Exhibitions at the Bowes Museum: Shelf Life. The ornaments are talking to me. by Mark Clarke and still life pictures from the permanent collection.

In Shelf Life, contemporary artist Mark Clarke assembles ornaments and pictures bought from flea markets and charity shops into meditations on the life of his mother who died of Alzheimer’s. Inspired by her groups of ornaments and pictures, the shelves are arranged in various themes Dinnertime, Once upon a Time, Time To Kill, Showtime and Prime Time. I enjoyed looking at the objects and the way Mark Clarke assembled them. I like the selection and juxtaposition of images. It was also interesting to talk to the gallery attendant who said: “I don’t know if it’s art.” I find myself at a bit of a loss when faced with someone who is asking: “but is it art?”

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Once Upon A Time. Mark Clarke

I also took the opportunity to look at some classic still life painting in the museum’s permanent collection.

 

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Fruit and Flowers 1866. Henri Fantin Latour.

Henri Fantin Latour’s painting Fruit and Flowers is a perfect still life. The colours balance between the flowers and fruit, the tipped basket and spilled fruit add a dynamism. The table slopes slightly. The textures of the glossy vase, woven basket, fruit and flowers add interest while the actual painting is beautiful with a light touch capturing the fragility of the flowers and the weight of the fruit.

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Plums, melons, peaches. Jaques Linard 1642

I was also very taken by this much earlier still life by Jaques Linard. Plums, melons, peaches is a beautiful picture with glowing colours. It is interesting how the colour moves from cooler tones on the left to warmer ones on the right. it is a satisfying balance.

I think I’m attracted to the simplicity of these paintings in contrast to more elaborate still life and flower paintings I have seen.

As a side note, I must use capital letters when writing down artist’s names – I spend a lot of time searching for images using mis-spelled names which is quite annoying.

 

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