Archives for posts with tag: Painting


I titled this exhibition ‘Home Museum’. I am not talking about a grand ‘art’, rather I am talking about something that has come from the rawness of hand and material, the survival of objects that went through extreme heat, and what that reveals about the making process and my everyday life. It is my 3D sketchbook.

This new collection is directly related to my recent booklist. I was a psychology student 20 odd years ago and I have been reading a lot about the human brain lately. ‘The Brain That Changes Itself’ by Norman Doidge triggered my interest and led me to other related books in psychology, sociology, biology, neuroscience and religion, written from the view of brain function. Surprisingly there are many books in this area that can be understood without specialist knowledge, and can be easily related to our daily lives.

I went to see some Impressionist paintings recently, described in the exhibition guide as ‘unfinished’ in comparison to conventional descriptive paintings, and therefore not taken as ‘proper’ painting at the beginning of this art movement. In the world of craft, it was not the creators of art work, but connoisseurs who found beauty in the unpolished, peasant craft work of Japan. These pieces were called ‘gete-mino’ (the translation from Japanese to English is ‘grotesque’ or ‘badly made things’) and were supposedly second class artifacts. Soetsu Yanagi, the founder of the Mingei movement, rebranded it as Mingei folk art, since the phrase ‘gete-mino’ had negative connotations.

Symmetrical perfection, regularity and preciseness are easy to understand, as the standard perception of beauty is based on physical strength. On the other hand, I wonder how and why some people (like myself perhaps) are attracted to the unrefined quality of objects, including some forms of art. These brain books I read might explain how we come to find beauty in ‘unpolished’ work.  Physicality is one kind of strength, but on the other hand, as demonstrated in the high speed sketching of a skilled artist, flexibility, adaptation and plasticity are also strengths. The spontaneous movement of making or drawing projects our unconscious or subconscious mind, whereas the process of polishing and adding more precise detail can actually disguise or delete some quality hidden deep within our mind. Akiko Hirai, May 2016

Akiko Hirai | Home Museum is on show at New Craftsman from 28 May to 2 July. Paintings and prints by Lieke Ritman and screenprints of the work of Lucie Bray accompany the show.

Image: Dry Kohiki Mug, Grey

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COLIN ORCHARD Jane's Studio_ _ for NC homepage

Of the many tools at an artist’s disposal, strength of composition must surely be the most important. Without first class composition, even the most skilfully painted canvas, or powerfully constructed sculpture will fail to reach its full potential, and interestingly, any artwork can be pared down to the bare minimum providing its composition remains flawless. (See Donald Judd and other leading minimalists for irrefutable evidence of this!)

This October our Colin Orchard exhibition, which celebrates the artist’s 80th birthday, is a masterclass in compositional punch. And that’s no surprise: Colin spent much of his career as a layout artist for The Times newspaper, and was later Art Director for Letraset International, so clarity of composition and slick, suspenseful use of space are in his creative DNA.

Colin will also tell you that he has a preference for square format works, since the purity of the square maximises compositional power. In his work, less is more – so much more – than you will see in the work of his contemporaries. Subject, which in this collection includes landscapes and scenes of women in studio interiors, is irrelevant to compositional considerations. Composition is an art form all of its own.

But what if your artwork area is not as large, your format not as flexible as the endless range of dimensions afforded by canvas? What if exquisite detail and fine craftsmanship need to be contained within the edges of a tiny box? Or in a piece small enough to pin to your lapel?

Alongside Colin’s work this month, you can see a towering talent for miniature composition in the beautiful work of jeweller and metalsmith Cornelius Jakob Van Dop. Each of Van Dop’s works is small enough to fit into the palm of your hand, yet within every piece you will see a perfect balance of space and subject. Each of his works, either by way of detail or, in the case of his single entity brooches, by omission, tells a story of wild nature, moonlit nights and our countryside’s rich abundance of small creatures.

Bee and butterfly brooches rest lightly in perfect equilibrium, and boxes detailed with wide fields full of summer flowers and buzzing insects are as focused and composed as any painting.

Colin Orchard at 80, with Cornelius Jakob Van Dop is on show from 10th to 31st October.

Images – Top: Jane’s Studio, oil on board, Colin Orchard | Bottom: Moths and Crescent Moon, Cornelius Jakob Van Dop

03_Taking Tea_35 x 35cmThe year is drawing to an end here in Cornwall. The September Festival is over and as St Ives winds down for a winter of purple skies and rolling green ocean we are settling in and setting up for our fabulous end of year shows. It’s a pretty cathartic time for us here at NC as we take stock of a busy year and make plans for our 2014 season, with the Hot Pod fired up and hot chocolates (courtesy of Fore Street’s Yellow Canary Café) in hand.

On show now until mid November is an outstanding collection of work by acclaimed painter and member of the Royal Society of British Artists Colin Orchard. Orchard’s highly contemporary work is strongly influenced by Impressionist painter Walter Sickert and Jean-Edouard Vuillard, an original member of the Nabis, together with Bonnard and Roussel, and we’re feeling quite continental here on our beautiful gallery space amongst Orchard’s stylish portraits and European landscapes.

