Thursday, 6 December 2007

Bits and Pieces write-up part 2

Joan Eardley, Rottenrow, 1956
Oil on Canvas, 94x164cm
Private Collection

As promised, here is a commentary on the fourth and final part of the Bits and Pieces workshop about Joan Eardley. At the centre of this fourth part were again children scenes, but this time very much in the shape of complex street scenes with a lot of activity and well-developed composition.

The exhibition tour focused exclusively on the Glasgow room of the exhibition: a series of somber interior pieces and some of her lightest, and most complex compositions of street scenes: groups of children playing, skipping ropes, pushing prams, holding arms and hands.

These street scenes share a number of common elements in terms of composition - as you can see from the two images I've included from the catalogue: A fairly linear composition of road, pavement and shop fronts provides the urban, highly-structured yet dynamic backdrop for various groups of children.

Joan Eardley, Children in a Glasgow Back Street
Oil on Canvas, 74x140cm
Private Collection

The figures, not unlike the backdrop, are composed of what appears almost incidental and random colours, marks and textures. In both scenes, it is difficult to disentangle the actual work process - what shapes, marks and textures were laid down before and after each other. This sense of spontaneous development is all the same held together but a strong composition.

There is in fact a third, and later street scene, in the room - my personal favourite - the pavement is sloping upwards to the left corner, the children are in lighter, almost pastel colours, angled too - and in fact, the whole scene - titled Glasgow Back Street with Children Playing - is marked by a greater sense of abstraction: rythms of colours and shapes moving through a group of children where only the faces are discernible (unfortunately it's too large to scan): but, go and have a look for yourself.

The exhibition room with these street scenes also includes a number of interior scenes, a few years earlier, the four scenes depict Angus Neil - close friend and frequent sitter - in altogether more sombre and structured paintings. Yet, again, each features strong bursts of colour to offset the muted greys and a glorious sense of detail. I have included The Table as an example, and although the catalogue reproductions are pretty good, you need to think of the yellow in the top right as bright and shiny, and the red stripe in the left background as vibrant too. I very much like the contemplative calm of the model playing off the lived in/off table and the sun-lit window.

Joan Eardley, The Table, 1953
Oil on Canvas, 61x91.5 cm
The MacLeod Collection

I seem to be running out of time again and yet have to write about the workshop session and my impressions/insights from the series. So, again: more to follow.



Casey Klahn said...

Thanks for another good read on J Eardley.

Lindsay said...

Gesa, thanks so much for leaving a comment! I did not get either one of your emails. Do you think you could send me your email address in the form of a comment and I'll deleat it so its' not published and we can try me sending you and email! Sorry for the problems.