High Days and Holidays
This year we holidayed in Andalucia, the Lake District, and Antibes in the South of France. Pete managed to draw and paint a little along the way but this was at the edges of things. Our short stay in May at Coniston in the Lake District was a walking holiday but we (re)visited John Ruskin’s house Brantwood and were very impressed by and learned more from the Ruskin Museum in town. This provides a wide and well-illustrated guide to his own art in drawing and water-colour, his art criticism – as, oddly, both defender of the young Turner and vilifier of James McNeill Whistler – and his social philosophy. His morally grounded thinking across these spheres inspired a radical mission to bring art and design and a pride in labour to all and resonates through to our own times.
At the end of June we stayed with friends Marc and Sharon in Antibes. They introduced us to a feast of galleries and museums –as well as to Antibes’ bountiful daily market and wonderful seascape. The names of major artists just kept coming: Picasso, Miro, Matisse, Chagall and Leger, along with literally walls of other painters and printers, as well as gardens and a workshop of sculpture.
To pick out some of the most exciting venues for us:
The Picasso Museum is in Antibes where he was invited to stay and work in 1946. The exhibition is a testament to his endless invention and sheer productivity and included also the work of two other artists, memorably paintings by Nicolas de Staël (see below) who was himself a resident of the town where sadly he committed suicide.
Secondly, The Maeght Foundation in Vence offered a thematic organisation of an amazing range of artists across several rooms (only a few images of which are included below) and the marvels of Jean Miro’s sculptures in its grounds and gardens. This sunny outdoor scene had colour, comedy, delicacy, mass and magic: enough for Marc to nominate this setting as the preferred heaven of his afterlife
The third, and perhaps most informative of exhibitions we saw was at the Leger Museum in Biot. The scope and variety of his work displayed here was a revelation as was the information – in the best notes we’ve ever encountered in a gallery – on his association with fellow artists and movements over his life-time across Europe and in the USA. The massive mosaics of his work on the exterior walls of the Museum were simply a marvel to behold. Be good to have these in a heavenly garden too.
And then, finally, as examples of directly sacred work, there was Matisse’s chapel in Vence and Chagall’s depiction of the opening chapters of the Bible and Solomon’s ‘Song of Songs’ in Nice.
All in all, our touring visit was quite an education. Has it influenced our own work? Not directly, but we both feel encouraged and emboldened to try more and try differently.
And so, on into August. We are showing at Art Wave once more, over two weekends, 17th -18th and 24th – 26th, after having missed last year. Unfortunately Liz’s print work has been hampered by illness, but we both hope to be able to show some new things, along with pottery by Rosemary Land, and some digitised portraits of stars and pop icons by our son Will. Here’s one: