Pictures from Pisa

I love this; but not all shots along the river from the bridge are the same. I love the balance of light and shade, and the reflections in the water, but a boat or a bird would improve it; and not all my shots from the bridge were as good.

How do you show the angle of the tower? It is so familiar, and so deeply weird:

I loved the fallen angel, a recent sculpture, with its broken head and arm, which I took from up the tower:

I did not at first notice the screaming face in its wing:

Pigeons feasted on a display of bread at a street cafe. The man who chased them off was peeved.

A flower, from the tropical hothouse:

Hylas Surprised by the Naiades

Hylas surprised by the Naiades, by John Gibson, is a sculpture which I loved when I first saw it, and I was delighted to find it back on permanent exhibition. So I now have my own photos of it.

Technically, it is amazing. Consider the delicate way the hair curls on her neck:

Hylas surprised by the Naiades 11, the delicate curling hair

And the pressure of their fingers on his skin:

Hylas surprised by the Naiades 10, the drape of the cloth and the pressure of the fingers in the flesh Continue reading

The long shadow of war II

Those who are disappeared aClaireWhen Clare Abbatt talked about her art work, she spoke of the Raku firing. Each work is fired twice. The first time, before glazing, it is fired at 1000°C, after which it is still able to absorb the glaze. Then it is fired again- she uses a converted dustbin with gas burners- and on removal thrown into a box of sawdust, which ignites. More sawdust is placed on top, which damps down the flames. There are differences in patina according to how long the piece is in the air before going into the sawdust, how quickly more sawdust is added, but you cannot reproduce an effect simply by replicating these variables.

Those who wage war, who fight she painted the glaze with a copper suspension- you have to keep stirring it to stop the copper from settling. She did this generously, and the heads are copper. Those who are disappeared, above, she held out in the air for longer before placing them in the sawdust, and that produced the cracking. “It looks like a diagram, almost as if you see the topography in the cracks” said an architect, admiringly.

She had to remove the soot from the pieces with a wire brush, but with one disappeared she did not do so as it appeared just right as it was.

I wanted to know what she felt about the faces. Well, everyone can relate to faces, she said. In other words, it is all in the works, and the individual response to them.

She got the tree trunks from a tree surgeon. She was particularly pleased with the split ones for the dead, one held together with a strap. The iron supports at the bottom were made locally. They fit the works in a way plinths would not.

Would she sell them? Not at the moment, they belong together. She made them for an exhibition at Waterloo, and, not feeling competent to model those who experience war interviewed people from Belfast, and others with that experience. Her interviews are part of her exhibition. Later, she talked to Theo (I had not known he was a conservator) about museums and galleries which might exhibit them. I do not fancy the artist’s life, of making a £200 canvas and selling it in the coffee shop or wine bar, or even the Castle.

In Exeter

I went to Exeter, because the chance came up. It is a pretty town. Paul and I went into the cathedral, which had a sense of the numinous for me: possibly I was merely receptive on that day, possibly God is closer there. Here are two sides of a tower: I love the angles of the roofscape, and the view down to the west end of the cathedral, from the cafe in the department store. I love the colour of the stone of the tower, that rose is evident in several places in the city.

It is important to have beauty, and human made beauty enriches: so the sculpture at the University of Exeter would be a reason for me to consider it favourably. When I saw the caption on the statue, it added a new dimension to the work: is it a statue of the protestors, or the soldiers?

Barbara Hepworth is a major artist. No photograph can compare to walking around the piece, seeing the changes of the space within.

As for the children playing above the fountain, if I studied on that building they would capture my attention each day.

The other fountain, an irregular quadrilateral, would continue to intrigue, its solidity and its nympheades delighting me semi-consciously, viscerally.

The buildings also impress. Moira told me that the roofed area between the Forum and the Great Hall was only opened in April, by the Queen. Before this year, it was two separate buildings. I love the billowing roof, irregular triangles of glass and wood like a sheet to the wind; I could not photograph it well enough.

The campus is on a hill, and Holland Hall where we stayed looks out over the city nestling in its valley, round the river. The refectory takes full advantage of this: the wall looking over the valley is entirely of glass.

Cupid and Psyche

Hear the myth of Cupid and Psyche
which tells of God’s lust for man
Can we all become a Goddess?
Say it baby: yes we can
you give me fever
fever in the midsummer light
Life is hot like a cauldron
Fast and sharp and painful and right

Cupid fell in love with a woman
Aphrodite just said No
Psyche became filled with the fever
Fever made her glow
you give me fever
Fever by night and by day
No, no, no I can’t fight it
fever carries me away

Aphrodite sent her to Hades
All Hell fell in love
Psyche was all woman
So she became God Above
You give me fever
everybody dances in flames
Fever burns inside us
Dancing unrestrained