Friday, 13 March 2020

Issues re Corona Virus 2020

Issues re virus
Thinking about stuff.

1.Many people who are old, sick or alone won't find it that much different to 'self-isolate' from normal.

2.If everyone who is sick stays at home there should be a lot fewer colds and normal flu and a change from virtuous masochistic culture.

3. Would it be a good time to try out universal pay to cover food-claim it back from most later in tax?

4. If children are left with un checked adults there could be increased abuse.

5.Many parents might enjoy being at home with their children and want a life with a better work-life balance.

6.Home-schooling might increase in future and children might enjoy not being in chaotic overcrowded bullying environments where classes are too large. Some might learn more.

7 A year with no exams might be ok.

8. Time to read and play music and talk together at home.

9.Would be far worse without online stuff and phones.

10 Might be pressure to improve daytime tv.

11 Apparantly a lot cleaner air in Bejing etc where factories have closed?

12 Will humanity one day be wiped out by a similar but more deadly virus spread?

13.If they accidentally find a cure for the common cold during research for the new virus will we get the cure?

14. Motive to move the homeless into accommodation so they aren't coughing all over those that pass by?

15. Rationing may be needed if people panic buy.

Thursday, 5 March 2020

Evelyn Williams and Carlos Zapata at Anima Mundi, St.Ives

Evelyn Williams and Carlos Zapata at Anima Mundi, St.Ives, Cornwall, UK

Feb 22nd to March 31st , 2020

Evelyn Williams died 2012, aged 83, having completed a body of work said to be hard to categorise and having left a Trust to help women artists. I was told at Anima Mundi that the director, Joseph Clark, found a painting by her in a charity shop and purchased it. It turned out to have been stolen from a show and he decided to organise this exhibition of her paintings. There were two books about her oeuvre to peruse.

Most of the works had two figures in them so the relationship between them seemed to be the subject. One had a naked woman emerging from the side of a naked man, recalling the biblical creation story.

I didn't like the very pink fleshy tones of the bodies, a bit like Lucian Freud but not I think observed but imagined. The backgrounds contrasted with the bodies to emphasise them as the focus. They are striking works but to me didn't embody clear feelings. Maybe they are worked on too long which results in a certain heavy handedness. One small picture of two heads in watercolour was much more free and spontaneous

looking so I thought the artist in making large works had found it difficult to maintain her freshness of approach or maybe didn't value that and wanted to make more deliberated images when working on a larger scale. The artist said her subject was 'inner thoughts, other worlds'.

Reading about her I am horrified to see Evelyn Williams was sent to board at Summerhill before she was three and spoke of a remaining sadness from this. I would say she suffered abandonment by her parents. She also felt her whole generation were affected by the holocaust and did a great picture of a huge bomb exploding over a mass of people- depicted naked to show their vulnerability and give a timeless quality.

Anima Mundi shows a interesting video on the website of an interview of the artist on bbc Wales 2007 and I am left pleased to learn about her.

Prices were between £2,800 and £13,000

Carlos Zapata is from Colombia but lives in Falmouth. He uses a variety of materials for his sculptures of figures and works in different sizes. There are references to gods and to celtic culture. The waxed steel 'sacred book' has ragged looking pages with no discernible text as if it has been burnt.

I liked best 'celtic mother', in grey polyphant stone, smaller than life size and a gentle, tender image.

There was an expressive charcoal drawing 'bog man' and a roughly textured textile version in 3D.
'Celt' was a painting of a man as if dead with the head and genitals blocked out by added pieces of hessian - the reason not being apparent.

I like his figures when they are whole but the torsos and heads are more macabre.

I've liked other works by Zapata more than these but it's always interesting to see his sculptures because at their best they have are simple directness that is very appealing.

Prices are from £1,800 to £7,200.

Tuesday, 3 March 2020

Cecilia 'Leaps and bounds' performance at Porthmeor studios, St.Ives, UK

Cecilia, 'Leaps and Bounds' , a performance at Porthmeor studios , St.Ives, Cornwall, UK
29th Feb 2020

About 25 of St.Ives arty cognoscenti assembled to watch this 13 minute free performance.
I invited someone from the Pool club but he said it would be ultra sophisticated middle class impenetrable nonsense.

So was it?

The dancer was a largish woman, probably over 50, who moved very deliberately and confidently, using various props and with a recording playing of seagulls, song and guitar.

There was a photo of a young man, a womb shape on the floor outlined in red cord, blank paper at first cradled like a baby and then torn up, finally some of it made into a bird shape that could fly away. There was some vigorous sort of South American dance, a bit scary at eye level from where I sat. There were stones moved and placed in a line and the performer sat gazing out of the window, sometimes reacting as if sharply noticing something.

