Saturday, 21 January 2012

John Ryan - Great name, great guy !

I went to a great exhibition today at the art gallery in Rye showcasing the career of the illustrator John Ryan. To tell the truth I wasn't expecting anything special but it was brilliant ! He was famous I suppose for the children's tv show 'Captain Pugwash' and 'Mary, Mungo and Midge', made in the seventies these programmes were very basic animations, as you can see in the picture above they were more like puppet style moving animations, the cardboard levers at the bottom operating a very simple movement of a limb or a door opening etc.

The show has lots too see in it and even if it wasn't free to get in would be good value for money! He is a brilliant draughtsman and is a wonderful observer of detail. It's not what you would call high art but it's lots of fun (which is much more important!) you can imagine the smiles and laughter that must have accompanied the making of the work displayed here, much as I imagine how Oliver Postgate filled his days.

Lorna said that she always thought that 'Mary, Mungo and Midge' was very exotic because it was set in a tower block and she only lived in a little house.

The exhibition does not allow photography and the pictures here were taken surreptitiously, this is one of my great pleasures in life these days, getting away with a few forbidden snaps - oh the joys of middle age !!!!

Thursday, 19 January 2012

On Friday I had a day off work. The previous night I had been to a talk by the designer George Hardie at the Artworkers Guild, George was being made the master of the guild for this year but the retiring master in his speech urged people to visit the John Martin exhibition at the Tate before it closed on Sunday.
There are two Tate galleries in London, the Tate Britain and the Tate modern. I very rarely visit the latter and visit the former quite a lot - I guess mainly because it's within walking distance of my flat, laziness being the foundation of my taste in art. Honestly though, the Tate modern is just too too crowded and the galleries are horrible ! Having said that 'the weather report' installation of a giant halogen lamp recreation of the sun in the turbine hall was one of the best show/installations that I've ever seen.
John Martin was one of those quite obscure Victorian artists that I always felt that I had discovered all by myself, and as such his strange apocalyptic world appealed to me all the more. I went to the show slightly begrudgingly knowing I was going to have to share my secret discovery with the masses. Well they are welcome to him, it was nonsense. Admittedly it was all stunningly realised but still nonsense on an incredibly grandiose scale. Of course you have to put it in the context of his period etc etc but I just can't be bothered with all the heaven and hell stuff, life's too short already. It was good to let him go and clear some space in my head for some other rubbish. Goodbye John !

I went for a further nose around the rest of the galleries and happened upon a small exhibition by the photographer Don McCullin, here was the real apocalypse unfolding before me in my own city, in my own lifetime.

In fact these pictures were taken in a street in London only a few hundred yards were I used to have a studio.

My favourite photograph by Martin Parr has always been this one taken from behind the counter at a ice cream/chip shop at the seaside (I think it might be New Brighton - the resort that services Merseyside) with this poor pissed off girl left on her own to service the relentless, surging tide of ever needy humanity. And there she is now hanging up on a wall in the Tate gallery. The new Mona Lisa.