Friday, August 30, 2013

Play- Royal Wedding and NOW! TV box

So the other day I mentioned OPEN Ealing staging a play at the Pop-Up shop in west Ealing, I thought it was set for December performance it's September (next week) here's what the blurb says..

Royal Wedding is a sparky new comedy that conjures up a chance encounter between the privately-educated director of an arts centre and the more worldly owner of an erotic goods emporium next door. Specially written for OPEN Ealing by Wally Sewell, the play was inspired by the siting of OPEN’s own performance space in an empty shop next door to West Ealing’s famed Cherry Pye erotic lingerie outlet.

The Playwright
As the play opens. a hole has just appeared in the wall between the two imaginary establishments, leading to some boisterous wordplay between our two protagonists, artist Tarquin Pritchard-Smith and sex shop owner Queen Bee. This one-act performance examines issues such as class, snobbery, and the place of the artist in wider society, with some laughs and surprises along the way. Performances of Royal Wedding will take place at OPENShop 13 Drayton Green Road, W13 0NG, at the following times:
And here's the details of when it's on and the cost
Thursday 5, Friday 6 and Saturday 7 September 7.30 pm.
Matinee Saturday 7 September 3 pm.
Thursday 12, Friday 13 and Saturday 14 September 7.30 pm.
Matinee Saturday 14 September 3 pm.
Cost  £7 per person and it's not suitable for kids!

Now! TV Box

Got my NOW! TV box yesterday, comes well boxed with power supply and HDMI cable very easy to set up on Wi-Fi and now working - more as I use it..

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

PIR at home and the end of the road with Big Idea # 200, the is/ought problem

Simple lunch
There's something nice about bookshops, even a simple regional Waterstone's can offer pleasurable time browsing(I know that Amazon are destroying them with their low prices and almost infinite choice).
The other day I was looking at a book that had some National Trust connection with different authors who espoused various pleasures and 'the good life' one of the pleasures was home produced food and at this time we're able to enjoy some of this - at the weekend I roasted some potatoes I had grown and yesterday for lunch I had tomato, cucumber, 2 sorts of basil, olives (shop bought) and Mozzarella cheese for lunch with  a glass of beer - lovely.

PIR Sensor
Driven light

The other endeavour for me was to (almost) finish off installation of a replacement light in the garden, the idea is to both deter intruders and also provide light when visiting the dustbin or garage.
A PIR (Passive infrared) sensor works on infra red emissions ands when triggered this causes light to illuminate - clever stuff.

The sensor and light were about £10 each but time and effort on this 'project' was quite a bit and I was employing some bits and pieces that I already  had/existed- quite pleasing to have it working but not a job for a complete beginner.
There are adjustments to make to make to the sensor  so it works as I wish but the devices basically work just needs tidying and finishing off.

The last Big Idea number 200, the is/ought problem

Somewhat out of sequence and after some searching (no prize up for grabs now) I have found that the missing entry (mistake on my part not Crofton's) is that knotty is/ought problem.

I don't know if the slip is a Freudian one but perhaps this is topic  a better way to wrap up the project I set myself....
Hume was the first modern philosopher to raise the issue in 'A Treatise on Human Nature' way back in 1736, Hume found that there seems to be a significant difference between the descriptive statements  that are about what is and the prescriptive or normative statements which are about what ought to be, and it is not obvious how one can get from making descriptive statements to prescriptive. The is–ought problem is also known as Hume's law and Hume's Guillotine.
Ayn Rand the US writer was al;o fascinated by the dichotomy her consideration came from the following..

"Lead is poisonous" would be an "is" statement, this view would then ask, what does that have to do with morality? Should we eat it? Should we not? A supporter of the is-ought dichotomy would say that no matter how long you stare at the three words "mercury is poisonous," no "ought" will appear—you can't deduce anything that didn't already exist in your premises—so you have no way to conclude whether you ought or ought not to eat it.
Rand dealt with the problem by attacking it at the root. According to Rand, the bridge between the "is" and the "ought," between reality and morality, between fact and value is the concept "life." If you choose to live, that instantly implies a whole slew of values, i.e. "oughts." One of those "oughts" would be that you shouldn't ingest poisons, Lead included, because if you do, your life will soon go out of existence.
Coming back to the topic of this question—Rand's statement that every is implies an ought—she really does mean "every." Even boring, trivial facts such as "the sky is blue" imply "oughts." What does "the sky is blue imply"? One implication would be: if look outside during the day and the sky is dark, that means that you ought to take your umbrella if you go out.

