Friday, October 20, 2017

Ghosts in art and history

Southampton is the port from which the Titanic sailed, has a Premier League football team (currently interested in Barcelona striker Paco Alcácer) (thanks Google), and a great little art gallery which is featuring a major retrospective of the work of Christopher Bucklow. As Chris lives in Frome, and I was fascinated by his amazing paintings exhibited in the Black Swan in 2013, a trip to the City Art Gallery was definitely called for. Here, in several galleries, there's early work reflecting a passion for Sisley's landscapes, later work exploring 'Guests' ~ ghostly figures arriving unexpectedly and mysteriously, and some of the series that had fascinated me when I first saw it in Frome: Mandy Rice-Davis struggling with the art critic Clement Greenberg, who here is 'trying to keep Mandy down as a 2-D ghost, while also preventing her from cutting, Suffragette-like, the vital fourth slit in the Kenneth Noland Chevron painting...' The gallery is fronted by a fountain & beside a line of horse-chestnut trees but as 3pm was museum closing time and there didn't seem much else in this part of the city, we adjourned to The Titanic to talk about ghosts with the landlord... until he rather strangely disappeared...

Frome in Palestine is the title and theme of an impressive exhibition at Silk Mill gallery, where thirty-six boards filled with photographs and media cuttings tell the tale of our town's contribution to Britain's involvement in this troubled land. There are also tables of books and images, options of films and food, and a programme of talks and entertainment, all creating a rich though serious environment for this extended study. Frome Friends of Palestine is marking their tenth anniversary with this historical presentation of British involvement in the region, summed up by the excellent introduction in their guide booklet: A hundred years ago this autumn General Allenby marched into Jerusalem. To some it was the culmination of a dream, but Britain's 30 year rule of Palestine rapidly became a nightmare. This carefully researched study of a difficult but crucially important subject is on till the end of the month and deserves at least one visit ~ more if you can, as there's much to absorb.  Banksy said it's the role of art to disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed': this, one might think, should also integral to any religion. The history of the 'Holy Land' shows a different perspective and this is not, as the booklet warns, an easy exhibition.

A brief blog  this week, as I'm off now to the Alpujarras to go walking in the foothills for a week with Bootlace Walking Holidays. We'll be based in Cortijo Romero, a lovely venue I know well from years of fond memories with writing groups. I'll end with a view that trails happy ghosts... poets and fiction-writers, memoirists and bloggers, all of us enjoying these abundantly-blossomed gardens with their fabulous views of the the mountains beyond... wow, I can almost hear the laughter over that sparking azure pool, and the bell ringing for supper-time... though actually it's the long days of walking I'm going for. Obviously!

No comments: