Tuesday, 30 August 2011


Brave New Worlds, Riverside Gallery, Richmond

3rd September-5th November 2011

Utopias and dystopias are the themes of the forthcoming exhibition at the Riverside Gallery in Richmond. Encompassing a wide range of media such as painting, drawing, photomontage, fused and painted glass, digital art and sculpture, Brave New Worlds brings together a collection of 25 works by local and national artists.

For centuries, artists and writers such as Hieronymus Bosch, Sir Thomas More and Aldous Huxley have explored ideas of utopianism and its dark, antithesis. As we move forward, widespread technological advancement, industrial expansion, and increased consumerism continue to affect our daily lives and change our environments both in positive and destructive ways. Fantastical Utopias are often upheld as idyllic retreats from the dystopian realities we face domestically and globally. 

This exhibition offers varied perspectives on the theme of Utopias and Dystopias: the unchartered territories of dreams and reverie, imagined Orwellian societies and otherworldly, alien realms. Alongside the imaginary and spiritual, inspiration has been drawn from everyday life - the news, popular culture, films, and novels. Reactions to war and violence, the destruction of natural environments, the power of politics, media, and propaganda, and the adverse effects of materialism also feature as important themes in many of the works. 

Exhibiting artists include: Lulu Allison, Gareth Barnett, Samuel Capps, Raquel Helena Louro Felgueiras, Gareth Gardener, Catherine Hargreaves, Martin Kerrison, Neil Metzner, Tutte Newall, Patrick O’Donnell, Charles Pearson, Nick Pollen, Paul Richards, and Alex Storer.

Brave New Worlds continues the successful run of open exhibitions organised by Orleans House Gallery in Twickenham. Each year, this open exhibition opportunity helps over 200 national and international artists to showcase their work in group exhibitions across three galleries: the Orleans and Stables Galleries in Twickenham and the Riverside Gallery in Richmond.  Recent open exhibitions include the acclaimed Making It/ Faking It: Copies, Homages, pastiches and Picturing Science.

Curator of Exhibitions and Collections Mark De Novellis states: “This potent theme has captured the imagination of artists for centuries. Where formerly, western artists would depict visions of Arcadian Edens and cataclysmic scenes of Judgment Day, contemporary artists have translated these concepts to reflect the here and now, while revealing our hopes and fears of possible worlds and potential futures.”

The exhibition runs until 5th November 2011 and admission is free.

Riverside Gallery
Old Town Hall
Whittaker Avenue

Opening Times:
Monday: 10.00-6.00pm
Tuesday: 10.00-5.00pm
Wednesday: 10.00-6.00pm
Thursday: 10.00-5.00pm
Friday: 10.00-5.00pm
Saturday: 10.00-1.30pm
Sunday: CLOSED

Friday, 26 August 2011

Too much choice?

I'm a grumpy old man. I'll admit that. Except I'm not old. OK, so just grumpy! Anyway. Sometimes the internet feels too big. Too much out there. In the past, you had to use that funny thing called a phone (note the absence of the word 'mobile'), and when push came to shove, you had to go and meet somebody in person! Proofs had to be sent by post and things generally took a long time to happen. There's a whole generation growing up for whom the speed and accessibility of the internet is perfectly normal – and they look at their parents gone out when they tell them about the world before the internet and smartphones.

But I digress. Sometimes it just feels like there's so much – too much – to try and get involved in. Have a Facebook page, get a Twitter account, join forums, get a website, join DeviantArt, get a Flickr account – it's almost endless! And do we need all of it? And if you try and participate in all of it, do you simply end up doing a halfhearted job? With so many people doing the same thing at the same time, it makes you wonder how on earth and even if you're going to get noticed. Although in theory it's quite simple – so long as your work stands out – but it comes back to my previous point of feeling swamped by technology. Now there are websites where you can go and sketch online, you can paint by finger on your iPad or iPhone. Let's not forget there's those great things called "Pencils" though, which you use on that paper stuff!

Although I love technology and the convenience and speed it presents, not to mention the digital art medium (i wouldn't be the same without it!), I do sometimes miss the simplicity of days gone by - or lack of so many outlets, to put it a different way. Yet at the same time we're in an age where your work can reach other parts of the world within seconds and be seen by thousands of people who would previously never see what you're doing. It's a funny old time. I wonder where we're going.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011


I posted a half-finished version of this painting a few weeks ago. Here's the almost finished thing.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Sci-fi art on the rise

Is it just me, or does sci-fi art feel like it's on the rise at the moment? A couple of weeks ago there was an article on the BBC News website publicising the lovely new Chris Foss book. When was the last time we saw an article on space art on the BBC?! Magazines such as ImagineFX stand out in the shelves on newsagents, and the internet is bursting with great artwork – in fact it feels a bit like too much at times, which is part of the reason I haven't yet become a regular poster on forums – it's easy to feel lost or swamped. But on the other hand, these are great places to get honest feedback and discuss arty things with other arty people.

In fact, it's not just sci-fi art that's growing, but digital art. And by that I mean painting. About ten years ago computer art – especially sci-fi art – basically meant rendered 3D stuff. It was everywhere, with artists like Steve Stone taking centre stage. Even books on fantasy or sci-fi art were full of epic CGI. But for me, I always felt that it lacked soul and emotion. Where was the touch of the artist's hand and where was their personality? All absent. The imagery may have been pixel perfect and lifelike, but to me it no longer felt like artwork. I find that when it comes to digital painting, the atmosphere and personality of a piece are key to its success. 

Either way it feels like the tables have turned a little, and while CGI has found its vocation in movies and is now capable of producing stunning, lifelike visuals such as those seen in Avatar or Tron Legacy, hand-painted artwork is clearly back to stay. Maybe people have realised what they had been missing in artwork and maybe Photoshop had been used to make montages for far too long – another article on the BBC recently hinted at the return to the sadly forgotten trend of hand-drawn film posters. No matter how good a 3D piece is, you still can't beat a good painting.

We are in an age where we're engulfed with technology, sometimes to the point of insanity, as there are very few things you can do that don't have to be done via some sort of screen, whether it's on your phone, at the bank and of course, on the computer. But with that in mind, it's a good time to be a digital artist. Looking back to my days pushing pixels around on an Amiga and my first Photoshop work on Apple Macs in the mid-90s, the software and hardware is finally at just the right place for digital painting, and it's encouraging to see so much talent out there on the world wide web.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Sunday afternoon speedpainting

I've had this image of two waterfalls in my mind for a while now, so I thought I'd try and get something down. Created in about 3 hours. Now it just needs a title.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Site updates

I've added the new trendy 'Share' buttons to my site, which appear to be all the rage at the moment. So please help spread the word, by posting to your Facebook pages, Twitter feeds etc!

I have also added a new links page. Not much on there at the moment, as I'm pretty selective, but it'll develop over time.

And I've been working on a new piece of space art. It's not finished yet, but currently looks like this: