Monday, 24 December 2012

Cringe-worthy Christmas!

A few hears ago when I was working for a well known London gallery, a colleague asked me if I knew of anyone that would be interested in earning a bit of extra cash over the festive season doing caricatures at a Christmas party in The City (London) for some big corporation. The job was very well paid, involved a couple of hours of work drawing caricatures of the company's employees - and more free food and drink than any poor starving artist could wish for.
Well... what could I say but 'look no further - here's your man!'
I got the job and being overly confident in the fact that I'd always been pretty good at caricatures at school (they'd got me in and out of trouble with both pupils and teachers alike on more than one occasion) I did no more preparation than buying myself a new set of Tomboy brush pens and turning up at the venue.

At first, everything seemed to be going well. I was introduced to a hip-looking young man and woman who handed me my wages for the night (good start). They both looked super stylish. She had a cool bob (similar to Uma Thurman's in Pulp Fiction) and he was slightly camp and incredibly well turned out. So when they asked to be the first couple to be drawn I had no problems. I quickly rendered them in a minimal, sharp cartoon style that suited their look and everyone was happy.
Then everything seemed to go down hill from that point onwards. Unfortunately the next subject wasn't so aesthetically well rounded and feeling that their true essence wouldn't be captured using the previous style, I changed tack. Instead of creating a fun stylised cartoon version of my new subject I honed in on, and exaggerated, my hapless victim worst features. It wasn't an intentional act of malice. I had merely focused on the most prominent features and run with them – not thinking how the eventual image may turn out. Needless to say, it didn't turn out well – at least not for the subject. They weren't too pleased. I'd even go as far as saying that they may have been a little upset.

I quickly realised my mistake. I had failed to fix on one style, practice it beforehand and stick with it regardless.
By this point I was starting to feel a bit uncomfortable – which didn't help when it came to the next subject. Desperate to salvage the situation I tried yet another style but the only problem with this was that unless I stuck with my tried and tested methods there was the chance that the drawing would pay little resemblance to the person in front of me so I soon reverted back to knocking out grotesque renderings from the now large line of people forming next to me.
It was a very strange experience. I seemed to be upsetting an ever-growing number of people yet more of them were queuing up to be humiliated. And the more I tried to alter my style of drawing the worse these sketched monsters turned out (this may have been something to do with the vast number of drinks people were plying me with – which I was eager to consume in an attempt to dull the anxiety).
Not only was there a long queue of people waiting to be sketched but a large group had formed of slightly drunk folks who were obviously enjoying their fellow employees' visual assassinations (at this point I honestly no longer felt in control of what my hands were producing) - so much so that splinter groups were now breaking off from the main mob in search of juicier victims. A couple of them dragged over a lady who must have been the fattest person in the whole company. I think that the alarm in my eyes must have mirrored that in hers. My mind was screaming 'please – not her!' but my fingers showed no mercy. One poor chap, after I handed him my rendition of him, simply looked at me with such devastation in his eyes and said 'I'm gonna go home now and hang myself'. I truly believe he didn't really mean it and it was just the drink talking but it obviously didn't ease my conscience.
After two of the longest hours of my life I apologised to the long line of people still waiting to be drawn (I should really have apologised to the ones I'd already sketched) and made my escape. I tell you – once outside of that building, London's air had never before smelt so fresh and the sense of relief never so palpable. I probably won't be doing that again - probably!

Friday, 14 December 2012

Art Review: It’s A Wonderful Life @ Nancy Victor

A group show is an opportunity for a gallery to assemble a set of complementary works by emerging artists who may not have the recognition or number of works to front a solo show.

They are often an eclectic mix of works created in varied styles and can be hit or miss. The latest exhibition at Nancy Victor is a group show that packs in 27 works by 13 artists, ranging from colourful beetles painted on pages from novels to ceramic snowflakes. They are all linked together by the fact they are made from recycled materials, exploring the value that can be had from other people’s junk.

Chris Agnew is an artist we first spotted at a group show a few months ago at ArtEco, here he presents a drawing of a Romanian tower block that owes much to M. C. Escher but only hints at the surreal while remaining rooted in reality.

Another highlight of this exhibition are the works of Wayne Chisnall. We particularly liked his 90 degree periscope that looks back out into the gallery through a web of thorns and his model of a heart that is difficult to make out as it’s been penetrated by dozens of nails.

Our favourite work of the show is the tower by Lesley Hilling which dominates the gallery. It’s made up of items as diverse as wooden blocks, lenses and snooker balls. It has the look of a Victorian-era invention and we enjoyed circling the structure trying to identify all the components.
This exhibition features some talented artists taking their work in an interesting and appealing direction.

It’s a Wonderful Life is on display at Nancy Victor Gallery, 6 Charlotte Place, W1T 1SG until 3 January. Entrance is free.

Monday, 3 December 2012

It's a Wonderful Life

I know that we're now fast approaching the Christmas party season but if you are free between 6-8 pm on Wednesday 12th December then feel free to come and join us for an evening of drinks, mince pies and affordable art. The special occasion is the opening night of It's a Wonderful Life, the new group show at the Nancy Victor gallery in Fitzrovia, West London.

In the show I will be exhibiting three brand new mini sculptures and my new print (see the previous blog post). One of the sculptures will be 'Mutant Nail Heart', the third piece in my new series of Nail Heart sculptures.

And the other two sculptures are mini, wall mounted spin-offs from a larger piece that I'm currently working on. But whereas the larger, ongoing work is constructed as a mass of periscopes the two on show at Nancy Victor will each be single periscopes, all be it, with a little extra something inside – as seen here in this detail from 'Despairoscope'.

The other artist in the exhibition are Chris Agnew, Mary Dalton, Charlotte Dredge, Lesley Hilling, Suzanne Jamieson, Tony Lee, Louis Masai, Joana Mires, Chisel & Mouse, Cliona O'Neil, Jackie Palmer, Sam Shendi and David Shillinglaw.

Private View: Wednesday 12th December (6-8pm) 
Show: 12th December - 3rd January (closed 24th Dec - 2nd Jan)
Open: Monday to Friday 10am – 6pm / Saturdays by appointment

Nancy Victor Gallery
6 Charlotte Place
London W1T 1SG