Randy Klein Exhibition ‘Moment to Moment’

Artist Randy Klein with a section of ‘Moment to Moment’
Artist Randy Klein with a section of ‘Moment to Moment’

The UK-based American artist Randy Klein’s work is bound up with storytelling. His exhibition ‘Moment to Moment’, currently on display at Chichester Cathedral, brings together one hundred sculptures, which together form a single work by uniting snapshots of a human life.

Randy Klein says, “I wanted to capture the feeling of an animation with each single frame of a human journey depicted by a sculpture.” When you first approach the work ‘Moment to Moment’, you are initially struck by the fragmentary nature of the individual pieces but gradually you are drawn to the beginning and from there the story of a human life reveals itself. “It begins in childhood and moves through the discovery of the outside world, adulthood, marriage, children,” Randy explains, “but they are individual moments joined together.” These are precious moments common to many of our individual lives.

Randy Klein works in a variety of media, including sculpture, painting, graphics and artists’ books. His limited edition books are represented in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Tate and the Victoria and Albert Museum and he has work in other public and private collections in Europe and the USA.

Dance by Randy Klein
'Dance' by Randy Klein

The importance of the interactive relationship between artist and viewer is acknowledged by Randy. From time to time he has visited Chichester Cathedral. “I stand back and listen to wonderful people responding to my work,” he says. The insights displayed in this show have required a great deal of reflection and thought over the last two and half years.

The work invites us to look back over our lives and relive those moments which have formed us as people. Among these moments, both our joys and our sorrows are recorded with a lyrical, almost musical ebb and flow, like the rise and fall of notes written on a score. I ask Randy about these qualities in his work and he responds enthusiastically, “There is a section in ‘Moment to Moment’ that I call ‘through all kinds of weather’, which is a metaphor for the trials and tribulations of life. Music in spirituality and in the church is very important to me. I always have music playing as I work in my studio.” The sense of movement in this work is captured by ‘Dance’, illustrated here. The procession ends with an invitation to look through a window and go through a door representing a life beyond this mortal journey, which Randy refers to as “looking beyond the trappings of daily life to our epiphany”.

The figures and objects have been forged from copper and steel and Randy has drawn on them in weld, which gives a three-dimensional quality. Many have been patinated to give the effect of bronze.

'Rest' by Randy Klein

Randy Klein has been drawn to exhibit in cathedrals across the UK. “Cathedrals give you that wonderful space in your mind,” he explains. “When you walk in, you leave behind your daily cares and it opens the mind and makes you receptive… to the transcendent and transformational.”

This exhibition has toured Italy and the UK and I ask what Randy is most looking forward to next; he replies, “Getting back into my studio and creating.” Each of us is called to a vocation in life and, whether that is something expressed in the human journey, as Randy sets out for us in this exhibition, or in his own case creating art, there is no peace without answering that calling.

Individual sculptures from ‘Moment to Moment’, this extraordinary tale of a human person, are for sale. As a Christian, I observe how work is part of God’s purpose, bound up with the very fabric of creation. When we work generously and in relationship, it blesses us. It is right, therefore, that we celebrate the beauty in Randy Klein’s work in this selling exhibition, which speaks to both the individual and the common narrative of humankind. The exhibition continues at Chichester Cathedral until 30th October and entry is free. For more information about ‘Moment to Moment’, go to www.chichestercathedral.org.uk or visit www.randyklein.co.uk.

By Revd. Rupert Toovey. Originally published on 16th October 2013 in the West Sussex Gazette.

Rococo ~ a Genre Pittoresque

A George III Rococo gilt-framed wall mirror with shell surmount and fabulous birds.
A George III Rococo gilt-framed wall mirror with shell surmount and fabulous birds.

Fashion in our own times often seems to be driven in a reactionary way, as one style supplants another. It is perhaps surprising to reflect that this is not just a modern phenomenon. In early 18th century France the style which was to become known as ‘Rococo’ developed in reaction to the Baroque that preceded it. There is a playful quality to the Rococo. Here the classical gives way to decorative motifs drawn from nature and in England even the influences of Chinese and Gothic taste are sometimes incorporated.

The Edict of Nantes was passed by Henry IV of France in 1598 to bring to an end the French Wars of Religion, which had raged between Catholics and Protestants in the second half of the 16th century. It granted French Protestants, often known as Huguenots, far-reaching rights to work in all spheres of civil and state life. Although it brought a form of peace to France, Huguenots continued to face hostility and prejudice in what remained a predominantly Catholic country. The edict also had a weakening effect on the French monarchy. In 1685 Louis XIV, the Sun King, famous for his extravagant court at Versailles, revoked the Edict of Nantes and later sought to force Huguenots to convert to Catholicism. Huguenot craftsmen left France in large numbers, taking refuge in Protestant countries like England, Holland and Switzerland. In this country they had a profound effect on the life of our nation. For example, the first Governor of the Bank of England, Sir John Houblon, and several of his directors were of Huguenot origin. They also brought the influence of French tastes and styles.

