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Melancholia. A Sebald Variation - presented by King’s College London at Somerset House

Exhibition preview

MELANCHOLIA: A Sebald Variation, presented by Kings College London, takes the writings of W.G. Sebald (1944-2001) as a starting point for an exploration of melancholia in European art and culture.

Curated by John-Paul Stonard and Lara Feigel, it will be on display at Somerset House (Inigo Rooms) from September 21 to December 10, 2017.

Inspired in particular by Sebald’s 1997 publication On The Natural History of Destruction – 20 years old this year – Melancholia sees works by international contemporary artists set alongside images documenting the destruction of Germany in the Second World War, as well as W.G. Sebald’s own manuscripts and peculiar photography collection.

Highlights include:

· Albrecht Dürer’s famous print Melencolia I (1514), on loan from the British Museum

· Never before exhibited photographs by Anselm Kiefer, made in the 1980s, depicting aircraft constructed out of sheets of lead taken from the roof of Cologne cathedral

. Tacita Dean’s Our Europe and I had a Father – new works on slate specially commissioned for the exhibition

· Guido van der Werve’s award-winning endurance-art film project Nummer Vierteen: Home, 2012 (pictured)

· Eye-witness drawings by Wilhelm Rudolph of the smouldering ruins of Dresden, both shown in Britain for the first time

· A video of an interview between W.G. Sebald and Susan Sontag

Admission: Free.

Opening Hours: Tuesday to Saturday from 11.30am to 5.30pm (until 7.30 Wednesdays); Sunday from 2.30pm to 5.30pm.

NB: The Inigo Rooms, King’s College London’s flagship exhibition space in Somerset House East Wing, can be accessed from the Somerset House courtyard.

Natural History Museum Ice Rink opens on October 26, 2017

Natural History Museum Ice Rink

Event preview

THIS winter, the Natural History Museum Ice Rink will be open to skaters from Thursday, October 26, 2017 to Sunday, January 7, 2018. Tickets are now on sale at www.nhm.ac.uk/visit/exhibitions/ice-rink or by calling 0844 847 1576 or 0844 847 1575 for groups (including school groups).

The Natural History Museum Ice Rink welcomes over 130,000 visitors every year, providing the perfect treat as the festive season draws ever closer.

The glistening ice rink which runs alongside South Kensington’s tree-lined streets will be topped off once again with a sparkling 30ft Christmas tree. Luxury chocolatier and cocoa grower Hotel Chocolat will be serving their luxurious signature hot chocolate and other hot drinks for skaters to enjoy and indulge in.

Skaters and visitors will also have the chance to shop for a delicious selection of chocolatey festive gifts whilst visiting the ice rink.

The Café Bar will be open for seasonal treats, providing a place to stay warm out of the winter chill. Visitors to the Café Bar can watch all the skate action from a perfectly-positioned viewing balcony. The Café Bar is open daily as a place to unwind after a skate around the shimmering ice rink.

Tickets: From £8.80 for children, £12.65 for adults, £39.60 for family (all include booking fee).

Check website for daily session times and peak times.

Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London, SW7 5BD

Nnenna Okore: Ụkwa Ruo Oge Ya Ọ Daa - There’s a time for everything

Nnenna Okore Ethereal Beauty 2017. Cheesecloth, jute string, lace, dye and wire; 39 x42 x12 inches. Photo N. Okore. Courtesy October Gallery London.

Exhibition preview

A NEW exhibition entitled Nnenna Okore: Ụkwa Ruo Oge Ya Ọ Daa – There’s a time for everything will be on display at October Gallery from October 26 to December 2, 2017.

The proverbial Igbo axiom Ụkwa Ruo Oge Ya Ọ Daa, references the theatrical falling of breadfruit from the mother tree. The plummet of this tropical fruit, known in Igbo as Ukwa, not only indicates the height of its ripening phase, it also sparks the genesis of a new trajectory – the decaying stage.

Symbolically the fallen Ukwa represents metamorphic processes that are constantly injected into the natural cycle to establish cosmic balance and planetary order. These fascinating twists and turns bring into being new realities, seasons, chapters, formations and systems.

