Category Archives: Uncategorized

‘’A Senseless Squalid War”

The reappearance of ‘’A Senseless, Squalid War’’ in paperback will afford wider access to the balanced and detailed scholarship of Prof Norman Rose. This is a sad story of the Palestinian Mandate is retold through the viewpoints of politicians and proponents; Arab, Jewish, British, French, German and American. It energetically conveys an understanding of the character of figures as disparate as David Ben Gurion, Richard Crossman, Haj Amin and David Lloyd George. Organisations, conferences and sticking points are deftly expounded. It does not lose sight the overarching motives and machinations of International Politics.

In 1915, Herbert Samuel, later Viscount Samuel, the first member of the British cabinet to retain his membership of the Jewish community, put forward a memorandum which proposed the possibility of a British mandate over Palestine. This became the famous Balfour Declaration. The response from the Prime Minister, Asquith-who like him had been at Balliol-was that Samuel’s suggestions were ‘’dithyrambic’’.  A classicist’s way of saying they were Dionysian, even drunken ramblings.

Asquith, himself known to his opponents as ‘‘squiffy’’, went on to say, in his memoirs, that the carving-up of the Turk’s dominions would lead to the scattered Jews of the diaspora swarming back to claim Home Rule. He proceeded to disparaging remarks about his younger rival Lloyd George, whose motives Asquith put down to jealous rivalry for control ofPalestineby the atheistic, agnostic French. Scarcely two years later when World War broke out,Palestinewas occupied and theOttoman Empiredismembered in the defence of the British oil supplies and the passage toIndia. The French gotSyria.Lawrencehelped prepare the Arabs to attack theHejazrailway supplying the German’s Turkish allies.

Norman Rose’s lucid and masterly history chronicles the rise of Zionism, the Palestinian Arab response and the bloody consequences which were soon to follow. This was indeed destined to become a senseless and squalid struggle;Britain’s last act of imperial aggrandisement, despite the fact that the mandate was approved in 1922 by theLeague of Nations.

Control was not consistent. Indeed, much depended upon the character of individual High Commissioners of the Mandated territories. Prof Rose in a few concise paragraphs sheds light upon appointments such as that of General Sir Arthur Wauchope, whom Ramsey Macdonald somewhat fecklessly,  assured Ben Gurion is ‘ a good man, a fellow Scot’ and indeed has a passion for music which guarantees that he entertains more Jewish guests. However, this was at a time when Palestinian Arabs feel threatened by the huge influx of Russian and European Jews. Sadly, when the Nazi persecutions multiply after ‘’Kristallnacht’’, the British policy had reversed and as war approached, later governors some of whom were brutish, authoritarian and overtly anti-semitic  limited Jewish settlement at the very time when a safe haven was not just necessary but crucial.

Pace is maintained and attention engaged by the description of eccentrics like Orde Wingate whose fanatical zeal for Zionism inspired him to develop techniques of guerrilla warfare that would become adopted by the strike forces of the ‘’Palmach’’. After the war, as the levels of desperation rise, such military prowess would later be devastatingly employed in the insurgency against the British.

The narrative leaves the reader with a series of clear, memorable and often bitter images. There is the sadness of the conditions on the ships where Jews from every part ofEuropesought refuge and were faced with further persecution again just after the Holocaust. Escaping ill-nourished families crowded beneath decks whilst a lone singer sang and rocked to a heart rending Hebrew song. Their immediate fate was to be transferred to a grim old small, dark and dank freighter, the ‘’Akbel II’’. Eventually they were arrested as ‘’illegals’’ by the Navy.

Another impression retained is that of patient wisdom epitomised by Chaim Weizmann who was destined to become the first President of Eritz Israel. Unforgettable too are the often impatient figures on both sides who advocated violence. Mohammad Amin al-Husayni, for instance, having encouraged riots went on to seek support for his version of the pan-Arabist cause from fascist Italyand finally settled for a while in Hitler’s Germany. The text is loaded with enduring facts about the numbers of divisions deployed by the British by 1938 in Palestine. This was severely to restrict support to the French in the event of Nazi attack. Then too there was the dubiously illustrious ‘’gloire’’ of the last cavalry charge led by the future General Sir John Winthrop Hackett into the Beisan valley ancient home to the Mizrahi Jews. Later and most indelible was the counter insurgency of hardliner General Barker which became known as Black Sabbath which was quickly followed in the bloody response left in the smoking ruins of theKingDavidHotel.

