Sweet Arts, 21st October

A making session today, working with terracotta clay to make things on our transforming theme – take a Sainsbury Centre object, write a load of associations, then get your hands dirty (a serious challenge for many of us!)


And here are the raw results, waiting to dry and then be fired.


Chinese dancers


Claudia Casanovas ceramic


Bucket Man


Silver lama


Alaskan walrus pick


Baby carrier


Sea otter


Picasso drawing


Degas dancer


Giacommetti broach

And now here’s Jos’ exhibition.Jos and Polly's exhibition

Next session NORMAN CENTRE Wednesday 4th November 10 – 1, more transforming, more contrasts, more stretching associations. And a lot more space……..

Session Sainsbury Centre 7th October 2016

A simple session of observing, recording and researching the objects that people have chosen to focus on, with a bit of form filling, reflection on the Eaton Park afternoon and tea and coffee thrown in.

In the studio

Nice walking through the Magnificent Obsessions exhibition, though we only see glimpses (due to visit in January) as we move between the Studio and the Living Area. We get Pae White’s collection of Vera Neumann textiles, and Martin Parr’s sarky postcards.



Up close and personal with John Davies’ Bucket Man. A grounded feeling, everything else is too spiritual, this is a person. He’s resigned. There is going to be a SCVA John Davies show, curated by Amanda Geitner

Berthe Morisot (UEA 3)
Berthe Morisot (UEA 3)

One of the few pieces by a female artist. How old is she? Was she rich or not? Was she a courtesan, like Gigi (Leslie Caron), trained to make money from men? Bought in 1945, an early purchase by the Sainsburys.


Lynn Chadwick’s Three Hollow Men, UEA 104, and here a photo of a similar maquette from the Tate, 1952. Or a sail in a stormy sea. Perilous, dangerous.


The Matisse backs. Gone. Lost. Leaving a gap, making the Sainsbury Centre an even lonelier place. But what is missing softens the space; McWilliam sculpture, UEA 41269 – and another McWilliam, earlier and unlabelled, of a couple, also backless, him entwining her.


Claudia Casanovas Form 2001. Ceramic non-vessel. The earth, layers, chalk and flint cliffs. Nature, small coloured flecks.


UEA 598. Male/female, complexity,uncertainty. Half remains good, half remains evil.

Our next session is on Wednesday 21st October, at Sweet Arts. More reflection, transformation of interesting things….

Eaton Park Community Centre, 23rd September 2015

Take the Sainsbury Centre object chosen as representing your summer. Or another object you know. Use laminated photos of the original object as a reminder. Create a diagram of associations. Transform the object using a restricted group of materials.

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Sea Otter. Transformation from a hell of a holiday, a shamanic view of extreme mental distress as a spiritual emergency.


Golden Queen with vessel. Life is a balancing act about doing the best for everyone, including oneself.


Picasso drawing. Translating 2d into 3d. Duality and partnership.


The lesson. A person blown apart but contained within an effective barrier


Dancing woman. Transformation of scale,of solid, crumpled to flat to folded to crumpled. Origami with words, “Dancing barefoot in mid air.

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Crouching figure. Circles, tension in the spiral, extension, stretching, how it felt in the body.


Matisse back. Rigidity and grief transformed into circles of wire and crumpled paper, freedom, nature, daisy chain for innocence.

Back II c.1913-4, cast 1955-6 Henri Matisse 1869-1954 Purchased with assistance from the Matisse Appeal Fund 1956 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/T00114


Sleeping baby head, Sea Otter, Estu the Divine Collector, SCVA library. Protection, pregnancy, restriction and freedom.


Ax. A lot about the beautiful object is unknown, so it can be transformed into a net, another kind of tool, incomplete and connected to its environmentP1060239wwwopac-8

Sword hilt. Something you can take with you, sensitive shapes in hard material, and here hard metal wire is shaped into something personal.


Hollow man. Shape of a sail, to rigging, to a buoy, 3d to 2d, colour. The stomach churning vulnerability of being at sea, feeling sick, climbing the rigging.

Sainsbury Centre publication includes ideas for Voyage With Me plus Living With Me evaluation

VWM and LWM feature in this new publication edited by Veronica Sekules.


Art Worlds Social Action includes articles about a range of Sainsbury Centre education and research projects between 2012 and 2015, and you can read it in French if you prefer! The two languages run side by side page by page.

There are articles about two exhibitions we saw, Changing Landscapes and Monument, and about Learning in the gallery/ Working with collections – with a piece about object handling by Clare Karslake. We feature in a section called Working with audiences/Building relationships, with an intro by Veronica reflecting on art and dialogue, a piece by Toni about Living with me, and my evaluation.


