A visit to Windermere Jetty Museum

Leaving Blackwell we decided to drive over to, another Lakeland Arts site, the Windermere Jetty Museum, a short drive away on the other side of Bowness. We’d visited before, just before the first lockdown, but though we could spend a little time there revisiting the exhibits and enjoying a brew on the lakeside.

As it turned out we spent longer there than we expected as there were a couple of art exhibitions – normally they would probably have been shown at Abbot Hall but with that still be shut for refurbishment I guess Lakeland Arts were taking advantage of the facilities here.

First, though, we had a look around the main displays

One of the exhibitions, shown in the main building in a room with a view over the lake, featured large scale abstract watercolours by Barbara Nicholls, an artist from Cheshire.

Her technique used to create these works involved laying out large sheets of heavy weight
paper on the studio floor, which were then wetted before applying the pigments which would then begin to spread out by capillary action – just like ink dropped onto wet blotting paper. The skill of the artist is then to manipulate and control the pigment. The finished works being made up of sections from several of these sheets cut and then collated to form a whole.

These monumental watercolours emerge from a process of manipulating coloured pigment in large quantities of water. The pigments behave in a variety of ways; some gather in dark, opaque pools, others are translucent, lapping at the paper to form gentle tidal marks.

Lakeland Arts Website

It was quite appropriate for paintings created by the movement of water to be displayed in a room with a view over the Lake.

The second exhibition was in the old fire station that had been relocated from Bowness village to the grounds of the museum

Dovetailing is an immersive installation by Sculptor Juliet Gutch in collaboration with composer and viola player Sally Beamish and filmmaker Clare Dearnaley inspired by luthiery (the making of stringed musical instruments). 

Entering the small building we encountered a darkened room with wooden mobiles suspended from the ceiling with a film being projected onto a screen.

The mobiles were made up of wooden shapes resembling shavings produced during the planing of the wood used in the construction of a violin or viola. The film, with the soundtrack by Sally Beamish, included natural sounds, the workshop process during the manufacture of a violin and the movement of the mobile forms.

Then it was time for a brew. It was a pleasant day so we sat outside looking over the water (there are good views from inside the cafe too)

I liked the wooden shelters that had been built by the museum staff using boat building techniques

Leaving the museum we weren’t ready to set off for home so we drove into the village centre, parked up and went for a walk along the lake.

There is very little of the east side of Windermere where it’s possible to walk along the lakeside. Most of the land is privately owned and access isn’t possible for the hoi poloi – reflecting the theme of the exhibition we’d visited at Blackwell that morning. The main exceptions are Fell Foot, at the south end of the lake, and Cockshott Point, a stretch of parkland where we were walking at Bowness. Both of these are owned by the National Trust. Cockshott Point was bought by the Trust with the help of a certain Mrs Heelis (better known as Beatrix Potter) who sold some paintings to raise funds for the purchase. Without this intervention it would have been likely that the land would be sold to a private buyer who would have prevented access.

There’s more of a “right to roam” on the west side of the Lake (formerly in Lancashire!), but, again this is due to the intervention of the National Trust. I think a lot of people think the NT is all about preserving manor houses, but their original vision was about opening up the countryside and without them large area of the lake District and other parts of the country wouldn’t be readily accessible.

So our say in the Lakes ended as it started, with us reflecting on how access to the countryside and the lake shores is still limited and how we need to continue to campaign for the “Right to Roam”.

Pears pots and frying pans – William Scott at the Hepworth

William Scott

We went over to the Hepworth in Wakefield last Saturday. There’s been quite a few changes since our last visit on New Year’s Day with new exhibitions of works by Barbara Hepworth, Haroon Mirrza and William Scott.

The Scott exhibition marks the centenary of his birth and was first shown at Tate St Ives; it will travel on to the Ulster Museum in Belfast when it finishes at the Hepworth.  The exhibition is meant to “evolves” as it transfers between the galleries, so I imaging there have been some changes at the Hepworth compared to the Tate show.

It’s a comprehensive exhibition, covering the whole of his career. his early work was figurative but he soon began to concentrate on predominantly abstract paintings.  As with most temporary exhibitions, photography wasn’t allowed, but there are some examples of the works on show here and here.