Okore’s practice explores these subjects of ephemerality and transformation. Her intricate works contain rich textures, and reveal extraordinary manifestations of colour and formations, often resembling organic elements in nature, such as roots, veins, and flora.

Each visceral sculpture is created through various repetitive and labour – intensive techniques, like teasing, twisting, dyeing and sewing, applied to natural materials such as cheesecloth, burlap and paper, which only serve to further accentuate these natural elements.

Okore is deeply disturbed by how human activities are contributing to climate change, aggravating and interrupting the natural cycle of life. To juxtapose these worldly energies she weaves the Igbo adage, Ụkwa Ruo Oge Ya Ọ Daa, through her work capturing a collective human experience that is imbued with images of renewal and regeneration.

Yet everything has its season and everything has its due. And not even the breadfruit high up on the Ụkwa tree can escape the rule of life.

Nnenna Okore is a Professor of Art and department chair at North Park University, Chicago. She has a BA in Painting from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and both an MA and MFA from the University of Iowa.

Okore is a 2012 Fulbright Award recipient and has exhibited internationally. Her works have been featured in several important exhibitions such as Second Lives: Remixing the Ordinary, Museum of Arts and Design, New York; We Face Forward, Manchester Art Gallery, Manchester; Africa Africans, Museu Afro Brasil, Sao Paulo and When the Heavens Meet the Earth, The Heong Gallery, Cambridge.

Most recently, she had a major installation Sheer Audacity, exhibited at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, USA.

Image: Nnenna Okore Ethereal Beauty 2017. Cheesecloth, jute string, lace, dye and wire; 39 × 42 × 12 inches. Photo N. Okore. Courtesy October Gallery London.

Admission: Free.

Opening hours: Tuesday to Saturday from 12.30 to 5.30pm.

October Gallery, 24 Old Gloucester Street, Bloomsbury, London, WC1N 3AL

Also at October Gallery: Alexis Peskine: Power Figures (until October 21, 2017).

Cartoonist Joan Cornellà at Hoxton Arches

Exhibition preview

BARCELONA cartoonist and illustrator Joan Cornellà’s London debut solo exhibition is on display at Hoxton Arches from September 15 to October 1, 2017.

Cornellà has amassed a huge following for his works imbued with unsettling, surreal and black humour. Through simplistic visual language, he satirizes the sinister and often bleak side of humanity through unconventional scenarios.

He has illustrated for The New York Times amongst numerous publications, and you can recognise his work on the cover of Wilco’s album Schmilco.

The exhibition will include new canvas paintings and limited edition illustrations, as well as books, shirts and prints available for purchase. Cornellà will be signing copies of his new book, SOT, on various occasions across the exhibition.

This will be the first opportunity to see Cornellà’s work exhibited in London.

Tickets: £5 and can be pre-booked for your desired day to avoid queues. Weekend tickets are already running low on availability.

Hoxton Arches, 402 Cremer St, London, E2 8HD

Tower of London Poppies - where are they now?

THE official follow-up to the Tower of London poppies, the London installation which featured 888,246 ceramic poppies, visited by over five million people, was launched on Wednesday, September 6, 2017.

Launched by 14-18 NOW, the UK’s arts programme for the First World War centenary, Where Are The Poppies Now aims to find the iconic ceramic poppies from the installation Blood Swept Land and Seas of Red by artist Paul Cummins and designer Tom Piper originally seen at the Tower of London in 2014.

Thousands of poppies from the Tower were bought by members of the public, and this campaign invites all the owners around the world to “pin” their poppy to a digital map, showing its current location and sharing the story of why or for whom they bought their poppy.

Some of the poppies that were purchased have since travelled as far afield as the USA and Australia, as well as being taken to war graves in memory of relatives who lost their lives in the First World War. This project aims to record all the personal stories behind each poppy on a digital map of the world and will create an invaluable archive for future generations.

Jenny Waldman, Director of 14-18 NOW, said: “We are so grateful to Paul Cummins and Tom Piper for this enormously powerful artwork which has captivated millions. We would love to know where the poppies are now and hear the stories of the thousands of people who own one. Where Are The Poppies Now is a wonderful place where people around the world can share their stories and memories.”

