Tag Archives: art exhibition

The art of the ‘edge’ for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge

When I saw Cee’s theme for this week’s Fun Foto Challenge was ‘Things with Edges’ I remembered some unusual artworks we saw earlier this year. The biennial AV Festival here in North East England brings us all kinds of artistic audio visual treats by locally based artists and from artists around the world.

Akio Suzuki is a Japanese artist who has been exploring the world of sound since the 1960s when he began what he has called “na ge ka ke” (‘to cast, to throw’) where he takes an action to affect nature and then listens to the resulting phenomenon. This listening part Akio Suzuki calls “ta do ri” (‘to trace and follow’).

We experienced several of Akio Suzuki’s installations in the Globe Gallery exhibition in Newcastle upon Tyne. Two of his installations involved ‘Edges’ – in this case, the edges were edges of upcycled metal sheets that the artist had used to ‘hold’ the sound vibrations of his artworks.

Akio Suzuki (artist) - hi zu mi, 2014
Akio Suzuki – hi zu mi, 2014

This new work by Suzuki is called “hi zu mi” (‘distortion’). The sheet metal balances upon stones and rocks selected by the artist from a local North East beach. The ‘distortion’ is the gradual absorption of sound as the steel plate bends. Only enough rocks are used to create the work so that the metal plate stops before it touches the ground.

Akio Suzuki - tsu ra na ri re-staged in the Globe Gallery 2014
Akio Suzuki – tsu ra na ri, re-staged in the Globe Gallery, Newcastle, 2014

A second, larger installation is a work that Akio Suzuki first created in 2003, called “tsu ra na ri”. This one is about rhythm and reverberations. A collection of ‘C-shaped’ tables are supported on their sides in a very careful arrangement. Beach stones of varying sizes were placed on the upper surfaces.

Akio Suzuki - tsu ra na ri, 2003
Akio Suzuki – tsu ra na ri. Beach stones are placed on the upper surfaces.

When the installation is pushed gently (very gently! … by the exhibition assistant!!), the tower sways and the stones dance, creating a musical rhythm that then gradually fades out to silence. This sound installation worked really well in the stark surroundings of the Globe Gallery. The sound was intriguing and experiencing this artwork definitely made me think of the rhythm of the sea.

Marsden Bay, N E England coast
Marsden Bay, South Tyneside, England. Akio Suzuki was inspired by his research visit to Marsden Bay.

Here is another set of related ‘edges’ – the cliffs and beach as the edge of the land; the edge of the sea; in the foreground we have rocks with edges that have tumbled down from the cliffs as part of coastal erosion. This is Marsden Bay, the beach where Akio Suzuki visited for inspiration and selected his stones for his artworks.

J Peggy Taylor

Winter sunrise

John Martin, Thomas Bewick and Chinese brush paintings

We are fortunate in North East England to have a wealth of wonderful art galleries and museums to feed our cultural souls. On a recent town trip we enjoyed some new artworks and some old favourites.

Our first stop was an exhibition of Chinese brush paintings in the Newcastle City Library. This was part of the city’s celebrations for Chinese New Year – The Year of the Horse. The paintings in this exhibition were the work of members of the Northern Chinese Brush Painters’ Society. Chinese brush painting is a very distinct style of painting, often featuring flowers and animals associated with China, as well as classical images of Chinese figures.

Viewing Chinese Brush Painting Exhibition at City Library
Viewing Chinese Brush Painting Exhibition at City Library

We like to take our time when we’re exploring an exhibition and really absorb the feelings different works evoke. Having visited previous exhibitions of Chinese brush painting we were ready to appreciate the skillful brushwork that goes into this style of painting and the artists of the Chinese Brush Painters’ Society really are very accomplished. The exhibition was a visual treat. There were wild birds, cockerels, peonies, roses, landscapes, waterfalls, a tiger (a favourite with our boys), and of course, a horse – all beautifully represented in Chinese brush work.

Our second stop was the 18th and 19th Century Paintings on the first floor of the Laing Art Gallery which is conveniently just across the road from the library. The Laing is one of our regular haunts so our boys are very familiar with many of the works in this part of the gallery. They feel at home here and happily wander off to study the various paintings. In this gallery we have works by John Martin, Thomas Gainsborough, Joshua Reynolds, William Holman Hunt and, one of my favourites, Laura Knight, among others. Then after we’ve wandered we meet up at particular family favourites and talk about something that has caught our eye.

On this occasion we were standing by John Martin’s “The Bard” – at over 2 metres high and a metre and a half across, it is an imposing and truly mesmerising painting that we never tire of viewing and discussing. It depicts the medieval story of Edward I and his armies conquering Wales, with the last Welsh Bard standing high on the mountainside from which he is about to leap to his death.

We also contemplated the smaller works by John Martin that are hung adjacent to “The Bard”. One in particular drew our attention, entitled “Solitude”, as it depicts a lone figure gazing out across woods and moorland towards the kind of glorious sunset we often see in winter across our own valley. The sunrise I’ve added as the header to this post demonstrates the amazing sky colours we experience. This is a raw image taken in early January.

The final part of this cultural tour was to view an exhibition currently at the Laing Gallery showcasing works by another very famous North East artist and his pupils, “Thomas Bewick and His Apprentices”. Thomas Bewick is renowned for his wood engravings, many of which were published as book illustrations.

Thomas Bewick's engravings
Thomas Bewick’s engravings

This exhibition partly showcased Bewick’s own work, but also that of the apprentices who worked with him at his workshop. There were engravings but also paintings by Bewick’s apprentices in the exhibition, including a wonderful watercolour of Tynemouth Priory by Luke Clennell. The following link takes you to part of the Tyne & Wear Museums website where you can see some of Luke Clennell’s work. We discussed how the subject matter and style of some of these paintings were similar to some of the works of John Sell Cotman.

We had a very enjoyable and informative day, experiencing and appreciating an interesting range of works by North East-based artists past and present. It was certainly a wonderful way to spend a damp winter’s day.

J Peggy Taylor