The is/ought principle epitomises much of the human condition and perhaps even something of free will ...
Something to thin about - Thanks Mr Ian Crofton (seen here on the left) for this and the other 199 (Big) ideas.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

OPEN Ealing Collage along with Idea 199 Structuralism and Poststructuralism

Created at Snail's pace by Matisse
Last night we had a session at OPEN Ealing that was a sort of 'add-on' to the Modern Art course the subject was Collage which Nick (OPEN's very own Art Director)  thought as a fairly 20th century phenomenon warranted a single session.
Collage is derived from the French term to stick and is now accepted as a  form of art in which various materials such as photographs and pieces of paper or fabric are arranged and stuck to a backing.
Early example from Picasso

Some give George Braque and Pablo Picasso the credit for 'inventing' modern Collage but there other figures who used it through the century including Germany's Schwitters, Britain's Hamilton and a fine example is Matisse's Snail which he created in his latter years (1953).

(Interesting to know that there's likely to be a December play at OPEN Ealing with central characters that include an Art Director and a sexy underwear shop owner..)

Idea 199 Structuralism and Post-structuralism

Now this is actually Ian Crofton's last big Idea in his book but is idea 199 for me (more on this tomorrow).
 Structuralism is a form of critical thinking born out of linguistics in the 1950s, it centres on signs and symbols (I think semiotics is relevant and interesting here too).
Structuralism is defined as 'a method of analysing phenomena, as in anthropology, linguistics, psychology, or literature, chiefly characterized by contrasting the elemental structures of the phenomena in a system of binary opposition'.

Roland Barthes (1915-80) on the right here was a French philosopher  who was a big figure in the movement and gave  the example that wrestling is  an example of the hero/villain opposition.
Here's a presentation on 'Functionalism and Structuralism'

Poststructuralists  are sceptical...
Poststructuralism is about  theories which arose after the structuralist period in continental philosophy they  use structuralism but do not accept all of its ideas. Poststructuralists believe in the importance of discourse for understanding social life and question the idea of the self-determining individual, but they do not believe that people's actions can be entirely reduced to an external structure. Often, they study the ways in which structures can be subverted and broken down through their own limits or through ironic reinterpretation or reconfiguration of the structure itself.
A big name in the arrival at a  Poststructuralist theory is Ferdinand Saussure.
Here's some more ..

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Issac Cordal, Now TV and Big Idea #198 is Surrealism

Part of  “Follow the Leaders”
I don't know if you've heard of Issac Cordal he's a sculpture artist from Galicia, Spain (now based in London I think). His sculptures are of little people sculpted from concrete in ‘real’ situations. Cordal  manages to capture a lot of emotion in his work.
I learnt of him from a facebook posting, seems that in Nantes, the city once known as the European capital of the human slave trade  his latest work is showing it's called “Follow the Leaders” and is “a reflection on our inertia as a social mass,”
Sadly it ends this week, not sure where it goes next?

Now TV box ordered

Now TV box at £10 box proved irresistible, have ordered will update the blog on what it does when I get it .

Big Idea 198 (I think?) is Surrealism

As I thunder towards the end of Crofton's Big Ideas in Brief I find something has gone wrong either there aren't 200 or I've missed one out (a prize if you can find the missing idea!), anyway today we're on Surrealism.

Surrealist influences abound in the 'modern' world, reflect on advertising and it's connecting of disparate subjects or the LP covers of years gone by ('Wish you were here' for example perhaps).
In fact having reviewed the topic it's surprising to see such an influential movement being dominated by so few characters. Somewhat inspired by the work of Sigmund Freud on the subconscious it's  a cultural movement that began in the early 1920s. Principally known for its visual artworks and writings the aim of surrealism was according to The 20th-Century art book "resolve the previously contradictory conditions of dream and reality."