This graphic narrative has three essential features of quality historical writing. Firstly, subtitled ‘’Voices from Palestine (1890-1948)’’,it draws upon striking remarks, letters and diaries by major proponents and eyewitnesses. Secondly, it constitutes a pacey but clear exposition of the principal features of Zionism, Pan-Arabism with central concepts like partition elucidated. Indeed, it includes a useful glossary and ample notes for further research. Finally, it illustrates the woefully sad ironies of human folly. Not fully thinking through the consequences of an action in pursuit of an objective defeated both able administrators and astute politicians. The local population suffered. Sadly such mistakes have since been repeated over and again in theMiddle East since 1948.

Voices from Palestine 1890s-1948. A clear history of the troubles in the Promised Land from Herzl’s development of Zionism to partition and civil war.

Hugh Stoneman –The Master’s Master

Available from your local bookseller

“Hugh Stoneman inspired a renaissance in fine print making in Britain and the artistic scene in Cornwall”, according to Fiona MacCarthy in The Guardian and looking through the splendid 144 pages of this book, you can see just why this is the case. The 99 works illustrated include those of Sandra Blow, John Hoyland, Martin Leman and Sir Terry Frost. Many techniques-from woodcuts to photographs, linocuts to carborundum –silicon carbide grit mixed with acrylic binders- are employed. As well as an introduction, showing photographs at work in the seclusion of his purpose built house in the tree lined valley below Madron, there is a biography and a useful and instructive glossary of print terms.

The works illustrated  now belong to the Art Fund Collective and were on display at the Falmouth Art Gallery. The text indicates,”Hugh’s links withCornwall, were always strong . He was first based at Dod Proctor’s previous studio and later he bought Orchard Flower Farm, Madron in the early 1980s with his second wife Linda, which was to become the family home –Hugh commuting toLondonto his studio inLondonevery week”. Hugh was also deeply involved in an endeavour which is about to reach fruition in St Ives, the renovation of the Porthmeor Studios.

More details at http://www.breon-ocasey.co.uk/biography.php

Among the attractive variety of prints in this volume there are several which are of striking interest. There is the darkly mauve, purple and black image from Patrick Heron’s Brushworks Series, an etching made in his last year.  This is printed alongside the contrasting botanical, Spring 1957 by Dame Barbara Hepworth. Among the prints by Breon O’Casey, the vibrant simplicity of Four Circles 2003 stands out as does, for quite different reasons, the unusual vibrant simplicity of Little Girl on a Lion by Andrew Murray. This is an inspiring collection worthy of extended perusal; the fruit of many years of work by this masterful print maker.

Details of the Stoneman Gallery in Chapel Street, Penzance may be found at http://www.stonemanpublications.co.uk/

“The poet’s business is not to save the soul of man but to make it worth saving.” James Elroy Flecker 1884-1915

Undated photograph of Flecker

“O friend unseen, unborn, unknown,
Student of our sweet
English tongue,
Read out my words at night, alone:
I was a poet, I was young.” To a Poet a Thousand Years Hence

Flecker is often said to have been influenced by the Parnassians about whom Wikipedia comments:-

The Parnassians were influenced by Théophile Gautier and his doctrine of “art for art’s sake”. As a reaction to the less disciplined types of romantic poetry, and what they considered the excessive sentimentality and undue social and political activism of Romantic works, the Parnassians strove for exact and faultless workmanship, selecting exotic and classical subjects which they treated with rigidity of form and emotional detachment. Elements of this detachment were derived from the philosophical work of Arthur Schopenhauer.

