Posts Tagged ‘Sandy Denny’

Blackpaint 452 – Folk Art, Song and Flowers of the Field

June 26, 2014

British Folk Art, at Tate Britain  

Now I have my membership card, I’m trying to make it pay for itself in a few weeks – so, back to Folk Art and Kenneth Clark again.  I didn’t mention Walter Greaves, the painter who Whistler discovered and apparently turned into a version of himself (see the result on display).  Before the Whistlerisation, Greaves had painted a picture of Hammersmith Bridge, with every precarious foot-or bum-hold occupied by a foot (or bum), watching the passage of the Boat Race crews on the river below.  Could it really be accurate?

Hammersmith Bridge on Boat-race Day c.1862 by Walter Greaves 1846-1930

 

Then, there is a dark brownish landscape with distorted trees and maybe horses, that’s just like some of the Ben Nicholsons at Dulwich, that I covered a blog or two ago.  There’s a field full of angry bulls in another picture and immense pigs in yet another.  I see my memory played me tricks when I described a couple of other things: the man taking a crap behind the tree is being stalked by men with muskets, not a pack of dogs as I said – and the elegant figurehead is wearing a brown, not blue hat.

Other new stuff at Tate B

Not new of course, but newly out of storage – or new to me, anyway:

Two great, sombre Bombergs – “Bomb Store” I believe.  Reminded me of Rouault.

There’s a whole room of Alan Davie, who died a few weeks ago.  Best pictures are “Fish God” (see previous blog, “Shark Penis of the Fish God”) and “Sacrifice”, a rough, dirty tangle on a great blue ground.

alan davie

That “Fauvist” portrait of a woman is by Fergusson, one of the Scottish Colourists – get the little book of SC postcards.

fergusson

There’s a beautiful bowl somewhere, by William Nicholson, Ben’s father.

And there’s that brilliantly coloured abstract in the same room as the Basil Beattie, which looks really crude close up – but absolutely beautiful from across the room.  Can’t remember the name – sounds North African to me – so can’t find a photo, but you will know what I mean when you see it.

Nineteen Eighty -Four

I’ve just got to the bit where Winston reads Goldstein’s book.  In it, Goldstein relates how the permanent state of war existing between Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia has had the effect of stabilising their economies by burning off surplus capital that would otherwise lead to crises of overproduction.  this seems just a whisker away from the “permanent arms economy” described – not sure if its his original idea – by Michael Kidron, in his old Pelican(?) paperback, “Western Capitalism Since the War”.  He’s writing about the Cold War and the constant renewal of military hardware, but still, pretty close.  Years since I read the Kidron and I’ve lost my copy, so maybe he mentions Orwell.

Flowers of the Field (to 13th July)

A  play by Kevin Mandry at the White Bear pub theatre in Kennington; it fits nicely with the British Folk Art exhibition, where the DVD, made by the British film Institute, entitled “Here’s a Health to the Barley Mow” is on sale.  The play, set in 1916,  concerns the efforts of a war-damaged British officer to collect folk songs in rural Sussex; he inadvertently walks into a drama to do with the ownership of a farm and the efforts of a young girl to avoid  forced marriage to a rapacious landowner.  The difficulties faced by the officer in getting the locals to come up with the real goods, as opposed to hymns, old music hall songs and ballads, make for some very funny scenes and echo real problems faced by the early collectors, like Cecil Sharp and Percy Grainger.

The second half is darker, concerned as it is with the question of the farm and the marriage.  The song which the officer eventually succeeds in recording, is a southern version of “I Once Loved a Lass”.  This is a Scottish variation, recorded among others by Sandy Denny.  Words different, but similar; tune pretty much the same in both versions.

I saw my love to the church go,

With brides and brides’ maidens, she made a fine show,

And I followed on with a heart full of woe,

For she’s gone to be wed to another.

As for the DVD, the High Spens Sword Dance group and the Britannia Coconut Dancers (not blacked up here) have to be seen.

Il Bidone

Fellini’s great film about con men in 50’s Italy, starring the monumental Broderick Crawford (he looked almost the same throughout his career, give or take a few white hairs).  Apparently Fellini used him for his presence – he didn’t act much, just did himself, according to the commentary.  I think he was effective across a fair range though – menace, dignity, vulnerability, pathos, cynicism – and he could really wear a big, shapeless suit.  The music, inevitably by Nino Rota, is very reminiscent of “Blackadder”.

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Lizard Reunion

Blackpaint

26.06.14

 

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Blackpaint 367 – Goya, the Devil and Fear Eats the Soul

November 15, 2012

Songs of Sandy Denny BBC4

What songs they were.  But really only PP Arnold got there on I’m a Dreamer – Maddy Prior hammed it up too much with her Elizabethan dancing and Lavinia Blackwood was too high and Gartside was terrible.  I was surprised by Thea Gilmore’s music using Sandy’s words; result was great, although more Joni Mitchell than Sandy Denny.

