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Digital Subscriptions > The Artist > November 2019 > CHARLES WILLIAMS’ MUSINGS


Amazing, incredible…

My regular reader may remember my anecdote about the Chinese artist in Nottingham Contemporary, filling a decommissioned American spyplane with stuffed bats. I had popped into the gallery only to be informed that they were shut while the new exhibition was installed. I could see someone crouched by the side of an enormous aeroplane in the big gallery space, taking small brown things out of a box. The receptionist told me, with a special little smirk, what was going on.

I have seen this smirk many times. It means ‘isn’t that extraordinary?’ and it is there because the expected reaction is ‘what on earth would anyone want to do that for?’ And quite right; the question does occur. To be honest, I find it a little offensive, because there is the implication that the smirker knows why the thing is happening and you don’t. It’s a proprietorial smirk, the smirk of someone who has special knowledge. ‘What on earth would anyone want to do that for?’ Well, there was a complex web of reasons for that piece, but the one thing that they will never say is that it’s pointless, empty, ritualised behaviour, and that once you have thought the image (in this case the plane, the bats) you really don’t need to experience it. It’s a surreal conjunction of images. Like a poem. You don’t need a film of a skylark to understand the Hopkins poem.

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About The Artist

Welcome to our November issue. This month Hermen Pekel shares his strategies for creating depth and Lucy Willis explains how to achieve perspective, both working in watercolour, while Aine Divine demonstrates how she painted a watercolour portrait of our editor. James Hobbs urges you to share your sketchbook on social media this month using the #inktober tag and Robert E Wells explains how he uses his sketchbooks as a creative tool. Kathy Barker begins a new series on portraiture with a look at eyes, Paul Brown reveals how you can learn from your mistakes, Paul Riley demonstrates how to paint mountains in acrylic and Becky Thorley-Fox sketches and paints wildlife from life, in oil. And of course our regular contributors Geoff Hunt, Jenny Aitken, Paul Talbot-Greaves, Charles Williams and Soraya French share their knowledge of painting. There’s plenty to inspire you in your November copy of The Artist!