the magazine for art, artists & art galleries that is always free to read on line
T U B E S
“in the studio...
with Ian Norris”
our featured painter has an informal chat with the Editor
Exhibition & Book Launch, Gateway Gallery, Hale, Cheshire...Full Review
Exciting...New move for the Contemporary Six Gallery in Manchester
Art Education...”what about the kids” What age should Art be taught?
‘Spike’ on Tretchikoff...our resident culture critic has a dig at art snobs
Exclusive...Art History Editorial “Affirmation Art in a Disaffirmative Climate”
140 premium assortment
p4 Editors pages
the Editor introduces hinself, and says
welcome this the first issue of
painters Tubes. And gives an opinion of
the business side of Art in the Manchester
area of the NW of Englnd.
p6 “in the studio with...”
a regular feature page of a painter that is
especially selected by the editorial staff -
#1 issue...an informal chat with Ian Norris,
a painter from Preston in Lancashire. He
talks about his work process, his life and
future work at his new & bigger studio...
our resident culture critic takes a swing at
the bias of art instutions in the past. Case
in point - Vladimir Tretchikoff...
p25 Big move for Contemporary Six
Alex Reuben of Contemporary Six upsticks
and moves to a cool new space in
magazine for Art, Artists and Art Galleries
p29 Review Pages
Martin Regan, Gateway Gallery, Hale,
plugs his new book and the Gallery puts
on an anniversay exhibition at the same
time with the same title and the same
paintings as in the book...
“the Northern School- a reappraisal”
p36. Historical Art Essay
exclusive essay in two parts...
written in 2002 by (the late) Professor of
Art, renown author and art historian Nigel
Whiteley phd, FRSA.
“Affirmation art in a disaffirmative climate”
Published for the first time - within an Art
Magazine...a must read
p40 “What about the kids?”
Art & Education...
is it time to create a state run Art school
for exceptionally talented children? Ongoing
series of articles on the future of a
new generation. Casepoint: Manchester
High School of Art
painters Tubes magazine
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ptmag- #1 - 2017- 02- 23
Hello, and welcome ...
...in this first issue the focus is
pointed to the North of England.
It’s the ground that I know best
and intrinsically. It will come as no
surprise, to those who have known
me as an artist over these last 30
years, that my decision to seek out
editorial and interesting art stories
have been sourced and found in
that part of England.
Over the last few decades the
dominance of intellectualised art,
in the UK, has resulted in a sort
of renaissance in the popularity
of painting in general. No doubt
fuelled by social media and a
public hungry for ‘understandable’
visual Art. We have also witnessed
the distinct move towards owning
a piece of original art rather than
a reproduction of it. Without having
to travel very far or wide, a quick
Google and a click of the mouse,
anyone can discover a multitude
of very talented artists work to
Denis Taylor. Artist. Editor of Painters Tubes. Photograph. ©Marianne Arnberg 2016
way back in 1981, when I was setting up a showcase in Manchester, a wise man told me...
“...customers will only like what You
show them, so show more.”
Today all creatives have the
advantage of utilising
on-line software which makes
creating interactive and cool
looking websites extremely
simple. If there is one problem
with Art on-line, it is the total
lack of the real life experience
of it. This is particularly true
of visual Art and specifically,
paintings. The full appreciation
and true value of a good
painting only comes from the
the interactions that the viewer
gets from the real thing.
To stand in front of an original
work of art is a totally different
experience than viewing it as
a jpeg reproduction on screen,
in as much as a reproduced
print never captures the magic
of an original work of art.
The high street Galleries, at
least in the Manchester area,
seem to promote, exhibit, or
hold in stock, similar or more
accurately the same genre
of art as each other. It is not
uncommon to see the same
artist with various examples
of work on the walls at almost
every one of the established
high street galleries.
To be fair to these galleries,
it is not easy to finance and
maintain an art business today,
let alone make a profit.
So it’s not that surprising that
these commercial galleries
tend to go for a ‘safe sell’ with
proven subjects. Things are
changing as alternative spaces
for art are populated by the
artists that are unrepresented
on the high street. Which is
good to see.
Hopefully these new spaces will
open a door or two for unknown
artists, and the high street
galleries will begin to take
notice and take a risk on some
new contemporary subject
matter in due course.
For now, the physical spaces
left over from the industrial
North are being utilised
by these artists or groups.
Affordable rents are quantified
by the physical effort the
leaseholder has to put in
to make them presentable.
There is so much diversity and
talent to choose from at the
moment that the gallery single
genre concept, to many outside
of the area, are confused by it.
The dynamic change of the
architectural environment and
the life style of people is evident
in the northern conurbation
and this is slowly resulting in
a broader taste of the general
public. As the nostalgia subject
quickly loses its appeal to
a younger generation. Of
course this is all outside of
the world of the Art collector,
who measures, what is termed
‘Northern Art,’ perhaps as risky
long term financial investment.
Particularly if the work is not
signed by any of the acclaimed
Artists from the North.
Maybe a wider strategy may
result in an even bigger &
booming creative visual arts
sector? Perhaps exhibiting art
that is still regionally aware, yet
experimental, even risk taking,
or exciting, rather than the safe
traditional Northern subject
matter, is the way forward for
artists and galleries into middle
to early years of the 21st
century. Let’s hope so.
In keeping with the words of
advise from that wise man
from way back in 1981.
2017 will see this magazine
bringing you much more......
we’ll be taking a look at all
points of the compass.
And thus developing the
editorial pages to bring the
reader paintings and art stories
from much further afield, with
something new or different art
by authentic artists who are
in our opinion, exceptionally
gifted in painting.
Denis Taylor Editor.
in the studio with...
“...the local train from Manchester to Preston arrived on time, it was 10.30 am and within
a few minutes Ian Norris appeared in front of me. Although we had only spoken via email,
Face Book profiles enable easy face recognition with real life meet ups. Ian had kindly
offered to pick me up in what he called his mobile studio (a medium sized van).”
Before too long we approached his home
having first drove past a wonderful old
building next to a church, which Ian had
pointed to the bay window on the top floor
as being his ‘next’ studio.
“It’s larger than the one I have at
present, that will enable me to ‘up the
size’ of canvas.”
He said in response to our tentative
driving-chat about ‘size’ of work
and how a larger canvas enables a
greater physical and perhaps deeper
psychological involvement whilst painting.
The advantage of being a painter, when
interviewing another painter is that it
doesn’t take any time at all to be on the
same wavelength, especially when it
comes to creating real Art. And so, with
little time was wasted in ‘getting to know
each other’ with normal polite discourse
could get right down to the important
stuff, which we did, even as the kettle was
boiling for a welcomed cup of tea.
I’d noticed that Ian has a number of other
artists work that he admires dotted about
on the walls of his home...
“...I tend not to put my own work up
on the walls at home, just in case I’m
tempted to take them down again to
(a feeling that most panters would recognise
as something that we can be tempted to do).
“You can destroy original vitality of a
work by post-mortem changes and
maybe the record of how you were as
an artist, of when you created it.”
I said to him to justify his reasoning.
He suggested we walk down the
garden path to his studio and I took my
cup of tea with me.
The studio is a converted out house,
from a size point of view it was
reasonable. The light was good and
he had organised the space efficiently
into areas of working, viewing his own
work and being able to read and seek
answers from his large collection of Art
books. These covered the era of Art
and Artists, that he much admires.
