Sunday, 23 July 2017

Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power

© Wadsworth Jarrell 'Revolutionary 1972' Private Collection

On Saturday 22nd July, I took my family to the Tate Modern to see Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power. The show opens in 1963 when the Civil Rights Movement and its dreams of integration was at its heights. 

Artists responded to these challenging times with their vibrant paintings, powerful murals, collage, photography, revolutionary clothing designs and sculptures made with Black hair, melted records, and tights.

Some of the artists have engaged with legendary figures from the period, with paintings in homage to political leaders Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and Angela Davis, musician John Coltrane and sporting hero Jack Johnson. 

Muhammad Ali appears in Andy Warhol's famous painting. This was a rare opportunity to see era-defining artworks that changed the face of art in America. 

It was my granddaughter's first visit to the Tate (and to an art museum) and she loved it. She will soon be 10 years old and she said going to this event made her feel, 'all grown up.' 

It was startling to see the actual green front door of the Black Power Movement's offices covered in bullet holes! Striking photography included an image of just a noose hanging from a tree. Artifacts from lynchings were on display like something out of Medieval times.

Here are the artists:

The artists (71) 

There were 12 rooms holding the exhibition:

Room 1:  SPIRAL
Room 2:  ART ON THE STREETS
Room 3:  FIGURING BLACK POWER
Room 4:  LOS ANGELES ASSEMBLAGE
Room 5:  AFRICOBRA IN CHICAGO
Room 6:  THREE GRAPHIC ARTISTS, LOS ANGELES
Room 7:  EAST COAST ABSTRACTION
Room 8:  BLACK LIGHT
Room 9:  BLACK HEROES
Room 10:IMPROVISATION AND EXPERIMENTATION
Room 11:BETYE SAAR
Room 12:JUST ABOVE MIDTOWN

Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power runs 
from 12 July - 22 October 2017

Friday, 7 July 2017

Benefit Cuts: Domino Effects, Stages 1, 2 and 3.





Mixed Media Collage
Theme: Social Justice 

Creative Process:

The three-staged approach of Benefit Cuts: Domino Effects 1, 2 and 3, captures the detrimental effects of my son's Employment & Support Allowance (ESA) being 'disallowed', and logs the timeline and journey towards the successful Appeal outcome. I used the actual text from the Works & Pensions paperwork, images of dominoes in specific positions, and the image of death to highlight the national issue of 90 people a month dying as a result of having their ESA benefit cut. The background acrylic colours for each piece depict bloodshed and fade from dark to light in the process of battling towards the successful Appeal. 

The medium of mixed media collage lends itself really well to develop a visual vocabulary for describing and translating my experiences; the personal and political works particularly well in this medium. Collage is both a process and a medium in which I can most naturally and effectively give voice to that creative tension.

For further behind the scenes information, the answers to the following questions are in the video below:

  • What inspired you to make this collage?
  • What was the most challenging thing about making the collage?
  • What was the most satisfying part of creating the collage?
  • What message is most important?
  • What do you want the public audience to get from the artwork?
  • What's next?


Benefit Cuts: Domino Effects...has defined me as an activist artist and I look forward to making more art in the name of social justice!


Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Image of the Week: Haiku Art


Creative Process: 

Prompted by a friend's birthday, my knowledge that she likes trees, plus my love of trees, it was time to draw one.  I also knew that my friend liked Haiku poetry, which is a form of poetry using a set of 3 lines that follow a pattern of 5/7/5 syllables. 

I did some research and discovered that subjects of haiku poems are often events, seasons and creatures of the natural world that reflect a distinctive Zen and Buddhist sensibility.  The haiku poet records experience by using a meditative thought process that leaves the mind open to subconscious influences.

This intuitive writing process is akin to the same form of open imagination visual artists use to create their work.  The idea is to use your subconscious imagination to interpret haiku poems visually.

You are not trying to illustrate the landscape, things or ideas mentioned in the poem. Rather, you use the sounds and sensory impressions you receive and imagine from reading the poem as your inspiration. 

