Monday, April 26, 2004

lovely weekends lovely weekends

Last weekend in Dorset with J. Had a marvellous time at JM's home and was truly relaxed. Particular high points were learning the words to the Beach Boys' 'Wouldn't it be nice?' in the car, JM's perceptions of my Catholic suffering, waking up and opening the curtains to see hills and cows, sitting in JM's study with the newspaper in utter peace and quiet, Corfe Castle and Sunday roast at the Greyhound. Ahhhhhhh! Bliss.

This weekend - special reunion with V whom I haven't seen for about six years. Slight nervousness before our meeting was dispelled so quickly and we launched straight back into our cups of tea (without the excessive numbers of cigarettes) and long, easy chats. Yesterday we spent the day cycling all over town and laughing in the sunshine. V is so easy to be with and so much fun. I feel so blessed.

Z and I sang at the local open mic and ended up in stitches. Don't expect to be able to play guitar or remember lyrics when you're slightly drunk. Beware the double measures of vodka.

A busy week ahead and then CORNWALL!! I am such an Hedonistic Brat.

Future sounds of jazz, Corn Exchange, Brighton, 24 April 2004
Thanks to D for the tickets. Generally a bit too much going on, and I think I'm beginning to dislike amplified gigs even more these days. But generally had a good time with V, Z and D.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

As usual, only Art House will do...

The Golden Child (why have I not seen this film before??? Eddie Murphy on fine form. Particularly liked the regular use of the phrase, "I'm gonna bust your ass".)

The Matrix: Revolutions (too much talk, too many cliches ("Every beginning has an end..."), not enough action and special effects.)

Our House (so good to see they still make films like this one)

Honey (and this one)

Shaun of the Dead (long awaited but lacked the expected belly pains)

The Passion of the Christ (A light comedy. Painkillers and sweets not included. Have lots more to say but now is not the time. Gasp.)

Nonspecifically unsettling:Bill Brandt: a centenary retrospective, Victoria and Albert Museum, London

A speed viewing of these photos. Obviously interested in the posed depiction of the working class in the 30s, and it appealed to my general like of the gelatin b&w photograph. Two or three prints struck me in particular - one was the portrait of a young girl in Belgravia, an unsettling close-up of the side of a young girls head looking upwards. In the background there is space: it's a sparse but expensive room, and there are large curtained windows looking out. The detail on the girl's face is so fine you can almost feel her breathing. (Though is her breathing shallow?) She looks up and we don't know what/who it is she's looking at. Her eyes and expression only just teeter on the edge of anxiety. The portrait is altogether unsettling in a very nonspecific way.

The other two photographs I liked were for fairly bland reasons - one of Barbara Hepworth almost muscially 'playing' one of her stringed sculptures: she is literally engulfed by her work. The other was of a pair of intertwined hands on a beach (in Normandy?) - sculptural and loving.

Lucian Freud: Latest paintings, The Wallace Collection, London

Lucian Freud is a painter who reminds me of how marvellously different paintings are when you see them in the flesh than when you see them on a printed page. Those trademark lumpy built up oils on the canvas just don't look the same when reproduced. Freud is certainly a prolific painter, and it scares me how just how productive, focused and commited someone can be. It puts us all to shame. And he's eighty-one years old. I know he's said that he always wants to be doing something new in his work, but I can't help but miss those finely detailed, glassy/watery-eyed portraits that I've seen before. These paintings, though generally technically good and definitely Freud-esque, didn't really move me as before. No detailed explanations why so far. Perhaps later I'll know. Finely crafted comments from my companions below:

"It's porno" (M)
"You can see his willy!" (D)
"..." (A)
"What's with the ugly naked people?" (Mi)

The Wallace Collection
The Guardian Profile: Lucian Freud (Jonathan Jones)
Is Lucian Freud masterly enough? (Frank Whitford, The Times)
Lucian Freud in the studio: Photographs by David Dawson, National Portrait Gallery, London

Definitely enjoyed the rest of the afternoon (Sunday) checking out the huge stash of armoury and arms at the Wallace Collection. It's intriguing how implements that are made to kill can be crafted with such love and intricate detail.

Favourite quote of the day:
"Ah, look, it's a set of torture tools!"
(M chancing upon an ornately decorated farrier's toolkit)

Thursday, April 01, 2004

"Poisson d'Avril!" - Childhood foolery

It really makes a difference not having an operational computer at home. No words from me since March 13th. Have developed strange liking for physical exercise and pubs. Also working on feeling less pukey before giving public talks. How nice.

The past weeks have been really productive, busy and enjoyable. Work has been a mixture of intense excitement, nervousness, stress, despair and elation. As usual! Did my first teaching session about using M-O material for research purposes to a group of 2nd year undergraduates, and organised and gave a talk to the M-O Friends. Have been working my knuckles to the bone preparing for the forthcoming "What did you eat today?" exhibition, and I really hope all will be well.

Spent the weekend before last in London running into the city each day for pleasure events that somehow inevitably curved towards my M-O obsession... (Documentary Art of the 1930s and film screening at Tate Britain; Humphrey Spender photos in the 'Circling the Square' exhibit at the NPG; Local history fair at Croydon Archives and meeting the Archivist and Head of Museum).

When I found myself wide awake at 5am on Sunday morning scribbling down ideas for work I understood the unhealthy work-life balance that D was warning me about on the Thursday before...

Virginia Rodrigues, Queen Elizabeth Hall, 18 March
Virginia Rodrigues has a voice like warm toffee - an sweet, sticky voice of gorgeousness. She sings with such ease (though her ability to walk in those huge shiny platform shoes doesn't quite compare... ahem). Not so keen on the venue, but had a lucky front row seat. What a treat! Her band were really good. I think I am finding myself drawn towards percussionists in a big way. Really beautiful tonal playing. Just like the percussionist from Labyrinth...
Michael Church review in The Independent

Ross Daly and Labyrinth, supported by Chris Coe and John Adams, Union Chapel, 21 March
Well well well well wow wow wow. What a building! What a band. WHAT A GIG!!!!!!! Fantastic. Speechless!
Chris Coe and John Adams were also incredible.

Lambchop, Brighton Dome, 22 March
Ho hum, this was OK...
Alexis Petridis review in the Guardian

London Philharmonic Orchestra, Brighton Dome, 3rd April
Benjamin Britten - Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings and Gustav Mahler - Symphony No.10 in F sharp minor - my comment on Mahler's first movement: "holy s---!" (big thanks to D for the tickets)