I commented on the ‘tidiness’ of the
space to which he smiled and told me
he had ‘a tidy up’ before I arrived,
at which point we both gave a long and
These first paragraphs set the tone for
the three hour interesting discussion
that covered the last few years of Ian’s
work which began with
a brave decision to give up his ‘day
job’ and paint on a full time basis.
A decision that his partner wasn’t
totally convinced was such a good
idea. “It takes courage to be an Artist”.
Knowledge of that famous artist
statement must have been forefront
in mind as Ian courageously gave up
a lucrative guaranteed income and
pitched his lot into creating Art.
Thus began his own personal journey
into what may be called the “agony of
creative enjoyment” It’s perverse how
creating something wonderful can be,
at times agonising, like giving birth to
a child I imagine.
Ian is almost a classicist in the way he
prepares his subject matter.
Study, then more study with exacting
sketches, made (usually) in charcoal.
Perhaps this is his ‘getting to know
the subject’ period in intimate detail,
“the spring, the summer, the chlding autumn, the angy winter.”
“what is the main reason
behind the last series of
which to me is obviously the objective.
A practice that, theoretically at least,
allows the painter the freedom to make
something that goes beyond reality and
enters the realm of a new vision. And by
which transcribes the subject, inwardly
and using only pigments on a flat surface,
Ian creates works of Art rather than
simple representations of an existing
environment. (Why do that when we have
superb digital cameras to do that job quite
adequately for us).
Ian paints in oil, a choice and feels is
the medium that fully satisfies the inner
‘need of the Artist’, more so than does
say acrylic or polymer paints. Perhaps it’s
a fluidity or rather flexibility of the colour
that certain painters prefer oil over other
mediums, it is certainly takes far more
time to fully master (and dry) than acrylics
A mastery of oil paint that Ian’s work
shows he has in abundance.
Ian has worked diligently to become
a painter of note and that combined
with his natural talent has gained
recognition from organisations such as
the Manchester Art Academy. He also
re-educated himself in formal art and
gained a degree from University. Even
so, he is grounded enough to understand
that institutionalised recognition and Art
Degree’s do not make one a great painter
or indeed are even necessary to become
one. It’s the work that counts and the
painters own personal measurement of
a paintings visual success that matters
Like many of the excellent artists, ones
that I know or have met in the past, Ian
is his own most vocal, visceral and art
critic, which is why I think his work is so
interesting and authentic.
It’s a critical state of mind that becomes
clearer to understand in one a particular
series of work, a series we talked about in
some detail and for quite some time.
“Never so weary, never so in woe”
“Why do they run away, this is a knavery of them
to make me afeard”
“through the house give gathering light, by the dead and drowsy fire.”
Not only of the work itself but what lay
behind them in their conception.
Initially, the prologue to these particular
paintings were other banks of work that
was exhibited at the Castlegate House
Gallery in Cumbria, “Tracing the Derwent.”
was one series. This was his second solo
show, at that gallery that sold out. The
subject matter was landscape. And, even
after many hundreds of years, landscapes
are still the most bought paintings by the
art loving public. So it’s not a complete
surprise why Ian’s wonderfully rendered
authentic canvas’s of landscapes were
so quickly snapped up by the Galleries
client list of art collectors. The Gallery did
a great job of both the catalogue and the
marketing of those particular exhibitions,
probably knowing that the ‘nature’ series
of work was collectable and therefore very
It was after the ‘sold-out-shows’ that Ian
experienced a shock related to his health.
The shock took the form of a diagnosis
of an illness that came from nowhere.
It involved a procedure or a program of
treatment that leaves a person in state
of unbalance both psychologically and
physically. And it was a treatment that
would take time to become successful.
As is so often in circumstances like this,
Artists tends to retreat into themselves and
try desperately to alleviate their mental
stress through their Art.
It’s a sort of self-help treatment, one
which only recently is being recognised
by medical experts as a sure fire way to
help people deal with dramatic health
problems. And having gone through a
similar life changing circumstance myself,
I understood Ian’s position, his reaction to
it and the triumph of overcoming it.
Ian created a series of paintings that
would, in some way, bring him from the
brink of sort of self-reproachment, even
though he knew he was blameless. And
so he relied on one of the giants of
literature, William Shakespeare that
gave him solace. He took the story of
‘a Midsummers Night Dream’ which
had stayed in his mind since watching a
performance of the stage drama of many
years ago. He chose certain parts of the
play to set down in oil on canvas, his own
vision of what the words represented.
It could be that particular drama
highlights for us ordinary mortals, that,
“real life really is but a dream”. Perhaps
Ian saw in it the escape from reality, or at
least a deflection, that he sorely needed
at that time? Whatever the reasoning,
the paintings were important to him and
probably more important than any he had
ever created previously.
These works encompassed his whole
being at a time when he must have
felt that fate had dealt him a cruel
and fatal blow. It was after the series
was completed that his personal
disappointment to their public showing
followed. Ian felt the exhibition was short
[on reaction] of what he had expected. It
could be that the simple answer is that
the Galleries clientele did not appreciate
Shakespeare, certainly not as much as
obviously the Artist did. Even though it
was the 400th year anniversary of the
bard during the exhibition, Ian still felt
the show fell flat despite the efforts of
himself [and the Gallery] had put into it.
Most likely the artists intimate
reasonsing at the time for doing
these works were not fully shared nor
understood. Having created works
on similiar very personal lines, I can
sympathise with Ian and perhaps
suggest to him that ‘painters important’
works like these, are not always met with
an immediate positive public outcome.
More often than not, meditative art takes
time to ferment and grow in the eyes
and the hearts of the viewer of it. It’s
a steady pace which our high speed
consumer world invariably has little time
to allow that invisible artistic quality to
gain a foothold. Intially the result being
a preference to view only the surface of
the ‘image’ without the truer and deeper
meaningful value of the art work, that
resides within it to be accepted by the
“are you sure that we are awake. It seems to me that yet we sleep, we dream.”
in a way which is deliberate and
stylistically recognisable, or even
purposefully over stylized.
Some of the midsummers night
dream paintings have now been
acquired by astute buyers, and
I suspect for the very reasons
already stated; that it is their
originality, authenticity and
emotional content, that is
appreciated, but only after a slow
burn. And it is only then that the
paintings connect, perhaps faster
for those who know the hidden
story behind them, that the work
truly comes into it own.
The latest studio work is a series,
which for convenience sake, you
could call urban. It was one of
these series that
I was first attracted by and gave
me the impetus to want to visit
Ian in his studio. Not so much for
the subject itself, but the way in
which it was painted.
above: “Good Hermia, do not be so bitter
with me. I evermore did love you, Hermia.”
For me the whole bank of work certainly
isn’t a failure in any dimension at all.
These paintings hold a original reality,
they are authentic, and are something far
more than decoration on a wall. Don’t get
me wrong, decorative Art is all well and
good, but great Art has sustainability far
beyond that of a painting that may be a
More than say one painted in a specific
contemporary style, or perhaps even
more common these days, one painted
The preparation methodology of
how these paintings have been
created is much the same as the
previous series, but here we see
him pushing himself to almost
carve out the very essence of
an urban existence and pushing
himself beyond the visual effects
of multi-layered coats of oil paint.
