Daisy Cook: Solo Exhibition in collaboration with Jaeger 16 September – 8 October 2016
Selected Solo Exhibitions
2016 Jaeger Collaboration, Beaux Arts, London
2015 Chronicles in Water North House Gallery, Manningtree, Essex
2014 Crossings Northcote Gallery, London
2013 Ways and Meanings Hilton Fine Art ,Bath
2012 Hinterland Northcote Gallery ,Chelsea, London
2010 Restless Earth Northcote Gallery, Chelsea, London
2008 Recollections Northcote Gallery, Chelsea, London
2007 Flatlands Lynne Strover Gallery, Cambridge
2006 Small Journeys Northcote Gallery, Chelsea, London
2004 Even on This Shore Northcote Gallery, London
2003 Tabula Rasa Stephen Lacey Gallery, London
2002 Lynne Strover Gallery, Cambridge
2001 Red Earth Stephen Lacey Gallery, London
2001 Lynne Strover Gallery, Cambridge
1999 Cuba Stephen Lacey Gallery, London
1998 Northcote Gallery, London
1997 Northcote Gallery, London
1996 Pump House Gallery, Battersea Park, London
Selected Group Exhibitions (Since 2000)
2016 Lynne Strover Gallery, Cambridge
2016 Art London ,Islington.
2016 Jenna Burlingham,’ Art at Home Gallery 8 Duke St, St James’
2015 Sladers Yard,West Bay, Dorset
2015 Royal Academy Summer Show A room with a View Colefax and Fowler and Jenna Burlingham, London
2014 Mid Winter Show Beaux Arts, London Art London, Islington. Bada Antiques Fair, Jenna Burlingham, London Cambridge City Art Fair Cobbald and Judd Lapada Art and Antiques Fair Berkeley Square, London 2013 20/21 Royal College of Art ,London Jenna Burlingham Fine Art,Berkley Square, London Art
2013 Hilton Fine Art ,Business Design Centre ,London Lynne Painter Stainers Competition ,The Mall,London
2012 20/21,Royal College of Art, London Jenna Burlingham Fine Art, Battersea Park, London
2011 Hamptons Art Fair U.S.A San Diego Art Fair U.S.A
2010 20/21 Royal College, London Wills Lane Gallery. St Ives Cornwall 2009 Lynne Strover Gallery, Cambridge
2008 Art London ,Chelsea
2007 20/21,Royal College of Art, London
2004 Contemporary British Landscape Waterhouse and Dodd, London Art London, Chelsea
2003 Stephen Lacey Gallery, London Art London, Chelsea Art
2003 Business Design Centre,London
2002 Place Zoe Benbow, Care Wilson, Daisy Cook Stephen Lacey, London
2001 Art London, Chelsea Art
2001 Maritime Arte International, Turin Italy
2000 Stephen Lacey Gallery, London Art First, London Art Paris ,France Cassian de Vere Cole Fine Art London Royal Academy Summer Show
La Caixa Bank, Majorca One Aldwych, London Manhattan Loft Corporation, London The Bank of England, London The Great Eastern Hotel, London Hoffman Investment Management, London
View from Andrew Lambirth, May 2006 When Thomas Hardy wrote: ‘Nature is played out as a Beauty, but not as a Mystery’, he was voicing an authentic artistic response to the general longing to know more about the natural world which the study and pursuit of science had engendered. He went on: ‘I don’t want to see the original realities – as optical effects, that is. I want to see the deeper reality underlying the scenic, the expression of what are sometimes called abstract imaginings.’ Daisy Cook makes paintings which deal with these abstract imaginings. She has also never been afraid to engage with beauty, though she is not drawn to its more obvious manifestations. Her latest paintings bear ample witness to this. The meeting point of land, sea and sky has long been a focus for her art. Cook makes paintings which take landscape as their subject without being explicitly topographical or descriptive. Through a suggestion of silvery clouds and mudflat she evokes a littoral: not a specific view or portrait of a place, but a larger statement about this type of country as a habitat for the spirit, a place where the imagination may soar. Photographs are used as reference, but the key energy of these paintings resides in Cook’s singular ability to recognize and identify the extraordinary in the ordinary. Her particular quality of recognition breathes through these images, animating them. Intuition and chance play their part, but they would be inert without the guiding principle of the artist’s vision. The pattern and rhythm of Cook’s life has changed radically with the birth of her daughter, and instead of spending most days in her studio she is now limited to two or three much more intense sessions per week. This has focused and polarized her studio activity, giving it a different edge and set of priorities. At the same time the experience of motherhood (‘the most tender thing I’ve ever felt’) has undoubtedly fed into her work.
