Coming up

Coming up:
*** Thu 21st September: Social Evening at The Blue Boar ***
*** Thu 5th October: Evening Talk on Artists' Books ***


Saturday, 16 September 2017

Sam Manley Sprays Cheltenham ...


The Cheltenham Graffiti Festival was something brand new, a push organised and run by artist Andy 'Dice' Davies with the aim of getting quality street art into Cheltenham, and he managed to do a phenomenal job. I signed up a few months ago, as I'd really wanted to get back into stencil work and paint jams but hadn't been able to for a couple of years. I was a bit nervous, but I did my usual preparations of colour sketches, test sprays to make sure the stencils lined up correctly, and making sure I had enough paint (I always overdo it with cans, but it'd be quite embarassing to not be able to finish a design due to running out... and you can never be quite sure how absorbent a new surface might be).

My piece was of the ancient Egyptian god Anubis - at school, in year 3, the class had a term-long project on the ancient Egyptians, and the mythology and art stuck in my head. This seemed a good time to do something with it, with a character that I found particularly striking.

Anyway, I headed out to my spot, a bridge on the Honeybourne Line, where I'd been given a space next to artists StencilShed and IWalkADifferentPath (many stencil artists prefer to be known by names they've chosen). I got a fair way into the work - masking off a space, getting the black and red layers down (pic1), and then getting the scale arms and the corner decorations down (pic2, and those circles are the magnets I used to hold the stencil down on the metal surface) before the rain began. Oh my days, did the rain begin...

The three of us headed for cover, the best we could find being a bit of overhanging foliage, and waited it out. When the downpour ended, it was time to carry on. I was pretty impressed with the Kobra paint I was using - it dries almost instantly, even in a somewhat moist atmosphere; my previously-used Montana Gold paint had never fared so well in the damp air.

I was able to start the final layers (pic3), but then the heavens opened again, this time so badly I feared that my stencils (cut on 300lb paper) might get ruined - I had tried to cover them in plastic, but it was an impromptu and imperfect solution. Passing joggers and walkers huddled with us under the sparse shelter, as they didn't even want to brave the short journey back home.

It drizzled on and off for the rest of the day, so I had to just keep on running out and doing what I could (part of it done with a sheet of taped-together bags I draped over the surface and myself so I could carry on in a light shower). It got done, though!

And in case you're wondering, that's Captain Viridian from the game VVVVVV, hanging upside down. He's there purely to stop the main Anubis piece from being such a po-faced picture.

Sam Manley

Thursday, 14 September 2017

A Good Summer Exhibition

Our summer exhibition has drawn to a close after ten busy days in St. Laurence's church. The preview evening was well attended when the mayor, Tim Gill, formally opened the exhibition. It was pleasing to see more diversity than usual in the types of exhibit, with textile art, stone carving, illustration and abstract painting all represented. There was even a painting that incorporated recycled parts from a computer (and it sold, too - congratulations to Jacquie Langham). It was also lovely to see work by several new members. Our tribute to Marcel Duchamp helped gain publicity in the local press, and this was reflected in the large number of visitors that came to the exhibition. Perhaps the uncertain economic times led to fewer sales than we might have hoped for, but nonetheless we sold over £2,200 of exhibits and we managed to break even financially, despite having hired additional lighting for the exhibition.

Many people deserve a big thankyou for their hard work in making the exhibition happen, not least the exhibition team of Lesley Connolly, Ruth Tune, Anne Fox, Pat Innes, Val Turner. Also Val Alexander for help with hanging (no small job), Samuel Bebb for painting the large poster board, Dave Tedham for taking away and storing all the bits and pieces, Helen Jarvis for counting the "favourite exhibit" slips, plus all those who stewarded and all those who provided the artworks which of course are the whole point of the exhibition. We are grateful to our sponsors for the prizes awarded as follows.