They are more aggressive, just
as Cities are, compared with
the imagined paradise of an
untainted nature and a rural
Ian told me a story of how, during
his preparatory sketch work, he
would position himself on the
roof top of a multiple storey car
park and begin to capture the
overall shapes and feel of the
City. One particular day he was
‘scolded vehemently’ by a car
park attendant who suggested ...
city scapes #2
“You shouldn’t be up here’” [on the roof]
It begs the question of ‘why not’? or “where better to view the City of Manchester?”
I thumbed through his sketchbooks of this ‘urban’ series which were recognisable as
Manchester City centre and was privy to view some of the ‘beginnings,’ as Ian may refer to
them. He had lined them next to each other on a support bar fixed to the studio wall which
made it interesting to see the progression of each one in turn.
One bigger canvas was positioned on the easel and was perhaps the first of what you
could say was a painting that stemmed from the former smaller experiments. The heavy
texture was evident as he had laid on layer upon layer of paint. In some parts the oil had
been scraped off and in other parts dribbles or runs of oil cascaded down the canvas.
Under all that oil paint the image still remained, not hidden but absorbed by the process
of the continual layers and scape off’s. I realised that I was viewing a painting that would
probably change considerably as Ian would relentlessly pursue obtaining a vision that fitted
his sensibilities, yet, for me I found this work perfectly finished as it was. It is a position I
have faced many times, when someone views my work, what I would consider unfinished,
others do believe is totally complete.
”no one artist has successfully integrated reality and abstract into one painting.”
One of the privileges of being a
creator of Art, is that it is he and
not others to decide when a work
is finished or not.
Abstract Expressionism, an art
movement now many decades old,
is still practised by many painters
today, as is impressionism, an
art style older than abstract
expressionism. Some painters
today find those two styles still suit
them well, but does holding onto
a style encourage progress as
painters? From a personal view, I
How could they when the
possibilities (and limitations) of
both those art styles must have
surely been fully explored by now.
The work of Ian Norris should
not be misinterpreted as a form
of abstract expressionism even
though many, non-artists, use
that word because they lack the
intimate knowledge of them that
do paint. It’s an annoying tendency
of the self elected art experts to
pervert words from Art History
books and to label artists to justify
their own narrative.
The Story of Modern Art, the title of
a book written by the art historian
Norbert Lynton (first published
1980 with updated reprints in
‘82,’86, ‘89, & ‘92) is one of those
books that artists tend to read over
and over and discover, between
the lines, something new each time
on reading it. In this book
Lynton, suggests, in
a one liner, that “no one artist has
successful integrated reality and
abstract into one painting.”
but that was written in 1989.
I saw that statement as challenge
and I feel that same artistic
challenge is central to Ian’s work.
Perhaps Ian’s ‘absorbing reality’
does result in abstraction and
city scapes #3
city city scapes #4 #4
In the 21st century all art be regarded as nonregional
& non-national, shouldn’t it?
reality integrated onto one plane?
At the very least it seems his
work is on the way to meeting
Norbert Lynton’s challenge.
We discussed Lynton’s book and
others and Ian readily agrees that
‘reading’ unbiased analysis of
past Art is a definite contributor
to the creation of future artworks
that are dynamic, new and
So far Ian has explored nature,
he has delved into combining
emotional and literature into
his work and moved on into the
urban City subject, a subject that
seems, at present, to dominate
the walls of the high streets
commercial galleries and the
websites of independent artists
and on-line art galleries alike.
They all come under, what some
people refer to as, ‘Northern Art’
or ‘Northern School’, a title that
is both contagious to an art
loving public and to many of
todays artists, contentious, if not
vacuous and despised.
In the 21st century shouldn’t all
art be regarded as non-regional &
Above all, Art should not be
given any form of label, which
narrows its audience down to a
specific type of person, but rather
be variable and choose subject
matters for the many tastes.
Art cannot be created as if it were
a can of tomato soup, same,
same, but in 57 different flavours.
But hey, that’s a whole different
artists debate, one that I am sure
my fellow artists will present in
convincing and separate logical
arguments, both for and against
the idea of labelling paintings or
artists as a member of a school
city scapes #5
or as being a this, or a that sort of Artist . It remains to be
seen what direction Ian will take in the future. A dramatic
change may well occur as he moves into his new space in
that bay windowed building, the one that he pointed out to
And as he said, in his ‘mobile’ studio (the van), he can
now ‘increase the size of the canvas,’ because he has the
space that will handle them comfortably.
It is perhaps natural that subject, method of working and
style or application of paint will change. Perhaps, not at
first, but slowly and surely and in Ian’s case, it will be
the result of much thinking, reading and having inward
frank discussions with himself, of that I am sure. It will be
interesting to witness as 2017 rolls by as to exactly what
those possible changes will be visualized like. Perhaps it
would be a good idea for me to go back to his home town
in a year or so and partake in another cup of tea?
I do hope I have the opportunity to do exactly that.
Denis Taylor was in the studio with...
Ian Norris, Preston Studio (16th November 2016).
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in this issue ‘Spike’ our
resident culture critic,
is talking about the most
detested (and the wealthiest)
painter of the 20th Century.
The one and only, the
incredible Mr Tretchikoff...
a painter, who was attacked, derided and
admonished for most of his life.
An artist who proved them all wrong right
up to his death at 92 years old.
It’s an odd thing that when the art critics decide to
rubbish an artist, they really do go for the throat. Like
a pack of dogs hunting a fox.
Egged on by their own superiority complex and
the metaphorical whistles of their masters, the art
institutions. In this particular case the Fox fooled
them completely by his mastery and knowing the
complex map of humanity. And he was cock sure
what direction he should take.
Meanwhile the dogs followed the well trodden road
marked by the artistic sign posts on a path of a self
proclaimed superior cultural knowledge.
The Artist in question is Vladimir Tretchikoff and
you will be forgiven for not knowing his name, but
perhaps you will know of one of his paintings the
Green Lady, also known as the Chinese Girl.
This painting hypereal, (almost surreal) portrait was
the highest selling reproduction in the world, bar
none and the most hated by the art elite’s and art
critics alike. If not now, then most certainly from
1953 to the early 1980’s.
I am getting a clear vision of a bunch of culture
journalists, huddled in a dark corner of a pub in
Islington (London), groaning over the fact that the
original ‘Green Lady’ just sold to a South African art
collector for closing in on a million quid.
“Chinese Girl” 1951
Tretchikoff once said that the only thing
different between him and Vincent Van Gogh, was
that... “..he was poor, and I am rich.”
The artist once said the only thing different
between him and Vincent van Gogh was that
Vincent was poor and he was rich.
A statement that did nothing to endear him to
the Art Museums or public Art Galleries in the
UK, who never bought any of his art work.
His story as an Artist is perhaps unique, his
story as a human being is certainly different
enough from the rest of us to wonder how he
survived at all.
Born in a community (sect) of spiritual
christians known as Molokans, whose main
philosophy is best summed up by an old
proverb they abided by, “Work hard as if you
were to live forever, do good as if you were
to die tomorrow.” Conservative in outlook the
religious group frowned on drinking booze
and smoking. The crux of their faith was
that they believed all humans were equal as
brothers and sisters through Christ. Freedom
of will was of prime importance to the
Molokans. Apart from the non- smoking and
drinking clauses, they don’t sound too bad a
bunch to me. But to the Russian authorities
their preaching that ‘war was a deadly sin’
sort of pissed them off and the Molokans fled
from the fighting that ensued with the Russian
They landed in Manchuria (China). Tretchikoff
took his natural gift for art and used it to earn
a living, drawing cartoons for newspapers
and later he gained a position as an illustrator
for an advertising agency. But it was because
of his work for British propaganda department
that got him in trouble.