22 AUGUST 2016
Ahead of the launch of its debut collaborative collection, Jaeger’s creative director Sheila McKain-Waid and London painter Daisy Cook discuss why fashion and art go hand in hand.
“Do you ever feel there’s a sort of collective consciousness about design sometimes?” Sheila McKain-Waid ponders. “It’s a bit weird to say, but I do think that there is a sensibility about these things, whether it’s colour or texture.” It would certainly explain why so many designers tend to pick up on the same trends each season, but for the Jaeger creative director, a synergy exists beyond the world of fashion – one that’s present in literature, cinema and art, too. “I think there’s a lot of cross-fertilisation across all of the arts,” artist Daisy Cook chips in. “I think there always has been.”
We are sat in the meeting room of Jaeger’s HQ in White City, where the British brand is preparing to launch its latest collaborative collection, which features one of Cook’s paintings. It’s for this reason that the topic of synergy comes up; Jaeger was looking for an environmental artwork and, as if by magic, Cook had just the ticket. “One of our designers had seen a painting by Daisy on a blog and brought it to my attention,” McKain-Waid explains. “At the beginning of A/W16 we were looking a lot at the work of the Dia Art Foundation in Beacon, New York, and all the environmental artists, such as Richard Serra and John Chamberlain. Then we found Daisy’s work, which fused so nicely into a very different look and feel.”
The work in question is an assortment of landscape oil paintings in abstract designs, with angular shapes and graphic elements, often painted in earthy hues with slices of brighter shades cutting through. It was this juxtaposition of topography and linear design that drew the Jaeger team to Cook’s art, and they finally settled on her Landscape, Yellow Triangle painting as the star of the collaboration. “I think it was those slices of orangey, yellowy mustard colour,” says McKain-Waid. “It’s very much like the feeling of London in the winter sometimes, how these colours just cut across the grey. We just kept coming back to it and I think if you come back to something then you’ve hit the right thing.” “I love London. I couldn’t live anywhere else. I like the interplay of how the landscape has been shaped by man as well as the environment, so architecture, shape and form come into my work quite a bit”
For Cook, the painting was a chance to venture away from the traditional land, sea and sky formulas with which she often works, instead bringing in architectural elements that were inspired by the buildings in London’s Blackfriars.
“My paintings always start out quite nebulous – with a spillage of paint – and then they get built up. It just kind of emerged, really,” she shrugs. “I grew up on Hampstead Heath and moved to Sussex when I was 10, so I’ve always had a sort of foray into nature, but I love London. I couldn’t live anywhere else. I like the interplay of how the landscape has been shaped by man as well as the environment, so architecture, shape and form come into my work quite a bit.”
Landscape, Yellow Triangle is a moody, almost ombre design with flashes of yellow peeking through, which has been printed onto an oversized cashmere coat, a sweater, cropped trousers, a pleated dress and a silk scarf. The range is a blend of the classic, perennial styles for which Jaeger is so well known, with a statement print that one might not immediately associate with the brand. It’s all part of Jaeger’s move towards modernity, which McKain-Waid has been spearheading since her appointment as creative director in 2013.
“I think there’s a cleaner simplicity that’s existed in the line for the past couple of seasons,” she tells me. “We’ve made a conscious effort to ensure the range is a lot more contemporary. I believe Daisy’s work in particular has a really beautiful blend. There’s something almost classic about a landscape painting, but there’s a very modern element to it too and that’s what we’re doing at Jaeger as well. It’s the fusion of those two things that makes it feel interesting.”
Along with the Daisy Cook partnership, A/W16 will see the launch of Jaeger’s second Laboratory capsule collection – a biannual line of investment styles that harbour the fashion house’s core principles: innovation, experimentation and expression. This second volume will comprise 30 pieces, with striking silhouettes and graphic prints that very much intertwine with the Daisy Cook capsule collection. The new range has a focus on architecture and sculpture, and is a fusion of the classic and contemporary.
“One day when I was passing the British Museum I was really struck by the giant columns at the front,” explains McKain-Waid. “I had recently seen an old Jaeger shoot from the late sixties that was shot at the museum; it almost felt like Courrèges or something: the clothes were so modern and angular, yet the models were slouched against the marble in the interior – it was such a great shoot. I loved the clash of modernity and antiquity. I took the team there and we looked at the famous ceiling and the architecture and geometry, but then, when we walked outside, there was a protest coming down the street. I thought, ‘maybe that’s what’s interesting here’; you have this very classical place and then you’ve got street culture two seconds away.”
