Monthly Archives: November 2016

Upcoming Exhibition. Menier Gallery, London 22- 26 November



Monday 22 – Saturday 26 November

FIGMENT – a thing that someone believes to be real but exists only in their imagination. OED

The show explores the shared experience of a world that is enigmatic, beautiful and troubled in equal measure, for each of us personally, and for all of us collectively. The artists invite the viewer to look beyond the surface of a diverse range of media to place these figments in their own perception of contemporary lives.

Link to Menier Gallery website

Highgate New Town’s artist in residence launches classes to help people release ‘creative self’

Ham & High

26 January 2016

Bridget Galton talks to painter Angus Anderson, who will be running classes, organising exhibitions and creating his own work at the New Town Community Centre.


Angus Anderson. Picture: Polly Hancock


By Angus Anderson

An artist hopes to help deprived tenants in Highgate New Town to release their inner creativity.

As artist in residence at the area’s community centre, Angus Anderson will be running classes, organising exhibitions and creating his own work reflecting the area and its residents.

The former public services consultant, who studied art late in life, wants to prove that it’s never too late to pick up a paint brush.

“I had decided to give up the executive world and take up art full time and did a Diploma in Fine art at the Art Academy,” says Anderson who is not being funded in the post.

“I am renting a space at the Highgate New Town Community Centre and said I would be pleased to take on the role of artist in residence. If I achieve anything I would like to prove that people can give something a go and and release their creative self.”

Anderson’s Creative Selves programme will include after school classes for primary children, drawing and painting for 13-19-year-olds including school leavers, and an open adults group which will welcome all-comers of any age and ability.

The Community Centre already has a thriving arts scene with both a life drawing and ceramic group in its upstairs studios.

The Old Street resident hopes to work with them to increase the opportunities for local people to take part in art.

“You don’t usually associate Highgate with deprivation but life is tough for a lot of folks who don’t have a lot of spare cash. The object of the exercise is to make art accessible to people not just to look at but to find a way of helping them discover their own creativity.”

Anderson, who had a solo show at Lauderdale House last year, plans to run an open studios exhibition in early March and has contacted Lauderdale House, Holly Lodge and Highgate Community Library to explore a wide event across the neighbourhood.

“At the moment the community centre, gym and youth centre is a secret, very few people know it’s here. We want to make the facilities available, provide people with a space to see what they can do, and give them a chance to show their work.”

Anderson says acting as trustee and chair of Action Space, a Holborn-based charity providing art sessions for people with learning disabilities taught him the power and possibilities of art.

“It makes us all richer, more self fulfilled. There are many ways you can communicate your view of the world but many people find words intimidating and people with learning disabilities find words particularly difficult.

“Art is a universal language. I’ve seen what you can do when you give people an alternative way of expressing themselves. Human beings are fundamentally visual creatures and really exploring what that means opens up all sorts of doors for people.

Giving people an opportunity to develop and explore their own visual language is so important and satisfying so they can express what they want to say about the world, the things they love, or find beautiful or challenging. It’s opening doors to give them the freedom to do that.”

To gain a place on a course contact




Arts and Crafts and Offender health in the North East

Presentation to PORSCH NE Conference 2 March 2016 Arts & Crafts and Offender Health in the North East Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art – Gateshead

It was with a little personal uncertainty as an artist that I approached the invitation to review the Koestler Trust Exhibition of Offender Art as an opening contribution to our conference of practitioners on 2 March, who between them cover such a broad range of support to those , young people and adults, in offender institutions in this part of the northeast.

My uncertainty sprang from two sources, first that I felt that I might slip into an inappropriate judgement mode. The artists whose work is on show here have perhaps rather too great and immediate a sense of having been judged by society; and second that this fine exhibition, for it is, has already been curated, and indeed prizes awarded, and another round of assessment would either add little, or might even detract from it.

My brief rather has been to review the work on show and share with you my responses with you as an artist to prompt our thinking and discussion this afternoon.

But I do not wish to cop out of any comment at all of the overall quality of work presented to us in this show.

There is of course a very wide range of types of work presented; including drawing, painting, sculpture, printing, mixed media, written narrative; each of which, in other circumstances might have a show of their own; and thus cross comparisons immediately fall into the difficulty of making distinctions between apples and oranges.

But for all that what we have before us obviously satisfy the criterion of works of fine art needing to satisfy high standards demonstrating command of technique, depth of observation; exploration of materiality and colour; quality of craft and finish; and throughout an integrity, imagination, and creative originality in purpose and execution. All the pieces speak from the artist to the viewer.

Therefore what I want to do is to pick out from the show 10 pieces that say something particular to me and to share this with yourselves. There is no particular order in which I have selected these pieces, and no ranking therefore in the points that occur to me. So here goes.


Any of us in our work, as artists or otherwise, will from time to time experience a cleansing of our minds as we allow ourselves the opportunity to explore our thoughts about the situation we find ourselves in. And that square of paper or canvas in front of us can be a truly magical space in which we surrender all sense of time while we allow ourselves to do this.