If you’d like to see a copy of the book let me know.

VWM reflective meeting 29th July 2015


There hasn’t been a reflective practice space in Voyage With Me, so we created one which met last week to think about how the project has been going. As a result we decided to tweak it a bit.

We have enough participants now, and the group is gradually becoming more cohesive. VWM is essentially a group experience, and feeling safe in the group enables people to take creative and personal risks. So we are closing the group to new members from our next meeting on 9th September instead of keeping it open until Christmas.

There was a feeling that it would be good to run blocks of sessions at the Sainsbury Centre and Sweet Arts, so that people can focus more consistently on getting to know the Sainsbury Centre and the collections, and then on making things in response. The Autumn sessions now give us a run of meetings at the Sainsbury Centre until the end of October, followed by making sessions at Sweet Arts or in community centres.

I have updated the timetable to show the changes.

Session 9, Sainsbury Centre 15th July, Francis Bacon and the Masters exhibition and Shared Lunch

Our last official session before the summer break, and the plan was to visit the Francis Bacon show before having a shared lunch. Here is Bacon with Lord and Lady Sainsbury, his patrons and subjects

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Here is the full exhibition text. Most of the images can’t be copied here because of copyright restrictions – which is pretty pointless since they are freely available on the web – just search Francis Bacon and the Masters. Bacon-and-the-Masters-Full-exhibition-text-RS2705

There’s also this useful BBC page which connects to the exhibition. It’s tagline is the one that occurs to me in the Sainsbury Centre: Francis Bacon master or servant. Often the artist’s lot.

It was great to go round with Veronica who talked about the paintings, the juxtapositions of, for example, Rembrandt portraits with Bacon’s of the Sainsbury’s, or  Michelangelo torso with a Bacon painting. She described the curatorial process of bringing works of art from the Hermitage in St Petersburg, and putting up the exhibition.

She talked about Isabel Rawsthorne, subject of a Bacon tripych and a famous artist’s muse; as one of the group spotted, Isabel Rawsthorne also appears on a favourite object in the collection, a medal by Giacommetti. It seems that Rawsthorne was a considerable and influential artist in her own right, though this has been obscured in art history. She will be the subject of a forthcoming exhibition at the Sainsbury Centre.

The display was clever, making the connection between artists, shapes, colours, themes in exhibition texts, display geography and carefully constructed sight lines. But it was also dark, with increasingly gloomy background colours. Some people found it depressing to move through the big exhibition, like going deeper and deeper into Bacon’s depression; it was a relief to emerge into the light. It was too wet and windy to picnic but we had a lovely lunch in the Studio, with generous contributions. We also managed to connect the Studio skylight with its flat top in the grass in front of the gallery!

We said goodbye to a longstanding and much valued member of Voyage With Me and Living With Me, who cannot come anymore because she is starting her art access course at City College next September. Congratulations!

People chose their favourite object, something they’d like to take away with them, from the exhibition and the upstairs galleries. Apologies for the varied quality and size of these images.

Soutine’s Lady in Blue: click for a Sainsbury Centre you tube video  about her. search

Tangier landscape by Bacon1963-Francis-Bacon-Landscape-near-Malabata-Tangier-1 The Oise at Auvers by Van Gogh


Rembrandt portraits of an old man and an old woman


Picasso Standing Woman


Bacon’s ghostly crucifixion

Bacon’s portraits of Lisa Sainsbury

Van Gogh’s portrait of a peasant woman gogh500

Bacon’s Studio


Standing Jizo Bosatsu Kamakura period (AD 1185-1333) Japan Wood, metal,  UEA 1255n1cea80a3d616514b054e723a0a6977ad

McWilliam, Kneeling Figure (SCVA)


Statuette of a companion of the dead. Egypt. Middle Kingdom, Dynasty XII, c.1880 BC. Faience. h. 5.7cm. Acquired 1975. 29


Drop ins, 22nd and 29th July

We had a couple of extra drop in sessions at Sweet Arts before the 4Women Centre closed for the summer. On 22nd, we talked about seeing Francis Bacon at the Sainsbury Centre the previous week. It was dark, literally and in the sense of contact with Bacon’s psyche. A feeling of going deeper and deeper into the darkness as you moved through the exhibition, away from light and the outside of the building, disorientating. The pink triptych was disturbing, the vicious way Bacon painted the women’s bodies against the pink background made one person feel ill, it went straight in to her unconscious. She left the session feeling very disturbed, had to take a Diazepam and lie down to sleep.

