Nicole Farhi and Friends at Canwood Gallery
23rd July until 15th September
NICOLE FARHI CBE
Nicole Farhi studied art and fashion in Paris in the late 1960s. Her career as a fashion designer took off so quickly that she put art aside and concentrated on fashion. However twelve years later, having started her own business and feeling restless, she decided she wanted to return to making art. A sculptor friend introduced her to Jean Gibson, (1935-1991) a gifted artist and inspirational teacher.
Farhi went on to attend Gibson’s evening classes twice a week throughout the 1980s. In 1985, as she was casting her first bronze, she met Sir Eduardo Paolozzi (1924–2005). He was interested in her sculpture and offered to tutor and mentor her and they soon became friends. Paolozzi, a great experimenter, urged Farhi to try working in other media such as plaster and wax, but she quickly knew they were not for her and that clay was her medium.
For over 30 years Farhi had to fit sculpting around fashion. In 2012, two years after the Nicole Farhi label was sold, Farhi showed her last collection and then was free to walk away from fashion to sculpt full-time. Her debut exhibition was at Bowman Gallery, London in 2014 and since then she has gone on to have several successful solo exhibitions including her first museum exhibition at Gainsborough’s House, Sudbury early this year.
Farhi’s work and primary interest has always been rooted in the human form and the emotions it elicits. The pieces on display at Canwood include a range of work from her early earthy female torsos, to intimate portraits of heads and hands and pieces, such as Aphrodite from her most recent body of work Folds in which she explores the beauty of the human figure, focusing on the shapes and curves formed by folds of flesh on parts of the female body.
Nicole Farhi is a member of the Royal Society of Sculptors, in addition to her own body of work she sculpts portrait busts on commission and in 2015 created a bust of Thomas Gainsborough for Gainsborough’s House.
JEAN GIBSON (1927-1991)
Jean Gibson was born in Stockport, Cheshire and studied at Wimbledon School of Art and then the Royal College of Art, 1951-1955, graduating with first class honours and a travelling scholarship. She exhibited regularly in group exhibitions from the 60’s until her death in 1991 including the annual Royal Academy Summer exhibitions, 1978-91, and the London Group, of which she became a member in 1987.
Jean Gibson was a sculptor and maker of reliefs inspired by the natural environment. Gibson’s work verges on the abstract and focuses on elements, force and energy.
Gibson was also an inspirational sculpture teacher. She gave lessons in her studio in Kensington. Her protégés will always include her in any commentary on their trajectory as a sculptor. Each started their experience in clay in her studio between the late 1960s and 1980s. One of these protégés was Nicole Farhi.
“Jean changed my life. Through her teaching, I learned more than expressing ideas and feelings. She opened my eyes on the world around me, as if I was seeing it for the first time, and so helped me to discover who I was. Above everything, she taught me always to be true to myself, to be sincere, humble, and at peace.”
Duncan MacAskill was born in Clydebank and studied drawing and painting at Glasgow School of Art.
MacAskill has created one of his signature ash paintings especially for Canwood and his Shadows in the Landscape works are exhibited outside in the Sculpture Park.
MacAskill started his ash paintings in the early 90s. They stem from his idiosyncratic relationship with the world around us. As anyone who has spent time with MacAskill or has visited his studio has witnessed, MacAskill sees creative potential in an apparently limitless field of common objects, anything from sticks, to teabags, to scraps of paper, and for years has collected anything he felt would or could be of use. From time to time, as his studio and storage spaces begin to overflow, and access is no longer possible, MacAskill drags out old works and miscellaneous detritus and ritually burns it. Glued with PVA to the surface of the canvas, this burnt out residue is used to create his ash paintings.
Sometimes MacAskill applies the ash over the entire surface of the canvas, like a mist, and the works look as if they could be primal, colour-field painting from the 1950’s or Japanese 19th Century brush paintings. Other times he varies the thickness of the glue to articulate patterns of density. He also coats the ash over reliefs made-up of roughly shaped polystyrene. Throughout, the ash is talismanic, a material symbolic of transience and the metamorphic essence of nature, encompassing both destruction and creation. The ash, like sedimentary rock, is time compressed and changed.
So little of the past survives in the present – memory and art are two of the imperfect vessels we have to carry what remains. MacAsksill’s works understand and embody this and they are beautiful for it.
MICK MOON RA
Mick Moon was born in Edinburgh and studied at Chelsea School of Art, London from 1958 to 1962 and at the Royal College of Art, London from 1962 to 1963. He was Senior Lecture at the Slade School of Fine Art, London from 1973 until 1990, and was Artist in Residence at the Prahran School of Art and Design in Melbourne, Australia in 1982.
Moon’s first solo exhibition was held at Waddington Galleries, London in 1969, with subsequent exhibitions held there throughout the 1970s and 1980s. He has continued to exhibit in solo shows throughout the UK, the USA and Australia including the Tate Gallery, London (1976), Ikon Gallery, Birmingham (1980), Macquaire Galleries, Sydney (1982), Dolan Maxwell Gallery, Philadelphia (1986) and at the Bowles Sorokko Gallery, San Francisco (1996).
In 1980 Moon received a Major Arts Council Award and First Prize at the John Moores Liverpool Exhibition, and in 1984 he received the Gulbenkian Print Award. He was elected Royal Academician in 1994 and lives and works in London.
His work is represented in numerous national and international collections including Aberdeen Museum of Modern Art; Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney; Art Council of Great Britain, London; Australian National Gallery, Canberra; Birmingham City Art Gallery; Glynn Vivian Gallery, Swansea; Hunterian Gallery, Glasgow; Museum of Western Australia, Perth; Power Institute of Contemporary Art, Sydney; Reading Museum and Art Gallery; Saatchi Collection, London; Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh; Tate; Victoria and Albert Museum, London and Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool.
Janet Nathan was born in London and studied at St Martin’s School of Art.
Janet Nathan makes beautiful constructions from a diverse range of materials including found objects and driftwood, subtly combined and composed to poetic images that seem to recollect things we have known and seen. Nathan’s constructions refer in some way to her experience of particular places and have about them something of both painting and sculpture.
Her work is represented in National collections including Tate, British Council, Arts Council of Great Britain, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool; corporate collections and private collections in Britain, Europe and America.
Born in Kenya, Stjernsward Studied at St Martin’s School of Art and Ravensbourne School of Art. She was elected a member of The London Group in 1990 and exhibits regularly group shows with The London Group and is also a regular contributor to the RA Summer Exhibition. In 2003 Stjernsward was awarded the Dupree Painting Award for a Woman Artist at the RA Summer Exhibition.
ANTHONY WHISHAW RA
Anthony Whishaw studied at Chelsea School of Art from 1948 to 1952 and the Royal College of Art, London from 1952 to 1955. Whishaw has been producing challenging, thought provoking paintings for well over 60 years but, not being aligned to any of the contemporary groups or schools, his work cannot be conveniently categorised. Over this long period he has fiercely guarded his independence.
Whishaw’s work is represented in many prestigious international collections – museums, corporate collections and notable private collections including: Arts Council; European Parliament, Strasbourg; Government Art Collection; Museo de Arte Moderno, Murcia, Spain; Museo de Bahia, Brazil; Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia; National Gallery of Wales; Seattle Museum of Art, USA; Sharjah Museum, UAE; The Royal Collection and Tate Gallery to name but a few.
At the age of 89, Whishaw still paints daily and is working towards a number of exhibitions to celebrate his 90th birthday in 2020.
The exhibition will also include sculpture by Laurence Ambrose, and photographs by Walter van Dyk and Candice Marks.
All works in the exhibition are for sale.