Djanogly Gallery, Lakeside Arts, University of Nottingham
I had the pleasure of experiencing a retrospective exhibition tour of Ivon Hitchens (1893-1979) led by writer Peter Khoroche who got to know the artist personally during the last ten years of his life in Sussex.
The exhibition considered a full scope of the artist's career spanning a remarkable six decades. The gallery was divided into four areas from Beginnings 1920s to his final years 1960s - 1970s enabling a wonderful sweeping walk through nature's landscapes and personal scenarios from daily life. It was visually and emotionally uplifting to watch his colour palette change over the years and heighten in the last decade of his life into almost abstract expressionism.
Peter Khoroche began his tour explaining about Hitchens' early life and start of his career. I took notes of his talk so this is the result of them. His father, Alfred Hitchens, was a Royal Academy member who made his main income as a portrait painter. After leaving St John's Wood Art School, Ivon entered the Royal Academy Painting School in 1911, and in 1919 he set up his artist's studio in Hampstead, London. 1920 saw his first mixed exhibition and in 1925 his first solo exhibition. It was the start of a "twenty-year struggle, with sallies to Shropshire, Norfolk, Suffolk and Sussex".
Peter urged us to see "the beauty of his brush works, his sheer bravura". For sixty years he was passionate about his art. Ivon always carefully thought out the type of canvas he would use. Peter remembered seeing about 100 brushes carefully stored from decorator brushes to the finest brushes in the studio.
Ivon was finding his way, through the Arts & Crafts world, and had a strong spirited side, always sensitive and sensitized. He focused on landscapes, rarely touching hills, mountains - trees and woodlands were his comfort zone.
In 1935 he married Mary 'Mollie' Coates. In 1940 their Swiss Cottage home was bombed and they moved to live near Petworth, West Sussex north of the Downs. Here they stayed until 1979, starting out in a real gypsy caravan with no electricity so it was tough going. As the years went on, they added a studio and built on a flat- roofed bungalow called "Greenleaves". This area became very important to him. He never owned a car so painted in his woodland garden or near his house. It was the experience of place that meant so much to him. They scraped a living but prevailing all, he had an iron will and sense of humour, and could be very serious but charming. Above everything, he wished to give pleasure, and he knew his own worth.
Ivon had very good patrons to help him. Howard Bliss, son of Arthur Bliss, was one of them who collected Ivon's paintings from 1944, and he loaned many of them to exhibitions around the world.
He made friends with Ben Nicholson and his wife Winifred, and Henry Moore, and in 1925 he stayed with them in Cumberland. Inspiration came to him on discovering Cezanne and Roger Fry's "Vision" and Clive Bell's "Art". Colour and colour composition were his focus and, thanks to Winifred, a lighter palette and paring down.
In 1936 and during the wartime he turned to wide format canvases. He met Mr and Mrs Cecil Harris in 1929, who were to become Hitchens' first major patrons for the following ten years. Hitchens was very interested in the composition, becoming more and more intrinsically pleasing using vertical and horizontal brush movements. Every scene was well plotted, and he had to paint in front of the subject or motif. It was the tension between Nature versus chaos and then bringing order into chaos.
He was a master colourist with space and hence the title of this exhibition. One can see he was much influenced by Cezanne, Matisse and Braque, and in some parts I think by Dufy. We enter the 1950 to 1960s area where we see water pools with white priming providing the sunlight. 'Colour is descriptive.' The 'River Pool' 1955 is very powerful and we discover Ivon's work is getting more abstract.
In the 1970s, we see, from the below images, brighter and broader sweeps becoming more and more abstract.
I am not a professional artist but I do know how to look at paintings and to 'read' them. In the 1970s I lived and worked for most part in London, Islington being my home territory. For me, the colours and musical vibrancy of this time among the architects, designers and media houses I worked for, brought the final stages of Hitchens' artworks of the exhibition really close to me. They sang the same tune; I wore the same colours so this area really 'hit' home with the swathes of pinks, purples, blues, turquoises, reds, maroons, mustard and eggy yellows. This exhibition was my first introduction to Ivon Hitchens and I left elated at the discovery of such a master of colour and space who brought Nature up close and personal.
Thank you Peter Khoroche for telling us the story and journey of Ivon Hitchens as you knew and understood him. You certainly 'sold' his art to me...and your book at the Djanogly shop! Thank you for signing and dating it for me, because now I'm delving even more into the beauty of Ivon's brush works and appreciating his sheer bravura.
