@MarDixon Passionate about culture. Champion for the next generation of Cultural visitors. Defender of Libraries. Digital, Wearable Tech Enthusiast. Sharing knowledge. Troublemaker and/or advocate, depending on what you need.
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    May 31st, 2017mardixonCulture

    Today we attended the Canaletto & the Art of Venice at Queen’s Gallery. Rachel has provided this guest blog – hope you enjoy!

    Canaletto, a unique artist, captures the beauty of Italian architecture and city scenes from the 18th Century, which we are able to still enjoy and recognise today.

    This morning, Lucy Whitaker, Senior Curator of Paintings at the Royal Collection Trust of the Queens Gallery (part of Buckingham palace) gave a tour of the Canaletto exhibition.

    She informs us that while 18th century’s Venice was no longer the political powerhouse  it used to be after Napoleon invaded, the City of Venice was still in its last great century of glory. This exhibition celebrates Venice at that time and the artist Canaletto forms our idea of Venice as we see it through his eyes.

    Whitaker explains that Canaletto might not have been so successful without the support of Joseph Smith, a British merchant and art collector and dealer who lived in Venice and became an avid collector of his work.

    Because of Smith, Canaletto’s work travelled across Europe and was especially popular with the British aristocracy who were particularly drawn to the city of carnivals, music and costumes.

    As we enter the exhibit, we are greeted with two great paintings of a Regatta on the Grand Canal on Ascension day in Venice. The paintings reveal the grandeur of the Regatta, as gondolas float under the Rialto Bridge.  This day was a great festival, to which many British hurried across Europe to see. A ring would be thrown into the sea from a gilded barge, a symbolism of Venice’s maritime power at that time.

    Because Joseph Smith was close to Canaletto and was his biggest supporter, he commissioned a series of six drawings of Venice in 1723. Smiths collection in the end contained 200 pieces of Canaletto’s work when Smith finally sold his collection for £20,000 to George III.

    Now the pictures are at the Royal Collection gallery infrared images have been done to see the meticulous drawings Canaletto made underneath in the process of producing his paintings.

    The gallery has made the exhibit so it seems as if you are moving through personal Palazzo of Smith. He had earned his fortune from trade and lived in Palazzo Balbi, near the Rialto, which Canaletto later included in one of his Venice paintings. Later in the exhibit there are also paintings of Rome that Canaletto completed from some sketches and his memory, while living in England many years later.

    Unlike British tourists,  Venetians didn’t buy the work of Canaletto as they didn’t like the typical views and city sights that he often depicted. In this time paintings of history and mythology were the most prestigious paintings.

    This exhibition shows however characteristics that link Canaletto with the other artists of his time by revealing his amazing knowledge of oil painting techniques.

    Alongside Canaletto’s stunning works is art work by the female artist Rosalba Carriera. It was unusual to have successful female artists at that time but she was also supported by Smith in the 1720’s. She started by painting Snuff boxes and then moved onto art pastels drawn in chalk, which became very popular. A good luck token, very common in the 18th-century, has been found hidden inside Rosalba Carriera’s pastel A Personification of Winter by Royal Collection Trust’s conservators.

    This is for me, the most beautiful of her paintings at the exhibit and I was drawn to it before knowing it was where she hid her good luck token. Hidden between the pastel’s wooden support and canvas liner, the token was found during conservation work.

    Instead of framing the good luck token, the Museum team decided to keep it on the frame of the Winter picture to preserve it’s good luck.

    A multimedia guide provided to all visitors is the perfect companion (2nd to a personal curator tour!) for interpreting the exhibition. A well written tour that presents interesting interviews and expert opinions, it’s another fine tour production from ATS Heritage.

    Royal Collection Trust/ © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017

    The learning room was also a source of joy with different activities available for all ages.

    The exhibition is on from Friday, 19 May 2017  until Sunday, 12 Nov 2017.

    Rachel Rigby is a freelance travel and events journalist who is always looking for her next adventure. For more information contact her on rachelrigby@hotmail.com.