PORSCH NE Talk 2-3-16

Paul’s ‘Anxiety’ profoundly presents a picture of enclosure, his use of marker pens surely destroyed in the mark making of the space he is incarcerated in, set against the unruly deployment of bits, literally, and pieces of digital kit run riot inside his head, presents a profound sense of unease, of the ability to cope and endure.

PORSCH NE Talk 2-3-16

Testament & Truth

Ian’s ‘Over the River’ displays his specific sense of loss, and the pain of ‘Missing you’. Are the abstracted figures – in the darkness of the composition with the uncompromising use of gauche. a source of comfort or acknowledgement of a shared predicament?

The space between the figures suggests a way out – a longed for destination – but there is a gulf – of negative space that places this out of reach.

Humour & Irony

If these are two challenging pieces – there has to be a place for lightness of touch.

PORSCH NE Talk 2-3-16

Who is ‘Rocky the Punk?’. Exuberant use of colour, again in guache, suggests a portrait, someone well known. Over the top? A character – certainly someone who lifts everyone’s spirit. Would we all want to meet Rocky? Maybe not for too long. But he brings a smile.

PORSCH NE Talk 2-3-16

And Paul’s ‘Rhino Head’ – thrust a metre off the wall – and at waist height – is wonderfully crafted. The choice of steel is well made; harder than the real thing. Something for the living room? Certainly a trophy; but would, I think, need a particularly understanding partner to make him feel at home.


But the underlying strength of this show is the range of ways in which the artists have explored and revealed the situation they find themselves in, the range of perspectives and dimensions it brings, and the sense of something unfolding.

PORSCH NE Talk 2-3-16

Leigh’s ‘Vide (See)’ invites the view to look and find understanding. The expressionist handling of space, layered with use of colour and overlapped shape; the suggestion of 33mm film in the margin suggesting constant observation and of an indelible record makes one feel uneasy, uncertain. What is the enigma we are intended to see in the spacial ambiguities? Are we looking hard enough? At what point will it be revealed?

Narrative – A story

Bryan’s ‘My Time in the Falklands’ with it’s desolate conclusion leaves us in no doubt of the mark left on the author’s heart – for that is where the narrative comes from – in an unresolved expression of pain and loss – of a profound melancholia.

PORSCH NE Talk 2-3-16


But beauty has its place too – to lift the spirits – to take us somewhere else. Paper Moon uses the seductiveness of vibrant, complimentary colour to take us over the moon – with exuberant use of ink, oil pastel and watercolour to explore two contrasting places – a sea of emotion? – a route to a distant destination? But there is optimism and hope in this composition.

PORSCH NE Talk 2-3-16

Emotion – both Private and Shared

And these are the tensions that lie pretty close to the surface of all of the work on show.

PORSCH NE Talk 2-3-16

Looking outwards, in ‘Sunderland’ (ink and watercolour on paper) the artist gives us his(?) view over the wall. Is he looking for home beyond the prison cell. One thinks at first that he is looking at the Sunderland skyline until on closer examination the tower blocks are revealed as gravestones – for passing time? – for time lost forever? The warmth of the oranges and reds in the foreground are no substitution for the loss of the distant place expressed in the blues of the background.

What are the conditions of his return? Will he meet them? Does he want to?

PORSCH NE Talk 2-3-16

For that is the external reality. As for the internal reality, ‘Prison Life’ (lino print on paper) captures the monotony of prison existence. The artist notes ‘when I walk past cells … I see only men with elbows on their knees’. It might please some that this is indeed what is intended. But what this

prisoner has expressed is the broken spirit that comes with the experience and poses the question what happens next – and how we can break the cycle. PORSCH NE Talk 2-3-16


For the final piece I have selected “Pug Life’ (gouache on paper) the artist reveals that he(?) is obsessed with his dog’s roles of fat. The word ’obsessed’ is significant. The painting is set above head height. The subject looks down on us – superior – judgemental – and one suspects not unlike his master. Is he in fact the artist’s alter ego. Is this actually a self portrait?

So what are we to make of this.

At the beginning I touched upon the magic of that square or cube in which the artist creates his or her illusion and to explore every aspect of the human condition.

The strength of the show is that it is concerned with all variety and stage of transformation. Each of the works on display captures a significant but transitory moment in the artist’s life.

The works that each have produced have given them both a voice, and the challenge to us to make for them the opportunity to be heard, understood, valued and supported through this process.

Angus Anderson 5 March 2016

Angus Anderson is a painter and printmaker and Artist in Residence at Highgate Newtown Community Centre.
Before his own transition to artist via a Diploma in Fine Art from the Art Academy his career was spent in public services and public policy making in the fields of community and public health. From 1999 he was Trustee and from 2003 until 2015 Chairman of Action Space, which supports Artists with learning disabilities and which is now one of the Arts Council’s national portfolio organisations. He maintains his public policy interests as an Assistant Professor at the University of Nottingham Department of Social and Public Policy.