I took it to be a sorrowful discarding of the torn up paper, perhaps the unlived life of a son who died? The dancing seemed a wild attempt to maybe pretend to be happy, or a brief respite from sorrow, followed by looking through the window for a shred of hope.

It had meaning to the maker but wasn't all that clear for the viewer. Dance usually has a written program that tells you the story and can be read before or after. As it was, seeing it cold, I spent all my time puzzling over the meaning.

At the end we were invited to ask questions but this was rather cut short by the performer saying she had said what she wanted to say in the performance. We were given cards on which to respond. Most people reacted by doing curvilinear drawings which were pegged on a line. I put a question mark.

I thought it was for the artist a lost opportunity to find out honestly what folk made of it.
These opportunities are rare outside college and here was a group of people who could have helped her communicate better in future - if she had been really interested in their understanding.

Reflecting on it I seem to have formed a cohesive interpretation - so perhaps inviting a response by email later would have been appropriate.

It was not nonsense, it was an effort to express something meaningful, done with serious intent and worthy of respect.

Note: I found out later that Cecilia is a student on the Porthmeor Programme - a lengthy mentoring course for artists.

Friday, 28 February 2020

Michael Wood, bbc channel 4 tv., 'The Lady of the Mercians' from the series 'King Alfred and the Anglo -Saxons'

Michael Wood, bbc channel 4 tv., 'The Lady of the Mercians' from the series 'King Alfred and the Anglo -Saxons'

This hour long program shows Michael Wood with his usual impish enthusiasm exploring the life of Aethelflaed in the tenth century in Britain, before England existed as a unified country, Queen of Mercia, at a time when she needed to either fight or to negotiate with Vikings and did both.

I thought this program was really beautifully made. Every shot of bleak countryside or present day towns was stunningly beautifully composed and lit. A shot of a field's rich earth surface was like an abstract painting. My own home town of Derby, a place the Vikings named, was shown looking so beautiful that I almost felt like returning there.


Derby - Sadlergate

Suitably spare and evocative music was used.

In addition to this there were many images of medieval manuscripts, hand written, which the presenter was able to read and translate from the Anglo Saxon. There was an elaborate illustrated family tree of the Monarchs on a scroll. There were drawings done with that lively economy of line in pen and ink that is so delightful and with which in my own drawings I feel a great affinity.


Michael Wood talked to various learned historians and archaeologists who each made interesting contributions.
We saw precious objects and ancient buildings. Above all we learnt that occasionally a woman could have a lot of power and influence in the middle ages.

There were a lot of battles and inhumane slaughter. It was almost the custom that plotters would murder rival heirs to the throne.

Returning to our present political democracy it seemed with all its difficulties a good deal more tolerant and peaceful.

Michael Wood turned the pages of a book made about a thousand years ago - not wearing gloves, in direct contact with the scribe who wrote it, and we participated in his wonderful enthusiasm and knowledge.

Note- there is a controversy over the term 'Anglo-Saxon' which has been used by racists in USA
but was used from early times without any such connotations as is explained by Michael Wood elsewhere.

Sunday, 23 February 2020

I Kill Giants - a film review.

'I Kill Giants', a film directed by Anders Walter 2018. Stars Madison Wolfe, Zoe Saldana, Imogen Poots and Sydney Wade

This film is about a young secondary school attending girl called Barbara constructing an elaborate fantasy that helps her deal with an unbearable situation in her life. 
This makes her fairly unbearable also and we see people trying to help her and some girls being nasty to her in the general odious ways of school bullies.

Unfortunately it would be difficult to watch this movie without having already grasped something of the plot from the cover or the publicity.
Therefore the ending isn't entirely surprising although not completely obvious.
Also the plot hinges on no one mentioning facts that it's unlikely no one at the school young Barbara attends would know and mention.

The acting is fine and the special effects of frightening giants are impressively gothic. The details are imaginatively peculiar and the brooding landscape is dramatic.

One scene moved me to tears and then I felt the ending was unrealistic - the director's own escape into a comforting optimism.

It's an interesting foray into using imagery to convey emotions - film being so suited to indicating visions and craziness but so rarely used for this.

I call it a brave attempt to tackle how the mind can invent to protect a person from pain that is too much to stand.

Maybe that's why we have religion persisting in a scientific era but Barbara constructs her own mythology.