These poets were French and were published in an anthology that was first issued during 1866, then again during 1869 and 1876, including poems by Charles Leconte de Lisle, Théodore de Banville, Sully Prudhomme, Stéphane Mallarmé, Paul Verlaine, François Coppée and José María de Heredia. The general style was influenced by the author Théophile Gautier as well as the philosophical work of Arthur Schopenhauer.

The Ballad Of Camden Town

I walked with Maisie long years back
The streets of Camden Town,
I splendid in my suit of black,
And she divine in brown.
Hers was a proud and noble face,
A secret heart, and eyes
Like water in a lonely place
Beneath unclouded skies.
A bed, a chest, a faded mat,
And broken chairs a few,
Were all we had to grace our flat
In Hazel Avenue.
But I could walk to Hampstead Heath,
And crown her head with daisies,
And watch the streaming world beneath,
And men with other Maisies.
When I was ill and she was pale
And empty stood our store,
She left the latchkey on its nail,
And saw me nevermore.
Perhaps she cast herself away
Lest both of us should drown:
Perhaps she feared to die, as they
Who die in Camden Town.
What came of her? The bitter nights
Destroy the rose and lily,
And souls are lost among the lights
Of painted Piccadilly.
What came of her? The river flows
So deep and wide and stilly,
And waits to catch the fallen rose
And clasp the broken lily.
I dream she dwells in London still
And breathes the evening air,
And often walk to Primrose Hill,
And hope to meet her there.
Once more together we will live,
For I will find her yet:
I have so little to forgive;
So much, I can’t forget.

Ballad of the Londoner


Evening falls on the smoky walls,
And the railings drip with rain,
And I will cross the old river
To see my girl again.
The great and solemn-gliding tram,
Love’s still-mysterious car,
Has many a light of gold and white,
And a single dark red star.

I know a garden in a street
Which no one ever knew;
I know a rose beyond the Thames,
Where flowers are pale and few.

A first attempt at translating into German

Ballade des Londoners

Die Glättung fällt auf die rauchigen Wände,
und das Geländer tropfen mit Regen,
und ich ueberquere den alten Fluss
Um mein Maedchen wiederzusehen..
Die grosse, ernstgleitende Strassenbahn,
Der ruhige geheimnisvolle Wagen der Liebe
Hat  viel  Licht des Goldes und weiß
und einen einzelnen dunkelroten Stern.

Ich kenne einen Garten in einer Straße
Den niemand je kannte überhaupt wussten;
Ich kenne eine Rose jenseits der Themse,
Wo Blumen bleich und wenige sind..

The Parisian Paintings of Jean-Louis Forain (23 October 1852 – 11 July 1931)

la lettre et labsinthe vers-1885

With Maupassant’s new version of Bel Ami portraying the belle époque, having recently been released in the UK, Forain is certainly of current interest. The trailer may be found at http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1440732/ Of course the well-known previous version was released by director, Willi Forst inGermany in 1939.

Forain was a French Impressionist painter, lithographer, watercolorist and etcher and has recently been the subject of some interesting and charming exhibitions. About his drawing the Spaightwood gallery, Upton MA ( http://www.spaightwoodgalleries.com/Pages/Forain2.html) says,”A participant in the Impressionist exhibitions of 1879, 1880, 1881, and 1886 and a close friend of Manet and Degas, Forain was considered one of the most important artists of the first few decades of the twentieth century, frequently compared to Rembrandt for his emotional power as an etcher. His drawings were regularly reproduced just as Daumier’s had been in the mid-19th century, but Forain’s not only ridiculed follies but sympathisize with the poor and the unfortunate. He was one of Ambroise Vollard’s stable of artists along with Renoir, Rouault, Chagall, Dufy, and many others.”

