Sunday, 29 November 2009

A Goodyear and an advent calendar

With a good friend to entertain this weekend, I made my second ever trip to the Leeds Art Gallery, which is currently hosting an exhibition showcasing the shortlisted artists in this year's Northern Art Prize.

Among the videos, installations and sculptures - the sort which so outrage when the Turner Prize nominations are announced - is an astonishing set of pictures by Rachel Goodyear.

Her works, pencil drawings with splashes of watercolour, are striking in their simplicity, their clarity of thought and their quiet elegance. They have the feel of twisted gothic fairytales; they are the familiar and the comfortable made strange.

Many of her pictures put intricately drawn human figures in difficult, awkward situations, often involving animals or plants, for example stroking bees or kissing a bear. They show humanity as part of nature, but also in conflict with it.

The pictures, which are tiny things in the middle of otherwise vacant pages, create beauty out of pain and isolation. They are warm, but also unsettling and at times menacing.

Highlights include the creepy 'imaginary friend', the resigned discomfort of 'stump' and, best of all, the languidly painful and beautiful 'mermaids'.

Goodyear is an artist with a growing reputation, and these works have been brought together from collections all over the world, so this exhibition, which runs until February 21, is a rare opportunity to see a meaty body of her enthralling art.

:: Apologies for the lack of blogging of late - continuing laptop woe has left me a bit restricted for computer time.

Hopefully this will be rectified soon so I can blog away to my heart's content - if not to anybody else's.

In the meantime I urge you to check out the Ragged Glories blog throughout December for the much anticipated (by me) Musical Advent Calendar project.

I and around 10 others have picked our top 24 albums of the year and will be revealing them, advent calendar-style, one per day throughout December.

I hope that some of us manage to introduce a few people to some new music they might like.

And if not, everyone loves lists, right?

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