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We are now putting the exhibition in place in preparation for the opening on Saturday 6th October. The material on loan from museums and private collectors is arriving, and for the first time we can see how it will look within the exhibition space. Oriel Ynys Môn has been extremely supportive. We have received items that will help gain a sense of Charles Tunnicliffe’s working processes, including one of the easels used towards the end of his career, and a box of art materials. Oriel Ynys Môn has also sent a range of artworks to compliment those in our own collection. These include a large and very impressive measured drawing of a fox, and this early study, based on observations Tunnicliffe made on his family farm.

Christmas Chickens

As discussed above, the exhibition on Ladybird and Tunnicliffe at MERL will feature work by a number of academics from the University of Reading discussing what they look for in a single image from What to Look For in Autumn. The approaches range from Art History to Biology, Typography to Critical Theory. Each response is displayed on a banner or panel, that works through some key ideas. Many of these have now been printed.

1) Looking at the Artist introduces some biographical information about the artist Tunnicliffe, placing the image from What to Look for in Autumn in the context of his life and work.

2) Looking at Art and Style relates the image to the work of artists that influenced Tunnicliffe.

3) Looking at How to Look asks a range of questions about the framing of the image.

4) Looking at Artefacts explores the various objects depicted in the images, and from this discusses the representation the natural and the human

5) Looking at Childhood places the image in the context of changing C20th attitudes to childhood.

6) Looking at Letterforms relates the word forms in What to Look For in Autumn to typographical innovations within the wider series of Ladybird publications.

7) Looking at Book Design describes the printing and design process, and the influence technical considerations had on the image and the book from which it is taken .

8) Looking at Names uses the mushrooms depicted in the image as a starting point for a discussion of the relationship between names and things.

9) Looking at Absence is interested in things outside of the image’s frame and how they contribute to the image within.

10) Looking at the Hunt relates the image to some of Tunnicliffe’s other depictions of hunting

11) Looking at Science engages with the work of Grant-Watson, the biologist and writer who supplied the text that accompanies the image.

12) Looking at Learning relates the image to contemporary ideas of education and literacy.

13) Looking at Rural History approaches the image through changing ideas of the rural and nature.

14) Looking at Images is a photographic response to the What to Look For books by Wig Sayell, a contemporary artist.

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Part of the forthcoming MERL Ladybird exhibition will be a series of banners featuring responses to Ladybird images by University of Reading academics. We asked these academics ‘what do you look for when you look at one of the “What to Look For  in Spring/Summer/Autumn/Winter” Ladybird books? We asked a visual artist the same question.

Wig Sayell has a longstanding interest in offering complex engagements with landscape and rural history. Her response to our commission was to produce four images, each reflecting one of the four ‘What To Look For…’ books.

Here is the image for ‘Autumn’.  In a future blog entry, we will be interviewing Wig, and asking her to talk through the ideas that inform this image, and the techniques she used to produce it.

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Oriel Ynys Môn

Neil Cocks from The University of Reading visited Oriel Ynys Môn last week in preparation for the opening of the Tunnicliffe/Ladybird exhibition he is co-curating at MERL. Oriel Ynys Môn has a world class collection of Tunnicliffe material, and a track record of utilising it within innovative exhibitions. Museum Officer Ian Jones showed Neil around the current exhibitions, as well as introducing him to a wealth of archive material. Hopefully, a number of significant loan items will appear in the MERL exhibition – we will keep you posted!

Neil says of his trip:

“The Tunnicliffe work at Oriel Ynys Môn is breathtaking, especially the notebooks. These are filled with such an array of styles. Tunnicliffe was clearly interested in constantly pushing his art. Ian Jones is an expert in the field, and his knowledge of Tunnicliffe’s work – from his use of field glasses, to his choices of location – really helped me develop my own understanding.

I should also mention the current Kyffin Williams exhibition at Oriel Ynys Môn. Recently, some Williams work was exhibited alongside paintings by Tunnicliffe, helping to bring to light connections between these two island artists. Williams’s canvases are all illuminated dusks, great spread-squares of grey, yellow, black and white. The paint is frequently applied in thick palate knife strokes, but has an odd, insubstantial quality for all that. Haunting and beautiful images…”

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