26 April 2012
I don’t normally show my own work here, but, when I was thinking of ways I might draw on ceramics, I dug out these old posters. I did them when I was working in the PR department of North East London Polytechnic, the predecessor of the University of East London.
We had limited resources. Everything was printed in black on a little offset litho press, but I loved working there because I had freedom to do what I wanted and my boss was uninterested in what I did - as long as nothing went wrong.
When I did the poster for Eric Robinson's Talk on "Higher Education in the USSR" (below), which I thought was one of my best, the shit hit the fan. Eric was deputy director of North East London Polytechnic, and in fact the driving force behind the creation of the polytechnics. He didn't like my poster. He though the drawing was facetious and the text illegible.
The morning after the posters went up, Eric stormed into my boss's office, one of my posters crumpled in his hand. After he left I was called in for a dressing down and told to replace the poster by lunchtime. "But you know our procedure," I said, "we must have a week's notice." My boss insisted. I went to the print room and told the printer that we had to run off a new poster by lunchtime. There was low intensity war between the designers and the printers, but my demand came with such high authority that he actually stopped the press and we had another, much worse, poster ready in three hours. In the afternoon, my beaming boss called me in again. "Eric likes it," he said. "Well done!"
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23 April 2012
16 April 2012
12 April 2012
John Pollex at the opening of his exhibition of slipware at the Contemporary Ceramics Centre a couple of weeks ago. There is till time to see his show before it closes on 21 April. Contemporary Ceramics opened its airy exhibition space opposite the British Museum last year and Pollex's brightly coloured pots have been displayed there to good effect.
9 April 2012
Picasso: Peace and Freedom in 2010; Tate Modern put on Matisse/Picasso in 2002; the Royal Academy put on Picasso: Painter and Sculptor in Clay in 1998; and the Tate put on On Classic Ground: Picasso, Leger, De Chirico and the New Classicism in 1990. This exhibition at Tate Britain covers Picasso's reception in Britain and his influence on British art. To some extent, it is an art historian's exhibition, detailing past Picasso exhibitions, his dealers and journal articles about him. A similar exhibition, Picasso and American Art, was put by the Whitney Museum, New York, in 2006. A general exhibition of works from the Picasso Museum in Paris is currently touring the USA, Australia and Canada, but otherwise you will have to visit the permanent exhibitions of his work at the Musée National Picasso (Paris), the Museu Picasso (Barcelona) or the Museo Picasso (Malaga).
3 April 2012
Edward Bawden (1903-1989) was a witty observer of contemporary life and his designs are a charming record of mid-twentieth century England. He was successful and arguably one of the greatest British graphic artists of the 20th century. He was also a war artist and did some serious graphic work in France and the Middle East.
Bawden's work appeals to me for two reasons. First, because decorating ceramic surfaces requires a similar use of line and colour. Second, I was trained to do graphic work like his. At school, our Slade-trained teacher showed us how to do poster design using bold outline, flat colour, simple shapes, counterchange and hand-drawn lettering. We may well have been shown specimens of Bawden's work. Every graphic designer had to be able to do hand-drawn lettering then and we spent hours learning the dimensions of the Gill Sans font.