior.com/2008/06/25/collecting-as-art/

An article about Grenfell Towers tenants’ loss of their entire homes seeks to explain the connection people have with their stuff:

“Research into the psychology of ownership has shown that we come to see our possessions as extensions of ourselves…when disaster survivors lose their homes and belongings, they often experience a profound sense of personal bereavement, as if a part of their “selves”, their identity, their story, has gone forever…part of the reason that many of our things mean so much to us is that we think about them in an almost magical way – for instance a gift from a loved one may feel as if it is imbued with the essence of that person…This magical thinking may also apply to the home itself”


I dont feel strongly visually excited about the stuff in my home – but even so, I suspect that to an extent it is part of my identity, my story.  Maybe why I found Part 4 projects difficult.  I do feel an emotional attachment and sensory pull to the landscape I live in, and my village- the neighbours and the outdoor world. So this is where i want to concentrate my part 5 efforts.


Christian Boltanski – b.1944  photographer and Installation artist – objects serve as reminders of human experience –  rooms filled with worn clothing items represent eg the holocaust the lost and forgotten.  Good article here https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2010/jan/13/christain-boltanski-grand-palais-paris?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

I wonder about making my part 5 project about evoking the memory of the past and present lives of inhabitants of my region, trying to express the timeless and ancient quality of the place.  Paint people, and everyday objects used by them.


Marcel Broodthaers –  Difficult for me to grasp at the mo, but useful analysis of his work here http://www.theartstory.org/artist-broodthaers-marcel-artworks.htm


Charles Avery – his practise is devoted to depicting the culture of a fictional island, in drawings, sculpture, installations, video, text.

Or there is a rich source of material in the present day culture of my envirinment, which is a foreign land and sometimes seems like a fictional island to me!

George Shaw paints unregarded suburban landscapes in humbrol enamels on mdf.  Also trees and woods and traces of human oresence in them.

Lisa Wilkens – small scale drawings (chinese ink on found paper) to do with growing up in the nuclear age – fragmented memories, personal and impersonal, of a period of history.  

Lee Maelzer – rooms as wrecks, ruins and messes.  Dirty kitchen sink.  Palette and tones reminiscent of Sickert.

Hayley Field – paintings start with observation (people, places, memories) and move from figuration through reworking to abstraction, nuanced colour fields.

Nathan Eastwood – photographs local non-descript, mundane scenes (men at laundrette) , selects (manipulating lighting etc digitally) and paints, often in monochrome, in enamels on mdf.  His choice of scenes reflect people who live tough and monotonous lives.

Robert Priseman –  overpainted religious icons with portraits of modern celebrities. Earlier projects include paintings of execution apparatus, nazi portraits, murder sites, portraits of murderers
Kathy Prendergast – A rich seam of her work shown here http://www.kerlingallery.com/artists/kathy-prendergast/artist_works. Famed for City Drawings.  Her work with painting over maps, particularly watercolour on nautical charts, is intriguing.  Also The Grey Before Dawn painted on fabric.  Uses objects that have thier own history eg clothes, jars, maps.
Tanya Wood – careful, meticulous realist pencil drawings of everyday surfaces, and the impressions left by humans – pillows, paper bags; weeds; rope;  and of commuters at a railway station, observed from above or behind
Cornelia Parker – 
Crushed pieces of silver – fascinating interview and analysis here http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/parker-thirty-pieces-of-silver-t07461
Alex Hanna – painter of disposable amd worthless objects – bubble wrap, pill packets, piles of paper, crumpled paper – and fabric – pillows and curtains.  Recent paintings are in relief, maybe incorporating eg marble dust.  Monochrome, lovely coloured greys.  Singular focus, painted over many years.  Reminiscent of Morandi in simplicity of subject and subtle treatment, but Morandi’s objects were often decorative
James Quin – pass for now – dont get the relevance of his work to this project
Archie Franks – 
Love the fun of his luscious oil paintings of food (crumpets), animals (pigeons feeding frenzy), gadgets (beer taps).  Some great small (7×10″) watercolours on his web site – Time, Super Chariot Racer, Short Notice, here http://archiefranks.com/works/ and here http://www.marlboroughcollege.org/art/artist-in-residence/?no_cache=1&cid=1043&did=7983&sechash=0430c584 
Tim Stoner – 
Really enjoyed looking at his paintings and charcoal drawings on his web site, because the compositions and bright colours resonate wirh me.  He is painting place; interior, garden, landscape, and transitions between inside and outside. 
Karen Densham – 
Paints cute subjects, and makes them sinster. visual puns, double meanings.  Playful twists.
Terry Bond – 
Readymades, photos, films, sculptures – fun, visual puns, jokes; need to get the joke to appreciate the art. “Post Duchampian observational skills”, showcasing “the accidental presence of art in the everyday”. 
Mario Rossi – 
Photographer with painterly vision, creates geometrical abstracts of images through repetition and overlaying, composite images with mathematical / musical feeling.  Reminiscent of cubism, the image fragmented and seen over time and from slightly different viewpoints.
Michael Landy – 














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