After the Dada group Andre Breton went on to start and lead the Surrealist movement in 1924. In New York, Breton and his colleagues curated Surrealist exhibitions that introduced ideas of automatism and intuitive art making to the first Abstract Expressionists. Breton worked in various creative media, focusing on collage and printmaking as well as writing books. Breton  re-imagined ways in which words and images could be combined through chance  to create new word-image combinations..
Other figures strongly associated with Surrealism are the great self publicist Salvador Dali and the seemingly bourgeois Belgian Rene Magritte.
Here's an introduction..

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Free shelves and Big Idea #197 is Cubism

After Marcel- Found Object
Free is nearly always good and yesterday as I walked up to the allotment entrance I saw an item  proclaiming itself as this. The shelves are going to be used (I'm sure) either as a half way house before planting out or for spare parts.


Cubism is described as one of the most influential visual art styles of the early twentieth century. It was developed by  Georges Braque (French artist 1882–1963)  and Pablo Picasso (Spanish artist 1881–1973)  in Paris between 1907 and 1914. Braque painted   L'Estaque ( 1908) which was inspired  Cézanne.

Braque -Viaduct de l'estaque
An  art critic, as has often been the case for new movements gave it a name- Cubism  he was called   Louis Vauxcelles.   Vauxcelles called the forms in the highly 'abstracted' works "cubes." 

Cubist painters did not believe that art should only copy nature, and did not follow traditional techniques of perspective and modelling. They  recognised the limitation of the two dimensions of the canvas and  reduced and fractured objects into geometric forms which they then realigned within a shallow, relief-like space. Cubism use multiple or contrasting vantage points.

Les Demoiselles d'Avignon (1907) by Picasso shows the influence of  the African art as
well as Cézanne Cubism was  inspired by  Primitivism and non-Western sources that included items  that Picasso had seen when  he visited the ethnographic museum in the Palais du Trocadéro in Paris.
The video below tells more on this major work.
While Picasso and Braque created this new visual language, it was also developed by other  painters, including  Juan Gris.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Kickstart film:The Deaths of John Smith, Beatles cancelled and extended along with Idea #196 Absraction

Roger and in?

Kickstarter film project-  The Deaths of John Smith

Kickstarter looks like an exciting way to get (good) projects going with financial  backing.
I went to the same primary school as Roger Harding (Lawford Mead in Chelmsford, Essex -  Roger was a year or two above me)  and now Roger is   making a film  called ' The Deaths of John Smith. There are now only 3 days to go for his Kickstarter fund  if you want to help go here.

Good Luck Roger!


Beatles course at CityLit

Get Back

Sad to report that the Abbey Road 'A close study of the Beatles’ final studio album at CityLit that was scheduled for early August was cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances at their end, CityLit handled the refund well and even gave me a £5 John Lewis voucher.
After some thought I decided to opt for the November start longer course to replace my loss it's called ' A history of the Beatles through their music' and indicates that it will look at the  most culturally significant and popular pop band in history further 'Through analysis of their music and a history of the 1960s we will see how four lads from Liverpool came to define the sound of a decade' - sounds great and a chance for ageing pop fans to get together too.


Then set them free
give them a start
Last year I was disappointed in the parsnip growing area of my life, this year I've tried again starting them in old cardboard toilet rolls  and planting these in the ground (yesterday) - fingers crossed.

Today's big Idea is Abstraction (in Art)

With the arrival of photography much soul searching was carried out in the field of representational art - one of the reactions was Abstract Art.
A pioneer in this new form of art was the Russian Kandinsky who linked his works to that of music (he was a talented musician too), like the great Dutch abstract artist Mondrian he had a spiritual view of his art and life (they were followers of theosophy) .
The Picture shown is by Kandinsky and called Unbroken Line, (1923) as the movement progressed more of the artists chose to leave works untitled so as to remove preconceptions of the viewer.
One of my favourite stories from the recent OPEN Ealing art classes is how Piet Mondrian fell out with fellow abstract artist Theo van Doesburgh over Theo using diagonals!...
Have a look at the video for some ideas on Abstract art...

