Research and Inspiration / The National Gallery

Visits, Visual Research and Inspiration

Today I decided to get out from behind my desk, enjoy the sunshine and explore London in search of some inspiration.

One of the places that I always enjoy visiting is the National Gallery. Founded in 1824, The National Gallery houses a collection of over 2,300 paintings dating from the mid-13th century to the early 20th century. Like many of London’s iconic museums and Galleries its permanent collections are free to the public. There are many things I love about the National Gallery, if you visit at the right time of day (early morning or late afternoon) it is pretty quiet and peaceful, just a few steps away from the hustle and bustle of central London. There are loads of benches inside and its a great place to sit with a coffee and sketchbook and think, or just wonder round and take some inspiration from artists like Vincent van Gogh, Turner, Cézanne, Monet and Rembrandt.

Trafalgar Square from The National Gallery. Jade Conlin, 10/04/17

Another thing I like about The National Gallery is the general layout of collections. There is a system to getting across the gallery and find a specific painting or artist. Most collections are arranged in chronological order starting with 1200-1500 and the layout of rooms guide you through time with the final collections from 1700-1930. There are also rooms where you can find specific artists like Claude and Turner, Artists of certain countries like the Netherlands, France and Italy or artist movements such as Monet and the Impressionists.

Despite its size, The National Gallery is very easy to navigate. Each room is curated to tell a different story through the chosen artists and artwork on display.

Here are some of my favourite photographs taken on my visit today

One of my Favourite paintings I found today is ‘The Battle of Jemappes’ created in 1821,
Emile-Jean-Horace Vernet. This HUGE painting is one of the group ‘Four battle scenes’.


“On 6 November 1792 Dumouriez defeated the Austrians under the Duke of Saxe-Teschen and Clerfayt at Jemappes, near Mons. This led to the French occupation of Belgium. This is one of four battle scenes painted by Vernet for the duc d’Orléans (later King Louis-Philippe) depicting French successes in the Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars.”

I am blown away by the level of detail in this painting, each time you look at it you spot another detail of the battle. The changing light of the painting from the bright left hand corner across the moody, cloudy sky and burning flames on the right give a sense of a windy day with movement in the air and adds to the ambience and atmosphere of the artwork.

Here are some close up photographs I took of the painting:

I was also happy to not be the only person wondering around with a sketchbook in hand and could help snapping a picture of this gentleman (with permission 🙂 ) sketching one of his favourites.

If you want to check out The National Gallery website, I’ve linked it here!

And of corse once you leave the National Gallery you can make your way onto whitehall and see The Horse Guards Parade a fantastic example of tradition and military pageantry at its finest!


Horse Guards Parade – Jade Conlin, 10/04/2017



Picasso Portraits / National Portrait Gallery

Visits, Visits and Talks

Earlier this month I visited the National Portrait Gallery in Trafalgar Square to see the Picasso Portraits exhibition. The exhibition featured over 80 pieces of Picasso’s work spanning his creative career; the wide range of work was loaned by various institutions, galleries and private collections, it’s also the first time many of these pieces have been shown in London. Picasso is one of the artists I studied back in school doing my art GCSE so I was very excited to visit. The first thing that struck me about the exhibit was the range of different styles in Picasso’s work, from humorous caricatures to the wilder and much more expressive painting from memory later in his career. Picasso used a range of materials and mediums experimenting with different styles of painting and drawing throughout his life and this is evident in the pieces shown in this collection.


Pablo Picasso was born in Spain in 1881 but spent most of his adult life working as an artist in France. “Throughout the long course of his career, he created more than 20,000 paintings, drawings, sculptures, ceramics and other items such as costumes and theater sets. He is universally renowned as one of the most influential and celebrated artists of the twentieth century.” Picasso is remembered for his constantly evolving and innovative works and along side  Georges Braque is responsible for creating the Cubist movement in art. Cubism is where a subject of an image is broken up into pieces and then rearranged in an abstract form. What really strikes me about these pieces is that there is less of a focus on conventional form and structure but the emotion and personality of the subject is still very evident through the use of bold marks, colours and even the textures of paint and brush strokes on the canvas.

It was brilliant to see some of the pieces that inspired me as a teenager in the flesh. But the thing I enjoyed most about this collection was seeing some of Picasso’s illustrations. Picasso created around 35,000 illustrations  in his life! As an illustrator I am constantly looking to push my own creative practice forward and to allow my style to evolve with my passion and interests. It’s inspiring to see how much energy and emotion can be conveyed in very few marks and lines through Picasso’s illustrative style, it was also great to see how Picasso’s illustrations developed through his career.

I spent hours wondering around the exhibit and drew sections of painting on site, I then spent the afternoon sitting in the crypt cafe of St Martin in the Fields Church (If you haven’t been, you should totally go!) and used watercolour, ink and pencils to colour my sketches. So overall, Picasso is great and we should all have different artistic periods in our lives.

