Gareth A Hopkins

These pages will be kept updated with forthcoming gallery shows and news on completed artwork.

Pages from my ongoing surreal/abstracted comic 'The Intercorstal' can be found here: The Intercorstal

My deviantart gallery, chock-full of my art, can be found here: grthink

Stories from my (old) walk to and from work can be found here: Trolleys In Odd Places

Monday, 31 May 2010

Tate Cruising

"Ceremonial Ghost Mask"

So, as I've said, I recently got back off holiday. I went on a cruise around the Eastern Mediterranean with my wife and her family -- generally cruising isn't for me, but this was slightly different as on sea days there was three hours of activity arranged by Tate, both lectures and practical acitivities.

Now, P&O cruises have a certain demographic: what I call Coffin Boffins. Basically, 70% of the passengers on the ship could have been riding the bus for free. And not to push stereotypes, but people who are old and interested in cruising read the Daily Mail and have a very narrow view of what art is. This meant that the program of lectures were tailored to the more vanilla end of the spectrum... don't get me wrong, they were without exception excellent, and I got a lot out of them, but they were very, very safe, and I could feel how uncomfortable the three lecturers were with having to play to the audiences weaknesses. For instance, after a lecture on Picasso, one gentleman (installed on a motability scooter) remarked to me "He could obviously draw properly... why did he have to go and do all that nonsense with the faces and things". (The gentleman in question was actually a really nice bloke, he just liked pictures to look a certain way).

My favourite lecture was on Dali and the Surrealists. If I'd had my way, they'd have been two seperate lectures... actually, I would have had them split it into three -- one for Dali, one for Surrealism, and one for Magritte. But still, I love that entire movement, so to hear someone talk with authority about something they obviously loved too was a genuine treat for me. There was a wonderful moment when the lecturer (Linda Bolton) was talking about 'Gift' by Man Ray and the computer equipment broke down, and the audience was asked to imagine what might have been on screen -- Breton would have loved that.

Linda Bolton is forced to deliver the Surrealism lecture surreally.

As excellent as the lectures were, though, the practical workshops were awesome. Run by abstract artist Patrick Jones each of the eight workshops dealt with a different technique, starting with portraiture and figure drawing and ending on monoprinting. I was okay with the drawing bits -- drawing's what I do normally. But when the charcoal was broken out, and then the paint, I got very uncomfortable very quickly. Watercolours and monoprinting went okay, but anything with acrylic paint went very badly for me -- saying that, I loved the workshop on masks, which I'll come back to in a second.

Again, I was usually the youngest in each workshop, but generally the people who came to them were a little more open minded. Which was good for them, because Patrick had a delightful way of taking the premise of each workshop and twisting it slightly, to the point where the regulars knew not to expect the expected. For instance, one of the workshops was billed as 'Pop Art' and within five minutes we'd been told that we weren't doing Pop Art because Patrick didn't like it, and we'd be doing something nearer to Abstract Expressionism instead.

The best example was the session on masks: we'd just been to Venice and everyone was expecting the chance to make their own Ventian masks (especially since that's what the programme of events had promised), and instead we were asked to approach the idea of masks as something more primal and interesting, to think about how masks hide identity and respond to that. Everyone else worked onto plastic face masks, but because I got there late I did a painting of a mask instead, which was the piece I was most happy with at the end of the course.

Below is a selection of some of the stuff I did as part of the Tate programme, for interest rather than to impress anyone.

Sketch for a mask

Monoprint -- my first ever

Watercolour -- we were asked to do a lanscape with a 'bowl of light' in the centre.
I was thinking about The Intercorstal while I did this and with an extra hour or so
would have had something more... landscape-y. Maybe.

Figure drawing

Portraiture -- I was a very long way away from the model when I did this.


  1. The life model was a coloured woman I take it?
    I remember mono-printing being more messy than it was worth, but then I had to use a school table for size reasons.

  2. Yes, Jean was black.

    You were lucky -- we were on tiny tables in a bar, all pressed up uncomfortably close together. Well, not that close, but close enough to worry about elbows.