Off the Wall
Often said to be in the eye of the beholder, the beauty of art transcends both place and time. An artist’s work is more often than not, a reflection of their journey and an insight into their understanding of life, their stories and inspirations stirring them into one act of creation or another. We take a look at three polarising artists, and how their individual styles have led to them all meeting at The Pilgrm this autumn.
Words like privacy and secrecy would not have done justice to the name of Keith Cunningham. In October 2016, sometime after his death, Apollo Magazine called him “the artist who walked away from fame”. This was namely due to the fact that in his prime, he shunned public exhibitions of his paintings in favour of his teaching and design work. Born in Sydney in 1929, Keith was a man who refused to be defined by anyone else’s judgement but his own. After studying painting at the Royal College of Art with contemporaries including Frank Auerbach and Leon Kossoff, Keith went on to become a respected name in both graphic design and teaching, but continued his private passion for painting. By the time of his passing in 2014 he had produced a large body of work that had remained unseen by not only the public, but also his wife Bobby Hillson, creator of the MA fashion course at St Martin’s.
At the beginning of her journey Lydia Makin is a Nottingham native, who studies at UCL’s Slade School of Fine Art. The illustrious school offering just 40 undergraduate spaces each year, goes about education in an “experimental, research-oriented and imaginative way”. With a worldwide reputation, Slade make significant contributions to contemporary art both nationally and internationally. Lydia’s work is the epitome of stunning abstract, and has studied her craft implicitly, making use of materials like acrylic paired with bold, vibrant oil paints. Her work is often inspired by the present along with the human form, often depicting the energy of the subject. Her understanding of the “spirit within things” has led her to develop a flair for the subconscious, inspired by her surroundings. With a unique depiction of tone and texture she continues to evolve her style at Slade. Her work might well make you think of an older soul who has learnt her skills over decades, but Lydia is an extremely gifted and young talent.
A savant who marched to the beat of her own drum, Jo Bondy, spent much of her life as an art teacher, sculptor and artist. Having studied in St Albans, she chose to teach first in Hertfordshire and then later in Barnet. During the 70s Jo worked on her sculptures which were often exhibited at Nicholas Treadwell’s gallery on Chiltern Street. Known for its realist work, Treadwell was founder of the ‘Superhumanism’ art movement, defined as an “art of urban living, conveyed in a vivid and accessible way”. His shows evoked strong reactions for their boundary-pushing content and Jo’s sculptures were certainly no less progressive. Her work was often produced inside or on top of boxes, ranging in size from cigar boxes to grandmother clocks. By the late 90’s Bondy had retired and often visited a small house she owned in rural France. It was during this time that she drew many of her landscapes and life drawings. She often used sugar paper, and where most would draw upon it with charcoal or chalk, Jo favoured crayons and coloured pencils. This added to the texture, detail and depth, creating layers of richness and a further dimension to her drawings. Jo died in 2015 leaving behind a body of work that captures not only her sense of adventure but also her gift for creative expression.
All artwork at The Pilgrm has been curated by Stephen Rothholz.
Image courtesy of Lydia Makin.