Castle Bookshop (£20 voucher) - Golden Glade by Val Littlehales
Chang Thai Bar & Restaurant (£20 voucher) - Lem Brook by Sandra Graham

Ludlow Brewery - In Mevagissey Harbour by George Loades

Mayor's Choice - Flower Power by Steve Foxx

"Favourite exhibit" counts of 3 or more are listed in order as follows:

Votes Artist
41 George Y Loades In Mevagissey Harbour
25 Sandra Graham Lem Brook
24 Val Littlehales Golden Glade
21 Mick Pavey Cotswold Winter (Nr Malmesbury)
21 Mick Pavey Steamy Shed
17 David Tedham Zagerlite
16 Sandra Graham Fading Light - Wilden Marsh
15 Sandra Graham Dowles Brook
14 Sandra Graham Spring Morning
14 Rob Leckey South Stack Lighthouse
14 Mary Phillips West Still Life with Chinese Jar
13 Martin Dutton Jasper Johns in Beguildy
12 M. A. Broad Port Isaac
12 Rob Leckey The Grand Canal - Venice
10 Valerie H. Alexander Bridge at Brantôme
10 John Jarvis Castle Gate at Dusk
10 Val Littlehales Shoe Collector
9 Martin Dutton Autumn Beguildy
9 Wilfred Langford Jugs & Lilies
9 Val Littlehales Autumn Gold
9 Val Littlehales Moving On
9 Mick Pavey Cartshed & Sheep (Bagden Farm)
8 Valerie H. Alexander Sunny Day, Pinmill
8 Sam Bebb Consumed
8 Val Davies Best Friends
8 Gretchen Ind Woman, Bristol
8 Val Littlehales March Moon
8 Val Littlehales The Reader
8 George Y Loades Above Dhustone on Clee Hill
8 Mick Pavey After the Snow
8 Anne E. Priest Handsome
8 Anne E. Priest Mai
7 Valerie H. Alexander Shade and Stillness
7 Valerie H. Alexander Side Street, Skiathos
7 L.J. Connolly Owl
7 Val Littlehales The Old Road
7 Val Littlehales Hare
7 Mick Pavey Jackson
7 Ruth Tune ...Shepherd's Delight
7 John Willetts Snow on the Stiperstones
6 Valerie H. Alexander Shopping in Skiathos
6 Arthur Davis High Street, Leominster
6 Tresi Hall Cardingmill
6 Rob Leckey Mallaig Boat Repair Yard
6 John Willetts Llyn Ogwen, Snowdonia
5 Rosemary Charles Greek Holiday
5 Val Davies Morning Glory
5 Stephen Foxx Flower Power
5 Tresi Hall The Mill
5 Gretchen Ind Lydia
5 David Tedham Electric Boquet
4 L.J. Connolly Eider Ducks
4 Martin Dutton Strong and Stable
4 Lynda Emery Norfolk Windmill
4 Stephen Foxx Julie's Dream - part one
4 Tresi Hall Windhover
4 Gretchen Ind Woman, Barcelona I
4 Gretchen Ind Sisters
4 Andy Nash Chilli Peppers
4 Mick Pavey Cosy Chat by the Gate
3 Valerie H. Alexander Deep Snow at the Knowle Turn
3 L.J. Connolly Hare
3 Tom Crowe Labrynth
3 Lynda Emery Baby Elephant
3 Sandra Graham After the Rain
3 Anne Holding Brexit
3 Jacquie Langham Colour of Light 2
3 Val Littlehales Track to the Mountains
3 Val Littlehales Homeward
3 Charles MacCarthy Cecily's Cupboard
3 Anne E. Priest Mother and Lambs
3 Ruth Tune Horses of Camargue
3 Ruth Tune Thrushes
3 John Willetts The Stiperstones

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Spotlight: Marcel Duchamp (part 2 of 2): Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, and making things happen - including correction and further details and thoughts

Following last month’s spotlight on Marcel Duchamp - and with LAS’s Tom Crowe’s ‘Fountain’ having seen light of day and now come down from its bold display at the LAS Summer Exhibition - here is another dive into.... 
...the legends of Marcel Duchamp.

A urinal as a work of art was not Duchamp’s idea. 
George Biddle, Philadelphia

In March 1917 in New York, George Biddle, a painter, hired a model to pose for him. The model arrived wearing a scarlet raincoat, and a hat decorated with carrots, beetroots and other vegetables. When George asked her to disrobe it was revealed that her clothing beneath the raincoat was a series of curtain rings up one arm (stolen from a store), a birdcage round her neck, with a live canary, and a bra made of two tomato tins held together with string. While George painted, it appeared that it was the model who was the more creative artist.  Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven.
Duchamp met Elsa (or Elsa met Duchamp), and the pair were mutually impressed. In a letter from Duchamp to his sister in April 1917 he wrote that one of his female friends had started calling herself ‘Richard Mutt’, and that this ‘Richard Mutt’ had sent him a porcelain urinal as a sculpture. Elsa's pseudonym “R.Mutt” is a pun, in the context of the war. “Armut” is German for poverty, and embodies Elsa’s views on how the war inflicted poverty, and that the arts were intellectually poor. 
'God' by Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, 1917