And this video, from the Tate, which was produced while the exhibition was being shown at their gallery in St Ives, discusses his work and includes some of the pictures on display

William Scott, ‘Seated Nude’ 1939

Seated Nude 1939

Although he could turn his hand to subjects such as nudes (early in his career, particularly, the above example shown in the exhibition featured his wife) and landscapes, many of his paintings were still lives of fruit (he particularly seemed to like painting pears), fish and pots and pans. And frying pans were a dominant feature in many of his works. He is noted for commenting that “if the guitar was to Braque his Madonna, the frying pan could be my guitar.” In early paintings they were relatively realistic, but over time they became more and mrore abstract, eventually being reduced to a simple motif like in this painting, which was one of my favourites from those included in the exhibition.

800x442_TSI_William_Scott_Still_Life_with_Orange_Note-1970

Still Life with Orange Note, 1970

I also liked this pure abstract painting

William Scott, ‘Berlin Blues 4’ 1965

Berlin Blues 4 1965 (Source: Tate website)

As the name implies it was one of a series he painted during his time in Berlin in 1963-4. He chose the title, not because he was feeling depressed living in the city, but because it was started in Berlin and he discovered the particular blue pigment he used for while he was there.

I thought it was an excellent exhibition and will definitely replay a repeat visit, so we’ll be driving over the Pennines again before the end of September.

 

(I enjoyed reading this review of the exhibition by Andy Parkinson of “Patterns that Connect”)

Callum Innes at the Whitworth

Callum Innes, Exposed Painting Green Lake, 2012. Courtesy Frith Street Gallery, London

Callum Innes, Exposed Painting Green Lake, 2012. Source: Whitworth website

We paid another visit to the Whitworth gallery yesterday. We particularly wanted to have a look at the exhibition of paintings by Callum Innes, one of five exhibitions they’re showing at the moment. When we were there a few weeks ago, the main room where a number of larger paintings have been hung was inaccessible due to staff being trained on the use of a large scissor lift. This time the room was being used for the weekly “baby club” of activities for under fives. There were babies with their parents sprawled on the floor doing art related activities. But they were in a roughly defined area and we weren’t prevented from going in the gallery.

Callum Innes is an abstract painter, known for his "unpainting". He applies paint to canvases, sometimes two or more layers, and removes it using turps to create simple, but interesting patterns. Some of his paintings were like Mondrians with squares or rectangles of colour, but he creates then by applying and removing paint. Due to his technique His colours have a weathered look and run at the edges. Simple but effective.

Picture source: artist’s website

Although most of the paintings were created using bright pigments, there were a number of monochrome works. There were two paintings from his Monologue series. In these the canvas was covered with black paint and turps used to wash off sections of the paint the washes creating a ghostly waterfall like effect. There’s some examples from this series that can be viewed here.

Untitled 35 (2012) was another monochrome painting. In this work there is a thin vertical black line in the centre of a white canvas. At first glance it would seem that he had painted the black line onto the canvas but this wasn’t the case. It was covered with black paint, most of which was removed with turps leaving behind the vertical line and, noticeable on closer inspection, traces of black on the washed areas of the canvas.

Although best known for his oil paintings, Callum Innes has recently been experimenting with watercolours, and the exhibition a selection of works on paper and new watercolours made especially for the Whitworth. Interestingly the latter are displayed horizontally on trestle tables, underneath glass.

Each of these small paintings has been created using two colours. The first colour applied tot he paper in an area defined by masking tape. After the paint has partially, but not completely dries, the masking tape is removed and the second colour applied on top of the painted area. The two colours merging to create a third, but with traces of the original visible at the edges.  As the Whitworth’s website explains

His ongoing series of watercolours continues Innes’ experimentation with the power of colour, combining pigments to create an often fluid and unclassifiable hue. Throughout his work apparently simple actions create paintings with a complex depth, documents of the process and the duration of their making.

The following video, produced by the Tate, shows how creates these smaller works.

Source: artist’s website

For another view, there’s a good, insightful report of his visit to the exhibition by Andy Parkinson on his blog  Patterns that Connect here.