Monday, 27 July 2015

Frames in Focus: #Sansovino Frames at the National Gallery

Thanks largely to a rediscovery of a love of free form dancing enhanced by fermented sugar beverages, art and writing has been rather neglected over the past few weeks. Sometimes you need to examine what is beyond the immediately visible; to step outside the frame, if you like. Which is what I've been doing so it was with a sense of familiar relief that on a lunchtime stroll I headed to the National Gallery to find whatever took my fancy. 

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Coral: Science, Mythology, Metamorphoses

 A Little Girl with a Basket of Cherries
© National Gallery
I’m not sure if two makes a series yet but despite holidays and work I’ve managed another Renaissance Utterances podcast. The technology still posed challenges but it has definitely been a quicker process than the first one was. The theme for this month, as promised, is coral, which has been wonderful to research. Luckily I knew exactly which pieces of art I was going to talk about, and I had already been to the featured exhibition. All I had to do on holiday was write the script.

Which is why on Saturday, three weeks after returning from my Adriatic travels, I found myself in the peace of the Warburg library up to my eyes in books. I was surrounded by volumes exploring the evil eye, gem lore, history of science and natural philosophy, and Italian coral fishing. 

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Are we alone?

Sam - alone; sole; only
Samoća - solitude; loneliness
Samostan - monastery
Samovoljan - self willed; obstinate 

In a Split art gallery yesterday there was an incredibly evocative wooden sculpture called 'Sam IV' (1972) by Branko Ružić. It was in dark old wood, a trunk hollowed out to resemble a seated figure, hunched against the world. His back, shoulders, and head are rounded, hands seemingly tucked under his thighs. The effect of Ružić's simple, empathic carving is on the surface utterly bleak. If a friend or loved one was to sit like this, you'd think their world had fallen in. 

Friday, 15 May 2015

The Sounds of Dubrovnik

I don't usually write about music because I find it extraordinarily difficult to articulate, unless in poetry. When I have talked about sounds, it's usually in the context of sound art, which is an entirely different thing. However music and musical inspiration has been unavoidable since I arrived in one of my favourite cities. 

I've forsaken my usual podcasts or music, and left off the headphones which are usually worn to protect my sanity. However the usual London assault on my hearing and consciousness is conspicuous by its absence. The last intelligible commotion was on the plane where a rowdy group were commencing their holidays. Since then it's been a babble of many languages, the frantic cry of swifts, the gentle burble of boats on water, and the clack of feet on marble.

All cities have their percussive chant; London is probably best described as a continuous high octane techno-trance-electonica, pumping out its noise like the recent illegal rave held on my street. The contrast to London, this other ancient city still feels like it moves to the creak and roll of the ships; or the beat of the Roman trireme. Yes there is a pulse but felt in the stillness of the upbeat. So to lose this anticipation of a different song would be most churlish. So the headphones remain unworn.