Nicholson is one of the most significant British Artists of the 20th Century. His reductive approach to still lives created an entirely new aesthetic. One that I have found great affinity with from early on in my career.
Small White Relief, 1935, image from The Fine Art Society
In the 1930s Ben Nicholson established an international reputation with his abstract reliefs. Often carved out of wood and painted a soft white. When Nicholson and his wife, Barbara Hepworth moved to St Ives in Cornwall in 1939 they soon became the leading figures in the artists' colony there. Their influence had far reaching effects on the abstract art movement.
Ben Nicholson photographed by Humphrey Spender (C.1935) National Portrait Gallery
1946 Still Life image from Artimage.
Two Goblets and a Mug in a landscape, 1967, Pallant House Gallery
The way that Nicholson reduces form and colour into their elemental abstract forms has created a distinctive aesthetic that I have referenced time and time again. I first discovered his work when studying textiles in Galashiels. We had a brilliant art history teacher who encouraged us to present classes and have an in depth understanding of an artist or movement, researching not only the artist but also all the social and political influences of the time. This holistic approach to understanding the context of art and design left an indelible mark on me and is at the heart of my own work.
For instance, I believe the resurgence in our appreciation of the hand made and crafted has come as a counter to the more technology driven, fast paced world that we live in. We seek out a slower more physical and tactile approach to act as a foil to this mechanised and computer driven world we live in.
Art and its ability to hold a mirror up to society is a crucial part of our social construct and how we navigate the world we live in.
No.7 The Mall Studio,
The De Laszlo Colletion of Paul Laib Negatives
Courtauld Institute of Art, London