Wednesday, 29 January 2020

Naum Gabo at Tate St.Ives 25th Jan to May 3rd 2020

Naum Gabo at Tate St.Ives. (1890-1977)

On the way in through gallery one there is a beautiful golden coloured Gabo, made of bronze, looking a bit too large for its corner and apparently at one stage it was in the main show. I'm told it's too fragile on its minimal support to be allowed out of its protective acrylic case. It's simple, geometric, metal formed into a curvilinear form, constructed using machinery to acheive a perfectly satisfying composition. Its presence in a room with Brian Wynter, Sandra Blow etc. claims him as one of our own in St.Ives.

The Gabo show entrance before the large gallery has a large female head made of planes of metal also feeling very oversized in its space and a small golden work high up in a corner, for those who find it, placed like an icon in a home.

It's a hundred years since Naum Gabo, after leaving to avoid being enlisted in World War One, returned to be an enthusiastic part of the early revolutionary excitement and was distributing his Realistic Manifesto in the streets of Moscow. One copy is in a display case with a translation below but I wonder why the show wasn't constructed around these glorious sentences which carry the flavour of a time we can hardly imagine when a unifying vision of better times had swept Lenin and the Bolsheviks to power. Artists saw abstraction not as the chic accompaniment to a second home it may be today but as a rejection of worn out cliches and a leap forward to an art that sought something essential and meaningful that would affect the whole of society.

'Today is the deed.
We will account for it tomorrow.
The past we are leaving behind as carrion.
The future we leave to fortune tellers.
We take the present day.'

The exhibition is split in half by a curved grey hospital curtain which has even an instruction not to touch it inscribed on the floor and I was puzzled as to why this was made such a dominating feature. I mentioned this to a woman who turned out to be Nina Williams, Gabo's daughter, born in Carbis Bay 1941, and she said she was delighted with the whole display, but I would have prefered it to be removed.

There is a charming video of Nina playing with a toy her father made her in which tiny models are activated by static electricity.

There are models for buildings, monuments, sculptures, mono prints, paintings, drawings and films so you get a great idea of the wide scope of Gabo's work. I loved the film of La Chatte ballet using dancers with circular and square frames wielded wittily. Gabo constructed work with new materials aiming to work with space and kinetic possibilities.

The walls have been painted subtle green and dark turquoise and make an interesting change from the white austerity which has become routine for modernist galleries.

Gabo left Russia again. From my internet research, which I recommend as there are so many images if Gabo's works available and even film of him speaking, I find that he did not fit in with Tatlin and El Lissitsky's views and was not admitted to the Central Soviet of Artists which would have guaranteed him paid work.

Gabo chose to leave and was not to be allowed back until 1962.The tide was already turning from the early revolutionary embracing of pure abstraction and Gabo left for Germany, later as anti semitism grew, moving on to Paris and London, and arriving in St.Ives where he was for seven years.

Here Gabo influenced Barbara Hepworth but felt she stole his ideas rather him becoming a valued member of the incrowd. He left for America 1946, where he found fame and fortune.

Gabo was the son of a wealthy industrialist who owned metal works and the father's finance enabled Naum to travel and pursue art. He said he was converted to the revolution at the age of fifteen on seeing Cossack brutality in putting down the early protests in Russia. He had been
expelled from primary school for writing subversive poetry about the headmaster. He had not been admitted to St.Petersberg Art School and remained self taught.

Nowadays it's difficult to think of any artist rising to prominence without the required education and a string of official awards and residences.- as evidenced by the other artist featured at Tate St,Ives at the moment - Emily Speed.

So, ironically the revolutionary Gabo who left Russia, perhaps because his dedication to his art outweighed his political fervour, succeeded because of his capitalist father's funding and made his own residences moving from country to country. His influence on international art and design was considerable.

I would have liked some context about the Russian artists with whom Gabo parted company, but these one person shows are devoted to the idea of one genius so comparisons with these and with Hepworth are left to the visitor to make for themselves.

Emily Speeed at Tate St.Ives

Emily Speed at Tate St.Ives 'Rooms Designed For A Woman' 25 Jan to 3 May 2020

Tate have been using the last gallery to feature an artist with a video that requires no invigilator and often sadly fails to capture many visitors' attention as they leave without stopping to view it.

This one being only a five minute loop has some chance of being seen.

As before there is little information on the artist and no catalogue, although she has exhibited widely and made a variety of work.

Here she shows a model house within which a woman is restricted but moves. There are also shots of a woman with elaborate eye make up eating a house shaped cake with considerable dramatic attack.

I was reminded of Marisol's sculptures in the seventies' wave of American feminism.

It was quirky and puzzling and I could not see the connection with Gabo which was said to be there.

I think these small additional shows deserve more resources - at least a leaflet.

It seems like a sweetie given on the way out.