Thursday, December 16, 2010

Tales of the Unexpected

Of the many images in the current Gaugin exhibition at Tate Modern, I was particularly struck by this Still Life with Profile of Laval, 1886.

The painting bears many of the hallmarks of Cezanne, with touches of Degas. The complementary colours of the fruit mean the red ones project forward, and they are arranged purposefully but oddly. The curious pot on the table seems to be one of Gaugin's; the painting was of a fellow artist at Pont Aven, when Gaugin was producing pottery as well as paintings. The intense and close gaze of Laval seems oddly directed while the pot's vacuous opening pulls the gaze.

Blockbuster exhibitions carry a message - volume diminishes the impace. Each painting was fascinating, wonderful colours, although many of the Tahitian ones are really quite dark, and warranted thought and careful observation. But the quantity, combined with the thematic lessened the overall impact. A previous visit to the Courtauld, spending many minutes in front of Nevermore was far more rewarding than the whole of the show here. 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Blue days and better days

A lonely little shoe on the North Norfolk marsh

Today is such a cold, wet and raw day that it is good to remember special days and sights, such as this sparkly little shoe we saw when walking on the coastal footpath at Brancaster Staithe. It was a decorative as a Christmas tree decoration and crying out to be found. Imagine the trouble when its loss was discovered. Maybe they retraced their steps and found it. We didn't go back to find out.

Which brings me to Moodscope - a brilliant tool to measure mood, which focuses you on improving, sharing and learning from the mood trends. And it is all about trends, as are all measurements. What is the point in a statistic fixed in time, without knowing what went before and followed. I've been doing this more or less daily since April, and discovered that on many occasions my mood plummeted on a Saturday or Sunday. This is not logical, as no one day is better or worse for me, but there must be a reason. Maybe it harks back to that feeling that everyone else was having a wonderful weekend, except me. Of course, that is an unreal as the Prince Charming syndrome. Life is more real and vivid than that. What with Moodscope and Beating the Blues, I really should be a little ray of sunshine soon - like on the Norfolk marshes. Not just a lonely little shoe...

Friday, October 08, 2010

It's all in the family

Having experienced this book's gestation and now birth, it was with some trepidation I opened the Amazon package yesterday. By the end of the day I had read the whole collection, and while it is in parts very hard, angry and quite viscious, it is also loving, caring and moving (in a good way). The hard-core poems are interspersed with beautifully written intercessionary 'prayers' and the contrast is hugely effective.

Susan is nervous about reaction to her personal work. Somehow it is not too difficult to distance oneself from the personalities, acknowledging some truths and wondering if there is not a degree of poetic licence, or rather hoping....  The poems are so deeply felt, that it is difficult not to respond in restorative mood. Don't feel so much pain...try not to despair or over-analyse. But then, we wouldn't have this fabulous collection which are never bland, never trite and always moving. Naturally it is easy to identify with poems about grandchildren and children. I hope that they will appreciate where they come from as much as I do.

I think Susan deserves to do very well with this, her second, book of poems. I shall be doing all I can to promote her success.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The understated charm of North West Norfolk

Burnham Overy Staithe - today at sunset

Many insist that Norfolk is boring and flat, both of which  are simply from lack of knowledge. If you are able to spend time, as we have, on the North Norfolk Coast at Brancaster Staithe, you will experience a landscape of the marshes, or the wooded, gentle hills of the hinterland. The lure of Mervyn's Fresh Mussells - £5 a big bag, or dressed Cromer crab from the Fish Shed only adds to the charm. And of course, it is too sophisticated, with the out of place upmarket shops at Burnham Market providing a degree of comfort to the weekenders from Town. Nevertheless, it is the simplicity of the harbours and the serenity of the marshland, with its abundance of birdlife, and the big, big skies that are the main attractions.

Two of the country's most important Palladian houses are here - Holkham Hall and Houghton Hall. At Houghton today we even saw the young Marchioness pushing her twins in their buggy - what a refreshing sight, so unspoilt and unaffected.