Elsa had been declaring street-found objects to be art long before she met Marcel Duchamp.
'Enduring ornament' by Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, 1913

We can wonder, now, whether Duchamp “made’ or “created” the urinal sculpture. This enduring pundit discussion is typically spun around the fact that Duchamp did not physically create the urinal, and that the magic of the work - the genius of creativity - is the that he had the idea to call it art and exhibit it. He did not craft the physical object with his own hands: the urinal had been made by people who worked each day in a ceramics firm. Duchamp’s "build" was to turn it on its back and paint “R. Mutt 1917” on the side.  The intellectual aspect is what has been heralded throughout the 20th and early 21st centuries: the idea, above the talent of craftsmanship.  The concept, above the act of making.
  However he did not have the idea either.
So what did he do?
He made it happen.
  Duchamp named the piece 'Fountain' and put it in a major art exhibition.  He made the concept become real. Duchamp had the idea to place that intellectual leap into a public arena: to push it at the art world and its viewers. And he had the drive and focus to achieve it.  Such action is a real contribution, so often taken for granted and underappreciated. 
   There is a plethora of art ideas which are never realised. We all have ideas which do not make it onto canvas, or into a gallery, or onto the street.  Often, the more we discuss them, the less likely they are to happen. Or, perhaps, the less likely they are to happen by our own hand.  Someone else gets the credit - for actually doing it.  As with Jackson Pollock in July’s Spotlight, people often say “a kid could do that”, or “I could do that.” 
  Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven was even more impressive than her name. However there is little to suggest that Elsa was the only person conceiving of the notion of the “ready-made” or found object as a work of art. Elsa should be given the credit for the concept. Duchamp boldly did it. 
Extract from the event 'Welcome To The Dark Ages', Liverpool 23-25Aug17 

Last week I spent 4 days at a happening-style event in Liverpool, in which the artists Jimmy Cauty and Bill Drummond (aka the music band “KLF”, “Justified Ancients of Mu Mu”, and “The K Foundation”) broke their self-imposed 23-year silence about having burnt £1 million pounds in huge bundles of fifty pound notes. One thing that I learnt more strongly from the events of those 4 days is the power of making things happen.  Doing them, with glee, rather than just thinking about them smugly, and letting them rest in the imagination, to evaporate like clouds. There is much power in making things happen. The economy, your pension, your childrens’ university fees, climate change…. will not be solved by ideas. We need action too. We need both.
  Duchamp’s contribution is “he actually did it”.  This might have sounded weak twenty years ago, 
compared with the matter of “who had the idea?”  We always need people to explore the edges and have the revolutionary ideas, of joy and solutions, and to share those ideas. Thanks, Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven.  More than ever we also need those ideas to materialise.  We need people to dare ideas into life. Thanks Marcel Duchamp, you guy from a farming village.
And thanks to everyone who put the effort into making the LAS Summer Exhibition happen. Happy September, everyone.

**CORRECTION and expansion to the original blog article above**

I am indebted to Dr Glyn Thompson for a correction to the current blog ‘Marcel Duchamp (part 2 of 2): Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, and making things happen’
The letter from Marcel Duchamp to his sister does not say that “Richard Mutt” sent the object to Duchamp. The letter says that one of his friends (feminine), under the masculine pesudonym, Richard Mutt, had sent it as a sculpture, the implication being, if Mutt was Elsa, that it was Elsa who submitted the piece to be exhibited.
Of considerable further interest is that Dr Thompson located a surviving example of what seems very probably the same model of urinal as the original 'Fountain', a vitreous earthenware flat back Bedfordshire lipped urinal, manufactured by the Trenton Potteries Co., as can be seen in the article by Dr Thompson, ‘The Richard Mutt Affair Meets the Louisiana Purchase Exposition’, in St Louis magazine.
‘ELSA IN PHILADELPHIA’, an exhibition curated by Dr Thompson, is on until Sunday 24th September 2017, at the Sumerhall Long Corridor, SUMMERHALL, 1 SUMMERHALL, EDINBURGH, EH9 1PL. See for details.