“Others have seen what is and asked why. I have seen what could be and asked why not.” – Pablo Picasso

The Vulgar / Barbican

Visits, Visits and Talks

The Vulgar Poster

Just before Christmas I took a trip to the barbican for The Vulgar exhibition, exploring changing tastes in fashion. Fashion can be used to push the boundaries, shock and explore form, structure and colour through design. The exhibition showed pieces of fashion through the decades from renaissance dresses with extreme structured corsets and layers of patterned, luxurious materials accentuating the female form. To couture dresses that use tailoring to manipulate the body creating wearable art.


18th Century Court Mantua 1748-1750 (The Barbican)

The word Vulgar evokes a strong reaction often with negative or controversial connotations, but can also be used to describe something that pushes the boundaries of popular taste. Vulgar is described in the Oxford dictionary as:

  • Characterised by ignorance of or lack of good breeding or taste:
  • Indecent; obscene; lewd:
  • crude; coarse; unrefined
  • lacking in distinction, aesthetic value, or charm; banal; ordinary

‘Vulgarity exposes the scandal of good taste’
– Adam Phillips


One of my favourite pieces on show is walter van beirendonck’s elephant skirt from his 2010/2011 collection Take a Ride. The piece consists of a pair of patent thigh high black boots, a structured white skirt creating the shape of an elephant, over this there is a pleated skirt in warm green and gold tones and a green and red jacket. The final element is the red oversized hat created by long time collaborator Stephan Jones. This piece conjures up images of the decedent 18th Century with the use of rich warm colours and luxurious materials. I can’t help but think of exotic countries and riding elephants through rain forests. I love how the outfit tells a fanciful story through the clever use of tailoring, material and colour.

One of the things I really enjoyed about this exhibitions was the curation and layout of the designs and displays. spread out over two floors, the exhibit had lots of smaller rooms along a hall with a central display of decedent Georgian dresses and suits. Each room had a very different collection on show but with a consistent theme connecting each item within it. It felt as though the exhibition told the story of changing Vulgarity through history, colour and structure with the designs becoming wilder as you ventured further into the exhibition. The theme was also reenforced by being shown in the Barbican, the Brutalist architecture is often at the centre of the conversation of changing tastes on architecture and people seem to either love it or hate it!

Learn more about the Exhibition here!

Visits / Museum of Brands

Visits, Visits and Talks, Visual Research and Inspiration

One of my favourite visits so far was to the Museum of Brands just a few minutes walk away from Portobello Market and Ladbroke Grove in west London. This Museum is a treasure trove of brands and advertising dating back to the 1800’s. As you walk through the museum you are guided through each decade of advertising, from Victorian brands and pre World War 1 all the way through to modern day Britain with the final wall showing memorabilia from the popular boy band One Direction! (seriously..)

The museum as created by Robert Opie who saw the need to unravel the fascinating story of how consumer products and promotion had evolved since the Victorian era. By 1975 Robert had enough material to hold his own exhibition, The Pack Age, at the Victoria & Albert Museum. After a sixteen-year career in market research, he opened the first museum devoted to the history of packaging and advertising in Gloucester in 1984 and later opened his current museum in Ladbroke Grove.

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“I was struck by the idea that I should save the packaging which would otherwise surely disappear forever. The collection offers evidence of a dynamic commercial system that delivers thousands of desirable items from all corners of the world, a feat arguably more complex than sending man to the Moon, but one still taken for granted.” 

This museum really reflects how different world events such as war, changes in political powers, exhibitions, television and marketing trends also effect the way we advertise products to the public. Its truly a fascination view of consumer trends over a century within Britain and shows how public opinions have also changed as we have more and more information at our fingertips.

Check out the Museums website here! they also have some beautiful scrapbooks of advertising for each decade in their gift shop (Im such a sucker for a gift shop!) I couldn’t help but grab myself one from the 1960’s!



Final Brief, Local Universe, Visits, Visual Research and Inspiration

Wondered down to Carnaby Street on Thursday and managed to see Jenni Sparks work for GQ Style Night. The word ‘Carnaby’ was spelled out in giant concrete letters with Jenni Sparks illustrations covering them. The public was then invited to colour it in, like a giant 3D colouring book! So much fun!


I have written a little about Jenni Sparks work in my research post –Final Brief – Ideas, I love her detailed maps with a mixture of text and illustration. Check out more of Jenni Sparks work on her website here!

