We had to do a presentation about one of our contextual posts. I decided to do mine on Lowry since I felt his work was very interesting and the fact that I watched a film about his life and relationship with his mother allowed me to understand what he went through and how he was perceived by people in regards to being a painter.
When it came to presenting, I had a lot of technological difficulties as Blackboard Collaborate seems to always kick me out of rooms which I tried to overcome but had no luck, the same happened during my painting crit in term 1 as it struggles to load when there are more than a few people in rooms. To overcome this, I showed my presentation to people outside of the lesson and managed to get feedback that I needed to add more images and be analytical, maybe incorporating some of my own work onto the post and show clear links and how my work has been inspired by other people. It felt good to see what other people have done in their posts too, I felt very inspired.
Shane Meadows is a Nottingham based screenwriter, film director and actor. As a lot of his films are based in the East Midlands and have a very British vibe focused on council estates, it felt relevant to research him and the different ways he involves/represents the architecture in his films. He manages to capture a lot of depth in his films that provide psychological portraits of the types of people that live in the areas and architecture that are captured in the films.
I decided to research Shane Meadows as his films feature a lot of council estates and I feel this is relevant to my project as Leicester has a lot of similar areas and so this is appropriate.
He is well known for shooting in local locations where he lives which allows him to constantly be creating new films and not having any barriers preventing him from doing what he loves. Shane Meadows also likes to incorporate untrained actors in his films which give a more realistic interpretation of the places and people from those areas.
Shane began his film career by volunteering at Intermedia Film and Video Ltd in Nottingham, being able to use and borrow the filming equipment by working for the company for free. At the start he tried to involve his family and friends in the work as this was the most convenient option at the time. He also made himself an actor in his films which shows how versatile he is and dedicated to his craft. As he gained more experience, he was producing short films at a very fast rate which shows how dedicated he was.
Information I got from video above:
Shane Meadows got involved with film after he was thrown off his Photography University course for getting into trouble with debt and he saw a film crew when he was on the way home. he was interested in the way that lots of different people were working together. After he had made a large amount of films, he showed them to someone at the place he was volunteering and was advised to enter some of them into competitions. He was called by a well-known British producer and filmmaker called Steven Malloy and was asked if he had considered making a feature film. Since then, he has made many films that demonstrate his passion for filmmaking.
This was the first feature film that Shane Meadows made based in Nottingham in 1996. It involves themes of friendship and theft which are quite common in run down areas which relates to how he captures the essence of council estates and troubled people from those places.
This is one of the first well known films directed by Shane Meadows to feature well known actors. Again, based in Nottingham which allowed him to portray the realistic aesthetic of the area and the common traits/characteristics that people from those areas have.
Shane has made a few psychological thrillers in his career which often show the dark sides to council estates and life in general with drug dealers being a big part of the foundations of the films.
This is England, 2006 – Shane Meadows
Information I got from videos above:
“It’s this story about Shane’s experience growing up including the political side with Thatcher and the miners’ strike, including all those things that that they both remembered. Shane wrote in the opening paragraph saying remember boys before Gameboys and PlayStations. Before all the kids looked the same, there was this time when they were punks, mods, skinheads, new romantics. On this release or captured in this opening paragraph, this tribal thing about the 80s then but have you belonging to one of those tribes. You see a young boy Sean going to school for the first day, he has a terrible day by getting bullied and having a fight. He’s a loner and doesn’t really want to be there. On the way home from school after this really bad day, he meets a skin head gang in an underpass and they’re funny and witty. He makes a good impression on the gang, so they take him out for the day hunting and slowly but surely he becomes part of the gang. Shane Meadows experienced this as when he was about 11-12 years old he went hunting with this group of skinheads and they were all crazy and then he made friends with this lad Gadget who he wasn’t really close with before the hunting day. The hunting day made them do all these mad challenges. When he met the cast, and they were all together they made him cry his eyes out with laughter after their extreme hair decisions. Although the film was based on Shane Meadow’s experience, he wanted them to choose what they wore and experiment with their costumes. The main character feels he belongs when he gets new clothes and a haircut to fit in with the gang. Then it’s the summer Holidays and a big character called Cosmo gets out of prison. He has made some opinions in prison that are not great, but you get a sense of menace, he’s become racist. This affects Milky in the gang who has black skin. Cosmo takes Sean under his wing. This gives Sean a father figure. Then slowly but surely that kind of the menace of the race goes from super joke stuff to a national fraud which is horrific and it’s six weeks this young boy goes from being a boy to a man.
The core of this film is autobiographical but each person that comes into that process has something good that Shane sees and then he allows the character to breathe. Joe who played Woody was a funny guy and so why not allow them to be funny characters. The girl’s hair is more grown-up but it’s not case of just having the costume, it’s that they walk right in it too. Shane said he remembers the day when they did the haircuts and the costume fittings, putting on the jacket badges, jeans, and the docs. As soon as they put that uniform on, you could see the most change regionally and they began to look the same. A famous part is the tattoo which Shane also has which is an autobiographical element. After meeting Tommy who played Sean, they didn’t come on too graphical about Shane, there was a lot of Thomas character included. You have to you have to learn to trust and to work with these people and I think the relationships in the film that you look at, you know Stephen Graham who plays Cosmo really took Tom under his wing and helped/supported him which added to their relationships or when it came in there was a very strong father relationship. I don’t think Shane set out to make a political film, not at all it’s about caring about specific characters and the choices they make for you on that boy’s journey. There are many ways were ultimately kids are easily influenced and you can see how the wrong adult father figure or the wrong peers if you like can influence the way you think.” – what the video above says.
Information I got from video above:
This is one of the films and dramas that Shane Meadows is well known for. His portrayal of British life and council estate issues was very unique and more importantly a very realistic portrayal of life in the 80s. This film put a lot of Nottingham based actors into the limelight and set off their careers which was important as there wasn’t a lot of well known actors from the East Midlands before then.
This film showed the importance of friendships. The fact that Shane Meadows covers a lot of different themes in his films is important as it allows him to be more relatable. I like that he shows the highs and the lows as life isn’t all doom and gloom but it also isn’t sunshine and rainbows all the time.
This essay takes consideration into how the uses of environments in Sean Meadow’s films impact upon human development.
“Set in towns and cities once characterised by thriving industrial and manufacturing economies, these films depict communities in which the working-class of the British documentary movement”
“Therefore, I want to frame my consideration of Meadows’ representation of space from the perspective of these debates about the relationship between consumption and masculinity. What follows, then, should be read as an attempt to begin thinking about Meadows’ work in light of this theory, and to hopefully contribute towards a possible understanding of his work in the context of this changing landscape of contemporary British social-realism.”
How researching into Shane Meadow’s filmmaking is relevant to my project:
I was recommended to research into Sean Meadow’s films by my tutor during my crit as he often films in the east midlands in council estates similar to Leicester, often close by in Nottingham. I found he way he combines landscapes with different people and demonstrates the unique relationships between people and the places they live. I like that he maintains the realism of the places he films and doesn’t feel the need to photoshop or change anything to suit a particular aesthetic. It is a true depiction of the world some people live in which is very unique, embracing the true beauty of the world.
James Rosenquist was an American Artist who was heavily involved with the Pop Art movement, being a co founder of the movement. As he had experience in sign painting, his work often explored advertising and consumer culture in art and society. To do this, he used his experiences and techniques used within sign painting to create work involving popular cultural icons and mundane objects. Although his works have been compared to artists such as Warhol and Lichtenstein, he is considered unique for the ways that he incorporated surrealism by including actual fragments of advertisements and imagery to show how ads can often be overwhelming.