     

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    April 4th, 2017mardixonCulture, International

    I was incredibly fortunate enough to get a look at Sir John Soane’s Museum latest exhibition Marc Quinn: Drawn from Life whilst recently in London.

    Each of the twelve sculptures is created from casts of Quinn and his muse, the dancer Jenny Bastet, in a series of embraces. Their interlinked arms appear to be fighting, loving, holding or supporting – or even all at once – reflecting Quinn’s recurring fascination with the physical ambiguities of human emotion.

    Marc Quinn marries together the architecture beauty of the Soane’s Museum with contemporary art in a very sympathetic way.  I personally loved how each piece seem to have been at the location for years.  As I was there, some people walked right by without even recognizing it was a different piece.  That to me is a great sign of fitting in.

     

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    February 10th, 2017mardixonCulture

    It’s been awhile since I did a review and there are two amazing exhibitions I recently saw in London, the first was the David Hockey exhibition and second is Robots at the Science Museum.

    I was fortunate to be able to attend the David Hockney press preview whilst in London.  Normally press previews are very nice events that give you time to explore the art without a lot of people and fuss.  There is also a few talks, usually from the curator, sometimes it’s the press people.  And there is usually tea/coffee and biscuits.

    This press preview was completely different.

    It. Was. PACKED.  And I mean wall to wall with people writing, photographing and filming.  I was able to go through in my normal style, pretty rushed in each room, go back the opposite way and then through again to see what I missed.  The problem: normally I go into a room to find just one or two things I like (it something me and Charlotte have always done to avoid art fatigue) but with this exhibition that was impossible – I *liked* everything!

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    January 12th, 2017mardixonCulture, Tech

    Really enjoyed Actually Reality at Royal Academy. It’s opening to the public January 12-14 (yes, a very short run) but if you want to experience art in a virtual world (instead of just walking around it as most platforms allow), this is the perfect exhibition.  I also like the fact that RA worked with graduates – how inspiring!

    From Royal Academy website:

    We’re starting 2017 with Virtually Real, a collaborative pop-up project between the virtual reality platform HTC Vive and our contemporary art school, the Royal Academy Schools.

    Graduates Adham Faramawy and Elliot Dodd, together with third-year student Jessy Jetpacks, have been selected to create works of art using HTC Vive. This virtual reality technology lets you experience hundreds of simulated worlds, where the normal rules of gravity don’t apply. The artists will be using software like Kodon and Tilt Brush by Google, a palette that lets you paint in virtual 3D space to produce installations that you, the visitor, will be able to move through and interact with. You’ll also be able to see their creative processes from start to finish with HTC Vive’s playback technology. As a world-first, we’ll be 3D printing these artworks and exhibiting them, so you will have the chance to interact with them both virtually and in real life. You’ll also be able to try your hand at creating a virtual reality masterpiece of your own.

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    March 13th, 2016mardixonCulture, International, Tech

    Cultural Tourism WorkshopThe second London Cultural Tourism workshop took place March 7th at City Hall in London. I was asked to facilitate the day by a great team including Creative Tourist and Mike Clewley from Greater London Authority office. The original idea was a traditional type of day – speakers, delegates listening and time for Q&A. However, the more we talked it was clear this wasn’t the right framework.

    The day needed to be a hybrid of speakers and time for delegates to speak – not just ask questions. The format was an awesome Keynote from You Me Bum Bum Train (whose name I spent ages trying to say without laughing) followed by a 4 person panel with each speaker speaking for 2-minutes (and yes, I did time it and glare if they went over) then breakout sessions that were run as an unconference.

    A LOT was going on but I’m a firm believer in creativity comes in all paces.

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    July 19th, 2015mardixonCulture

    Full disclosure: I’m working on the social media for the ILoveMuseums.com campaign.

    ilovemuseumsThe concept behind the campaign is to get enough signatures on a petitions to show government that we care about museums and can’t afford any more cuts to funding and budgets and still survive. I Love Museums is a campaign led by the National Museum Directors’ Council with support from: Arts Council EnglandAssociation of Independent MuseumsCulture24Museums Association, The Art FundUniversity Museums Group, Army Museums Ogilby Trust.

