THE CATFISH BLOG
In July 2019 Velvet Magazine asked me to write a guided arts tour of Cambridge, visiting my favourite artists, galleries, venues and events. Time for a revisit …
In no particular order:
I have only recently discovered the amazing Cambridge based artist Judy Logan. An exhibition was being promoted on social media and I fell in love with one of her paintings. The piece was incredibly powerful. Judy’s work has a darkness and sense of nostalgia that attracts me. I am also particularly drawn to her paintings and etchings of crows. I made sure I was one of the first to arrive at the preview, and the artwork came home with me!
Post pandemic: With galleries having been closed for so long it’s great to hear that Judy has just been part of an exciting exhibition at The Undercroft in Norwich
Enlightenment Unbidden by Judy Logan
I’ve been a member of the Cambridge Picturehouse for as long as I can remember. The free tickets and discount on food and drink make it great value for money. I am a regular cinema-goer whether it’s with family, friends or on my own. The café bar has a relaxed energy, so it’s a good place to meet up for a quick coffee or a bite to eat even if you’re not watching a film. Some friends and I meet regularly once a month for what we loosely call Film Club: a glass of wine, a film and a discussion afterwards. Oh, and you can take your drink into the film with you – a big plus!
Post pandemic: Good to know that the Picturehouse is open again with socially distanced seating but I have yet to visit. The First Tuesday Film Club will remain online for the time being but as we have members as far afield as Bristol, Croatia and the US we would like to retain our online presence even when we're back to meeting in the flesh.
It’s been dangerous discovering this gallery – at Burwash Manor in Barton – as there is inevitably something I cannot resist buying. The Art Hound houses some fantastic cutting-edge and experimental art by emerging artists which I find really exciting, but they also carry work by big names. The gallery is a feast for the senses. The team are friendly and knowledgeable, so if you are thinking of making art an investment, they can point you in the right direction. Me? I just buy what I like with a little guidance from Tom.
Post pandemic: The Art Hound has moved to larger premises at Burwash Manor and recently launched a collection of iconic pop art paintings by Pegasus.
I have a soft spot for this festival as I used to manage the website back in the days when it was called ‘WordFest’. It is one of the highlights of my year. There is so much great stuff on offer that, in the past, I have made the mistake of cramming in far too much and found myself racing from talk to talk with no breathing space. I am usually drawn to the events featuring food, climate and politics rather than fiction. Another must for me is the New Statesman Debate. These days it’s easy to live in a social media bubble and not hear the other side of the argument.
Post pandemic: The festival is back for Summer 2021 with Covid-secure events but with the added option of a live-streamed option, so no one will miss out.
I first encountered Richard’s work at the Babylon Gallery in Ely and took my alias, Lady Fen, from one of his photographs. At the time I didn’t realise this referred to a place and not the woman in the photo. He uses highly saturated colours and his work is heavily influenced by 1950s America with a definite sense of place. This is reflected in his photographs of East Anglia: classic cars, stylish women, a sense of nostalgia and a dose of kitsch. Richard takes the ordinary and makes it extraordinary.
Post pandemic: Richard will be participating in the Cambridge Open Studios which are, thankfully, able to take place this year.
Lady Fen by Richard Heeps
Rebecca’s jewellery is more than that … it’s art. Her work is intricate and extraordinarily detailed, inspired by the darkness of the fairy tales we all grew up with and gothic literature. Rebecca’s jewellery is unique. There is simply nothing like it. It is eccentric and unconventional, and I have always thought her perfect customer is Helena Bonham Carter. I love the way she incorporates words and language into her pieces to tell a story.
Post pandemic: Rebecca is running jewellery making courses with Cambridge Art Makers.
Very Stupid, Very Ugly by Rebecca Ilett
A collection of modern and contemporary works by women housed at Murray Edwards College, this is not a conventional art gallery as the art is on display all around the college, and you can wander about on your own. The first time I visited it was a voyage of discovery as I didn’t know many of the artists, but it’s all work by significant women artists from around the world. Some of the more famous names are Paula Rego, Tracey Emin, Maggi Hambling, Gwen Raverat and Cindy Sherman. An absolute gem of a place.
Post pandemic: Unfortunately the collection is closed until further notice.
Inspired by current affairs, social history and politics, Deanna combines paint and textiles to create some amazing works of art. Her work is bold and thought provoking. As someone who used to love creating with textiles, applique and collage, I am completely in awe of the imagination and work that goes into Deanna’s kimonos. From a distance you appreciate the colours and the beauty of the design which could be on a catwalk. As you get closer the story is slowly revealed, whether its historical, political or a homage to someone. Unique and inspiring.
Post pandemic: Deanna is organising a show of work done under lockdown by both world renowned professional artists and enthusiastic creatives of all ages living in and around Fulbourn, Cambridge.
Icons by Deanna Tyson
The art I find myself most attracted to is faces and Renee’s is primarily the facial expressions of unknown women and girls. It is very distinctive and largely inspired by vintage photographs that she finds in skips, books and recycling centres. More recently she has incorporated fabric into the portraits, which she then paints over. The pictures are very intimate as they gaze out at you, and you can really hear the subjects whispering their story. Often it’s as though they are waiting for something. Some of the stories may not be happy ones, but there is still a sense of being up lifted by the work.
Post pandemic: Renee had an artwork in the Royal West of England Academy exhibition in May this year.
Olive Oatman by Renee Spierdijk
I absolutely adore Cambridge Open Studios when, during July, hundreds of local artists open their doors to the public. I have quite a few friends who are artists so it’s always difficult trying to find enough time to support them and make sure I explore the work of people I don’t know. I’m very curious about the spaces people work in, so visiting studios is fascinating. It is also of course an excellent way of finding a hidden gem and purchasing direct from the artist.
Post pandemic: Open Studios will be taking place this year but with a difference. Artists may ask visitors to make an appointment before visiting their studio and other may choose to show their work in their windows only, with no visitors allowed inside.
A big thanks to Velvet Magazine for being so supportive of small businesses like mine and giving us the opportunity to contribute to their publication.