This dramatically varied, insightful and warming exhibition opened on Saturday with spoken word performances and a fully engaged debate with four women MPs. Inspired by the bold work of feminist artists and activists, Women Power Protest raises awareness, provokes debate and asks how much has changed for women. The show was very well attended by a diverse audience throughout Saturday with visitors enjoying the thought provoking work on every wall of the Gas Hall.
It is curated to mark a century since the first women won the right to vote, the exhibition brings together modern and contemporary artworks from the Arts Council and Birmingham’s Collection to celebrate female artists who have explored protest, social commentary and identity in their work.
It showcases pieces by celebrated artists including Susan Hiller, Lubaina Himid, and Mary Kelly, as well as sometimes controversial artists such as Sam Taylor-Johnson, Sonia Boyce, and Margaret Harrison, the exhibition does not shy away from difficult subjects, nor underplay the genius behind these artworks.
In November 1918 The Parliament (Qualification of Women) Actpassed allowing women to stand for Parliament. 100 years on to commemorate this landmark event in history, Birmingham Museum is delighted to host a panel discussion with four female MP’s from Birmingham and Solihull, chaired by leading feminist campaigner Caroline Criado Perez.
Participating politicians: Jess Phillips, MP for Birmingham Yardley Preet Gill, MP for Birmingham Edgbaston Shabana Mahmood, MP for Birmingham Ladywood Dame Caroline Spelman, MP for the Meriden constituency (Solihull).
The debate explored what it means to be a woman in parliament today and what the future looks like for women in politics. Caroline led the panel in rich and informed discussion based on the MP’s extensive experience and knowledge of the parliamentary system. Dame Caroline Spelman was able to compare the changes in women’s engagement in parliament over her 20 year contribution in the house. Legislative changes and custom and practice were welcomed, but there is still much to do. The continuing social media abuse faced by female Mps and the need for social media platform companies to prevent or remove abuse was called for. The chair encouraged questions of no more than ten words from the floor from women, and one man. There was more valuable exchanges and debate than for much of the debate earlier in the week in Westminster.
The show is free and on until 31 Mar 2019. Go See.
Women Power Protest is part of the Arts Council Collection National Partnership Programme which sees four major UK galleries working together to curate, host, and share a series of exciting and innovative new exhibitions with works drawn from the Arts Council Collection. The National Partner venues are Birmingham Museums Trust, Walker Art Gallery National Museums Liverpool, Yorkshire Sculpture Park and Towner Gallery, Eastbourne.
The Printmakers Council was formed in 1965 a group of artists including Julian Trevelyan, Michael Rothenstein, Anthony Gross, Stanley Jones and Agatha Sorel who saw the need for a society that would promote new developments within printmaking. Since then it has consistently promoted the place of printmaking in the visual arts. More about the history of the Printmakers Council here
In 2017 the Council invited artist printmakers to submit works for the Print City and Mini Print exhibitions which opened on November at the Morley Gallery in Lambeth London. The exhibits showed the breadth of UK printmaking including silkscreen, etching, linocut, lithography, solar and plastic engraving. I submitted a mini print (19×19) of an inkjet print on pastel paper – Welsh Bowl with Mermaids Purse, Sheep’s Wool and Rabbits Tail. The Mini Prints are a portfolio that will be held by the V&A Print Collection. I met Michael Pritchard from Staffordshire who had his digital prints in the city exhibition that sat alongside plastic engravings by Louise Hayward and Guy Butters Underground Surveillance that hung in on of the windows which are included in the slide how of iPhone pictures from the opening night.
The gallery is nearby The Imperial War Museum which was particularly dramatic that night with a bright moon low in the sky.
Presentations from Day 1 at Loughborough University Fine Art Department in this slide show.
Following an introduction to Drawing / phenomenology: tracing lived experiences through drawing, by Conference Organiser and host Deborah Hartley, a diverse and insightful series of presentations covering intensely local to expansive global drawing projects ….
Deborah Harty: drawing is phenomenology?
Jane Cook: Drawing the Domestic: a practice-led phenomenological study through–drawing investigating notions of the experience of home.
Martin Lewis: Perfunctory Acts of Drawing.
Marion Arnold: The Sensing, Knowing Hand: a Phenomenological Drawing Tool.
Eleanor Morgan: Fixing the ephemeral: the materiality of sand-drawings.
Phil Sawdon: … feel my way … outline judgements … I made some pictures
…… there was a choice of 4 workshops for the afternoon session.
I selected the intriguingly titled : Gained in Translation:Drawing Art History presented by Sarah Jaffray from the Bridget Riley Foundation at The British Museum. Surprisingly this was a participatory session where we were encouraged to draw from the collection of British Museum prints inc great masters and more recent drawing works. Beginning with quick draw exercises to get us loosened up we worked through pictures at speed and then on to a longer 10 minute drawing session. My selected drawing for this longer session was Michel Thevoz in the library of the Art Brut Museum, Graphite by Ariane Laroux. This longer focus on ‘copying’ or ‘Re, Representing’ a drawing enabled me to begin to understand the flow of the drawing through the artist’s eyes, by copying her drawing with intense attention to detail to honestly copy and represent her drawing.
The drawing captured the subject, but left much of the subject out. Much of the paper remained white and untouched. Following the drawing from head to hand seemed to reveal decisions made by Ariane Laroux to draw her subject, which may have gone unnoticed without the attention to detail required to copy her drawing. This seemed to confirm the thesis that faithful copying from original art is valuable to the copier in terms of dexterity, skills and insight into the artistic process.
I was not attempting to make better the original, but to replicate it honestly to the best of one’s ability to make a genuine copy. I felt the process of drawing Ariane’s Drawing brought me closer to her process to draw her subject. It was no longer an exercise, but an engaged desire to be true to her drawing, and to be with her, in her mark making and her decisions to draw parts of her subject that illuminated her whole subject. I did not know or see her subject before her, as I did not know the Ruben’s or Leonardo’s subjects, but with licence and dedicated time to draw from her picture I got to know the subject and even closer to the artist’s representation of the subject. Whilst being drawn into the process and giving as much as I could into the timeframe I felt I wanted to talk to Ariane about her drawing choices, in this portrait, because I thought I ‘knew more’ than when I began.
Sarah Jaffray’s workshop focussed on translation, which is wholly pertinent, however I took from it ‘the right to copy’ as an educational, skills and insightful process of value. She, through the Bridget Riley Foundation, encourages drawings of the drawings, for the benefit of of the contemporary drawer.
This process encouraged me to question where Drawing and Phenomenology meet?
The workshop abstract :
Gained in Translation: Drawing Art History
Drawing from drawing is as old as the artist’s workshop: students drawing from their master’s work, tacked to the wall of a studio, began their journey to mastery through faithful copying. Today however, in the wake of post-modernism’s reaction against authority, copying from a ‘master’ feels outdated and has thus been erased from contemporary arts education.
For the past three years the Bridget Riley Art Foundation at the British Museum has worked with over 1,000 university art students to revive and interrogate the value of drawing from drawing as a contemporary research method. In the process of over 150 workshops we found that students who initially dismissed the practice as ‘servile copying’ began to legitimise the process with the language of translation.
Building on this qualitative research, our workshop will examine the practice of drawing from drawing through the lens of translation theory. We will discuss translation, in the manner of Walter Benjamin, as a mode of cognition that allows the translator to critically interrogate their own artistic language. Working through a series of drawing exercises from (reproductions of) drawings in the British Museum’s Prints and Drawings collection we will actively explore the question: what can translating teach the translator
Those interested in drawing from the collection can make an appointment at : www.britishmuseum.org.
