Wednesday, December 06, 2006

End of our 'Holbein to Hockney' Class - Boohoo!

Picture 1 is the sunrise this morning and the rather pretty 'flare' effect is due, I think, to it being photographed through glass. It wasn't nice enough to be out and anyway, I was till in jim-jams and dressing gown and I didn't want to frighten the paper-lady.

To return to chronological order and last night's Mansfield National Trust lecture about Bess of Hardwick. Without going OTT it was simply brilliant. A lady called Margaret Harrison, a blue badge guide (they have to take exams and things) spoke for well over an hour on the subject of Bess without notes and in such an entertaining manner. I shall never forget that Bess was "tall, with long auburn hair nearly down to her waist, slim and beautiful, with beautiful black eyes and flirty and vivacious". And Margaret reminded of this just before Bess met yet another husband, each richer than the last and usually in poor health. She went from near-penniless daughter of a lowly squire, to owning most of Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Yorkshire. Not to mention London houses and elsewhere. She started becoming rich because, being at Court and being widowed, she qualified for a grant of £50 (a lot of money in the early 16th Century).. Bess didn't spend it. Oh No! She lent it out for a year and when she got it back it had grown to £72. Bess's business acumen never went out of gear from that moment on. After the talk the lecturer showed us some slides. But we didn't really need them.

Picture 2 is an old one of my own when we were fortunate enough to catch the building with a minimum of the customary scaffolding. What bit there is, I have managed to hide more-or-less, behind the conifer on the right-edge of the picture. We'd had a tip-off from the property manageress that most of it had been taken down. Among other things Bess's initials right on the top of the 4 storey bits have needed attention. They still look great from the motorway though. Bless her - if you've got it, flaunt it, as they say.

We were pleased the lecture was so good, because Joan and Chris were there as our guests. Although it would not have been our fault if it had been awful, one does feel a sort of responsibility. Margaret Harrison is apparently on Radio Nottingham quite often and her next scheduled slot is 8.50am on Thursday, tomorrow. I stopped to thank her on our way out and in conversation she said she did "The GunPowder Plot" as one of her lectures. That would be a great one to have.

It was the last session in our 'Holbein to Hockney' today and we had to take it as a sprint from Graham Sutherland through Kitaj, Caulfield, Peter Blake (I got brownie points for knowing that Blake designed the Beatles 'Sgt Pepper' Album sleeve), to Lucien Freud, Paula Rego, Francis Bacon and others including David Hockney, Frank Auerbach and others. I heard and saw nothing to persuade me from the view that Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin et al are of little merit. I've never seen any evidence that they can draw! Picasso could finish up as weird as he wished because there are square miles of evidence that he could draw like a dream. The same goes for Freud, and Hockney and others. Even though I don't insist that Art must be painterly, I feel that the ability to draw and to design is a pre-requisite.

That's long enough on a soap-box. Tonorrow is a Burton Joyce day for Y and I've got loads of little jobs.

See ya.............

1 comment:

bungus said...

Of course they know what a beauty Bess of Hardwick was because of the contemporary untouched record photographs (4’6” and bald with a big wart on her nose, before she was PhotoShopped; that’s what I heard). I jest. She was obviously a Coleen McLoughlin of her day.

I doubt if your speaker is the Margaret Harrison I once knew who was married to an erstwhile accident-prone colleague of mine and lived at Barton-on-Trent. But you never know. Since women got the vote and were allowed to do war work they’ve gone on to all sorts of things.

I think you are having trouble because Art no longer does demand an ability to draw. Your ‘closed-mind’ argument reminds me of Ernie Roberts’ refusal to accept that anything rhymeless could be poetry. Did James Turrell need an ability to draw in order to produce the Light Installations at Yorkshire Sculpture Park?
I have no wish to sound controversial, of course.