Thursday, 4 October 2012

Paintings of cows by Alison Litherland

Cambridge Cows:  A Changing Spaces Exhibition

Litherland cow face


Litherland cows crowd

Cows are everywhere in Cambridge.  Nature encroaches right into the centre of the city.  You're cycling past a busy roundabout or striding across a footbridge and suddenly: there they are!  Cows!

Cows on the Backs, Cambridge.  Photo:  A.P. Clark.

Cows are also rife in art.  Here are some famous painted cows:

Paulus Potter, The Bull, 1647, Mauritshuis, The Hague
(Wikimedia Commons)

Franz Marc, Yellow Cow, 1911, Guggenheim Museum, NYC
(Wikimedia Commons)

Theo van Doesburg, Cow, c.1917, MOMA, NYC
(Wikimedia Commons)

Now Cambridge has its own cows in a shopfront gallery.  Look carefully behind the columns in the photo below and you will see cows on canvas.

Litherland on 5-7 Sussex St

This is Sussex Street, an elegant 1920s pedestrian area in the centre of town.  There used to be a fashion boutique at numbers 5-7 but now the store stands empty.  Changing Spaces are an initiative that uses empty spaces to house art.  So the cows have moved in.

Litherland 4 cow pics

Litherland at Changing Spaces Sussex St

Looking at cows in shop windows on a sunny day means that there are a lot of reflections.  They become part of the experience.

Litherland 2 cow pics

Litherland wistful cow

A cow gazing wistfully into a numinous distance.

Litherland 5-7 Sussex cows frieze

Cow and calf, walking in parallel.

Litherland 2 cows

Litherland 2 cows close

I like the shaggy Bighorn cow at the end, straight from Scotland.  Its mouth is askew; it seems to be chewing its cud.  No eyes are visible so its face confronts us with bovine stolidness.  The horn juts into a bright blue sky, filled with oil paint that drips into the water below.  It reminds me of the abstract drips in a Jackson Pollock painting.  And look at the tiny cows in the middle distance:  three deft orange squiggles, each with its own cast shadow.  Here the touch of the brush is different from the broad sweep of paint for beach and water.

Litherland shaggy ox

Litherland ox closeup


I like the way this makes us look at both 'cow' and 'paint'.

The artists is Alison Litherland.  You can read more about her at her website:

For more on Cambridge cows:
Read Useless Beauty's great cow post.

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