Chris Ofili: Weaving Magic. Tapestry at the National Gallery

The National Gallery is currently hosting Chris Ofili’s large tapestry woven by master weavers at the Dovecot Tapestry Studio for a commission by the Clothworkers’ Company.

Weaving Magic is the exhibition of “The Caged Bird’s Song”, set in a darkened room surrounded by a monochrome painted chorus of dancers.

The original painting below is in watercolour, a subtle medium where, due to rapid drying times, you have to work fast. This fluidity has been beautifully translated into the completely different and painstakingly slow medium of tapestry weaving.
Look how the painting below has been reproduced in a massively enlarged scale and in yarn. This took several master weavers over two and a half years to produce.Here are a couple of close-ups showing the blend of yarns. Such is the level of detail I went back to scour the watercolour to check whether what I saw in the tapestry was in the painting – it was. The tapestry will move to its permanent home at the Clothworkers’ Company at the end of August so visit the Sunley Room before then if you can.

The Serpentine summer pavilion

It’s that time of year again when visitors to the Serpentine Gallery can also experience the annual Summer Pavilion, designed this year by Francis Kéré

It wasn’t raining when I visited; rather than have a central cascade as designed, the area (on the right in the photo below) was used for seating.

Bold blue stacked wooden walls and slatted wood for the roof gives dappled shading both inside and out Less easy to spot is the small wooden slide at the side – not just for kids.

New Designers Part 1 – Katy Gillam-Hull at One Year On

It always surprises me when I see work at this show that I never noticed at a previous New Designers exhibition which just shows what visual overload can do.

Katy Gillam-Hull is one such maker whose loving recognition and restitution of old fragments and tools were, for me at least, quite moving. Her interventions encourage us to look again at items which have been forgotten and discarded, and she gives them a new incarnation whilst retaining a connection with their previous life.These ceramic fragments are a case in point.The top to this old bottle has been made taking into account all the irregularities, ensuring a perfect fit.as does this stopper Apologies for some of the slightly blurred shots here, my macro setting went a bit weird on me.

Royal Bank of Canada garden at Chelsea Flower Show

Designed for the Royal Bank of Canada by first-time exhibitor Charlotte Harris, this garden, inspired by the Boreal Forest of Canada and focusing on the importance of fresh water, felt cool and serene on a hot day.

She completely captured the natural rhythm of form and texture along with a variety of greens making a harmonious and very appealing place.

Charlotte has been at Chelsea for several years working with other designers but this was her first Chelsea garden winning a well-deserved gold medal.

In Light of the Machine – Conrad Shawcross at The Barbican

Part of the Barbican’s exhibition, Into The Unknown: A Journey Through Science Fiction, this installation by Conrad Shawcross is hidden 2 floors away from the rest of the show in The Pit so needs a bit of an effort to get down there.

I entered a dark space, where a kind of growling, almost animalistic sound came from a constantly moving machine in the middle of a henge made of lightweight perforated screens.

The  “creature” explores its space with a slow-moving probe, all the while making these sounds between organic and machine.

It’s worth seeing this installation after the main show as your mind is already full of  the imagery and tuned in to strangeness and connection with alien life forms.

Gosho No Niwa: No Wall; No War Japanese garden at Chelsea Flower Show

Given the weather I thought an outdoor post would be appropriate for this week.

Nestling under the mature trees we discovered this gem designed by Ishihara Kazuyuki, a regular gold medal winner in the Artisan Garden category (plot sizes 5 x 4m or 7 x 5m) at the Chelsea Flower Show.

This year he kept his gold medal record and deservedly so with his inspiration the Kyoto imperial garden which has no defensive moat or wall as it was inconceivable that it should ever be under threat.What I found staggering here was the level of detail with all sides of the plot carefully considered. Here is a photo of the back

and the sides

Known for his trademark use of moss seen here in a detail on the sides

and along the front.The scale is deceptive, giving an impression of generous and mature landscape within such a tiny space

Art seen at The Affordable Art Fair, Hampstead

Now that galleries are increasingly moving online, art fairs and pop-ups are the main shop windows for many.

This time the Affordable Art Fair was at Hampstead, on the heath, a pretty location where you can almost feel you’re out of London.

Galerie Nummer 40 showed these porcelain polyhedron sculptures by Mo Cornelisse . I so wanted to touch them.

VC Art showed several of  David Cottingham‘s  dancer life drawings vivid with their immediacy of gesture.

These paintings shown by Jordi Alcaraz on Galeria Miquel Alzueta’s stand  were quite different from the work he is otherwise known for to the extent that I wasn’t even sure it was the same person. He works in monochrome and these charmingly look like colour tests.

London Print Fair at the Royal Academy – part 2 of 2

Some fairs offer a great deal in terms of learning opportunities and this was one of them.

I love the fact that this exquisitely drawn and detailed print by Hugo Wilson at Pratt Contemporary is contemporary. The title “Goodbye to Monkeys” is so apt for the expression on the creature’s face.

A completely different approach is this huge screen print by James Nares at Durham Press. I can see the appeal of reproducing this type of mark-making as it can take an awful lot of time to get the expression just right and true.

I admired the silver oxide and silver in this print by Mario Palacios Kaim at  Arroniz given my ongoing experimentation with the changes over time that happen with silver gilding.

Anish Kapoor had 4 prints at Lindsey Ingram – I’m sure the anxious expressions were fleeting though if I had a blank behind me I’d be worried (just a trick of my camera – there was one there – really).

I wonder if Glenn Brown’s energetic mark-making at Paragon was influenced by the work of Jean Joseph Bernard, featured in a previous post.

This etching on plaster by Till Verclas at ARS, -TIS, F looks to me as much like a reclining figure as a landscape