Galleries - June 2014

Courses Abroad ‘Every day I awake with the idea, today I must teach myself to draw’: if Leon Kossoff chides himself thus, what hope for those of us in the occasional student category? And are short art courses in picturesque locations really any help? Well, they’re certainly popular. The combination of a professional on hand to guide and advise and a group of like-minded people can be just the stimulus required. Throw in an interesting setting, whether a Scottish island, a Welsh mountain or a workshop in central Italy, and the result can be a great learning experience. However, quizzing various friends, it seems the crucial thing they take from these breaks is an understanding of how demanding the creative life is. Marijke Tress went to the South of France 25 years ago for a painting course ‘just for fun’, followed it up with a day-a-week at art college and now paints full- time. ‘One of the things that I learnt was that you need 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration. Going on a painting holiday is very pleasant, but if you really want to paint you have to work hard. Now, I am more or less addicted to it.’ Another friend admitted that her painting holidays produced really hopeless results at the time, the real benefits coming later when attempting to put into practice what had been taught. She particularly enjoyed being with Ken Howard in Santorini. ‘The main thing I realised is that professional artists work far harder than the rest of us put together. Ken was up painting at dawn and finished at dusk – we were all loitering over breakfast and hanging around the swimming pool etc so no wonder at the results. It makes you realise that hard work is required wherever you are!’ Art, like old age, isn’t for softies. Sarah Drury JUNE 2014 GALLERIES 13 from left: S ir Jacob Epstein ‘Sunita’ at Modern Art Auctions. Qin Yuhai photography from Ebb and Flow at the Saatchi Gallery. Sir Stanley Spencer ‘Unveiling Cookham War Memorial’ (detail) at Stanley Spencer Gallery. below: Elizabeth Taylor wears Bulgari jewellery from the The Glamour of Italian Fashion 1945 - 2014 at the V&A Museum Identifying Fashion M elanie Abrams Fashion and identity have always been inexorably linked as what we wear reflects how we want to be seen. It has, for example, always been a big part of Italian identity. Take the sumptuously dressed Gonzagas, da Portos and other 16th C. Renaissance aristocrats painted by Veronese at the National Gallery (to 15 June 2014). They showed off their power with sable furs, fine silks and more. The Victoria & Albert Museum (to 27 July) examines how Italian fashion has become synonymous with glamour since 1945, from regulated dowdy wartime suits to modern day favourites like Giorgio Armani’s shimmering crystal, silk lamé couture gown or dip dye Prada dress. Hollywood proved the turning point as stars like Elizabeth Taylor and Audrey Hepburn flocked to film at Rome’s legendary Cinecittà studios in the 1950s. Taylor’s gleaming Bulgari diamond and emerald bling gave Italian design, jewellery – and herself – superstar status and still outshines everything around it. Jean Paul Gaultier’s retrospective which has landed at the Barbican Art Gallery (until 25 August) on its blockbusting world tour explores other types of identity too. His iconic pink satin conical bra for Madonna’s 1990 ‘Blonde Ambition’ tour irrevocably defined the singer’s provocative personae, symbolised a new female power and transformed the garment’s identity from underwear to outerwear. The skirts for men blurred gender identities, whereas his wedding dresses in latex or with a fierce shield motif turned these demurest of looks subversive. Compare the elegant 1775-2014 wedding dresses at the Victoria & Albert Museum’s fashion gallery (to 15 May 2015).