And so the second volume became very much a merger of the two, with prints based on the geometry of the museum adorned onto traditional silhouettes and accented with urban references such as drawstring cords, pull ties and bonding fabrics. “The fashion industry has been completely transformed. When I first started there were very few shows; now there are hundreds every single season”
Of the fashion brands she admires, McKain-Waid sites Vetements, Balenciaga, Raf Simons and Jil Sander among her favourites. These four powerhouses emulate Jaeger’s design aesthetic: on the one hand, urban, sporty and a force to be reckoned with; and on the other classic, with clean silhouettes, simple cuts and a seat at the fashion heavyweight table – proving that a synergy certainly exists in sartorial circles, at least. For the creative director, this is the beauty of the world she works in.
“The fashion industry has been completely transformed. When I first started there were very few shows; now there are hundreds every single season. It’s a very different beast, but there are positives and negatives to that. As much as it’s become a huge industry, it has also become less structured. There used to be couture and ready-to-wear, but now there’s a blend. People are taking from all different elements and I think that’s what’s really exciting. There are so many collaborations and there are so many people being inspired by so many different things,” says McKain-Waid.
Case in point: Cook’s creations, which fit seamlessly into Jaeger’s repertoire. As we wrap up the interview, the pair hint at a future partnership, but remain tight-lipped about what’s to come. For now, we will have to admire the painter’s work on our coats and scarves, or in more detail at her upcoming shows at Beaux Arts London, Jenna Burlingham Fine Art and the LAPADA Art & Antiques Fair. Back at Jaeger HQ, the team is working a year ahead on A/W17. There’s no rest for the fashion house, which has been one step ahead for more than a century. What’s the secret to its success?
“I think we have an amazing heritage and there are a lot of other brands that can’t claim the same,” McKain-Waid says, matter-of-factly. “We have the right to own the space because we have 130-plus years of history, and not many brands can say that. That’s something to be very proud of.” You can’t argue with that.
Every artist making work of value today has an intimate relationship with the art of the past, with the landscape and memory-scape of earlier times, with the habits and notions of preceding eras. We ignore these things at our own risk, for neither art nor humanity can exist in a vacuum. One of the main problems facing the contemporary artist is the urge to be original. Just as art students often don’t realize they are repeating the work of their predecessors (reinventing the wheel), so do supposedly more mature artists rashly jettison all sense of history in order to be up-to-date.
True originality comes not from chasing the gimmicky and ephemeral, but from a greater understanding of our position and condition. We need to study the past, to be connected to it, in order to make sense of the present and be able to edge into the future. Art can illuminate this course of action, by its dual investigation of the interior and exterior life. Daisy Cook’s new work brings these considerations close upon our senses, through paintings which evoke the previous histories of a landscape, the ghosts of presences and alignments long gone but still discernible. It is by no means accidental that in some of her latest paintings the trees begin to look like figures (or is it vice versa?). The thin liquid paint, with its runs and drips, suggests rather than states, while her colour evokes a complexity of mood that is almost archaeological in its analysis of varying traces.
Design, as in underlying structure, is here brought to the surface and allowed a dialogue with appearances. In a painting of trees, triangles of strong colour might occur in the interstices between branches, interrupting the clear outline of the tree’s form, challenging it. The obvious externals of nature are checked and balanced by geometry and abstract pattern, local colour is subverted with decorative colour, the descriptive augmented. We must not forget that landscape is active through its structure, through its forming effect on us, its inhabitants. Likewise is it active in Cook’s paintings – not a passive subject to be simply stared at, but a partner to collaborate with.
Under the clear unimpeded light of a high sky, Cook explores her personal relationship with the landscape she paints. (It is highly relevant that last year, in March 2012, she walked a section of the Camino de Santiago, the pilgrim route through Spain. She found the experience very moving.) Her paintings are traversed with roads and walkways, with crossings, as well as articulated through the push and pull of blocks of colour and a history of marks which appear and disappear through the layers of painterly activity. As do references to admired artists from Diebenkorn to Vaughan, though without in any way qualifying her sense of personal artistic authority. Blush of shoot and pallor of root are matched by the battlemented embodiment of a headland rising through mist; nature’s endurance and renewal. Like Eric Ravilious and Paul Nash, Daisy Cook is, in Robert Macfarlane’s telling and atmospheric phrase, an ‘artist of the path’, and as the ancient wisdom has it, it’s better to travel hopefully than arrive. Cook follows the maps of the heart down the landscape tracks, across the open spaces of her resonant paintings. The pilgrimage of art is subtly present in all her work: inner landscape conjoined with and commenting upon the outer. There is a new breadth to her imagery and a new tenderness, matched with resolution. Her work has never looked so richly beguiling.