The Artworks used from the British Museum collection:
1. Paul Cézanne, Study of a plaster Cupid, c.1890; graphite. 1935,0413.2
2. Bridget Riley, Untitled 2 (Circles with verticals), 1960; Pencil, blue ink and gouache paper. 2013,7097.2
3. Vincent van Gogh, La Crau from Montmajour, France, May 1888; Pen and brown ink, over black chalk and graphite. 1968,0210.20
4. Ariane Laroux, Michel Thevoz in the library of the Art Brut Museum; graphite. 2001,0929.12
5. Théodore Géricault, Study of Soldiers fighting Civilians, 1823; Graphite over red chalk. 1920,0216.3
6. Sol Lewitt, Untitled, 1971. Pen and yellow ink. 1981,1003.27
7. Antoine Watteau, Studies of a woman standing, seen from behind, a half-length woman with head in profile to left and women’s hands, 1684-1721; Red and black chalks, 1857,0228.213
8. Peter Paul Rubens, Mary Magdalene, c. 1620; Black chalk, heightened with white. 1912,1214.5; H16
9. Frank Auerbach, First drawing for ‘Ruth’, 1994; graphite. 2013,7059.48
10. Leonardo, The Virgin and Child, 1478-80; Pen and brown ink, over leadpoint, the lower sketch in leadpoint only. 1860,0616.100, P&P 100
11. Barbara Hepworth, Sculptural forms, c. 1938; ink on paper. 2008,7082.1
12. Honoré Daumier, Clown playing a drum, c.1865/7; Pen and black and grey ink, grey wash, watercolour, touches of gouache, and conté crayon, over black chalk underdrawing. 1968,0210.30
“Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace.”
The last line in Simon Schama’s epic book.
As Duncan Macmillan says in the Scotsman: Schama at his very best. He rises to Rembrandt’s level. In a few sentences …. he summarises how Rembrandt broke the chrysalis of classicism to release the butterfly of modern art …… The result is massive.
I’ve learned much in reading this deeply detailed book by the ‘engaged beholder’. It has given me the opportunity to reflect on the life of the great artist and his range of work. Particularly into his draughtsmanship and portraiture as he sought to ’embody’ the ‘character’ of his subjects rather than describe them. Insights that will feed into my research plans. Thank you.
May 10 th arrives and the 30 Printed Portraits will be revealed to all and those who feature on the walls of the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery.
In the morning I was attending to final details including briefing the wonderful front of house team and remaking the nameplates with larger type and a Shrieval coat of arms. A gentleman came into the space and after a while focussing on the pictures I asked what he thought. He had seen the exhibition advertised on the BMAG Whats on listings and had travelled in especially from Telford in Shropshire to see it.
We talked about the how he is semi retired and visits galleries near and far to get a sense of artists work close up. We discussed portraits, photography, art before taking a picture of each other. He asked if he could take my picture in front of the Portrait of Eileen Wright as it is his favourite because of the ‘glint in her eye at her age’, as well as the big buttons on the phone she used to take he 97th birthday call.
Mike had been to the TATE in Liverpool to see the Rossetti Monna Vanna portrait and had taken a celebratory picture. I pointed out that next door in Gallery 17 is a beautiful picture by Rossetti of Beatrix. He thanked me and went to see it, quickly returning with glee and after one last tour of the portraits made his comment in the book.
As the normal viewing day came to a close a group of women came into Gallery 16. They viewed the portraits with interest and consideration, sharing their views to each other about the portraits and the subjects. They enthusiastically reflected, and nominated their top three! Top of their favourites was Eileen Wright.
I heard later that evening at the private view that as they left the Museum they met Eileen’s daughter and husband on the gallery entrance doorsteps and eulogised about the portrait exhibition and in particular the one of the older lady making her birthday phone call. Wonderful
This is my first post for this new site. Working on my first 4 colour silk screen for ‘twoasone’ Eleonora Bruno’s print exhibition with Claudio Lici’s music performance on the 28th at Birmingham School of Art.