Forain was strongly influenced by both Daumier and Degas, the latter was a friend of some fifty years and acknowledged the closeness of their styles when he said, “He paints with his hands in my pockets”. Additionally Forain attended the famous heated debates which took place Édouard Manet and Edgar Degas at the Café de la Nouvelle Athènes. There is a particularly relevant and interesting discussion on the social history of such cafés and the development of the modernist movement at http://etd.lsu.edu/docs/available/etd-0903102-153114/unrestricted/Dees_thesis.pdf

Au café circa 1872 Watercolour 19.5 x 19 cm

Certainly, Forain was an assiduous painter of the café scene as may be discerned from the early watercolour sketch “Au Café” circa 1872. The engaging atmosphere and general bonhomie of the scene, perhaps in Spring depicts clerks and businessmen taking a breather at lunchtime, lovers meeting and the overarching foliage providing the shelter to bavarder over a glass of wine. The poise indicated by the extended legs of the figure seated at the table completes the mood. The influence of Daumier is certainly present; Forain was about 22 or 23 years old.

As is well known, Jean-Louis Forain had a ready wit and was the associate of Rimbaud, Verlaine and in particular Joris-Karl Huysmans. It was Arthur Rimbaud who wrote in a fragment,” Le haut étang fume continuellement. Quelle sorcière va se dresser sur le couchant blanc? Quelles violettes frondaisons vont descendre ?” Which has been translated as.”The upland pond smokes continuously. What witch will rise against the white west sky? What violet frondescence fall?” This is reminiscent of a lovely painting by Forain entitled Young woman standing on a balcony contemplating the Paris Rooftops, 1890.It was completed in Watercolour with black Conté crayons, red chalk and brush on paper and is to be found in theVancouver Art Gallery. It is appears as an early prototype of the bandes dessinées and the woman’s left profile stance resembles the figure in Seurat’s roughly contemporaneous Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grand Jatte,1884–1886.

An idea of the range of Forain’s work may be obtained from a suitable search such as http://www.flickr.com/search/show/?q=Jean+Louis+Forain&z=e

Seurat fragment fom La Grande Jatte
Young woman contemplating the rooftops of Paris

Heidegger Reframed By Barbara Bolt


 

Martin Heidegger (September 26, 1889– May 26, 1976is renowned for the complexity and subtlety with which his thoughts on the philosophy of being (ontology) is expressed. His ideas are inspired by numerous sources from the pre-Socratics, Plato, Aristotle and much of his thought dependent upon his early training as a Jesuit. He read and imbibed St Augustineand Duns Scotus. He trained under the phenomenologist, Edmund Husserl at Freiburgand his approach is deeply engaged with German philosophers like Kant, Schopenhauer and Nietzsche. He also read Kierkegaard with close attention.

His ideas about the nature of being are in stark contrast with those of Descartes which involve a split between consciousness and the external world. This Cartesian framework or dualism is embedded in modern science and Western thought generally. One result of Descartes philosophy is that Nature is subject by the mind to measurement and calculation and also to manipulation. This borders on what is termed instrumentalism and indeed the consequent exploitation of the environment. This, Heidegger with his alternative view of the direction of philosophy, he deeply and radically opposed. The implication of Heidegger’s thought for the creative artist and the making and meaning of art forms the thrust of Barbara Bolt’s text. His project is illustrated with specific reference to international artists like Sophie Calle, Anish Kapoor and Anselm Kiefer.

Generally considered as a great classic of Twentieth Century philosophy Sein und Zeit, 1927 is not an easy book to read even if you are thoroughly fluent in German. Concerned with existence and the nature of being, it is equally interested in associated questions about time. This central text focuses on the nature of reality and the being-right-there of existence for which Heidegger uses the term Dasein. Part of the difficulty of understanding this central work is that language almost seems to break down under the pressure of difficulty in communicating the awesome nature of human existence, which many would see as essentially spiritual. Barbara Bolt provides a thoroughly useful glossary to such terms in support of her guide.