It is difficult to determine where the weighty Renaissance Baroque of Louis XIV’s reign ends and the Rococo begins in France, as one grew out of the other. The term ‘Rococo’ is a 19th century creation, a combination of ‘rocaille’, referring to shellwork, and ‘barocco’, a term first used in a rather disparaging way to describe the outmoded Baroque style in the early 18th century. It was not until the 1940s that Rococo assumed its present association with this style.

In 1715 Louis XIV died, leaving his five-year-old great-grandson as heir to the French throne. He would later become Louis XV, when he had reached maturity. The French Regency under Philippe, the Duc d’Orléans, lasted until 1723. The Régence style marked a new phase in the development of the French Rococo and by the 1730s it had developed into the ‘genre pittoresque’, which saw rocky caves, dragons and waterfalls, embellished by shells, bocages and putti, employed in romantic compositions which delight in their playful and spirited designs. Major exponents included Nicolas Pineau (1684-1754) and Juste-Aurèle Meissonier (1695-1750).

By the reign of Queen Anne (1702-1714), England’s furniture-making industry had found its own and particular voice. By the 1720s in London, it was concentrated around St. Paul’s Churchyard and Palladianism was the predominant taste. Its restrained classical lines and proportions were inspired by the Venetian architect Andrea Palladio (1508-1580), who himself was influenced by Greek and Roman architecture from classical antiquity. Palladianism was expressed beautifully in this country by the extraordinary architect Inigo Jones (1573-1652). William Kent (1685-1748), under the patronage of Lord Burlington at Chiswick House and British Prime Minister Sir Robert Walpole at Holkham Hall in Norfolk, continued in the Palladian style. Indeed, Holkham Hall is perhaps Kent’s most complete expression of the Palladian taste and, to my eye, one of the finest houses in England. In 1735 William Hogarth founded the St. Martin’s Lane Academy in London. Influenced by the French Régence and in reaction to the restraint of Palladianism, the Academy was chiefly responsible for the promotion of the Rococo style in London. The importance of nature in ornament and the beauty of the serpentine line were inculcated in a generation of furniture makers by teachers like Louis-François Roubiliac. As the furniture-making industry in London gravitated towards St. Martin’s Lane from St. Paul’s Churchyard, it increasingly brought cabinetmakers into the sphere of influence of the Academy and the Rococo style was quickly assimilated. Anti-French sentiments in the mid-18th century led to an anglicising of the Rococo taste. The English Rococo taste is typified by its use of asymmetrical ‘C’ scrolls, cartouches and acanthus leaf foliage in combination with rockwork, animals and naturalistic trees. The George III Rococo giltwood and gesso-framed wall mirror illustrated, with its shell surmount, rockwork frieze, scrolls, foliage and fabulous birds, captures much of this taste. By the 1750s, both Chinese and Gothic influences had been added to the Rococo decorative vocabulary. The Gothic taste was popularised by Sir Robert Walpole’s son Horace and his famous Strawberry Hill Gothic villa, which he built at Twickenham between 1749 and 1776.

Pierre Langlois commode
An early George III kingwood parquetry and marquetry commode of serpentine bombé form, attributed to Pierre Langlois, auctioned at Toovey’s for £160,000.

The influence of French taste is clearly evident in the early George III kingwood parquetry and marquetry commode illustrated, attributed to the celebrated French cabinetmaker Pierre Langlois. The commode is very similar to a pair of commodes commissioned by William Craven, 6th Baron Craven (1738-91) for Benham Park. The Craven commodes were attributed to Pierre Langlois, in association with the bronze-caster and gilder Dominique Jean, in a series of articles published in ‘Connoisseur’ magazine by Peter Thornton and William Reider, 1971-72. Pierre Langlois established himself as one of the leading cabinetmakers in London while trading from his premises at 39 Tottenham Court Road between 1759 and 1781. His clients included many important figures of the time, including the 4th Earl of Bedford for Woburn Abbey and Horace Walpole. The commode was banded in palisander, the top inlaid with ribbon-tied summer flowers within a stiff-leaf cartouche, flanked by two flower sprays. The sides and two doors were inlaid with swagged summer flowers, ribbon bows and moths, while the front projecting corners, apron and feet were decorated with ormolu shell and acanthus-leaf scroll mounts and sabots. The interior was fitted with three palisander-fronted drawers and Rococo-shell handles. The carcass and shaped apron were supported by outswept tapering bracket feet. The commode was auctioned at Toovey’s for £160,000.

