This week’s Image of the Week is shamelessly robbed from the current (and ending soon!) Stuart Shave/Modern Art exhibition of Alfred Wallis’ work in association with Kettle's Yard, University of Cambridge. Made up of thirty-nine paintings produced over twenty years from the 1920s to 1940s.

“Alfred Wallis was an artist and mariner. He was born in Devonport in 1855, and claimed to have gone to sea at the age of 9, working on vessels that sailed across and fished the Atlantic. He moved to St Ives in 1885 and by 1887 had set up business as a marine merchant, from which he retired in 1912. Wallis took up painting “for company” following the death of his wife in 1922. He painted from the memory of his experiences, depicting ships at sea, wrecked, and at harbour, as well as, less often, houses and landscapes. His paintings are not composed according to perspective but rather instinctively and according to the relative prominence of the subject, painted on salvaged fragments of card, paper and board, typically in a restrained palette of greys, browns, blues and greens. Alfred Wallis and his paintings were 'discovered' by the British modernists Ben Nicholson and Christopher Wood whilst visiting St Ives in 1928. Nicholson especially came to hold Wallis' work in high esteem, and he and his circle remained its champions and supporters. Old age and poverty eventually led Wallis to a workhouse in Penzance, where he died in 1942 at the age of 87. He was buried in St Ives, where his grave overlooks Porthmeor Beach” (Modern Art website)

The exhibition highlights the Wallis collection held at Kettle’s Yard – the largest single collection of his work.

Alfred Wallis runs until 8th August at Modern Art, 4-8 Helmet Row, London, ECIV 3QJ

As a footnote to this post - After a recent visit to the world's oldest sea-washed lighthouse, the Bell Rock just off the coat of Arbroath, I came across this full-text diary of writer and artist R.M. Ballantyne (1825-1894) who spent 16 days on the lighthouse in April and May 1865. The fascinating account, published in full here gives a great insight into a different kind of engagement with the sea.



AuthorSacha Waldron

Just opened at P-A-M (P Artist Management), London, is photographer Ivar Wigan’s new solo exhibition ‘The Gods’. ‘The Gods’ series, which was produced during his time on the History of Art and Ancient History MA at Edinburgh University, captures the “unusual and typically undocumented lifestyles” Wigan found during some time in Atlanta, Miami and Los Angeles.

From gangs to strippers, overcrowded pool parties, pimped up car rallies, daily life in crumbling suburban houses – the images are observational yet grainily stylised depictions of urban life and poverty, a combination of Richard Billingham and a stripped back Lynch. The more you look, the more details appear – an overweight girl in a gold swimsuit and gold headband at the party, the studded or polka dot knickers of the sad-eyed girl rolling around in small bills on the strip club floor, the reflection of neon on the car bonnet at the Geneva Hotel or the beautiful girl making mac and Mexican cheese flanked by her son as two naked bodies kiss on the beach in the picture behind her.

Princess  (2012). Ivar Wigan

Princess (2012). Ivar Wigan

The Hotel Geneva  (2010). Ivar Wigan

The Hotel Geneva (2010). Ivar Wigan

The Business  (2012). Ivar Wigan

The Business (2012). Ivar Wigan

Athletes  (2011). Ivar Wigan

Athletes (2011). Ivar Wigan

Pool Party  (2010). Ivar Wigan

Pool Party (2010). Ivar Wigan

‘The Gods’ runs until 31st July 2015.

P-A-M. 259-269 Old Marylebone Road. London NW1 5RA

Wigan’s own site is under construction but you can find out more about his work, see more images and read an interview with the artist on Dazed Digital here

AuthorSacha Waldron

I only became aware of this exhibition in the last few days and unfortunately it closes at the weekend but Aaron Rose’s lush sun-kissed shot of Coney Island, currently on display at the Museum of the City of New York are, even at this late stage, worth ruminations.

Rose began photographing New York’s seaside resort Coney Island in 1961. Swarms of beach-goers are captured in this tanned, sweating, bikini-clad leisure melting pot but the viewer can pick out subtle interactions and private competitive moments. A man sits on the beach staring out to see as his rotund lady friend stands behind him, hands on hips, her eyes seemingly closed to soak up the rays. A mad-hatted lady seems to have been captured and startled by Rose’s lens. She looks directly at him, her nose protector and straw crown render us a folk mask from an exotic festival or ritual. In a rare posed shot, a young body-builder, hands proudly on hips, is captured in a full-frontal display of muscle and bicep. As he shows off, behind him we see a couple lying on a towel mid-embrace. Their skin is much paler, they have of course perhaps been too busy for sun-bathing but an odd detail is the heavily tanned and bronzed left arm of the male. The colour like a sleeve.

Rose was one of the earliest photographers to use C-print paper and chromogenic processing, the colours he amped up were the skin tones, of the heat and human perspiration. 70 images are on display at the Museum and this is, strangely, the first time they have ever been displayed as a collection. Rose has been a New Yorker is whole life but was largely ignored by the art world until the mid 1990’s by which time he had already produced over 25,000 images, each printed only once. He was asked to exhibit as part of the Whitney Biennial in 1997 which, in a sense, launched his photography career. For Rose, the process of making the image is as important as the finished product and he uses skills learnt during a brief period in commercial photography combining them with the, at the time, emerging new technology of chromogenic colour film. Rose pushes the boundaries of the film, increasing the speed and grain to produce highly textured prints that are baked and glowing, smelling of Soltan and the fried onions of a calorific Coney Dog. 

AuthorSacha Waldron