On The Town : Late Entries In The Snow Scene Category

Just before it melts, a couple of late entries in the snow scene category.

This is Wilfred Dudeney’s ‘Three Printers’, transformed into three jolly matelots on shore leave and looking for fun.  I think Gene Kelly is the one on the left.

On the town

And this sad modern variant on the traditional lost dog notice.  Lost in snow – White iPod Touch.

Lost in snow

I bet the owner is regretting not having gone for the pink iPod option now.

The Midland Railway War Memorial, Derby

The next time that you’re on your way to Matlock Bath by train (as I’m sure you will be shortly!) you may find that you have to spend an hour or so at Derby Station, before changing trains.  If you ask politely, the Station staff will be only too happy to allow you out of the station to make what Pevsner would have called a perambulation of the City.

One of the first things you come to will be this – 

– a war memorial, designed by Sir Edward Lutyens.  Judging by the number of names on it (2,833) you might think that it represents the war dead of the City of Derby, or perhaps of the Derbyshire Regiment.  In fact, it is the memorial to the employees of the Midland Railway.

An unusual feature is that the figure on top of the pillar is almost invisible from the ground, but appears to be a dead, shrouded soldier.

 This reminds me a little of Mark Wallinger’s sculpture “Ecce Homo” – a life-size figure of Christ that briefly featured on top of one of the plinths in Trafalgar Square a couple of years ago – the more moving because, at first sight, it appeared quite negligible.

Summertime at Moorgate and Wantage Road

(Warning – this post contains images of nudity)

A couple of pieces of public art to welcome the arrival of Summer.  This is from the City of London (outside Moorgate Station)

This is advertised as being by Salvador Dali.   In fact, it appears to be have been fabricated  by a dealer based on a illustration for Alice in Wonderland that Dali had drawn late in life (the Guardian has the story here) –   The asking price, should you wish to buy it, is £1.5 million.

Simply as an object – and I pass it every morning on my way to work – I rather like this.  If they were selling it for £14.99 in Homebase as a piece of garden furniture I’d be tempted to acquire one.  

That Dali was illustrating Alice at all reminds me of what Orwell had to say in his generally uncomplimentary (“he is as antisocial as a flea”) essay “Benefit of Clergy : some notes on Salvador Dali“, in which he wrote of

“…  the old-fashioned, over-ornate Edwardian style of drawing to which Dali tends to revert when he is not being Surrealist … Picturesqueness keeps breaking in. Take away the skulls, ants, lobsters, telephones and other paraphernalia, and every now and again you are back in the world of Barrie, Rackham, Dunsany and WHERE THE RAINBOW ENDS … It may be therefore, that Dali’s seemingly perverse cult of Edwardian things … is merely the symptom of a much deeper, less conscious affection. The innumerable, beautifully executed copies of textbook illustrations, solemnly labelled LE ROSSIGNOL, UNE MONTRE and so on, which he scatters all over his margins, may be meant partly as a joke… But perhaps these things are also there because Dali can’t help drawing that kind of thing because it is to that period and that style of drawing that he really belongs.”

This, on the other hand, is from the window of the osteopath near to the County Ground in Northampton that has featured before on this blog –

A skeleton on its way to the beach on a bicycle, dressed in a sort of bright green hooded bathrobe (and note the cricket bat in the lower foreground).  A piece of home-grown vernacular surrealism that, I imagine, would set you back a good deal less than £1.5 m.

April, by Helen Hunt Jackson (Warning – this post contains an image some viewers may find offensive)

Over to Helen Hunt Jackson, for her preview of the new month.

 

 April

No days such honored days as these! When yet
Fair Aphrodite reigned, men seeking wide
For some fair thing which should forever bide
On earth, her beauteous memory to set
In fitting frame that no age could forget,
Her name in lovely April’s name did hide,
And leave it there, eternally allied
To all the fairest flowers Spring did beget.
And when fair Aphrodite passed from earth,
Her shrines forgotten and her feasts of mirth,
A holier symbol still in seal and sign,
Sweet April took, of kingdom most divine,
When Christ ascended, in the time of birth
Of spring anemones, in Palestine.
 

I think Ascension Day is technically in May (or occasionally June), and the idea that April’s name derives from Aphrodite is questionable.  But let us have a look at fair Aphrodite anyway.  This picture is taken from the Jack Wills Spring Catalogue of c. 150 A.D.  “It’s a disgrace!  We demand this blog be withdrawn! etc.” – 19 Concerned Parents.   