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Northfields (Ealing) Italian Eatery and Big Idea #195 is Expressionism

Wednesday is usually our vegetarian day (we try for at least one a week) and to mix things up a bit we last night  walked the mile or so to Terracotta an Italian restaurant new to us.
The restaurant is small but as a result of the warm weather many of us chose to eat under the stars in the small 'terrace' at the rear of the restaurant.
The menu had a good selection of Pizzas and Pasta so we were able to retain our Wednesday Veggie credentials both of us had a starter with a Margherita pizza and shared a bottle of water and house wine - total was around £50 including a tip - not cheap compared with similar establishments but not excessive and as they were full to bursting I guess they'd got the pricing about right.
Would try again on a day when we're eating meat generally impressions are favourable  though.

Expressionism is the idea for today ( number 195)

Expressionism is a term that embraces an early 20th century style of art, music and literature that is charged with an emotional and spiritual vision of the world where impressionist painters can be thought of as  using light the expressionists used their emotions.

George Grosz- Suicide (1916)
Edvard Munch who  is known for his  strangely coloured images of human anxiety and death pretty much summed up expressionism when he said " A work of art can come only come from the interior of man"  (seems he also said "From my rotting body, flowers shall grow and I am in them and that is eternity").
The turn of the 20th century movement was dominated by German and Austrian artists, Munch’s painting('s' - he did several) of ‘The Scream’ (1893) was hugely  influential but he was not the only artist Oskar Kokschka, Max Beckmann and George Grosz also created important works.
The plays of Strindberg also belong to the Expressionist category (A Dream Play is an example).

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

More stuff on the allotment and Big Idea #194 is Modernism and Post Modernism

Moved fruit cage.
Supporting fruit
I've continued to spend time on the  allotment, still planting out and quite a bit of harvesting although the courgette peak has now passed. Having seen almost the end of our limited soft fruit yesterday I moved one of my fruit cages to provide protection for freshly planted vegetables.
Today I harvested the early (main) Potatoes and was pleasantly surprised by the yield.
I have added support to a laden apple tree and am preparing to start harvesting potatoes, tomatoes are doing well although turnips seem to have something wrong with them possible wireworm, rotation is advised as a method of avoiding this.

Modernism and Post Modernism is todays Big Idea (number 194)

The ambitions of Modernism were immense it was says Crofton like creating a new start, a 'ground zero' of arts.
Modernism can be considered as "a style or movement in the arts that aims to break with classical and traditional forms."
In the Modernist phase composers like Stravinsky and Bartok looked again at tonality, rhythms and structures, while in the visual arts, perspectives were challenged by Picasso and Braque's Cubism explorations while surrealists including Dali and Magritte sought to probe the mind's unconscious this is not to ignore expressionism and the abstractions of artists such as Kandinsky.

In literature writers like Joyce and T S Eliot experiment with the existing formulas in novels and poems.
Post Modernism  is "post" because it is denies the existence of any ultimate principles, and it lacks the optimism of there being a scientific, philosophical, or religious truth which will explain everything for everybody - a characteristic of the so-called "modern" mind.
Crofton reckons that in the latter part of the 20th century the ambitions of Modernism were modified and a Post Modernism with lower expectations gained acceptance, it was more ironic and knowing, here's a comparison of the two concepts.
Writers considered postmodernist include Nabokov (e.g. Pale Fire) and Vonnegut (Cats' Cradle is the example here).
The presentation below might be useful but think you'll need to watch and pause a few times it goes at quite a pace!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The end of Art (course) in Ealing and Big Idea #193 is Aestheticism

Which YBA would like these?
So last week was the final 14th part of the 13 sessions (originally) of the Modern Art course held at OPEN Ealing (next door to the Cherry Pye shop) and most ably led by OPEN Ealing art director, artist and lecturer Nick Pearson .
The lectures have been really informative and have provided a narrative and structure to slot the  works and artists of the late  19th and 20th century visual creatives into.
The extra session added was about what were the YBAs (known as Young British Artists but generally now in their late 40s and early 50s) the artists included the enfant terrible Damien Hirst, the sometimes troubled Tracy Emin and the somewhat door fixated Gary Hume.

Damien pushes the boundaries
The concept around the rise of pupils from the Goldsmith's college taught by the Irish born conceptual artist Michael Craig-Martin raises the same questions other 'movements' bring to mind, do artists have a common mood and purpose or is the creation of a grouping merely a convenience for critics?
 In my mind there's little doubting the creativity of someone who can formulate something like The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living but time will tell if it is something that resonates through the years.
Certainly if there was a movement it put Britain on the map again as a force in Art and gave the establishment a  kick up the derriere.  Which perhaps brings me onto ...