The original installation, commonly referred to as the Tower Poppies, contained 888,246 poppies, one for every British or Colonial life lost at the Front during the First World War. The art work was one of the most powerful memorials of the First World War centenary and visited by over five million people.

14-18 NOW is touring two sculptures from the original installation, Wave and Weeping Window, to locations across the UK with a particular First World War resonance. The tour gives people across the country the chance to experience the impact of the art work, and has been seen by nearly three million people to date.

For more information visit www.wherearethepoppiesnow.org.uk/.

Eric Manigaud: Service Special - Charlie Smith London

Exhibition preview

FROM Saturday, September 9 to Saturday, October 7, 2017, Charlie Smith London is presenting French artist Eric Manigaud’s second one person exhibition at the gallery.

Manigaud is recognised for his impeccable photo-realist drawings made after original, archival photographs.

Working in series, he investigates profound, historical themes including injured World War I soldiers; bombed World War II cities; 19th century murder victims; and asylum inmates. His subject matter, therefore, is commonly brutal and uncompromising.

In this exhibition, Manigaud has focused entirely on the Paris massacre of 1961, when the French National Police attacked a peaceful demonstration of pro-National Liberation Front (FLN) Algerians, which resulted in the ruthless and intentional murder of numerous unarmed demonstrators (estimated between 200 and 300 despite the French government eventually acknowledging only 40 deaths in 1998).

A witness, Makhlouf Aouli, stated recently, “Algerians were drowned, strangled and dropped from planes into the sea.”

The repression took place in the context of the Algerian War (1954-62), at a time when the FLN had recently resumed its bombing campaign against the French police in its effort to gain independence for Algeria.

The demonstration was a direct response to a police dictum that had introduced a curfew that ‘prohibited just “French Muslims from Algeria”…from going out between 20h30 and 05h30, from driving a car and from walking together in groups, at the risk of being immediately arrested.’

The Chief of the Paris Police at the time was Maurice Papon, who that year was awarded the Legion of Honour by French President Charles de Gaulle. Latterly, in 1998, he was convicted of crimes against humanity for his participation in the deportation of more than 1600 Jews to concentration camps during World War II under the Vichy Government.

The savage response by Papon’s police force to the demonstration was racist (anyone with olive skin was targeted including those of Tunisian, Moroccan, Spanish and Italian origin); premeditated; and redolent of his collaborationist past. 11,000 people were arrested and transported to locations including Parc des Expositions and Le palais des sports (previously Vélodrome d’Hiver), sites which were used as internment centres by the Vichy Government.

This collection, therefore, is a continuation of Manigaud’s preoccupation with historical atrocity, where he encourages his audience to remember, or acknowledge, and inadvertently pays homage to its victims. Manigaud also affirms the enduring power of imagery and importance of visual documentation. It is most often the testament of photographic evidence – in this case Georges Azenstarck or Georges Ménager – that comes to define our lives and times, and Manigaud’s compelling drawings add profoundly to this visual history.

Image: Eric Manigaud, Nuit des Vendanges, 2017. Pencil graphite powder on paper framed with anti-UV glass, 58 × 103cm.

Gallery Hours: Wednesday – Saturday, 11am – 6pm or by appointment.

Charlie Smith London, 336 Old Street, 2nd Floor, Shoreditch, London, EC1V 9DR

Telephone: +44 (0)20 7739 4055

September highlight events at the British Library

Events preview

THE BRITISH Library has a number of events lined up for September 2017:

David Bowie Made Me Gay – Friday, September 8 from 7pm to 8:30pm.

Join broadcaster Simon Fanshawe and writer Darryl Bullock alongside DJ Princess Julia and performer K Anderson to discuss the impact and influence of LGBTQ+ music makers.

Jenny Erpenbeck: In Conversation with James Runcie – Monday, September 11 from 7pm to 8:30pm.

Join one of the most exciting authors in Europe today as she discusses her life and work.

Trees: 800 Years Later – Thursday, September 14 from 7pm to 8:30pm.

Learn about history and the impact of the 13th Century Tree Charter, or Charter of the Forest, seen by some as the foundation for private property.

Herta Muller: An Afternoon with the Nobel Prize Winner – Sunday, September 17 from 3:30pm to 4:45pm.

