Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Happy Holidays :)

To my mom & all girl friends who became a mother this year,
With love.
I'm at Old Street with a friend to celebrate X'mas and decided to pay a visit to the Jeffrye Museum just on Kingsland Road (this is also where some of my favourite Vietnamese restaurants are located).

I have heard about this museum for a long time and have passed by it trillions of times... notably from the voice recording on "number 242 to Homerton Hospital" every time I go to Kingsland Road to solve my craving for Pho. I also lived close by for a while but I never managed to pay a visit until now. It's a rather surprising place to find a museum as that street isn't so attractive but oh my, I was impressed.

The Jeffrey Museum, you could say, is a museum of English interior designs. It has collections of furniture, textiles, paintings and decorative arts from the 1600 til present day (til around the 1990s)... depicting "the quintessential style of English middle class living room". It may sound a bit boring to many of you, but I found the collection beautiful. And so many questions I had regarding English furniture taste was answered from this visit. I lost track of time and was an hour late meeting a friend for a X'mas dinner.

(The website is wonderful. You can even send Xmas cards which I did to a few friends but I don't know if they've received it?)
The Museum isn't big but the interior is impressive. It is set in elegant 18th century almshouses with a contemporary wing surrounded by gardens, which include a herb garden and a series of period gardens. I didn't get to see the gardens as it is winter but I am sure to come back. And will take my mom if she's coming to visit. There are several rooms showing you how the middle class living room styles changes since the 1600s to 2000.  Also to celebrate this wonderful seasonal holiday, there is an (annual) exhibition showing 400 years of Christmas tradition in English homes :) Very appropriate for the occasion. There is also currently a very interesting EcoHome exhibition (which you can find on my Chelsea T blog).

Instead of talking about how much I love it, I'd rather show you some photos that will also serve as Xmas presents to you from 2artornot2art.

A hall in 1630
I loved the window with holy

Parlour in 1695

Parlour in 1790
Era of "neat" furnishing (looks quite modern, doesn't it?)

Drawing room in 1830

Drawing room in 1870

 Furnished in aesthetic style where furniture was infuenced by japanese forms
Xmas cards invent by English became popular

Edwardian period room (1900 - 1914) 
Xmas stockings were a new tradition in england, having been gradually adopted from america mid 19th century. An adoptation of the custom of leaving shoes out on St. Nicolas day, tradition taken to America by Dutchs settlers. Debates as to whether shoes or stockings to be used!

Mid 20th century period room

Little things I liked...


I Love

Evolution of chairs
 Look how uncomfortable modern ones became!

I'm dedicating this post to my mom because she loves interior designing and she's very good at decorating our house ever since I can remember. I have always admired her taste. I hope to one day do a project with her on my own flat/our country house perhaps?!

And all my friends who became a mom this year... I hope this will inspire you to make your home prettier and prettier for the little ones during ANY festive season.

Happy Holidays 

/Photo credit @ Chelsea T/

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Saatchi - new Abstract America & Old People's Home

Saturday was my visit to the new Saatchi Gallery in Chelsea. New because I have not visited the Saatchi since its move to King's Road. I have to say Saatchi's new home for contemporary art is a much nicer venue (a 70 000 sq. feet Duke of York HQ) than the old one.
Even though the Saatchi Gallery isn't one of my most frequently-visited art spaces in London, the gallery offers something different to the Tate--- It has done a good job in promoting contemporary art works made by unseen young artists or international artists whose work has rarely been seen or exhibited in the UK. I like that the space isn't too overwhelming with the amount of work you can see... more so what is expected of a gallery. Tate should be call a "museum".

Currently the Gallery has an exhibition on new works by American artists called Abstract America: New paintings and sculpture, apparently a new wave of American art. It left more impressions on me than I thought... Some individual works were quite interesting. But is the exhibition supposed to represent new American sentiments? If it  is then I certainly don't know what those sentiments are?(I didn't even bothered reading the catalogue. By experience I have come up with the solution to enjoy the art as it is without subject to interpretation and see what sticks... then seek background info later). This exhibition is more like a collection of new works with absolutely no common theme but shows little versatility.
My favourite in order of appearance
Kristin Baker was by far my favourite. She made a series of paintings using acrylic on PVC and woh it was effective. You can recognize immediately that she's influenced by the Italian Futurism movements. Viewing her paintings immediately took me back to an earlier exhibition at Tate Modern on Futurism, one that I rather enjoyed. Had I known earlier that you can take pictures of the works at Saatchi, I would have taken photos of all her work. Kristin's art is rich in so colours and movements; the effect of paint  creates on PVC is so effective.... her subjects change from flashing lights and cars to the raft of Perseus.  It was wonderfully exciting to see her works... thoughtful, imaginative and definitely art.

The raft of Perseus
Acrylic on PVC
I also like a work by sculptor Peter Coffin. His large spiral staircase shaped into a circle was delightful and beautiful to look at. My art loving friend managed to sneak a photo... I also like the shadow effect in this picture. Isn't it interesting? Imagine yourself walking on one of those but not knowing you indefinitely will be going round and round... Art &something larger than the aesthetic beauty of a normal spiral staircase.

Untitled (Spiral Staircase)
Aluminum and steel
Matt Johnson is another sculpture whose work and the medium he used to make them are rather versatile. He made a scuplture called Malus Sieversii, yes it is exactly what it says. A life-size sculpture of a eaten apple... from a far. When you come close you will notice the staircase spiralling up around the core. So cute... Though I guess that was not what the artist intended to say! And very cool. Johnson also produced a life-sized blue tarpaulin sculptor of a pianist playing away at a grand piano. Very experimental indeed.

