Inscribing Prints

The Prints and Drawings Study Room is hosting a new displays that responds our Reading Drawings in The Courtauld Gallery. Print Room Assistants Imogen Tedbury and Sean Ketteringham talk us through the latest display.

Timed to coincide with the exhibition Reading Drawings, which showcases inscriptions on drawings in the Courtauld collection, this display in the Prints and Drawings Study Room looks at the function of inscriptions in prints. The Courtauld Gallery has 7,000 drawings, but it also has over 26,000 prints – so we had plenty of works to choose from!

Printed text in printed images can function very differently to handwritten text in drawings. So, we decided to leave aside the themes thoroughly examined in the drawings exhibition – attribution, the history of collecting and working practices – instead exploring why and how prints include text, and what functions word and image can serve together, across a broad range of dates and places. Playing around with the word and concept of ‘Authority’, we thought about the relative ‘authorities’ of text in an image: what happens when text moves from the frame or border to take up an active role in the image itself?

Some Early Modern printmakers represented God by representing the Word of God – his textual ‘authority’, if you like. In these prints, the physical representation of God’s Word as visual sign plays a central role within the image. In the Fall of the Tower of Babel, for example, the illegible rotation of the Latin text signifies the fragmentation of earthly language.

We were also interested in how an authority – whether political, religious or artistic – can be undermined by the use of inscription. Two eighteenth-century satirical prints chosen for the display use fragments of text to make fun of their subjects, subverting them by parodying religious language. An attack by an anonymous artist on Robert Walpole, the first prime minister of Britain, even seems a forerunner for 2017 Turner Prize nominee Anthea Hamilton’s installation of a giant bottom, Project for Door (After Gaetano Pesce), or Pauline Boty’s 1966 painting, Bum!

Printmaking’s close relationship with book-printing inspires the last group of prints – a selection of title pages and cover images from Canaletto to Wyndham Lewis considering how frontispieces reveal and conceal their textual and pictorial content. In these prints no clear boundary can be drawn between word and image, as together they combine to communicate the author’s identity.

Come and see these printed treasures, some of which have not been on display before. The Prints and Drawings Study Room is open by appointment Monday-Thursday 10am-5pm, or drop in on Wednesday afternoons during term time, 1.30-4pm, no appointment needed

Idol-Worship or The Way to Preferment, a portrait of Robert Walpole., 1740, © The Samuel Courtauld Trust, The Courtauld Gallery, London

Sitting down with the Product Developer of The Bloomsbury Needlepoint Tapestry Kits

 

On Saturday 25 March, The Courtauld Shop will host an immersive experience in collaboration with The London Craft Club to mark the legacy of The Bloomsbury Group and Omega Workshops. The event will involve a guided tour of The Courtauld Gallery’s Bloomsbury Art & Design Special Display, a needlepoint workshop to further promote creativity in museums, refreshments, and a complimentary bespoke Bloomsbury Tapestry Kit (value of £20 – £25) produced in collaboration with Cleopatra’s Needle, a company founded in Scotland and that has been at the forefront of designing and manufacturing tapestry kits since 1991.

Attendees will partake in an hour-long needlepoint workshop with specialist Zuzana Lalikova to learn the craft of needlepoint and create their very own stitched four-colour badge. The bespoke tapestry kits are available in-store or online from the The Courtauld Shop.

Today, we have sat down with our Lead Product Developer of these bespoke tapestry kits to find out a little bit more about the creative process.

Q: Can you tell us a little about your decision to collaborate with Cleopatra’s Needle for the production of The Bloomsbury Group needlepoint range? Why needlepoint?

Well, ever since I worked on the range for the Beyond Bloomsbury: Designs of the Omega Workshops 1913-19 exhibition at The Courtauld Gallery, back in 2009, there was a piece of furniture there which really stood out for me. It’s a chair with a beautiful embroidered seatback by Vanessa Bell or Winifred Gill. It really inspired me to use needlepoint as a medium for a product range.