When the Japanese Empire invaded
Singapore in 1941 he was evacuated.
His evacuation ship was torpedoed and sunk.
He managed to survive by scrambling aboard
a life raft. The raft drifted for weeks before
landing in Java. The Japanese had by then
overtook that country too and Tretchikoff
became a prisoner of War. His family, who
had escaped safely weeks before Vladimir
had done, presumed him dead.
After he was released from the prison camp,
he found himself in the safe haven of South
Africa and it was here that he produced
portraits which, one presumes, he was pretty
good at, as this became his mainstay for
pictured above: Monika Pon-su-san, the model
for the Chinese girl seen here in 2016 - reunited
with the painting the first time since 1951.
all images ©artbookspublishing 2013
“Ndebele Woman.” -1959
“Balinese Girl.” -1959
income. With a back story like this you
would of thought the Art World would
have opened their arms to him, as a
sort of artistic hero. And in Cape Town,
they kinda did (if no where else). His
first major exhibition was in 1948 and for
twenty or so years his reputation as a
fine artist grew exponentially. In the very
early 1960’s he had a show mounted in
the shop for the well off middle class of
London, Harrods. This drew thousands
of visitors. It was at this point the art
critics began their attacks, calling him the
“master of suburban kitsch” - compared
to other verbal abuses he endured that
was quite mild.
Tretchikoff though, shrugged them all off
with typical Russian bravado, an attitude
that only a person who has experienced
encounters with the real threat of actual
death could possibly do. “I eat critics
for breakfast,” he’d say and retaliate
by pronouncing all his critics as “failed
The distance of history gives us the
pleasure of imaging the envy and the
loathing that some of these art journalist
must have gone through, especially
when faced with an Art which railed
against the trend of the time. Modern,
[the new art], which had by then become
accepted and which dominated the
contemporary art world was the global
movement ‘Pop Art’ spearheaded by
It’s ironic that Vladimir actually
succeeded in the early ambitions of
Warhol to bring Art into the realm of the
common people (and out of the hands
of the elitists). Warhol failed miserably
with this self same appointed mission,
because he allowed himself to be
absorbed by the ‘cool’ set of NYC and
the culture media of the Art Institutions
They must have saw in Andy an answer
for their own agenda. One of creating
an homogenous cultural world they
controlled, in preparation perhaps for a
New World Political Order.
Which, in our own century we have seen
to have totally failed (for humankind)
“Zulu Girl.”-1959 “Miss Wong.” 1959
with a dogma that has begun to
unravel slowly as ordinary people have
woken up to the fact that they have
not benefitted from it, in fact quite the
reverse has happened.
It was the commonality of the Chinese
girl image that cemented Tretchikoff as
the world most sold and most hated of
all painters (and the richest)
of the 20th century. When he visited the
USA he mounted an exhibition to show
his stuff, he sold the Chinese girl to a
Being a street wise guy he had carefully
taken a copy of it. It was this paintings
that was reproduced by the millions
and sold in high street shop empires
(such as: Woolworths in the UK) for
a quid a print. That green face, and
other Tretchikoff’s ladies would soon
be looking down on middle class
households as the backdrop to a
suburban new life of supper parties,
smart functional designed furniture and
the painted white walls of the 1950’s
and all through to the 1980’s.
“...I eat critics for breakfast. They
are, he said, “failed artists”
Even inside the down trodden North of
England, with their vast council home
estates built by enthusiastic Socialist
local politicians, were decorated proudly
by the Green Lady.
It became a sort of symbol of modernity
and global awareness of the exotic life
outside of Great Britain.
The more that the ‘ordinary’ people liked
Tretchikoff, paintings the more the Art
snobs hated him.
We see a similar situation today with
the bizarre Turner Prize - which J.M.W
Turner could never win, even if he was
alive today. And yet it was the ‘Post-
Modernists’ belief in resurrecting and
copying past artists work, that sort of
gave Tretchikoff an extended artistic life.
‘Kitsch’ had become the new cool.
all images ©artbookspublishing 2013
all images ©artb
For example Artists such as Odd Nedrum
who painted, what Nedrum himself named
the ‘Kitsch’ style, has sold his paintings for
astonishing amounts of money in NYC. In
the UK the London new designer in crowd
decorated their million pound apartments
with colour prints of many of Tretchikoff’s
He gained a whole new trendy fan base.
The untrained naturally gifted Russian
Artist from the middle of nowhere in
Siberia, was once again, for the second
time, the King of Kings Road and London
Even Tretchikoff himself was completely
dumbfounded by his sustained popularity.
To a lesser extent the negative attitude Art
Institutions still have to ‘natural born’ nonart
educated artists such as Tretchikoff, who
haven’t taken the predetermined road map of
artistic qualification, are still, usually, ignored.
These unfairly ignored artists fall into the trap,
as Tretchikoff did, of measuring their own
success [as an Artist] by Money.
A mind set that many unscrupulous Vanity
Galleries take advantage of.
Vladimir would have disapproved of the
practise. I am sure and suspect his advise
to many of the ‘ignored’ talented painters of
today, would simply to say to them...don’t ask
for help...get working, do it yourself !
left: photograph of: Wayne Hemmingway, a renown
designer, reads a newspaper below the large reproduction
of “Lady from the Orient.” installed at his home in
Wayne has been a life long fan of Tretchikoff ever since
his grandmother had a print of this artist in her home in
Vladimir Tretchikoff c.1913 to 2016
If you would like to discover more about the life and
work of this painter then we can recommend the book:
“Incredible Tretchikoff” -
Life of an Artist and Adventurer. Written by Boris Gorelik
and published by:www.artbookspublishing.co.uk
Art Book Publishing.co.uk - ISBN 978-1-908970-08-4
Fine Art Auctioneers
Saturday 11th February 2017
Northern Art and Modern & Contemporary Art
(entry deadline 16th January)
L.S.Lowry RA (British, 1887-1976. ‘A country landscape
with buildings’ pencil drawing. Estimate £5,000-8000
Theodore Major (British 1908-1999) ‘Snow in the
wood’ oil on canvas. £8,000 -10,000
Harold Riley (British .b.1934) ‘Empire’ pastel.
Estimate £1.500 -2,000
Brian Shields “Braaq” FBA (British 1951-1997) ‘The Boat Lake’ oil
on board £2000 -3,000
For further information contact Nick Hall
Knutsford Salesroom 01565 653284
photograph of Alex Reuben outside his new gallery space.©2016 Lee Harrison
Alex Reuben up sticks and moves
to a cool new space in Central
..the 30 something year old, Alex Reuben, has moved to a new space from the
first gallery he opened in 2010 in central Manchester...
...When we dropped by to visit Alex
he was stressing about the road works
outside of his new premises. The workers
were placing tracks for the expanding tram
system that services central and all parts
of Greater Manchester. “They think it will
be done in a week or two.” He said with his
fingers crossed. Contemporary Six had its
grand opening exhibition on the15th December
2016. The proud owner of the new
space explained that the reason for the
move was partly due to the success that
he had experienced at his former space
(the parade between Cross Street and St
Annes Square) had given him the encouragement
to spread his wings, metaphorically
“I still think of myself as a sort of a newbie
as a gallerist..”
