Saturday, 25 August 2012

Middlesbrough's Artistic Legacy

Yesterday I met up with a group of good friends Jackie, Bev, Joy and Colleen to spend a very enjoyable day of catching up on what we have been up to since our last get together. We first met 7 years ago when we enrolled on our Textile and Surface Design degree course at Cleveland College of Art and Design and still keep in regular touch just over a year since graduating.
This time we met up at Colleen's house and, after lots of tea and chatting, we set off for a visit behind the scenes at mima. Colleen had organised with the archivist, Helen Welford, for us to take a look at their collection of paintings and ceramics that included many pieces from the old Middlesbrough Art Gallery that I fondly remember visiting in my younger days.

The Old Town Hall and St Hilda's Church
by L S Lowry 1959
Helen pulled out a painting of Middlesbrough by LS Lowry, which I had seen previously in an exhibition earlier this year at MIMA, and then allowed us to just pull out our own and browse at our leisure through the carefully, chronologically organised collections.
There were many outstanding paintings e.g. two studies of nudes in pastel by Anthony Eaton, a dramatic oil painting by one of The Glasgow Boys but my favourite by far was a modest sized oil painting, in the 1940s section, that Joy and I stumbled upon, entitled Scullerry Sink by a local Boro artist Glynn Porteous.
Scullery Sink by Glynn Porteous

Preparatory sketch
These pictures don't really do justice to this little gem of an oil painting so I recommend that you go and see for yourself.
Another favourite artist of mine is Tom McGuiness, who is one of the Pitmen Painters who were a group of working miners from the North East, and my husband and I are proud owners of a small but precious  limited edidition a lithograph of his, entitled Miners Going In Bye, which we bought in 1977.

Miners Going In Bye 1976 by Tom McGuiness

MIMA however have a magnificent oil painting entitled Early Morning Shift  as well as 3 beautiful lithographs and etchings similar to ours and the one below.
The A Team by Tom McGuiness

Early Morning Shift  1959 by Tom McGuiness. A large oil
painting purchased by Middlesbrough Art Gallery in 1964
 After the excitment of the archives we paid a visit to one of the current exhibitions Metadomestic which includes ceramics, furniture, jewellery and film. The two pieces of work that caught my imagination were Martin Arnold's Passage a l'acte which was a visual equivalent of "scratching" using images from To Kill a Mockingbird and Veronica Schubert's 800 knitted black and white film frames. I really don't know how these artists come up with such concepts.

Temenos by Anish Kapoor

Good Friends at Temenos
 After yet another cuppa we happily went off to show Bev and Joy another part of Middlesbrough's artistic legacy situated at Middlehaven Dock. Temenos by Anish Kapoor, currently in the news for having designed the sculpting Orbit Tower for the Olympic Park, is a 110m long 50m high steel structure situated between the Riverside Stadium and the Transporter Bridge. I think they were quite taken with the sculpture and the industrial landscape that it is set in.

Orbit by Anish Kapoor at the Olympic Park

To complete our trip we took the Transporter Bridge to carry us across the river in its moving cage proving, despite what Auf Wiedersehen Pet claimed, it was not sent to Arizona!

View from the moving car deck.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Saltburn Arts Fair

Today my friend  Bev (fellow alumni of CCAD) and I took ourselves off for a sunny Sunday morning trip to the Victorian sea-side town of Saltburn to visit their inaugural Saltburn Arts Fair. Firstly we called in at The Salburn School which has been saved from developers as a community venue by Saltburn Community & Arts Association and was being used as a gallery to display local artists work. We then walked a little further into the centre where there was a real buzz as people browsed the outdoor stalls bulging with paintings, pottery and textiles created by North East artists.
A crazy peddle powered mobile tea room blasting
out tunes helped set a carnival atmosphere

Colleen, Bev and Lauren
The first person we met was Lauren, also from CCAD, who was visiting from that other Yorshire beauty spot of Bridlington, and together we went off to find the stalls of two other ex-CCAD students who were exhibiting.
Colleen's Stall
Colleen had brought lots of work that we recognised from college plus a host of new products that she had been very busy screen printing from her home studio. These included cushions, lampshades and some retro chairs that she had upholstered herself. Check out her web site Created toDesign.
Helen's Stall
Helen Stevens was also a former student and part-time lecturer at CCAD but is now the creative genius behind an interiors company called Surfacephelia as well as the organiser of Designers' Marketplace. She had brought her recently launched range of cushions along with her matching crockery and gift card ranges.

One of Sarah's beautiful sreen prints
A very nice surprise was to see Sarah Heseltine from college, who graduated a few years ahead of Bev, Colleen and I. She too has set up a studio at her parents' farm and is producing some stunning gift products.You can see her work here
And what better way to round it all off than with coffee and cake in a vintage inspired cafe in Station Precinct called The Sitting Room.