Modern Design, 2 March 2019

Modern Design 

As always, the Modern Design sale is set to cater to a wide range of tastes and styles with it’s eclectic mix of paintings, sculptures and furniture. Amongst the paintings and sketches are works by a number of local Suffolk and Norfolk artists, including those by members of the Norwich Twenty Group. The initiation of the original group was provoked by an interest in contemporary art and for a desire to raise the standards of such art amongst Norfolk artists, through the sharing and critiquing of the group’s artwork. The group first congregated with eight attendees in November 1944 and have accommodated over 270 members since. A number of pieces by a past member, John Kiki, are available in the sale. Kiki hailed from Cyprus but grew up in Great Yarmouth, which has evidently been more influential on his work than the Mediterranean has. Kiki’s paintings can be characterised by a vibrancy within both the colours he uses and in his rapid brush strokes. His statement that “the subject matter doesn’t matter; there is no message” is easily believed upon viewing the spontaneous nature of his portraits. Although lacking a faithfulness to reality, his work is nonetheless full of life. There are several pieces of Kiki’s work in the sale which together exemplify the broad range of his talents. One such piece is an abstract portrait in acrylic, reminiscent of Picasso’s style with it’s bright, unnatural colour palette and skewed facial features.

 Another local artist with work in the sale is Maggi Hambling. Born and educated in Suffolk, Hambling is most well known for her portraits, paintings of the sea and controversial sculptures. Such sculptures include Scallop, a four metre tall steel shell set on Aldeburgh beach that initially received complaints, and was vandalised a number of times before locals grew to fully appreciate the piece. Regarding Scallop, Hambling stated that “the juxtaposition of the sculpture to the sea is crucially important” as the point of the piece is to express a “conversation with the sea”, which is effectively achieved as the sculpture casts a striking but harmonious mark on the horizon. Hambling’s piece in the Modern Design sale, however, is a sunrise watercolour. With sweeping strokes and colours in abundance, Hambling’s painting - entitled Sunrise, Hadleigh - differs greatly from Scallop, although her expression of harmony in nature remains.

A sculpture in the sale to note would be Ghost Bird by Bridget McCrum. Encompassing the definitive aspects of modern design and Modernist appreciation, the piece features smooth lines leading to crisp points - simplistic but cleanly effective in its depiction of a bird in flight. The backdrop of Modernism holds an exciting place for McCrum’s sculptures. Her interest in “ancient remains, fragments of carving and standing stones in lonely landscapes” envisages rough, naturally formed pieces, however McCrum’s transformation of stone culminates in innovative, smoothly formed sculptures. Such a rejection of the more rudimentary aspects of nature for abstract simplicity is Modernist in it’s ethos. The primitive outcome of McCrum’s work though, is ultimately how her work remains in congruence with nature when it is placed there. Much like Hambling’s Scallop, Ghost Bird and other bird figures by McCrum are striking, yet the natural hues of the stone the sculptures are formed from create tranquility amongst natural surroundings.

 The catalogue will be on our website the week beginning 18th February. Please contact James Bassam for further information regarding pieces in the sale, which takes place on Saturday 2nd of March.