Join the German-Romanian author for an afternoon of readings and discussion in the 30th year since she fled Romania.

Reading Is Important: Get A Life by Vivienne Westwood – Monday, September 18 from 7pm to 8:30pm.

Join fashion designer, environmentalist and businesswoman Vivienne Westwood as she shares her passion for reading and the inspiration it can bring to all, with selections from some of her favourites.

The Future of Data in Public Life – Tuesday, September 19 from 6pm to 8pm.

In this Data Debate, a panel of experts will discuss what the future of data in public life could look like.

Peter Nichols at 90 – Friday, September 22 from 7pm to 8:30pm.

An evening with one of the UK’s greatest living playwrights.

Standing with Salman – Thursday, September 28 from 7pm to 8:30pm.

Melvyn Bragg and guests reflect on their fight to end the fatwa against Salman Rushdie.

Rustavi Choir – Saturday, September 30. Talk and concert (4pm to 8.45pm), concert only (7:15pm to 8:45).

An evening with one of the world’s greatest choirs.

JG Ballard’s Crash: On Page and Screen – Saturday, September 30 from 2:30pm to 6pm.

The Piazza Food Fair – Saturday, September 2 from 11am to 4pm.

A lively day of food and family fun on the Piazza.

British Library, 96 Euston Road, London, NW1 2DB

Website: www.bl.uk/

Telephone: (0)1937 546 546

Autumn 2017 Decorative Antiques & Textiles Fair

Event preview

LONDON’S chicest, and largest, antiques and period design event, the Autumn 2017 Decorative Antiques & Textiles Fair (October 3 to October 8 at Battersea Park London) sails in with a nautical tack!

The Fair’s much-anticipated Foyer presentation, which sets a trend for each event with a styled and themed selling display of furniture, art and accessories drawn from exhibitors, is The Admiral’s Eyrie, a gentleman’s study-come-sitting room with a twist of sea-farer’s folly.

Formal antique furniture will be mixed with modern accents such as lighting, and given a distinct design focus by decorating with marine instruments, pictures and works of art. Among the more quirky elements will be a set of WWII Zeiss naval binoculars, a large lamp from the Mumbles lighthouse in Swansea, a mid-1960s model of a Chris-Craft/Riva type motorboat, and a selection of sea charts and world maps.

The Autumn Decorative Fair is a high point of the Design Season for interior decorators. With more than 160 exhibitors taking part, the Fair is at capacity, with an exciting selection of stands up on the Mezzanine to be discovered, in addition to those on the ground floor.

New this Autumn is an early-opening for the eponymous brasserie, Megan’s Kitchen, allowing visitors the chance to come an hour before the Fair (from 11am on Tuesday, October 3, and from 10am from Wednesday, October 4 through to Sunday, October 8) for brunch or leisurely coffee before shopping.

All participants are carefully selected, specialists in antique and 20th century design from Britain and Europe with an unrivalled selection of stock. Private customers mingle with leading members of the international design trade, retail buyers and film stylists who attend the Fair to search out original and unusual furniture, art and accessories to give their projects an individual touch.

New exhibitors at the Autumn 2017 Fair include McWhirter Antiques Ltd (Langton Street, London SW10), established for over 25 years, dealers in interesting and quirky furniture and works of art from the 18th century to the present day; Bleu Anglais (London, by appointment), with Chinese and Indigo folk textiles, and up on the Mezzanine, Inglis Hall Antiques (Heathfield, E. Sussex) with cabinet curiosities, unusual objets d’art, art and design.

The Organisers are also delighted to welcome back a number of dealers who have recently joined the Fair, including Nigel Bartlett, renowned dealer in architectural antiques and mantelpieces; Sjostrom Antik of Sweden with Scandi and Italian 20th century design; Galeria Miquel Alzueta of Barcelona and Girona with a pleasing mix of 18th century Catalan furniture and modernist designers such as Perrian and Prouvé blended with contemporary Spanish art; and Malby Maps Ltd, who joined the Fair earlier this year and specialise in fine antique and decorative maps and globes.

