All posts by penwithlit

Freelance writer and radio presenter

Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Park & the little sculpture by the sea

Well welcome to Cornwall and to St Ives! Glad you enjoyed it and that sculpture garden is very lovely as your photographs show. There is more about Barbara Hepworth in the Penlee Gardens in Penzance including a lovely hospital sketch!


Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Park

One sculpture holds a pool of water, a remnant from the rainy day. In it floats a single insect that must be dead but could be merely floating and I watch as the water’s reflection plays on the upper part of the work’s inner surface.


It is quite entrancing to watch – the fluidity of the marks on the smooth surface matching its sweeping curves. What a contrast to the curated gallery encounter. Stupidly, I imagined a horrified museum tour guide discovering the water and exclaiming absurdly, ‘how did this happen?’


The signs say do not touch but I only see this afterwards and so I touch. It would be hard to resist the impulse anyway – outreach my hand toward the pockled green slate who has last been brushed by the winding branch or the delicate petal perhaps. The circular formed embracing – tempted…

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The Palace of Angels, by Mohammed Massoud Morsi

Sounds both interesting and challenging!

ANZ LitLovers LitBlog

I made heavy weather of reading The Palace of Angels, not because of any flaw in the writing, but because of its devastating subject-matter.  For my entire adult life, the Israel-Palestinian conflict has been a running sore, and whether I read Israeli authors or Palestinian ones, whether the books reinforce entrenched positions or argue for some kind of resolution, I always feel oppressed by what seems to be a hopeless situation.

The Palace of Angels consists of three linked novellas, What’s is Past is Dead; Twenty Two Years to Life and The Palace of Angels. What’s Past is Dead is a prequel: it’s about two youths trading hashish for weapons for the Palestinian side.  Their plans are reckless and naïve, but their life experience is not.  They have seen the capriciousness of death and they know, as all Palestinians know, that their side is and always will be outclassed militarily. …

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Harold Bloom obituary: ‘in quest of a mind more original.’

It's only chemo

One of the only remaining literary critics who hadn’t become a political writer rather than an aesthetic one, Harold Bloom was among the most Romantic, pugnacious and controversial critics of his time. His dictum that ‘the only method is the self’ divided him from an academy increasingly convinced that the only method was the use of socio-political-cum- literary ‘Theory’. The New York Times once described him as ‘the most original literary critic in America’, which is underplaying it not a little.

As he once said, ‘To a rather considerable extent, literary studies have been replaced by that incredible absurdity called cultural studies which, as far as I can tell, are neither cultural nor are they studies.’

Bloom’s views of originality, influence and critical judgement are well-summed up by this quote, from his great (and perhaps most important) book, written for a popular audience, The Western Canon:

What theory did…

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Harry Ousey-Neglected Colourist amongst the St Ives Artists


Very recently I attended an intriguing talk by Sue Astles, Ousey’s neice about this little known Northern  Artist. I found myself wondering just how such a brilliant colourist could seemingly be rather overlooked. Further information and background can be found at

and at

There are two possible factors which one might surmise for this aberration. Firstly, it seems that his interest in experimenting in so many various styles may have mitigated his being recognised for any definite style. His restless interest in both conventional and abstract work is not difficult to recognise. There is a certain interest in certain themes such as stone wall construction and the sea horizon. Certain influences seem to be lurking in the background from Miro, Dufy and perhaps Rothko. However, the multiplicity of his painting styles, doubtless including original work, could have inhibited proper recognition.

Such recognition might have been easier if he had access to gallery display. My second point is that I surmise that the influence of more recognised and prominent figures in the St Ives nexus made this difficult. Artists like Denis Mitchell and Terry Frost would have understood this. There was a social class barrier to surmount and I am fairly sure this is a pressure that a less wealthy northern painter would have encountered this even in the more enlightened postwar period. A glass ceiling even amongst progressives and bohemians!

