Goodbye 2014

Cheers!, Turner Contemporary, 2nd January, 2014
Cheers!, Turner Contemporary, 2nd January, 2014

Another year is swiftly slipping away, as it does with increasing rapidity as one gets older (why don’t they drum this into you in your teens?) and it seems that Facebook are determined we will all underline the fact. Although the algorithm they use turns up some anomalies, in my case the use of a ‘selfie’ from 1968… I’m pretty sure that the fact I didn’t run the app means it hasn’t appeared on my friends timelines (perhaps you’ll tell me different) but it all seems a bit of a faux pas on their part – an equivalent to the U2/Apple farrago a while back. In any event I thought that today I might run my own highlights here instead…at least that way its my personal responsibility, how refreshingly outside the zeitgeist is that?!

IMG_5003

Another year is swiftly slipping away, as it does with increasing rapidity as one gets older (why don’t they drum this into you in your teens?) and it seems that Facebook are determined we will all underline the fact. Although the algorithm they use turns up some anomalies, in my case the use of a ‘selfie’ from 1968… I’m pretty sure that the fact I didn’t run the app means it hasn’t appeared on my friends timelines (perhaps you’ll tell me different) but it all seems a bit of a faux pas on their part – an equivalent to the U2/Apple farrago a while back. In any event I thought that today I might run my own highlights here instead…at least that way its my personal responsibility, how refreshingly outside the zeitgeist is that?!

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Derek Jarman’s place @ Dungeness

The year past started in spectacular style on the south coast…lunch at the Turner in Margate in glorious sunshine, a romp through Dungeness taking in Jarman’s cottage, visits to a terrific Basil Beattie show at the Jerwood in Hastings and the DE La Warr Bexhill on an equally wonderful morning with the sea churning up the beach.

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Basil Beattie @ the Jerwood, Hastings

A drive through driving rain after lunch brought us to Chichester and at Pallant House a very well curated Sean Scully show.

In March I finally got to New York and stood in front of marvellous examples of personal heroes, Newman, Rothko, Still, Louis…and many more besides. I’ve said enough about this trip but…by hook or crook I’ll be back there as soon as poss…

Taking in a Bleckner show in Chelsea
Taking in a Bleckner show in Chelsea

Some time later my pal and I were in West Wales, arriving on yet another amazing sunlit day…doing St. Davids Cathedral, the Sutherland centre (with a surprisingly rich Peter Blake show based on Under Milk Wood) and back via Laugharne to properly celebrate Thomas’ Centenary.

Not sure I'd get much done here...likely to be gawping at the view.  Dylan Thomas writing shack, Laugharne
Not sure I’d get much done here…likely to be gawping at the view. Dylan Thomas writing shack, Laugharne – Simon to give it scale!

Our route back took in Bristol where I was much taken by ‘The Power Of The Sea’ an excellently curated exhibition of historical and contemporary work by most of our leading coastal painters. It was good to see a stunning Kurt Jackson, some top notch Michael Porter’s and much else.

The Power Of The Sea @ the RWEA, Bristol
The Power Of The Sea @ the RWEA, Bristol

Early June and my birthday treat was a trip to North Norfolk, no art but who needs it when you get a day on the beach at Holkham like this.

Holkham Beach
Holkham Beach

Later in the month I was proud to be part of our BG students degree show, where the group (a lovely bunch of lasses plus the inestimable Tom D, our ‘scouse Turrell’) put on a display they could be thoroughly pleased with.

Course Leader John delivers his annual degree show talk...
Course Leader John delivers his annual degree show talk…

July was dominated by the trip to Orkney & Shetland, artwise dominated by my long cherished wish to visit the Pier in Stromness…plenty of gems here including a delicious small Ben Nicholson.

Towards the back end of August a family visit to Packwood House revealed some charming pieces by Hilary Jack who wisely decided on small interventions in the Yew Garden whilst the grounds around the ornamental lake was populated by a couple large scale works – all well executed.

Hilary Jack @ Packwood House
Hilary Jack @ Packwood House

Late summer and early autumn was a quieter affair…then

Midway through October saw the journey to Nuremberg to collect the work of Kevin Coyne…the city impressed not least for the reconstruction of the historical centre and the manner in which the Art & Design Museum was woven into it. The Amish Quilts/James Turrell show was a treat here.R

In November we finally opened the Coyne show…it was a hard slog but in the end well worth it for the reception it gleaned. As a reward my pal whisked us off up north…to Newcastle and Middlesbrough…at MIMA captivated by the enormous Sam Francis. And so to December and just time to catch the Kiefer at the Academy and the truly important Germany show at the BM. All in all a pretty good year.

I note in passing that the New Years Honours list appears with yet another oversight of my gong…not that I’m the only one on a list that is notable for its visual arts absences…but surely its about time for me! It says something that the only artist appearing is the painter David Blackburn. Now it may be richly deserved but I doubt (and genuinely mean no disrespect) he would appear on many people’s list of the top hundred painters at work in the UK today and I’m fairly confident that quite a few of my knowledgeable artist friends have never even heard of David. It makes one wonder who decides these things and why. The only others in the wider visual arts community honoured are the creators of the poppy piece at the Tower and one of Prince Charles’s favourite retro architects…oh and the outgoing CEO of the Arts Council (rich reward for presiding over the spectacular decline of a once mighty institution reduced to a irrelevance) if he counts as a part of the ‘visual arts community’. It is fashionable to say these things don’t matter but it does reflect wider societal priorities as a whole. As a coda to this my friend, Professor Paul Hill MBE ( a very deserved recognition for his contribution to contemporary photography and accepted with typical self effacing modesty to further promote the serious recognition of the art form) is currently fighting yet another battle on behalf of the medium to save the Birmingham Library collection…so do him, me and yourself a favour by signing up to the petition too.

So thats that then, though as my pal Simon has commented in one sense this is just another Wednesday into Thursday. Nonetheless whatever way you see it I wish any of you reading this a very good 2015, grab hold of it and use it well.

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