Information I got from video above:
“Art historian and curator Sarah Bancroft had the great privilege to work at the Guggenheim where she co-curated James Rosenquist’s retrospective. Beginning in 2015 Jim asked Sarah to come and work for his foundation and his studio, making her the vice president/the director of James Rosenquist studio and the executive director of the James Rosenquist foundation. James Rosenquist is one of the founders if you can call it that of the American pop art movement he along with his contemporaries Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol who really grouped together by art historians and curators. At the time they weren’t working together as a group, but the young artists were painting figuratively, coming out of a moment where abstract expressionism was at the apex of the art world. These young upstarts painting in this fashion was quite shocking and so there were no characters like Henrik El dollar at the Met and wonderful gallerists around town who started to show them together and it was really quite a shock this artwork at that time, so he was one of the artists at the forefront of this group and in the early 60s became known as an American pop artist and he’s really pushed himself over the decades to create new and new forms he’s never repeating what he did before. James Rosenquist was born in North Dakota and grew up in Minnesota spent most of his young life in the Midwest the middle of the country and he moved to New York to study at the art students League while also working as a commercial artist to support himself. Before he became known as an American pop artist, he was really standing on the boards as billboard artists called it painting commercial advertisements and his focus was on massive advertisements. In his private time, he had a little studio where he did tiny abstract drawings.
In 1960, a friend of his and a colleague fell off the boards and died which made Rosenquist realise that he didn’t want to be painting commercial anymore. This led to him moving into a studio in lower Manhattan to focus on his fine art career. Very quickly thereafter his career had momentum and he became known as one of the American pop artists. When Rosenquist moved into the space his work changed dramatically; rather than making small abstract drawings he started incorporating elements of the commercial advertisements into his own work, so he would take snippets of images make collage from them to make these unexpected changes to positions and then use the collage to paint the canvas and these became the very first pop paintings of his.
In the marine Gallery there’s a beautiful collection of Jim’s source collages almost every painting has a source collage which is a working document for him, he created these collages sniping imagery from advertisements, women’s magazines, lifetime or from photographs he had commissioned or taken himself, alternately even from photocopies. These developed his billboard painting experience as whatever it was that he needed to paint on the Billboard he was given a small image and he would use that image to scale up on a massive billboard and so when he started painting his own works he decided that he would continue in that tradition. However, rather than using imagery that had been given to him, he chose the imagery himself in unexpected ways to create a composition of his own making and then painted the canvas from these collages. These are known as working documents which he did not show to people for many decades, he was very secretive about them as he didn’t want people to understand the process of how he composed the work. This meant that they didn’t enter the realm of the public until the 90s. For the Guggenheim retrospective, he very generously allowed us, or he was convinced to show a much larger body of work because they are relevant to his process, to the conceptual backbone of each painting and quite frankly they are works of art. This space is a perfect marriage between architecture and painting, there is enough space for these paintings to breathe, many of these works are enormous, monumental in scale and yet they feel calm/peaceful. It’s almost cathedral like, it’s an incredible show, this Gallery is really a destination and I can’t imagine a better place for these works to be shown.”
Information I got from video above:
Rosenquist talking about his 88-foot-wide painting of an F 111 fighter plane in 1965:
This was a combination of number of ideas, and one was visiting an amusement park in Texas, seeing a beast 36 aeroplane just sitting there rusting and then going to an amusement park that had a lot of unnatural things about it as a theme park. Then wondering and then talking to Barnett Newman about seeing something which is relegated by peripheral vision, what you see through the side of your eyes makes what you think you see that colour for instance or colour can change other colours according to the whole show rounding up senses of colour light dark everything. I wanted to make a room that wherever you looked you would that colour would be that colour because everything else made it that colour. I learned that income taxes were started by the Chinese to the donation to make a humanist or was a humanist donation to make it a community or society just at that time I met Paul bird from the St. Louis post dispatch, we had just come back from some combat missions in Vietnam so the culmination of all these things created the painting. I thought of the economy that this war weapon supported in Texas and then Long Island so that was the beginning ideas to get me off the chair to do this is painting. Later, it was taken as a great anti-war picture and how illogical it was to be an artist in this century at this time, how what a joke it was to be an artist I mean of 1 think that they have any power political power by being an artist or saying something or doing anything it didn’t doesn’t seem to be the artists role in society to be silly at that time.
Rosenquist talking about whether Pop Art was revolutionary:
I don’t think it’s revolutionary. Revolutionary painting shows in history a few times, like in the high and low show there was a beautiful Miro painting and the inspiration from that came from him clipping with the scissors, clipping off little pictures of a knife, fork and spoon out of catalogue. He used the positive – negative space as a sketch and then this became a big, beautiful painting which was very atmospheric and very unusual as the knife, fork and spoons were transformed into funny shapes, but they were still from the drawing. People have always been searching for an idea or a reason for to get them off the chair to do something so during the time of abstract expressionism a lot of students were merely taught to be careless with abandon, hit the canvas with a rag with a broom with a rush after you make a mark on a canvas does that mark suggest an inspiration? Then you have to have the responsibility to finish something and do something about that mark that you made because you destroyed the beautiful painting surface, Lots of people were being taught that the brush stroke and the viscosity of paint became a cliché so people were becoming tired of that and abstract painting being misinterpreted into something else, for instance something that could be very serial looking gradually could have a figure of Popeyes sitting in there right in the middle of it. You see the strangest artworks coming out of people, so called pop artist commercial artists Roy Lichtenstein and I was a billboard painter, and many other commercial artists were.
Rosenquist discussing why Pop Art happened when it did:
I can’t put my finger on that one, one could say that abstract painting up until 1945/1950 really had its roots in Europe from French non-objective painting but then one could say well this looks more American and with that which has less roots in your in Europe. I don’t want to say that because I don’t see enough reasons for that as it would be a self-conscious attitude, like saying hey I’m going to do this now because I don’t hate Europeans, I’m not going to be like that I’m in America I can’t, I don’t see that well. Lawrence Alloway coined that term pop art, we were called new realists and lot of other things, I think Pop Art was a misnomer as Lawrence Alloway seemed to think that everyone was infatuated with popular imagery which I don’t think was the case. Strange thing is that since 1960, the pop art has still remained popular or people remain interested in it, also the artists involved have been very lucky to have a rather long life with exception of Andy Warhol but I’ve been pretty lucky to have a rather long career.
Rosenquist discussing what he wants people to see when they look at his paintings:
Well, I mean I like them to realise how much can come out of a little paint pot, just open a little pot of paint and it flies all over the place. That’s a thing that students don’t know, and I’ve tried very few times but I’ve been to a school for boys and girls there the trying to make an expression from a little tube of paint and they don’t know how to mix paint or do anything practical so they get very frustrated so they take a cigarette and put it in the mess, and they will home and everything is dirty in a mess everything. So, I showed them how to take the paint out of the tube and smear it up and how much space they could cover with just a little bit of paint in that tube. I showed them how to do that and after a while they could make these big beautiful abstract paintings. I said fantastic, now you must have an idea that’s the next part but it’s the same with film to be able to use it be able to do it to be able to light things to be able to do all that takes someone to show you the knack of how to do that, it’s craft.
James Rosenquist discussing where his ideas come from:
My inspirations when I was first starting was that I thought I could devise a new space from painting outdoor billboards in Times Square and that was as a kid I was subject to Rinso White commercials and early television commercials. Our commercial society which is quite unlike Russia for instance, and I thought my job was to paint big pictures of movie stars and then to paint objects to sell and if I could paint them well the company would sell them but if I didn’t I’d get fired. I had to paint a beautiful beer, beautiful shirts, beautiful everything so salesmen would be attracted. They said the beer had too many hops in it, tell that kid change it, got to change it so that only meant making a slightly different colour yellow and repainting the whole damn thing slightly. So, I take it home with me and I take Franco American spaghetti orange I take that home which was like red dye number 2 and yellow I take that, and I make abstract paintings out of these. Then I thought hey I’ll use magnified imagery that spilled out of the picture plane and I’d set it up so the closest thing you would see would be recognised last because would be too personal and what irritates people. So that’s how my so-called pop art painting started, and I really use generic things unlike say Andy Warhol who used Campbell’s soup. I painted spaghetti, I painted soup, I painted hot dogs, jeans, cars, generic things instead of out there things. The labels and the title might occur to me and this title with the stick out my mind and then I’ll think in terms of everything I think of I’ll think in terms of that title. For instance, I did a painting called 4 nuclear women which is meant if women become powerful and they are like women who own a lot of stock in the stock market or better be like Golden mate or become president like Golda Meir, Margaret Thatcher, or Indira Gandhi, will they be new clear women or nuclear women, will they blow us up or are they smart something like that. So, then I met Zack Darlington’s actress Liv Ullmann, she saw that painting she says oh what are you going to do next and I said I’m going to do the persistence of electrical nymphs in space and she said oh what’s that about I said well that’s the sound of all the souls after the earth blows options.
Okay so those are titles that I would think about before I would start working. Then I like to think about how young people want to live in the future too which is interesting as people are like animals and still have all the best visuals. I mean still have all the best vestiges of anatomy and they have claws, fangs, ears, noses just like animals you see running around here and then I go to New York, I see beautiful girls that have claws, fangs, noses everything and I see they are very sophisticated and they smell nice but there are still animals so I wonder how will a young person like to live in a really high tech environment such as a rocket ship or an apartment or a business place like that but would they prefer to live a pastoral life like little lambs in a Meadow so I think that’s curious what the future generations will select as an environment. If the environment is going to hell those oil slicks all over and Hussein burned the oil fields down and all of that and one wonders what you know when will people get busy cleaning it up or are they interested or whatever it’s curious, I’m interested in what people will select so I started making paintings that look like people reincarnating into Flowers are starting to be intermixed with flora and fauna and machines too, they were sort of pieces of flesh start starting to be connected to machines or Flowers or an I did those in a shot images cut in shards so that with the least amount of suggestion you could see what an image of something yet there was a whole ground to put another image in to paint there was a lot of area left over and then that would be a specific image and then the mixture of both of those I was hoping for a third image it would be if all artists have crosshatched including Michelangelo Rembrandt and everybody like scribbling and in those scribbles screw doing that one day and then that I thought haven this crosshatching I could like this for instance put two images overlapping so you could see both images at the same time and still have more area to paint it and you could even describe with pieces of imagery which no one has done before yet so I mean use using imagery as a sketch to describe another image that would be really confusing so or illuminating so that that’s why it was one inspiration.
A lot of James Rosenquist’s work is very abstract Pop Art work including a range of different objects and materials, with collage being a big part of his work. Rosenquist arranges each piece of cut out prints differently to create a range of interesting compositions that work with the bright colours used to draw the attention of the viewer. For instance, in ‘Miles’ (shown above) the shards of the plate are spread around the circle in the middle to draw the eye to that part of the piece which is quite interesting as the background of the piece is very detailed, so you don’t expect the centre of the piece to be the main point. Sometimes Rosenquist didn’t have to use actual images of things, but instead used shapes and colours to translate into something he wanted the viewer to see without having to make it too obvious. In ‘The Bird of Paradise Approaches the Hot Water Planet, from Welcome to the Water Planet Series’, Rosenquist builds up the ‘bird’ using flowing lines and cut out prints and I find this fascinating as people don’t have to see an actual object or figure to understand the work. Even in circumstances when actual objects are used, they are made abstract to go along with the rest of the elements in Rosenquist’s work.
There are many abstract forms and lines used throughout his work which he is well known for. Although these sometimes seem quite spontaneous, they are actually considered for a while by Rosenquist as he puts a lot of attention into getting the right compositions and angles of the different cut out pieces in his collages.
In some of his work, Rosenquist focuses on key objects and figures throughout history, such as the F-111 plane mentioned earlier on in this post. This is because he was trying to demonstrate what life was like back then and how this could have impacted on people’s lives. Yet he also focused on subjects heavily involving what could happen in the future and how young people would react to different situations which I find very interesting as a lot of people are quite unpredictable.
A crucial part of Rosenquist’s work was parody yet he did this in a way that still allowed him to demonstrate his own individual perception and purpose. His parody was mainly focused on advertising and he wanted to demonstrate the powers that advertising had in an innovative way.
Ways James Rosenquist’s work is influencing my project:
The key influence I have from James Rosenquist is his bold uses of colour that demonstrate a flow in his work. I find his combinations of colours very interesting and feel his abstract approach could add to my work. I am hoping to do one of my paintings using a colour palette inspired by one or several of his paintings to allow myself to fully explore whether this would be right for my project.
American Regionalism involved a style of realistic painting that started in the 1930s, becoming popular during the Great Depression. The most popular subjects of American Regionalism were rural and everyday situations. This movement was not inspired by a manifesto or particular agenda and was instead inspired by three artists, being Thomas Hart Benton, Grant Wood, and John Steuart Curry who were known as the “Regionalist Triumvirate.” They rejected abstract work, responding to cultural isolation that saw art as out of touch with the American spirit. They felt unsatisfied with American art as they felt it lacked style and a proper audience. Wood wrote a letter home saying “The art dealers and the critics want no part of American art. They think this country is too new for any culture and too crude and undeveloped to produce any artists. You have to be a Frenchman, take a French name, and paint like a Frenchman to gain recognition.”
Whilst reading this book, I came across some information about Grant Wood which I felt was relevant as he was one of the three main artists who inspired American Regionalism.
Information I got from the book:
‘Grant Wood created a series of agricultural landscapes in the 1930s to portray his romantic vision of man’s relationship with cultivated land. He created paintings and prints to make the farm and the farmer a fantasy. The result of these mythic landscapes is Spring Turning, a representation of green hills painted in 1936. In the painting, the land has been divided into four fields for cultivation. In the lower field, a farmer drives a team of horses pulling a plow as he turns over the earth. He is dwarfed by the hills that surround him. Previous scholars have focused on the sexual nature of the rolling hills in Spring Turning—Wanda Corn, for example, sees the fertile body of a Mother Earth figure, while Tripp Evans sees the erotic contours of a man’s form.
What has not been previously examined, however, is that Spring Turning, and indeed all of Wood’s farm scenes, were responses to specific local and regional conflict: severe economic depression, agricultural catastrophes, political unrest, and anxiety about the farmer’s place in a country in crisis.Wiped clean of dirt and disorder and marked by a stylized geometry, these landscapes are highly constructed objects drawn from the artist’s memory, his attempts at myth-making, and his desire to control a world under threat. Wood’s work as an artist is closely associated with the figure of the mid-western farmer and the land he inhabited. Though the artist was himself a Midwesterner and the son of a farm family, his first subjects were simple Impressionist-style landscapes that rarely included farms.
Over time, Wood began to champion his favoured subjects—farmers and the land—and develop the style and approach to landscapes that communicate the almost mythic values and virtues that he saw in Midwesterners on the land. He was the son of a strict Protestant farmer who discouraged his artistic tendencies. Unlike his repressive father, Wood’s mother encouraged him in his interests, and he began drawing, painting, and designing jewellery in high school. After graduation, he attended design schools in Minneapolis and Chicago, supporting himself in his twenties and thirties as a designer and teacher and painting in his spare time.
Wood came to see his fellow Iowans and their landscape as topics worthy of his artistic attention only after his early experiments in Impressionist-style painting met with disappointment.4 Wood painted in this retardative mode for nearly twenty years in the early twentieth century, but this aspect of his work is little known now.
Although he worked mainly as an Impressionist in the 1920s, he experimented with other styles during this period as well. Wood’s work underwent a more significant change in style in 1928 when he encountered the work of Northern Renaissance artists in Germany. He had accepted a commission to design a stained-glass window for the Cedar Rapids Veterans Memorial. Although he had never worked in the medium before, he took on the project with enthusiasm, even traveling to Munich to oversee the production of the glass. The trip had a profound effect on him. While in Germany, he visited museums, where he found inspiration in portraits by artists such as Hans Memling. Their style and subjects influenced a new direction in his art. Upon his return to Cedar Rapids, he abandoned Impressionism in favour of the hard-edged styles he had experimented with.
‘Woman with Plants’ is a portrait of Wood’s mother in which he adopted Memling’s practice of setting his figures in landscapes painted from a high bird’s-eye perspective, with intricate details in the background. In addition, the work of the Northern Renaissance artists convinced Wood that local imagery—the landscapes and people of his native Iowa—was rich material for his art. This new focus on local subject matter aligned Wood with the movement called Regionalism. In the early 1930s, Regionalism, defined by art historian Matthew Baigell as “art created from local traditions,” was at the height of its popularity.
After the surge of interest from American artists in European art in the early twentieth century and into the 1920s, Regionalism represented a new inward focus in the country during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Rather than being influenced by avant-garde artists from Europe who experimented with innovative styles such as Cubism or Surrealism, Regionalist artists sought to portray the experiences of ordinary people in an easily readable visual style. They looked to the Midwest and the South for subject matter and narratives.
Wood’s 1930 painting American Gothic encapsulates the aesthetic and cultural goals of the Regionalists, and it was the first of Wood’s paintings to receive national attention. The painting depicts an Iowa farmer and a woman who may be his wife or his daughter. American Gothic was then, and is still today, an enigmatic painting: Is it a tongue-in-cheek but affectionate portrait of staid Midwesterners? Is it, perhaps, an indictment of repressive mid-western values? Historian R. Tripp Evans contends that it is the intriguing ambivalence at the heart of the work that holds the key to its appeal.’
In 1930, American Gothic won third prize at a competition at the Art Institute of Chicago. It remains in the collection of that institution today, and it is among the best-known American paintings in the world. After the success of American Gothic, Wood invested many of his character studies with a decided satirical edge.
Information I got from video above:
“American regionalism or American scene painting as it sometimes called is a naturalist style of painting and art that was popular in the first half of the 20th century. The artists of the movement will depict scenes of typical American life and landscape painted in a naturalistic descriptive style. American scene is an umbrella term for the rural American regionalism and the urban and politically oriented social realism. After World War One many United States artists rejected the modern trend stemming from the armoury show in part as a reaction to the war. Oftentimes when we see war we will see far more conservative movements following that war and then things will develop. From there we get to the next war we end up with the same thing a little more conservative and then redevelopment once again and we see the same thing but around World War One as we do around World War Two so instead they adopt an academic realism in depicting urban and rural scenes. Much of the American scene painting conveys a nationalism in romanticism of everyday American life, they’re trying to create something that reflects the American life of everywhere between New York oftentimes and as an anti-modernist style and reaction against the modern European style, this American regionalism was seen as an attempt to define a uniquely American style of art. As soon as we’ve seen the armoury show in precisionism and surrealism and the Americans are starting to get involved in all these movements, all these basically modern movements we see this reaction so we’re pushing back to a more conservative and more realist movement in this case. That’s not a bad thing, it’s just one of these cycles that we see in our history and it doesn’t mean that we can sit there and look at history and go I can predict what’s coming next as that’s foolish . There’s always something that you wouldn’t expect at the time but it does give us a general idea so if you’re looking at a painting you can kind of start to date it based on realism versus abstractions.” – what is said in the video above.
How American Regionalism is inspiring my project:
I was encouraged to research into American Regionalism by my peers during my crit as my work has a great portrayal of real life, you can tell the areas that I have focused on if you have been there before, Leicester is easily identifiable in my work. I found it very interesting to look into this style as I have heard of it before but didn’t know too much information about it. In particular, I find the buildings behind the figures in Grant Wood’s ‘American Gothic’ very similar to some of the architecture I am focusing on in my project, with a sense of realism yet still being abstract.
Piet Mondrian was an artist who focused on still lifes and landscapes at the start of his artistic journey and later on started to create more abstract work focusing a lot on shape and lines. He also experimented with symbolism, pointillism and cubism. The first world war made Piet reduce his uses of colour and shapes which was the beginning of his nonobjective Neoplastic style. He became one of the founders of a group called De Stijl which involved the simplification and abstraction of architecture and graphic/industrial design. He did an exhibition with this group but withdrew from it when they tried to reintroduce some elements that had been removed prior such as diagonal shapes.
Information I got from video above:
Piet Mondrian was one of the great pioneers of abstract painting. He was a man with two conflicting traits to his temperament that had a great influence on his painting, one was a sense of feeling for rhythm which was reflected in his interest in music and particularly Jazz and this seemed to reflect his positive side of his nature. The other was his love of order and balance. These two conflicting qualities flowed throughout the development of his work but eventually he found resolution in his later abstract paintings.
His father was a qualified drawing teacher and became headmaster of the local Christian School. At the age of 16, he left school to start studying painting and drawing and passed his lower certificate examination in 1889 which allowed him to teach at his father’s primary school. In his free time, he painted landscapes in a rather traditional fashion.
In 1892, Mondrian moved to Amsterdam and entered the Reich’s Academy. He left three years later and earned his living making copies of famous paintings. In 1897, he became a member of Saint Lucas the artists Association for students of the right Academy and for the next few years continued working by painting copies of museum paintings and producing scientific drawings found during this. He started to exhibit his own landscape paintings which were much influenced by The Hague school her group of Dutch artists who took their inspiration from the idealised and naturalistic painting of the French barbies and movement of the 1830s and 1840s, but he had little success selling these paintings.
In 1905, he saw an exhibition of the early work of Vincent van Gogh in Amsterdam which had a profound effect on him, influencing him to choose bold colour and more vibrant brushwork. He was also inspired from an early age in his career by the fascination for trees and seemed to be attracted to the problem of the ways branches, twigs, sky, and foliage interact with each other. He enjoyed the rhythmic structure they represented and how that could be represented on a canvas during this time he exhibited a lot of work but despite developing a reputation for evening landscape paintings he still sold very little. In 1908, he visited homburg where he met several Avant Garde artists including the Dutch artist young tarup. These artists were very interesting divisionism which put simply means the application of colour in small separate blocks like pointillism painting.
In 1911 Piet Mondrian exhibited work in Paris and saw the Cubist paintings of Picasso for the first time. He moved to Paris and almost married his friend Greta but changed his mind at the last minute. Some of his paintings were sent to the Gallery Dash Term in Berlin but sales were very limited. Trees were still an important source of inspiration, but Mondrian’s ideas were developing as he incorporated negative space, making the shapes between the branches become as important as the branches themselves. The shapes and lines used were organised into a structure which is not a tree, but the spirit of a tree and these paintings had neutral titles. By the end of 1913, his subject matter began to move away from the heavy reliance on trees and objects to more spiritual interpretations of the world.
After the chaos of the First World War, Mondrian wanted abstract art influenced in part by Cubism and suprematism and designed to endear to the strict rules of composition. The idea was to strip out all naturalism and all other essentials from the painting to attain the universal truths outlined by this. This saw all representations of reality disappear from his paintings, with his main aim being to express the relationships between colours and shapes rather than objects in his paintings.
In 1919, he painted his first neoplastic composition. When talking about the painting, he said “I have now made a painting that pleases me more than any of my previous work, it has been a long quest”. These paintings colours were inspired by Matisse, especially regarding their placement as some come forward and others recede based upon context. In the 1950s, Mondrian began to experiment with cutting out coloured squares in paper and putting them on his wall. He was seeking to create balance and harmony with colour and line and believed this could be achieved even if there was discord between them. The studio became a huge talking point and in 1925, more people visited his studio and showed an interest in purchasing his paintings. He did his experimental diamond paintings this year too.