Alex said, in his typical modest manner,
but make no mistake, he is fully aware of
what is what, in the very small world of the
Manchester contemporary commercial
guided him into the paths of artists who
created work that he not only admired, but
had proven to be winners, certainly as far
as sales were concerned.
Rearmed and rethought the Gallery started
to become known with the buying public.
The position of this first Gallery gave
him ‘passing-traffic’ and the glass fronted
double windows provided an enticement
for the passers by to walk in. Alex also
made a point of understanding his artists
in depth, by having regular social meetings
and being sympathetic to the ‘production’
rate of quality work rather than pressing
them for paintings in quantity.
A mistake many Galleries in the past, have
been very guilty of.
It was with this balanced approach that he
began planning his next big move, which
became a reality this year.
He was educated at Handsworth School
(in the midlands) and went on to achieve a
BA degree at Leeds Metro University.
He then worked for Moss Bros for a couple
of years and saved every penny he could
to realise his dream of opening his very
own Art Gallery, which he did in 2010.
His other ambition, as a Artist himself,
took second place to showing other artists
work. He discovered that he had not only a
gift for doing precisiely that, but also loved
doing it. His first shot at being
a modern gallerist however, fell a little flat.
“I showed more advanced art, from all over
Europe, and it didn’t go down too well with
the visitors who came into the Gallery.”
He was wise enough to seek words of
advise from two of the legendary Gallery
owners in the North of England, (Wendy
Levy of Levy Gallery in Didsbury and Dave
Gunning of Todmorden Gallery). Both of
whom were more than happy to provide
him with pearls of wisdom and maybe
Alex inside the new gallery.
Photograph: ©painterstubes 11/2016
The new Gallery is represents
the continuing story of success
for Alex. He told us of his plan to
use the ‘extra’ space downstairs
in the cellar after he had completed
extensive make over for ‘special
exhibitions. We visited the gallery
when it was partly finished.
This is specifically for special
exhibitions. It would be a refreshing
change to see some
strong contemporary work, be
it figurative or abstract. Work
which would reflect the dynamic
force that is showing the seismic
changes from a dour industrial
landscapes and decaying architecture
of the 20th century
to the new exiciting structures
that are sprouting up all over the
City, not to mention the cultural
change and sophistication of the
photograph of the opening night, ©2016 Lee Harrison photos.
photograph of the opening night, ©2016 Lee Harrison photos.
Alex with a client at the opening exhibition.Photo ©2016 Lee Harrison Photography
For now, Alex Reuben and Contemporary Six Gallery seem destined to
become one of the leading Art venues in Manchester.
And from what we hear through the grapevine, the opening exhibition of the
15th December, was a great success and even the Lord Mayor of
Manchester turned up in support to wish the business all the best for
2017.....Andy Burnham take please take note.
Contemporary Six Gallery, 37 Princess Street, Manchester.
telephone +44 (0)161 835 2666
New Exhibition & Book
Gateway Hale, Cheshire, 17th November 2016
“the Northern School a reappraisal”
The anniversary of the opening of Gateway
Gallery in Hale, Cheshire, was celebrated with
a large Exhibition entitled “the Northern School
a re-appraisal” - The show took the name
for the launch of the book, written by Martin
Regan, a Director of the Gallery.
Martin is responsible for choosing and advising
on the style of Art shown with his co-Director
Susan Eyres, looking after the running of the
Gallery and handling adminstration. Both have
a passion for Art and both have been avid collectors
of paintings, generally inspired from the
Northern art genre. The Gallery premises is a
good space which has two floors, whilst the top
floor is not perfect for showing perhaps larger
paintings, it is utilised for ‘special’ shows which
are mounted regularly for the new intake of
gallery artists giving them a solo exhibition.
It’s a well appointed modern gallery and as you
would expect from experienced
entrepreneurs, the gallery is professional in its
outlook. It prides itself on giving Art collectors
honest and up to date information on investments
in the Galleries chosen genre of Art.
Although they also keep one eye open for new
work that they feel is in keeping with their own
profile. Susan Eyres is a delightful person, who
really feels for art in a genuine and sincere way.
Martin, who at 54, is also well versed in the
publishing business, not only from his time
when he was a founder Director of the Excel
Publishing Company in Manchester, but he
also keeps his finger on the cultural pulse with
the Cheshire Today magazine which he is the
Director and Editor for. He originally opened
a private Art Gallery, with the same name
(Gateway), in Macclesfield in 2011.
It was here he exhibited a variety of work that
he had collected over a period of time, mostly
by well known artists, like Peter Howson
above: Sue Eyres in the gallery admiring the work of
Theordore Major. painting entitled: “the kebs”.
for example and then introduced new local
artists, with the likes of Ben Kelly and Dean
As you might anticipate from the
introduction of the Directors above, the exhibition
was curated as a mixture of art gleaned
from the Directors private collection and the
Galleries stable of Artists. In the mix were
works selected from Valette, Theodore Major,
W.R.Turner and living established artist,
(Geoffrey Key and Steve Capper).
I was very pleased to have had the
opportunity to engage with a quick chat with
the latter, as they both attended the same
art school as myself. Although our conversation
was more about the personality of the
headmaster and some of the teachers at the
school, than it was about the Art on that was
Many of the (younger) artists who’s work
were on show in the gallery were stylistically,
an eclectic mix too. A few stood out from the
rest, Steve Bewsher was one painter who’s
work is based on the currently ‘ubiquitous
views’ of the changing urban landscape in
Manchester. Although I felt he could well
create some really interesting contemporary
abstraction paintings in the future.
I was also intrigued by some naive, semiabstracted
canvas’s by Ben Kelly.
“pennie road.” ©stevecapper
“guitarists with Arches.” ©geoffreykey
And of course I took full advantage of being
able to get really close (within 6mm) to one
or two paintings by Theodore Major, in the
hope of examining his brush work, was a
rare chance to ‘feel’ how Major worked and in
Steve Capper, with his unmistakeable style,
had a few larger works up on the wall as did
Geoff Key, who’s examples of work seems to
be in every single gallery in the North West
of England at the moment. Another unfamiliar
artist to me, who’s work was dotted around
the gallery, was Helen Clapcott. She paints
in muted hues, bordering on mono-coloured,
mainly with detailed compositions of terraced
houses or industrial buildings. And who is
no doubt one of Martin’s favourite painters,
as one of her works was chosen as the front
cover and featured many full pages of her
work in his book.
The show was very well attended, this however,
rarely gives space for viewing art, most
opening nights in private galleries are like
that. They are not about looking at the work
on show per se. Generally, it’s about meeting
the artists or enjoying a glass (or three)
of wine and snacking on the goodies. Which
in this case, were quite wonderfully served
and prepared by Susan Eyres sister and her
crew. (btw, the mini Bakalava’s were delicious).
Of course this opening was slightly
different to normal art exhibitions, as it was
clear that the evening was all about the
launch of Martin Regan’s book. I had placed
an advanced order for a copy of it, which
Susan had reserved for me. Although to be
honest there was more than enough of them
for the exhibitions visitors to go around, so I
needn’t have worried.
All in all, it was a very good exhibition, yet
when a Gallery does try and mix the dead
with iving (artists), there is always something
in the air, something for me that is inexplicably
saddening - for the want of another more
suitable description of it. Perhaps you could
call it an invisible melancholy that overcomes
me. That’s the trouble with Artists - many
are not only temperamental, but sentimental,
simultaneously - well, some of us are.
