Room 103: a Visual Tribute to George Orwell

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Consignment batch31 unit4Orwell Wigan Pier 3George Orwell; a visual tribute 
Call for Submissions:

Submissions are invited from artists operating a variety of visual disciplines to contribute their visual interpretation of Orwell’s relevance to contemporary creative thought. A suitable venue is currently being sought for exhibition, but all submissions will be presented in an online gallery. Full details will be sent upon receipt of an expression of interest to the e-mail below.
smokingbrush@btinternet.com

“The enemies of intellectual liberty always try to present their case as a plea for discipline versus individualism.”
― George Orwell, All Art Is Propaganda: Critical Essays

Although he was not a visual artist and art criticism does not figure prominently in his work, George Orwell is one of the most visually descriptive of writers this or any country has produced. The freedom of the individual to think independently of state permissions was always his first principle. Perhaps this is why so many visual artists identify with his work. Certainly, over the last several months, I have been engaged in more and more discussions about Orwell and the prescience of his ideas.
The increasing frequency of these conversations has encouraged me to propose an exhibition as tribute to Orwell. As artists and citizens, we need his intellectual honesty as much now as we ever did; more so, in these times in which activities in the visual arts are seen as a ‘soft option’, and honest political analysis is denigrated as ‘fake news’ .

I hesitate to argue the interests Orwell would have pursued in 2017, but I am sure he would have followed the exploration [and exploitation] of cyberspace with keen interest. Its potential both as an empowering, democratising, creative tool and also its potential for mass control and individual coercion by state and multinational would surely have attracted his attentions.

Preliminary discussions with fellow artists have identified several areas of our contemporary world which carry with them what may be termed ‘Orwellian’ overtones.
1] Systems of surveillance in both public and private spaces
2] Character profiling through the process of information gathering [often surrendered unknowingly and/or voluntarily by the subject]
3] The insidiousness of the advertising and marketing industries [the background for personal revolt in “Keep the Aspidistra Flying”]
4] The provision of cyber ‘Prole food’; online pornography, gambling and sports coverage with which to blunt or deflect any appetite for constructive social change.
5] The continued desecration of the environment [The central thrust of ‘Coming up for Air’]
6] ‘Brexit’ What it means to be Nationalistic in the 21st Century [The Lion and the Unicorn]

 

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New Light Art Prize 2017

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Two paintings accepted for the New Light Art Prize

BOWES MUSEUM: 18th November 2017 – 18th February 2018
HUDDERSFIELD ART GALLERY: 10th March 2018 – 2nd June 2018
BANKSIDE GALLERY: June 2018
TULLIE HOUSE CARLISLE: 13th October 2018 – 27th January 2019

Nasty Women

Rosie showing that political art need not be solemn or portentous. Like!

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Kathe Hillary

I have entered this little collage into a group show in London called ‘Nasty Women UK‘. I am hugely inspired by Käthe Kollwitz, the German feminist, socialist, anti-war artist who died in 1945, after a lifetime of using her art as political protest, being banned by both the First Reich and the Third Reich, a truly ‘nasty woman’ in the eyes of the corrupt establishment. Some time ago I produced a suite of screenprints, derived from original drawings of my artistic heroines. I converted the image of Kollwitz into a rubber stamp and have been experimenting by stamping her image onto Shiohara Japanese paper. In this collage, I have combined a stamped image of Kollwitz with a newspaper photo of Hillary Clinton getting ‘selfied’, two ‘nasty women’ together (Trump labelled Clinton a nasty woman).

The exhibition is this weekend, 22, 23, 24 October at…

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Royal Birmingham Society of Artists: profile piece on blog

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Click link below to Royal Birmingham Society of Artists’ blogsite and read the online interview. Influences, motivations, oh, and the sedentary behaviour of critics holed up in their London habitat….

Carole King & Glenn Ibbitson @Cric Studio Gallery

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Carole King and Glenn Ibbitson @ Crickhowell Studio Gallery

Mon. 11th – Sat. 16th Sept. 10am -5pm daily
free admission

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This show represents a shared mini-retrospective comprising paintings, hand-bound books, artists prints and collages from 2000 to the present.

cabinet

Both Carole’s parents were accomplished model makers and engineers, so it is no surprise that Carole uses a range of craft skills to produce paintings, prints, and hand-bound books.

book display

splayed books

caroles cupboard

A self-taught printmaker, she now designs and screen-prints the covers of her books which are bound by hand in various styles to produce sketchbooks, visitors books, photo and albums. Though she uses modern technologies to prepare her artworks, her executive skill set is resolutely pre-digital and is employed to follow threads of nostalgia leading back to a childhood delight in details.

seaweeds

This can be seen in her paintings, the produce of an artist inexorably drawn to the rock pool and the debris of the tideline.

matchbox theatres

Her recent tableaux, non-sequiturs located in storybook gardens and structurally dubious interiors, are housed in veteran film cameras, puncture repair tins and matchboxes. Anything that doesn’t move is likely to be incorporated into her artwork…  Ridiculously prolific, Carole has driven her partner Glenn to issue the following plea;  “please buy some of Carole’s work; we are running out of living space at home…”

case lev lady

Though on initial viewing, Glenn’s work may emphasise technical dexterity allied to rigorous observation, they are rich in subtext. Issues of political spin, people trafficking, terrorism, personality profiling, surveillance and incarceration are encapsulated in compositions confining nudes  within crates and carnival performers.

ventriloquist

The centrepiece of his contribution are the “Little Histories of Fragile Creatures”;  A series of drypoint prints depicting characters who in their own time were famous, but are now almost lost to historical view. They exist in hidden niches of specialist subject knowledge, usually clinging on as footnotes to other people’s larger life stories. They have been collected into a volume. Each character’s image is accompanied by a short biography. There one will find an ectrodactyl who once duetted with Sinatra, a ventriloquist who defied gender stereotyping,  a 20th Century Queen of Thebes and conjoined twins who fell fatally foul of theology.

However, as fellow artist Yvette Brown has observed, “believe Glenn’s stories at your own risk. His strong sense of narrative and concept might lead you down the garden path, or it might get you kidnapped by the circus. Glenn’s work as a scenic artist for the BBC (a shady organisation if ever there was one) allowed him to practice trompe-l’oeil and visual trickery on an industrial scale. He has since honed his skills so that he can now cackle maniacally whilst blurring the line between reality and illusion.”

Timelines and context may have been re-calibrated, but any factual modifications have been implemented in order to reveal some deeper truth…

zigzap kimono

His art has been compared to a self-assembly furniture kit – don’t expect to find all the components or an instruction manual in the box…  “I am not interest in the ‘fast’ image where everything a piece has to offer can be absorbed immediately.  I want to produce works which reward repeat viewings; revealing something new across time; the viewer offered  incidental details to stumble over which may invite further connections. Not all the dots are joined. The work is only completed by the viewer adding his or her experience and sensibility to the accumulation of marks I have presented for study.”

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A Portable, Pop-up Revolution

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After Delacroix:  “Liberty Leading the People”

The original painted as a celebration of the July revolution of 1830 in France, the essence of which was the replacement of hereditary right by the principle of popular sovereignty.

Liberty [lost]

In 1990, I had a solo show at the Black Bull Gallery, a large, well appointed space above a pub on the Fulham Road in Chelsea. This show comprised about 45 collages constructed of small torn fragments of paper which at viewing distance mixed optically in the manner of mosaics. One of the works was a small copy of Eugene Delacroix’s “Liberty Leading the People”. This work was subsequently lost and its whereabouts are now unknown.

I revisited Delacroix’s captivating work in 2007 with a version measuring 62x77cm

liberty2

 

There was something vaguely dissatisfying about this copy. The beauty of the original is the layering of the central figures in illusionistic space, from the dead revolutionary and soldier in the foreground, to the symbolic figure of Liberty above and behind her fellow comrades.

