The Lots Road Group at the new Waterstones’ Gallery

The Private View of the Lots Road Group’s latest show The Art of Reading, in association with BookTrust, was attended by more than 150 people.

Speeches by this year’s theme leader, Hilary Puxley, and BookTrust’s Meredith Niles underlined that the exhibition aimed to be a celebration of the pleasure of reading.

Meredith spoke about how reading is so integral to family life that when, quite separate to the show, she had asked LRG artist Elizabeth Shields to paint their eldest son William, they found the truest reflection of his personality was to depict him curled up with a great book on his kindle.

Hilary spoke about the popularity of the theme with artists and explained that all the images in the show, which runs at Waterstones Gower Street until the end of the November, are accompanied by narratives which together give a palpable sense of the joys of reading.

Here are some of the artists with their portrait and sitters – including Michael Bond with artist Hero Johnson, Julian Warrender with artist Lucinda Rendall, Natasha Farrant with artist Hilary Puxley and Caroline Dawnay with artist Sarah Richardson.

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Phil Hale in conversation

philhale03Phil Hale in conversation with Anna McNay

28th November | 4.30pm

Free and open to the public

Phil Hale stems from a family of painters. Following an early career in illustration, he spent a decade focusing on portrait painting, before deciding the genre was too limiting and extending his practice to include photography, film-making and surreal paintings, with figures performing various physical feats, usually in some form of confrontation or expressing some kind of tension. The driving force behind all of his work is the search for something “interesting”, some friction, some intriguing relationship – without stopping to question the potential immorality of painting, for example, dead soldiers. Hale collects myriad photographs and images – his own, and many from the internet – which he saves in a folder and later draws on and seeks to interconnect and collage together. At regular stages throughout his painting process, he will return to “ground zero” and reassess what he is doing, where he is going, and whether it is still interesting. “Every philosophical decision,” he says, “is locked in the surface of the painting”.

In 2007, Hale became the first artist to officially paint the then Prime Minister, Tony Blair – a work for which he received much criticism. In 2000, he won third prize in the BP Portrait Award and, the following year, he came second.

In conversation with Anna McNay, Hale will look back on his time as a portrait painter as well as discussing why he felt the genre no longer suited him and exploring what it is that holds his interest today.

About Phil Hale

Phil Hale was born in Boston in 1963. From the age of 16, he worked as an illustrator, apprenticing to Rick Berry. In 1987, he completed a set of 10 illustrations for Stephen King’s long-awaited Dark Tower sequel, The Drawing of the Three and, receiving 1% of the book sales, was able not to work for five years, during which time he studied Fine Art and turned to portrait painting. Although still considering himself primarily a painter, his current practice includes photography, drawing and film-making.

About Anna McNay

Anna McNay is a freelance art writer and editor. She is Deputy Editor at State Media and former Arts Editor at DIVA magazine. She contributes regularly to Studio International, Photomonitor and The Mail on Sunday and has been widely published in a variety of other print and online art and photography journals and newspapers. She has written numerous catalogue essays.

This event is free and open to the public but seating is limited and will be allocated on a first come first served basis.

 

 

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Eileen Hogan in conversation with Anna McNay

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31st October | 4.30pm
FREE!
Eileen Hogan in conversation with Anna McNay

Eileen Hogan’s practice-led research explores the relationship between portraiture and biography using oral history as part of the methodology. It is also concerned with the various ways that artists engage with archives and the relationship between presence and absence.

Between 1997 and 2006, Hogan painted three major portraits of Ian Hamilton Finlay, and, during this time, made hundreds of further drawings and paintings of both him and his sculpture park and garden, Little Sparta.

At Camberwell College of Arts, Hogan studied under the first generation of artists who had been influenced by the Euston Road School. Throughout, she has remained a figurative painter, confronting the question of what her work has to do with the business of being an artist in the 20th and 21st centuries. She has been included in the BP Portrait Award on numerous occasions, including this year, with her Self-Portrait, Pembroke Studios.

In conversation with Anna McNay, Hogan will share some of her key influences and encounters, recalling being taught by the likes of Euan Uglow and Frank Auerbach. She will discuss her painting process and the role of oral histories, and share some of the musings of her UAL research group, About Face, where artists, theorists, curators and writers come together to investigate the edges of portraiture.

