It was only when I was walking away from my visit to The Newport Street Gallery this weekend that I realised how much I enjoyed it. With a career spanning over 35 years, Contemporary Artist Jeff Koons is known well for his highly banal reproductions of certain objects and his new exhibition ‘Now’ is no exception. It is running through till mid-October of this year at the new gallery as designed by Caruso St John Architects. What firstly makes this building extra special is its recent nomination for the 2016 RIBA Stirling Prize. The concept is fascinating, a conversion of an entire street of listed industrial buildings into a free public gallery in Vauxhall, London. “This is a very bold and confident project wherein old and new are seamlessly joined and reinterpreted to create superb gallery spaces in a building with a very significant civic presence.” What is most noticeable when viewing the structure externally is the roofscape, and when you walk inside through the gallery spaces on the top floors, the structure of each roof of each different building is instantly exposed, contacting and clear. I particularly enjoyed the stairwell inside, I think it beautifully winds through the space with an assuring integrated handrail set into the white engineered brick pulling you up. The general finishes throughout the entire building from flooring and ceilings to the ironmongery and use of both natural and artificial light are well considered and well received as a result. As for the exhibition itself, it was quite remarkable and tested my thoughts on Koons. What you should truly consider when viewing every space is elements of materiality and craftsmanship as this is where you will be most impressed. You are handed a rather handy guide upon arrival and then proceed to make your way through each gallery. I think the dominant theme of ‘inflatable animals’ so to speak was my favourite and most admirable of all pieces however prepare to visit with an open-mind, contemporary art is not for everyone therefore try and see beyond and read into each exhibit further to understand their composition. Overall it’s worth a short trip over, however generally not much is on display therefore you will find that an hour is enough time to enjoy both the exterior and the interior of the gallery.
Most people would recognise the DSW Dining Chair however perhaps not attribute its design directly to husband-and-wife team Charles and Ray Eames. The chair is better now known as the ‘Eames Chair’; arguably one of the most sought after designs today- replicated all over the world. You might have seen its body-hugging curves pop up in many a film or TV show and all because its just become a well known household staple for a modern day nostalgic designer; a historical marvel masterminded in California. The Eames’ made significant historical contributions to the development of modern art, architecture and design.
The Barbican Art Gallery has held an exhibition or insight so to speak, into the Eames’ world now since October and finishes up in about 3 weeks. As I peruse their selected works at the gallery, one thing is for certain- their talent was great and immense. I really admired their bond, their strength and faithfulness and it all seemed so evident in everything they did. They were not just furniture designers, but contributors to design across many levels- architecture, art, graphic design and film to name a few. As I wandered through, admiring their versatility I did get a sense of their Californian positivity. One thing that certainly caught my eye was their house, especially the model replica. After being to the Soane Museum in Holborn, I loved how much character was hiding within, and thats no different to the Eames House. It had become a safe haven, an exhibition, a happy place- a designers dream. Their talent and achievements radiated from the gallery, and if you get the chance you should swing by for a little while to get inspired, and plan your next design masterpiece.
I quite enjoy painting and was looking for some inspiration at the weekend just gone, so decided to head on over to The National Portrait Gallery in Charing Cross for a couple of hours.
I have been to the gallery before however it had been a few years. I think its fantastic to have so many options to attend free Museums and Galleries in London. The historic collection for me was the highlight, I have always been interested in the local history and the changing face of London and the UK and so found the collection mind-blowing as the quality was astonishing. These individuals truly shaped UK history and culture. The gallery is a respite from the hoards on Trafalgar Square and also somewhere to maintain a sense of calm. ‘The 2015 BP Awards’ were exhibited whilst I was visiting, and well worth the visit too to explore the unique talents of many from all over the globe. The supporting written material equally enhances the exhibition. A notable mention from the winner of the BP Travel Award 2015 – Magali Cazo who travelled to a community of bronze-smelters in Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso, West Africa. “She was inspired by the vivid colours of the local landscape, clothes and architecture and will use the sketches made on that trip to develop a further series of portraits on wood.”
Overall the collection in the gallery is extremely diverse and thought-provoking as I certainly left eager to pick up a paintbrush! I certainly recommend a trip not just as a lesson in creativity and art, but also in history and emotion. Watch this space for my next masterpiece…