I decided upon a further version which would emphasise this layering, by isolating the main figures  in physical space in separate planes. These would be spaced in the manner of a pop-up book or theatre set mock-up. I wasn’t sure of the type of housing I would use for the piece  before I began..

My favoured material of choice for collage work is high quality, glossy full coloured printed matter to be found in lavish lifestyle magazines of which Elle, Cosmopolitan and Vanity Fair are examples.

I am not a subsciber to any of these; they do not fit my template for living. however, I have been supplied a steady stream of  such material from students and friends. The magazines were initially simply a material resource; now their content has become an important thematic component of the artworks.

This version was decidedly not merely a transcription of a favourite painting, but something of a call to arms [or rather, arts] against conspicuous consumption; an artistic toppling of the topmost pinnacles of western luxury capital. My aim was to recycle their always profligate and perennially bland imagery and convert it to some alternative and contrary view of the world.

There is something rather satisfying in deconstructing the cliched imagery of bland conspicuous consumption and turning its shallow message of surface attractiveness upon itself. Any project in which I can replace the background smoke of cordite and gunpowder with offerings from Faberge, Chanel #5 and Givenchy is enough to ignite my interest.

My protagonists trample across ruins formed of photoshoots located in Paris, Barcelona, Prague; places which resonate in the shared memory of our political conscience.Designer and antique furniture which once provided  background for fashion plates have been ripped out of context and affixed beside shattered mirrors from Versailles and jewellery by Cartier. The stonework and architectural details were piled up from a variety of country estates which have thus far evaded their fair share of capital gains taxes.

Liberty

Liberty is clothed by Burberry, Dior and Gucci; her tricolour is stitched together from studio backdrops and wedding extravaganzas.Her comrades are outfitted by Prada, YSL and Hugo Boss [ironically, the producers of that little black number, the Nazi SS uniform].

barricades

The corpses in the foreground comprise fragments from posturing supermodels; their preposterous vogueings brought to an end against the barricades.

street fighting

 

National Geographic offered up some glimpses of the real world. Images of street fighting in the Middle East were applied with little modification.

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the suitcase itself is of late 1950’s vintage. Cheap and cheerful,it never witnessed a revolution; it commuted as far as several boarding houses in Bridlington and provided carriage on two trips to Oostende, before being phased out of active service to  accommodate my father’s accumulation of football programmes in the attic. Its unprepossessing appearance suggested a mental picture of a travelling salesman offering up revolution on the suburban doorstep, rather than the toilet brushes and kitchenware such a case might carry during the 1960’s…

case complete

The collage layers were hinged using book cloth and strung together to rise with the lifting of the suitcase lid. A portable, pop-up revolution…

The Portable Revolution can be viewed at:

“SMILE” Square Pegs exhibition                                                                                               the Cric Studio Gallery, Crickhowell                                                                                    4th-9th September 2017       10-5pm daily.     Admission free

 

 

Artist Interrupted

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Ibbitson Glenn Artist Interrupted Rozanne Hawksley

Artist Interrupted; a Portrait of Rozanne Hawksley

I moved to West Wales from London in 2004. Like many incoming artists [and there are plenty of them here,] I expected a local tradition of landscape painting anchored to hillside and coast. These I found in abundance in numerous exhibitions and galleries. What I hadn’t expected was the impact made by two conceptual  assemblages comprising stitch-work, bone, paint and fabric. They expressed feelings of grief and loss; of conflict and compassion. Big, human themes. I sought out the artist, Rozanne Hawksley.

Beware meeting your idols. Yes, perhaps, but I have been very fortunate in my encounters. The great Bill Bowes of ‘Bodyline’ renown proved a gentle, dignified giant of a man; Sir Peter Blake was as affable as if we had known each other for years. Similarly, Rozanne Hawksley was everything I hoped she would be. Talented, articulate, witty and generous with her time and criticism. We developed a close rapport, to the point where I was eventually invited to her studio. Here was a store room of source materials; fabrics, animal bones, old nails, beads; organised in trays and boxes, all to serve her visual purposes. I asked then if I might be able to paint her portrait sometime in this environment.