This glossary contains some eighty terms; it is relatively clear but illustrates some of the difficulties in expounding Heidegger’s collected work, Gesamtausgabe, which itself runs to more than eighty volumes. Barbara Bolt explains in her early chapters concepts associated with Dasein which involve care for the self and other beings, Sorge, and in the face of personal and certain knowledge of death, the termination of existence on Earth, anxiety or Angst. For Heidegger there are two possibilities, it seems either falling into immersion in the day to day, which he terms ontic existence or striving with resoluteness for authenticity. This bears upon artistic endeavour in several ways; the acceptance of strife when faced with unsettling artworks, the necessity of praxis in art education and research which hopefully produces a practical and respectful understanding of materials by a heuristic approach. Bolt is interesting and thought-provoking in her exposition on this.

A perhaps greater difficulty in appreciating Heidegger, which Bolt mentions, perhaps too briefly, continues in current debate. This was his active involvement with Nazism and his eulogy of Hitler involving praise for his moral regeneration of the Fatherland. This has been, not surprisingly, a sticking point in the appreciation of the Heidegger canon. A discussion of this may be found in Inauthenticity: Theory and Practice, contained in JP Stern’s essays on literature and ideology, The Heart of Europe. There is particular concern over his treatment of his German-Jewish teacher, a Christian convert and former colleague, the proponent of phenomenology Husserl, to whom Sein und Zeit had initially been dedicated. He also took a renowned student, Hannah Arendt as his mistress and she it was who later to testified on his behalf at a denazification hearing in opposition to Karl Jaspers.

In a key chapter, Barbara Bolt uses two central concepts of Heidegger to evaluate particular art works. These are ‘enframing’ (Gestellung) and ‘poiesis’-a Greek term for making from which the word poetry is derived. Enframing, according to Heidegger, has negative connotations and is applied to methods like those of modern technology which treats nature solely as a means to an end and shows Heidegger to be an early proponent of environmentalism and certainly a critic of agribusiness. This seems to be echoed by concerns about the manner in which the business of art has been cheapened and debased by commercialisation and celebrity culture. There is, she explains an unholy alliance developing between advertising in late capitalism as evidenced, for instance, by Tracey Emin selling Bombay Sapphire Gin. Enframement also appears to include a criticism of managerialism; disapproval of the manner in which humans are treated often with statistical techniques as mere available resources. Before examining the concept of ‘poesis’, it is worth noting that this book is actually entitled ‘Heidegger Reframed’ and is one in a general series. This tends to give framing a different, presumably positive connotation that sits uneasily with the particular use of the term by Heidegger. Unfortunately, there appears to be no general series editor that could add guidance and cohesion to this demanding project of applying the thought of modern philosophers to art.

Bolt sometimes writes convoluted sentences in a somewhat orotund style which may be an understandable effect of propounding the concepts of this demanding, intriguing philosopher. Nevertheless, the style invites the reader to question some of the propositions expounded. There is no doubt that Heidegger had a particular view about the dominance of the scientific method as he conceives it. Also mathematics seems deemed uncongenial, whereas language, and also history with its different conception of time and certainly etymology are viewed by Heidegger as more relevant to his project. It is interesting to speculate how much he might have responded to philosophers of science like Thomas Kuhn whose views on paradigm shift, and those too of Paul Karl Feyerabend, might have influenced him had he been fully aware of them. Heisenburg, a contemporary and also a controversial figure, might have influenced Heidegger on his notion of how preconceived theories operate in science.

Heidegger as Bolt explains was inspired by poetry and must have been sensitive to its lyricism. This makes the reader question his apparent failure to respond to the beauty of mathematics which is in a sense a universal language. In general he was at pains to oppose certain notions of aesthetics associated particularly with the Enlightenment and Romanticism and the artist as an inflated, self-dramatising subject. In his conception of poesis, Heidegger approaches another mode of artistic appreciation and indeed gratitude which is guided by sympathy. The term, as Bolt makes clear is Greek in origin and involves openness to the bringing-forth or unconcealment of being. It is, for example, the sense of wonder when a butterfly emerges from a chrysalis or in the transformation when a flower blossoms from a bud. Heidegger spent a year in 1942 lecturing on Hölderlin’s Hymn “The Ister” which relates to theDanubeand examined the limitations of a metaphysical interpretation of art and appears to argue the case for spiritual values in art together with a feeling for place attained by intimate journeying. George Steiner emphasises elsewhere how Heidegger’s titles are those of peregrination and comments, “He has been an indefatigable walker in unlit places”.