In 1929, his abstract paintings were beginning to sell, and his painting was becoming more radical. By 1931, colour was beginning to disappear from his work to be dominated by White Plains and black lines which differed in width. He repeated designs, which became known as his double line paintings which sold quite well within USA. In Germany, the reaction was quite different under Hitler’s regime, his painting was declared degenerate and examples were included in the infamous degenerate art exhibition of 1937 held in Munich. Under Hitler’s cultural policy degenerate art was seen as an insult to the German feeling and included all modernist painting and of course any work by artists of Jewish or Bolshevik origin.
Piet Mondrian loved rhythm as he took an interest in music and also loved balance. These conflicting traits are showed throughout the development of his work but he came to a solution in his most abstract works which demonstrate a rhythm as well as a balance.
In his earlier works, Mondrian focused a lot on realism. I like that he worked on materials such as cardboard as this is easy to find and most likely allowed him to add more texture to his works. This painting looks as though Mondrian used a palette knife as he captured a lot of texture. I like that he captured a scene of everyday life as I feel this relates to my work yet I also feel very inspired by his later, more abstract art which I am incorporating into my own work.
Piet Mondrian’s abstract works moved away from representing objects and instead demonstrated his spiritual views of the world.
This is one of Piet Mondrian’s still life pieces which has an interesting use of bold lines. The composition and colours used work well and the contrast draw the eyes to the image. The elements of texture applied is interesting and I feel this adds to the painting. Mondrian was inspired by Paul Cézanne’s method of breaking down compositions with colour. As Mondrian was loose with the paint, this seemed a lot different to his previous works yet he still used similar colours so it linked in some ways.
This painting was a further abstraction of the painting above and made a lot of the objects rather difficult to identify as they had a lot less detail and were more solid shapes. Again, the use of line is very strong in creating contrasts and the warm colours used work well together yet contrast with the dark lines around the objects. The works during this period of abstraction focused on a central motif (in this work being the ginger pot) and the rest of the paintings surrounding these central motifs having a lot of symmetry. In these paintings Mondrian was trying to maintain balance and order which he continued to do even in his later pieces which were even more abstract.
This painting demonstrated Mondrian’s fascination with Cubist paintings created by Pablo Picasso and George Braque. In the process of creating this painting, he broke down his subject, a tree, into interlocking lines and planes of colour and used colours that were very commonly used in Cubist paintings. However Mondrian made his subject very difficult to identify and made an interesting choice to make the scaffolding fade at the edges of the canvas.
This painting was created at a time when Piet Mondrian was aiming for even more abstraction in his work by moving away from subjects he enjoyed working with including architecture and nature. ‘Composition’ was the last painting Mondrian created where you can see that he was inspired by an actual source, in this case being a church. A strip frame was created for this painting as he didn’t want the depth that came with traditional frames.
Information I got from video above:
‘It can sometimes be hard to appreciate these shuffling colourful squares and these intersecting black lines. Mondrian’s paintings all blend as if each of them were unique yet identical at the same time. This style was only one step in Mondrian’s quite linear artistic progression. He was born in 1872 and will begin painting landscapes just like many other Dutch artists. Then he adopts unconventional techniques, for example, most Dutch landscapes displayed the famous Netherlands Sky in its puffy clouds, but Mondrian put the horizon line extremely high, not leaving much space for any clouds. He then explored many different movements such as impressionism as seen in ‘Willow Grove impression of light and shadows’ made in 1905. He also explores post impressionism as seen an ‘evening red tree’ completed in 1910 in which we can clearly see the influence coming from Van Gogh. He had a service space which will preface the importance of primary colours in his later work but in 1911 an art movement will heavily influence him; he discovers through Picasso and black Cubism and will move to Paris to further his career. In 1911 he paints a first version of still life with ginger pot and then the following year reinterprets the painting in a cubist style. The intersecting black lines first made their appearance only almost starting to move away from representation which we can see by comparing his older tree paintings with ‘the great tree’ painted in 1911. Only one year later he will again make one step closer to abstraction with another representation of a tree ‘flowering Apple tree’.
He will continue to make abstract paintings in Paris until 1914 when during a visit in the Netherlands, World War One begins not allowing Mondrian to go back to France. Mondrian defines neoplasticism, he will write as a pure representation of the human mind or it will express itself in an aesthetically purified way abstract form the new plastic idea cannot therefore take the form of a natural or concrete representation. The new plastic idea will ignore the particulars of appearance that is natural form in colour. On the contrary it should find its expression in the abstraction of form and colour in the straight line and the clearly defined primary colours. This will be the birth of the Mondrian we know of today with the colours in the geometry. But it’s only the 1920s that Mondrian will start painting the iconic compositions which will also evolve with time. The first compositions usually had more colours and shapes and sometimes the black lines wouldn’t even reach the edge of the canvas. With time though, Mondrian purified his work, stripping away more and more elements. His compositions started to include less colours but sometimes more lines making his work seem more minimalistic or simplified. Finally in 1938, with the rise of fascism in Europe Mondrian moves to London and in 1940 decides to move to New York City. This will be the last step in modern artistic evolution even though he’s 68 when he moves to New York he is captivated by the energy this city has the busy streets the booming culture and especially in jazz. Music will animate him, the black lines in his compositions will be replaced by colourful lines overlapping each other. The last painting Mondrian completes is called ‘Broadway Boogie Woogie’, a representation of the grid like streets of New York; the lines are vivid and unlike any other Mondrian paintings. They are continuously interrupted by colour, the lines are not continuous anymore, they are extremely busy almost as if they had a certain rhythm to them. Mondrian wanted to create universal art that through his harmony and simplicity could appeal to any individual no matter their background. By simplifying what he painted, Mondrian broke down his subjects to their core of lines, shapes and colours and arranged them to create balance. You may admire Mondrian’s work or maybe you don’t see what’s so interesting about his horizontal and vertical lines but what’s less debatable is how fascinating Mondrian’s quest for purification is. You may not like his individual artworks, but Mondrian’s work is interesting to analyse as it’s the work of a lifetime from the post-impressionist tree to the cubist branches all the way to the streets of New York. Multi artistic progress is a work of art.’
How Piet Mondrian’s work is inspiring me in my project:
I decided to research Piet Mondrian as my work includes a lot of solid colours and dark outlines, it is very graphic which relates to his work. I feel that I could create pieces which are very simplistic in shapes and colour palettes but I don’t want to use fully opaque colours as I still want a sense of realism in my work. I like the contrasts that Piet Mondrian manages to capture in his work, both the more detailed pieces and the more simplistic square pieces and I am hoping to incorporate some of his colour palettes into my work as they work well and could help me incorporate some successful colour palettes into my compositions. Although I like the black outlines, I don’t want to use a black outline in all of my pieces as I feel it will be too distracting from the architecture so i will choose colours which are more subtle if I incorporate any harsh lines but I love the ways the different elements of Piet Mondrian’s paintings flow together.
Pop art started in the mid-1950s in Britain and late 1950s in America, reaching its peak in the 1960s. It started as a revolt against the most popular approaches to art/culture and traditional views on what art should be. Artists believed that the stuff they were learning at schools and in museums has no relevance to their everyday lives. They found inspiration from sources such as movies, advertisements, packaging, music, and books. Critics were horrified with artists using such ‘low’ subject matter and their uncritical treatment of it. Pop Art both took art into new areas of subject matter and developed new ways of presenting it in art and be one of the first manifestations of postmodernism.
Differences between British and American Pop Art: – British Pop artists were inspired by American Culture from a distance while American Pop artists were inspired by their personal experiences with the Culture.
-American Pop Art was very representational and used hard edges/distinct forms after Abstract Expressionism. They wanted to move away from personal feelings/symbolism that came with Abstract Expressionism and instead used impersonal/mundane imagery in their work.
-British Pop Art was more academic in its approach to Pop Art. Using a lot of irony/parody, it focused on the ways that American imagery was used for manipulation and what the imagery represented. The 1950s Group ‘The Independent Group (IG)’ is seen as the precursor of British Pop Art.