I made several preliminary drawings over four sessions as she worked on her latest piece [based on Handel’s funding of the Chelsea foundlings hospital]. Because I didn’t want to impede her progress, I also made a video. The combination of sketch and film stills provided me with the foundation I required. I was able to interpret one particular frame, where one of my questions had struck a nerve; her dialogue with her work momentarily interrupted…

I framed her image on the canvas with four ‘still-lifes’ representing four preoccupations which creep through her art; conflict, catholicism and loss of belief, natural form, and gender bias based on craft skills.

The relative obscurity in which Roz currently operates prompts the question: just how many other artists of genuine merit remain undiscovered by the contemporary art scene? How many creative voices remain unheard by today’s influential critics and curators who are intellectually hamstrung by a belief that the provinces are a state of mind and not simply a geographical entity, and who are thereby incapable of looking at anything beyond either the M25 or our solipsistic art education system?

Do seek out Roz Hawksley’s artwork. It is individual, innovative and has something profound to say about the human condition. It is not flashy or ‘fast’; it doesn’t give you an immediate hit with no follow up. [add an example of critically supported art from the Brit-brat of your choice here.]  Rather, it repays repeat viewings, offering up that little bit more with each encounter. Visual art really doesn’t get much better than this…

Artist Interrupted can be viewed as part of the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists‘ 2017 Portrait prize show until Saturday 19th of August

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Art Rooms.org: London 2018

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An online vote for inclusion in a show set within the elegance and glamour of the Meliá White House, ARTROOMS is an interactive showcase of today’s most thought-provoking artists.

Glenn Ibbitson Art Rooms

My submission details can be found by following the link below:

https://art-rooms.org/application/ibbitson/

“Artist Interrupted: a portrait of Rozanne Hawksley” @RBSA

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I am delighted to have been notified that my portrait of Rozanne Hawksley has been selected for The forthcoming RBSA Portrait Prize Exhibition 2017

Ibbitson Glenn Artist Interrupted Rozanne Hawksley

“Artist Interrupted; a portrait of Rozanne Hawksley”

oil on canvas  with copper wire, feathers and iron nails.          112x91cm

“Shortly after moving West Wales in the early 2000’s, I came across two assemblages by Rozanne Hawksley. My initial response was that here were the products of a first-rate intelligence. My second musing was why I had not seen her art back in London when I was living there. Why, in a lean period for British art -all seductive surface but gravitas-light, had her name not been regularly heralded in the [inter]national art press? Hers is a body of work which authoritatively identifies what it means to be human, through meditations on love and loss, bereavement and grief, who investigates the drive toward conflict and the desire for peace. This moral, principled and humane artist questions Christianity and its validity in the 21st Century by turning its own artillery of fetishism and ritual on itself. All this is achieved without sermonising, through powerful, memorable visual imagery comprising stitch-work, bone, paint and fabric. These elements are manipulated and transformed to serve a new purpose, akin to the evolutionary process of preadaptation in nature. Hawksley is undoubtedly an artist whose work will, in time, be elevated to its rightful level in the history of art. The relative obscurity in which she currently operates prompts the question: just how many other artists of genuine merit remain undiscovered by the contemporary art scene? How many creative voices remain unheard by today’s influential critics and curators who are intellectually hamstrung by a belief that the provinces are a state of mind and not simply a geographical entity, and who are thereby incapable of looking at anything beyond either the M25 or our solipsistic art education system?”

Glenn Ibbitson: ‘Consignment’

Nant Publishing      ISBN: 978-0-9563567-2-7

Exhibition 27 July — 19 August 2017. RBSA Gallery is open 7 days a week and is free entry. Group visits are welcome. If you would like to book a group visit or tour, please contact natalie@rbsa.org.uk.

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