Activists are gluing themselves to the frames of iconic paintings. They say it does not matter whether their actions are popular — only whether they are noticed.
LONDON — Room 34 of the National Gallery in London was jammed with tourists Monday afternoon studying the masterpieces of British art on its walls, including J.M.W. Turner’s “The Fighting Temeraire,” which depicts a warship being towed to a breaker’s yard, and George Stubbs’s “Whistlejacket,” a huge painting of a horse rearing skyward.
Then, suddenly, two visitors broke the reverential mood. At 2:15 p.m., Eben Lazarus, 22, a music student, pulled three posters from a tube. Then, with the help of Hannah Hunt, 23, a psychology student, he stuck them over John Constable’s “The Hay Wain,” a famed 19th-century painting, transforming its bucolic landscape into one with airplanes, fire-ravaged trees and a rusty car.
The couple then removed their jackets to reveal T-shirts bearing the slogan “Just Stop Oil,” glued themselves to the painting’s frame and shouted about the need for action on climate change. “Art is important,” Lazarus said, his voice booming around the gallery. But it was “not more important than the lives of my siblings and every generation that we are condemning to an unlivable future.”
Nearby, a school group was midway through discussing another painting. Clare MacDonnell, the teacher, seemed unperturbed. “Oh my, I think it’s a climate protest,” she said. “How exciting!”
A surprising trend has emerged at British museums over the past week: climate activists gluing themselves to artworks.
On Friday, two other supporters of Just Stop Oil, a group seeking to stop the British government from licensing new oil and gas projects, glued themselves to a 19th-century landscape in the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow. Since then, group members have also glued themselves to Vincent Van Gogh’s “Peach Trees in Blossom” at the Courtauld Gallery in London and another Turner work at the Manchester Art Gallery in northern England.
On Tuesday, the group staged its fifth museum protest, with activists glued to a 16th-century copy of Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper” at The Royal Academy, one of London’s major art museums. They spray-painted “No new oil” beneath the work.
Over the past four years, disruptive climate protesters have become an everyday phenomenon in Britain, after the emergence of Extinction Rebellion, an activist group that sees mass nonviolent protest as the most effective way to secure change. Some of its members are happy to be arrested, using their trials to speak about climate issues.
In 2019, hundreds of its supporters repeatedly occupied roads and bridges around Britain’s Parliament, effectively shutting down that part of the capital.
Last year, Insulate Britain, a related group, began occupying freeways, while Just Stop Oil have this year blocked fuel depots and over the weekend ran onto the track at the British Grand Prix, a major motor sport event.
The past week’s events suggest that the protesters now see art as a useful prop, although it is far from the first time museums here have faced political protests. In 1914, the suffragist Mary Richardson walked into the National Gallery with a hatchet concealed in her muff, then slashed a Velázquez nude in protest against the imprisonment of Emmeline Pankhurst. In more recent years, the British Museum, Science Museum and the Tate group of art museums have contended with theatrical protests denouncing their acceptance of sponsorship from oil companies. (BP ended its sponsorship of the Tate museums in 2016.) But activists gluing themselves to artworks is a new tactic.
Sarah Pickard, a lecturer at the Université Sorbonne Nouvelle in France who has studied Extinction Rebellion and its offshoots, said in a telephone interview that the museums were not so much a target in themselves as a means of getting publicity. The groups’ “whole strategy” is to take action that get news media attention, “then move onto the next thing that creates a spark,” she said.
During the past week’s events, Just Stop Oil said some of the paintings were chosen for specific reasons, such as their importance or because they highlighted issues associated with climate change.
Pickard said the protesters may say they have reasons for targeting specific paintings, but she said their choices were largely “irrelevant,” because the “whole point is to be disruptive” to create discussion of what they see as an existential crisis. Events in Britain had the potential to be copied elsewhere, Pickard added, as protesters in France had copied British actions before.
At the Louvre in Paris in May, a man smeared what appeared to be cake over the glass protecting the Mona Lisa then yelled that he was acting against “people who were destroying the planet.”