If we have to live up here, we will be happy.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

August into September brain

One of the happiest days of my life - 3 September 2007. Married Rob and spent some days at this beautiful place in Suffolk.

So why am I not bouncing with energy and vigour and huge intellect?

I find it hard to understand why the summer is such a bad time, mentally, for me. It was many years before I could see the pattern. I love the weather, the countryside, bright clothes, fresh veggies, glorious flowers, the sea, the birds - just everything. And yet I get mentally heavy and confused, and often quite depressed. Is it something to do with my birthday in August. Don't think so, since I enjoy getting older in many respects.

All of which is a pity, since this summer, and next, I have the challenge of writing a long piece for my Art History course. Which means I feel guilty if I am not doing it, and the deadlines have been too long and time management has not been my core strength. The web doesn't help - too many distractions, and have just started Tweeting, on top of Facebook. Of course, these are diversionary tactics and the amount of time I spend sitting here is ludicrous.

Moodscope helps....lack of structure and discipline doesn't. Heh Hoh! It is off to write I go...back to Rennie Mackintosh for one last effort...

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Decisions - Charles Rennie Mackintosh is it!

So, finally I have decided that he will be the focus of the summer assignment. Not because I like the torrent of 'Mockintosh' jewellery and other cheap tat, but to see if I can place his work as early Modernist and to identify his main influences. Terrible shame this will require an extended stay in Scotland.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

78 Derngate

This is the front room of the small terraced house, where the interior decorations, furniture and fittings were designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh. It is in Northampton and easy to reach.

It was no surprise to see that it has won national awards as a small museum and it is exceptional in many respects. The furniture that you see is all repro but the originals are too precious to be in such a small building and are dispersed throughout our museums, such as the V&A, Brighton, and of course Glasgow.

My journey into Mackintosh is going to be exciting. Modernist, or artist or craftsman??? Next stop Glasgow.

Sculpture with Mitford ghosts

What a fantastic day - Sunday at Asthall. Including the Mitford ghosts, this glorious garden with Rosie Pearson's biennial sculpture show by leading stone carving sculptors is a must see.

Every piece has the special aura of the sculptor's hand. We particiularly liked the carving of Rosie Musgrave Folded Form made of Carrara marble. Innumerable desirable pieces, some small enough even for us to house. And the garden, which was designed a few years ago by the Bannermans is enchanting. The roses were breathtaking, and the wild meadow like nothing we have ever seen, all overlooking the Windrush valley.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Long essay mood changes

Every day, at least once, I change my mind about my thesis topic. So far there has been 'Kandinsky and music', 'Influence of Russian folk lore', 'Hepworth, Moore, Nicholson: 'A nest of gentle artists'?', 'Hepworth and Moore - true to materials', and so on. Finally, keep coming back to Rennie Mackintosh - Modernist, Artist or Craftsman? In the light of which, yesterday's long overdue visit to 78 Derngate, Northampton (his only English work) was illuminating.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Media beyond fine art between the Wars

Migrant mothers
"Destitute peapickers in California; a 32 year old mother of seven children. February 1936." by Dorothea Lange

This assignment is fascinating. The question is, why was media beyond 'fine art' so important between the Wars? Seems to me there are many reasons. It was a time of the rise in photographic and filmic image production, epitomised by this image by Dorothea Lange.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

It's that time of year again!

Michael Holroyd
Photo credit: Caroline Forbes

Our 8th Literary Festival is on 6 and 7 March 2010 and once again, we have persuaded the great and good of the literary world to visit us. Michael Holroyd is just one of the luminaries as well as David Crystal, Justin Cartwright, Giles Radice, Lyndall Gordon, two of the members of the Contemporary Women Writers Club (Lucy Cavendish and Miranda Gordon) and Derek Jacobi, no less.

The programme is out, the website published and the phone is ringing. As virtually everything sold out last year, everyone is rushing to make sure of their tickets this time round.

Let's hope it continues our tradition of a successful, happy weekend.
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