Sven Hassel

From the sublime to…  Read his obit in the Guardian the other day and it brought back a strong charge of my adolescence at Battersea Grammar School, where I championed Hassel and Willi Heinrich against my mates’ preference for James Bond.  I was wrong, of course; Flemings are now Penguin Modern Classics.  Still, “Wheels of Terror” had a real hold on me – The Little Legionnaire, who shouted “Allah Akbar!” as he attacked the Ivans with his knife, Tiny, the giant from Bremen, and above all, Joseph Porta, who went in with his flamethrower, wearing a top hat and monocle.  The tank battle at Cherkassy with the boys from the Penal Regiment.. happy innocent days of childhood.

How the Devil got his Horns (Sky Arts)

Alistair Sooke vehicle in which he seeks to show the development of Satan in art and theology from an envoy of God (as he is, for example, in Job) to the Antichrist, governor of hell and chewer of lost souls.  Sooke visited Padua to examine the Giotto Last Judgement – those endearing squat, square little people and the brilliant, singing colours – and then Orvieto, where the Signorelli version, much lighter, pinker, resembled the Michelangelo Sistine masterpiece in the fleshiness and muscularity of the writhing bodies – although Signorelli’s are much more cartoon – like, in the modern sense.

Giotto

Signorelli

Heroes Square, Budapest 

Cartoons having come up, I was reminded of the horsebacked figures, Arpad and the others, riding around the base of the column in the square, like characters from Lord of the Rings in their winged helmets, waving their swords and bows.

Spain, Renaissance to Goya, Print Room, British Museum

Bullfights, war disasters, witches,  penitents. those “Proverbs” that aren’t proverbs at all.  The slight squatness, stiffness of gesture, solidness of Goya’s figures remind me a little of Giotto somehow.  Lots of boring and elaborate etchings in the rest of exhibition, which suddenly comes alive with Murillo, Ribera and Tiepolo.  St. Anthony of Padua and the Irascible Youth turns up twice as a theme; after insulting his mother the youth cuts off his own leg in a fit of remorse.  Luckily, St. Anthony is passing and rejoins the leg by miraculous means.  Another theme – skinning of St. Bartholomew.  Two versions of that as well.  More skinnings alive in the siege of Lachish reliefs from Assyria on the ground floor.

John Bellany

Beautiful paintings on the Culture Show last night – resemblances to Jock MacFadyean and Peter Howson, I thought, in the distorted figures and faces; and blazing colour.  Apparently, they’ve got more colourful since his liver transplant 20-odd years ago.  He reckons he’s done more paintings than Turner.

Ali – Fear Eats the Soul

Finally caught up with this great Fassbinder film and was impressed and moved.  Lots of those doorway shots that Bela Tarr likes.  The story, fiftyish German cleaning woman begins affair with Moroccan “guest-worker”, suffers racism and family rejection, never slips over into sentimentality.  I loved it.

Chain Bridge

Blackpaint

15.11.12

Blackpaint 300

October 18, 2011

Jerusalem

Great to see in yesterday’s Guardian editorial, the following : “…the deep dream of Albion, from Arthur to Falstaff to Bunyan to Blake to Sandy Denny…” ; over the top maybe, but well done, whoever thought of linking her with this illustrious company.

Martin Rowson

At last, yesterday, an arse-licking cartoon – but who is it, Fox, Werritty, or a generic lobbyist tugging at the trousers of the banker pigs?  I guess Werritty, from the business cards scattered around.  And what is that in Haigh’s hand?

Proper blog to follow on Thursday – meanwhile, read yesterday’s, on Vertov and Cezanne.

Blackpaint

18.10.11 

Blackpaint 137

May 20, 2010

Picasso

Quote from Picasso in today’s Guardian (article by Adrian Searle on new exhibition in Liverpool, which focuses on his political commitment to Communist Party):  “Painting is not made to decorate houses, … It is an instrument of offensive and defensive war against the enemy.”  I’ve learnt this by heart, and now I’m awaiting the chance to jump in with it; next time I hear someone say “I quite like that, but the blue won’t go with the curtains” – I’ll be in there.

To tell the truth, Picasso’s political commitment doesn’t sound to me like a hugely interesting aspect of his life and certainly not of his art.  Not to deny the emotional impact of the painting, I think he had already developed the motifs and tropes he displayed in “Guernica” in his previous work.  The same can be said, it seems to me, of “Charnel House” and “Massacre in Korea”. 