Malus Sieversii
Carved maple and acrylic paint

The work I displayed at the beginning of the post is by Stephen G Rhodes called Ssspecific Object (made of rubber). I liked it because it somehow reminds me of my favourite book "the Little Prince". Yes, the part with the boa constrictor digesting an elephant or as adult would say "it's a hat". In this case more it is more like digesting Pandorra's box. I don't think the artist's intention is inspired by "The Little Prince" but art is also subject to individual interpretation.
There were also some weird works, for example a photo of a woman spraying her pubic hair orange in an art work called "Spray bush". It doesn't even make you think apart from uttering "Huh?" I'm sorry but I don't remember the artist's name but I really wasn't impressed. And many I don't remember... (sorry artists :()

The most fun installation in the gallery was the room dedicated to new Chinese art. It was called "Old People's home' by the artist Sun Yuan and Peng Yu. 13 life-size old gentlemen moving aimlessly about in electric wheelchairs. You would start by laughing because it was just so much fun to see them interacting in their own space. Then you really see these men withering away by time... half asleep, half drunk... Old age is the same for everyone whether your a war hero or a rabbi... It made you a bit sad and more thoughtful. People were standing on the balcony looking down, watching these guys going back and forth. Some came down to "interact". The idea was there, it was fun to watch and feel something.


Wednesday, 9 December 2009

And the winner is ...

RICHARD WRIGHT has left a permanent mark on the contemporary art scene as he won the Turner Prize 2009 and  just as I had hoped.

“Untitled” – Richard’s entry at the Turner Prize 2009
 (photo credit

A bit of background first for those who don’t know about the Turner Prize. It is an annual contemporary art award that was set up in 1984 to celebrate new developments in contemporary art. The chosen winner is a British artist under 50 awarded for an outstanding exhibition or other presentation of their work in the twelve months preceding..
I am very pleased that Richard Wright won.  Also judging by the amount of support that he received from visitors to the exhibition, it would have been surprising if someone else was chosen. But apparently Roger Hiorns was quite the favourite (as told by the Telegraph). I actually liked Lucy Skaer’s works but critics said they were a bit scattered (true). Enrico David’s entry was dark and twisty… not really to my taste. Though someone did leave him a message saying “I would love to wrap the long legs and neck around me”. More about that in another entry…
The 49-year old Glasgow-based artist was said to be the oldest winner of the most pretigious prize in the modern British art scene. And I am so pleased he had entered and been chosen, had it been next year there would have been little chance for me to know about his work.  I also heard that Richard is now represented by Gagosian, pushing his price tag to go even higher than just the Turner Prize win itself … But this didn’t seem to be his intention with the art he makes.
The media has enough coverage about this event. I want to write about my impression of  Wright’s work and how it had spoken to me in a way that made him was my personal favourite artist/a winner of this year’s short list even before selection was announced.
As you exit Lucy Skaer’s exhibition room feeling rather impressed with the huge sperm whale skull and a bit puzzled by her other works… You will enter another space which is completely empty…  apart the gold painting on an end wall. The first thing comes to your mind is … WOH!  It draws you to walking closer and examine this fascinating and beautiful piece of work. You wonder how it was made…
As I learnt, Wright employed the apparently painstaking techniques of Renaissance fresco-makers, first drawing a on paper and then transferring parts of that drawing to the wall by piercing the paper with holes and rubbing chalk through it, lastly covering with gold leaf.
There wasn’t any shocking element when you see Richard’s work or read about  it.  It was just this subtle but mesmerizing beauty that you can’t help but gazed at for as long as you can. Then you’d walk from one end of the painting to the other to observe how the light is moving with you, as if Richard has painted the map of  some world and the sun is rising and then setting wherever you are. My mind can’t help but wanders… genius! I remember going back and forth admiring his work.  At that time there was only me in the room, I wished someone was there so I could share my enjoyment viewing this work with them…
Then suddenly you’d turn around and see  on the opposite wall,  high up right on top of the entrance is this symmetrical red painting of what looks like some sort of living organism or skeleton of a fish. And beyond that you see glimpses Lucy’s sperm whale skeleton… Interesting interaction with space!
I think out of all the works on display, I had to read the literature explaining Richard’s the least. Because you didn’t need a lot of explanation to like it.  However, after watching the video about the artists, I was even more blown away by Richard’s ideas and character. He is the quieter and subtler artist. His “humbleness” and the philosophical approach somehow made the painting even more beautiful and memorable. Wright says “space is a work that has already begun”; the light of the space is already determined and by adding certain details (sometimes not even instantly noticeable) the space itself is then transformed and a new atmosphere is created. You can’t see the air but you can feel the atmosphere right?…  So every space is can be a work of art, and you can make it more beautiful and engaging with very intricate details.
The temporary nature of Wright’s work is intended. His work is always changing because the space is his canvass. Anything that has been drawn is temporary and will be removed after the space is to be used for something else. With this idea he really challenges the value of art and now how art can be priced (since it is so temporary). It also challenges what it is going on in the contemporary art world… with Turner Prize winners like Hirst, Emin going on to make millions from their art.. (actually some of those works is also disappearing slowly like the decaying shark that had to be replaced). I think in a commercial modern art era, this is very admirable.
Wright also says that he likes the idea that “there is nothing left when I’m gone. If the work is important enough it will survive”.  His art work is for NOW, and not for the future, emphasizing. A philosophy.
So after the video, I came back to absorb the painting in my memory, because in a couple of weeks it will be vanished forever. I skipped all the other artists’ work because I know if I want I can see them again even though that isn’t true with one of Hiorns’ work.
I am excited to see how Gagosian will be managing Richard’s works :) They are definitely going to worth much more than the £25,ooo Turner price tag.
And if I ever get super rich, I wouldn’t mind having a Wright in one of my rooms. Bravo Richard!