About Eileen Hogan

Eileen Hogan’s practice as an artist takes the form of painting, printmaking and book art. She is Professor in Fine Art in the CCW (Camberwell, Chelsea and Wimbledon art schools) Graduate School, University of the Arts London. Hogan studied at Camberwell School of Arts (1963–1967), the Royal Academy Schools (1967–1970), the British School of Archaeology at Athens (1970–1971) and the Royal College of Art (1971–1973). She is currently artist-in-residence at the Garden Museum.

About Anna McNay

Anna McNay is a freelance art writer and editor. She is Deputy Editor at State Media and former Arts Editor at DIVA magazine. She contributes regularly to Studio International, Photomonitor and The Mail on Sunday and has been widely published in a variety of other print and online art and photography journals and newspapers. She has written numerous catalogue essays.

This event is free and open to the public but seating is limited and will be allocated on a first come first served basis.

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The Art of Reading – Lots Road Group

the-art-of-reading-book-cover-copy1LOTS ROAD GROUP: THE ART OF READING

 

The Lots Road Group, in association with BookTrust – Britain’s largest reading charity – is celebrating Children’s Book Week with a portrait exhibition ‘The Art of Reading’ at Waterstones’ first dedicated gallery space in its flagship academic bookstore in Bloomsbury.

The exhibition  runs from 3-30 November in an area associated with the influential Bloomsbury Group of English writers, intellectuals, philosophers and artists.

The portraits are of people spanning different categories of the written word. They include children’s authors such as Michael Bond, creator of Paddington Bear, and Julian Warrender, teen authors Natasha Farrant and Philip Womack, and novelist and poet Julia Bell. It also portrays academics in the field of literature, such as literary critic Professor Dame Gillian Beer as well as literary agent of the Year 2014 Caroline Dawnay, as well as relatives and friends of the artists. There’s even a portrait of an unknown sitter on instagram!

Accompanying words, taken from the catalogue, provide a fascinating insight into the reading habits of those portrayed – from those who prefer the “tactile” rather than the electronic experience of reading physical books – including braille. Many reveal their ‘Desert Island’ reads, from the practical (a book on boat building: Michael Bond) and the all encompassing (Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale: Dame Gllian Beer; Tolstoy’s ‘War and Peace’: Natasha Farrant) to the hopeful (Julie Donaldson, author of ‘The Gruffalo’, who chose, ‘Poem for the day one’, “This book contains 365 poems. I’d try to learn one a day until I was rescued.”

In addition, Michael Bond, portrayed with the artist Hero Johnson’s childhood copy of his book ‘The tales of Olga da Polga’, revealed that he still has the eponymous guinea pig’s successors! And, referencing A A Milne’s most famous creation, ‘Winnie-the-Pooh’, Artist Sarah Reynolds posed her granddaughter lying down under a tree with one leg in the air, just like a famous illustration of Christopher Robin by E.H. Shepard, who, like the Lots Road Group, studied at The Heatherley School of Fine Art in Lots Road, Chelsea.

Hilary Puxley, leading this year’s exhibition for the Lots Road Group, said, “This is the third Lots Road Group annual exhibition and this year we’ve taken the idea of the sitter reading – a perennial theme throughout the history of portraiture – as our subject . Our exhibition brings the theme up-to-date, giving an insight into the ways in which people of all ages derive pleasure from reading now.

Heatherley’s is one of the oldest independent art colleges in London and one of the few in Britain that focuses purely on portraiture, figurative painting and sculpture. The 15 portraits, executed in oils, featured in the exhibition, show the acute powers of observation and attention to detail the institution, now in its 176th year, instilled into the Lots Road Group.

Children’s Book Week runs from 31 October to 6 November 2016 and aims to celebrate reading for pleasure. By designating a special day or week for book-related activities, schools and libraries can help children to see reading as pleasurable and fun, stimulating them to discover new books, extend their reading choices, discuss and share books, explore libraries and bookshops, and do their own creative writing.

BookTrust works to inspire a love of reading in children because reading can transform lives. They give out over 2 million carefully chosen books to children throughout the UK. Every parent receives a BookTrust book in the baby’s first six months. Their books, guidance and resources are delivered via health, library, schools and early years practitioners, and are supported with advice and resources to encourage the reading habit. Reading for pleasure has a dramatic impact on educational outcomes, well-being and social mobility, and is also a huge pleasure in itself. BookTrust are committed to starting children on their reading journey and supporting them throughout.

