Staying involved with arts in the diverse and illuminating city that is Sheffield is simple – we have the ability to step out of our doors and instantly choose from at least five different galleries. The city itself is greatly missed by students during the summer holidays and its art scene is an ally in its wistful absence. Forge Press Arts have been searching hard, looking all over the country; in your local art gallery, in some of the most famous galleries in the country to right in your living room, to help you stay inspired during your hiatus.

The hustle and bustle of the big smoke is always addressing new ideas and accessing new creative forms, so it’s no wonder we’ve found three different exhibitions in London to recommend. Matthew McHale checked out the Barbican, a boundary-pushing arts centre on Silk Street, and found Dorethea Lange’s Politics of Seeing.

Dorethea Lange’s Politics Of Seeing at the Barbican Art Gallery in London is a wonderfully compelling showcase of her documentary photography. The brutalist architecture of the Barbican Estate shocks the senses with its utilitarian honesty and boldness; the haunting setting fits perfectly with the theme of the exhibition. The photography addresses the dispossessed and injustice, humanity at the margins of American society and captures the Great Depression, Segregation and Japanese internment camps. Lange’s goal in capturing pain and marginality was to cast light onto the voiceless and confront authority with the reality of despair and destitute conditions. The photos Ditched, stalled and stranded, Restaurant Segregation and Migrant Mother were  the most exceptional. The despair and pain in Migrant Mother almost overwhelms the viewer; the subject looks away, exhibiting hollowness with a hint of determinative steel towards the future, as she and her children subsist in the Californian desert. In our times, the power of photography can be more effective than words in unmasking injustices and confronting power with truth and reality as the photos of the drowned body of Alan Kurdi or the distraught girl separated from her parents on the Mexican border show. Politics Of Seeing is £5 when you sign up for free to become a Young Barbican member and will show until the 2nd September.

Thomas Cole’s Course of Empire at the grand and mighty National Gallery features in Cole’s Eden to Empire exhibition.

The Course Of Empire, structured in a series of five paintings by the English-born American painter Thomas Cole, is currently on display at The National Gallery in the exhibition Eden to Empire. Completed in 1836, they depict the cyclical nature of empire and societal progression from the pastoral scene to the empire’s destruction from decay, greed and gluttonous extravagance. This theme of inevitable decay of empire, a critique of the expansionist Andrew Jackson, saw pastoralism and restraint as an elevated way of life above aggressive imperialism. The paintings depict the development of a city from pastoral harmony through classical Romanesque power to the destruction of the imperial city and the desolation of the ruins of this once mighty ascendant civilisation. Inherently pessimistic in its cyclical outlook, the paintings are incredible to witness as you progress through the exhibition. They actively impose onto you ideas of transience and how humanity’s mighty civilisations will inevitably fall once more. Walking out onto Trafalgar Square with its own imperial imagery and classical design is a shock after seeing this and importantly the paintings are also masterpieces and beautiful to see! Eden To Empire is £8 and runs until the 7th October 2018.

James Pendlington went along to the Tate’s informative exhibition on Picasso’s emotional voyage that was the year 1932 shown in Picasso 1932 – Love, Fame, Tragedy at Tate Modern.

Before talking about the exhibit itself, I will very quickly plug the ‘Tate Collective membership’. If you’re 16-25 you can join the Tate Collective for free and only have to pay £5 entry to any exhibit when the usual fee is usually £20+.

The exhibition focuses on Picasso’s work in the year 1932, a year of art that is considered some of his best and is largely themed around his lover at the time, Marie-Thérèse Walter. You get a real sense from walking around of the versatility of Picasso, seeing his transformation from what you’d consider a standard figure drawing artist into a leader in the fields of surrealism and cubism. He was a prolific artist : there are ten rooms filled with all of his work from one year, as well as letters from editors contacting him, notes from his wife, from his lover etc. This all adds to the human element behind the art and allows you to see where he gets his inspiration from in life. It is a very worthwhile trip to make if you have a day off work and decide to go to London for the day; though ultimately you can just brag about having seen the 14th most expensive painting of all time on display.

Access to art is everywhere you look, your bookshelf, a relative’s home or down the road. Sophie Maxwell and Charly Hurrell prove that even in small or big cities, you can find tastes of artistic nectar if you just look round the corner.

Sophie discovered Idea of North exhibition at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art.

Idea of North is part of the Great Exhibition of the North festival happening across Newcastle and Gateshead this summer. The festival aims to showcase northern artistry and celebrate the pioneering spirit of this industrial powerhouse. Museums, art galleries and music venues are displaying a host of exhibits, ensuring that there really is something for everyone.

A recent trip to BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art to marvel at Idea of North didn’t disappoint. It is comprised of a series of projects including architectural exhibits, photography compilations and immersive films, all seeking to capture the northern identity.

Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen’s Women by Women photography exhibit is a key part of Idea of North that is not to be missed. This collection explores themes of domestication and hardship, and captures a generational shift in women and girls in the north over the last few decades. Its raw representation of females begins to fill in the gaps of documentation, as for far too long the northern industrial man has been the subject of exploration of northern identity. Better still, the exhibit is a platform of creative expression for up and coming female photographers. Whether you’re northern or not, Idea of North provides great insight into the makings of the North. I couldn’t recommend it more.

Idea of North is displaying until 30th September in the BALTIC. Admission is free.

Finally, in one of the smallest cities in England, Charly found a touring TATE exhibition in The Discovery Centre in Winchester, that explores Agnes Martin’s journey from abstract to minimalism. The Gallery in The Discovery Centre includes excerpts of larger exhibitions to satisfy local creative tastes. Most recently featured was Gerald Scarf’s cartoonist works, and all of this for just a small donation.

Agnes Martin’s mind is one of brilliance and wonder. She began with abstract painting, only to realise that was not what she wanted to produce. She then took seven years out, living without any modern conveniences or close friends for two years, and she returned with minimalist/Buddhist-influenced vibrancy.

Her first series ‘On a Clear Day’, seems contemporary and plain, consisting of 30 paintings of different grid and line organisations. However, approaching her piece ‘I love the Whole World’, her appreciation for humankind’s imperfect beauty becomes explicit. The lines may seem clear from afar but up close the unfinished edges, clear layers of chalky colour and inconsistent pencil marks leave a feeling of comfort. Her aim is to appreciate the beauty we perceive and to recognise the power our perception has in appreciation rather than allowing our surroundings to have the power over our appreciation. Martin uses watered down duck egg blue and peach colours which evoke a peaceful, cloudy, content feeling.

Although it took Martin 20 years to align her content with her composition, her serenity is abundant even in older works that consist of only funny shapes. Her minimalist 6 foot paintings were always produced with an eighteen inch ruler, in order for Martin to enjoy the horizontal line that reminded her of a beautiful horizon or a serene seascape. It is clear Martin’s approach to how you perceive the world is all that matters, and her paintings will resonate along with my familiar memories of seaside walks in that comfortable, serene space.

Agnes Martin is displaying until 7th October in The Gallery. Admission is free.

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