Meet DAVID MCKEAN

We couldn’t be happier to have David Mckean as one of our Artists for our Art on a Ukulele project.  David is an illustrator born in Berkshire and attended Berkshire College of Art and Design where, before even graduating, he was working as an illustrator. Mckean’s work can be found across a magnitude of mediums; he has illustrated for the New Yorker and Playboy, collaborated with the Rolling Stones, illustrated promo work for films such as Blade and Sleepy Hollow, and various advertising campaigns including Sony PlayStation, Smirnoff and Nike. It is no wonder his distinct style, dark, humorous and intricate, has been sought after in such a variety of fields. But where we see McKean in his element is when he has free artistic reign, his comic books, films and co-collaborations are brimming with fantasy and a dark imagination and are what he is best known for, winning international acclaim and numerous awards for his unique and thought-provoking work.

Extract from Violent Cases, http://blogs.furman.edu

Extract from Violent Cases, http://blogs.furman.edu

As with most of the best double acts McKean met Neill Gaiman in University in the 1980’s, and it remained a union in which McKean would develop some of his most poignant work. Their first graphic novel Violent Cases was released in 1986. The story centred around a small child in Portsmouth who is said to resemble Gaiman. He is taken by his father to be treated by an osteopath who was once employed by Al Capone, and the relationship that builds between them and his relationship with his father is at the centre of the story. McKean’s drawings reflect the disjointed relationship between memory and reality, using a scrapbook style and hazy hues of white, blue, brown and black. The relationship between memory and the retelling of a story is reflected in McKean’s fragmented style that is reminiscent of Robert Rauschenberg’s multimedia collages that often also reflect on the self in the context of history. Violent Cases became a much loved graphic novel and was subsequently turned into a stage play, not least due to McKean’s ability to transport us through time with his illustrations.

McKean’s own graphic novel, written and illustrated entirely by him is as beautiful and profound as they get. It is about a painter, a writer and a musician all living in the same apartment block. The story is centred around their lives intersecting, and creates profound journeys that point to the mystery of life and how the cages we build for ourselves affect us. Many conversations with cats occur, ‘God is in the details’ one character says, ‘That’s a nice thought’ thinks the cat.

This direction toward the philosophy, fantasy and the absurd is inherent in all of David’s work, right across his exploration of other mediums. His photographs are fragmented, sinister and eerie, he renders his subjects with a mechanical quality. Some of his photographs such as the one featured on this blog look like close-ups of a detail on a Hieronymus Bosch painting, a nightmarish figure where the natural world meets the man made world, a collision of earthy browns and greens with blues and blacks, ordered and yet disrupted, it’s nightmarish fantasy.

Mckean also illustrates film, such as his 2005 hit MirrorMask, a Columbia and Tristar feature film based on a young girl who finds a portal between reality and her imagination, again McKean gravitates towards the world of fantasy, so enthralled by the intersection between reality and imagination. One critic said ‘if the Wizard of Oz were reborn in the 21st century it might look a lot like MirrorMask’. Perhaps the medium of illustration facilitates this? One good illustration can tell the same story as an entire page of words. The viewer accepts that not everything can be told so our imaginations are integral, deducing from what has been left in and what has been left out of the frame, in order to get lost in a whole new world in a way that words fail to facilitate.

We’re extremely excited to see in what fantastical manner Mckean approaches our Art on a Ukulele project so please join us to find out more by signing up to our mailing list (at the bottom of the page) to receive updates about this project and to find out about our crowdfunding campaign, the rewards we are offering and be part of the process over the next few months. 

 

Still from MirrorMask, https://www.youtube.com/

Still from MirrorMaskhttps://www.youtube.com/

MY PICTURE.jpg

About the writer

Rosa Torr is a final year BA Politics and Philosophy student from London currently at University College Dublin. Her place of interest is political theory and in particular Gender Studies. Rosa has written for numerous online publications and the University Observer. She is also a theatre maker and is currently co-artistic director of BUMP&GRIND Theatre Company. The show she co-wrote BUMP will be on at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this summer. 