Apart from the painting?  Searle points out that “He handed over suitcases of cash.  He protested the death by electric chair of the Rosenbergs…he made his only trip to the UK to attend a peace conference in Sheffield in 1950 (and)..was detained by immigration officials for 12 hours”.  Apart from the cash – of which he had plenty – this is not a great deal really, is it?

Elsewhere, Searle itemises some of the photographs on show: “Picasso listening intently to speeches at a peace conference in Poland; Picasso with Soviet officials; Picasso staring at a photograph of Stalin”.  He describes this (ironically, I presume) as “fascinating stuff”.

Searle says that Picasso “spent almost half his life in exile in France after the civil war” and  “he refused to return to Spain while Franco was alive”.  However, he had lived in Paris for many years before the civil war, did not fight in the civil war and only joined the French Communist party in 1944 “along with many other French intellectuals and artists”.  The idea of him as a political being in any sense other than a dilettante strikes me as rather thin.

This is not to denigrate him; great artist, undisputable genius, standing in same relation to “modern art” as, say, Louis Armstrong or Charlie Parker to jazz (maybe both).  and he did paint “Guernica” – that should be enough.

Banks of the Nile by Blackpaint

Listening to the Banks of the Nile, trad., by Sandy Denny and Fotheringay.

“Oh hark, the drums do beat my love, no longer can we stay,

The bugle horns are sounding clear, and we must march away;

We’re ordered down to Portsmouth and it’s many the weary mile,

To join the British army on the banks of the Nile.”

Blackpaint

20.05.10

Blackpaint 118

April 23, 2010

Jerusalem

Blackpaint celebrated St. George’s Day (and Shakespeare’s spurious birth and death day) early, by going to see the Jez Butterworth play at the Apollo Shaftesbury Avenue last night.  It was nearly as good as the reviews;  my only disappointment was that the language didn’t quite match the Shakespearean overtones.  Rooster Byron clearly invites some comparison with Falstaff, as an unofficial Master of Revels and a “misleader” of youth; I kept waiting for the “chimes at midnight” line, but it never came.

There were a couple of excellent monologues, put in the mouth of the confused professor; one was a long rhyme that sounded traditional, the other a short account of the St.George legend – again, I think  it was a quotation.

At the end of the play, Byron calls up a long line of English, Anglo-Saxon and other(? Yggdrasil?  isn’t that the Norse tree that joins earth to heaven?) folk heroes and mythic figures and I was reminded of the Donmar Theatre years ago, watching the end of Albert Mtwla’s “Woza Albert”, where  the heroes of the Liberation struggle are invoked one after another.

That was the second occasion that I was transported back in time;  the first was 10 or 15 minutes earlier, when Sandy Denny’s “Who knows where the time goes?” was used for a dance sequence.

It was December 1966 and I was in Charing Cross  Road, opposite St Martins -in- the-Field, by Trafalgar Square.  I was humping a big, brown leather briefcase  back to my firm’s West  End office.  Beatle hair over my ears and collar, suit and tie.  Suddenly, right in front of me, emerging from a taxi, carrying a guitar case and  wearing a black cape, Sandy Denny.  I’d seen her play and sing at the Nag’s Head in Winstanley Road, Battersea on the previous Sunday night and I like to think  she recognised me (it was a small, smoky upstairs room).  Anyway, I was smitten, although she was a couple of years older than me.

She saw me staring at her, paused and gave me a little quizzical smile; obviously at this point I  should have approached, told her I was a big fan, got an autograph – didn’t do  any of those; too shy- went red, turned away, walked on, kicked myself every night for a month…

Anyway, art.

Five great St. Georges; google them.

  • Tintoretto, National Gallery
  • Uccello, National gallery
  • Raphael, National gallery of Washington
  • Rubens, Prado
  • Odilon Redon – at least three versions, very strange.

My St.George (again)

Blackpaint

23.04.10

Blackpaint 81

March 4, 2010

I’ve just had a revelation, which is that hardly anybody has read anything that I’ve written in the last 4 months!  All the traffic I’ve been getting goes to Blackpoint 16, where people look at the Michelangelo pics and leave.  That being so, I’m going to carry on, but only write brief entries.

Raphael drawing

Of the woman’s head, was in the news earlier in week – “should it be saved for the nation?” story.  I was interested to see that for the most part, he shades like Mick, diagonal lines, top right to bottom left.  Some almost vertical but mostly as described (see – what else? – Blackpaint 16).

Malcolm in the Middle

Quote:  “He’s a true artist.  Like a true artist, he’ll do almost anything for money.”

Listening to “no More Sad Refrains” by Sandy Denny.

“I won’t linger over any tragedies that were,

I won’t be singing any more sad refrains.”

Blackpaint

4/03/10