Posts Tagged ‘Uffington White Horse’

Blackpaint 500 – Sinful Sculptor, False Memories, Orgreave and the Flood

June 21, 2015

How to be Bohemian with Victoria Coren Mitchell, BBC4

After my partner’s RA picture got a split second exposure on TV last week, it was my turn; a glimpse of my grizzled head, appearing like a growth on another artist’s shoulder for a whole second, left of screen.  BUT – later in the programme, my hands drawing in close-up for about five whole seconds.  Fortunately, they didn’t show the drawing.

As to the programme’s content, Eric Gill was the most interesting topic; as well as being a stunning artist and craftsman, he had sexual intercourse with two daughters, his sisters – and his dog.  He recorded, or alluded to, all these exploits in his diaries.  The obvious question is: does the awareness of this depravity undermine the art?  VCM said it did for her – but she may have been playing angel’s advocate.  Fiona MacCarthy said, what about Wagner?  Well known anti-semitic views – do you listen to the music or turn it off?  VCM went for the latter.

No-one mentioned timing in this;  Gill’s criminal habits weren’t known when he was alive and producing fantastic work, such as Prospero and Ariel; his biographer, MacCarthy, revealed them in 1989, a previous biographer having omitted any reference.

Gill1

 

Prospero and Ariel, Eric Gill

 

False Memory Syndrome

Last week, I walked half the Ridgeway long-distance path, from Avebury in Wiltshire to Goring on Thames in Berkshire – around 40 miles.  I first did it 30 or so years ago, with a tent, and camped beside the path – this time, we got B and B.

I had vivid “memories” of being under the stars next to the path, by my tent, opposite the 3000 year old White Horse at Uffington, fully visible across the way on the flank of the down.  When we arrived at the horse this time, I was astonished to find that you can’t see it from the path – you have to go a hundred yards or so, maybe more, across a stretch of lush grass and psychedelic buttercups.  Then, you are just above the head and can see just a few dazzling white lines in the downside (it was made by being dug out and filled with chalk).  You can’t see it properly from below either – apparently, the only good view is from a car on the B4507. And yet, I could have sworn that I’d looked at it by starlight all those years ago.

uffington

Uffington White Horse

So what’s the significance of all this?  Last week, I wrote about a “circular” joke in the Polish film, “The Saragossa Manuscript”, in which someone inexplicably falls from height into a laundry basket, an incident which is explained later in the film.  But I was only halfway through the DVD – it’s 180 mins long.  It transpires there are no laundry baskets; the circular joke involves a voice, supposedly from Purgatory and a fall into a barrel.  It’s far too complex to explain in detail.  And yet, I could have sworn…  Maybe the laundry basket thing is some corruption of the Merry Wives of Windsor, where Falstaff hides in the dirty laundry and gets chucked into the ditch (reference to same in “Breaking Bad” – I think – can’t be sure of anything any more).

Fighting History at Tate Britain

A review, or random selection of “history” works old and new. panned as “moronic” and overly left-wing by Jonathan Jones in the Guardian.  I suppose the inclusion of memorabilia and filmed reminiscence of Jeremy Deller’s Battle of Orgreave reconstruction is a bit lefty – here are some of the other works:

  • “The Battle of Hastings” by Allen Jones – nice painting, Pop Art style, impenetrable.

The Battle of Hastings 1961-2 Allen Jones born 1937 Presented by E.J. Power through the Friends of the Tate Gallery 1980 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/T03090

  • “A Visit to Aesculapius” by Poynter – group of beautiful women, no pubic hair, was “the chief centre of attention” at the RA in 1880.

A Visit to Aesculapius 1880 Sir Edward Poynter 1836-1919 Presented by the Trustees of the Chantrey Bequest 1880 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/N01586

  • A Flood by Dexter Dalwood, containing a quotation from a nearby (awful) Turner Flood, a Guston head, a Lichtenstein wave and a pile of swiss rolls.
  • Another Flood, by Danby; I like the terrified lion, clinging to the tree.
  • A huge King Lear, Fuseli eyes and a fleshy dead Cordelia, by James Barry.
  • The battle at Jersey, by Copley, the one with the dead officer and the black servant firing at the French; there are some Rubens/Pugwash women fleeing on the right.
  • Zoffany’s “Death of Captain Cook” – a very brown painting, compared with his famous one of the Indian Governor and the Cockfight.  Jones likes this one because the feather headdresses have been accurately rendered.

