Phyllida Barlow installation and been told it was okay, I started clicking away at the folk art too, but was soon politely told to stop -- however, here are my few samizdat images: a lovely sun insurance sign, a wooden fish, and a giant boot next to a tiny boot, the huge one made as a shop sign, the little one as a sample.
Here's an even bigger boot:
The exhibition took a rather wry view of folk art and while it claimed not to be trying to define folk art (it is most often defined by statements of what it isn't -- not 'proper' art, not made by 'real artists', not valuable, though of course some of it's very valuable now), it went out of its way to score a number of points against various idees fixes of folk art. Such as that many apparently naive and 'natural' artists were actually rather canny self-marketers. Similarly, the show tackles the phenomenon of Alfred Wallis head on. Famously 'discovered' in St Ives by Ben Nicholson and Christopher Wood, Wallis is supposedly the only outsider artist to have crossed over into the 'academy', and to have been taken seriously as an artist (with prices to match). This has supposedly been because of innate talent that was spotted by Nicholson and Wood -- but the show tries to demonstrate that artists of a very similar bent to Wallis abounded, even those who shared his love of ships and harbours are quite easy to find, leading us to the conclusion that Wallis was just lucky.
|Newlyn Harbour by Alfred Wallis|
|Hammersmith Bridge on Boat-Race Day from 1964 (the year before Greaves met Whistler)|
|Nocturne in Blue and Gold by Walter Greaves, from the 1870s|
Elsewhere, the show had lovely patchwork, ships' figureheads, corn dollies, objects decorated with broken pottery mosaic (apparently called 'boody' in the north-east but that's a new name to me), genuine items mixed in with things such as leather Toby jogs (looking like old boxing gloves) made in the late 19th C and early 20th C and aged in an effort to give them a patina of authenticity -- the message here was that folk art became very popular between the end of the 19th century and up to about 1930, during which time the massive increase in demand was met by a wily supply of fake folk art -- so beware the grimy relic of times past, it may not be as venerable as it seems.
|Boody, my boody|