Q: Why did you choose Cleopatra’s Needle?

Cleopatra’s Needle is a long -standing wonderful Scottish company, which produce a wide variety of kits. The quality of components i.e. the canvas and wool that they use and their attention to detail really drew us to them.

Q: From your perspective, what is the relationship between The Bloomsbury Group and needlepoint?

The connection is quite an obvious one I think. Textiles and tangible materials were hugely important for the Bloomsbury Group, and they explored this in the Omega Workshops forum, where interior accessories were created; vases, rugs, ceramics, textiles, fashion garments, etc. This was very modern and forward thinking at the time and I love the idea of fusing British craft with a modern look.

Q: What is the foremost reason an art lover would purchase a Bloomsbury needlepoint kit? (What need are you satisfying?)

We are presenting an art lover with an authentic, well-priced gift to handcraft which has been sympathetically designed and produced. There is nothing else like it on the market – it’s got a very modern twist.

Q: What are the key milestones in product development? And which proved to be the most challenging?

In this process, there were many milestones! We did not want to create exact facsimiles of the archive but wanted to inject some creativity. We agreed the product types and mapped out the basic designs onto PDFs in paper form, along with agreed swatches of coloured wool. The next milestone was waiting for the samples to be stitched which was nail biting! But even then, some samples didn’t work, colours didn’t sit together, sizes were wrong and we’d have to resample. We got there in the end though!

Q: What did you take away from this experience?

An enormous amount. Working product development in needlepoint has been hugely rewarding and an area I hadn’t experienced before. I am very proud of the authenticity, the quality of the kits and how different they are.

Q: What are three words you would use to describe The Bloomsbury Group?

Modern, eclectic, experimental.

Q: We would love to hear more about future product ranges coming soon to The Courtauld Shop. Should we expect them to be as exciting as The Bloomsbury Group and Omega Workshop ranges?

We have recently had a revamp of the visual merchandising in the shop to make it a exciting shopping experience – we’d love some feedback from our customers.

The buying team are also looking forward to assembling wonderful ranges for the forthcoming Chaïm Soutine exhibition.  He was an incredibly expressive artist; controversial and passionate, so look for some lively and vivid products coming soon!

Culture Label are giving away two tickets to the Bloomsbury Needlepoint Workshop this Saturday, 11am. Enter HERE  Alternatively, book your tickets online.

Shop the Bloomsbury collection 

Visit The Courtauld Gallery’s  Bloomsbury Art & Design Special Display, 18 February – 21 September 2017

Bloomsbury Art & Design

Our special display Bloomsbury Art & Design opened last month. It brings together a wide-ranging selection of work by the remarkable Bloomsbury Group. We asked exhibition curator Dr Rosamund Garrett to tell us about curating the display. 

Bloomsbury Art & Design installation.

In November I was appointed the new Bridget Riley Art Foundation Curatorial Assistant at The Courtauld Gallery, a unique role that allows me to work across the entire collection. With Dr Barnaby Wright, the Daniel Katz Curator of Twentieth-Century Art, I was charged with curating our current Special Display: Bloomsbury Art & Design.

This display brings together the highlights of the Courtauld’s collection of paintings, design drawings, ceramics and furniture by the artists from the Bloomsbury Group to look at the movement that shaped early twentieth-century modernism in Britain. It was my first project after having been completely immersed in my doctoral research in a rather different field – Renaissance tapestry – so I was eager to take up the challenge.

Given my specialisation in tapestry, I was keen to display the large rug designed by Duncan Grant, with its bold colours and eye-catching geometric design. Rugs are usually displayed on the floor, but with several large pieces of furniture featuring in the display, floor space was at a premium.  To ensure the rug could be shown I asked our Head Conservator, Graeme Barraclough, if we could do things a bit differently.

