Galleries - February 2015

Wood and Ink Founded in 1920 by such luminaries as Eric Gill, Robert Gibbings, Gwen Raverat and Lucien Pissarro, in what is often seen as the medium's golden age, The Society of Wood Engravers immediately attracted a host of famous names to its annual exhibitions, John and Paul Nash, David Jones and Clare Leighton among them. It thrived even through the Depression, only being halted in its tracks by the Second World War which drastically cut the supply of essential materials. It revived again after the war but it was by then a very different world, the Society declining in activity steadily until it ceased exhibiting altogether for a decade or so in the 1970s. Buoyed by renewed interest in the medium, it got going again in the early 80s and hasn't looked back since, this current show, its 77th, at Bankside (3 to 22 February), a testament to the way in which the medium has so imaginatively reinvented itself in recent years – plenty of straightforward technical brilliance but plenty of creative sparkle and vigour too. Utterly enjoyable . . . NU studying art). This is, in every case, an art which is trying to see and show what war feels like from the inside as well as the much harder task of trying to build understanding. Art doesn’t always do ‘issues’ like this that well, pace Goya – this superb exhibition really does . . . By a nice serendipity, Flowers (Kingsland Road) is presenting an exhibition of Edmund Clark's intensely thoughtful photography, found imagery and text documenting the end of 'Operation Enduring Freedom' in Afghanistan. Entitled ‘The Mountains of Majeed’, it explores the uneasy disjunctions between the huge man-made bases and the brooding, unseen insurgents they conceal. Where is the Work . . . In the work of art? is the title of a quite extraordinary inaugural exhibition in an important new space, the Bethlem Gallery (from 19 February). Housed right in the heart of the celebrated Bethlem Royal Hospital, it explores through the revealing prism of mental health why the work of art can be of such importance, both to artist and audience. Less concerned with finished, buyable product and more with the very process of making and experimentation, these are questions that go right to the heart of the matter. ANTENNAE 8 GALLERIES FEBRUARY 2015 there who do engage with and respond to the brutality of war and the need for peace and reconciliation. Curated by Nicola Gauld of the Herbert Art Gallery in Coventry and partly based on its collections (and on private collections too) which were consciously developed in the light of Coventry’s own tragic wartime history and its subsequent role in peace and reconciliation, it brings together 14 mostly British, artists for whom the experiences of people, communities and countries in the face of war and the urgent need to find ways of reconciling the causes of conflict are their paramount subject matter. It is interesting in this context that at least two of them, Banksy and Blek Le Rat, are ‘street artists’ who have emerged largely outside the gallery system (however much value others have then put on it) while others, like Peter Kennard and Conrad Atkinson for example, working in this vein since the late 60s, have tended to remain very much out of the fashionable mainstream over the course of their careers. Others again, like kennardphillipps, have used photomontage techniques to put their scabrously satirical weight behind the kind of investigations into the media’s role in war John Pilger conducted in his film ‘The War You Don’t See.’ War artists are here too of course, notably John Keene and Peter Howson (briefly an infantryman before from left: E dmund Clark ‘The Mountains of Majeed’ 2004, at Flowers Matthew ‘The Engine’ at Bethlem Gallery