    I Love Museums launched in June, after the elections with a day of trending and people worldwide filling in the statement #ILoveMuseums because _______. There were over 1200 signatures in one day.

    Since then, not much.  We’ve have had people sharing visits with #ILoveMuseums but the support has seemed to wean off.

    Last week I attended a debate at Parliament as MP Robert Jenrick asked for a ballot on Regional support for the arts.  I went representing I Love Museums to live tweet (see Storify here). The #artsfunding debate is similar to #ILoveMuseums:  stop the cuts and support museums and galleries outside of London as much as those in London.

    Much of the public money that goes into the arts is channelled through Arts Council England (ACE), which receives a direct grant from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), as well as distributing Lottery grants. As part of the general squeeze on public finances, the last Parliament saw significant reductions in the funds set aside for the arts. Some people feel that ‘prestige’, London-based organisations – galleries and museums, theatre, opera and ballet companies, orchestras, etc – continue to get preferential treatment from funders.
    With the launch of its investment plans for 2015-18 in July 2014, ACE signalled its determination to rectify historic imbalances between London and the rest of England. There were specific initiatives to build capacity outside London, to encourage cultural communities to grow and to encourage touring.

    After struggling to get the I Love Museums petition to 1500 sign ups, I tweeted this morning:

    Some of the answers:

     

    My question to you:  What can we do to get you to take #ILoveMuseums and the #ArtsFunding debate seriously?  Why do we constantly have to wait until we have a fight on our hands to show the love and respect we have for our culture? 

    As a strong supporter of NHS, libraries, young people and more, I know how tiring it is to always seem like we’re signing one petition over the other.  I get it.  But I also get we can NOT stop letting our voices heard.  I Love Museums has the right partners and right people behind it – we just need the public to know this is about their access to culture for all! 

    Actions:

    Further Reading:

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    June 17th, 2012mardixonCulture

    I first heard of Art Tokens from Twitter and instantly knew I wanted to know more about them.  Was it like National Book Tokens – the great scheme that allows you to buy a ‘gift certificate’ for book lovers?

    I contacted them via Twitter and asked if they could do a Guest Blog to help enlighten myself and others on what ‘Art Tokens‘ were. Annie from  Art Token accepted the invitation and the sent the following:

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    Art Tokens are ideal for locavores who are interested in art. Art Tokens let you give an art gift where the only taste you impose is that of your desire to support the arts. You buy Art Tokens, we send them, they choose a work that suits their preferences or décor.  And as every artist has their location given, the lucky recipient of your Art Token gift can choose to go and meet an artist that lives near them and choose or commission a work.

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    April 8th, 2012mardixonCulture, Literacy

    Along the same lines as 50 Modern Artists You Should Know, authors Kristina Lowis and Tamsin Pickeral have chosen 50 powerful paintings from renaissance to pop/contemporary and everything in between in this very comprehensive book from Prestel Publishing which is a most have for any art student or fan.

    For the most part, each painting has a comprehensive biography listing the important factors in the creators career. There is a detailed timeline on the top of the page highlight important dates in history within a century timeframe. This helps show the influences of the artists.

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    April 8th, 2012mardixonCulture, Literacy

    Anyone with even a passing interesting in modern art needs to own, at the very least, have access to this informational book by Prestel Publishing.

    While I originally debated some of the artists (Whistler and Cezanne), it is fascinating to read a fact cheat sheets on each of the 50 artists. The book is designed so you don’t have to read front to back, however, it does make for an incredibly interesting read when you do.

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    March 11th, 2012mardixonCulture

    Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery organized Exploring Leonardo Study Day as part of the Ten Drawings by Leonardo da Vinci: A Diamond Jubilee Celebration exhibition.  The day saw four leading experts speak on Leonardo’s strategies for innovation in art, the pitfalls of working with him, da Vinci’s anatomical studies and the work that went into restoring  the famous Leonardo cartoon at the National Gallery following its damage in a shotgun attack in 1987.

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