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Village Art & Literature

Brush strokes vs pixels

Posted on November 25 2011 at 3:52:42 0 comments

Hopwood-based artist Paula Hamilton compares online art with the real thing.

If, like me, you have never had the opportunity to visit the Museum of Modern Art in New York, you can now. The Google Art Project, launched in May this year and showing more than 1,000 works from 17 major international galleries, is without doubt awesome.

All you need is a computer with internet access and you can make a virtual visit to the gallery of your choice, decide if it is the artwork or the gallery you wish to explore, view the paintings or sculptures, zoom in and see close up how the artist has made the brushstrokes and even see the crackle on the surface of the work.

This instantly seems like a great idea, making art more widely available to us all, allowing the viewer the opportunity to visit galleries and museums that they cannot normally access and looking in detail at their favourite works.

So why, now, should we bother to make a visit to a real art gallery? There are some good reasons, I believe. For a start, the Google Street View technology with which the virtual visitor views the galleries is creaky and induces giddiness – nothing like the experience, for example, of approaching the National Gallery in London via Trafalgar Square, ascending its splendid steps passing through the magnificent columns and starting a visit by turning into the Impressionist Rooms.

So the artworks are the real stars of this Google show and are undeniably visually great. But, there are some buts. The museums are European and American only, wonderful galleries like the Musee D’Orsey in Paris and also the Louvre are missing and relatively few works are currently represented.

Google say they plan to get more galleries and artworks involved in the future. There is also the worry that a work may look better and more voluptuous on the computer screen, making a real life viewing a disappointment, and it’s true that some paintings do work particularly well on screen.

Let’s hope that the Google Art Project will motivate us to visit galleries and not the reverse. Sitting at home looking at a screen can never equal a real gallery experience. See what you think - http://www.googleartproject.com

Jo Lloyd

A very real and accessible exhibition experience was to be had close to home when Barnt Green Art Club held its annual Winter Exhibition of work at the Friends Meeting House. There was an atmosphere of professionalism, a warm greeting, a sense that things had been well organised and displayed.

A central arena had been created by the use of low tables with art browsers and greetings cards for sale, surrounded by high boards to the outside of the exhibition space displaying original paintings.

It was inviting and made an airy and well illuminated viewing hall, which was bustling with visitors, some of who had already bought work by mid-morning as shown by several red dots.

In two corners of the room were artists demonstrating their skills. The first was Angela Hart who tutors the 40 or so group members every Tuesday and Friday. She was working on a delicate watercolour piece of a Lake District scene but wasn’t getting very far with it as interested viewers were engaging her in lively chat.

Angela, who was an adult education tutor at Bromsgrove College for many years, also had four delightful watercolours for sale in the exhibition, of which Autumn Walk was a particularly nicely worked piece of a familiar but beautiful subject.

In the other corner Linda Kettle, who is an RBSA member, was at work on a dramatic Italianate villa; it’s clear to see how her training in theatre design and her work as a TV Production Designer comes through and influences how she interprets her subjects.

Jo Lloyd (pictured above), the organiser and driving force behind the Art Club, explained that group members of all levels of ability are encouraged to enter their work in the show. Jo, herself a proficient artist and member of the Birmingham Watercolour Society, runs special, occasional, teaching days where club members are taught “wet on wet” oil technique.

Much of Jo’s work is of careful watercolour flower studies, almost like modern day William Morris paintings, which also make beautiful greetings cards.

In an exhibition of work that is mostly in the same media, it is perhaps unsurprising that it is the mixed-media pieces like Elisabeth Stockwell’s Abstract, Julia Harwood’s monochrome Seaside & Lakeside towns and Jane Wilkes’s Hydrangea that catch the eye.

John Hewson had made a great pastel study of a dog, Happy Jack, and Peter Jackson’s careful watercolour landscapes were delightful; while Sue Tombs’s funky interpretation of a Cornish coastal village was also lovely. There was much else of worth and made for a very enjoyable visit.

Meanwhile, Compton Verney, near Stratford, has much to offer. As well as its wonderful Capability Brown gardens, Quentin Blake, famous for illustrating Roald Dahl’s children’s’ stories, has a great exhibition on until December 11; there’s also a surprisingly vibrant and interesting exhibition about ‘the History of Fireworks in Britain’; plus Christmas weekends which are family days for making cards and decorations, listening to stories and music and having Christmas lunch in the excellent cafeteria. Check for opening times and dates at http://www.comptonverney.org.uk

http://www.paulahamiltonart.com


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