There will be a strong showing of art at the Autumn Fair, with leading galleries such as Anthony Hepworth, Jenna Burlingham Fine Art, Black Ink Masterprints, Julian Simon Fine Art Ltd, Darnley Fine Art and The Parker Gallery in attendance. Expect to find dealers in traditional country house antiques, fine furniture, 20th century design, decorative and vernacular antiques making a strong show, plus a fascinating selection of quirky accessories and unusual objects for the decorator and collector.

Image: Antique coral on base, Verde Gaban.

Jeff Elrod at Simon Lee Gallery

Work by Jeff Elrod

Exhibition preview

FROM September 8 to October 7, 2017, Simon Lee Gallery is presenting an exhibition of new and recent paintings by New York and Marfa-based artist Jeff Elrod, his third with the gallery to date.

Recognised for his large-format abstract paintings concerned with the relationship between hand-painted and digitally created mark-making, for this exhibition Elrod has created a series of hybrid images that incorporate analogue techniques into his continued experiments in digital and print technology.

The expansive and visually-engaging paintings presented across two floors navigate fluidly between the various modes and techniques that have come to characterise his practice.

Since the early 1990s, Elrod has employed digital manipulation to create abstract art. Treating the computer mouse as an extension of the paint brush or pencil, his works are first developed digitally using programmes such as Illustrator and Photoshop.

Perfecting his computer-based technique into what he calls “frictionless drawing”, blue monochromatic works on display demonstrate how these abstract and vector-like gestures are meticulously transposed onto canvas using acrylic, tape, UV ink and spray paint.

In some paintings the letters ‘ESP’ – a recurring motif or tag in his work – float in and out of vision, referencing at once the subconscious doodles of the artist’s hand as well as a literal abbreviation of ‘Extra Sensory Perception’.

In other works, the above process is further complicated by the introduction of a layer of “stock” abstract imagery scavenged from the floor of his Marfa studio, which is then altered and embellished in Photoshop and by hand. In these paintings, Elrod explores more complex and layered ways of generating the space of his paintings, with the boundaries between background and foreground becoming increasingly obscured.

His recent paintings are often made by printing reworked digitised imagery directly onto canvas via inkjet printer. The ambiguity between screen and canvas is expressed through the juxtaposition of digital marks that convey the impression of a computer screen alongside more obvious signs of handmade techniques and gestures, such as sprayed paint.

In Elrod’s series of new Echo Paintings, “handedness” has disappeared from view: the images are generated and “blurred” digitally through the use of Photoshop filters, then printed and mounted.

Inspired by Brion Gysin and William S. Burroughs’s self-hypnotising Dream Machine, Elrod’s paintings consist of indistinct blotches of two and three-tone colour spread across an expansive canvas. The space, shapes and lines from the artist’s original geometric computer drawings are lost and the indeterminate blur that is produced becomes the painting’s dominant aesthetic form.

The blur has a long presence within the history of art, from the hazy compositions of Impressionist landscapes, to the elusive techniques employed by Gerhard Richter across his photorealist and abstract painting practice. Elrod’s blurs however, remain pure abstractions and deliver a very different and unique optical experience for the viewer.

The monumental and dizzying results on display seem to float and hover off the wall, while their pronounced retinal effect frustrates the eye’s inclination to focus.

In these recent paintings, the clash between analogue and digital production is further enhanced through continued experiments with shaped and fractured canvases. The virtual and real space collides with the inclusion of jarring fractured shards that punctuate the surface of the canvas, and interrupt the illusory space of the screen. While formally reminiscent of Lucio Fontana’s iconic Tagli, by contrast Elrod’s clean and organic geometric substractions offer little evidence of man’s actions or gestures.

At a time when the slippages between our own real and virtual lives are increasingly blurred, Elrod’s unique practice seems all the more relevant and familiar.

Simon Lee Gallery, 12 Berkeley Street, Mayfair, London, W1J 8DT

Website: www.simonleegallery.com/

The business of prints - British Museum

Exhibition preview

AN EXHIBITION entitled The business of prints will be on display at the British Museum (Room 90, Prints and Drawings Gallery) from September 21, 2017 to January 28, 2018.