Barbara Bolt has written an interesting book on a difficult topic. The publishers might have supported her with somewhat better illustrations than the few disappointing images provided. However, she has shown how Heidegger can illuminate the work of prominent international artists. She has provided an introduction to a highly influential and controversial thinker supported with a sound biography. This work encourages the reader to bravely question art and promote radically innovative ways of observing and researching related issues.

Lute Music in C17 Cornwall

lutesandguitars.co.uk

Lute players were highly prized musicians in this period. Their significance is perhaps illustrated by the fact that ”Il Divino”, a Lute player at the French Court, was the second highest paid member of the French Court. The French court itself often employed instrumentalists who were familiar with innovations currently being made in Italy. Players of the lute, harpsichord and violin were all highly prized for their services at weddings, festivals and feasts. Besides this type of popular music, which was often the subject of adaptation and improvisation, a more aesthetic variety of what might be termed art music was performed in the richer, grander houses of Lanhydrock, Trerice and Cothele.

Lutenists who developed their skills in Cornwall, like Charles Farneby, were drawn to London as is evidenced by the fact that they were, at the end of their days, buried there. It appears that children acquired knowledge of the lute, an expensive instrument which included its strings made from the small intestine of sheep, shipped from Venice, either at school or from private tutors. Their instruction was frequently passed on to children who in turn instructed servants so that they might entertain on a regular basis.

In 1978 a book of lute music was discovered at Lanhydrock which Brian had photocopied at a local solicitor’s office and has now been published as the Robartes Lute Book, 1654-1668 and contains pieces for the French lute in D minor tuning / with an introductory study by Robert Spencer. In general early C17 pieces were extravert in style. Later in the century the French influence of Queen Henrietta Maria showed itself in a livelier, more elegant manner as was illustrated by the performance of “La Maribelle”, a piece which gave some insight into the ambience of courtly refinement. A French painting of James Robartes, shows him fashionably depicted with his Lute at Lanhydrock. As the century moved forwards, the taste for the more complex and plangent tones of Dowland and pieces like “Merry Melancholy”, which Brian performed became more prevalent.

Another interesting resource and paintings by Ferdinand Hodler (1853-1918)

The useful resource is http://www.flickr.com/photos/32357038@N08/collections/

It contains many paintings, portraits and sketches easily categorised under countries and covering the period from the early medieval but focuses strongly on recent times. It is very good on European art around 1900. There is a folder on Eastern European artists which itself contains some 6 folders with hundreds of images in each folder. In relation to Friedrich Hodler there is an amusing blog,”Bearded Blokes of the Belle Epoque” containing many Hodler self-portraits looking as the blog-author states, “His work had a clarity of light, color and structure that made his work both modern and timeless. He produced a series of uncompromising self portraits throughout his long career. Over the years Hodler’s strong weathered features seemed to peer stoically into the future.”

Hodler is an interesting figure and a prominent Swiss artist, born in Basle. One incidental fact is that his son Hector, as Wikipedia mentions,” was born in 1887, and founded the World Esperanto Association in 1908.” His worked traversed a number of changes from Symbolism and Art Nouveau in the 1890s to Expressionism by the time this self-portrait was painted in 1916. Ras Murley interestingly notes on his Flickr page that,” The latter works present firmly drawn nudes who express Hodler’s mystical philosophy through grave, ritualized gestures.”

Landscapes by Hodler may be seen at http://www.artinconnu.com/2008/06/landscapes-by-ferdinand-hodler-1853.html and some more images here http://www.artic.edu/aic/collections/artwork/artist/960

An early portrait- prefiguring Dali?

