Art


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The Windows

 

 

 

Lord, how can man preach thy eternall word?

He is a brittle crazie glasse:

Yet in thy temple thou dost him afford

This glorious and transcendent place,

To be a window, through thy grace.

 

 

But when thou dost anneal in glasse thy storie,

Making thy life to shine within

The holy Preachers; then the light and glorie

More rev’rend grows, and more doth win:

Which else shows watrish, bleak, and thin.

 

 

Doctrine and life, colours and light, in one

When they combine and mingle, bring

A strong regard and aw: but speech alone

Doth vanish like a flaring thing,

And in the eare, not conscience ring.

 

 

 

 

Herbert

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PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS AN OLD MAN

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When artist Joan Miro was 24 years old, he predicted that he would do his best work in old age.

The exhibition, “Joan Miro: Instinct and Imagination,” documents the work he did in his 70’s and 80’s.  In keeping with the idea of positive aging, Miro described himself as working like a gardener: “Everything takes time… Things follow their natural course. They grow, they ripen.”

His life-course also manifested the process of life-review.  At age 57 he took out pieces he had done earlier in life and put into storage.  His self-examination of his own work was ruthless: “It was a shock, a real experience,” he said. “I was merciless with myself.”

For Miro, later life creativity also involved exploring new media: after age 70 he used bronze for sculpture for the first time and  after 80 began to paint with his finger.  He said “I think I’ll start doing good work when I’m 70.”  He was concerned, too, for future generations.  In 1975, at age 82 he said “It’s the young people who interest me, not the old dodos.  If I go on working, it’s for the year 2000 and for the people of tomorrow.”

The exhibit of Miro’s late work is being shown at the Denver Art Museum through June 28.

For more on the exhibit, visit: http://denverartmuseum.org/exhibitions/joan-miro-instinct-imagination

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I have very vivid memories of visiting Auckland Castle as a sixth form student beginning to wonder about my vocation to the ordained ministry in the Church of England. At a young people’s gathering in the Throne room of this imposing building I remember the Bishop of Durham, John Habgood, addressing us in a simple and direct way and asking us to consider how best we could use our lives for God. In retrospect this may well have been a significant turning point for my life decisions. In a recent visit to the north-east my sister very kindly drove me over to Bishop Auckland to see the Castle.

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Auckland Castle is one of the UK’s most important historical buildings. Since the days of the Norman Conquest in the 11th Century, Auckland Castle has been a seat of power. For almost 900 years, it has been the palace of the Prince Bishops of Durham and although the site where Auckland Castle now stands has seen numerous changes, few will have been as far reaching and visionary as those which are set to take place in the 21st Century.

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In recent times church commissioners came into some controversial conflict  following a decision to move Bishop out of the Castle into  a more manageable house. This plan included  the selling of  thirteen paintings by Spanish master Francisco de Zurbaran.  They were rescued by the philanthropist Jonathan Ruffer  who has established the  Auckland Charitable Trust  in 2012 with the aim of restoring the Castle, its art collection, the Deer Park and gardens to their former glory, ensuring they remain open to the public for generations to come. The Trust’s ambitions are high – and if we are to achieve them we will need to raise well over £10m to fund the restoration and redevelopment of the site.

I was very glad to visit  be Castle  and share with you some of my photographs  which give  you a flavour  of  this extraordinary building.

Here are some pictures of the Chapel;

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This is the largest private chapel in Europe. It started life in the 12th Century as a Banqueting Hall, complete with buttery, wine cellar and minstrel gallery. The Castle’s original chapel, which stood from the 13th to 17th century, was demolished following the Civil War (1642-51) when the Prince Bishops lost their power, however by the end of the 1650s, the Restoration changed the political landscape again. Bishop John Cosin arrived in 1660 and set about rebuilding and renovating large parts of the Castle site.

One of his first tasks was to convert the Banqueting Hall into what you now see as the Chapel. It was consecrated on St. Peter’s Day, 1665.

In 1828 Bishop Van Mildert raised the side aisles. In the 19th century Bishop Lightfoot added stained glass windows and a reredos of carved oak sitting on a Frosterley marble plinth.

The heraldic shields and the six angels, which rest upon the supports of the roof of the old Banqueting Hall, were added by Bishop Lightfoot the 1880s. He also added tined glass into the windows; however some of the Chapel windows date back to Medieval times when Bishop Bek was at Auckland Castle.

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It was the  Throne room that  brought  back  very vivid memories for  me – and thinking back  visit must have been  in 1978 ! This imposing room is a sign of the power of the Prince Bishops. As you enter, you are faced by the Bishop’s Throne. The Throne is very clearly a chair of state; wide, heavy and ornately carved.

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Behind the Throne there is an ornate plaster screen depicting the arms of the Diocese supported by a crook and a sword, and surmounted by a bishop’s mitre rising from a coronet. This signifies the status of the northern Bishopric as though it should be worn by a king or queen. The use of a sword also shows that the Prince Bishop had power which extended beyond the Church to securing and administering the secular law.

Around the walls of the room hang portraits of some of the successive bishops. The two portraits by Sir Thomas Lawrence of Bishops Barrington and Van Mildert are impressive, as is the portrait of Bishop Westcott painted by George Richmond. There are also portraits of some of the more recent Bishops, Michael Ramsey, David Jenkins and Michael Turnbull.

 And finally various pictures  including the Zurbaran  in the dining room  and the Spanish room.