Image result for harry ousey artist

Image result for harry ousey artist

Ousey’s later interest in environmental compositions reminded me also of the not dissimilar work of Margaret Mellis. (Not to be confused on grounds of alliteration with the abstract Penwith artist Marlow Moss!)


Autumn Trees 2

Liked the Adrian Stokes who I recently discovered married the painter, Margaret Mellor and contributed much to St Ives modernism.

The Eclectic Light Company

In the first article of this pair, I showed a selection of some of the finest paintings of autumn trees from the middle of the nineteenth century up to 1894. Here I continue until around 1918. Enjoy even more!

lacombechestnutgatherers Georges Lacombe (1868–1916), Chestnut Gatherers (1893-4), oil on canvas, dimensions not known, Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena, CA. Wikimedia Commons.

Georges Lacombe (1893-94), Chestnut Gatherers shows ‘mysterious’ woods in Brittany.

weirjfeastrocknewhaven John Ferguson Weir (1841-1926), East Rock, New Haven (c 1901), oil on canvas, 77.5 × 113 cm, Florence Griswold Museum, Old Lyme, CT. Wikimedia Commons.

John Ferguson Weir (c 1901), East Rock, New Haven shows woods near New Haven, Connecticut, with the prominent ‘trap rock ridge’ of East Rock as their backdrop.

brendekildewoodedpathautumn Hans Andersen Brendekilde (1857–1942), Wooded Path in Autumn (1902), oil on canvas, 69.8 x 91.4 cm, Private collection. Wikimedia Commons.

Hans Andersen Brendekilde (1902), Wooded Path in Autumn shows woodland…

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Dampfschiff „Fürth“: Die Abfahrt nach England verzögert sich

Das kurze, aber bewegte Leben des Frachtdampfers „Fürth“

Versicherung von Schiff und Fracht

Zusage aus London steht aus

Am 5. Oktober 1914 wurde das „Dampfschiff „Fürth“ vom Prisengericht in Colombo als rechtmäßige Prise erklärt und ging damit in das Eigentum der britischen Krone über. SIEHE:Das Dampfschiff „Fürth“ wird kondemniert

Der Abfahrt des Schiffes nach Großbritannien stand also eigentlich nichts mehr im Wege… eigentlich.

Truppen oder Fracht?

Zunächst war beabsichtigt worden, mit der „Fürth“ Truppen nach England zu transportieren.

Auf Ceylon gab es nämlich militärische Reserveeinheiten, die Ceylon Defence Force (CDF). Viele Freiwillige dieser Einheiten reisten nach Ausbruch des Ersten Weltkrieges nach England und schlossen sich der British Army an.

Der Plan, das Dampfschiff „Fürth“ für den Transport von Truppen zu nutzen und das Schiff im Konvoi mit anderen Schiffen segeln zu lassen, wurde jedoch wieder fallen gelassen.

colombo harbour, penfield 1907 Pier in Colombo, Abbildung aus dem Buch “Wanderings East of Suez in Ceylon, India, China and Japan” von F. C…

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Obsessed by devotion

A great poet and good to see new English translation too.

Poems of Nelly Sachs in English


Obsessed by devotion
and kissing the irons
and kneeling low before love
Gradually daylight
Intruding into the house of the dead
To be gathered up
Into the dream

Move mountains
Through the slit of a window
Evening in blood
Pain possessed
A key in the lock
No letter willing to stay written
And the door is a heart thrown open

And to tally the seasons
In the dark
Who can do that

The past of this morning
Put to flight
Future only in the lines of your hand
And there once and
Never again thus it is written

Marja in flames
The house of the dead in flames
Ice and key and mute
And now this minute
Never again –

Besessen von Hingabe
und küssend das Eisen
und auf den Knien vor der Liebe
Stückweise der Tag
eindringend in das Totenhaus
und ihn zu sammeln
zum Traum

Berge versetzen

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