Still Alive – Contemporary Still life at The Mall Galleries

I though I would make a slight detour to pop in to this exhibition on the way to the BP portrait award exhibition.

This bite size exhibition at the Mall galleries shows some of the resent works from members of the Federation of British Artists. An interesting mix of media and styles is on display with some thing to suit all tastes.

If I could take home just one it would defiantly be ‘The Golden Cloth’ by Toby Wiggins Painted in a style that makes me think of Freud this painting seems to replace a figure with a cloth that is painted in a highly figurative way. I find the cloth such a powerful subject it captivates in the same way a figure would hold the attention. The precedence given to it makes me wonder it’s history as I would ponder the experiences of a human subject.

Helped by beautiful colour use with earthy tones surrounding the brilliant yellows of the undulating yards of cloth that is complemented by a light blue towel. This painting looks to have be lovingly created with much attention and care. Form and depth of field (helped by the reflection) have been dealt with in a very convincing manor. There is much to admire in this work. I hope it gets purchased by a public gallery as it deserves to be seen.


Toby Wiggins RP “The Golden Cloth” Oil 85x69cm

It has got me thinking how nice the yellow dog (my chosen object) would look in a loverly old arm chair such as this. It would perhaps be the composition I have been searching for giving some height to what can be the very horizontal subject of a sleeping dog. I wonder if I could find an old one going for a song? Also I should take a note from this guy when it comes to painting (drawing in my case) fabrics.


Usually during the drawing module I am taking I try to pick subjects from gallery visits that relate well to drawing. However being as I am so close to getting the  paint brushes out now I think it is ok to look at two simple still life studies that I admire. When I say simple don’t be fooled I don’t mean easy to achieve or naive. Quite the opposite as I know how tricky it is to achieve simplicity (honesty) in painting a subject with out over working and muddying the work.



Alex Fowler NEAC “March Rose” Oil 47x34cm

Alex Fowlers painting of a simple rose bud shows a harmonies use of colour with just enough information presented to us to imagine the real thing. I like this kind of impressionistic style of painting where object is seen in terms of colour/tone mass with fiddly detail deemed unnecessary. Harmony in the pallet makes it very pleasing to the eye which given the subject works well.


James Lloyd RP “Paper Model” Oil 52x57cm

James Lloyd s painting has similarities, it is a study of a signal subject also represented in a painterly fashion. I find this subject more interesting as the original subject avoids cliché. Again harmonies can be seen, this time between the object and its environment. The origami shape seems quite at home in its natural surroundings. Which strangely makes me think of  a herd animal grazing in its appropriate habitat. I look forwards to trying some white on white paintings myself as I am all ways quite drawn to paintings of this matter. A wonderful way to explore the different tints and tons of shadow.


Paul Curtis NEAC “Two Beaches and a Primula, Cornwall” Acrylic and oil 72x52cm

The work of Paul Curtis stood out to me for its original composition and textural way of layering the colours. It seems this artist uses a colourful under painting before adding grey tints on top. I might be wrong in my assessment. The colourful bits might be on top. but I like the idea of a colourful underpainting then layering more naturalistic tones over the top.

Perhaps in a nostalgic way I also like how the artist gets an impression of a radiant coastal view through his chosen back drop of a window. This has an interesting relationship with the oil sketch at the easel of  a coastal scene. I also like the way this painting is a little autobiographical. Showing the artists work place and environment.

Again these are nice colours that like each other. With the yellow pop of the primula helping the blue/green tones zing that gives a liveliness to this still life.



About Emma Perring

Artist, oil painter

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