 

Walmington-on-Sea Beach Robe - £199.00

In the Gloom, the Gold Gathers the Light Against It

I’m either a little late for this, or a little early, but I understand that either the Monday just past, or next Monday, is meant to be the gloomiest day of the year.  This Monday certainly felt thoroughly gloomy to me, though I feel things have brightened up slightly since then and the (dread phrase!) “direction of travel” is in the right direction.  There are now, at least, birds audible as they go about their business at 5.30, after the truly dead time of the year in midwinter when “no birds do sing” and (O Joy!) there is a little light when I leave work.

But here is a photograph that I feel provides a little light to lighten our darkness.  During the Christmas break I was lucky enough to have visited the Anglican Cathedral in Peterborough and Pugin’s Roman Catholic Cathedral of St Barnabas in Nottingham.  I had some thoughts about these and will try to gather and present them to you in due course, but, to be going on with, this is the Rood in Peterborough Cathedral, sculpted in gilded aluminium by Frank Roper.  Roper’s obituary in The Guardian had this to say about him –

“Roper was a man of entrancing contradictions: a modernist whose work absorbed tradition, deeply conservative but a vivid individualist. His working days were hard and hazardous, but, like Magritte, he dressed at all times in collar and tie. He attracted and amused a wide circle of friends, and relished sharing sculptural toys with his daughters and grandchildren.

Given its ubiquity in churches, Roper’s work remained surprisingly little-known, a fact which perhaps reflects his humility in placing the function of devotion above expression of the artist’s personality. Writing of his work at Llandaff, he referred to Pace’s suggestion, “that I should seek inspiration by putting my head into a thorn bush, a painful operation intended to prevent my formalising, or inflicting my conventions on the subject”.”

An odd thing to take any kind of comfort from, of course, but millions do.

“In the gloom, the gold gathers the light against it” 

(Ezra Pound, Canto VII)

(The inscription underneath reads Stat Crux Dum Volvitur Orbis (The Cross is Still While the World is Turning) – the motto of the Carthusian Order).

Three Canopied Niches : J.L. Carr and Kettering Parish Church

A few days ago (El Salvador, Nerja) we witnessed the despoliation of many Spanish churches during the period of the Civil War.  We have, of course, been through a similar process ourselves (albeit for different reasons), during the Reformation and then again during our own Civil War.

But here is evidence of a small attempt to restore what had been lost, in the Parish Church of  S. Peter and S. Paul, Kettering, made by my Father’s friend the novelist, teacher, cricketer and self-publisher J.L. Carr

The guide to the church describes them thus –

“Three canopied niches over the door contain modern statues of the Virgin and Child, St Peter and St Paul by the late J.L. Carr”

Byron Rogers, in his 2003 biography The Last Englishman : a life of J.L. Carr had this to say –

“Some at his [Carr’s] funeral service at Kettering parish church walked through the churchyard, remembering other churchyards through which an antiquarian had walked with them.  A few would have looked up and grinned at the weathered stone figures of St Peter and St Paul over the North door, knowing it was no anonymous stone mason of the Middle Ages but J.L. Carr who had carved them to replace the originals destroyed at the Reformation.  They would have known that their angularity had been forced upon him, the stone coming from window-sills and kerb stones demolished by the council, but a Mrs Pulley, who didn’t, wrote to complain about St Paul’s mouth, which, she said, portrayed a ‘miserable, sulky character’.  She appealed to him to straighten the mouth and to add colouring.”  

I’m afraid the sulkiness – or otherwise – of the mouth is not apparent in these photographs (Mrs Pulley must have had very good eyesight or a long ladder), but they might give you some idea of what they are like.  Well worth a detour, if you happen to be in the area.

The Virgin and Child –

St Peter

and St Paul

Another green man : Sir Alfred East

Yet another statue – the great advantage of taking photographs of statues for novice photographers being – do you see?- that they don’t move about.

Following on from what I was saying about the statute of John Betjeman at St Pancras, and its hue, here is another very green man – the bust of Sir Alfred East outside the eponymous Art Gallery in Kettering. 

Alfred East RA, painter

East was a painter of very pleasant landscapes.  When he died he lay in state in the gallery surrounded by examples of his work, and attracted  many thousands of visitors.  I don’t want to put ideas into his head, but I wonder whether Damien Hirst might be able to think of some imaginative variations on this idea when his time comes.  Perhaps involving bluebottles?  But let’s not go there.