Saatchi Gallery and Champagne Life
February 29 2016
A Constellation of Female Artists
On a chilly wet day in London this February, I went to visit
the Parallax Art Fair in London! However on the way down Kings Road
in Chelsea we came across the huge and grand pillars of the Saatchi
gallery which holds free exhibitions of the latest talent from the
We couldn't resist it, and were pleased to discover lots of
inspiration. Including a stuffed donkey on a space hopper...... yep
that's right! No joke.
“Cultural Collage Between East and Western
The donkey was quite a strange sight or I could say
challenging , which is part of its purpose. Made by
Soheilia Sokhanvari her work uses fantastical metaphor
to help create open ended discussion about the totalitarian
political system in Iran where she is from.
Another out of the ordinary artwork included a giant bobbin
with copper thread by artist Alice Anderson. This was made for the
Saatchi Gallery, its based on a game Sigmund Freud would play with
his daughter to calm her down.
The scale of the artwork was of course the particular draw but
the detail in the thread itself also added to a sense of being
childlike and small. The cable sized thread reminded me of the
highly focussed, absorbed play that a child engages in when looking
closely at objects.
Ancient Cultures and Autocartography
One of the most inspirational artists in the show on this
visit was Mequitta Ahuja. Mainly because I really enjoyed looking
closely at her large collage artworks that have painstakingly
layered, printed textiles made using Indian print blocks as well as
painted vellum and animal skins and paper.
Using mixed media is something I really enjoy especially with
paper so it was exciting to see the patterns and images in detail.
Also, print making has such a tactile and immediate feel to it, so
that combined collage is magical in this work! It draws you in and
makes you think about how the artist made it and why they made it.
But what it also gives me is sense of the time it took to
Expanses of Messy Limbs
Seung Ah Paik fleshy expanses hang on skin-like canvas which
has been reformed, dried.and draped Looking closely at
finger prints, skin markings or bending and contorting to
explore your own body is suggested to us in these huge
Whilst moving around them I found myself trying to figure out
how many people where there and what they were doing. It looked
kind of grotesque and made me a little self concious to look at,
but curiosity made me forget about that. Again I thought the detail
was amazing when you got close up and once more I was reminded of
how a person might investigate the details and shape of their
Paik says, “I want my skin to be present in
the painting, rather than be an image of my skin in the painting. I
want the viewers to experience the
So, this exhibition seems to be all about drawing attention to
the things we miss. It seems to be about questioning by showing
things in a different light or from a new
The confused looking donkey on an inflatable grabs our
attention and asks why? But clearly the international nature of the
works and the cultural themes demand contemplation when we consider
the artworks scale and painstaking detail.
To me this exhibition is a kind of dialogue on the world, its
cultures and women today - now. Its about the difficulties of a
changing 'globalist' world and the commonality we still share as
A Solar System of Pots
This last artwork Food for Thought “Almuallaqat
4” by Maha Malluh, really struck me as a universally human
piece. Each cooking pot has been used to make food but each one is
different. They look like the surface of planets or moons and all
are similar in shape but all are individual.
We saw some new and refreshing art at the Saatchi
. Its was fun because you discover something new,
unexpected and different from the mainstream Tate Gallery
type shows. I recommend a visit!
Northamptonshire's Hidden Art Treasures.
February 11 2016
Looking at art is one way of listening to
Sister Wendy Beckett.
In Northamptonshire we have some great galleries which often
show the artwork of local, talented artists. In Kettering there is
the Alfred East Art Gallery, built in 1913, and then
there is the Northampton Museum and art gallery where I have
exhibited. They hold permanent collections of local and national
importance as well as have regular shows.
Thinking about this recently, I decided to seek out the other
art collections, which are both permanent, precious and a great
heritage for people in Northamptonshire. Already knowing a few
places to visit I decided to start at All Hallows Church in
Wellingborough where I knew treasure was to be found in abundant
light and colour.
Most of my childhood was spent in Wellingborough and I
remember on market days the bells from All Hallows ringing out over
the town and somehow embracing all the busy people in the area
together. But, what I didn't know about then, was the fantastic and
contemporary stained glass windows which send intense waves of
colour into the building.
John Piper's Art in Wellingborough!
On my visit I saw these windows, which John Piper was
commissioned to design in the 1960's by an inspired vicar called Fr
Malcolm Mathuen Clarke (1908-2003).
Fr Clarke,started his ministry as curate at St Mathews Parish
Church, Northampton in 1939 and would have known Fr Walter
Hussey (1909-1985) who had a great fondness for the arts.
John Piper, who is well known for his painting of Coventry
cathedral, whilst working as an official war artist 1940-42, is one
my favourite artists. His use of different materials, colours and
textures is really inspiring, but to find his work in my home town
Discovering John Piper Links to Henry Moore and even
This discovery in Wellingborough then linked Northampton's St
Mathews Parish Church and more outstanding art! When I visited St
Mathews I was given a welcome leaflet which shows a painting made
by Piper - more evidence of the link between the churches!
Visiting St Mathews was another exciting journey of discovery
for me. when I first viewed the famous Northampton 'Madonna and
Child' by Henry Moore, 'Crucifixion' by Graham Sutherland and
Malcolm Pollards 'Risen Christ'.
