11am-6pm / £30 / £20 for students
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A joint symposium organised by Turner Contemporary with Tate St Ives, alongside a major Patrick Heron retrospective exhibition at both venues.
Patrick Heron (1920–99) is widely recognised as one of the most important and innovative figures in 20th century British art. Despite broadening interest in his diverse and prolific activity, this will be the first retrospective exhibition of Heron’s work in the UK for 20 years; showing the full range of his paintings from 1943 to 1996.
This is a timely moment to address Heron’s achievement and make it available for a new generation. The exhibition will unlock new insights and fresh perspectives on the abstract painting of space and colour that Heron developed; introducing new and diverse audiences in both venues to his singular oeuvre.
A one-day symposium in Margate will expand on the themes and lines of enquiry proposed by the exhibition and accompanying catalogue, considering Heron’s art within its particular art historical context as well as through a contemporary lens. It will reconsider Heron’s contribution to 20th century British and international art, as well as taking his art practice (and writing) as the starting point for a broader exploration of the role of formalism in painting today. Finally, it will hone in on the late 1980s-90s, when Heron’s art was reinvigorated after a period of crisis, offering a fresh appraisal of his final decade. With contributions from art historians, academics, writers and crucially, other artists, it will unlock new insights for those with a specialist knowledge of the subject as well as those with a more general interest in Heron’s work.
Thursday 22 November, 5.30pm - 7.00pm
Welcome and drinks reception followed by a tour of the exhibition led by the curators.
Friday 23 November, 10.30am - 5.00pm
10.30-11.00 - Registration and refreshments
11.00-11.15 - Welcome and introduction to the day
11.15-11.50 - Curating Patrick Heron
Andrew Wilson, Senior Curator, Modern and Contemporary British Art and Archives
The Patrick Heron exhibition provides a rare opportunity to experience the scope and ambitious scale of Heron’s painting as well as his consistent attachment to the subject of colour. Rather than a conventional retrospective, the show is a succession of spaces, juxtaposing works from the full breadth of Heron’s career to encourage a new understanding of his achievements as an artist. Andrew Wilson introduces to the curatorial approach to the exhibition and considers Patrick Heron’s engagement with European and transatlantic culture.
12.00-12.30 - The time to look, the ‘moment’ to paint
Sara Matson, Curator, Tate St Ives
Sara Matson will explore notions of time and experience in Patrick Heron’s painting. Her paper will expand from the specific elements of time attached to the works in relation to the mutability of experience from the perspective of both the artist and the viewer.
12.45-14.00 - Lunch
Includes time to view the exhibition in the first floor galleries
14.00-14.35 - Patrick Heron in the 1980s and 90s: ‘Big Paintings'
Jenni Lomax, a freelance Curator and former Director of Camden Arts Centre, London; Mel Gooding, an art historian, writer and curator who has written extensively on the art of Patrick Heron
One way of characterising Heron’s career is as a series of shifts in approach that, as the historian Alan Bowness observed, chart a movement ‘from thesis to antithesis to synthesis in an everlasting sequence’. Heron characterised this as 'changes of gear’ that underlined the moves he made in the early 1980s to a more vigorous painting that expressed a relationship between an experience of visual reality and an expression of pictorial reality in more ambitious ways than before. This vision was realised most completely in a series of Garden paintings in the late 1980s/early1990s and the creation of a suite of ‘Big Paintings' for a 1994 exhibition at Camden Arts Centre. A discussion between Jenni Lomax and Mel Gooding discuss the nature of the work of this period, also touching on Heron’s late gouaches, included in this exhibition for the first time.
14.45-15.15 - Formalism: was it so bad?
Matthew Collings is a critic, writer, broadcaster and artist.
Formalism is a contentious term in relation to contemporary practice, yet it offers an approach to current abstract art that is potentially rich and still valid. In a paper expanding on his contribution to the exhibition catalogue, Matthew Collings will explore formalism in relation to Heron as well as asking what place formalism has now.
15.30 -15.50 - Break (refreshments provided)
15.50-16.30 - Crisis in the Art Schools: Patrick Heron and arts education
A conversation between Michael McNay, Anna McNay and Katharine Heron
Although he didn’t receive a formal art school education Heron was a passionate advocate for art schools and campaigned against the proposed merger of 17 independent colleges of art into polytechnics in the late 1960s and 70s. In 1973 he took part in a symposium on arts education at the University of Kent.
In this discussion, the founding arts editor (1970-75) of The Guardian, Michael McNay, will discuss Heron’s campaign in support of the independence of publicly funded art schools with arts writer and editor Anna McNay, and Katharine Heron, Professor of Architecture at the University of Westminster.
They will reflect on the role and status of art education today and Patrick Heron’s enduring legacy, not only as an artist, but also as an important campaigner for art education and art schools over two decades.
16.30 - Closing remarks and drinks
17.00 - Close
The Patrick Heron exhibition is organised by Turner Contemporary in association with Tate St Ives.
Supported by the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art
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