George III giltwood wall mirror
A George III giltwood and gesso-framed wall mirror, auctioned on Friday 11th October 2013

In the October Specialist Furniture Auction Toovey’s offered a collection of fine 18th century English furniture, consigned for sale by The Royal College of Radiologists in London. Highlights includes a number of gilt-framed Rococo wall mirrors. The example illustrated sold within estimate for £1200.

For more information on Toovey’s specialist furniture sales click here.

By Revd. Rupert Toovey. Originally published on 9th October 2013 in the West Sussex Gazette.

Alison Milner-Gulland ~ Painting Icons for a Modern World

Alison Milner Gulland at home at the foot of the downs

This week I am with the Washington-based artist, Alison Milner Gulland, whose exhibition of Icons is being held at the parish church of St Nicholas, Arundel this coming weekend. Alison gives voice to her artistic imagination through the media of oil, watercolour, collage, print-making and ceramics. The lyrical and textual qualities of her work combine with her rich earthy palette to unite subject and medium.

‘Madonna and Child’ by Alison Milner Gulland

Alison Milner Gulland’s inherent themes and subjects include: landscapes, music, musicians and Icons. I ask Alison where her inspiration to paint Icons comes from. Talking about the ‘Madonna and Child’ illustrated here she answers “The inspiration for this Icon came from a sketch I made at a Sussex Historical Churches Trust talk at St Mary’s in West Chiltington.” I ask whether the image appeared in her imagination. “Yes” she replies emphatically and continues “The scratched, leaf tendrils are inspired by the medieval wall paintings there. I find shapes in things.” The tenderness of St Mary the Blessed Virgin and the Christ child is conveyed with an arresting clarity. Mary’s eyes are averted from us, she is lost in thought whilst the baby Jesus holds us with the intensity of his loving gaze. I adore that this scene is united with a particular church in Sussex. Alison’s Icons follow in, and draw inspiration from an ancient tradition. However, the methods she employs to create these images marks a distinct departure. This ‘Madonna and Child’ for example employs print, paint and collage to great effect, whilst the reds and blues show a faithfulness to the colours traditionally employed in depictions of St Mary.

‘The World Looks on’ by Alison Milner Gulland

In contrast to the serenity of this scene is the less traditional Icon ‘The World Looks on’. Alison comments “I was inspired to create this work by the charred panel on which it’s painted.” She explains that the images came out of a deeply held concern for those caught up in conflict and in particular for two young men she had met in a Syrian bazaar selling jewellery. She had questioned the authenticity of a piece they offered for sale. This chance meeting and exchange led to Alison finding herself being dragged up a mountain by the two men to watch the setting sun, their lives united by this shared moment. And so this Icon reflects Alison’s continuing concern for these two young men and her hope that they are safe in the tumult of conflict in their country. But the image also speaks of conflict in broader terms. Beneath the military helicopter the dove, a symbol of the Holy Spirit, hope and peace is wounded. An angel holds out her hands in a gesture of concern and blessing whilst rioters in this country and combatants abroad fight and destroy in the sight of the whole world, in the sight of all of us.

The process of painting Icons is often termed Icon writing. Writing an Icon is described as a form of prayer, each brushstroke inspired by a form of meditation and reflection. Alison’s working process reflects this. Those that write Icons speak of the importance of being at peace with themselves. To me there is a quality of prayer in these Icons and Alison is at peace in her art and her landscape.

Her Sussex downland landscapes are inspired by memories of riding on horseback through the countryside. “In my imagination the rhythm of the horse combines with the movement in the landscape” she explains. Imagination and memory synthesize enabling her to commit the Downs’ enfolding curves, ancient paths, chalk, pasture and fields to canvas and paper. These landscapes like ‘Moonlight’, illustrated here, are rhythmic. They express something of the ancient and the present.

‘Moonlight’ by Alison Milner Gulland

Alison’s Icons invite us to take time to reflect on the needs and blessings of the world, and the part we must play in it. They stimulate thoughts in our imaginations and our hearts and as   they do so we find we are engaged in a silent conversation giving expression to our hopes and concerns – which of course is prayer. Perhaps an Icon by Alison Milner Gulland might speak to you and afford an invitation to meditation and prayer at home.

Icons can be viewed at St Nicholas’ Parish Church, Arundel between 9.30am and 4.30pm from Saturday 28th September to Tuesday 1st October 2013. I hope to see you there!

