Gallery run 28th April

Peckham to Chalk Farm.

Having finished coffee and porridge, I can’t delay the run any further. I complete the toe stretches, grab a half beaker of water and set off towards London Bridge. I am outside Damian Hirst’s gallery on Newport Street where I have just returned an unexpected phone call, spotted as I had pulled the phone camera out of a sock I use to keep it wedged in my pocket, and then go in. Ashley Bickerton is showing assemblages that carry a strong flavour of tropical islands with sharks, coconuts hung in small clumps and diving gear that point back to their origins whilst catching the eye with bright flecks of colour. In addition wall mounted silver rock tableaux adorn the gallery walls.
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Ashley Bickerton at Newport Street Gallery with assemblages and vivid sea based objects.

Onwards now northwards across St James park where I dodge the selfies on the bridge and up Berkeley Street to Almine Rech. Here Japanese composer Ryoji Ikeda has created grids from the miniaturised digits of irrational numbers. The subsequent jpeg seems burdened by the weight of information of these numbers, whilst the surface of the artwork itself with the digits shrunk down to the size of dots, appears like a sort of black and white texture resembling the two-tone fabrics used to cover loudspeakers in the 70’s. Extraordinary work.
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Ryoji Ikeda at Almine Rech Gallery with artworks based on irrational numbers, that although simple in essence, require an infinite number of digits to represent them.

Along Maddox Street eastwards now towards Golden Square. Annette Messager is showing giant safety pins made in black chunky material hung from the ceiling of Marian Goodman Gallery. Other objects on a similar scale create a Lilliputian haberdashery. Elsewhere 50 prohibitions are displayed ironically opposite a 51st that prohibits prohibitions.
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Annette Messager of Marian Goodman Gallery with pictures of prohibitions.

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Sol Le Witt with a surprising installation upstairs in Marian Goodman Gallery.

Then across the square to Frith Street Gallery and I see a gallery worker come towards me. I give a polite hello but am aware of the slightly unusual interaction and then with glance round I see why, as I instantly recognise the tall slim frame of Cornelia Parker as she works the camera. It is her opening day and she has to pose for two photographers. I dutifully point my iPhone in the other direction concentrating on her artworks. She is showing video films of revellers in New York who have dressed in horror garb for a festival, but have expanded the remit to include Donald Trump wigs personifying the general anxiety of their class.
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Cornelia Parker of Frith Street Gallery with video work of street revellers in New York shortly before last year’s controversial election.

Nearby I see work at Pilar Corrias, one of my favourite galleries in the area, before heading north to Chalk Farm and the large classical facade of the Zabludowicz Collection.
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Urban Zellweger at Pilar Corrias.

A group of photographers are showing and like a trainspotter I relish the chance to catch the first Jeff Wall artwork in over a year. A light box illuminates a shabby river going into a tunnel and I am struck by its unkempt beauty like some of the canals I run along.
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Jeff Wall with a beautiful/ shabby river at the Zabludowicz Collection.

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Sara Cwynar at Zabludowicz Collection with photos of plastic based structures.

Then it is the long run south and today with time pressing I opt for the shortest route through London’s busy streets.
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Conrad Shawcross at the Crick Institute.

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In Search of John Ruskin, 28th July

This week’s gallery run was in Oxford and in search of John Ruskin. He was an inspirational writer and art critic of the 19th century and championed the then radical Pre-Raphaelites. For Ruskin, a visit to see great art would require considerable build-up, perhaps involving travel to a foreign land and then a long walk and even picnic, all recorded as part of the experience. In honour of this method of art criticism, which reached its apotheosis in The Stones of Venice, I would be checking out some stones that Ruskin himself had quite literally laid down, as philanthropist, in Oxford with help from several of his students including Oscar Wilde.

The day began with a jog to Paddington, before a train then whisked me to this city of spires in which I had spent four years as a student. Although not entirely an island, at least not physically, the city is bounded by rivers running off both the Cotswolds to the West and the Chilterns to the East. One hundred and fifty years ago this was causing a considerable drainage problem and it was one that Ruskin had set about fixing in one small area by building a stone road. This would allow carriage traffic running through a nearby village to gain access both to its immediate neighbour and also perhaps more importantly to Oxford stood nearby. The geography to reach this site is fairly straightforward, essentially crossing several tributaries of the Thames out to the West from Oxford’s main railway station. One encounters these leaving the city along the Botley road. But such was the impact of these waterways on the landscape in Ruskin’s day, that one needed to navigate them over a series of small wooden bridges before embarking a ferry to cross a further tributary at North Hinksey.

It is this village that one eventually reaches via a footbridge outside Oxford. A nearby building called Ferry Cottage matches up to the historical account of the North Hinksey ferry crossing. Then an old thatched cottage appears next to the village road with its green plaque declaring the historical importance of the site. This was indeed Ruskin’s workplace one busy summer a hundred and fifty years ago and those iconic stones now preserved for perpetuity, at least to the imagination, reside under an immaculately laid asphalt surface. Then looking back at the city of Oxford one sees the spires that Ruskin would have looked at in his daily treks across the meadows to the city where he taught.

My own return would involve spiralling around these meadows towards the east and then making further progress across college grounds. That was the plan. Initially it worked well but as the rivers started to complete their own circuit round Oxford before emptying into the Thames, they began to cordon off regions unpredictably and I also found myself starting to sense the boundaries of private property. A public footpath lay just out of reach on the other side of a small river whilst a conveniently placed walkway across it turned out to be locked with barbed wire suggesting that this was a place that members of the public were not meant to go. Wading across the river was no more fruitful as its soft muddy bed started to give way after the first few steps. This was to be the end of the run for today as I headed, instead to college buildings and evicted myself past a porter’s lodge and onto the busy streets of the city centre.

This week’s 9 pictures are from this run round Oxford’s meadows and also include a visit to Modern Art Oxford.

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Daniel Buren at Modern Art Oxford in Kaleidoscope Mystics and Rationalists. Colour interventions in the gallery space.

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Dan Graham at Modern Art Oxford in Kaleidoscope Mystics and Rationalists. Text that appears before Dan Graham’s filmed performance of two people. The performers each discuss the other’s behaviour, one, past and the other, possible future.

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Dorothy Cross of Frith Street Gallery at Modern Art Oxford in Kaleidoscope Mystics and Rationalists. Tree fungus on a door carries the idea of damp and humidity associated with this artist but in a different direction.

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Sol le Witt at Modern Art Oxford in Kaleidoscope Mystics and Rationalists.

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Karla Black at Modern Art Oxford in Kaleidoscope Mystics and Rationalists with a translucent fabric piece.

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Amy Sillman of Thomas Dane Gallery at Modern Art Oxford in Kaleidoscope Mystics and Rationalists. Sequences of printed images are on show, which she has made for what she calls “possible paintings”.

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In search of John Ruskin? Cross this bridge into North Hinksey to find the road he first built.

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Cottage bearing a green plaque dedicated to John Ruskin and situated on the road he first built with a team of students including Oscar Wilde.

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Found this oddly positioned telescope next to St. Catherine’s College Oxford cricket pitch.