Blackpaint 106

Victoria and Albert Museum

Visited here today to see the new Medieval Galleries again, but, once more, got diverted to the Cast Rooms to see the astonishing Shobdon Tympanum again (see Blackpaint 17), the Santiago de Compostela gates with Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel- and then a jump to the Annunciation and the Christ story, progressing upwards.  You have to “read”from top left to bottom, then bottom right to top. 

Checked the cast of the David statue and, yes, I’m afraid his head and neck do now look too big to me (see Blackpaint 99 and 104) – but, far worse, he now bears a facial resemblance to David Cameron.  You don’t believe me? Imagine the hair trimmed and slicked back, some pudge on the torso, a tight white shirt with top button just undone…

Islamic Art

Waiting for my partner to return from the quilts exhibition, wandered round the Islamic treasures from Iran, India, Pakistan and Turkey.  As an abstract artist and lover of modern abstract art, I should be bowled over by these exquisite carpets and hangings and decorations but I was not (apart from those beautiful Mughal miniature paintings).  There was nothing for my eye to catch on, no roughness, asymmetry, chaos,  just harmony, order, beautiful workmanship, perfection.  I want just the opposite – disorder, bad taste, violence, anarchy; if its figurative and old, I want dragons, tortures, martyrdoms… 

So, we went to look at the multiple tortures of St. George, in the Retable (is that right?) in the room with the Raphael Cartoons.  George was, among other things, being burned, boiled alive and sawn in half, before the beheading which finished him off – one can imagine the executioner thinking “Why didn’t we do this in the first place?”

By far the best Cartoon, I have always thought, is “The Miraculous Draught of Fishes”.

After this, to prove that Blackpaint is not one of these people locked into either art or science, but happily inhabits both intellectual spheres, we were taken by our youngest to the Science Museum.  There I was staggered by the steam machinery on the ground floor – I’ve always found them beautiful, but for the first time, they looked very Heath Robinson to me, all improbable pistons, levers and boilers and wheels and lovely, rough, black metal surfaces. 

I had the Higgs Boson, Super symmetry and Schrodinger’s Cat explained to me and bought “Stiff”, a book about the “life” of corpses with, inter alia, descriptions of guillotinings – which brought a nice symmetry to the day.



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4 Responses to “Blackpaint 106”

  1. Julianna Lees Says:

    I’m just back from England (we live in France) after seeing the new galleries at the V&A too – am pretty pleased with my photos, most of which will be on Flickr & Picasa soon. Like you, I am amazed by the Shobdon tympanum – makes me think of a hippy of the 60s – long hair, stripey jumper – and those crazy ?Evangelists? leaping around! Is it unique? Trying to find out took me to your place!



    • blackpaint Says:

      Hi Julianna,
      Thanks for the comment. I’ll look for your photos on Flickr with interest. I don’t know if it’s unique, but I suspect it is, if you came to my blog. Keep reading please, now that you’ve found me!


  2. Julie Lees Says:

    Thanks, Blackpaint, Have now uploaded 100 V&A photos here:

    And also here:

    I notice that my friend, Tina Manthorpe, has a picture of the real Shobdon tympanum on Flickr. What a sad contrast it makes with the V&A copy. Do you suppose so much damage has taken place in the intervening years, or do you suppose the plastercaster was actually quite dishonest?

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