Left - photo of Peter looking at his favourite painting - Spring Day. 1973. 'Not bad for an 80 year artist!' as you said.
Ivon Hitchens by Peter Khoroche
Published by Lund Humphries
£25.00 from bookshops & on line.
My photographs of the artworks account for only a small part of the exhibition and I have captioned them as best I can. Spec details will be added to those not captioned.
This exhibition ran from 2 November 2019 - 23 February 2020. For further exhibitions and events at Lakeside Arts, University of Nottingham, see https://www.lakesidearts.org.uk/
Below are some black and white photographs of Ivon Hitchens I selected which are captioned and photo credited.
The Victorian Nottingham world of architect Watson Fothergill appeared in full colourful glory with Lucy Brouwer explaining and showing why he was such an important influence on the red city. As storyteller, she brought him alive giving us fascinating snippets into his life, his personality, family, apprenticeship, practice, and his recognisable architectural trademarks...his brand.
I could hear and see the hustle and bustle of Nottingham market square and surrounding streets with the clatter of horses hooves pulling carts, trams and carriages on the cobblestones, and Victorian ladies and gentlemen briskly walking and weaving in between wearing elegant attire. Nottingham was a booming town with banks and businesses being built to match its meteoric trading growth. It was the world’s lace market capital with textile manufacturing and engineering utilizing a huge human workforce. Queen Victoria visited in 1843 and Jesse Boot was building his chemist shop and pharmacy empire. In 1896 Nottingham becomes a city and it is Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee.
The stories that particularly delighted me were about Zebedee Jessop and William Daft, sculptor Benjamin Creswick and his terracotta panels, the architect’s showcase office on George Street, Queen’s Chambers and colonnade and the magnificent Notts Bank head office building on Thurland Street now housing ‘All Saints’ clothing store and ‘Bravissimo’ lingerie shop. Try and spot the monkey peeking out between the chimney support and roof tiles!
My photographer friend Ray Teece who started his Nottingham21 website in 2004 of Nottingham in Photographs - Nottingham in Pictures - has many fine photographs of the Notts Bank building, as well as other Watson Fothergill buildings, so please do take a look. http://www.nottingham21.co.uk/build_nottmbank_thumbnails.htm
The three photographs below are by Ray Teece from above link.
Whilst on the subject of Victorian building and Queen Victoria, Ray and Spanish artist Joe Ganech collaborated, together with Art Culture Tourism, on Joe’s magnificent artwork ‘Queen Victoria Complete’ referenced from Ray’s photograph of the late Queen 1905 statue in the Nottingham Embankment Memorial Gardens and which earlier had moved from the city square in 1953. Please find out more about this fascinating story with NottsTV clip 23 Nov 2017 by clicking on https://www.artculturetourism.co.uk/screen-media-room.html
I only managed to take a few photos myself on this ‘Watson Fothergill Grand Tour’ before my mobile charge ‘died’ halfway through but you can see excellent photos taken by Lucy and Nottingham photographer Lamar Francois on the official website together with all facts, blog reviews and how to book a tour. https://watsonfothergillwalk.com/
Many fine slices of architectural history were served by Lucy, as well as tea and cake by Debbie Bryan where we finished the walk and sat down in welcome comfort in her shop on St Mary’s Gate in Nottingham’s Lace Market. https://debbiebryan.co.uk/
Applause to Watson Fothergill himself and his architecture, and many thanks to our guide Lucy Brouwer.
Remember...please look UP whenever you walk around the streets of red brick Nottingham because you’ll be surprised at how many architectural curiosities, embellishments, stone animals and birds reach out to proudly display themselves!
Great talk and presentation Wednesday 19th Feb "On the trail of T.C. Hine", Nottingham architect and known as the 'grandfather of the Midlands architects', by Lucy Brouwer at Beeston Library Inspire Nottinghamshire Libraries. From his prominent house/architects office on Regent Street, to the magnificence of Thomas Adams building on Stoney Street with back entrance on St Mary's Gate, to his serpentine Broadway showing off the Birkins HQ and loads more. For those of you who had grand/great-grand parents working in Nottingham's Lace Market or who like grand living in the Park Estate, then this is for you!
Lucy is known for her Watson Fothergill walks in Nottingham so she can be contacted via her website for walks about both these famous Nottingham architects. https://watsonfothergillwalk.com/ Good to meet you Anna Wels and thank you for taking the photo of me and Lucy in front of the gentleman himself, TC Hine.