Meet PJ Crook

Here at Art on a Postcard we are honoured to have PJ Crook as a contributing artist for our Art on a Ukulele project. Crook is a British painter and sculptor, living and working in her home town of Gloustershire.  Her exhibition at the Museum of Gloustershire ‘broke records’ which is not surprising when you consider her contributions to the art scene in her home town. In 2011 Crook received an MBE for her services to art. Whereas often painters use a subject, still-life or photograph to work from, Crook has said that her works come from memory and her imagination which is  telling in what we see as the end results.

Good Morning, M. Balladur, readingandart.blogspot.ie

Good Morning, M. Balladur,

readingandart.blogspot.ie

Crook has established a trademark style. Her work is often centred around urban crowds where the figures overlap, and the depth of field is worked in such a way that our perception is skewed. In this way her paintings are sensually manipulative because they seem at certain times flat but at others as though they contain such extraordinary depth. For instance in works such as Good Morning, M. Balladur, similar to when you look at an optical illusion, it is hard to tell the distance between each character and yet you can understand the atmosphere that they are in. It is a view on modern life that appears distant and surreal, like memories can.

There is a playful theatricality to Crook’s work that helps to create her distinctive style. Often set in crowded areas where communities gather such as circuses, theatres, commutes to work, town centres, football games and swimming pools, she finds the connection between individuals, communities and theatre. In works such as Cinema, Crook flips the spectacle away from the screen and into the individual reactions of the audience. There are the two sailors, one with his lover and the other alone, you wonder how awkward the date is that they are on… There is the couple caught kissing at the back under the spotlight of the assistant… The critic at the front taking notes, and the man directly behind him who is either yawning or amazed, we cannot tell… and then there is the elusive detective or perhaps villain coming down the aisle in a trench coat. Her crowds are brimming with narrative, creating a spectacle of modern life and causing us to assess and critique it in the same way the man on the front row reviews the film. As one critic from the Independent wrote, her work is ‘witty, menacing, enigmatic, playing games with the eye and the imagination’.

Cinema,  saatchiart.com

In 2016, Crook had an exhibition at Morohashi Museum of Modern Art, in Japan and was attended by three million visitors. Her work has featured in the pop culture arena too, creating album art for sixties rock band King Crimson for instance.

We’re extremely excited to see in what innovative manner PJ Crook approaches our Art on a Ukulele project so please join us to find out more by signing up to our mailing list (at the bottom of the page) to receive updates about this project and to find out about our crowdfunding campaign, the rewards we are offering and be part of the process over the next few months.   

About the writer

Rosa Torr is a final year BA Politics and Philosophy student from London currently at University College Dublin. Her place of interest is political theory and in particular Gender Studies. Rosa has written for numerous online publications and the University Observer. She is also a theatre maker and is currently co-artistic director of BUMP&GRIND Theatre Company. The show she co-wrote BUMP will be on at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this summer. 

Meet Glen Baxter

Art on a Postcard is honoured to be hosting the satirical cartoonist Glen Baxter for our Art on a Ukulele project. At Leeds College of Art in the 1960’s, Glen Baxter started to familiarise himself with Absurdism and Surrealists artists, such as Andre Breton and Max Ernst. In the similar vein to Max Ernst’s in Une Semaine de Bonté, Baxter’s poignant satire transports us into a very different and surreal dimension. However, his use of light-hearted humour and popular fiction is what really makes his interpretation of life and his expression of Absurdism unique and different from that of the heavier French Surrealists.

Because he expresses himself through absurdism, Glen Baxter’s works are irresistibly funny and often very deep. In philosophy “the Absurd” refers to the conflict between the human tendency to seek inherent value and meaning in life and our inability to find it. His mastering of poetic prose allows Baxter to depict in his cartoons situations that are at once funny and true. In his use of both words and imagery, Baxter derives humour from its nonsensical nature rather than from wit or a punchline.

Poetic in his use of analogies and wordplay Baxter’s images and corresponding captions employ art and language inspired by intellectual jokes and historic or philosophical references, all while maintaining a very playful and childlike nature through his choice of aesthetic; drawings rendered in ink and crayon. An artist of both words and images, Baxter combines these mediums in his work to form an intriguing new world and language of his own. Images are accompanied by captions that make you giggle and these could be interpreted endlessly or have no meaning at all, and that is the beauty of absurdism.

