A Small Retrospective

I love the Annely Juda Gallery very much. I’ve been visiting as long as I’ve lived in London and it always feels like I’m coming home. I first knew it as a small warehouse space in Tottenham Mews, next-door to the Angela Flowers Gallery. It was all scrubbed floorboards and whitewashed walls hung with jewel-like fragments of Bauhaus, De Stijl and Russian Constructivist art. Most exhibitions seemed to be called The Non-Objective World and they were always a great education in abstraction. In 1990 she moved to Dering Street where I first discovered the work of Eduardo Chillida, and saw an exhibition of minimal white reliefs by Alan Reynolds. It was a revelation. Read more

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The Chestnut Of A Hundred Horses

Some call it the Hundred Horse Chestnut, but that confuses me because it’s a sweet chestnut (Castanea sativa) not a horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum). Maybe it should be the Sweet Chestnut of a Hundred Horses. In Italian it is called Il Castagno dei Cento Cavalli. It stands on the eastern slope of Mount Etna and has survived the volcano’s eruptions for 4,000 years. According to legend, Giovanna of Aragon, Queen of Naples, was visiting Mount Etna when a severe thunderstorm caused her and her entourage of one hundred knights on horseback to take shelter beneath the tree. Read more

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Newton St George

It sounds like it might be the name of a village, somewhere in Devon perhaps, deep in the countryside; but no, it’s a display of paintings by Robert Newton and ceramics by Florence St George. Neither artist is from Devon but both make work that looks like it was extracted from the countryside, evidence of the land, pieces of earth. They’re together in The Rowley Gallery window throughout March. Read more

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Tewin & Back Again

Lower Green at Tewin, a pretty village midway between Welwyn and Hertford, 30 miles north of London and the perfect place for a circular countryside walk. We parked beside the green and just as I stepped out a football came flying past, but too quick for me to kick back, it continued into the road and lodged itself under our car. Which is why this picture appears so tranquil. The hectic to and fro momentarily interrupted. “Please mister, can we have our ball back?” Read more

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Ispica & Modica

It was midday when we arrived in Ispica, the August sun was high and the streets were hot but the town was closed, the shutters were down and lunch was off the menu. It appeared unwelcoming but the guide book had promised much more – The small town of Ispica was rebuilt on its present site after the earthquake of 1693 destroyed the former town on the valley floor… The chalk eminence on which it stands is pierced with tombs and cave dwellings. These can best be seen in the Parco della Forza at the south end of the Cava d’Ispica… best approached from Ispica along Via Cavagrande. It has lush vegetation, water-cisterns, tombs and churches, all carved out of the rock, and a remarkable tunnel known as the Centoscale (‘Hundred Stairs’), 60m long, formerly used by people carrying water from the river to the town. Read more

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Devour

Drawing in the Jungle

For years now, each spring, Jelly Green has found refuge in the rainforest. She gradually realised she was developing an allergic reaction to the pesticide-sprayed fields of her native Suffolk, and so she escaped to the tree-clean air of Brazil, Sri Lanka, Borneo and New Zealand. The paintings she made there can be seen at Gallery@Oxo from the 4th to the 7th of April. The exhibition is called Devour. The paintings are delicious. Come and see and devour them with your eyes. Read more

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Fast Cars & Ukuleles

A is for Apple. B is for Bike. C is for Cat. All three of these are in my new ABC book, ‘Fast Cars & Ukuleles’, but not where you’d expect them. The apple is under F. For the bike, look at V. And the cat is on an endpaper. I’ve always loved alphabet books. Read more

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The Great Race

The Great Race is a book by Christopher Corr, first published in 2018 by Frances Lincoln. It tells the story of the Chinese Zodiac – Long ago in very ancient China, there were no years or days or hours… To find a way of measuring time, the Jade Emperor held a Great Race. Which twelve animals were the first to cross the river and have a year named after them? – It seemed like a good idea to celebrate Chinese New Year with an exhibition of the paintings from the book, and to invite Christopher to draw the zodiac animals directly onto our window. Read more

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Neapolis Archaeological Park

Last August, on holiday in Sicily, a short walk out of Ortigia through the hot dusty streets of Syracuse brought us to Neapolis, one of the largest archaeological sites in the Mediterranean. The entrance is beside the little Norman church of San Nicolò dei Cordari, which was built over part of an aisled Roman piscina, a reservoir to provide water for the nearby amphitheatre.  Read more

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Nature’s Vanishing Trick

This from Robert Macfarlane –

My teenage daughter Lily made this short video to try and explain to other young people — and to herself — why biodiversity loss, extinction & vanishing species really, really matter. It’s spoken from the heart. It’s about one of the vital issues of our times. Please share, show, discuss.

The video is free to use by anyone in any setting; no need to seek Lily’s permission or even to credit her. She just wants it to be seen, and for it to prompt discussion, awareness, action and change.

If you do want to acknowledge her, she’s Lily Macfarlane, and the video first went up on my Twitter feed (@RobGMacfarlane).

The video was made with the encouragement and support of Action For Conservation, an inspirational young conservation charity working with 12 to 17 year olds, for which Lily became a ‘youth ambassador’. Find out more about their amazing work at actionforconservation.org

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