Two Temple Place is a neo-Gothic mansion on the north bank of the Thames, east of Somerset House on Victoria Embankment in London. It was built in Early Elizabethan style, entirely of Portland stone, for William Waldorf Astor in 1895. On the roof, there is a gilded weather vane, a model of the Santa Maria in which Columbus discovered America; the Union Jack flies from the flagpole and beside the gate hangs a wrought iron bulldog. Since 2011 the house has been managed by The Bulldog Trust as a venue for exhibitions of publicly owned art from regional UK collections. Continue reading “Retreat & Rebellion”
I was in a room with many people. They were mostly grey haired and quietly dressed in the way of National Trust members. One or two young men stood intently looking. The room titled We Are Making A New World is the gallery in the Tate exhibition devoted to Paul Nash’s WW1 paintings. It is quiet except for the gentle tap of feet or the occasional mute whisper. The mood is that of a chapel of remembrance. As though the only person with a right to speak was Nash. The silence of these works is awe inspiring considering the ear shattering noise that would have dominated the scene, as well as the stink of shit, rotting flesh, tobacco smoke and cordite. We are silenced by the works hung on these walls. The older visitors seem to be wrapped in memories passed to them by fathers and grandfathers who had seen this for themselves. The young men I take to be artists come to understand how this great artist had made these images, witness to such pointless violence. Continue reading “Landscape – Paul Nash – Wittenham Clumps”
In 1969, upon hearing that The Rowley Gallery was about to close, Jonathan Savill and Jack Rutherford determined to rescue the business. Both had been customers for many years, but it was Savill with his artistic and cabinet making skills who breathed new life into the ailing company. An Old Etonian ex Guards officer with interests in gardening (a family tradition – his uncle had created the Savill Garden at Windsor Park), fishing and painting, his pictures were regularly exhibited at The Rowley Gallery, alongside works by his wife, notable botanical watercolourist, Jenny Jowett. His enthusiasm sustained The Rowley Gallery for over 25 years. Continue reading “For Jonathan Savill”
Tucked away in a hidden valley, garden writer and author Anna Pavord’s carefully considered patch nestles up to the surrounding Dorset countryside. “I wanted to make a handshake between the garden and the wider landscape.”
Having originally met Pavord at a Wakefield and Northern Tulip Society show, photographer and filmmaker Howard Sooley first visited Sunnyside Farm as it was being laid out some ten years ago and is still charmed by its Through the Looking Glass qualities. “It’s as if there is a series of doors leading you from one room to the next with signs telling you to drink the potion,” notes the director.
Such are the rich textures, punctuated by bursts of colour from the shifting tulip, iris, peony moments, and packed with Pavord’s botanical fixations and experimentations… “Even though there is a lot going on, there’s this incredible sense of calmness – the garden never excludes the landscape, it’s always welcoming,” says Sooley.
I seem always to have been drawn to trees as a motif in the landscape, possibly because of their strong architectural forms. There are parallels as I am also interested in interior space, and as with interlinking rooms I find receding pathways compelling in the way the eye is taken through the picture plane. Continue reading “Ox Drove”
This short film was made for the exhibition, Littoral: John Hubbard in Context at the Luther Brady Gallery in Washington, D.C. in 2013. “People found it fascinating to learn more about where he lives and how he works. His singing was quite a revelation.” It’s a lovely portrait and a touching memorial to a deeply romantic artist. John Hubbard died on 6th January 2017. He was 85. Continue reading “For John Hubbard”
Polka by Mark Morris. The dance uses a piece for violin and piano by contemporary composer Lou Harrison. Morris was taken by its final movement, called, strangely enough, “polka.”
I always start with a piece of music. I’m not doing, like, a musicological analysis and writing a paper or anything, but I’m figuring out in my mind what makes that particular piece work. So my intention is to say through dancing exactly what I think is being said through music.
Because I heard that “polka,” I said I must choreograph this right now. And to me, it sounds very, very ancient. And so I wanted to make up a dance that was evocative and a little mysterious and seemed like maybe people had been doing it for hundreds or thousands of years. That was my assignment.
John Hurt reciting Jabberwocky, the first poem I learned by heart.
He died on 27 January 2017, Lewis Carroll’s 185th birthday.
If you’ve got an hour he also does a great performance of Krapp’s Last Tape.
The Art Ensemble of Chicago play tonight at Café Oto, but I’m too late to get tickets, they’re all sold out. Instead I remember their performance at The Roundhouse in 1982, as part of the Camden Jazz Festival. They were astonishing and spectacular, unlike any other band, and able to encapsulate the whole history of jazz with wild improvisations and swinging ensemble playing and breathtaking solos. They were sweet and fiery and dynamic and funny and possibly the best band I ever saw. Here are four videos from Polish television of a performance in Warsaw, probably from the same tour, and the closest I can find to my memory of that fantastic night in Camden. Continue reading “Art Ensemble Of Chicago”