Saturday, 31 December 2016

Faig Ahmed and the magical carpets

Colossal    photograph courtesy of the artist

As a long-time and passionate admirer of woven carpets I was delighted to discover the work of Faig Admed, who stretches and distorts and manipulates the traditional carpets of Azerbaijan to recreate  them as contemporary works of art.  Here is an article by Paula Cocozza of the Guardian, published 14.11.16. which tells more about his life and work.

Helen Marten by Charlotte Higgins

Helen Marten, winner of the inaugural Hepworth prize for sculpture, with her work at The Hepworth Wakefield gallery in West Yorkshire. Photograph: Anthony Devlin/PA 

I enjoyed this recent article bby Charlotte Higgins about Helen Marten, this year's Turner Prize winner.

I particularly liked her description of how she works from reading and ideas. Here is a quotation from the article:

'Her starting point, she tells me, is reading. “Before I touch anything in the studio, before I do anything tangible or physical, I spend three or four months reading and researching, but not with a specific end goal in mind. It could be fiction, theory, news, philosophy. I read a lot of poetry. The primary impulse more often than not is linguistic.”
Recently she has been excited by Iconography and Electronics Upon a Generic Architecture, by postmodern architect Robert Venturi (“a vitriolic architectural postmodern thesis versus an amazing impulse for collecting and gathering weird archaeological facts”); and an essay by artist David Robbins on “the gaze in television, and the Lacanian idea of empathy”. Then, she says, “I store up phrases, a bank of words that are the starting point for thinking about an accumulation of physical stuff.”

The “physical stuff” comes next: first by a precise drawing and mapping of each of her works, for which a great deal of fabrication will be required. She works with ceramicists, metalworkers, carpenters, embroiderers and others to create the components of the sculptures, which she will assemble in the studio. Nothing is left to chance. “I don’t shop for things. I know what it is I am searching for,” she says. “Almost nothing is a readymade. If it looks like it is, it’s almost certainly a deliberate approximation.” '

Angela Carter


Angela Carter    Richard Mildenhall/ Camera Press

The real Angela Carter (1940-1992) as opposed to the "invention".  Edmund Gordon's new book
"The Invention of Angela Carter: a Biography" describes the real woman, as he sees her.  Not the rather fey magical intellectual I had always thought (being ignorant of Carter) but a highly intellelectual, highly sexual and completely driven individual overcoming an overprotected childhood.  Here is an article by Gordon published in Guardian Saturday Review  1st October, 2016.  I particularly like the story of how she met her second husband, Mark Pearce, when she sought help for domestic emergency while he was working on a building opposite.  "He came in, and never left", she said.

Thursday, 29 December 2016

Japan holiday

A great holiday travelling in Japan this Christmas.  Here are some pictures from hill town Takayama in the snow.  More to come....

Hiroshima - surviving building

Hiroshima - surviving tree

Tuesday, 29 November 2016


Great morning at a racing yard today observing the horses in and out of their stables - and a chance to check on my anatomy after several months of study in the studio.  It was a joy to be with real horses and especially these ones, which are in hard racing condition.  Real athletes but there was a calm and happy atmosphere.

Friday, 25 November 2016

Draw Horses in 15 Minutes now published in France

French edition

United States edition

Dutch edition    
Delighted to receive in the post today my sample copy of the French translation of my book - to go with the Dutch and the United States editions already published..  And with the UK edition as well, of course.  Customers have been reporting viewings of the book on sale in Dubai, and I have seen it in Waterstones.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Flanders Moss, Stirlingshire in November

Cold evening, view from my workshop window with the snowy hills to the east reflecting the sunset.   Beautiful! 

Sunday, 13 November 2016

A certain week in November

Sometimes you just need some comfort food....

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Dnblane Museum Gallery

Diana Hand   Dunblane Museum garden in the rain   (2016)  SOLD

Diana Hand  Dunblane Museum space study #1 (2016)

Diana Hand  Dunblane Museum space study #2 (2016)

Dunblane Museum Gallery are hosting their second Winter Exhibition for local artists who have exhibited in the Museum during 2016.  Each artist has been asked to submit 5-6 small pieces of work.

This event will be launched on the evening of 24th November, and will also be open each Saturday morning from then up until Christmas.

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Painting with dye - the abstract tendency

Making velvet scarves with dye, here are some of the details.  I can see a link to painting here, but how I do find this freedom with paint?  A conundrum but getting a little closer to being do-able.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Classical drawing and painting

Life model in class

I am back at Glasgow School of Art evening class studying classical painting with Cynthia Bowles as teacher.  The challenge for me is to create a sense of form using range of tones, and eventually paint..  In the studio I am practising this technique with horses as the subject.  

Tonal paint sketch from anatomy book

Tonal paint sketch from anatomy book

Quick sketch from imagination developed with form and tone in mind


Sunday, 30 October 2016

Joseph Beuys Drawings

Yesterday I visited the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh to see the excellent Artists Rooms exhibition "Joseph Beuys:  A Language of Drawing".  It was so refreshing to see how he linked drawings of different media to his ideas and made them work together.  Here is a quotation from the exhibition:

Beuy's work took many forms, employing all kinds of media to create single sculptures large and small, objects for vitrines, films, "Actions" and lectures illustrated with blackboard drawings. Beuys regarded drawing as the "first visible form" of his ideas.  He explained, "I ask questions, I put forms of language on paper, a language to stimulate more searching discussion".  The drawings, he felt, became a "kind of reservoir that I can utilise again and again" 

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Hari Kunzru on tolerance

I think that Hari Kunzru puts the case for tolerance and understanding very well in this recent article 

  Jonathan Franzen claimed he won’t write about race because of limited ‘firsthand experience’, while Lionel Shriver hopes objection to ‘cultural appropriation is a passing fad’. So should there be boundaries on what a novelist can write about?


