In Siracusa

Long ago and far away. 2018, in the back streets of Ortigia. Before Brexit and before Covid, when holidays were not so unusual. I’m looking back at old photos as a kind of vicarious vacation, an escape from our day to day to yesterday. We’d been here for a couple of weeks, exploring the island and the countryside round about. On this day we walked from Ortigia back into mainland Siracusa to discover the Latomia dei Cappuccini and the Catacombs of San Giovanni. Continue reading “In Siracusa”

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Hollington’s Florilegium

Hollington’s Florilegium, paintings by David Hollington, a botanical alphabet, part 1: A to M, in the window of the Rowley Gallery throughout October. They are accompanied by a selection of David’s miniature paintings, and a few words of introduction here below.   Continue reading “Hollington’s Florilegium”

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A Jaunt To See Jenner

Yesterday, in need of exercise on a bright Spring day, I walked down to the Italian Gardens at the north side of Kensington Gardens. I made sure that I was socially distancing all the way. Though this was relatively easy. Not many people about. Continue reading “A Jaunt To See Jenner”

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Spring Paintings

For March we’ve got a wonderful new window display of paintings by Debbie George, a garden of spring flowers to enliven these grey, wet days. We’re hoping they’ll work their magic and inspire the sun to shine again, and transform our winter weary street with a carnival of colourful new life. Continue reading “Spring Paintings”

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Delicious Solitude

This little booklet is no bigger than a postcard. It’s a pocket book. It was published in 1989 for a joint exhibition of drawings by John Hubbard and photographs by Paul Joyce at the Royal Festival Hall. The exhibition toured to other venues, including Warwick Arts Centre. I didn’t see the exhibition but fortunately I found this book, another discovery in the treasure house that was Notting Hill Books. For many years its tiny reproductions were my only knowledge of John Hubbard’s charcoal drawings, until I saw his exhibition at Kew Gardens in 2006, Spirit of Trees, which included some of the drawings reproduced here. I found this book again today and felt moved to share its pages. Continue reading “Delicious Solitude”

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The Colour Of Memory

The entrance to the Pierre Bonnard exhibition at Tate Modern is a portal through a giant detail reproduction taken from his painting The Garden of 1936. It’s perhaps his best painting. It’s the one that most draws me in, most like a garden itself with it’s abstract disposition of marks and colours, it reminds me of paintings by Patrick Heron and Gillian Ayres. And there are other paintings here that bring to mind Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse, Howard Hodgkin, David Hockney. But before all of that, we’re straightaway into a red gallery with ‘hot’ paintings of Bonnard’s mistress, full-frontal nudes and a post-coital bedroom scene. The gardening comes later. Continue reading “The Colour Of Memory”

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Refuge – The Stone Garden At Weston

‘Refuge – The Stone Garden at Weston’ by Clare Dearnaley is a 20 minute film about the art collector Ronnie Duncan’s love for stone and his philosophy on life and of ‘living through his eyes’. Shot over one year it is led by capturing light passing across the stones, which appears to animate them and by an absorbing conversation with Ronnie. The film gently examines stories; the creation of an environment, the nature of possessions and the reclaiming and reusing of materials. It seeks to capture the possible transience of the Stone Garden as much as the semi-permanence of the stones themselves.

Weston is a 17th century cottage in Otley, North Yorkshire, home to Ronnie Duncan, who has over the last 60 years quietly furnished it with a remarkable collection of paintings and sculptures. This film looks at the stones in the garden; for more on the contents of the house please see the earlier blogpost – More Love Than Money.

There is also a lovely book by Polly Feversham and Diane Howse – Weston, a necessary dream.

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Passeggiata In Ortigia

passeggiata /ˌpasɛˈdʒɑːtə/ noun (especially in Italy or Italian-speaking areas) a leisurely walk or stroll, especially one taken in the evening for the purpose of socializing.”

Ortigia is a small island, just under 1km square, attached to the Sicilian city of Syracuse by three road bridges. “It forms the charming old town, best explored on foot and certainly the most pleasant place to stay in the city.” We were there for two weeks this summer and during our stay we discovered many circuitous routes as we strolled around its maze of ancient streets and alleyways. Continue reading “Passeggiata In Ortigia”

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Iford Manor

It was a chance discovery, and a beautiful surprise. We were in Bristol for the weekend, looking for a day trip. We consulted the National Trust handbook and Westwood Manor near Bradford on Avon seemed promising, but when we got there we found it was closed. So we carried on down the road, a narrow single-track lane that became evermore enclosed by trees, swallowing us up into its holloway and finally spitting us out into the valley of the Frome river. Continue reading “Iford Manor”

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In Cambridge

As we walked into town we passed the back wall of Emmanuel College, overseen by the great Oriental Plane tree, Platanus orientalis, growing in the Fellows’ Garden. We tried to get a closer look but since neither of us are college fellows we had to be content to view it from a distance. Continue reading “In Cambridge”

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