A Rich Musical History Thanks to Fr Walter Hussey.
Also the church has a rich musical history. Walter Hussey
commissioned works by Benjamin Britten, Malcolm Arnold and many
more! John Piper also designed the sets for six of Britten's
première opera productions -wow! Malcolm Arnold wrote
the music for films such as 'The Bridge over the River Kwai' and
has a school named after him here in Northampton.
Beer Empire to Heavenly Brilliance in Phipsville.
The Church of St Mathew was built on land and funds donated by
the Phips family who owned the Northampton beer empire which is now
the site of the Carlsberg brewery. If you visit the Malt Shovel Pub
nearby you can see lots of old memorabilia from the Phips brewery
and have a nice pint of beer of course!
Walter Hussey who suceeded his father was the parish priest in
the 1930 - 40's for 13 years and was determined to build a bridge
between church and contemporary arts. He commissioned modernist
artworks through his connections in the art world at a very low
cost. These included the works from Henry Moore and Graham
A Great Turning Point in Henry Moore's Sculpture.
The Northampton Madonna and Child by Henry Moore was an
absolute delight to see. The knees in particular were worn and
shiny from countless people touching them and making contact with
the icon. Ron Hutt who showed me around, told me that children
often like to touch the sculpture. which is a testament to the
When Moore was first asked to carve the sculpture he said, "
When I was first asked to carve a Madonna and Child for St
Mathew's, although I was very interested I wasn't sure whether I
could do it, or whether I wanted to do it."
Polished Knees, Maternity and Simplicity
Part of the challenge Moore considered was how to show the
difference between Mother and Child and Madonna and Child. He
believed the later should display "austerity, nobility" and a
"touch of grandeur", which is missing in the every day Mother and
But I think that it is still a very human and accessible piece
as shown by the touch polished knee's. Its the sensitivity of the
curves and the subject which we can relate to that invites a touch
or stroke and provokes the desire to get close and connect.
Below are some photographs I found in the book by Herbert
Read, Henry Moore (Thames and Hudson). They show the "sketch
models" and the final work in progress. This important piece,
led Moore in a new direction with his work and he produced a
series based on Family Groups 1945-49 and then later the King and
Christ's Horrific Agony and The Concentration Camps
The first painting I saw when I arrived at St Mathew's was
Graham Sutherland's, Crucifixion, 1946. This large painting was
commissioned by Fr Walter Hussey when Sutherland came to the church
with Moore to install the Northampton Madonna. Sutherland made a
series of paintings in preparation for this work which are held at
Gallery in London.
At the time photographs had been released showing the dead and
starving Concentration Camp victims, which Sutherland wanted to
show in the suffering of Christ on the Cross. He also took
inspiration from the Crucifixion of
(the Isenheim altarpiece), a work that shows
Christ's horrific agony on the cross and was made during a time of
the plague - 1512-1516.
The Risen Christ by Malcolm Pollard. 1992
This beautiful and striking sculpture was a real surprise for
me, as I did not know about it before my visit. When I was a
student at Nene Art College Malcolm Pollard taught us sculpture for
a short time, so I was delighted to find this treasure. It was
installed in 1992 and is made from Jelutong wood and hung from
The figure gives the illusion it is literally hanging on the
cross behind it, but as you move forward you see that Christ is
actually separated from the cross and is 'floating' in front of it.
Ron Hutt told me during my visit about how the figure often catches
his eye or makes him look twice. During the services, it gently
moves as the air rises from the heating system, which I found
My own work, made for the Church I attend in Irthlingborough
was made following my baptism in 2013. I made this cross painting
using bible quotes, prayers and poems. Read more about it on my
All photographs at St Mathew's were made and
published with the permission of the Vicar and
Churchwardens of St Matthew’s Parish Church,
Moore quotation from Henry Moore, by Herbert Read.
Thames and Hudson, 1965.
More inspirational Churches Northamptonshire
- Brixworth, All Saints Church - All
Saints church in Brixworth is the largest Saxon church in England,
indeed it is probably the largest Anglo-Saxon building of any kind.
It was founded around 680 AD by monks from Peterborough, and unlike
some early churches, has retained much of its Saxon
- Castle Ashby, St Mary Magdalene Church. The parish
church of Castle Ashby its a lovely medieval building and is
well worth a visit in its own right.
- Earls Barton Saxon Church. One of the finest Saxon
churches in Britain. The tower of All Saints dates to 970AD and is
decorated with wonderful pilaster stonework, with both rounded and
- Fotheringhay, St Mary & All Saints Church. Once part
of a college founded by the 1st Duke of York, this wonderful 15th
century church boasts Yorkist tombs and associations with Richard
III, who was born at the nearby castle and may have been baptised
- Great Brington, St Mary's Church. This attractive 13th
century church is famed for the Spencer Chapel, with the ornate
tombs of 19 generations of Spencers from nearby Althorp
- Northampton, St Peter's Church. One of the finest Norman
churches in Northamptonshire, St Peter's was built around 1150, but
there is evidence of a still earlier church in this spot. One of
the most interesting features are the carved capitals in the nave,
which are wonderfully decorated with carved foliage, birds, beasts,
and human faces.