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This is a fantastic projects  and well worth visit  and indeed a detour   if you’re  in the area.

 

 

 

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 I was determined to make a significant   detour during  August to see some public sculpture on Crosby beach and this short piece gives me an opportunity to show off some of my photographs. The journey to Liverpool  was not in vain and  I was able to glimpse again at first hand the sheer genius of Gormley  as a sculptor and public artist.

Another place  consists (I believe 60)  cast iron sculptures of the artist’s own body, facing towards the sea. The original proposal was for the Wattenmeer, Cuxhaven, Germany in 1995 and here is the brief:

“To install a hundred solid cast iron bodyforms along the coast to the west and south of the Kugelbake. The work will occupy an area of 1.75 square kilometres, with the pieces placed between 50 and 250 metres apart along the tideline and one kilometre out towards the horizon, to which they will all be facing. Depending on the fall of the land, the state of the tide, the weather conditions and the time of day the work will be more or less visible. The sculptures will be installed on a level plane attached to 2 metre vertical steel piles. The ones closest to the horizon will stand on the sand, those nearer the shore being progressively buried. At high water, the sculptures that are completely visible when the tide is out will be standing up to their necks in water.”

The  cast  iron   body forms  were displayed  at several  locations  in Europe  but now have found  a permanent home  here  at Crosby beach .  the proposal to do so was controversial  but Sefton Council  in 2007   made a bold and imaginative decision  that would allow the sculptures to be kept permanently at Crosby Beach in place of being moved to New York.

Lt’s look  at some of these sculptures  more closely

 

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The sculptures are made from 17 body-casts taken from Gormley’s   body. The sculptures are all standing in a similar way, with the lungs more or less inflated and their postures carrying different degrees of tension or relaxation.  The                  installation  stretched 2.5 kilometres down the coast and 1 kilometre out to sea, with an average distance between the pieces of 500 metres. They were all on a level and those closest to the shore were buried as far as their knees.

The idea was to test time and tide, stillness and movement, and somehow engage with the daily life of the beach. This was no exercise in romantic escapism.  The  figures  themselves  have a  deep sense of serenity  and thoughtfulness   as they  stare out in the same direction  –  there is a kind of deep  connectedness and attentiveness .  Contemplation, attention  and focus   were the words  that came  most immediately  to mind  as I wandered up and down the beach.  The tide   was moving   swiftly in  and so it was fascinating  to see  some of the statues  being immersed  in water .

 Gormley remains  a master of public art  and I was quite extraordinarily moved by the way in which this art  evokes such a powerful sense both life and death ; of nature claiming  its extraordinary claim on   humanity and sometimes our  powerlessness over  the forces of nature and  perhaps even life itself? It is however  this stillness and contemplation  that I think  is the radical voice  of this work.

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I travelled up to London during my summer holiday to attend a wonderful celebration of marriage of Robin and Sezgi Amos at St Mary the Bolton’s in Chelsea. It was a sunny day and I managed to arrive at the church early to catch up with friends. As I wandered around the church building I looked through one of the windows on the north side of the church to discover this shot of colour  which really intrigued me  !

DSC09546  I thought that I recognised the distinctive images of a Craigie Aitchison and indeed I was not disappointed. I am familiar with his work and a great admirer of the simplicity and depth of colour in his paintings and wondered to myself as I moved inside of the church how successful his work might be executed in the glass. Here are some of my pictures:

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St Marys shares this information about the window:

‘The window, Crucifixion 2008: A Memorial Window, was created by the stained glass artist, Neil Phillips,  following a design Craigie set out for stained glass. Craigie had been planning a collaboration to produce a window for the church at the time of his death in 2009 and the finished piece is a fitting testament to his huge achievements as an artist.  Among those who gathered for the dedication were the Deputy Mayor of Kensington and Chelsea, Councillor Elizabeth Rutherford, and the President of the Royal Academy, Christopher Le Brun.The window was to have been Craigie’s first stained glass window in a London church, the city where he had lived and worked for almost the whole of his adult life.  The project was initiated through Craigie’s friend and champion, Edwina Sassoon, who is a parishioner at St Mary The Boltons. Though Craigie sadly died during the discussions, the executor of his estate gave permission for the design to be adapted by Neil Philips after Craigie’s death, in recognition of his enthusiasm about creating an artwork for St. Mary’s. The window now stands in his memory for visitors to enjoy.’

This work, and incorporates familiar motifs such as his customary star, the Italian Cypress tree inspired by his second home in Montecastelli, and his beloved Bedlington Terrier.

The tree and dog act as Christ’s comforters in his final agony on the Cross.

A wonderful discovery –

 

 

 

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intricate

Intricate and untraceable
weaving and interweaving,
dark strand with light:

designed, beyond
all spiderly contrivance,
to link, not to entrap:

elation, grief, joy, contrition, entwined;

shaking, changing,

forever

forming,

transforming:

all praise,

all praise to the

great web.

Denise Levertov, Web

 

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roses in sunlight

Our sense of these things changes and they change,
Not as in metaphor, but in our sense
Of them. So sense exceeds all metaphor.

It exceeds the heavy changes of the light.
It is like a flow of meanings with no speech
And of as many meanings as of men.

We are two that use these roses as we are,
In seeing them. This is what makes them seem
So far beyond the rhetorician’s touch.

Wallace Stevens, Bouquet of roses in sunlight

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