The Independent Group (IG) was a group of young artists, writers and critics who met at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) in London to challenge the dominant modernist culture at that time, to make it more inclusive of popular culture. It was created in the 1950s. It was responsible for the formulation, discussion, and dissemination of many of the basic ideas of British pop art and of much other new British art in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
In 1953 the Independent Group did an exhibition called ‘Parallel of Art and Life’ and in 1956 another exhibition called ‘This is Tomorrow.’ This exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery in London was the group demonstrating their interest in popular and commercial culture. The critic Lawrence Alloway said ‘movies, science fiction, advertising, pop music. We felt none of the dislike of commercial culture standard among most intellectuals, but accepted it as fact, discussed it in detail, and consumed it enthusiastically’. ‘This is Tomorrow’ involved a series of environments and a juke box played continuously.
Information I got from video above – ‘Pop Art is one of the most significant art movements of the 20th century. In London in 1952, a group of young avantgarde artists, writers and architects including Scottish artists Eduardo Paolozzi formed the independent group. This group wanted to challenge the art world and was interested in the relationship between popular culture and the visual arts. Paolozzi led the charge giving an important presentation in which he showed advertising, comic strips, and assorted graphic images from American magazines. Inspired by these images, the group wanted to create art that was inclusive, and which had mass appeal. Many members of the group had already begun to create collages using some of these images. The art created often combined different themes such as war and popular advertisements like coca cola which led to a range of different works being created. Some were inspired by comic books and cartoons with works in the 1960s including screen prints of Mickey Mouse and Popeye. Andy Warhol’s name became synonymous with pop art. In the early 1960s, Warhol embarked on a series of portraits of stars including Elizabeth Taylor, Elvis Presley and Jackie Kennedy using photographic cell screen printing to create celebrity portraits enabling him to reproduce recognisable images or radio in public like publicity shots or tabloid photographs. He often repeated the image multiple times as both celebration and critique of contemporary culture. Temporary artists influenced by Pop Art and sometimes referred to as new pop include Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst who often celebrated banality using mechanical processes is to create their work and repetition within it but the legacy of Pop Art and its themes of repetition, daily objects, and mass media lives on beyond dark with endless offshoots and commercial designs appearing in contemporary society. This the greatest sign of their success that they took from popular culture to create that and know that the art they created has been reclaimed by popular culture once more.’
Information I got from video above: ‘In the 1950s, artists started making art inspired by Hollywood movies, advertising, pop music and comic books. There are two types of public pop art, one made in America about America and Pop Art made in Britain about America. Pop artists in America made art about what it was like to live the American dream. Andy Warhol began his career in advertising before realising that he could screen print pictures of soup cans and other products onto canvases and sell them in the same way advertisers sell real supercars. He wore a silver wig at the Linda silver factory in New York and hung out with creative kids like Gerard Malanga, Nico, Lou Reed and Edie Sedgwick who also had silver hair. He said in the future everyone will be famous for 15 minutes, he liked family, he liked money and he made art about both. Roy Lichtenstein painted the world as a comic strip, a painting called ‘quiet’ imitated the industrial techniques of mass production in the same way as mechanical reproduction had imitated the techniques of artists. This is known as parody. Oldenburg blew up everyday objects to monumental proportions to question what constitutes an iconic image in a modern society which embraces disposable mass-produced items. After the Second World War Great Britain looked drab, clearly having lasting effects from all that happened. However, America looked very cheerful after the Second World War. Artists in Britain began making art by using Americas vibrant and aspirational conduit culture which was witty yet ironic. A collage by Richard Hamilton confronts the mass advertising coming to Britain from America. Peter Blake painted pinup girls and wrestlers wearing American jeans and holding a magazine all about Elvis Presley to show the influence American culture is having on Britain. Not everyone liked Pop Art, the art historian Greenberg said it was superficial. Andy Warhol agreed and responded by saying he was a deeply superficial person. In fact, he would find new subject matter in mass production and developed new ways of presenting it like comic strips and screen prints. Andy Warhol explained that once you got Pop Art, you could never see a site in the same way again and you could never see America the same way again.’
Ways Pop Art is influencing my work:
I am more so influenced by the graphic styles and uses of colour in Pop Art rather than the subject matter or comic styles that often came along with it. I feel that using colour schemes that certain pop artists have used in their work could help me to develop my work even further, generating more ideas which could allow me to get a better final result or colour scheme.
George Shaw is an artist who paints realistic rural scenes in England. The combinations of architecture, graffiti and litter give his paintings a very relatable feel, with a lot of people knowing what it is like to live in those sorts of areas. A lot of his paintings have a very creepy and dark vibe, which is his intention as he likes taking cliches of the sublime and epiphany and putting them into unexpected places. His work has been viewed as very sentimental, which Shaw doesn’t want to take as a negative quality as he looks for the things he likes or doesn’t like about people in art. He was nominated for the Turner prize in 2011 and his works are shown in several London based areas.
People see George Shaw’s paintings as depicting a foreshadowing of Britain during lockdown as they never include people and portray quite eerie atmospheres. I feel that I could do something similar in my own work to demonstrate how lockdown has affected Leicester and the ways that people see their homes as prisons but this is something I will have to explore in my own time.
I find it fascinating that George Shaw takes everyday common landscapes and areas that we are all used to yet captures them in a hopeless way that makes you realise how the world around us can be daunting yet beautiful at the same time. The realism in the work makes the paintings look like photographs initially which is really impressive.
In this Youtube video, George Shaw talks about his work and how it has changed over the years, starting off as a way of capturing the sentimentality of his adolescence but more recently becoming the opposite of that, a confrontation of things rather than a relaxation into a comfortable situation. This development happened as he wanted to capture places without any signs or indications as to where they were located in a bid to essentially remove the history of the place and allow people to see it for what it is rather than what it has been in the past. This also demonstrates the fact that we go to places in our lifetimes and often have no awareness of the events that have happened there which I find really interesting.
Although George Shaw’s work evokes a bleak feeling in his audience, he personally doesn’t see it that way since he is simply acknowledging the end of something and it doesn’t necessarily have a negative implication/effect. During his time at the Royal College, he realised that he didn’t like that you had to understand a particular language to understand what his previous art was about and instead learned about making art that communicates a certain idea to people that you can have a conversation about to discuss personal opinions.
His work is a way of showing that life is short and you’re not here forever, the places around us that are run down and decaying in certain ways are a representation of himself in a way, and the viewer in others, all based upon personal circumstances. The paintings portray his journey out of this world.
Information I got from video above:
I came to look at the exhibition complete and thought it was quite sad that it would be taken down, I think I’m just beginning to like it, it’s just beginning to settle down in my mind so that’s normally how I experience life, but I just get into the party 10 minutes before closing time and then I’m faced with regret that I didn’t get on with it a little bit earlier. When it gets taken down on Monday, they get put in a box and then it goes on tour little bit like Bob Stewart, the work goes in the box and then reappears in the Lake District or Southampton or wherever without me. I mean I could drop dead tomorrow, and it would still go on without me. It goes way back into the 70s when I was a kid coming down from Coventry so it’s going to be quite interested in the next couple of years or so because that context of the National Gallery will fall away as I travel to places I’ve come to understand as the regions, but I just call it the rest of England that is not in London. George Shaw is a painter; he was shortlisted for the Turner Prize in 2011 with a series of very detailed meticulous images of the council estate on which he was brought up in Coventry showing crumbling pavements and decrepit locked up garages and broken lamp posts and things very much to do with an environment that is manmade, but you don’t see any human figures. They’ve always got this kind of resonance of either things that have happened there or things that are going to happen there, they are narrative landscapes but painted in a very contemporary mode I think that subject of Englishness has been quite deep rooted in my work for many years but it’s not the Englishness of stately homes. I feel that most English people live in taking up on board I think what happened was me thinking about my time as a child and as an adolescent and the kind of world I lived in and then the kind of world at the National Gallery was showing to me. I wanted to bring the two worlds together, really kind of English realism with a very mythical magical narrative, the narratives of Ovid or the narratives of the Christian story’s and bring them altogether in a way in which they came together in my imagination in my head. The one place that marriage did take place was in the Woodland setting for how that I grew up which was a few square miles of Woodland on the edge of accounts of the study but I began to see similarities between that that simple Woodland and the Woodland of Pelini or the woodlanders Pusan or the Woodland of Titan even The Woodlands of constable may seem to be where people last themselves and found themselves where rituals of life are acted out very far away from the home, far away from civilisation, not too far that you couldn’t feel its effects and that’s what I began to explore.