Mel Carrington, a spokeswoman for Just Stop Oil, said in a telephone interview that the targeting of museums was a way of “putting psychological pressure on the government” through publicity. The Van Gogh protest had received news coverage worldwide, she said, whereas previous actions at oil terminals had not. Carrington said the protesters did not mind if people disliked their actions; they were not trying to win friends.
None of the paintings appear to have been damaged. A spokeswoman for the National Gallery said in an emailed statement that the Constable landscape “suffered minor damage to its frame and there was also some disruption to the surface of the varnish on the painting.” It returned to display on Tuesday.
Simon Gillespie, a fine art restorer, said in a telephone interview that solvents could dissolve the glues that protesters had used on the frames. “Thank goodness they haven’t chosen to glue themselves to the oil paint film, because undoing that would be very difficult,” he added.
Applying pressure to the paintings to apply posters could also cause damage, he said, but the protesters appeared to have worked to limit any harm. “They’ve been respectful,” he said.
When Extinction Rebellion appeared in 2018, it won widespread sympathy in Britain, where environmental concerns have long been high on the public agenda. Yet the group’s disruptive tactics have since become an annoyance for many. In recent surveys by the polling organization YouGov, about 15 percent of respondents said they supported the group, with 45 percent opposed.
Nadine Dorries, Britain’s culture minister, wrote in a tweet this week that the painting protesters were “attention seekers” who “aren’t helping anything other than their own selfish egos.”
The two National Gallery protesters were arrested on Monday. The Metropolitan Police said in an email on Wednesday that they had been conditionally released pending further inquiries.
At the museum on Monday after the protest, nine visitors said in interviews they did not support the targeting of paintings. Luciana Pezzotti, 65, a retired teacher visiting from Italy, said she cared about climate change and endorsed protest, but “why bother the art with that?”
Among the visiting crowds, though, at least one young person expressed support for it. Emma Baconnet, an art student from Lyon, France, said it was “very important” for climate protesters to be provocative to get their message heard. “Sometimes it’s a little bit too much,” she said. “But if we just speak, governments don’t listen.”
Nanaimo lawn bowler turns sport's 'bowls' into art | CTV News – CTV News VI
NANAIMO, B.C. –
Judy MacNeal will never forget the first day she tried lawn bowling.
She learned that the balls were called bowls, and that they didn’t roll straight. And then, one of the members of the Nanaimo Lawn Bowling Club threw Judy a metaphorical curve ball.
“She said, ‘Maybe you could paint a little flower on there,’” Judy says, recalling the woman pointing to her bowl.
The woman wondered if Judy could put a blossom on an old bowl after hearing that Judy had had a career in graphic design that began with creating pages as a paste-up artist for Sears catalogues during the late 1960s.
“You got all the little photographs and you had to cut them out with scissors and stick them on with rubber cement glue,” Judy recalled.
The pre-computer design process sounds similar to Judy’s post-game bowl transformation.
Instead of simply painting a little flower on the sports equipment, Judy used clay to turn the bowl into a bountiful bouquet.
“You have to make each petal out of clay, paint it, and stick it on,” Judy laughs, simplifying a creative process that can take up to 15 hours.
Judy was so inspired by covering that first bowl with bespoke flowers, she threw a curve ball of her own, after seeing a shed-full of used bowls at the club that were destined for the dump.
“I took home 120 bowls!” Judy laughs.
Judy set-up a studio in her garage, where she proved to be a prolific bowl painter.
“They were a good thing to have on hand during the pandemic,” Judy laughs.
Judy has painted about 80 bowls so far, ranging from blond bowls (Marilyn Monroe), to dog bowls (a pair of bull dogs), to Christmas bauble bowls (Santa Clause and a nativity scene).
Dozens of others (including bejewelled mandalas) were given as gifts to friends and family.
“I have about 35 to 40 (unpainted) bowls left,” Judy says before laughing. “Then (the club’s) shed will have to be cleaned out again!”
Perhaps Judy will use her catalogue-creating skills to sell them. After being bowled-over by the pleasure of making them, she has no intention to throw another curve ball and stop.