Big Idea Number 193 which is Aestheticism

This idea came about in the late 19th-century European and is an  arts movement which centres on the doctrine that art exists for the sake of its beauty alone, and that it need serve no political, didactic, or other purpose.
Like other movements it was a  reaction to a prevailing belief in utilitarian social philosophies and what could be considered as the ugliness and philistinism of the industrial age. Its philosophical foundations were laid in the 18th century by Immanuel Kant, whose concept was the autonomy of aesthetic standards, setting them apart from considerations of morality, utility, or pleasure. This idea was taken on  by the German J.W. von Goethe and by the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge  (Kubla Khan etc.) and Thomas Carlyle in England.
Famously the philosopher Victor Cousin, coined the phrase l’art pour l’art (“art for art’s sake”) in 1818.
In England, the artists of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, from 1848,  included  Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Edward Burne-Jones, whose works expressed a yearning for ideal beauty and they noticeably included  medieval influences. The attitudes of the movement were also represented in the writings of Oscar Wilde and the illustrations of Aubrey Beardsley ( he famously illustrated Wilde's Salome).
The painter James McNeill Whistler (his Mother on the left) further raised the movement’s ideal of the cultivation of refined sensibility .

Monday, August 19, 2013

Eating in Golders Green and Idea #192 is Symbolism

Café Also Golder's Green Road
It's generally a good thing to try different eateries and on Saturday evening following an invitation from  (brother) Nick we went to Café Also in Golders Green  for a group celebratory meal.
Café Also is joined physically and literally to the bookshop Joseph's Bookstore  which specialises in Jewish interest books.
The Café is certainly different with  a challenging  menu that is exclusively fish and vegetables so
don't go there when you're in the mood for red meat.
I couldn't fault the service and the quality of the food I had was excellent, here's the Independent's review.

Beatles' White Album Acoustics

For me my favourite Beatles Album is a changeable selection generally Abbey Road would be my fist choice but for diversity and lo-fi chic 'The Beatles' (commonly known as the white album after the art work of Richard Hamilton)  takes a bit of beating.
Interestingly an amazing collection of acoustic demos of many of the songs on the album has
surfaced -the performances are great less the (truly) amazing drumming of Ringo though.

Big Idea Number 192 is Symbolism

As mentioned before Art movements (or movements in art) are about what went before them and symbolism can be seen as a reaction to Realism and Naturalism.

Symbolism was hugely influential  around the turn of the 20th century and elements of it affected the visual arts, as well as literary and theatrical works.

Symbolism began in French and Belgian poetry towards the end of the 19th century with the poetry of Mallarmé, Valéry, Verlaine, Rimbaud, Maeterlinck, and sought   to express states of mind rather than objective reality by making use of the power of words and images to suggest as well as denote.

Symbolism can be considered an idealistic movement that was created by artists discontented from their culture. The style was refined, elegant, subtle, intellectual, and elitist.
If there is one central tenet held by Symbolist artists, it is that life is fundamentally mysterious, and the artist must respect and preserve this mystery and for this reason  they insisted on suggestion rather than explicitness, symbols or equivalents rather than description, in both painting and poetry. Choosing music as their model, Symbolists found the creation of a mood to be essential.  The recognition that there was a major portion of mental activity that is closed to the conscious mind confirmed the Symbolists' conviction that there is more to life than can be explained through positivist science.

Here's a video about the history of the Symbolism movement.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Finding Tom (Davies), BT Sport game changer? and Idea #191 is Impressionism

Tom in Hanwell
On Saturday morning we walked to the Ealing Council controlled Hanwell Community Centre to attend their open day it's a fine old building around a mile away from us which was at the time Charlie Chaplin attended in 1896 the   Central London District School.  I was interested to see what was on offer and was hoping to see my former Tabor High school art teacher Tom Davies.
On Target?
 In fact  I did manage to meet and  chat with Tom, he's 71 now and still painting as well as running Art classes, some in Hanwell. It was great to see him and have the opportunity to thank him for sparking an interest in art when I was at school.
Tom seems to have had an interesting life including 5 years in Cuba, I also met his daughter and a grandson. I saw some of  Tom's work some of which was on display it was representational and is generally oil on canvas.
The picture (right) shows Tom a few years ago in his studio in Hanwell from Marina's Blog.
In fact the community centre has quite a lot going on including Pottery, Archery and Keep fit and on Saturday Stephen Pound a local MP was there too