A later composition

Self Portraits 1900-1912 (4) Stanisław Wyspiański

Self-portrait, 1902

“Stanisław Wyspiański (Polish pronunciation: [staˈɲiswaf vɨˈspjaɲskʲi]; 15 January 1869 – 28 November 1907) was a Polish playwright, painter and poet, as well as interior and furniture designer. A patriotic writer, he created a series of symbolic, national dramaswithin the artistic philosophy of the Young Poland Movement. Wyspiański was one of the most outstanding and multifaceted artists of his time in Europe. He successfully joined the trends of modernism with themes of the Polish folk tradition and Romantic history.” This is how Wikipedia introduces the man who is referred to as being the fourth Polish Bard; this must refer to Wyspiański’s literary skills since the other three are poets. The self-portrait that accompanies the article shows Wyspiański at the age of 33 in 1902. Why is this such an interesting portrait?

The Wawel on the left bank of the Vistula River in Kraków

It is executed in pastels and measures just 35cm by 35cm. It makes fine use of the whiteness of the paper to produce a crystalline, pellucid effect. This is clearly a symbolist work and shows his constant predisposition to add elaborate and striking floral designs. The self-portrait is to be found in the National Museum, Warsaw. However,he only visited Warsaw once.As is quite well-known, Stanisław Wyspiański came from Kraków, in whose general history and culture Wyspiański was deeply immersed. He was responsible for the design of furniture and interiors, and the development of Wawel, the astonishingly beautiful palace on a limestone hill overlooking the Vistula. In 1904 just before the emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria, gave the order to withdraw troops from Wawel, Wyspiański and the architect Władysław Ekielski worked on plans to develop the Warwel Akropolis. This is a location that he knew well.” His father, Franciszek, a sculptor, had an atelier at the foot of the Wawel hill, home to a cathedral rich with evidence of the strength of the former Polish state, and to a royal castle, by then an Austrian army barracks.” (http://www.culture.pl/web/english/resources-visual-arts-full-page/-/eo_event_asset_publisher/eAN5/content/stanislaw-wyspianski)

  Stanisław Wyspiański is associated with the movement which was referred to as “The Young Poland Movement”. It appears that some of its members attended the St Anne’s Secondary School in Kraków. Here the students were the pupils were taught in Polish-something which was unusual since the area was under Austrian domination and German used by the dominating power. Lectures were delivered upon Polish history and thus a counter-culture was inculcated.

A lovely presentation with a Chopin track can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VpxtIs_aQhw

 

 

Portrait of Ireny Solskiej.1904. Pastel. 48 x 62 cm. Muzeum Narodowe, Poznań.

The Hidden Landscape

The purpose of this book is to explore the connection between the landscape and the geology underlying it, which in one of many vivid similes Fortey  compares, the surface personality with the workings of the unconscious mind beneath. He starts by describing a journey he once made from Paddington Station to Haverford West, a market town in Pembrokeshire and with it a passage back into the plutonic depths of geological aeons, indicated by the large 60cm monster trilobites that have been found in the Cambrian rocks near St David’s. Fortey describes the magnificence of the Cathedral constructed from the local purple sandstone and mottled with moisture loving lichens. He contrasts this with the anonymous character of a nearby brightly coloured service station, anonymous and synthetic, an invader cheaply built and out of context.

Fortey’s tour begins with the ancient Lewisian Gneiss of theNorth-WestHighlandsand the formation in their complex metamorphic variety. He explains how these were penetrated by dark dykes of igneous Scourie, the action of glaciers and how in places the Gneiss has been overlaid by the local mountains which are masses of sediment. These latter layers are called Torridonian. They are some 1000 million years old and contain single-celled algae. Whilst describing the full complexity of this ancient scene, Fortey provides a useful glossary of key The Hidden Landscape by Richard Forteydefinitions which reassure the reader wanting to understand this full detail. He proceeds to explain the fundamental divide of theIapetusOcean. (Illustrated also in the accompanying photographs.) This once separated northern from southernBritainsome 500 million years ago, the closure of which created the magnificent Caledonian mountains.

