12th July 2016
Last trip to Paris I was confronted by a new piece of artwork in my daughter's apartment. It is a charming and intriguing work, by Charlotte Hodes. An intricate paper cut, layered and collaged, with a little Fragonard frivolity and the otherworldliness of Leonora Carrington. The little work stayed with me all evening until a small light shone brightly through a glass of inspiring white and I remembered Ivor Abrahams. More precisely I remembered Red Riding Hood. The disembodied little 'breezy' frock had reawakened the disquiet I had felt when Studio International brought me Red Riding Hood.
There was an explosion of exciting art at the time, no catalogues available here, but even so Abrahams stood out, a very particular vision, bucket loads of narrative. So after the revelation of Red Riding Hood came the gardens, Claud Lorrain meets Raymond Chandler, brilliant. A rich seam mined to brilliant effect, sculpture, prints, drawings, new materials, exciting techniques, pioneering stuff.
The seeding of the gardens seems to have begun when Abrahams was teaching at Birmingham in the early 1960's, Abrahams took a student work and placed it on artificial grass and surrounded it with paving. The rest is history. So this discovery left me slightly bemused, I just missed Abrahams and I was now chucking artificial grass around the same department and no one mentioned him, really disappointing or was I just failing to register.
This process of recollection is stimulating and apparently keeps alzheimer’s at bay but it also springs really annoying surprises. Thinking about Abrahams I spent time looking through his catalogue, I knew about the owls, it was about that time that he lost me. To the point, I had been struggling with an image for some weeks, nothing overly complicated, basically two red forms set against a green background, well there it was, good old Ivor had had the temerity to wrestle the same beast back in 1981. I have to say he made a really good job of it, tips to take, never too late and it should be the name of the game. Philip King, his lifelong friend, called him a traditionalist, that's not a bad thing.
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AGED AND AWKWARD