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Almuth Tebbenhoff in conversation

almuth-tebbenhoff-painting-trefoil-portrait-by-anne-purkiss3Almuth Tebbenhoff in conversation with Anna McNay

3rd October | 4.30pm

FREE

Originally training in ceramics, Almuth Tebbenhoff is an artist inspired by process. Her practice now spans clay, wood, metal and marble, as well as drawing. Her work is concerned with the origins of matter and the cosmos – an infinite vastness way beyond our imagination, let alone our control. Her larger pieces seek to carve out hollows, releasing the light from within the material, while her smaller scale pieces include her Pocket Universes, inspired by orreries.

Tebbenhoff’s early work was largely monochromatic, but, since the early nineties, she has been moving towards a freer mode of expression, creating explosive forms in bright colours through a steady evolution of processes.

In 1981, Tebbenhoff established her studio (and home) in a former church hall in Southfields, where she is based to this day.

In conversation with Anna McNay, Tebbenhoff will discuss some of her themes and motivations; the cross-fertilisation between her various media; the role of drawing in her practice; and her on-going exploration of the universe as subject matter.

About Almuth Tebbenhoff

Almuth Tebbenhoff was born in Fürstenau, north-west Germany, in 1949. She moved to England at the age of 18 and studied ceramics at the Sir John Cass School of Art. Since 2003, she has been a Fellow of the Royal British Society of Sculptors. In 2006, she undertook a residency in Pietrasanta, Italy, where she was introduced to marble. Since then, she has been returning to Italy for three months every year.

About Anna McNay

Anna McNay is a freelance art writer and editor. She is Deputy Editor at State Media and former Arts Editor at DIVA magazine. She contributes regularly to Studio International, Photomonitor and The Mail on Sunday and has been widely published in a variety of other print and online art and photography journals and newspapers. She has written numerous catalogue essays.

This event is free and open to the public but seating is limited and will be allocated on a first come first served basis.

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Photographs from Sir Alan Parker’s Private View

We had a great evening at Sir Alan Parker’s ’The Smile in the Mirror’ Private View last Wednesday. Thank you to everyone who came and made it such a success.

For those who couldn’t make it please take a look at the gallery below.

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Shani Rhys James – In Conversation with Anna McNay

2013-10-04 16.13.44 copy23rd May | 4.30pm
Free
Shani Rhys James grew up in the theatre. Her mother was an actress and she considered following in her footsteps before going instead to St Martin’s School of Art. Her paintings, with their reds and blacks, flock wallpaper and floral bouquets, appear like stage sets into which female protagonists stray and, all too often, become trapped. Her works are not necessarily self-portraits, but amalgams of memories or feelings.

Rhys James paints wholeheartedly, directly on to the canvas, with no real preconception of how a work will look once finished. The oil is thick and slathered on with palette knives, brushes and fingers, before being drawn into or cut across. She doesn’t believe in pretty pictures, and her flowers are certainly not delicate feminine motifs, but memento mori, cut from their life source, beautiful and intoxicating, but dying. Sometimes they are so large, so sculpted, they become personae in their own right.

In conversation with Anna McNay, Rhys James will talk about the painting process; her own particular form of melancholia, which especially infuses her still lives; her palette; her decision to live in rural Wales and France and the effect this has on her work; and her recent residency in New York.

About Shani Rhys James
Shani Rhys James was born in Melbourne, Australia, in 1953, and moved to the UK with her mother when she was nine. She studied at Loughborough College of Art and Design and Saint Martin’s School of Art, London. She later moved to Powys to live and work, taking her young family with her. Rhys James is an elected member of the Royal Cambrian Academy of Art. In 1994 she won the BP Portrait Prize and, in 2003, she won the Jerwood Painting Prize. In the 2006 New Years Honours she was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for ‘services to art’. Rhys James has exhibited across Europe, in the USA, Hong Kong, New Zealand and Australia. She is represented by the Martin Tinney Gallery, Cardiff and Connaught Brown, London. In 2014 she was a subject of BBC4’s What Do Artists Do All Day? documentary.

About Anna McNay
Anna McNay is a freelance art writer and editor. She is Deputy Editor at State Media and Arts Editor at DIVA magazine. She contributes regularly to Studio International, Photomonitor and The Mail on Sunday and has been widely published in a variety of other print and online art and photography journals and newspapers.

This event is free and open to the public but seating is limited and will be allocated on a first come first served basis.

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