How George Shaw’s work is influencing my project:
I decided to research George Shaw as he captures council estate scenes very well. Although his work is very realistic, I find that there are similarities in some of the housing/architecture where he grew up as there is in Leicester. There are a lot of council estates in Leicester that are similar which I find interesting. The vast amount of detail that George Shaw captures in his work demonstrates a high amount of skill but I am not a realistic artist. However, I like to incorporate a sense of realism into my work with which Shaw’s work could factor into. I am pulled in by the fact that you can tell what time of the day it is in Shaw’s paintings which again demonstrates a lot of skill, he definitely knows what he’s doing.
Lee Maelzer is a London based artist, she was born and studied in London. She left school at 13 and went to study or at Saint Martin’s College of Art and design, gaining a BA Hons first class later at the Royal Academy of arts and she obtained her Masters in Fine Art. Since 2005 she has exhibited in nine solo exhibitions and widely in Group exhibitions including one at Christy’s London. She also curated 7 exhibitions in London.
She practices as a painter but also explores collage and sculpture and videos. Her paintings are large as she likes them to take up large spaces. The uses of white in her work reflects a certain morbidity, abandonment but also a sense of light. When painting she likes to use a ground like greens or greys to take away the whiteness of the board before starting her piece and has a couple of pieces on the go at once , some of how work takes one to three months to complete.
In her childhood up to the age of 8 she spent time in Vancouver and during this time she went through a lot of hardship which has made her into the artist she is today.
She talked about how she likes to take photos for reference but only used for a short time the rest is from her imagination and in some cases dreams that she has had. She also only likes to use pictures she’s taken herself which is something I understand as it is always good to have your own perspective of a place or a person.
In her young adult life, she talks with period why she went through six years of addiction drugs and alcohol which made her work suffer but she bounced back afterwards. one of her residences was in Mexico where she saw lots of derelict buildings because of war not necessarily decay. She advised that people should do residencies if given the chance as it is a unique experience.
She is inspired by artists such as Goya, van Eyck contemporary artists such as Pia Hue, William Kentridge and Diane Abers.
as we’re restricted right now with covid, Lee is working at a small scale doing paintings taken from Facebook adverts why people are selling my items on marketplace this allows her to show modern life as the seller is using their home to photograph in an the scene is already set of their everyday life. due to the size of the large scale pieces she spoke about painting on panels rather than one large piece so that she can get through doorways and transport it easily.
she seems to feature sinks a lot in her work which could have a hidden meaning to her childhood.
She had opportunities to visit abandoned places like Hackney hospital where she was able to take photos to use as references she likes her paintings have a texture and has been known to add cotton then pull off to give line texture to her painting.
Lee has a large studio which she shares with another artist. Hopefully one day I’ll be able to have my own studio too and it would be good to have some company as you can go a bit crazy when you’re on your own.
As I am focusing my project on architecture in Leicester, I felt that it would be appropriate to do some research in the history of Leicester and see why certain decisions were made and have continued to be made through the production of modern architectural elements in the city. I have looked at a range of websites and books to ensure that my research is correct. I found it interesting to learn more about Leicester even though I’ve lived here my whole life as it opens to my eyes to what people went through in the past.
“Leicester is an ancient Iron Age settlement that was held as a high status tribal centre near the east bank of the River Soar just over 2,000 years ago. It quickly turned into a significant capital city at the time of the Roman Conquest of Britain around AD43. Through the centuries the city’s population grew, exploding with the arrival of the Industrial Revolution in the mid-1700s.
Much of the Leicester was re-built and old buildings swept away for new terraced houses built to accommodate the workers, which gave rise to a strong community spirit in many areas of the city.
After World War II more new communities came to Leicester, from Eastern Europe, the Caribbean and the Indian sub-continent. Today Leicester is one of the most diverse cities to live in and is one of the fastest growing cities in the UK in terms of population.”
From the early 19th century to the end of the 20th century, Leicester had a big industrial sector being engineering, hosiery (in many forms) and footwear. A lot (or most) of the companies from then have since gone out of business and been taken over by other brands.
Although industry hasn’t left Leicester completely, it isn’t what it used to be. This has left a lot of buildings which have industrial history, with some needing to be repurposed for things such as restaurants, offices, bars and flats.
The Victorian era involved constructing new buildings as well as pulling old ones down. This is the reason that there isn’t much if any industrial history of Leicester that goes before the 19th century. There were only a couple of buildings which were refurbished but a majority of the others were repurposed into offices and residential units. Some have even been made into artist galleries and studios. Larger buildings were turned into temples, gurdwaras, mosques and madrassas as the culture and diversity in Leicester grew.
A lot of the factories were based in the city centre in the past. After World war 2, companies started to move into more industrial areas outside of the city centre. The former Imperial Typewriters building on East Park Road is a good example of an industrial building that is still used for making things. Nowadays the building is split into smaller industrial units.
As there were so many different industries in Leicester, there was work for both men and women which increased its popularity. There was a lot of information about poor working conditions that people faced. The introduction of paid holidays, pensions and shorter working days led to a better work life. The factories being in operation meant that there was a lot of sound and smell, pollution increased and sirens were rang to announce the start/end of shifts.
From the mid-19th century, housing was built to accommodate the workers from outside the city and communities of people who lived in terraced housing near places of work formed. These communities were self-contained and comprised houses, schools, shops, religious buildings, factories and parks.Though work offered people the chance to earn money, it also allowed them to build a social life through social clubs and events.
Today, there are still a small amount of hosiery companies in Leicester but certainly not as much as there used to be. Factories are based in areas outside of the city centre and a lot of old factories are serving new purposes.
The architecture in Leicester has a variety of styles and is very diverse. The city grew in popularity during the reign of Queen Victoria from 1837 to 1901 which is why there is a lot of Victorian architecture in the city. A lot of the buildings original purposes have since changed and are used for different things as the city and people living here have developed.
Some well known buildings in Leicester:
This building was made in 1894 after the death of Thomas Cook. It was intended to be an office building and was built in the Victorian style.
This building was designed in 1877 by Edward Burgess. It was originally the Wyggeston Girls school, later becoming a part of Charles Keene College and now is the Headquarters of the Age of Concern of Leicester. This Victorian style building has a lot of historical importance and is under the protection of the local government.
This is another building which has a lot of historical importance and is protected by the local government. The Secular Hall was designed in 1881 by W. Larner Sugden for residence of one of the oldest societies in the UK which was founded in 1851.
This hotel was built from 1897 to 1898 by Amos Hall and Cecil Ogden. At the time this had a reputation as one of the most stylish hotels in Leicester. In recent years it has lost its uniqueness but is still considered a good hotel.
Joseph Goddard designed this Venetian Gothic style building which was built in 1874. A lot of detail was added to the facade including stained glass windows and small statues. The building is known for having a lot of detail on the inside.
Leicester Town Hall is located in the City centre of Leicester which contains an impressive fountain. The town hall was built on the former cattle market between 1874 and 1876 in the Queen Anne Style by Francis Hames.