Following this helpful correction from Dr Thompson, based upon that letter from Duchamp, the urinal was only sent to Duchamp in the sense that Duchamp was a Director on the exhibition’s Board of Directors of the Society of Independent Artists (the Society convening the exhibition, and to which pieces were submitted), the Board being the panel which decided which submissions to the exhibition would be exhibited.
    If the urinal was not sent by, or at the behest of, Duchamp then it was perhaps not Duchamp who had the idea to place that intellectual leap into a public arena: the leap of treating a single, almost unaltered bought object as an art exhibit. Or it was not Duchamp who did the deed. However Duchamp was clearly already treating single, almost unaltered bought objects as art pieces, as was Elsa. The naming of the piece as “Fountain” was possibly also done by Elsa rather than Duchamp.

    It is now more apparent that treating them as two separate, and possibly even competitive, acts and endeavours, about which a judgement of "was it Elsa or was it Marcel" is appropriate, seems to miss the nature of artists.  The two clearly spent time together, and surely discussed such matters, as we do today when talking about art ideas with friends, whether or not we are in a formal artistic collaboration.  It seems highly likely that they would have been mutually aware of the notion of progressing the concept of the "readymade" by pushing it into the art circuit, just as artists do today.  The anti-war aspect ("R. Mutt" alluding to "Armut") is a sentiment which was strongly shared by both of them.
    Treating the matter of attribution as being wholly separate and competitive probably says more about our perspective than it does about theirs.
    The urinal was sent to the exhibition from the address of a Louise Norton in New York, a friend of Duchamp, who may also have been known to Elsa.  Duchamp resigned from the Board after the urinal was rejected (it was rejected by vote by the majority of the Board of Directors on which he sat). Duchamp asked Stieglitz if he would photograph the rejected submission for the frontispiece of the art journal ‘The Blind Man’ of which Duchamp was one of the co-founders. The urinal was then exhibited by Stieglitz in his gallery called ‘291’.

Thanks again to Dr Thompson for contacting LAS, and for bringing the letter detail, and the urinal example in St Louis, to light.

Sources include:
‘The Magic Chef Mansion Urinal and Marcel Duchamp, Part II ’, Glyn Thompson - St Louis magazine
‘The Richard Mutt Affair Meets the Louisiana Purchase Exposition’,Glyn Thompson - St Louis magazine
‘Marcel Duchamp, Richard Mutt and Fountain’ Milan Golob, after W. Camfield
‘A Lady’s Not A Gent’s: Revolution in the water closet’ – Wow 24/7

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Spotlight: Marcel Duchamp (part 1 of 2)

This Summery August’s Spotlight shines on another bright arts star, Marcel Duchamp.

Duchamp with a star shaved into the back of his head, and an inverse mohawk
- an unusually progressive hair style for 1919

As LAS’ Tom Crowe shows in the LAS Summer Exhibition, Duchamp’s urinal was first exhibited 100 years ago. That was at the cutting-edge Armory Show in Paris, known for breaking the mold. Duchamp’s entry to the show, “Fountain” a urinal on its back with “R. MUTT” painted on as a sort of signature, was so odd that it was not recognised as being an art piece.
To see “Fountain” commemorated in style, go to the LAS Summer Exhibition, on 23-31Aug17 at St Laurence’s Church, Ludlow (link:
Duchamp probably made more stunningly advanced contributions than anyone to what we now know as “art”. He conceived the “ready-made”, slashes in canvas as being part of a painting (questioning the fabric of art – see the stunningly advanced piece, “Tu’m” below, which merits an entire book of narrative and description on its own).
"Tu m'", Marcel Duchamp, 1918

Duchamp was also a highly explorative pioneer of the deliberate introduction of randomness in place of the conscious decision of the artist (a concept which had been explored very deliberately and thoroughly by Zurich Dada artists that Duchamp encountered), such as through dust gathering on an artwork over a period of many years, and fixed with varnish to become part of the image:

Duchamp's "La mariée mise à nu par ses célibataires, même (Le Grand Verre)" (1915-23). 
Translation: "The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even", most often called "The Large Glass”.

This work took several years, seen here in the phase of gathering dust in an attic, and the finished work in which most of that incidental dust has been removed, while some has been retained within the figures in the image.

Interlude: a Treasure hunt… Do you know someone who is soon to start a Masters degree on First World War art, including a substantial focus on the Dada movement? If you do, the knowledge is your prize (to keep to yourself).
Duchamp’s ‘Nude descending a staircase’ (1912) (above) was less obviously ground-breaking, since some other artists were exploring the same staccato image concept at that time, notably the Futurists and early Cubists, as in this piece by Balla, below:

"Speeding Automobile" by Giacomo Balla (1912)

In Balla’s title (“Speeding Automobile”) we are shown the incidence that the mechanical power and speed of the industrial age had upon the arts. Machines seemed to have the potential to exceed human capabilities. Paintings around that time, born of industrialisation, typically show multiple, almost superimposed images, depicting motion. After all, it was only with mechanisation, and new levels and scales of “horsepower”, that people encountered speeds faster than the capabilities of the human eye. Machines made “horsepower” become legion. Never before had people seen a wheel spin so fast they could not tell which direction it was turning. The very concept was startling. 
Perhaps with Duchamp this is most clearly explained: in 1961 he wrote "Apropos of 'Readymades'", explaining that “in 1913 I had the happy idea to fasten a bicycle wheel to a kitchen stool and watch it turn….”
"Bicycle Wheel", Duchamp (1913)

This seems to offer the above explanation for the rather mechanical visuals of Duchamp's ‘Nude descending a staircase’ (above) and its ilk: that there are technologies beyond the capabilities of humans. Duchamp placing a wheel on a stool and watching it spin shows his perspective on speed and industry. He was not afraid. His placement of the bicycle wheel on the stool feels like he was not just marvelling at the wheel’s spinning, but also quite confident in the possibility of taming it. The symbolism of that piece is rarely spotted. This could be a useful contemporary lesson: technology is not bigger than us. If we tame it.
Eventually Duchamp gave up art and dedicated himself to the game of chess.  

Duchamp, 1958
By approximate parallel, Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty gave up music 23 years ago on the 23rd of August. They were the music band “KLF” and “The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu”, and the “The Timelords”, and were similarly experimental and unusual.
Among their contributions to the art world was an alternative Turner Prize in 1993, offered to “the worst” of the Turner prize finalists. Their prize offer was £40,000 pounds – double the actual Turner prize’s £20,000 for the winner. Drummond and Cauty, operating then under the name “The K Foundation”, announced their winner before the winner of the Turner prize was announced. Both competitions picked Rachel Whiteread.

"House", Rachel Whiteread (1993)

Whiteread reluctantly accepted the K Foundation prize on the basis that Cauty and Drummond announced that the £40,000 would be burnt if not accepted. Whiteread gave the prize money to charity. It was shortly after this that Drummond and Cauty burnt one million pounds on the isle of Jura.
On the 23rd of August 2017 they reconvene to discuss and seek advice and thoughts about the million pounds, and some of their other activities. They are starting strong: the day before it starts an ice cream van plunges down a ravine on the M62 (link:, with no trace of driver. They used to drive an ice cream van, and Drummond has a love of the M62. Their declaration of silence 23 years ago was sealed by painting that declaration on a car and pushing it over a cliff.

Duchamp created the “ready-made” whereby an object is art because the artist declares it to be so: you can use objects made by others in creating “art”, and indeed everyone does because nobody makes the canvas or the paints, or the raw earthly pigments from which they come: all is built on something pre-existing. ‘KLF’ stands for Kopyright Liberation Front. It is the removal of the concept of copyright: everyone has the right to anything. The KLF sampled and copied other people’s music openly and wrote about it clearly, within the framework of expressions of human freedom and collective endeavour within the realms of physicality and metaphor. ‘The K Foundation’ is similarly an assertion about the inappropriateness of copyright, akin to Duchamp’s “ready-mades” expressing that pre-existing human creations such as paint go into paintings, therefore any act of art includes appropriation. All these expressions of the incompleteness of concepts of ownership were made openly, and adhered to by the artists involved.
And Tom is displaying a copy of Duchamp’s ‘Fountain’ (which was a ceramic construction made by someone else) at the LAS Summer Exhibition (link:
These are exciting times.
It’s all coming back.
It’s all ours.

Kopyright M.SMaRT

Sunday, 20 August 2017

7th September Talk: Geoffrey Adams on The Art of Framing

This is set to be an informative and entertaining evening as Geoffrey Adams shares his lifelong experiences in matters of picture framing. Geoffrey is a regular of the after-dinner circuit, talking about his life as a photographer, framer, writer, traveller and much more, but tonight he will focus on framing and how the frame can make the difference between a painting being a masterpiece or a turkey. You are invited, if you wish, to bring examples of your own work, maybe pictures already framed where you have doubts about the frame, or ones which you have not yet framed and would like some advice on the best approach. Starts 7.30 at Ludlow Assembly Rooms. All welcome.

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Ludlow Art Society has been offered studio space in Harvest House, for a limited period of about 9 months before the building is demolished....