Alison Milner Gulland’s works including musicians and landscapes are also being shown at the Menier Gallery, London as part of The Society of Graphic Artists 92nd annual open exhibition from 30th September to 12th October; also at the Hop Gallery Lewis and the Moonlight Gallery Hove this autumn.

By Revd. Rupert Toovey. Originally published on 25th September 2013 in the West Sussex Gazette.

Exceptional Art & Community ~ 2013 Brighton Art Fair

Jon Tutton and Sarah Young
Artists and Brighton Art Fair organisers Jon Tutton and Sarah Young

The Brighton Art Fair celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. At the heart of this annual event’s success is the vision of its founders and organisers, Jon Tutton and Sarah Young, to bring together contemporary art of the highest quality by established names, providing a unique opportunity for the public to meet the artists whose work they can buy at the fair.

Jon says, “It is rare for the public to have unmediated, direct access to the artist,” and he is right. The art buyer’s relationship with the artist is very often mediated through a gallery or exhibition director. The relational quality that the Brighton Art Fair affords is extremely refreshing. There is a generosity of spirit among the artistic community too, as ideas are shared and expressed. “It helps that the exhibitors understand that we are artists too,” Jon remarks. “It really is important to bring the artistic community together, both artists and patrons.” I think that Jon, with his natural modesty, understates the sense of ownership and creativity which he and Sarah have inspired in their fellow artists.

‘Dryad I & Dryad II’, oil painting by Sarah Young
‘Dryad I & Dryad II’, oil painting by Sarah Young

I ask Jon how the Brighton Art Fair came into being and he responds, “It was completely by accident. The idea arose from a conversation with fellow artists in a pub! At the time, there were no venues in Brighton where professional artists could come together and exhibit and sell their work.” Ten years on, how would they describe themselves, as exhibition organisers and directors as well as artists? Jon replies with a wry grin, “Reluctant!” To organise an event like this is a huge amount of work, but it is clear that these two artists are quietly proud of the Brighton Art Fair’s enduring success and what it represents to the visual arts community.

Sarah Young works in phases and in recent years she has been focussing on her painting. She explains, “For some time the Glyndebourne Gallery has been exhibiting my pictures, which are currently inspired by opera and music.” The work has proved successful with an appreciative audience of music and art lovers.

Sarah will be exhibiting again at this year’s Brighton Art Fair. Among her work on show will be two oil paintings, ‘Dryad I & Dryad II’ and ‘Naiad I & Naiad II’. They are inspired by the Richard Strauss opera ‘Ariadne auf Naxos’, which was performed at this year’s Glyndebourne Festival. Both characters are drawn from Greek mythology. Dryad, the nymph or spirit of the trees, and Naiad, the spirit of waterfalls and brooks, accompany the Princess Ariadne on the Island of Naxos, where she has been abandoned by Theseus. The tale ends well and Ariadne eventually finds love with Bacchus. Sarah’s paintings are at once still, out of time and mystical, reflective of the opera.

Sarah also continues to work as an illustrator and printmaker. As an illustrator, she has worked for an array of famous publishers, including HarperCollins and Dorling Kindersley. She has illustrated ‘20 Sussex Gardeners’, ‘20 Sussex Gardens’ and ‘20 Sussex Churches’ for the Snake River Press and has contributed to the artistic journal ‘Nobrow’. In 2010, she illustrated ‘Greek Myths’ by Ann Turnbull, published by Walker Books. A work perfectly suited to her subject matter, which often incorporates folklore and mythology, the book is her tour de force as an illustrator to date. Her book cover artwork for ‘Ariel’ by Sylvia Plath was shortlisted for the V&A Illustration Awards in 2011.

‘Naiad I & Naiad II’, oil painting by Sarah Young
‘Naiad I & Naiad II’, oil painting by Sarah Young

Working as a painter, printmaker and illustrator, Sarah Young follows in the tradition of the Sussex artists Eric Ravilious and Paul Nash before her. There is a lyrical quality to her work, as there is to theirs. I am always impressed by the particular and coherent voice with which she gifts her pictures, while working in a variety of media.

This year Sarah and John have invited the exhibiting artists to create an ‘artistic cube’, which will be on sale for just £30 in aid of the charity Arthouse Meath. Arthouse Meath works with adults living with severe epilepsy and learning difficulties, who have varying needs and abilities. Arthouse Meath employs professional artists of a high calibre, who adapt their working methods to develop these people as artists, so that they become involved in the process of creating saleable artworks. It is extraordinary and exciting how the combination of art and community can be so transformative.