The British Museum has one of the greatest collections of prints in the world, and holds the UK’s national collection. The majority of this collection, which totals more than two million prints, was made in the years before the invention of photography. Due to the sheer volume of the collection it can become difficult to grasp its contents, and many of the prints are today very unfamiliar and puzzling.

For the past century, prints have usually been discussed either as finished works of art or as illustrations of a particular subject. This exhibition reverses the perspective in a way that has not been attempted before, and endeavours to show prints as an object of trade.

The exhibition is in part based on the book The Print before Photography: An Introduction to European Printmaking 1550–1820 by Antony Griffiths, published last year by British Museum Press. This won the Apollo prize for the best art book of the year 2016. It is the first work ever to attempt to explain how the print world worked.

The exhibition will focus on four major topics – the production of prints, the lettering on prints, the usage of prints, and the collecting of prints and the concern for quality. In addition, books and series will be shown in table cases, and framed prints on the wall.

Famous works by artists such as Dürer, Rembrandt and Goya will be shown alongside far less familiar subjects by artists of the print trade who have almost been forgotten. Among them is a rabbit used as target practice, a prompt for an early form of karaoke, and prints from plates that had been so heavily used that they had almost worn out.

The display will offer a more complete understanding of the lettering on prints, the information it gives us, and some of the complicated ways in which images were linked with text.

We are now so used to the deluge of photographically-derived imagery of the modern world that it is difficult to imagine a period which lasted for nearly 450 years, from around 1400 to 1850, when every pictorial image had to be designed by someone and then cut by a craftsman onto a copper plate or wooden block – there were no mechanical aids.

These were then printed by another expert, and distributed by printsellers to buyers around the whole of Europe. Behind them stood the publishers and entrepreneurs, who financed the production, and frequently came up with ideas for new subjects. It was a huge business, which gave work to thousands of people.

The exhibition will shed light on this forgotten trade of mass production which required numerous collaborations in order to produce a single print, whilst revealing some of the complexities of the craftsmanship and the process, the varied nature of the prints themselves, and the ways in which buyers used or collected them.

Johannes Gutenberg invented moveable type in Mainz in the late 1440s. However, type is designed to deal with words, and as soon as the need to communicate goes beyond the verbal, the support of another variety of printing must be called on – one that is specifically suited for images. Two such technologies were used alongside type, one based around cutting designs into wooden blocks (the relief process of woodcut), the other in which the design was incised as lines into a copper plate (the intaglio processes such as engraving and etching).

The uses to which these technologies were put were enormously varied. The printing of maps and music, wallpaper, diagrams, decorative paper, bank notes, playing cards and fans, as well as many types of decoration of textiles and ceramics, depended on woodcut or engraving. Many of these applications spun off to become separate businesses.

In museums the field is conventionally narrowed to one area of this vast expanse, that of pictorial images on sheets of paper. This is still very wide, covering a wide range of functions, such as portraits, devotional images, current events, landscape and topography, caricature, fantasy and designs for the decorative arts. Many of these classes of print did not need the support of typography, and most intaglio prints carried their text engraved on the plate itself alongside the image.

One example that demonstrates the volume and diversity of the European print trade is the mass production of the recognisable image of a devotional saint which would have been sold by pedlars and worn as amulets by peasants. These were often printed on vellum, a more durable material than paper, to withstand daily wear and tear.

When speaking of the display, curator Antony Griffiths highlights that ‘this is the first exhibition ever to demonstrate what prints can tell us about the vast business of trading prints. The exhibition aims to open the visitor’s eyes to the business of printing. Prints were multiples made in the hope that people would buy lots of them. The range of subjects, sizes and purposes was huge – far larger than people realise today.’

The accompanying book, The Print Before Photography: An Introduction to European Printmaking 1550–1820 by Antony Griffiths (British Museum Press, 2016) is available from the Museum shops (hardback, £60).

There will also be a programme of events accompanying the exhibition.

Image: Albrecht Dürer (1471 – 1528), Adam and Eve, Engraving, 1504, © The Trustees of The British Museum.

Admission: Free.

Times: Saturdays to Thursdays, 10am to 5.30pm; Fridays, 10am to 8.30pm.

British Museum, Great Russell Street, London, WC1B 3DG

Website: www.britishmuseum.org/