Jayne Dwyer opens up a couple of cracking paintings and takes a walk to some intriguing exhibitions
I allowed myself to open two presents early this Christmas. The first acquisition was a present to our new home, what you might call “an accidental buy”. Some women accidentally buy new shoes or nice underwear; I have started accidentally buying prints.
If you are trying to save up for a sofa you should avoid visiting According to McGee! Everything is far too tempting.
This gallery always has something for me, something to indulge in. On the bones of our bums since the move, I would have perhaps stayed strong but whilst Ed isn’t normally so easily persuaded, this new acquisition came with a free iPod app and hence it became our present to us.
The Nathan Walsh print, from the Interactive Prints exhibition, certainly doesn’t need the app to be appreciated. You can (and I have) looked at the print for hours on end.
It reminds me of the more cosmopolitan areas of Leeds, but is in fact set in New York, 23 Skidoo, to be exact. It is the perfect piece of art for a people watcher. It is a street scene, and everybody is going about their business.
I feel like I am sat in a Costa-lotta coffee bar, watching the afternoon unfurl. Your attention switches from one minor event to another.
You even look to the reflections in the windows, so as not to miss anything. You momentarily become engrossed in the lives of these strangers. It is realism, but not as you know it.
The app, Repentir, allows you to see how Nathan built up his original painting.
After taking a photograph of the print, you can use the scroller to strip away the layers, to see Nathan’s meticulous drafting of the image, the architectural and complex perspective lines, his base colours and the adding of detail. With or without the app, this is clever stuff.
From graffiti to galleries
Our second parcel, a present, came from York-born artist, CageOne. CageOne (or Rick, as we like to call him) visited his brother and brought the painting, Level 7 Complete, I had been coveting for several months.
Just as we can now unravel Nathan’s print, I had watched our CageOne original take shape on Instagram, as Rick uploaded photographs of the work in progress.
CageOne started his graffiti career in York, when it was still a subversive pasttime. He is anything but anonymous these days and is invited to paint on walls all over the country, alongside other artists.
His abstract “post graffiti” work is becoming very collectable and his canvases and prints feature in magazines and on sites such as Saatchi online.
The latest CD from Japanese Fighting Fish features CageOne’s artwork and our present is from the same palette of greys and blacks and an orange that, quite conveniently, sits very nicely next to my bowl of Christmas satsumas.
Art as a tonic
It has to be said, I have also been indulging in other ways. I already look like the girl who ate all the mince pies. The little black dress that normally saves the day will be struggling this year, and I have shrunk the Bridget’s in the tumbler.
To save disaster, I have taken up exercise. I haven’t exactly hit the gym, but I am aiming to walk everywhere. To make this enjoyable, I have started to map out the exhibitions I want to see, and on days off, Ed and I ditch the Corsa and head for town on foot.
These last few weeks have been a real treat. Along Bootham, we chatted to the lovely Gordon and Guiliana at the Blue Tree Gallery.
This little gallery always sings with colour and their current exhibition shows the work of Claire West and her Big Fox and Fox in the Snow. The artist from Beverly has a strong belief in art therapy and her biography tells you that she “paints because it makes her happy”.
There seems to be a real trend at the moment for stylised wildlife. Foxes and hares are literally bobbing up everywhere, but Claire’s have real personality.
The brilliant turquoises and oranges in her acrylic paintings certainly make you smile and they sit perfectly within the gallery and the other works, such as Sharon Marie Winter’s Green Scarf and resident artist Guiliana’s lino prints and paintings.
The whole place is a tonic. Talking to Gordon and Guiliana is a tonic. Guiliana’s inspiration comes from the city, but also from her memories of Tuscany.
Her father, who used to make mosaics in the churches, gave Guiliana her passion for art and perhaps her clean-cut lino images reflect something of the geometry and precision of mosaic.
Guiliana told me that some of her work has recently been bought by York Hospital for the Alzheimer unit. Colour coding areas of the hospital can, apparently, help patients to identify where they are and Guiliana’s paintings have been acquired because of her strong use of colour.
Another 20 of her works were on their way to the hospital to be exhibited in the main corridors.
Another little gem, I found on one of our walks, last week, was Emma Whiting’s exhibition in Ken Spelman’s, the bookshop down Micklegate. It really is worth braving this dark little place and climbing the stairs to see this exhibition.
Emma entices you in from the cold with her beautiful oil painting of a cosy bed and a patchwork quilt, which sits in the front window of the shop.
Upstairs, I particularly enjoyed Bed, Morning, Park In Snow and an unnamed painting of cotton reels.
In her biog, Emma tells us that this is a new collection and that her aim was to complete some studies from pure observation, rather than embellish her paintings with imagined elements. They are simple and beautiful studies. They are timeless.
Emma’s work sits well in Spelman’s, which still feels Dickensian, but I know they would look equally at home in a contemporary gallery or a three-bed terrace in suburbia – there is room on our walls, I’m sure.
Exhibitions to catch
Colour: Pulse Of The Painting, Richard Barnes and Amrik Varkalis, According to McGee until January 15
Kate Kenney with Malcolm Ludvigsen at Grays Court in York has been extended till the end of February. It’s open all week, 10am – 5pm
Giuliana Lazzerini, main corridor of York Hospital (Junction 3-5), until February 2014
Lines in the Landscape, National Railway Museum, until May 5, 2014. Review to follow shortly