Archive for the 'Arts' Category

Michaelangel – oh!

What a gentle man. I bumped in to sign-writer Gary Bevans this week, under his masterpiece. In case it’s not clear later, this is post about recognising artistic flair – or not.

In 1987 Gary saw the Sistine chapel, and came back with the idea that he could reproduce it on the very plain curved ceiling of his unassuming pre-fab aircraft-hanger-like local Roman Catholic parish church. The church of the English Martyrs (didn’t spot Ridley or Latimer amongst the depictions on the windows…!) is in Goring, West Worthing.

Gary Bevans under the Sistine Chapel

Gary Bevans under the Sistine Chapel

I must admit that though I had heard of this Sussex rendition of the Vatican, I hadn’t managed to see it before. And, whilst in the mood for admitting things, after first hearing a little about the painting, (I’m sorry to say…) I wasn’t sure about wanting to. After all, wasn’t it “just a copy”? A derivative?

The Fall - Goring Sistine Chapel

The Fall - Goring 'Sistine Chapel'

Actually, Gary’s rendition is much more than that. Firstly, the design is very cleverly thought out, Continue reading ‘Michaelangel – oh!’

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Panoramas, Hakas and Plinths

The Aotearoa-New Zealand High Commission in London is in a 18-storey tower-block called New Zealand House, a stones-throw from Trafalgar Square. The views from the top are spectacular – it is the tallest building for miles around that part of central London. Not quite as tall or as elegant as Skytower in Auckland, but good none-the-less.

NZ HOUSE

New Zealand House via Wikimedia

Skytower, Auckland, via 'kiwi' on Flickr

Historically, Kiwi citizens were able, on the production of a NZ passport to visit the penthouse suite at the top of the London tower block and appreciate it’s spectacular panoramic views.

For years, Kay had to wait downstairs, as Kiwi friends and visitors had the chance to view London from this unique vantage-point. When she finally got her own kiwi passport (she has dual UK/NZ nationality), and the opportunity to rise to the top floor, threats of terrorism prevented access to the public after all!

Kay has finally discovered a way to get up there though. A number of organisations run events in the penthouse suite, for example KEA, (‘New Zealand’s Global Talent Community’ – never backward in coming forward these Kiwis!) presents Continue reading ‘Panoramas, Hakas and Plinths’

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Public Platform

OK, so you have a chance for a national platform.

What are you going to do? What are you going to say?

Antony Gormley, of Angel of the North fame, has a new project up his sleeve. And maybe up your sleeve too.

Angel of the North - Antony Gormley

Angel of the North - Antony Gormley - photo Alastair Cutting

The Fourth Plinth, in the North-west corner of Trafalgar Square is the only one that does not have a permanent sculpture on it.

The Fourth Plinth Commissioning Group, an initiative of the Greater London Authority jointly funded by the Mayor of London and Arts Council England, has commissioned Antony Gormley/One & Other to produce a new work of art, and for it, he is planning to use 2,400 individuals each allowed on to the plinth for just one hour each, between July & October 2009.

One & Other

One & Other

How do I get onto the plinth?
You will be put onto the plinth by means of a special mobile lift designed for the purpose.
What can I do when I’m on the plinth?
You are free to do whatever you like, provided it’s legal!

What will I do, if I get the chance to be on there? Well, I think something visual, as I think something audio isn’t going to work well. I might, if I get selected, pursue a long-held interest in signing, possibly trying to use some British Sign Language. Wife & No.2 daughter are already well on in evening classes, and I am rather jealous. And without being offensive to those of other religions, I would like to do something on the plinth – should I get the chance – that reflects my Christian faith.

Well with the opportunity of such a national platform, being set on such a pedestal, what would you do?

When I got my application in, they were still under the 2,400 required (see above) – but fear not, all places are going to be randomly apportioned, making allowance for gender and approximate area distribution across the country. So if you would like to join in, than apply by clicking below. Looking at the regional map, after the first 24 hours, over 5,000 had applied, and proportionately, if you were from Northern Ireland, you stood the strongest chance of gaining a place.