“doing deals (Spinnigfields)” ©BenKelly
Gateway Gallery 116 Ashley Road, Hale.
+44 (0) 161 928 7884.
the Northern School -
A Reappraisal by Martin Regan
Published by Gateway Gallery Hale.
195 pages with 131 colour illustrations
/photographs - 90 being full pages
book size: 17cm x 23cm
Martin Regan, known for his lively polemic
style of debate in the small world of the
contemporary art community in the greater
Manchester area, passionately attempts to
tackle a new appraisal of what many call ‘the
Northern School’ and to what many others
prefer to use the generic tag,
of Northern Art -
“I’m an Artist, that just
happens to live and paint
in the North”
Many international minded artists are
bewilded by the fact that Art labels for
contemporary art still exist in the 21st century,
but it’s not that surprising in the North of
England. Especially when one considers that
the business side of the commercial galleries
depend on a ‘special’ status for painters from
the North of England, ones that is bestowed
on by Gallerists. Perhaps this is to convey this
‘specialness’ to a wider public? Maybe it’s
also to encourage art collectors to believe in a
long term advantage in owning a painting by
one or more of the artists that are seemingly
grouped randomly within this ‘school’ or genre?
Qualification for membership of being given this
label that many artists neither seek, nor want
any association with (from brief discussions the
reviewer has had with a few artists currently
working in the area today), “typically they’ll
say...”I’m an Artist that just happens to live and
paint in the North”
However, Martin Regan seems incredibly
passionate about ‘Northern’ art - especially
his hero, L.S Lowry, whom he always refers
to as ‘the great Man’ - And which may give
the impression, that his opinion on Art could
almost border on Northern Art myopia. One
which may well override any wider discussion
about Art that one could hold with him on a
wider platform. Yet the dubious subject of
‘questioning’ the historical existence of a
Northern School of Artists today. or at all, he
questions himself in the introduction.
L.S.lowry painted by W. R.Turner
Of course this is not the first, nor probably will it
be the last, that goes out of its way to promote
or highlight ‘Northern Art’ and ‘Northern Artists’.
Another Gallery, literally a stones throw away
from the authors own Gallery, has also recently
sponsored an artist and writer (Peter Davies) to
‘re-write’ a book on Northern Art, from one that
was first published and written by him in 1989.
This new version is entitled ‘Northern Art
Revisited’ and is also published by Clark Art
Limited. ‘the Norther School - a reappraisalthe
author says, attempts to fill the gaps that,
that book and other books on the same subject
have missed out on.
To fans of the Northern Art scene, Martin
Regan’s book has been long in the waiting for.
The author spells out in the ackowledgements
page how, five years of numerous false starts,
contributed to his lapse of completing it. And
one can understand that delay. Taking on
a subject matter like this relies heavily on
ones own opinions and maybe even personal
experiences. Experience that can be then
woven around historical facts in justification of
those opinions, which a tricky
task to say the least.
The history part of that conundrum is handled
diligently by the author in three general
chapters (Valette and the Post Impressionists,
Sickert and the Expressionists, St Ives and
the North) and four specific chapters of named
artists. (Edgar Rowley Smart, Harry Rutherford,
Theodore Major and William Ralph Turner).
It was in those chapters that I started to feel
distinctly uneasy about the tone of the book.
The author highlights personality flaws in Major
and Turner without any mention of the human
personality flaws that L.S. Lowry undoubtably
had. It’s as if the author wants to elevate his
‘hero’ above all ‘others’ - Yet, there are people
who hold the opinion, that these two artists
(Major and W.R.Turner) are just as ‘important’
if not, indeed more progressive artists, than
Lowry ever was. A subjective opinion perhaps,
that once again raises it’s head in the ‘who
was the better artist’ debate of which there are
several reasonable and well formed arguments
for and against all three of them. Alas that
discussion is not to be found in this book as it
is more of one man documentary than it is to
stimulate any group discussion.
Which brings me onto the reasoning for art
books and their publication. I’m not unlike many
independent painters, that have a library of art
books. It’s as you grow as a person and as an
artist, that you do tend to read and absorb a
whole variety of authors viewpoints who have
written about art and artists, some books about
artists work that are not really favoured or
even liked. It is one way ‘painters’ can inwardly
change and discover the underlying process
of their own artistic thinking and consequently
help to create new and different work. I
began to ask myself if this book, or indeed
the Peter Davies ‘revisited’ book, could ever
be put alongside others on my prized art
If there was one thing against that positioning
it was the over riding feeling that both these
books are part of an overall marketing
strategy of the respective galleries who
published them. A cynical viewpoint maybe,
but one reinforced by the frequent quoting
of names of Artists that the galleries already
have in their stable. It was this re-occurring
thought that made this book hard to enjoy
and a bit of a slog to read. Because once you
identify that undercurrent
as a possible reason for the books creation,
it’s difficult to dismiss it as unfounded, the
further you read.
Overall, I believe the author has worked
hard to realise this book. It’s a fact that
writing any book on Art is extremely difficult
and something of a personal challenge.
It is fraught with the danger of subjective
judgement and populated by barriers to
overcome concerning fighting yourself to
be as unbiased as you can. And to keep an
open mind on other artists work.
Art that one may not personally think
are either viable or contributory to the
contemporary art world, or even in sympathy
with the kaleidoscope of current taste. It is
also difficult to overcome pushing preferred
artists work, that is if you set out to write
a comprehensive cover of any specific
movement or genre of Art, and keep the
reader engaged. - the Northern School - a
reappraisal - falls somewhere between ‘the
twixt and the twain’ of that description. At
around twenty quid per copy, it remains
incumbent on the individual reader to
make the decision wether or not the author
has actually succeeded with an unbiased
reappraisal of this over talked-about 20th
century genre of painting.
“the Norther School- A reappraisal”
by Martin Regan
available from Gateway Gallery, Amazon & the book
shop at the Lowry Centre, Salford.
Published for the first time in an art magazine, painters Tubes Magazine is delighted to bring you
a fascinating essay about Contemporary Art as it appeared at the turn of the millennium.
Written by the late renown art professor and author, Nigel Whiteley for the Heart 2 Art Exhibition in
Stockholm (2002). The essay is published in two parts
The mass media thrive on spectacle
and controversy; artists create art
with those characteristics; the media
reports it. At times it seems as if the more
that artists coolly deny responsibility for
any content that involves rigour or talent,
or clear moral position, or humanist
concern beyond the narcissistic self, or
any visual quality or interest, the more
the work is hailed as ‘creative’ ‘thoughtprovoking’
‘subversive’ or, most ironically
of all, ‘intelligent’.
What is at stake here is not one style or
another, one passing fashion as opposed
to a self-congratulatory fad, but a whole
system of values about art, a whole set of
beliefs. Broadly, I am thinking in terms of
types of art which may be termed either
disaffirmative or affirmative.
