A couple of weeks ago I popped down to London on an absolutely flying visit (5 hours total) to catch the Louise Bourgeois and Beatrix Potter shows. 'The Woven Child' is currently on at The Hayward Gallery, and 'Drawn to Nature' at the V&A. Both of these artists have been important to me in very different ways. Growing up I was really fascinated with illustrated books - I was certain I was going to become an illustrator and many of my heroes are children authors and illustrators. The images in books from my childhood have often stayed with me and made more impact than art I've seen and studied, because they have such an emotional connection. So I was so thrilled to see the Potter exhibition. I'd been given the catalogue from the show for Christmas, so already had a very good sense of what was in it, but seeing the immaculate watercolours in the flesh was so delightful! My fiancé hadn't read any of the books so when we got home I made him read my favourite (Samuel Whiskers), and whilst he isn't exactly a convert, he did have a little chuckle.
Louise Bourgeois has been such a seminal voice in the art world, particularly for feminists and those working with crafts and lower status materials. I first discovered her work when doing my GCSEs and have wanted to see one of her 'Cells' since then. The Hayward have a Cell, with one of her monumental metal spiders. It's such a moving and considered exhibition. It's the first time a gallery has put together only her textiles work for a show, but because she allowed for all her drawing and sculpture to be so intertwined with her fabrics, you don't get a sense that you're only seeing part of her practice.