Once I had completed the drawing, I wrote this haiku poem:

Forever solid
waiting in vain for the sun
the moon will suffice.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Image of the Week: 'Jamaica' - a Black History Month Special!


Creative Process:

Inspiration for my 'Jamaica' collage came from Exercise 36: Random Collage - Why Not Be Out of Control in Creating Abstract Art: Ideas and Inspirations for Passionate Art-Making by Dean Nimmer.

I've completed a few collages over the years, so thought this project would offer light relief from my other drawings.  As Dean Nimmer states: 'Collages are easy to make, inexpensive and, most importantly, offer a thoroughly enjoyable process!'

'Removing the ability to control the outcome of your composition can be unnerving and liberating at the same time.' I'm not sure I completely went along with this idea, but I did start by choosing the fairly old, yet meaningful, map of Jamaica, that I used when I toured the island on many occasions (12) between the years 1996 and 2008.

The map of Jamaica needed to fit on A3 size paper, so I folded the far right section over and when it came to framing, I left it open, without glass.

The photos were a random selection.  However, the Rastafarian colours, red - the blood shed of the African people; yellow - the sunshine of the African land and green - the lush greenery of the African continent, were deliberate, and this is where the work came in, of ensuring the balance of colours, filled in with coloured pencils, blended throughout the whole collage.

I thoroughly enjoyed creating this collage, which inspired me to hang it along with my four framed photographs of Bob Marley - see below. The whole 'Jamaica' wall, in my living room, has since become a cultural and historical talking piece as I share my travel experiences with friends and family.



Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Tate Modern and The National Gallery

View from the Cafe at the Tate Modern
On Saturday 29th August, as part of a social event, a group (6) of us went to the Tate Modern based in the former Bankside Power Station, London and to the National Gallery in London's Trafalgar Square.  

Tate Modern is a modern art gallery and Britain's national gallery of international modern art.  The Tate holds the national collection of British art from 1900 to the present day and international modern and contemporary art.  

At the Tate there were numerous exhibitions: 'Poetry and Dreams' featured a large central room dedicated to Surrealism, while the surrounding rooms featured works by artists influenced by Surrealism and its methods.  

'Energy and Process' was both challenging and controversial, particularly one room, which displayed three large canvasses that had red paint thrown at them! Is that really art I wondered!

The National Gallery was where I viewed magnificent works by the movers and shakers. There was no doubt in my mind that here was one of the greatest collections of Western European painting in the world, ranging from the Middle Ages to the first decade of the twentieth century. 

Van Gogh's 'Sunflowers' (1888) was the most popular, judging by the sheer numbers of young tourists crowded in front of the painting all eagerly taking photos.  I had to jostle my way through the crowd so as to get a couple of photos for myself!

Van Gogh's 'Sunflowers' (1888) at The National Gallery
The National Gallery far outweighed my expectations. I ended up buying a National Gallery Souvenir Book plus '...isms Understanding Art' by Stephen Little, which will be a handy guide to a wide range of art 'isms' which have formed the history of Western art from the early Renaissance to the present day.

...isms Understanding Art by Stephen Little (Bloomsbury, Publ 2014)
I thoroughly enjoyed this cultural and artistic treat as I'd never been to either of these galleries before. 

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Image of the Week: My Back Garden


Creative Process:

I used the reference image below for this piece. I took the photo because I'd had the hedge cut in my back garden and could now see the lovely tree behind! This was the toughest assignment to date as it meant some technical drawing, especially of the shed, the paving stones and the steps!

Here's the reference image:


Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Image of the Week: Still Life Drawing


Creative Process: 

This is my first attempt at a Still Life Drawing and my first attempt at drawing a book! No reference image so an absolute original.  I kept the layering to a minimum. I was going to leave the background white but thought it needed colour, so opted for red.

Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power

© Wadsworth Jarrell 'Revolutionary 1972' Private Collection On Saturday 22nd July, I took my family to the Tate Modern to see  ...