“I’ve learned to do your own thing,” Judy smiles. “And make yourself happy by doing it.”
New show at Art Gallery Kimberley | Kimberley – E-Know.ca
Second Chance – Journey to the Butterfly: soapstone sculptures, flipstones, drawings and paintings that invite contact, interaction, and introspection.
Born on the prairies, Barbara Maye found herself moving and travelling as a nomadic seeker for decades. But when she hugged her first Giant Cedar near Radium in 2005, she knew she had finally found home in B.C.
Inspired by Indigenous beliefs from around the globe, and the spiritual wisdom of healing energies both in our bodies and in entities of nature, Barbara’s artworks acknowledge the origins; wood as tree, stone as mountain, and body as spirit.
As a multimedia artist, sculptor, and art instructor based in Revelstoke, Barbara has dedicated more than 20 years to creating art that invites contact, interaction, and introspection. By presenting close-up perspectives of figural movement, pure abstraction and objects from nature, her method invites the passive observer to interact and self-identify with the art.
This summer, Barbara is presenting not one, but two art exhibitions in Kimberley. After a successful solo art exhibition at the Centre 64 Gallery where she filled the main gallery with her soapstone sculptures and paintings, Barbara’s journey continues with a completely new art exhibition at Art Gallery Kimberley.
According to Barbara, soapstone is the result of a metamorphosis. “Like the transformation to a butterfly inside the chrysalis, soapstone undergoes a complete physical restructuring when the correct environmental conditions are present. The resulting rock is coloured uniquely by the minerals present and the flow of the molten experience. It is understandable why many honour soapstone for its healing properties associated with openness, flexibility, communication, imagination, and change,” said Barbara.
Emulating this rolling, molten formation, Barbara created her innovative Flipstones, which are interactive sculptures that you are encouraged to pick up, examine closely, and ‘flip’ into a new resting position. By changing the position of the Flipstones, you shift the initial perspective for the next person and create an ever-changing art exhibition.
“When carving stone, I am deeply aware of the release of energy stored in the stones over millennia,” said Barbara. “My free-form style of carving is a co-creation process with the stone, during which my role is to help the stone take a new form
to express itself. I see myself as merely a channel for creative energy to flow through.”
Barbara uses soapstone dust and rock chips from her carving studio to create rich textures in her paintings. This texture can be found in her Landscape paintings – which are memories of locations visited in search of soapstone; her Lava Study paintings exploring the stones’ metamorphosis; and in the Emergence series paintings, where she expresses the euphoria of post-transformation.
Immediately after graduating from the University of Calgary with a Bachelor of Fine Arts with Distinction, Barbara studied with Chaka Chikodzi, a Zimbabwean Canadian master stone carver. He taught her the Shona people’s way to carve; approach the rocks with respect and no expectations then co-create the form intuitively. This ignited a passion for stone carving and the free-form style Barbara practices to this day.
Deeply influenced by the generous teachings of Noreen E. Saddleback of the Samson Cree Nation and Elder Bart Thomas, Splatsin Band, Guardian and Knowledge Keeper of the Secwepemc First Nation, Barbara’s artworks respectfully explore Nature for the arcane wisdom she holds.
It took 10 years to realize Barbara’s dream of harvesting stone directly from the land to carve, but Mark McKay, a retired carver and prospecting took her on a mentorship in the mountains surrounding Revelstoke. Understanding the tectonics (earth processes) that form soapstone, locating and respectfully harvesting the raw stone and the original locations of the rocks all inform the creation process of Barbara’s abstract sculptures – some carved into Flipstones and some in the traditional pedestal style.