After each walk in Nottingham city centre, Lucy always leads her group for very welcome tea and cakes at Debbie Bryan's shop. https://debbiebryan.co.uk/
Okay, time for new Marysia working profile pix! Here's a few from this morning at my home gallery/studio taken by Marcus and a selfie. I'm promoting my artistic side with my own lino-cut prints and some of my art collection on walls. What else do you read into the story here?!
Thanks Marcus Gilmore, graphic designer/illustrator, for taking the better photos!
Fascinating facts for you about Ghino di Tacco, a noble brigand in the vein of Robin Hood. I think there must be just 10 people in Beeston who know about this real character and have visited Radicofani & Mount Amiata with ACT Tuscany Grand Tour in 2015. See ACT section 'Cultural Exchange'.
How many more people from Nottingham and Britain know about Ghino di Tacco? I'm fascinated by the fact that Charles Dickens visited Radicofani in 19th century and wrote a book called "Pictures of Italy" in which he featured the medieval fortress, village and Ghino di Tacco. Italy's most famous poet/writer Dante Alighieri wrote of Ghino di Tacco in his Divine Comedy. See the link details below. There are great connections between Nottingham and Siena country as well as teaching and academic staff at University of Nottingham, Nottingham Trent University and Siena University!
To top it all, there is great lead up to Dante 2021 in Italy and the world - it will be 700th anniversary of Dante Alighieri's death 1321. So the poster art designed by Joe Ganech below of Dante Alighieri and Ghino di Tacco, produced for ACT 2018 ITALY Art & Photography exhibition at Nottingham, will be much in demand.
Performed on Saturday 8th February 2020
On Saturday evening, my senses were aroused and tickled by the musical performance of ‘Beauty to Bawdy’ by Elaine Chipchase and Mick Pearce at Beeston Canalside Heritage Centre.
Mick hails from Teeside, with a classical training background, now residing in Worksop, and Elaine, also with classical background, and who has been singing for only five years. This evening saw them perform together for the first time at an official public event.
The first half ‘Beauty’ was made up of nine musical and lyrical compositions by 17th century poets and composers such as William Lawes, John Dowland to Henry Purcell. The Suite for 2 Lutes by William Lawes particularly caught my imagination with Mick and Elaine playing their finely tuned acoustic guitars in sublime unison. Also A Pretty Duck (from A Booke of Ayres with a Triplicitie of Musicke, 1600) by John Bartlett really captured my senses and made me smile generously.
After the interval and the performers’ change of costume, with Elaine in suitable ‘country wench’ attire, we were treated to the ‘Bawdy’ side resulting in us joining in for the chorus singing and giggling at the naughtiness of it all.
I was particularly hooked by the compositions of Thomas D’Urfey, aka Tom Durfey, 1653-1723. He was an English writer and wit, and composed plays, songs, and poetry, in addition to writing jokes, who was a key innovator and contributor in the evolution of the Ballad opera (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_d%27Urfey) during the Restoration period. I certainly remember seeing The Virtuous Wife (1680) most probably at the Nottingham Playhouse which staged popular Restoration comedies in the 1960s and early 1970s, several of which starred Judi Dench as their ‘bawdy’ wench or haughty heroine.
Five of the Bawdy songs were taken from Durfey’s multi-volume Pills to Purge Melancholy, written between 1698 and 1720, namely The Old Fumbler, Consent at Last, and Watkin’s Ale.
We all really started to get into bawdy accompaniment with Mick and Elaine recounting The Lusty Young Smith, The Comical Dreamer and My Thing Is My Own.
Choruses such as ‘Will you buy a fine dog with a hole in his head’ and ‘My thing is my own and I’ll keep it so still yet other young lasses may do what they will’ we all cheerily sang together and tapped our feet. The finale rendition My Thing Is My Own known traditionally as Lillibulero, brought robust and very smiley appreciation by the audience.
In all, a wonderful Beauty to Bawdy evening I will remember for a long time. I can foresee Elaine and Mick performing together at Elizabethan and Jacobean venues such as Wollaton Hall, Hardwick Hall and Tissington Hall, in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire...and more.
Please go onto Canalside Heritage Centre’s website to see all their Events and musical evenings taking place during the year https://www.canalsideheritagecentre.org.uk/
My thanks go to Zoe Cockcroft as CHC volunteer events coordinator and who is also a talented textile artist with her art cards displayed for sale here http://www.zoezegzula.co.uk/ , together with a large range of heritage crafts and products/gifts by local artisans.