FRANCIS BACON 1909–1992 Studies for the Human Body 1970 Oil on canvas Private collection, courtesy Ordovas This work dates from a period recognised as a high point in Bacon’s work in the large-scale triptych format. While the bold expanse of a single colour recalls the so-called great decorations of Matisse, such as the Nymph and the Satyr, 1909, located nearby, the three truncated and distorted naked figures recall more sculptural concerns and the treatment of bodies in the work of Rodin. During this period Bacon expressed his desire to work in sculpture, although, he said, “I haven’t done it yet because each time I want to do it I get the feeling that perhaps I could do it better in painting.”

It was hung next to this Matisse, which Matisse described as a rape: http://art-matisse.com

MATISSE 1869–1954 Nymph and Satyr 1908–1909 Oil on canvas The State Hermitage, St Petersburg, 2014 As one of the greatest painters of the century, who dealt with a number of the themes that were central also to Bacon, Matisse was perhaps subliminally influential on Bacon’s mature oeuvre. The use of flat expanses of colour, powerfully simplified and distorted form, aggressively direct draftsmanship, and focus on the body in interior space were the central elements of commonality. Nymph and Satyr was commissioned by Sergey Shchukin, the famous Russian collector. The expressionistic brightness of tone is characteristic of Matisse’s work, but more unusual is the overt, almost menacing, sensuality.

We talked about home and awayness, what is home and what is away? It’s a battle sometimes of you against you, even in a fairly safe place. Home a place you don’t feel safe to leave, or isn’t safe to stay. Maybe it isn’t a place, maybe it’s where people you love are. A home on the coast, the beach up against the sea and nowhere to go, paranoia growing out of an abusive childhood, embarrassing parents.  While we talked, people worked on their giant postcards, drew, or just hung out. On 29th July people dropped in and stayed for different lengths of time. There was a lot going on with daughters, at home and away. We drew a still life constructed in the middle of the table, using pastel crayon, charcoal and thick black marker: 5 minutes and move to the right, to draw on the piece of paper left behind; 5 minutes passing the paper to the right; 5 minutes drawing blind then passing it anti-clockwise; 1 minutes drawing blind and passing clockwise. IMG_0621 IMG_0620Now we break until we meet again at the Sainsbury Centre on Wednesday 9th September. Meanwhile Sweet Arts is busy, not at the 4Women but out and about in North Norfolk.

We are really proud to announce that the beautiful ‘CUSHIONS’ produce by the talented team on the RECREATE, RECYCLE, RECOVER project can now be purchased in the following outlets: GLORY DAYS, HOPPERS YARD, HOLT – pop-up -shop SATURDAY 1st AUGUST 10am to 5pm AND ongoing from Monday 3rd August in these great shops across North Norfolk: THE HARE & MOON GALLERY, ALBY CRAFTS, ALBY DAVENPORT DAUGHTER, CHAPEL YARD, HOLT LE STRANGE OLD BARN & ANTIQUES, GOLF COURSE ROAD, OLD HUNSTANTON COASTAL COUNTRY, 2 EMMAS COURT, BURNHAM MARKET DEEPDALE & DALGATE MARKET, BURNHAM DEEPDALE – pop-up – shop 1st to 6th October. CROWDFUND CAMPAIGN – raising funds for this project http://igg.me/at/SweetArts-RRR/x/7991318

Session 8, Norman Centre event, 1st July 2015

Here we are at the enormous Miller Hall in the Norman Centre.




Voyage with us to home, or away from home…bringing back souvenirs …from abroad, made by foreigners….or from where we belong….what it means to be other….

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Trip to Tate Modern in May 2016


Tate Modern’s summer programme has just been announced, so I am flagging it up right away as it has some tempting prospects.

Tate Modern

The highlight of the summer at Tate Modern will be an exhibition of American painter Georgia O’Keeffe, the first large-scale show in the UK for more than 20 years. Known for her paintings of flowers and the landscape of New Mexico, this exhibition will reassess O’Keeffe’s place in the canon of twentieth-century art.

Robert Rauschenberg blazed a new trail for art in the second half of the 20th century, moving between painting, sculpture, photography, printmaking, installation and performance.

Tate Modern will look at artists from a wider international context, including Mona Hatoum, Bhuphen Khakar, and Wifredo Lam. Performing for the Camera will examine the ways in which photography has both documented and developed our understanding of performance art.

We can arrange a community workshop as part of the day’s visit, and here is the programme for those.

Art into life workshops

What do you think?