The Independent London Newspaper


FEATURE: Natural selection in artists’ potraits of living things

Feature Image (main): 

Andrea Tierney’s Pigeon Ceret

Published: 29 January, 2016

THE ageing process – and how it is reflected in various forms – is a common theme among a series of works produced by artist Jim Foreman, and part of a new show at the Flaxon Ptootch gallery in Kentish Town. 

Art patron and hairdresser Michael Ptootch uses his salon and gallery to showcase works throughout the year. Featuring predominantly Kentish Town-based artists, this week he unveiled a packed, six-month programme from a huge range of different artists. 

Next week, the first show – which runs for a month – opens featuring work by Jim Foreman and fellow painter Andrea Tierney.

Jim, 70, is a former Camden Council social worker and academic who has been painting for decades – but since retiring in 2007, has worked full time as an artist.

He has a particular interest in how time weathers animals and objects – and it means Jim finds his subjects in diverse a subjects as gorillas in a Kent zoo, pairs of old trainers and trees on Hampstead Heath.

Jim Foreman

Jim went to Cambridge and studied Spanish literature before working for various councils. He started painting in the 1970s and for a time took up photography, too, training at various adult education classes, such as Westminster Kingsway and the Working Men’s College, in the evening.

“I like to paint objects that clearly show their history in the way they look,” he says.

He visited a zoo in Kent and was struck by a trio of elderly gorillas. They became the subject of a series of sketches.

“I spent hours standing by their enclosures, studying them,” he recalls.

“The zoo had three older lady gorillas who have stepped back from the troop. They were pretty sedate so I got the chance to do their faces. They are amazing to look at – so very much like us, but also so very different, too.”

Fellow exhibitor Andrea Tierney is showing, among other works, a series of studies of pigeons.

“I had a studio on the third floor of a building and I would open up a door on to a fire escape and there pigeons would come in,” says the multi-media artist.

“They were always there when I was working. I have always admired Picasso’s use of the dove – and it struck me that wherever you were in our city, you shared the space with pigeons.”

She said they provided entertaining and misunderstood topics for her work.

“They are so varied,” she said. “No two pigeons are alike. People see them as vermin but they’re actually very pretty –they are the least regarded animals of our cities. Yet, in this harshest of environments, they thrive and look amazing. They have this lovely purple and blue tints around their necks, and they do very funny things – I love watching the way the male dances around the female, in the most entertaining way. 

“And one of the nicest things about being an artist is able to choose something that is so common – yet you manage to make people look again at your subject with fresh eyes.”

Jim Foreman and Andrea Tierney’s work is at Flaxon Ptootch, 237 Kentish Town Road, NW5, from February 4020 7267 5323. See


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