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Jim


The Graphic Novel: alive and well in the Middle Ages

The British Library’s exhibition, Royal Manuscripts – The Genius of Illumination – is a display of the art of the illustrated book from the 9th to the 16th Century. This is the medieval world revealed in manuscript form, before and just after Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press and movable type. Only the wealthiest patrons […]

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David Shrigley or David Hockney?

Having viewed David Shrigley at the Hayward Gallery, checked out Maurice de Vlaminck’s ‘Landscape with dead wood’ 1906 in the Courtauld collection, I joined the queue for David Hockney’s controversial latest exhibition at the Royal Academy. Reviews have been mixed. While serious art critics express reservations, the art loving public reportedly adore it. David Hockney, […]

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The comfy chair v the torture chamber

OCA assessor Jim Unsworth reflects on the prosaic object, the chair. When is a chair not a chair? OCA level 3 student Margaret Hargreaves poses the question…

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A haven in the crowds of Florence

Queuing for art seems to be the order of the day. David Hockney at the Royal Academy is drawing big crowds. But by far the biggest blockbuster of them all is the Leonardo Da Vinci exhibition at the National Gallery which has brought together a good number of his extant paintings (he was never over […]

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Art books for the new year

In the competitive and fast moving world of art exhibitions and artistic reputations, it is easy to get ignored or forgotten. A number of belated biographies were published last year that bring to the public’s attention some of these artists: Alasdair Grey (b.1934) is a Scottish artist who along with John Byrne (b.1940) made his […]

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A loss to painters in the making….

….. and a loss to art. Ian Simpson, born in 1933, has died. Jim Cowan, long time OCA tutor, who knew and worked with Ian, writes: Many OCA students will know Ian Simpson’s book ‘Drawing, Seeing and Observation’ which has become a standard text. Ian was a great believer in disseminating knowledge and as a […]

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One tree, Three years, Fifty paintings

True artists are dedicated souls. Nothing will come in the way of an artist and his subject matter. The compulsion to create overwhelms everything. Student and teacher alike, we all are single-minded in our quest. Art is life, or so we like to think. But Stephen Taylor, former Head of Painting at the Open College […]

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There is nothing like a good murder mystery

Caravaggio killed a man in a sword fight and went on the run wanted for murder. He himself died in mysterious circumstances on a beach near Porto Ercole on the Tuscan coast as he headed back to Rome to beg for a pardon.  Richard Dadd, painter of the ‘Fairy Fellers Master-stroke’  murdered his father and […]

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Jim gets inside packages

The Museum of Brands Packaging and Advertising is not the easiest place to find. Situated in Notting Hill, in Colville Mews (just off the Portobello Road) this small, delightful museum is a shrine to the art of advertising and a must place to go for any aspiring graphic designer. It is all the collection of […]

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I wanted your soft verges but you gave me the hard shoulder

Back in the 1960s, Penguin Modern Poets brought out a poetry collection called ‘The Mersey Sound’. Its cover design soon became a classic and a generation were introduced to the poetry of Adrian Henri, Roger McGough and Brian Patten. Beat poetry had combined with Pop Music and Liverpool was the place to be. The driving […]

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