The reader is swiftly conveyed through the Caledonian landscape which is economically characterised, ”This is where population density plummets, and where the Gaelic language lingers in patches. This is the country where metamorphism rules.” Crossing the MidlandValley, he is brought to the Southern Uplands- attract of land which sweeps across through the Irish Seato Down and Armagh. Here the rocks are dark sedimentary shales, paler grits and green mudstones. What makes the account engaging to the reader, is the digression into the fascinating history of geology where Fortey takes us back to the discontinuities in the rock, specifically at Siccar Point, which led to the discoveries of Hutton in the mid-Eighteenth Century of the processes of folding and overlaying with later Devonian sediments. We are shown with clarity how the early discoveries were made and the modern comprehension of geology as a subject derived. Fortey writes about the fascinating early episodes of making geology with the same skill as Roger Osborne in his excellent book, ‘’The Floating Egg’’

In the softer rocks and slates ofWales, the fossil trilobites are altered in shape in a manner which gives evidence of the deformations to which the rock has been subjected. In brief and characteristically diverting remarks, the connection between the geology of with Avalonia (Newfoundland),Canadaand theAppalachiansare mentioned. Additionally, Fortey notes that Cambria-Roman Wales, the Ordivicians, the tribes whom the Romans conquered and the barbarian Silures have all given there names to the internationally recognised geological divisions of the Lower Paleozoic. Fortey writes with poetic feeling for that land which also inspired Dylan Thomas to write:-

The heavenly music over the sand

Sounds with the grains as they hurry

Hiding the golden mountains and mansions

Of the grave, gay seaside land

‘’’The Hidden Landscape’’’ conducts the reader on an extensive tour that joins the primeval geology with the soil and the lie of the land as it now exists today. The flora, fauna, the occupations and lifestyle of recent generations are explored in detail. So in a later chapter the reader is introduced to the gentler morphology of the Weald. Even, the taste of the waters in Spa towns like Tunbridge Wells depends upon the sensitivity of human taste to very small amounts of iron salts. Water from ferruginous beds and the ions it contains gives it a medicinal taste- the reason the wells were established there in 1606. InKentthere are cretaceous chalks, sands and the blue Weald clay that forms the vale to the west of Romney Marsh.

This intriguing book finishes with a chapter encouraging respect for the visible landscape. ‘Texture is bequeathed by time’, Fortey urges attention to the local building materials that contribute to the individuality of vernacular architecture. He praises the use of these resources by traditional craftsmen. This beguiling book finishes with praises for the campaigns of Natural England, for protection of Sites of Scientific Interest and congratulates the hard working volunteers of Regionally Important Geological Sites, in their endeavours to preserve the variety nature has produced in the countryside over aeons. Well written and pleasingly presented this is a grand introduction to a popular subject.

Another Ukranian Self Portrait from 1908 by Kazimir Severinovich Malevich (Russian: Казимир Северинович Малевич)-

Self-portrait 1908

Kazmir Malevich is an interesting figure in so many different ways and stands on the brink of so much change both cultural and political. He painted in a wide variety of styles and created many masterpieces in a comparatively short period of time. For more detailed information on this extraordinary Ukrainian/Polish artist it is worth referring to http://www.theartstory.org/artist-malevich-kasimir.htm

He is most well-known for the invention of “Suprematism (RussianСупрематизм) was an art movement focused on fundamental geometric forms (in particular the square and circle) which formed in Russia in 1915-1916. ” However, his earlier work is very attractive and appealing. His self-portrait 1908 already shows a simplicity of form, intensity and dramatic  use of colour and composition. If that appeals then there is a pleasing You-tube accompanied by Bruch’s “Violin Concerto No.1 in G minor, Op. 26 at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JTkLh8NTXHA and another at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pP31bqFiy6s which is rather short. At MOMA there is another useful introduction,supposedly for children at http://www.moma.org/explore/multimedia/audios/1/2168

Head of a Peasant Girl
Self-portrait in 1933

A later self-portrait shows the influence of Stalinist art but retains a strong feeling of renaissance influence and a notably defiant expression and added his signature the picture with a tiny black-over-white square (the suprematist painting for which he is most famous).