One & Other

Amongst previous occupants of the Fourth Plinth is the beautiful Alison Lapper, in the white marble sculpture by Marc Quinn:

Alison Lapper Pregnant sculpture by Marc Quinn - photo Kokeshi

Alison Lapper Pregnant sculpture by Marc Quinn - photo Kokeshi

Made as she was pregnant and expecting her son Parys, Alison (an artist in her own right) has brought him up on her own, even though she was born without arms. The sculpture and the person are both exquisite; a moving, breathing Venus de Milo. Alison, like so many, is able in ways that I and others are not; and dis-abled is such an inappropriate, ill-informed and presumptive descriptor.

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London, in Synod week

This week I have spent most of my time in that other ‘London Eye’, the circular debating chamber of Church House, Westminster.

Church House Westminster - London 'Eye'

Church House Westminster - London's other 'Eye'

I, and others, have commented and commented elsewhere especially on the General Synod Blog, so do look there for some of what Synod has been up to.

I take being an elected member of the Church of England’s General Synod quite seriously, for though I am not a delegate, expected to carry others views, I do try to sit in as many of the debates and fringe meetings as I possibly can.

However, being in London has given me a rare opportunity to walk along the banks of the Thames on a couple of occasions, and last night get a cheap mid-week ticket to a theatre production after Synod business had finished.

I sat with a married clergy colleague, slightly uncomfortably, but also with huge fun, at Alan Ayckbourn’s revival of his 1985 ‘Woman in Mind’.

Woman in Mind

Woman in Mind - Alan Ayckbourn - Vaudeville Theatre


Ayckbourn was interviewed by the Telegraph in the run-up to the West End opening of the production, with the marvellous Janie Dee in the lead rôle.

The piece is set in a vicarage garden, and is based on the life of wife of the vicar. She has immaculate garden, an exemplary family, a beautiful life. Except, as it transpires, much of the perfection is in her mind – the reality leaves much to be desired. Ayckbourn does not really explore the causes for ‘Susan’s’ mental illness, but looks at it’s outworking.

I sent a text to my wife saying I was at a play about a vicar’s wife slowly going mad – she responded with a text saying she could introduce me to many clergy wives for research, and that most clergy wives were slowly going mad. She added she was not joking; which though I already knew, I needed to be reminded of; especially in the week this clergy couple celebrated a silver jubilee of years since our engagement.

Ayckbourn’s play is perplexing, and I think probably a commentary on many professional people of our time, not just vicar’s wives. But the play is not without humour, or indeed hope. Note to self, may need to pick up dreamy immaculate white suit on the way home…

One further suggestion from a couple of colleagues was to try and get to the Byzantium Exhibition at the Royal Academy before heading home. More signs of hope.

Byzantium Exhibition

Byzantium Exhibition

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Individual Surprises

Now and again I come across someone (or something) I feel I ought to have known much more about. Listening to the radio today revealed some fascinating insights into the life of Thomas Quasthoff – not to mention some good choices in music!

Thomas Quasthoff

Thomas’ superb bass/baritone voice is in no way compromised by the effect thalidomide had on his limbs before birth. Although a nurse identified his musicality before he was even a year old, his musical education was almost extinguished before it started, as the college would not accept him without an instrument to his repertoire, even though playing was physically an impossibility. A brilliant and talented character.

It reminded me a bit of Australian Nick Vujicic‘s incredible vitality and faith, after someone sent me link a few months ago

              

Even in churches, we do not always treat people with the respect and honour we ought, or spot the potential in them. A number of years ago Alyn Haskey was told that his cerebral palsy would prevent him from being ordained. Fortunately, after a change in perception, rather than a change in Alyn’s call, he has now been ordained in the CofE, and has an active peripatetic ministry based around the Midlands.

Rev'd Alyn Haskey

The Rev’d Alyn Haskey

At next weeks General Synod, I will be looking forward to catching up with several ‘alternatively abled’ friends, including Vera Hunt, Katie Tupling, and Pete Spiers, who have taught me much about wholeness.

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