By disaffirmative, I mean work that
undercuts and undermines any notions of
pleasure, enjoyment, aesthetic emotion,
spirituality or feeling of communion or
community. Disaffirmative artists want to
scupper your belief, spoil your enjoyment,
shatter your dreams or sabotage your
illusions. In this article, I want to explore
some of the underlying disaffirmative
assumptions about dominant contemporary
art, then show that fundamental
alternatives, epitomized by the affirmative
thinking is not anachronistic or irrelevant to
society today, but deeply, indeed, urgently
To give an idea about what I mean by
contemporary disaffirmative art, I’ll focus
on the rising British star, short-listed for the
Turner Prize, Martin Creed. The inaugural
exhibition of the revamped Tate Britain in 2000
was entitled Intelligence and it featured ‘New
British Art’, including some pieces by Creed
such as Work no.74: as many 1” squares
as are necessary cut from 1” masking tape
and piled up, adhesive side down, to form
a 1” cubic stack (1992). Creed’s title was
descriptive of what the viewer encountered, a
one-inch cube comprising layer upon layer of
masking tape. Another Creed piece was Work
no.220: DON’T WORRY (1992) in which neon
writing announcing that cliché turned on/off
every second or so. The catalogue explained
how ‘The calming influence of this oft-repeated
phrase is undermined by the fact that every
other second the neon lights go off. Such
words of reassurance are often used when we
feel most anxious. Seen in the context of the
gallery, they suggest the kind of utopian role
that artists might wish for, while puncturing
any such ambition.’ A further example is Work
no.143 (1996), a neon banner of text across
the pediment of the Tate, proclaiming ‘the
whole world + the work = the whole world.’
Again, the catalogue explains that, ‘Reading
like a mission statement or artist’s manifesto,
this dictum suggests that the work of art, and
Creed’s work in particular, has no impact
whatsoever on the world.’ Creed himself
states that ‘I find it a lot easier if [the art]
negates itself at the same time as pushing
itself forward. Given that I don’t feel sure about
it, I feel a lot more comfortable if I can make it
and sort of unmake it at the same time. This
presumably explains the inspiration behind
Work no.88 which consists of a sheet of A4
paper crumpled into a ball, and exhibited, and
a small blob of Blutak placed in the middle of a
The notion that art in general and the artist’s
work in particular ‘has no impact whatsoever
on the world’, or that the artists are so
uncertain about their work that they feel more
comfortable negating it, is a deeply depressing
one. It may, of course, be intended ironically
like so much art nowadays. More likely it is
having it both ways – denying the sense of
responsibility that comes with optimism; but
soaking up any applause or controversy that
comes from media coverage or public interest.
For example, in a brochure that has arrived
as I am writing this, an announcement for a
lecture by Creed at the Tate describes how
he is ‘known for the rigour and purity of his
work which often pushes the boundaries of
Conceptual Art to their limits..’ This seems
a bold claim for the self-indulgent and trite
gestures I have outlined above.
What is the relationship of Creed’s type of
work to Heart2Art? The answer: very little,
but a lot. Very little in that the concerns of
artists in this exhibition, and their vehicles for
expressing them, bear almost no relationship
to ‘New British Art’ or ‘New Swedish Art’,
or new art from the majority of countries
dominated by the values of ‘global media art’.
A lot, in that an exhibition like Intelligence
Mona Sahlin of the Swedish Governments Estonian Trust Fund
opened the ‘invitation only preview’ of the exhibition
on the 11th January 2002
is representative of many of the things that
artists in Heart2Art decry as a selling short
of the possibilities of art; even a denial of
the probability of art as an affirmative and
optimistic force in life. Of course, it is easy to
misrepresent artworks as well as intentions,
by being highly selective, and by disguising
prejudice as argument. I am willing to be
convinced otherwise about the work of Creed,
but that is not really the point. The point is
that his work is typical of a lot of art you find in
major galleries and it is broadly representative
of a value system that frequently dominates
what is perceived to be important and
interesting in contemporary practice. Seldom
does that value system get seen for what it
is a particular, optional set of assumptions
which are themselves open to question and
scrutiny; more often the values are assumed
to be inevitable, and thus beyond challenge,
especially given the (media) conditions of the
The values of this type of art derive from
Marcel Duchamp, the high priest of subversive
art. However much the complexities of
Duchamp’s gestures and practices have been
reduced to a simplistic attitude of negation by
recent generations of artists and writers, the
idea that art should be disaffirmative can be
traced back to that highly influential artist. Why
was Duchamp disaffirmative? The moustache
drawn on the Mona Lisa and entitled
L.H.O.O.Q (1919) was calculated to outrage
bourgeois ‘art lovers’, while the ‘ready-mades’
such as Fountain (1917) – a urinal placed in a
gallery – may also enrage but more effectively
raise questions about the institutions of art, the
nature of creativity, fetishism of uniqueness
and the very role and function of art.
Duchamp declared that he was seeking to
avoid as much as possible ‘“pleasing” and
“attractive”’ attributes because he ‘wanted
to put art once more again at the service of
the mind.’ His reputation gained ascendancy
in the 1960s when Conceptual Art shifted
art away from a concern with the visual,
toward the philosophical, often using text
directly to interrogate the viewer about her
or his assumptions. Artists such as Joseph
Kosuth exhibited textual definitions in
place of paintings, confounding our normal
expectations. John Baldessari parodied
Greenbergian ideals about essential formal
properties and flatness by exhibiting a
canvas on which was painted the sentence
‘A Work With Only One Property’ (1966-68).
Baldessari was more uncompromisingly
disaffirmative in a work of 1972 in which he
arranged for students to write repeatedly “I
will not make any more boring art” on the
walls of a gallery. Conceptual artists used
disaffirmative strategies to try mortally to
Conceptual Art had a major influence on a
generation of students in the late 1960s and
Nigel Whiteley with
discussing a painting
by Astri Edith Rygh.
1970s, a generation that was ‘politicized’
by the anti-Vietnam War protests and
the ferment around the upheavals of
1968. Cultural radicalism followed the
political and social radicalism, and
established itself as a central ingredient
in late twentieth century art. An aspect
of this broad tendency was summed
up by the British artist Terry Atkinson in
1987. Atkinson had been involved with
the Conceptual group ‘Art & Language’,
and their thinking had led him to the
conclusion that:-“The possibility of making
an affirmative culture today seems to me
to be... absurd”. The world’s dominant
political systems are prurient, selfregarding
and barbarously repressive.
Any cultural work that celebrates such
a world - intentionally or not - that holds
uncritically to the status quo of the
relations of production and relations
of distribution can be seen to have,
on rudimentary historical reflection, a
carefree charlatanism or - in harsher
judgement - a grotesque negligence.
Atkinson was not only articulating his
view, but formulating his version of
a disaffirmative art which, borrowing
from the ideas of the art historian T.J.
Clark, might make use of 14 ‘negating
practices’ which included ‘Deliberate
displays of painterly awkwardness...
The use of degenerate or trivial
“unartistic” materials... [and] The parody
of previously powerful styles.’ If his
art lacks quality (intentionally so, of
course), it certainly does not lack clarity
of purpose, underpinned, as it is, by his
totally uncompromising belief that ‘a lifeaffirming
art is ridiculous’ because it is
part of the same values and system that
produced Auschwitz and Hiroshima.
Atkinson represents a fundamentalist
position about the need for
disaffirmation. More widespread
since the 1980s has been art shaped
by post-structuralist thinking about
attempt to expose art’s assumptions
about such things as authorship and
the selfhood of the artist, authenticity
and originality, gender and race, and
the relationship between the producer
above: Denis Taylor with Nigel Whiteley at the
“heart 2 art” exhibition, just prior to opening.
and consumer. The cultural theorist Janet
Wolff has called for a post-modern practice
in the visual arts, which ‘...self-consciously
deconstructs tradition, by a variety of formal
and other techniques (parody, juxtaposition, reappropriation
of images, irony, repetition, and so
on).’ Cindy Sheridan’s ‘film still’ photographs
are examples of work which question
assumptions about narrative and personae in
relation to gender. Her stated intention is ‘...to
put the viewer on the spot and make them feel
uncomfortable, perhaps in recognition of their
expectations.’ In a series of pictures based on
‘centre-folds’, she deals with the male gaze and
its connotations of voyeurship and ownership.
