Behind the Scenes: A Look Inside London Artist Vanessa Jackson’s Studio

 

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Royal AcademyVanessa Jackson Credit: Vanessa Jackson

 

It’s a funny thing, stepping into an artist’s studio. Perhaps it’s like tiptoeing around someone’s bedroom, or opening up a private diary – there’s a feeling that you are entering a sacred space, one in which ideas are formed, decisions are made, creativity is initiated and yet one which also feels strangely out of bounds.

When, therefore, I was lucky enough to attend a studio tour of artist Vanessa Jackson’s creative space in Bermondsey, I felt a strange sense of intrusion. That, however, was quickly dissolved: over a glass of wine, a handful of people and the artist herself began to talk art and inspiration, teaching and techniques, and were all made to feel thoroughly welcome in this paint-splattered room.

Despite Jackson’s formal art education at the Royal College of Art, her pieces are anything but traditional. Geometric ideas crossed with modernist lines, all in vibrant hues and clashing colours, line the walls of her studio (you can also see them on display at the Royal Academy). Although intended to be independent pieces, a lot of Vanessa Jackson’s art works incredibly well in sequence and alongside each other.

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Credit: Royal Academy

 

Her personal sketchbook was not for our eyes, but bar that, Vanessa was open with how she created certain pieces, the fact that a lot of what she did she threw away, and her annoyance when critics brand her work as ‘cubist’.

To glimpse the ‘behind the scenes’ activity and space was enlightening, not least to get the artist’s perspective on her own work, but also to talk frankly about the art world in general. I don’t quite know if I expected a beret-wearing, overalled individual painting at an easel, but my insight into the world of an artist was one which inspired, fascinated and excited me.

What the experience confirmed is that everyone works in a completely different way, whatever they are doing, and that however we decide to be creative, none of it is wrong.

 

You say you want a Revolution: a Cycle Spectacular at the Design Museum

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Call me a wimp, call me wise, but I have yet to cycle in the big bad city. Not a Boris Bike jaunt, nor a scenic riverside ride have I ever completed, which, admittedly is slightly embarrassing.

…Or sensible? The amount of cycle-related injuries and accidents is scarily high in London, although the new Cycle Super Highways that are being built around the city promise a safer way to ride around the capital.

This current obsession with bikes can’t be ignored – we’ve all been annoyed by those commuters who insist on travelling with a fold-up bike, or been narrowly missed by a speeding Santander. But the rise in popularity of the (not so) humble bicycle is clearly for a reason: a bike is cheaper and more environmentally friendly to use, and doubles up as a form of exercise. This is killing three birds with one stone. After the success of cycling in the London Olympics and the enthusiasm for the recent Tour de France, it seems apt that 2015 should be the year championing the Great Bicycle. Luckily, the Design Museum have got it covered.

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Cycle Revolution is a brand new exhibition at the Design Museum in Bermondsey celebrating the nations’ favourite two wheeled contraption. Bikes of all shapes and sizes are on display; from Bradley Wiggins’ super fast racer to a 1970s vintage Raleigh, this exhibition shows there really is a bike for everyone. The exhibition focuses on four subcultures of biking ‘tribes’; the High Performers, the Thrill Seekers, the Urban Riders and the Cargo Bikers, proving the diversity and variety in the jobs the bike can do.

Track the evolution of the bicycle throughout time, contrasting the 1888 Rover safety bicycle to the foldable Brompton bicycles now so familiar on the morning commute. Apparently the future of cycling could be the wooden bike, but there was also a huge number of modern collapsible contraptions that screamed innovation. . Biking attire and helmets (accessories are obviously important here) are featured, the most bizarre probably an inflatable helmet. I was pretty impressed with the cargo bikes which are rising in popularity; companies using them for deliveries or mums for the school run. Genius, I say – stick the kids in the bike.

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Admittedly, I entered Cycle Revolution with an overriding impression that a bike is a bike is a bike. How wrong I was. The Design Museum’s Cycle Revolution opened my eyes to the fact that bikes are stepping up a gear. Having never really considered the design and craftsmanship of the trusty bicyle, I now feel enlightened as to the capabilities of our two-wheeled friend, and despite not being an avid bike enthusiast, can now fully the complete variety and innovative craftsmanship of the bicycle. The Design Museum has triumphed again, as far as im concerned, and even though I still took the tube on the way home, I was wheely considering picking up a Boris Bike (pun completely intended).