The City Rooms is a Georgian building constructed in 1800. It would have become Leicester’s first hotel but was not completed and the building was sold in 1799 with £3,300 still needed to complete it, and opened as the Leicester Assembly Rooms in 1800. In 1817 it was adapted to become the Judges Lodgings when it passed into the hands of the County Justices, then becoming known as the County Rooms. When it passed into the ownership of Leicester City Council it was renamed again, to The City Rooms. The building has been designated by English Heritage as a grade I listed building.
HM Prison Leicester was designed by William Parsons to resemble a castle. The oldest part dates from 1825, and it was opened in 1828. The gatehouse including the adjoining building to north and south and the perimeter wall are grade II listed. In 2001 Leicester hit headlines as a “failing prison” and David Ramsbotham, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, declared that it should be shut down.
The Church Building Act of 1818 provided funds for two new Leicester parishes, one of which was Holy Trinity. The church was built in 1838 in accordance with classical design as the city expanded, and formed part of a new suburb. In 1872, Holy Trinity was completely redesigned in a High Gothic style, with spire and side turrets in red-purple brick with limestone decoration. . A significant building project was undertaken in the late 1980s, and there is now a single balcony at the rear of the church.
I found this journal in the library which went into detail about how migration in Leicester’s history has affected its architecture and the ways it is viewed by others in society. I found this read very interesting as it is something I haven’t thought much about before and it allowed me to get a better understanding of the place I live.
“The current multicultural nature of the town is one of the elements that have gradually contributed to redefining its urban landscape, enriching the lexicon of shapes forms and signs of a built environment traditionally associated with its industries and manufacturing plants. Two main events have been crucial for the development of this process: the first one was the arrival, in the 50s of the Caribbean population from Antigua and Jamaica. the second was the migratory phenomenon of the late 1960s and early 70s which involved Asian families fleeing from Kenya Uganda and Malawi. in the following years diversity and openness progressively became a distinctive sign of the city image often defined as one of the capitals of Asia and Britain by local stakeholders.”
I found it interesting to see the ways that there were clear differences between the architecture of each picture, even if they were quite subtle. The different businesses and restaurants demonstrate how there is a lot of different ethnicities in Leicester which will impact upon the different types of architecture needed.
These statistics made it clear as to why there are a range of different religious buildings in Leicester, a lot of different needs had to be met to ensure everyone was happy.
As I read more about migration and the history of Leicester, it made sense as to why certain areas of Leicester such as Narborough Road and Belgrave Gate are filled with people of similar religions and ethnicities. The different amounts of churches and mosques are all impacted by the amount of people with those religions living near them. These areas also had a lot of specific shops and restaurants suited to their religion or lifestyle including Sari shops and jewellers which made Leicester well known for it’s inclusivity and Belgrave Gate was named ‘the Golden Mile.’
“The consequence of this process of adaptation is evident in the coloured building facades in shop signs and in the architectural elements used to redefine their language of old houses or former industrial buildings.” This shows the impact of these communities making changes yet it allowed those buildings to have a better purpose.
Diwali became the biggest celebration outside of India in Leicester with people coming to last door purely for the two week celebrations. All these elements all the reasons why Leicester has been branded as a multicultural city. Although a lot of the buildings have changed, they have still retained some of their original characteristics.
Narborough road is another place which has a diverse amount of cultures which is “evident in the shop signs, bright and vivacious and often in contrast to one another which generates a peculiar landscape at the street levels in which brands and logos are proportion to the dimension of the retail unit. the same diversity of language is present outside can be found in the different informal arrangement of the interior and the outside area characterised by household products foods and second hand items often displayed in the internal part of the sidewalk.”
“The highest representation of countries of birth amongst the landlords includes the UK, India, and Turkey, although European, African and Middle Eastern countries are also present. As in the other parts of the city, long-established retailers are the migrants from Uganda, Malawi and Kenya who fled from the “Africanisation” policies of eastern African countries.”
Why I decided to research the architectural history of Leicester:
Although I researched the general history of architectural styles and how it has changed, as my project is focused on Leicester I felt that the architectural history of Leicester was important for me to understand. Although I have grown up in Leicester, and my grandparents did, I have heard lots of stories about it from their experiences which has allowed me to envision what it was like. Seeing how Leicester has developed is very interesting as it explains the reasons for the building of certain historical buildings which have been in Leicester longer than I’ve been alive. I also find it interesting to see how the fact Leicester was an industrial city in the past led to the construction of housing and flats for factory workers. Without the history and how things have changed, Leicester wouldn’t look like it does today. I also felt it was relevant to look into the cultural side of Leicester and how that rapidly developed over the years. Without all this history, my project would look very different than it does now and I love seeing how things have changed and finding the reasons for these changes in the first place.
As I have decided to do an architectural project, I felt it would be appropriate to research the different styles of architecture throughout history which will give me an awareness of the reasons there are different types of architecture in different places. I am also planning on doing a contextual post of architecture in Leicester which will explain certain architectural factors and the reasons they are there.
There are several types of architecture styles which have different purposes and functions. In many cities, there are often combinations of modern architecture and historical architecture which I find captivating as it demonstrates how the world has changed which is pivotal, history has a lot of importance and showing how we’ve moved on is very interesting in my opinion.
‘Architectural styles – a visual guide’ by Owen Hopkins. Published in 2014.
‘Architectural style’ is largely a creation of the 19th century. ‘Style’ is associated with Heinrich Wölfflin a Swiss architectural historian. he established 5 pairs of opposing concepts linear/painterly, plane/recession, closed form/open form, multiplicity/unity, and absolute clarity/relative clarity. His theory overlooked content in favour of form while ignoring the social economic or material factors that determine the creation of a building or piece of art. style is considered in a broad sense and is used to group and analyse buildings according to particular traits to highlight cultural trends or particular traits, to highlight cultural trends or particular architectural strategies that buy together works that superficially might seem unrelated. Architects often change styles throughout their careers depending upon clients.
Some architectural styles:
Classical – Ancient Greek and Ancient Roman
Early Christian – Byzantine And Romanesque
Gothic and Medieval – Early Gothic, High Gothic, Late Gothic, Venetian Gothic, Secular Gothic and Castle
Renaissance and Mannerism – Early Renaissance, High Renaissance, Northern Renaissance and Mannerism
Baroque and Rococo – Italian Baroque, German and Eastern European Baroque, Spanish and Latin American Baroque, French Baroque, English Baroque and Rococo
4) Renaissance and Mannerism. Renaissance architecture was created between the early 15th and early 17th century showing a development of early ancient Greek and Roman architecture. Mannerist architecture involved architects experimenting with forms found in Renaissance architecture to emphasise solid and spatial relationships.
Region – England, Europe, France, Germany and the Netherlands
Period – 16th century
Region – Italy and Spain
Period – Mid to late 16th century
5) Baroque and Rococo. Baroque architecture has a highly decorative style and appeared in Italy in the 17th century. It celebrated the wealth of the Catholic church, being linked to the Counter-Reformation. Rococo architecture was more graceful yet more elaborate than Baroque architecture as Baroque architecture was very focused on religion while Rococo was more light hearted. . Rococo architecture focused more on privacy than publicity.
8) Modernism is an architectural style based on new construction methods involving the uses of certain materials including reinforced concrete, glass and steel with a sense of minimalism and making form more important than function.
Why I felt I should research different architectural styles:
I decided to research into the different architectural styles throughout history as I felt that it would do me good to see how architecture has evolved as new uses for buildings arose. I felt that seeing the ways things have changed and the reasons for it such as providing housing for a lot of people, giving people efficient places to pray, schooling. Demands for things are constantly changing, with needs/wants for different amounts of decorative architectural elements. I feel like it is also eye opening to see how different things used to be in the past as without those things having happened, we wouldn’t be where we are today. Also as my project is focused on architecture, this seemed like a good foundation to get going. Identifying different architectural styles of windows and roofs was important also as it allows me to identify different elements which could be used to develop my project further somehow, possibly by being able to label drawings, adding annotations for a different effect.