Vogue – A Century of Style

Visits, Visits and Talks, Visual Research and Inspiration

So recently I visited the National Portrait Gallery to see an exhibition I’ve been really excited about. Vogue – A Century of Style. Growing up I remember sneaking a look at my mum or my aunts copy of Vogue Magazine. Ive always loved the photography and amazing fashion, although I’ve never really followed fashion myself. The Exhibition was divided into decades of fashion, photography and illustration, starting in 1916 when vogue was founded. One of my favourite photographs is the larger than life portrait of Alexander McQueen taken by Tim Walker (photo below)
Alexander McQueenA Century of Style showcases the remarkable range of photography that has been commissioned by British Vogue, over 280 prints from the Condé Nast archive and international collections being shown together for the first time to tell the story of one of the most influential fashion magazines in the world. Check out the National Portrait Galleries website here! the exhibition ends on the 22nd of May!

I couldn’t help grabbing a collection of postcards as I left, Gift shops are my weakness!


St Christopher’s Garden

Visits, Visits and Talks, Visual Research and Inspiration

Last week I decided to make my way into central London and battle the crowds on Oxford Street to get to St Christopher’s Garden. As a Celebration of spring, “Renowned artist Rebecca Louise Law transforms St Christopher’s Place into a spring spectacle with a suspended floral installation including the season’s most-loved flower, the Peony Rose.

I was not disappointed! Over 1200 fresh flowers have been suspended in the air and it looks (and smells) lovely! As an artist, I am fixated with the natural world, flowers are one of my favourite things to draw and with spring finally here its a great time to get inspired in an amazing city.


The Travelling Drawing Club #29

Visits, Visits and Talks, Visual Research and Inspiration

This week I joined the Travelling Drawing Club at The Barbican Conservatory. A little known gem in the heart of the Barbican centre, the conservatory is the second largest in London and contain over 2000 species of plants and trees, a perfect place to spend a Sunday afternoon.

I generally don’t like drawing in a public place, but with a group of people I found it a much more enjoyable experience. The Barbican Conservatory is like stepping into a jungle, with so many plants and flowers surrounding you, its hard to not feel inspired. Im really happy with my drawings in my sketchbook and had fun drawing something unrelated to my university projects. I will definitely be coming back another Sunday! Check out The Barbican Concervitory here!


Natalie Czech – Poems by Repetition

Visits, Visual Research and Inspiration

Whilst wondering around New York’s Museum of Modern Art I found an amazing series of works Natalie Czech. The Berlin-based artist creates poetry by selecting letters, words or phrases from other texts and recycling them to create poetry. I absolutely love collecting and recycling images/text and objects into my work and really love the idea of recycling known texts into something entirely different and new.
natalie czech

The text reads: I made love to myself in the mirror, kissing my own lips saying “I love myself, I love you more than anything” (Allen Ginsberg//Natalie Czech) Check out more of Natalie Czech amazing work here!

Whilst in NYC one of our smaller tasks was to look at the advertising and text around us and to recycle some of what we saw into a poem, this is mine:

Get out of here!
Big bag man
There’s a missing person on 34th and Penn
Tick Tock! were running out of time
for 24 hour chicken.

I really enjoyed this exercise and plan to keep doing this with other text/ advertising/ music etc

New York! New York!

Visits, Visual Research and Inspiration

As part of the study trip for 2016 I went to New York for 4 days, this gave me an amazing opportunity to experience a truly 24 hour city but with studio and gallery visits lined up, it also gave me a glimpse into the process of many other creative practitioners.

The First visit we went on was to the Museum of Modern Art or MOMA. I had no idea how big the museum is!  it was an absolutely amazing experience with over 10,000 contemporary artists work on display. Check out the MOMA here!

It was amazing to see work by one of my favourite artists Jackson Pollock on display.

Jackson Pollock, 1950

My favourite exhibition within MOMA is Ocean of Images: New Photography 2015. This is a longstanding exhibition series of recent photography. There are 19 artists and artist collectives on display with work created specifically for the exhibit.

“Ocean of Images examines various ways of experiencing the world: through images that are born digitally, made with scanners or lenses in the studio or the real world, presented as still or moving pictures, distributed as zines, morphed into three-dimensional objects, or remixed online.”

Photography has always been something that has interested me and after seeing this exhibit, I have a even more interest in it! I would like to use photography more within my own practice, especially film photography, and i think this will give me another way of making sense of the world around me.


As I left MOMA I stumbled across an amazing sculpture, ‘The impossible’ by Maria Martins the pieces “spiky tentacles reach toward each other, the male and female forms in this bronze sculpture are locked in violent opposition. “It is nearly impossible to make people understand each other,” Martins said, suggesting the source of the aggressive interaction depicted here.” This sculpture completely blew my mind! I love the tension and aggression  in the piece. The sculpture makes me think about interpersonal relationships and how sometimes understanding each other can be difficult, it also translates in a much broader sense, with world politics and how it really seems difficult for people around the world to see eye to eye.