BT Sport the new non-pay TV channel for sport

Yesterday was a big day for Soccer fans as well as those at BT Sport as their new channel came under the spotlight and the Premier league for 2013/14 started up.
The problem is that the initiative is looking two ways at once as a means of aiding customer retention (the SD version free for Infinity customers) and for a business going head to head against Sky Sports.
The launch has brought focus on the customer services, expectation for TV customers during a football game is somewhat different from those who want their phone/broadband to work - particularly when they have other communication available through their mobile phone. This is not the first Sports TV service to compete with Sky (UK) but the history of those who've taken on the broadcasting giant is not good.

Big Idea Number 191 is Impressionism

In France in the 1860's a new art movement was in the ascendancy in Paris it became known as Impressionism.

Impressionism is all about concentration on the immediate visual impression produced by a scene and by the use of unmixed primary colours and small strokes to simulate actual reflected light.
Artists from this epoch who we still marvel at today include Van Gogh, Monet (His Water Lillies on the left)  and Cézanne.
Find out more about the movement below..

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Free Will and decisions along with big Idea #190 Realism and Naturalism

BBC Radio Four  is currently running a radio programme which is definitely one of my favourites, it's called The Philosopher's Arms and its deceit is that there's a pub where you can enjoy a drink and a chat about higher matters.
This week the show was about free will a subject that is endlessly fascinating and one I've felt that I've wrestled with particularly this week.
The wrestling took place over something where a decision needed to be made and it was (perhaps) finely balanced what decision I should make.
Sometime ago I was approached to take part in a medical study (a seemingly benign research into Diabetes care) the initial screening was held at a local hospital and I did not meet the criteria but for a subsequent study I was considered suitable.
The project then invited me to take part in 3 lots of 3 days (and nights) observation with a severely restricted diet in a hospital ward the dates were convenient and expenses would be paid as well as a sum (not an enormous amount but a sum none-the-less) for taking part.
Quite a pub
So was I willing to forgo 'freedom' (in movements and ingestions) for money and the benefit of diabetic research?
The answer after a somewhat sleepless night is 'no' I don't think it's that I couldn't manage without alcohol or stimulants (tea and coffee) for around 4 days or that I couldn't share a (comfortable
modern) hospital ward with others  or that I can't be away from my allotment at this time of year for so long but for the 'benefits'  (somewhat intangible even the money)  I would rather not.
So I made my decision and there is little that I lose by the decision (although I realise more of my own fallibility) - it brings to mind that when one works one receives a 'compensation package' presumably compensation for temporary enslavement at something that one would not necessarily choose?

Which brings me on nicely to..

Big Idea 190 which is  Realism and Naturalism (in the arts)

As before movements when they get over familiar tend to create counter movements against themselves  Realism and Nturalism were a reaction against Romanticism. In realism the mode of representation is that the artist tries to depict the world as it is and with the development  of Naturalism this new style being a logical extension of Realism.
Balzac and Stendhal were literary figures who worked in the style of  'realism' and in the visual arts Gustave Courbet pioneered some marvellous representations such as The Gleaners.
Naturalist writers included Gorki (in Russia) and Zola (in France) -nice presentation download here

Friday, August 16, 2013

Hands (and cables) across the water, Big Idea #189 is Romanticism

Cable on its way from London
Quite a few months ago I mentioned that I had a cable that I didn't want to throw away - well eventually like a pebble thrown in a very big pond the waves the message  hit land and I've had a request for the cable which means it wont be wasted (sounds like it'll be useful to the recipient)- so sent the cable yesterday to David Benson in Portland Oregon USA.
If anyone has information on associated software (for the ancient Sharp organisers) he'd be very interested in that too..