Tapestries are often displayed on slant boards: a board at a slight angle that allows the tapestry to be viewed vertically whilst its weight is gently supported across the entire surface. I thought that Grant’s rug would look striking displayed vertically on one of the short walls, and would complement the series of abstract rug designs that we intended to display beside it.

We started drawing up the plans for the slant board, but, after a thorough examination by conservation, the rug was found to be too fragile to be displayed in this way. Graeme, however, is never deterred. He and our technician, Matthew Thompson, devised a new method of display that combined a slant board with a roller, allowing us to display a section of the rug vertically whilst the roller holds most of the weight. Exhibitions always rely on the expertise, creativity and skills of many individuals, not to mention their physical presence – lifting the roller with the heavy rug onto our adapted slant board was no mean feat!

We are fortunate at The Courtauld to have such an extensive collection of Bloomsbury objects, many of which were given to us directly by one of the leaders of the Group, the artist and art critic Roger Fry. Why not pop in to Bloomsbury Art & Design to see the rug on our new display method as well as other works by the group of artists whose radical and experimental art introduced bold colours and dynamic abstract designs to the domestic interiors of Edwardian Britain.

Book Now: Bloomsbury Art & Design
Until 21 September 2017

A Kiss for Valentine’s Day

KISS (1961), Bridget Riley

Just in time for this year’s Valentine’s Day, The Courtauld Gallery will be displaying Bridget Riley’s famous KISS (1961), on loan from a private collection. Auspiciously coming to Room 14 on 14 February, the aptly Valentine’s themed named work will be available for the public to view at their leisure.

Bridget Riley is considered one of the leading abstract artists of her age, finding success from the 1960s onward, and creating works which have always been varied and ground-breaking. Often finding inspiration from daydreams and from setting her own criteria of what she wants from art, her works inspire and encourage artistic engagement.

After a series of emotional events in her romantic life, she began to paint in black and white, helping her to communicate messages as to exactly how she felt. This technique of using black and white brought her artistic success and recognition. One of these works was KISS and can be seen as her first definitive painting in black and white. Riley has detailed how her preceding black painting had failed, and thinking about why it had not worked led her to the realisation that there was no opposition with this completely black painting. By adding a flash of white, in such a way that suggests closeness and makes the black components look like they are almost touching, the title of KISS was born.

Don’t miss seeing this spectacular work at The Courtauld Gallery while it’s here, a perfect Valentine’s treat for those looking for a kiss.

Book tickets

The Courtauld Gallery Redevelopment – We want to hear your views!

The Courtauld Gallery, part of The Courtauld Institute of Art, is currently in the process of developing proposals as part of a £52 million Masterplan which will see the transformation of the building and its public offer.

Improving the in-Gallery experience and our public programming are key aspects of the redevelopment and we are keen to reflect the opinions of both existing visitors and potential new audiences as we develop our exciting proposals. We would be delighted if you could attend one of a series of informal focus groups being held by Jura Consultants at The Courtauld Gallery. All participants will receive £30 and refreshments will be provided.

Focus groups dates and times are as follows:

Previous visitors to The Courtauld Gallery (those who have visited in the past 3 years)

Date Time
 

Wednesday 22 February 2017

 

 

6.00pm – 7.30pm

 

Thursday 23 February 2017 3.30pm – 5.00pm

 

Those who have never visited/ not visited for over 3 years

Date Time
 

Thursday 23 February 2017

 

 

6.00pm -7.30pm

 

Friday 24 February  2017 10.30am – 12.00pm

 

If you are interested in attending please follow the web link next to your preferred focus group session. We have a limited number of places per group which will be allocated on a first come first served basis.

The focus groups will take place at Somerset House. Please report to The Courtauld Institute of Art Reception at The Strand Entrance of Somerset House (opposite The Courtauld Gallery entrance). A member of our team will accompany you to the focus group venue.

If you have any queries or would like any further information please contact Rae Morton at Jura Consultants on 0131 440 6750 or at rae@jura-consultants.co.uk.

We look forward to hearing your views!