Go and see it; it’s not that bad and the Deller stuff won’t turn you left-wing if you’re not that way already.

A life drawing and a work in ?Progress? to finish with:

amanda face down2

Amanda on her Front

geometry4

Work in Progress

Blackpaint

21.06.15

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Blackpaint 441 – Giants and their Weapons, Orwell and the Sweet Life

April 11, 2014

Future Map, ual (University of the Arts London)

This was an exhibition at SPACE, Mare Street in Hackney, showing (to quote the booklet) “the finest emerging visual arts from  University of the Arts London. Now in its 16th year, Future Map has a well-earned reputation for exhibiting the next generation of artists who will define our visual landscape”; I went last week, meaning to write it up but got bogged down with Orwell et al – and now the exhibition’s finished.  Still, these were the the works that I found memorable:

  • Jack Wilkinson (the winner) – “Untitled”, an assemblage of marked and spattered off-white boards, recalling those early panels of Richard Hamilton, interspersed with black, upright rectangles.
  • Sean Lavelle – “Glassrack Green and Orange”; a wooden framework, draped with a transparent green plastic fabric, drawn on to resemble green bricks, and with snake- like forms writhing across it.  I thought of it as “worms on a frame”.

lavelle

  • Han Byul Kang – “Dawn”; several objects, one a halved rocking chair, inverted, an occasional table and a giant cotton reel – or maybe, one of those big spools around which cable is wound, all of which were highly decorated in brightly coloured designs.

Kang

  • Bethe Bronson – “Hidden Exposure”; a video installation, in which a solemn, seated woman stares out at the viewer, whilst a younger, teenage(?) girl stands at her side; both in Victorian dress.  The girl, at first still, moves her head and eyes towards the older woman and then away from her, in a series of stop-time movements.

bronson

  • Abigail Booth – sculptures, one a large silver splat! of mercurial molten metal, which turns out to be “Chrome”, not mercury; the other, a block of granite, its surface marked in quarters, titled “Quartered Granite”.

These are the works that stuck in my memory, not necessarily because they were great…  The booklet, however, is superbly produced by the University of the Arts London.  It’s huge and makes all the works look fantastic.

Ian Hislop, “the Olden Days” BBC

Hislop’s first prog in the series happened to include a “prehistoric” stone circle that had actually been made in the 1850s, copied or inspired by the genuine stone ring at Avebury.  This led to a mild dispute with a friend about the Long Man of Wilmington in Sussex, who I thought was Bronze Age and he thought was Victorian.  Turns out the best guess is 16th or 17th century.   So, of course, I had to look up all the other chalk horses and the  Cerne Abbas giant – and only the Uffington horse in Oxfordshire, by the Ridgeway, is genuinely Bronze Age or earlier.

wilmington

Wilmington

cerne abbas

Cerne Abbas – also 17th century (spot the difference – yes, that’s right, the weapon)

uffington

Uffington – the real thing, and also the most beautiful by far.

Orwell and anti-semitism

Still ploughing on through the collected works and the biographies; finished “Coming up for Air” and well into “Down and Out in Paris and London” (started with the novels; that’s why I’m out of synch).  I have to say that there are a number of very dubious references to Jews peppered throughout the works – he makes no outright anti-semitic statements, but the portraits and anecdotes involving Jews are always derogatory.  Flory, in “Burmese Days”, opines that the British Empire is run in the interests of the Jews and the Scots.  Flory is a fiction, and not necessarily the bearer of the author’s own opinions, but you feel it chimes with the prejudices of the Orwell of the period.  I think he probably changed as his political views developed, and I’ll be interested to see if I remember right as I drive on through to Nineteen Eighty Four.  I think the anti-Jewish prejudice was pretty typical of Orwell’s social background and education – but you expect better of someone as questioning and self-examining and fair minded as Orwell.

La Dolce Vita

Watched this again to see if I recognised the Rome I ran in the other week to Fellini’s Rome; and no, it looked completely different (except for the Trevi fountain and St. Peters).  I’m sure the image of the little boy in the raincoat and hood in the “miracle” sequence popped up years later in another film set in Italy – Venice this time; “Don’t Look Now”.

Sue Townsend

Sad news about the above – I took Adrian Mole’s diary as a style template for this blog.

 

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Work (still) in “progress”

Blackpaint

11.04.14