Sunday, 7 August 2011

London town

Went up to London, for wetter for worse. Fortunately the worse happened after we had returned in the form of riot and loot.

As it was pouring with rain we abandoned the idea of a river trip up the Thames past Kew [a lovely peaceful ride in the sun] and pottered into the Royal Academy instead to see the Summer Show.

It claims two thirds of the work is by non Academicians, but the august person's works are so big and so tired it doesn't seem that way. Mostly the "other" work is shoved ceiling high in the smallest room with no natural light.

I only found one Textile - by Miranda Argyle. A metre square of beige linen stitched in thick cream silk with repetitions of the word HEARTBEAT. It was strange as I could see other words, HE, BEAT, ART, THE, EAR........dunno if this was intentional. I am drawn to text in my pieces but this may be years of teaching, maybe art should speak for itself.

Tracey Emin [RA] had a neon high on a tall wall, so I nearly missed it saying "I whisper to me past, do I have another choice" which I find evocative. Older I get the more I look at my past and my past looks back at me!

Cornelia Parker had "Endless Sugar"
hanging from the ceiling, many many silver plated sugar bowls squashed under the steam roller. A bit thought provoking, but not much [maybe old customs of polite society reduced to meaninglessness - plated silver a phony basis for respect].

I think contemporary art should haunt us, not just a quick wave in passing.

We got on the tube to our rackety hotel at Kew which is in a lovely little area, a little middle class enclave outside the walls of the Gardens - a small green, old residential houses, S*arbucks and an excellent Bookshop. Very comfortable.

The hotel is now gastro, so excellent food, but the rooms were cheaply "smartened up" some years ago and are now quietly falling apart. I slept not at all as I couldn't drag my feather pillow round London and none other will do.

Next day I met Ruth and we went to see Tracey. Outrageously enjoyable. Never realised her blankets are so Big. The whole of the Gallery was filled by her stuff, so I was glad to see it was a solid exhibition, if embarrassing at times. She dwells a lot on masturbation, lots of monoprint sketches and one huge screen that animates in rollicking fashion her legs as they leap and lunge as her hand works.

Really good stuff, but most of the guards are men and I found it difficult to ignore them as I gazed on theses female concerns and they gazed upon the women looking. I didn't mind the men looking at the exhibition, but the thought of the guards, there day after day, the exhilaration of her expression long since dimmed by habit watching the women come in and react.................

In the afternoon, which by now was very hot, we went to see the new British Library. A huge new structure, there was a Mervyn Peake exhibition and an internal glass tower of ancient books and other marvels.

Caught the train home, exhausted - apres moi la deluge - apparently.