Jon concludes, “We are proud that we have a show which artists and visitors enjoy.” His view is clearly supported; last year the Brighton Art Fair attracted more than 6000 art lovers!

I think that the Brighton Art Fair’s success is due to the quality of the art and artists exhibited and the generosity of spirit engendered in this event by Jon Tutton and Sarah Young. I hope you will treat yourselves to a visit this weekend and perhaps discover a piece of art for you – at the very least you must buy a cube! The 2013 Brighton Art Fair runs at Brighton Dome Corn Exchange in the heart of Brighton, just around the corner from the Royal Pavilion, from Friday 20th September until Sunday 22nd September. For opening times and further information about the Brighton Art Fair, visit www.brightonartfair.co.uk. More information about the work of Arthouse Meath is available at www.arthousemeath.com.

By Revd. Rupert Toovey. Originally published on 18th September 2013 in the West Sussex Gazette.

English Arts & Crafts ~ Inspired by the Garden

Archibald Knox for Liberty & Co
A red earthenware jardinière on stand, designed by Archibald Knox for Liberty & Co

As September progresses, we look to the change of seasons and we have been blessed by a last and precious glimpse of summer before autumn comes. Many of us will be out in our gardens this weekend preparing for autumn, pruning back shrubs and tidying borders. As the ground lies fallow, the structure and design of our gardens holds its own delights. At the heart of these designs architectural features are often to be found: jardinières, sundials and pots. In the late nineteenth and early part of the twentieth centuries a very British expression was given to the Art Nouveau through the Arts and Crafts movement.

Among the leading exponents of the Arts and Crafts taste was Liberty & Co. Its founder, Arthur Lasenby Liberty, built the Liberty brand by employing some of the country’s leading designers, though he insisted that they work anonymously. One of these designers was Archibald Knox, who joined Liberty & Co in 1899. Knox was the creative force behind Liberty’s Celtic Cymric and Tudric designs, worked in silver and pewter. In addition to metalwork and jewellery, Knox designed terracotta garden ornaments, carpets, wallpaper and fabrics for Liberty & Co, displaying virtuosity across all of these disciplines.

A pot of typical Compton design
A pot of typical Compton design

Another notable designer of garden pottery in the Celtic style was Mary Seton Watts. In 1900 she founded The Compton Potters’ Arts Guild. Inspired by the thinking of John Ruskin and William Morris, the Guild sought to celebrate and enable craftsmen through their creative handiwork. Mary’s Compton Pottery quickly became a successful business and it continued to prosper until 1955. The Arts and Crafts gallery, designed specifically to house the work of her husband, George Frederic Watts, was designed by Christopher Turnor and opened in 1904. It also served as a hostel for Mary Seton Watts’ potters. The Watts Gallery in Compton, Surrey, remains open to visitors today and, as well as exhibiting examples of G.F. Watts’ art, it houses over two hundred examples of Compton pottery.

My first single-owner collection and country house sale at Toovey’s was held at Little Thakeham, the exquisite Arts and Crafts home designed by the renowned architect Sir Edwin Lutyens in 1902. The contents of the sale reflected the exceptional eye, particular taste and sensitivity to the stylistic quality and period of this important house of its then custodians, my late friend Tim Ractliff and his wife Pauline. Tim and Pauline loved the house and its gardens, preserving and sharing their home as one of the country’s leading country house hotels. Once sold, Little Thakeham retired again from the public gaze and it remains a very private family home.

A Compton Pottery sundial
A Compton Pottery sundial

The garden effects in the auction included the Liberty & Co pottery jardinière illustrated here, which was designed by Archibald Knox. It added focus to the formal garden. The bowl and stem were typically decorated in relief with a Celtic knot design. Today a jardinière of this quality and design would potentially realise in excess of £5000. The lavender-filled pot also shown is a famous Compton design and one which is still reproduced today. Displaying Mary Seton Watts’ use of Art Nouveau design is the terracotta sundial. Although at the time there was no record of this design being from the Compton Pottery, it can be attributed to Compton by comparing the decorative motif on its stem with a similar one used on a known birdbath from the pottery. Today, an example like this would carry a pre-auction estimate of £3000-5000.

We British remain pots about pots, as illustrated by their values. They provide form and focus to a garden. Charming examples can be bought for a few hundred pounds, while the finest collectors’ pieces achieve thousands at auction. As you tidy your garden for the onset of autumn and winter, perhaps take time to stop and stare and imagine if a pot might work for you!

By Revd. Rupert Toovey. Originally published on 11th September 2013 in the West Sussex Gazette.