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The Art of Christmas: Anna Souter's Top 10 Gifts

Posted on November 13 2017

Discover Top 10 gifts chosen by art writer Anna Souter.



Image Source: www.annasouter.net

Anna Souter is an art writer and editor based in London. As senior art critic for The Upcoming, she can often be found reviewing major exhibitions in London or visiting art events around the capital and internationally. With particular interests in twentieth-century sculpture, feminism and walking art, Anna also works on projects with artists, galleries and not-for-profit organisations. Follow her on Instagram: @annasouter

Discover Anna's top ten artworks and gifts on her wishlist this Christmas!


Drinking Glass, Laurel Nakadate, Zabludowicz Collection


1. Tears, Laurel Nakadate

I love these water glasses by Laurel Nakadate. Produced for the Zabludowicz Collection, they’re both a bit silly and strangely moving. Nakadate’s work examine concepts of volition and privacy, and these glasses are an extension of her practice. In some ways, handing a glass labelled “tears” to a guest is an empty gesture, but it is also full of meaning: are you offering sympathy and shared experience, or are you asking to see them cry?


Found Monochrome (black) 15, Limited Edition Print, David Batchelor


2. Found Monochrome (black) 15, David Batchelor

David Batchelor is a theorist and artist who I have previously had the good fortune to interview. His 2000 book Chromophobia is a thought-provoking and influential examination of how Western society has been afraid of colour and how colourfulness has been systematically purged from many areas of modern art and design. In his own practice, Batchelor both creates colourful drawings and installations and - as here - captures “accidental” monochromes he comes across in cities around the world.



A Shape of Walk on Skye, Limited Edition Etching, Fiona Watson


3. A Shape of Walk on Skye, Fiona Watson

I am always excited to come across work by women artists that deals with the topics of walking and landscape. This piece by printmaker Fiona Watson is charmingly festive, with its snowy scene and sparsely drawn fir trees. Watson’s work is concerned with exploring "the patterns, rhythms, forms and colours of nature in a microscopic and macroscopic sense”, and that remit can be seen in the simple lines of this print.



Deep Dive, Acrylic on Canvas, Marit Geraldine Bostad


4. Deep Dive, Marit Geraldine Bostad

I’ve admired Marit Geraldine Bostad’s paintings since I first met her a couple of years ago in London. I have a teeny-tiny one in my bedroom, but I’d love to get my hands on a bigger piece. The colours in Deep Dive are particularly lovely, and show off the artist’s skilful interrogation of the materiality of paint and the visual language of abstraction.



A Feather From Freud's Pillow, Limited Edition Print, Cornelia Parker


5. A Feather from Freud’s Pillow, Cornelia Parker

Cornelia Parker is one of the most important artists working today. Her practice often includes taking an everyday object and transforming it into something extraordinary through manipulating the context in which it is viewed and the associations made by the viewer. The same effect can be found in this limited edition print, which takes something very simple (a feather) and imbues it with Freudian associations of dreams, sexuality and the imagination.



Impala, Limited Edition Photographic Print, Sam Hicks


6. Impala, Samuel Hicks

Samuel Hicks isn’t a photographer whose work I knew before looking at CultureLabel’s website, but I was very struck by this beautiful image of a car. The simple clean lines of the image give a sense of stillness that is at odds with our understanding of cars as powerful means of kinetic motion.



Icon, Limited Edition Sculpture, Richard Deacon


7. Icon, Richard Deacon

When I saw Richard Deacon’s solo show at Tate Britain in 2014, I found it hugely (and rather unexpectedly) moving. I discovered his manipulation of natural and manmade materials to be both brutal and infinitely gentle at the same time. Soon afterwards, I was lucky enough to visit his studio in South London where I was fascinated by his process of twisting and manipulating wood and metal. By casting this work in concrete, Deacon petrifies a wooden structure that is characteristic of his work, while making a visual reference to Brutalist architecture.



Plankton Study, Limited Edition Photographic Print, Barra Boyle


8. Plankton Study, Barra Boyle

This strangely beautiful photograph is from the Boyle Family, a group of London-based artists who work collectively as “contemporary archaeologists”. Formed in the 1960s by life partners Mark and Joan, they were later joined in their practice by their children Sebastian and Georgia. Their innovative collaborative work earned them the honour of representing Great Britain at the Venice Biennale of 1978. This photograph was taken with an electron microscope as part of their 18-year-long project on the Hebridean island of Barra, and I think it shows what weird beauty there is to be found in the natural world.



Holly's Ark Set of 8 Plates, Fine Bone China, Holly Frean


9. Animal Plates, Holly Frean 

These gorgeous plates by Holly Frean come individually or as a set. I can’t think of many people who wouldn’t enjoy receiving these as a gift - Holly Frean’s work is guaranteed to make you smile. Each plate is hand-printed with a quirky animal full of personality. My favourite is the slightly startled-looking seal.



Two Fatsia Seed Heads, Limited Edition Cyanotype, Angela Easterling


10. Two Fatsia Seed Heads, Angela Easterling

My favourite colour (as anyone who has been to my flat will attest) is blue. Consequently, I’m also a big fan of cyanotypes: camera-less photographs made using blue chemicals, which were used at the dawning age of photography to reproduce diagrams and images. (Interesting fact: this is where we get the term “blueprint”.) More recently, a number of artists have returned to this old-fashioned medium, and these cyanotypes are often surprisingly inexpensive, considering that each work is unique. This beautiful print by Angela Easterling recalls the botanical records that were one of the earliest uses of cyanotyping.




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