The Big Idea today is number 189 and is about Romanticism

As in so many movements in society the mannered Classicism provoked a reaction and the reaction was a rejection of the calm and reason to be replaced by the tortured genius-centric view that was romanticism.
Romanticism in the 18th Century saw the emergence  talents of English writers like Wordsworth and Shelley and German writers like Goethe and Schiller. At the same time Philosophers like Kant and Hegel brought new perspectives to the consideration of the mind with their philosophical idealism.
In the visual arts JMW Turner emerged as a major talent

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Finding Ed Ruscha at Timothy Taylor's and Big Idea # 188 is Classicism

Nice Gallery
When I look as my Blog Stats I'm (slightly) surprised to see that so many visitors have looked at the Ed Ruscha posting, I'm slightly over awed by the man's work and wandering in London's West end just near Bond Street I found an exhibition (Timothy Taylor's Gallery)  called  Secrets of Sunset Beach'  which included Ed's 'Nineties' - sad to say the show ends 16th August but I really liked this gallery and the people there (as well as the works).
Nineties is dramatic and impressive and as I expressed an interest in the artist one of the people showed me another of his works (2000's) they have at the gallery as well as (amongst others)  a coloured work Bridget Riley - so thanks for this Timothy Taylor's staff you're great.
The 2000 painting has a great use of Trompe-l'oeil which you need to see up close to fully appreciate.

Nineties - needs to be seen 'in the flesh'

For those interested in Ed there's a nice Guardian Podcast on an exhibition of his work here.

Big Idea  number 188 is Classicism

Some 'Classic' Pillars

Classicism is described as "a tendency in the arts" which follows that of ancient Greek or Roman principles (of the period around 500-338 BC ) and style in art and literature and is generally
associated with harmony, restraint, and adherence to recognized standards of form and craftsmanship.
Classicism places emphasis on form, simplicity, proportion, and restrained emotion.
The attributes of classicism most clearly seen in architecture can be seen in detail here.
The Renaissance period in European history revisited the Classic age and built on its fundamental tenets in music as well as the visual arts.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Pitmen Painters and the Idea # 187 is The Baroque

Play poster
On Saturday we went to see Pitmen Painters at Richmond on Thames theatre it's a play based on a true story about the Ashington Group of Miner Artists (not Minor Artists) .
 Lee Hall  who wrote Billy Elliot got the idea after reading an article in the Guardian  and then buying the book "Pitmen Painters: The Ashington Group 1934-1984" by William Feaver .
Pitman painting
The story is  about a group of miners who pursued  an interest in art under the auspices of the WEA their teacher finding they had little to inform them of art got them to paint and the experience was life changing for them.

Of course the play uses quite a bit of artistic licence, reducing the number in the group and creating a (female) patron who offers the most talented of the miners a way out but the play was well realised and a strong message came through of the power of art and working class solidarity.
(Note: Nice performance by the Understudy Jennifer Gabriele in the role of Helen Sutherland on Saturday 10th August)

Big Idea 187 is The Baroque

Conversion of St Paul Santa Maria del Popolo,
If someone asks you what Baroque means you've got a couple of choices when you answer - one possibility is the irregularly shaped pearls but chances are though they're really on about a big art movement ..which relates to   an elaborate style of music, architecture, and art of the 17th and 18 centuries-  The Baroque style or period.

From around 1600  to 1750 the was the Baroque epoch in European visual arts, encompassing architecture such as the Palace of Versailles and the art of artists like Caravaggio whose  Conversion of St Paul Santa Maria del Popolo, Rome  (1601) is such a fine example of the genre.

Palace of Versailles (near Paris)
Originating in Italy the Baroque arts falls into the period of Counter-Reformation led by the Catholic church against the Protestants. Much of the Baroque art, reflects the reaction to the dominant Mannerism, as well as the social turmoil of the time. According to the Council of Trent and the Catholic church artworks should be a clear, intelligible subject realistically interpreted in order to stimulate piety. This was part of the reason that the artwork turned towards naturalism, becoming emotionally engaging and intense.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

French Style Ealing Eatery & Big Idea #186 is 'The Novel'

A table -Mais Oui
On Friday we had a meal at relatively new  Restaurant in Pitshanger Lane - It’s a French eatery trading under the name Chez L'Ami David and although it had a  limited menu this was no bad thing the food and wine being suitably French, tasty and well cooked. The Maître D was full of  the French variety and very much on the case. The restaurant has a special Birthday Menu to celebrate a year of trading and it offers excellent value for money.
Having been in a location that was recently  a Thai restaurant and amongst other cafe's it's well poisoned but Reviews of this place (like so many) are mixed, the Ealing Gazette was particularly harsh but we'd definitely go again.

