Season’s Greetings

This year’s card is from a painting by Andrew Walton, inspired by an ancient chalk figure on the Dorset Downs known as the Rowley Round Ring (Roll Around Ring), named for the surveyor John Rowley who, in 1710, first recorded another antique geoglyph, the Long Man of Wilmington.

The significance of this particular design is not fully understood but it recalls similar turf-cut labyrinths called Troy Towns, after the deliberately confusing construction of their walls, perhaps intended to keep unwelcome spirits trapped within.

Each winter, at the full cold moon, a blessed cheese is rolled around the circle by an eminent local cheesemaker in a ritual offering to the gods, celebrating the newborn baby cheeses.

Frames of reference

Andrei Tarkovsky, Cinema Of The Soul

And then I found this short homage by Martin Kessler. It’s a collection of well-chosen clips from some of Tarkovsky’s best films, beautifully woven together with music by Beethoven and Bach, to produce a sampler that just leaves me wanting to see more of these memorable moving images.

Open Culture: Andrei Tarkovsky

Frames of reference

San Galgano

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A couple of days later we discovered another ancient abbey, a counterbalance to the beauty and elegance of Sant’Antimo, the Abbazia di San Galgano stands open to the sky, with all the breathtaking grandeur of a canyon carved out of the rock, its great hulk like a ship run aground. Read more

Frames of reference

Bagno Vignoni

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After visiting San Quirico d’Orcia and Montalcino we headed south looking for Bagno Vignoni, a spa since Roman times, but we got distracted along the way by the Abbazia di Sant’Antimo, a beautiful Benedictine monastery set in a lovely landscape of wooded hills and olive groves. Read more

Frames of reference

A Living Advent Calendar – Peace To The World

A new initiative was started in the borough of Kensington this year by The Rev’d Stephen Fielding of St Mary Abbots church, to engage with the various businesses of the borough. The idea was to create a Living Advent Calendar, where each day, participating businesses in a different location would unveil a window display to create an advent calendar across the parish. Each business would ask an artist to create an artwork for their window which would illustrate the Christmas theme of Peace To The World, and each day at the unveiling of the window, a small celebration would be held to unite businesses, locals and visitors to the area to add to the sense of community. Read more

Frames of reference

A November Garden

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The leaves are now rapidly falling off the cotoneaster, soon to be followed by all its berries. As the leaves fall they get snagged on residual lines of spiders’ silk, and are left suspended in mid air. Read more

Frames of reference

South Downs Sunday

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Sunday dawned cold and sharp, the sun straining through the early morning Ditchling mist. We took a walk around the village, just as the sun broke through, illuminating walls of flint and brick. Read more

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South Downs Saturday

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It was half term. Sue was on holiday from school for a week so we went down south to the South Downs for a weekend. I don’t get a half term break otherwise we might have stayed longer. But it was perfect. Blue skies and a chance to breathe some clear Sussex air. Read more

Frames of reference

Liberation Music Orchestra

Liberation Music Orchestra came together in 1969 under the direction of Charlie Haden, inspired by songs of the Spanish Civil War, playing music arranged by Carla Bley in protest at the American war in Vietnam. This recording is of a concert in 2004 at the Jazz in Marciac festival in southwest France. The list of songs might appear elegiac but they’re full of fire and celebration – America The Beautiful (Traditional), Throughout (Bill Frisell), Amazing Grace (Traditional), This Is Not America (Pat Metheny), Going Home (Traditional), Adagio (Samuel Barber). They’re performing tonight at the Cadogan Hall, sadly without Charlie Haden, but very much in his name. I think there’ll be a lot of love for Charlie, and for Carla, and maybe too there’ll be some in memory of America.

See also For Charlie Haden

Frames of reference

Perfection

Perfection is a tune by Ornette Coleman, one he performed but never recorded. It was transcribed directly from his alto saxophone by Bobby Bradford in the early 1960s, and given to David Murray in 1974. This recording was made shortly after Ornette Coleman died last year, and dedicated in his honour. Perfection is also the title track of an altogether stunning new album by David Murray (tenor saxophone & bass clarinet), Terri Lyne Carrington (drums) & Geri Allen (piano), who go by the name of MCA Power Trio. They’re joined on this piece by Charnett Moffett (bass) and Craig Harris (trombone). The trio are playing tonight as part of the London Jazz Festival at the Cadogan Hall.

Frames of reference