MADDER Opens at the Griffin Gallery


madder, luke, lizzie, griffin gallery, giffin art prize

MADDER, the exhibition of work by our resident artists and Griffin Art Prize Winner Luke George and Elizabeth Rose, opens tonight at the Griffin Galllery in West London.

After winning the Griffin Art Prize in November 2013 with their abstract piece Gate, the couple in both life and artistic practice started working from the studio at Winsor & Newton Headquarters. Since then, George and Rose have been working closely with the Winsor & Newton Innovation and Development Department next door, exploring their fascination with the pigment Rose Madder.

MADDER Detail 

Unique to Winsor & Newton, Rose Madder paint was first developed in 1804 by George Field, an outstanding colourman and chemist who managed to turn the madder extract, which was soluble in water, into a solid pigment that was insoluble. This resulted in what was known as a madder lake. It had a longer-lasting colour and could be used in creating paints. Field wrote 10 volumes of notes and experiments on how to improve the quality of pigments, and these notes were considered so important by William Winsor, the co-founder of Winsor & Newton, that he bought the lot.

It takes about 13 weeks to produce madder pigments for both oil and water colours.  Many other methods old and new have been tried to produce the pigment. However, none have been found to match the unique properties of the Rose Madder produced following Field’s methods, and, since 1835, Winsor & Newton is proud to be part of an age-old tradition which produces real madder and not a synthetic version.

 Luke George and Elizabeth Rose preparing for the show

George and Rose have experimented with madder pigment development to create a new body of work that captures the physicality and explosive nature of the precipitation process. Smoothly sanded gesso surfaces collide with violent splashes and drips of pink, red and brown, crystallised into intricate filigree patterns across the surface of the canvas. George and Rose have allowed the process and the material to dictate the direction of the work, yet take control of the final product – much in the way Winsor & Newton have developed the unmatched Rose Madder pigment for over 150 years.

This body of work is as much an exploration of history and tradition in colourmaking as it is a vision of the future – these two young and extraordinarily committed artists carry the canon of art history on their shoulders but they wear it lightly, delicately picking their way through the stories of others to create a new vision of their own. The exhibition will include several drawings and new paintings on canvas, including one very large piece that they will be working on in-situ in the week leading up to the opening night.

The exhibition will pack a punch, and visitors should expect to leave the gallery feeling as if they have been through a physical experience, just as Luke and Lizzie have in creating it.

Madder runs at London’s Griffin Gallery (21 Evesham Street, London W11 4AJ, United Kingdom) from 11 September - 10 October 2014.

Learn more about Winsor & Newton’s iconic Rose Madder pigment by reading Spotlight on Colour: Rose Madder. You can also keep abreast of more exciting UK art happenings at the Griffin Gallery and beyond by keeping a close eye on our Events page.