The male viewer is, she writes, often a ‘violator’
with the photographs, ‘I’m trying to make
someone feel bad.’
Part Two - Affirmation Art in a Diusaffirmative
Climate will be published March-April issue.
There is a belief that: “You cannot teach anyone
to become an artist.” And there is a great deal of
substance to that view, that is if you believe Artists are
born and not made.
This debate has gone on for many decades if not
centuries, but perhaps none more so than from the
middle of the 20th century to present day. In many
ways. the valid point, that every single human on the
planet is an Artist. It’s is an argument that many Artists
make often, and it is one that the Editor
of this magazine has firmly believed in before today.
Obviously the criteria for natural or made artists has
opposite opinions and is centred on that ‘old bone’
we all chew over now then, i.e. “What is Art.” -
Intellectual theories and academic definitions don’t
really clarify the debate on that particular piece
of well chewed bone, and it probably never will.
Today, it seems that he only real option left
open to us is to simply to say “everything is Art.”
Or “as long as the object is shown in an Art
Gallery, then it must be Art”, by the very
fact that it is in a Gallery.
This neo-liberal viewpoint has perhaps led
to an Art that is more open, free and diverse,
some people have said, although many
will totally disagree.We live in a world
today that is constantly updating
itself on social media, especially on ‘likes’,
but rarely on their ‘dislikes,’ as far
as Art is concerned. Some see this
as a way to encourage, rather than
discourage any person who throws
their lot into creating Art Personally, and
as an painter, I do agree with that position, but I
can add that, pointed criticism can be delivered in
a strong yet positive way and not necessarily with
“all my own work”
What’s all that to do with Education and Art? probably everything. It’s
clear that an academic dogma of what Art is and what Art is not,
has pervaded in the UK’s Universities and Art colleges, if not now,
then certainly over the last 30 years or so. For example, ‘painting’ has
not only been taken off most of the University curriculums, but they have
actively discouraged students to submit paintings within their portfolios
for consideration for a degree. Indeed, I have been told by at least one
parent (confidentially), that a professor told their child, categorically, that
by including ‘painting’ in their final year assessment portfolio, would lead
to automatic failure.
There may well be a change
in that ‘unofficial’ academic
policy soon, for it is clear
that ‘commercial interests’
have realized that paintings
are far better suited, as far
as turnover and regular profit
is concerned, than much of
the other forms of art can
generate. And like all things in
this world, money always talks
the loudest, unfortunateley.
Case in Point: 1947/9 to 1984.
Manchester High School of Art.
Here, I have to declare a conflict of interest .
I went to an Art School from the age of eleven years old.
And so I may be bias with my opinion in this article
(I will try very hard to be even minded).
However,I am hoping many other voices will present themselves to
contribute to this series to either substantiate my thoughts or provide
arguments that are diametrical in opposition to them.
photograph: Freddie Taylor, aged 7 years old, first orginal painting ©studio5sweden 2016
Children that demonstrated more than the normal
‘interest’ in creating art, ones that continued to do
so, on a year by year basis, from their first days at
elementary school, was the basis for the creation
of a specialised secondary school. This school
(one of the few in the UK) was made into a sort of
experiment by post world war two Governments.
Perhaps it was the need to nurture the natural
talent of children that would become a sort of
creative backbone for the needs of a society that
was rebuilding after the second world war that
was the main motivation behind the concept of Art
Schools for the very young..
A society that required designers and innovators
in industries such as product manufacturers,
textiles, construction and numerous new creative
industries like advertising and marketing. The
essential concept was to take selected children
from various social, ethnic, religious and economic
(classes) and provide a curriculum that was slowly
graduated from the normal academic teaching
(the 3 ‘R’s) to have a bias on creative skills as the
child progressed through the School.
The idea for the autonomous state funded MSoA
sprang from the Manchester Art College who had,
maybe by foresight, created a junior department
around 1947. The first location being Byrom Street
in the City centre. By 1950 the junior school was
renamed as the Manchester High School of Art
with an open (curriculum) mandate issued to it’s
first (and only) headmaster, Earnest. A. Goodman
(OBE). 1955 saw the introduction of what is
now the infamous, ‘eleven plus’ examination,
which graded children in three main categories
- Secondary, High and Grammar levels. The
Secondary school level could well be seen as
a ‘factory-labour’ supply chain, the High School
stream, as middle management providers and the
Grammar School stream as the management and
industry leaders and decision makers.
A system that clung onto the Victoria values of
‘class’ and ‘social status’ that ‘controlled’ how
society functioned in the UK from the 1800’s and
had proved itself (Governments and the ruling
class) to be successful. The MSoA was graded
as a High School because there wasn’t really an
actual yard stick to measure how it would perform.
the Manchester High School of
Art, Cheetham Hill, Manchester.
In the background the tower of
The middle grade option, must have seemed a
reasonable fair bet at the time. The School was
relocated to it’s own premises in a former
Magistrates administration building opposite the
City’s main prison, Strangeways, in Cheetham
Hill, Manchester, a stones throw from the city
Centre. The centralisation of location was
important as the prospective pupils would be
gleaned from all the extended Manchester City
council borders that was within reach of the
public transport system. Pupils were chosen,
or recommended by the teachers from, multireligious,
specific-religious and official Church
of England state funded or private Schools.
One pupil (in general) from each school from
each district of Manchester was the overall
modus operandi that was used.
This was a difficult choice for some right and
left winged thinkers at the time. They saw
conflict of culture in mixed relgious schooling,
not integration of cultural thinking as a threat
to a future society. More so than a beneficial
contribution to it. A fear that was to be proved
totally unfounded throughout the course of
the Schools existence. In fact, the reverse
happened, as the pupils became united by the
School badge of ‘Exploramus’ and as being
equal and fellow artists.
the Art School badge with the motto which
was the School’s founding principle.
The School was finally forced to close in
1984 by the local Government as it was
viewed as ‘elitist’ and went against the
general comprehensive education dogma
of the time.
Mr Goodman and his staff were obviously in
advance of 21st century thinkers of even today,
who only now are re-thinking the education
system in the UK. His way of thinking is one that
Schools should perhaps seriously ponder on.
And consider what kind of Schooling is the way
forward, one which will unite and encourage a
better society where all citizens see each other
as equal members. The MSoA proved that
having grown together from a young age, to
respect each others personal choice, through
Art Education. This extends into respecting a
belief in one God or another or not, as may be
the case. From the evidence we see, especially
today, I fear that is not the position in the UK or
the rest of Europe. or indeed, most parts of the
Western World and beyond, more’s the pity.
Perhaps Art in education should not be seen
as creating Artists, but as a vital ingrediant
to nuture a more balanced and even mided
indiviudal, one that will contribute to enrich our
and develop the whole of society.
Denis Taylor. Editor.
magazine for Art, Artists and Galleries March-April 2017. issue #2
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Art inheritance from
in the studio with.... unearthing a master painter in Wales.
provincial Art Galleries, making a comeback on the Street
part two- Affirmation in a disaffirmative climate
Spike. “is it all about the money in contemporary art?”
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