Saturday, 4 January 2014


I have enjoyed having some time off over the Christmas break to actually go out and see some exhibitions rather than just looking at my screen everyday. A few that are definitely worth catching before they end are:
The Judith Kerr retropective at Seven Stories (The National Centre for Children's Books) in Newcastle - particularly lovely to see some of the sketches and originals of such familiar stories from my childhood.
Louise Bourgeois, A woman without secrets, at The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh, as well as Louise Bourgeois, I Give Everything Away at the Fruitmarket on the other side of town. Both have a powerful selection of her work, but my favourite was still her touching 'Ode to Bievre' - a book of stitched handkerchiefs recalling her childhood in France and the river beside her house. I really enjoyed seeing her massive etching series 'I Give Everything Away' at the Fruitmarket Gallery, produced just before she died, in collaboration with publisher Benjamin Shiff; he would take Bourgeois a massive prepared etching plate which she would draw on at home, he would take back to print up and return to her to colour and add to. With such expressive marks and colours resembling innards and organs, teamed with evocative hand written statements such as 'I distance myself from myself' and 'I leave my home' I found these the most emotionally charged and poignant pieces considering they were made when she was so close to death.
Also in Edinburgh at the Scottish National Gallery, a little exhibition documenting the Picture Hooks scheme, would be interesting to any illustrators/ aspiring children's book writers.
Stanley Spencer, Heaven in a Hell of War at Somerset House till the end of the month is a great chance to see his fantastic paintings made for the Sandham Memorial Chapel in the flesh, illustrating a personal account of 'his' war; although I'd recommend going on a weekday as it is quite hard to see everything when it is very busy!
Tony Ray Jones, Only in England at the Science Museum provides a wonderful insight into the photographer's working process and harsh self discipline/criticism but also an endearing snapshot of 60's England in both it's mundanities and eccentricities, including british beach photos familiar to those of my grandparent's and parent's childhoods. I particularly like Ray Jone's notes to himself about books to read, things to change and amusingly of all (being a northerner myself) his 'Impressions of the North' including 'A slight haze perpetually in the air' 'No Bright colours' 'Empty streets with only dogs and children in them' 'A homogenous mass of people' and 'small china dogs next to a potted plant behind a window pane'.

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