WOWI is an acronym for What Once Was Imagined, a reference to William Blake’s proverb ‘What is now proved was once only imagined’, and the title of a beautiful exhibition at the Royal College of General Practitioners. There are 28 exhibits and it opened on the 28th of November, William Blake’s birthday, but I don’t think that was part of the plan, just a happy and auspicious coincidence. Continue reading “WOWI”

Frames of reference

From Moore To Serra


Henry Moore’s Large Spindle Piece, a cast bronze sculpture from 1974, now installed in the newly reappointed King’s Cross Square. For the past forty years the station was hidden behind an “awful tin shed” temporary canopy. It’s eventual removal, and the long overdue revelation of Lewis Cubitt’s elegant facade, is celebrated by the arrival of this captive “flying shuttle”. Continue reading “From Moore To Serra”

Frames of reference

Cave Of Forgotten Dreams

Werner Herzog was granted exclusive access to the Chauvet Cave in the Ardèche Gorge in southern France. The caves are not normally open to the public. They were discovered in 1994 and found to contain the earliest known paleolithic cave paintings, now estimated to be 30,000 years old. Herzog made a beautiful and moving film, illuminating the paintings hidden so long in the dark. Continue reading “Cave Of Forgotten Dreams”

Frames of reference

The Vision Thing


What first strikes you about these Ice Age objects, suspended on transparent plastic stands in glass cases amidst crowds of 21st-century humans, is that they are absolutely tiny. The largest works are approximately the span of a man’s hand, the smallest the size of a child’s fingernail. For a big show it’s an intimate experience. There’s a lot of squeezing about, bending down and peering in, the peculiar sensation of having to adjust your perception to match their scale, as if squeezing yourself down through the same narrow aperture that leads to the wonders of Chauvet and Lascaux. What you’re experiencing is time travel. You adjust yourself to the conditions, and when you become accustomed to what you see, it’s as if you’re looking back to your own time through the wrong end of a telescope, the one that makes everything far away but pin-sharp. Continue reading “The Vision Thing”

Frames of reference

To Mughal India

procession of Emperor Bahadu

This procession is at the British Library but we took a circuitous route to find it. We started out for old times’ sake from the Brunswick Centre. Sue used to share a nearby flat, the Gate Bloomsbury (now renamed Renoir) was our local cinema and later Coram’s Fields was always a favourite place to bring the girls, but not today. Continue reading “To Mughal India”

Frames of reference

For William Turnbull

I treasure this little booklet. It’s a catalogue from Waddington Galleries in 1981, a souvenir of a beautiful and influential little exhibition of small bronzes. It got me looking at Brancusi and Giacometti and prompted countless visits to the British Museum where I discovered Cycladic figurines and Bronze Age beaker pots, Elgin marbles and Benin bronzes and much more. William Turnbull’s work seemed to contain all the best bits, all distilled from seeds gathered from around the world and filtered through his hands. Continue reading “For William Turnbull”

Frames of reference