Hari Kunzru

Clearly, if writers were barred from creating characters with attributes that we do not “own” (gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and so on), fiction would be impossible. Stories would be peopled by clones of the author. Since trespassing into otherness is a foundation of the novelist’s work, should we restrict ourselves in some way, so as to avoid doing violence to those who identify with our characters? The injunction to refrain from “cultural appropriation” sounds like a call for censorship, or at best a warning to self-censor, an infringement of the creative liberty to which so many surprising people profess themselves attached.

It is true that the politics of offence are used to shut down dissident voices of all kinds, frequently in minority communities, and the understanding of culture as a type of property to which ownership can be definitively assigned is, at the very least, problematic. Should the artist go forth boldly, without fear? Of course, but he or she should also tread with humility. Note that I do not say, “with care”. I don’t believe any subject matter should a priori be off limits to anyone, or that harm necessarily flows from the kind of ventriloquism that all novelists perform. Quite the opposite. Attempting to think one’s way into other subjectivities, other experiences, is an act of ethical urgency. For those who have never experienced the luxury of normativity, the warm and fuzzy feeling of being the world’s default setting, humility in the face of otherness seems like a minimal demand. Yet it appears that for some, the call to listen before speaking, to refrain from asserting immediate authority, is so unfamiliar that it feels outrageous. I’m being silenced! My freedom is being abridged! Norm is unaccustomed to humility because he has grown up as master of the house. All the hats are his to wear. For the deviant others, who came in by the kitchen door, it has always been expected, even demanded.
Good writers transgress without transgressing, in part because they are humble about what they do not know. They treat their own experience of the world as provisional. They do not presume. They respect people, not by leaving them alone in the inviolability of their cultural authenticity, but by becoming involved with them. They research. They engage in reciprocal relationships. It does not seem like a particular infringement of liberty to pass through the world without being its owner, unless someone else is continually asserting property rights over the ground beneath your feet. The panicked tone of the accusations of censorship leads me to suspect that what is being asserted has little to do with artistic freedom per se, and everything to do with a bitter fight to retain normative status, and the privileges that flow from it. The solution is simple, my fearful friends. Give up. Accept that some things are not for you, and others are not about you. You will find you have lost nothing. It may even feel like a weight off your shoulders. Put down that burden and pull up a chair. You might hear something you haven’t heard before. You will, at least, hear some new stories.

Friday, 21 October 2016

Venice in October

Historic Castello quarter where I stayed

View from my room:)
Just around the corner

The Maritime Museum
Portrait by/of Bellini in Accademia Art Gallery
Two of the original bronze horses of San Marco

San Marco piazza from above
Flying visit to Venice to see the Architecture Biennale, here are a few fleeting impressions from the city

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Waqas Khan

Waqas Khan


Jonathan Jones in this article:

asks "How can you express love in art?  One way is to make it with love.  Art created by a devoted hand projects its kindness into the space around it and the hearts of those who view it".

Elphida Hadzi-Vasileva at Djanogly Gallery, Nottingham

Fragility - drapes made from pig guts

A detail from Fragility ( I think)
A section of zebra heart

Haruspex - sections of pig gut

This artist, Elphida Hadzi-Vasileva,  works with internal organs of animals to create installations and sculptures.  I like this take on anatomy.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

THE HORSE IN THE HEART Whitespace Gallery, Edinburgh

An exhibition of drawings by Diana Hand  

Whitespace Gallery, 25, Howe Street, Edinburgh EH3 6TF
8th October to 13th October, 2016

The Double   ink on paper


I have been working all summer towards this exhibition of equestrian drawings.  I love to work very spontaneously and freely, but I would also like more control and understanding over what I do, and to develop a different approach to equestrian art, one that is not purely figurative.  And one which has, to quote previous blog, "a frame of wider reference" than simply my intuitive and immediate responses.

One such wider frame is the study of anatomy, and  for the past year I have been doing different courses - at the Ruskin School of Art in Oxford, at the Glasgow School of Art and with Alan McGowan in Edinburgh.  I have also been to clinics on equine anatomy run by Gillian Higgins at agricultural colleges in Gloucestershire.

I have been re-reading The Artist's Guide to Animal Anatomy by Gottfried Bammes.  I read this book about five years and was drawn to his expressive and free illustrations, but I skipped the anatomical information.  But by now  I know enough to make a deep study of his anatomical and dynamic structural approach, and to understand that this knowledge is the foundation of freer and more imaginative work.

I also used his suggestions about experimenting with different media and letting the medium shape the drawing.  This gave a great sense of movement and energy to start with and then I could explore the anatomy and form in this context.
Running Horses   Watercolour and charcoal on paper

Horse's Head   Watercolour wash and charcoal on paper

Another discovery was the use of a narrative.  Quite by chance I dropped a sheet of tissue paper onto a wet gesso surface.  It was beautiful and delicate and I transferred the marks onto an existing black canvas.
The shapes suggested horses' bodies and movements and the ghostly presence of horses in the distant and near past, inhabiting our psyche as they do for the horse lover.  I made a large more finished piece of this.

These We Have Loved    Charcoal on paper  1370 x 1010

Drawing from One Hundred Horses series

Later I realised that the concept is slightly similar to the "One Hundred Horses" paintings by Guiseppe Castiglione (1688-1766), an Italian Jesuit missionary in China.  I like these paintings because of the depiction of horses "off-duty" by someone who obviously knew them very well and appreciated their interaction with humans too.

This exhibition has been a much more personal "journey" than the previous exhibition earlier in the year.  I did have a system to work from and help me expand my references and knowledge, but the subject matter tended to take its own course and chance threw up new perspectives and meaning!  

Bring it on!