Opening times: Everyday 9.30 am - 4.30 pm Tel: 0115 922 1773
Promoting Peoples and Places
What a thoroughly entertaining night I experienced on Friday!
From 7.15 pm, after alighting the tram at Fletcher Gate from Beeston, I walked down to Nottingham Contemporary to catch the first Lights of the evening joining friends Jeanie Barton https://jeaniebarton.com/ and Katie Dawson https://www.katiedawsonfilms.com/ with her NTU Media Production colleagues in the downstairs bar. It was just one of Katie’s birthday celebratory events!
After supping and talking, we moved across the hall to the Light Night & Sound Show which was truly mesmeric for the families standing and floored.
I then explored the Contemporary latest exhibition and was particularly impressed with the large scale colourful and vibrant paintings by Grenada-born artist Denzil Forrester. They depict the nightclubs of 1980s London and present-day Jamaica. A must-see exhibition running until 3 May, together with sculpture, drawing and prints by Diane Simpson and new sound systems installation by Sung Tieu. https://www.nottinghamcontemporary.org/
I parted ways with Katie, Jeanie & company, and brisked along to the beckoning St Mary’s Church at top of High Pavement. Exciting music by Orchestra of Opera North and pulsating lights adorned the churchyard, and inside, among the candle light, there was an enticing and mesmerising show of light sculptures and projected art of continuously different shapes one could walk through hither and thither. Lots of enraptured faces. I moved forward to see and hear the heavenly choir voices. What a stunning show performance throughout this ancient church!
Departing the church, I ambled down St Mary’s Walk to Debbie Bryan’s shop. It’s always a pleasure to visit Debbie’s shop and be thrilled everytime by its eclectic display and creative goings-on. That night, she was hosting a paper lantern crafting activity, and in front of me, children and their proud parents were showing off to Debbie their beautifully coloured and cut-out paper lanterns. https://debbiebryan.co.uk/
Onwards I walked down Hockley to be aroused by musicians, fire-flame holding acrobats and a group of electric-charged skateboarders rushing by me in tune and alight!
I passed by my favourite Heathcoat Street shop and clicked a few photos through the window. http://paramount-picture-framing.co.uk/ Then came across a colourful procession of costumed ladies who smilingly posed for me.
At the bottom of Hockley I crossed over to the lights of Sneinton Market. https://sneintonmarket.com/ So much going on with people flowing towards me and with me. My first stop was to Minor Oak Co-working to be welcomed by Dee Miller and her helpers serving exotic cocktails and mocktails! https://www.minoroak.com/ I treated myself to a glowing mocktail with surprisingly good fruity flavours and sat myself down on a comfy sofa watching the lights outside and enjoying the music. From there, I hopped to the main avenue square and treated myself to a hot dog barbecue style because the smells were too hard to resist.
After 15 minutes relaxing and eating my reward in the piazza, I walked upwards back through Hockley to
16-18 Victoria Street to the newly opened ‘Cosy Club’ to meet up with Katie, Jeanie and friends. I remembered this place so well from my youth late 1960s and early 1970s when it was the lavish Victoria Club, so my stepping in was a nostalgic taster.
Image: Nottingham Post -
new Cosy Club site, Victoria Street
Katie and Crew were sitting down and enjoying their meal and drinks in the first floor restaurant. I had a lovely chat with our waitress who updated me on the development and very slight refurbishment of the Cosy Club which officially opened on Wednesday. The Club is housed in one of Nottingham’s most beautiful elegant Edwardian buildings, originally opened in 1913 as the gentlemen's Reform Club and becoming the Victoria Club in the late 1960s. I LOVE all the new golden chandelier fixtures! They were made, I was told, by the same company who produced them for the ‘Game of Thrones’ film series. I tagged myself onto a touring group led by the Operations director allowing me to see every room on each floor. So glad this sumptuous place is such an eye-pleasing, valued establishment again and will be so welcomed as a Nottingham hot-spot, business and hospitality venue. I wish it and Cosy Club management every success. https://cosyclub.co.uk/location/nottingham/
We filed out late into the night, said my goodbyes (early to them!) on Fletcher Gate and caught the tram back to Beeston, arriving at my Rylands home at midnight, exhausted but happy!
Cheers Jeanie, Katie and Dee & Light Night Crew!
All the ACT artists and management team contribute to this blog. Press Releases, Reviews, Events and Calls to Participate are posted here too.