We are excited to see what nonsensical and satirical drawings Glen produces for the Art on a Ukulele challenge. Please join us to find out more by signing up to our mailing list (at the bottom of the page) to receive updates about this project and find out about our crowdfunding campaign, the rewards we are offering and be part of the process over the next few months.    

About the writer

Katherine is 22 year old writer based in London. She graduated from the Courtauld Institute of Art and is an advocate for anything made or done by women. If she’s not devouring books and drinking cups of strong black coffee in downward facing dog, she’s fighting the patriarchy through interviewing women artists or giving you her heartfelt feminist opinion. She believes that the key to life is to be constantly interested in the women around you, only when we are mesmerised by the existence of each other can we truly unleash our greatest human potential. 

Meet Bill Jacklin RA

Woman in a Bed 1980 - Bill Jacklin RA 

Woman in a Bed 1980 - Bill Jacklin RA 

Man with a Bib 1980 - Bill Jacklin

Man with a Bib 1980 - Bill Jacklin

We are delighted to have Bill Jacklin on board for the Art on a Ukulele fundraiser at Art on a Postcard. A born observer, Bill began his career drawing impressions. From a very young age he was processing his environment and depicting life through the medium of drawing. In one interview he expresses how he believes some of the best pieces he ever did were ones of his mother during the last days of her life, Woman in a Bed, 1980, or sketches of his father in a hospital bed, Man with a Bib, 1980. Evident in his art is an interest in representing places that are vibrant and full of people, perhaps a penchant more common to those who like him are born in big crowded cities. He is someone we could call a modern day flaneur; an artist who depicts his surroundings with collected detachment.  

A graphic design graduate of Walthamstow School of Art and painting graduate of the Royal College of Art, Bill has taught at Chelsea, Hornsey and the Royal College of Art and is currently living and working in New York.Bill’s rich artistic training is visible in the broad scope of his work. Over the years he has approached a variety of subjects through a multitude of mediums, such as graphics, painting and 3-Dimensional art. A lot of his earlier work demonstrates a refusal of the traditional, European sense of the picture plane. Rocking My Blues Away, is a black and white abstract graphic print, made using the mezzotint method. At a time when Bill was showing particular interest in American graphic artists of the pop movement like Robert Rauschenberg, this print shows him focused on exploring the relationship between shade, light and abstract form.

Wollman Rink I - Bill Jacklin A

Wollman Rink I - Bill Jacklin A

Bill has always been concerned with exploring the changing nature of light and geometry in his practice and he later began to abandon abstraction and approach these interests through depictions of city life. Wollman Rink I is a comic cosmopolitan scene of a crowd of people skating on an ice ring. Similar in many ways to Felix Vallotton’s famous nineteenth century depictions of The Charge, in Wollman Rink I the individuality of the subjects in the image is traded for an overriding sense of public chaos conveyed by this swirling whirlwind of bodies. In this image Bill explores the theme of public space in all its charming ugliness. By playing with light and choosing to depict each figure with their own shadow, Bill multiplies the figures in the crowd creating an even greater sense of noise and movement.
Similarly, when Bill works with paint and colour his loose and softening poetic brush strokes provide the melody to his busy scenes of public living. In the Bathers II the figures move in asymmetrical directions but the quality of the paint – the blurred lines and soft tones – turn the figures into shapes that fall and bend over one another in harmony, providing an undulating rhythm to a vibrant depiction of life at the sea. Bill’s particular way of capturing people indulging in leisurely activities recall paintings by Seurat, who’s palette and technique conjure up similar dreamlike scenarios.

Bill Jacklin captures his particular perceptual experience through paying attention to how light falls on the subject matter. He explores the capacity light has in bringing subjects in or out of focus, twisting forms and skewing vision. In this way he finds a balance in making the spectator aware both of what is being represented and of the process of representation. His depictions are therefore neither straightforward representations nor forced exercises in colour and form and succeed in conveying a sense of the artist as detached observer.

We are looking forward to seeing how Bill Jacklin approaches the Art on a Ukulele subject seen as he has worked in so many different styles. Please join us to find out more by signing up to our mailing list (at the bottom of the page) to receive updates about this project and find out about our crowdfunding campaign, the rewards we are offering and be part of the process over the next few months.    

About the writer

Katherine is 22 year old writer based in London. She graduated from the Courtauld Institute of Art and is an advocate for anything made or done by women. If she’s not devouring books and drinking cups of strong black coffee in downward facing dog, she’s fighting the patriarchy through interviewing women artists or giving you her heartfelt feminist opinion. She believes that the key to life is to be constantly interested in the women around you, only when we are mesmerised by the existence of each other can we truly unleash our greatest human potential. 

Meet David Inshaw

So each had a private little sun for her soul to bask in; some dream, some affection, some hobby, or at least some remote and distant hope... – Thomas Hardy

We are extremely excited here at Art on a Postcard that David Inshaw is on board as one of our Artists for Art on a Ukulele. In 1975, Inshaw founded the Broadheath Brotherhood alongside Peter Blake, Jann Haworth and Co. whose work was recognised internationally and exhibited at the Royal Academy. Since his rise to success Inshaw’s paintings are exhibited at such museums as the Tate Britain and the Wiltshire Museum. Living in Devizes, Inshaw’s work is heavily influenced by the countryside around him, and many of his dreamlike and almost surreal landscapes and country scenes have become iconic, internationally acclaimed artworks.

The Badminton Game davidinshaw.net

The Badminton Game

davidinshaw.net

Inshaw has cited his biggest influences as people and places, and within his work we see where these influences intersect. Inshaw is inspired by the works of Thomas Hardy who used the countryside as a metaphor for the human psyche, and in his most famous work, The Badminton Game, we see heavy examples of this. In this dreamlike scene, trees loom over the girls as they play, their shuttlecock suspended in the air, the dominant trees are in opposition, one is curved and rounded, the other rigid and straight. This scene is brimming with sexual symbolism and exists within a landscape that is clean cut but mysterious as if darkness lurks behind the box bush to the right of the painting. For Inshaw this link between nature and the human condition is not only existent in paintings, it is how he sees landscapes in reality. When a friend asked him why he so often climbs a hill that the locals call ‘Adam’s Grave’, he replied ‘It looks so like a nipple or a breast. It’s so sensuous, this soft, undulating downland. It’s so wonderfully feminine’.

Oak Tree, Bonfire and Fireworks davidinshaw.net

Oak Tree, Bonfire and Fireworks

davidinshaw.net

The heavy influence of poetry comes through to his contemporary work too. In Oak Tree, Bonfire and Fireworks (2004), the painting reads like a visual poem. The bonfire at the bottom right corner crackles, hisses and reaches toward the sky, while the firework bangs and bursts towards us, creating a vivacious balance and a sort of order, whilst also feeding energy into the narrative. The tree, the moon and the firework, all take similar circular form, drawing links between space, the earth and human existence. Given Inshaw’s afore mentioned artistic link between nature and femininity, one wonders whether the circles, the fire and the suspension of the bang also eludes to certain sexual symbols. These questions arise from all of Inshaw’s works; so familiar in scenery and yet so mysterious in style. He is one of those artists that knows where to place things. He knows how to manipulate the recognisable environment in order to create a scene that resembles the liminality of a pleasant dream in which you have an impeding feeling things could descend into a nightmare. If dreams are a demonstration of our inner most psychology, Inshaw’s paintings work like a mirror into the mind of the viewer.

We’re extremely excited to see in what innovative manner David Inshaw approaches our Art on a Ukulele project so please join us to find out more by signing up to our mailing list (at the bottom of the page) to receive updates about this project and to find out about our crowdfunding campaign, the rewards we are offering and be part of the process over the next few months.   

About the writer

Rosa Torr is a final year BA Politics and Philosophy student from London currently at University College Dublin. Her place of interest is political theory and in particular Gender Studies. Rosa has written for numerous online publications and the University Observer. She is also a theatre maker and is currently co-artistic director of BUMP&GRIND Theatre Company. The show she co-wrote BUMP will be on at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this summer.