The twist in these Impressionist style works is their subtly contemporary content: look past the parasols, posed couples and shady plane trees and you’ll see the hoodie, the traffic light, the military checkpoint. Orchard’s collection of fictitious portraits in imaginary settings and paintings of Venice, Cornwall, London and Suffolk are an inspired combination of 21st Century subject matter and fin-de-siecle painting.  Set against Joanna Wason’s Mycean inspired sculpture, they make a perfect – and perfectly tranquil autumn show.

Next month we’ll be picking up the pace again with the indulgent drama of installation artist Rebecca McDonalds Under The Wild Stars exhibition, which will see the New Craftsman transformed into a winter wonderland of frozen mountains and wild creatures. There will also be a collection of drawings by Samuel Winterbourn. We cant wait for the sparkle and fizz of the December Private View! And we’re delighted at the prospect of spending Christmas in the high romantic mountains, without even leaving NC.

COLIN ORCHARD : IN TIME AND PLACE runs until 16th November.

double image copyUNDER THE WILD STARS will be on show from 5th Dec to 10th Jan.

For more information go to


terence coventry-9754This spring marks five years since gallery Director and Curator Ylenia Haase took ownership of the New Craftsman Gallery, and with it the celebrated history and future expectations of the St Ives arts community, to whom this historic gallery really belongs.

Still one of the most important spaces for contemporary artists in Cornwall, having nurtured the reputations of St Ives School artists such as Wilhelmina Barns-Graham, Bryan Winter, Patrick Heron and Peter Lanyon, we continue to showcase original works by emerging Cornish artists, and bringing the gallery successfully to its 50th Anniversary year in 2012 has meant balancing its modernist legacy with demand for a new generation of contemporary artists.

As a result, deciding on our annual programme of exhibitions is both a delight and a challenge. One of our biggest decisions here at NC is selecting artists for the prestigious September Festival Exhibition, when arts lovers from across Europe stream into St Ives for a cultural fortnight of art, music and performance. Selecting artists has taken a lot of reading, thinking, debating and indulging ourselves in reams of artwork images – and as usual we are spoilt for choice down here in West Cornwall. Far too much talent available. Who to select …..?

Well at last, with great excitement – and yes, some pride – we’ve finalised our 2013 September Festival show. Throughout September the white plinths and slate floor space of  NC will be given over to the sculpture of internationally respected artist Terence Coventry (Royal College of Art) and our walls will be graced by the dramatic paintings of Judy Buxton (Royal Academy School London). Paintings by Jeremy Annear, Jewellery by Guy Royle and ceramics by Elspeth Owen will also be on show. This will be a Festival show rich in weighty, textured, metal hued painting and sculpture, further complemented by the exquisite drawings of both Coventry and Buxton. Buxton’s equine, still life and landscape paintings, rich with palette knife texture and tones of rust, gold, copper, silver and grey will provide a beautiful backdrop to Coventry’s powerful, figurative bronze and steel sculptures of birds, cattle, dogs, horses and human figures.

An exhibition of some weight, wouldn’t you say?

Judy Buxton

Images: Sculpture by Terence Coventry. Painting by Judy Buxton.

Terence Coventry and Judy Buxton will be on show from 14th September. For more information go to


tree headIt is always wonderful when the long, damp days of our Cornish winter show the first signs of turning to spring. The turquoise and grey landscape gives way to a stream of warm air from the south, and the sudden blossoming of sea-pinks and painted camelias.

And as we at NC busy ourselves with new artworks and rehangs, our first show of the season holds a special excitement and a restored appreciation for the jewel like beauty of the West Cornwall landscape. Spring is here, pouring colour back into St Ives, and this year the works in our Easter exhibition, which brings together three of the South West’s finest painters and craftspeople, are united in their vibrant use of colour.

Ceramicist Jane Muir’s warmly amusing and beautifully crafted figures are brought to life by a palette of rainbow colours, detailed across each surface with precision and a lightness of touch. Blue birds, green butterflies, yellow flowers and a dash of wry humour reflect the season’s optimism. Emma Jeffryes’ multicoloured paintings of St Ives town and harbour not only define the gulf stream explosion of flowers, ocean colours and glowing light that Easter brings, but also the onset of our bustling Cornwall season and some longed for summer sunshine. And artist and craftsman Paul Anderson’s powerful, sculptural furniture is lifted here and there by incongruous strips of vivid colour. They mimic, in a way,  the odd mix of industrial might and seaside prettiness in St Ives harbour, and the striped primary colours of its heavy, working boats.

John Ruskin wrote that “The purest and most thoughtful minds are those which love colour the most” …….. well we are pure of mind and bright of mood here at NC, ready for a lively season of exhibitions, private views, breezy lunch-runs and sun-hot strolls home after a hard days encounter with colour.

Other colours in store for our 2013 season are: the energetic blues and greens of painter Lucie Bray, the earthy ochres and indigos of ceramicist Sarah Purvey, the ominously beautiful purples and golds of painter Neil Davies, the glossy rainbows of potter Tanya Gomez and the light defeating metal hues of sculptor Terence Coventry.

Image: Garden With Birds by Jane Muir

Jane Muir, Emma Jeffryes & Paul Anderson will be on show from 30th March to 11th May. For more information go to