Big Idea Number 186 is 'The Novel'

A novel is defined as  A fictitious prose narrative of book length, typically representing character and action with some degree of realism

Prior to the Novel assuming hegemony of the literary works the epic poem was the dominant form but around 300 years ago this changed and a novel which is considered to have  led to this change was  the succcesful Novel Don Quixote satirising what had gone before in those overblown epic poems.
Daniel Defoe, a Brit was another big figure in creating the modern novel with works such as Robinson Crusoe (this book said to set on  Caribbean island of Tobago.).
Other key and important figures include Charles Dickens and (for me anyway) Graham Greene who specifically denoted some of his works as Entertainments.
The last 100 years has seen much stretching of the form and although some devices now scream out cliché the novel retains strong popularity amongst large sections of the reading population be it in a traditional book or kindle type device .


Friday, August 09, 2013

Gardeners Gift -Biodegradable Pot Maker and Big Idea 185 is Allegory

reuse newspaper
One of the gifts I received today (as well as that most precious gift, the gift of li..) was a device for making biodegradable pots from old newspaper - The Paper Potter. The Potter looks like fun, seeds and seedlings can be planted out at the appropriate time and the pot will disappear into the soil.

The wooden 'Potter' designed to form the pots is made from FSC oak so you can be assured it has come from renewable environmentally friendly sources. The pots are simple to put together and solid enough to contain delicate seedlings but lack the ability to support bigger plants.
The pots are great in  allowing the plants to be transplanted without damaging the tender seedling roots.
The Nether Wallop Paper Potter is (they say) robust enough for the seasoned gardener.

Big Idea 185 is Allegory

The word allegory is derived from the Greek words meaning “other” and “to speak in public.” The meaning of the allegory is sometimes communicated through the use of symbolic figures or other symbols. The associations of the allegorical figures or symbols with other elements in the work can occur in the mind of the viewer and convey a meaning beyond the literal representation or it might be pointed out to them for them to get the second meaning.

Here comes spring!
Literary works such as  Pilgrim's Progress and Animal Farm are said to be allegorical that is the books can be analysed on two levels. The main obvious one, and the one below the surface so Animal Farm is actually an allegory that uses animals on a farm to represent the overthrow of the Russian Tsar Nicolas II, the actions of Stalin and the revolution in Russia (1917).
The struggles of the animals on the farm can  be viewed as a metaphor for how greed and indifference corrupted the Russian revolution and the dangers that  occur without a smooth transition to a government of the proletariat.
Allegories can also be seen in visual works such as  the painting “La Primavera,” by the Italian Renaissance painter Sandro Botticelli this used various Greek gods, goddesses and nymphs to depict the  soon to be spring.
Life of Pi is a film and book that is said to be allegorical - look at Yann (who wrote life of Pi) talk on the subject here.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Blood Pressure checks and Idea today is Imagery (#184)

BP measuring is easy
Reasons to be cheerful - today 5 years on from my local GPs surgery asking me to attend and have my blood pressure checked I again attended (seems they like to do this on a regular basis) - good news is that I'm told that it is normal (normal is fine in this case).
Normal blood pressure for a man of my age is around 120/80 and BMI which is a measure of the ration of weight to height should be between 18.5 - 25.
We regularly check our BP at home so this was not a great surprise but nevertheless good news.

When I look around I realise I am incredibly lucky (at present anyway) particularly with respect to my health and well-being - I suppose it is a mixture of things that means I can enjoy this status but it is fleeting (as far as I know) so should try and make the most of it...

Holy Spirit denoted


Idea number 184 is Imagery

In written as well as visual media Imagery is important.
When we look at books we often see use of similes (example my lawn is like billiard table) and metaphors (I'm going to go and mow the billiard table).

Many schools of art (visual) use images as denotations - Crofton gives the example of a white dove standing in for the Holy Spirit in Medieval and Renaissance works of art. You can see this in The  Baptism of Christ
from the 1450s by  the artist, mathematician and geometer Piero della Francesca.
Shakespeare (and others in literary and visual arts) can subvert the use of imagery as in 'Shall I compare thee to a summers day? (he goes on to say she's better)