When asked what she enjoys most about creating art, Barbara says “I think what I like most about art are the gifts found in the ‘happy accidents.’ If we can stay open minded during the creative process, a mistake can be a generous reward. It’s how the Flipstones came to be. I was carving a large stone and at the very end, it broke into five pieces. Yes I was upset, but it taught me about stone fractures, and acceptance that the stones were in charge. Later I picked up those pieces and turned them into multiple-position, interactive sculptures … and the concept of interplay and changing perspectives is the language of my work today.“
Barbara says the greatest challenge she faces during the creation of her art is her mind getting in the way. “I try to approach my work like meditation, keeping my critical mind quiet. But overthinking and self-criticism are my nemesis. The techniques I discover and practice to overcome this challenge are the methods I teach in my art classes.”
As an art instructor, Barbara strives to make the language of art more attainable to everyone. She began teaching while in university and continues today as a freelance and on-line instructor of primarily adult art education classes in several media. Barbara’s teaching philosophy is rooted in the belief that anyone, given a fresh perspective, can recapture their creative voice.
“I think my greatest pride as an artist comes from teaching; seeing the opening in a student as they recognize their creative self; sharing what I have learned in my own creative journey; and the genuine friendships that have evolved from the classroom,” said Barbara. “I have many students who have continued classes with me for years, just to keep their practice going, and several who have gone on to exhibit and sell their work as much better artists than me. It’s so rewarding to be a small piece of their growth.”
Barbara’s exhibition will be in the art gallery from August 3 to 27. The art gallery will be participating in this year’s Columbia Basin Culture Tour on August 6 and 7.
As part of this tour, Barbara will be presenting a slide show on Abstract Art and she will set up art creation stations introducing visitors to: Upside Down Drawing; Drawing on our Senses; Surrealist Inspired Abstraction; and Fauvist Inspired Abstraction. More information can be found at artgallerykimberley.com.
Art, not arch, proposed for downtown Collingwood – CollingwoodToday.ca
After an overarching negative response to a proposed archway in downtown Collingwood, the local business association is proposing public art instead.
A report from Downtown Collingwood Business Improvement Area (BIA) general manager Susan Nicholson headed to council on Aug. 8 proposes a gateway feature, that is not an archway, to be designed and chosen through the use of the town’s existing public art policy.
This new approach, states Nicholson’s report, is meant to provide an attraction that encourages customers downtown without losing the federal grant of $215,000 earmarked for the archway project.
The proposed archway was presented to council in early March 2022. The design showed two tall poles with a black metal archway between spanning Hurontario Street at the intersection with First Street/Huron Street. On the arch were white letters reading “Historic Downtown Collingwood” on one side and “Historic Harbourfront Collingwood,” on the other. The idea, according to the BIA, was to help people find the downtown and encourage them to turn onto Hurontario Street.
The proposal was immediately and vehemently rejected by public opinion. Letters to CollingwoodToday.ca decried it as an eyesore and the BIA received dozens of emails and submissions opposing the design and concept of an archway in the downtown.
A public survey put out by the town in April received nearly twice as many responses as the 2022 town budget survey with 727 responses to the archway survey and 529 of them (72.8 per cent) against an archway altogether.
Town council was also bombarded with opposition from residents culminating to a meeting on May 30 when Mayor Keith Hull (then acting mayor) said he was surprised by the ferocity of the response to the archway.
At the May 30 meeting, council told the BIA and town staff to go back to the drawing board to find a different way to spend the $215,000 federal grant.
Nicholson’s proposal to use the town’s Public Art Policy to commission a gateway feature that is not an arch is in response to council’s May order.
Based on a plan approved by the BIA board, the process for the public art gateway feature, if it is approved by council, would begin with planning by an ad-hoc committee to come up with a budget and theme with an invitation to the community to participate on the committee.
Later there would be a call to artists, a selection process with interviews, and, ultimately, the installation of the piece.
There would be a public art working group selected for the project including town staff, BIA, community members, and representatives from the Collingwood Museum, the historical society, and the Blue Mountain Foundation for the Arts.
The BIA’s goal is to move quickly through the process to have a final design and artist contracted by the end of January 2023. The federal grant must be spent on a project that is substantially complete by March 31, 2023.
If council approves this approach to commissioning a gateway feature that will double as public art, the BIA will be asking the town to cover a loss of $35,350 spent to design and commission the former arch design.
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