Friday, June 27, 2014

At the Saatchi

Deborah and I finally got to see the Saatchi Gallery, meaning the previous two times I visited London the gallery had been closed. It has shifted from its original location and now occupies the former Duke of York's Headquarters in Kings Road.

The new gallery is not as large as the previous building but there are multiple levels and the ground floor has the most perfect light in which to exhibit art work. This was such a relief after seeing many of London's museums displaying work in such poor light. But athough this is a conservation concern, it also defeats the purpose of looking at art and appreciating subtleties of tone and colour.

The exhibition we saw was titled Pangaea: New Art from Africa and Latin America. The top picture shows Deborah standing in the first room where the work of Rafael Gomezbarros was on display. It felt like being in Gulliver's Travels but the ants are made in the shape of human skulls which adds another dimension to the reading of the sculptures. In the bottom picture I'm looking at a painting by Ivory Coast artist Aboudia Djoly du Mogba which is the artist's response to the election violence in the city of Abidjan where armies of children terrorised that city.

The exhibition was a mixture of paintings, sculpture and photographs and more information can be found on the Saatchi website HERE

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Watt's Chapel

One of the highlights of our recent UK trip was a visit to the Watt's Chapel in the village of Compton in Surrey. It was designed by Mary Fraser-Tytler and she, along with other community members, formed the Compton Potter's Arts Guild and were inspired to build this chapel just near the cemetery. It was a very village affair, with over 70 people working on the construction, but under the close guidance of Mary. It took 2 years to build and was completed in 1898. George Frederick Watts, who was Mary's husband, not only funded the project but created a painting for the altar, titled The All-Pervading. As the photographs show, the influence of art nouveau, Celtic art and Mary's original imagination created a memorial that is truly outstanding.

It was a very grey day when we visited the chapel and the light was poor inside, but even so, it was clear to see what the people of Compton, and in particular, Mary Fraser Tytler achieved. Visit HERE to learn more about the amazing Watt's Chapel.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Agatha in London

When Deborah and I were walking around London, we came across this sculpture by Ben Twiston-Davies on Cranbourn Street in the West End. It contains not only Agatha Christie's portrait, but  characters and scenes from some of her books. Since Deborah and I are fans of the Poirot series, starring David Suchet, it was a nice surprise to suddenly come across this homage to one of the most famous of writers. The unveiling took place in 2012, marking the 60th Anniversary of The Mousetrap, a play based on her book of the same name. It's the longest running play ever. Since the West End is known for its theatres, having the sculpture where the play is performed is so fitting. 

Monday, June 2, 2014

The Great Anton Walbrook

From the Red Shoes (1948)

From The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943)

One of our favourite actors is the great Anton Walbrook. Everytime Deborah and I visit London we visit his grave at St. John's Church in Hampstead and make sure it's in good condition. 

Born in Vienna, he had a stage and film career in Austria and Germany but he eventually settled in the UK where he made perhaps his most famous films. He came from a family of actors spanning 10 generations, but his father took this tradition in another direction when he became a circus clown. 

Walbrook was a very emotional actor, but an emotion held in check giving the impression he could erupt at any minute. This created an inner tension in his performances that is always fascinating to watch.

Some of his best films are - 

Gaslight (1940)
49th Parallel (1941)
The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943)
The Red Shoes (1948)
The Queen of Spades (1949)
La Ronde (1950)