Friday, June 29, 2007

laughing in the museum

This week has been (almost) busy. Heavy rain on Monday turned our back garden into a lake (to the utter bewilderment of our cat) and our the contents of garage (which, being a zero car family, we use for storage)had to be hastily re-arranged as water started to flow in... but we got off very lightly compared to many in the midlands and the north. Tuesday night was KTog night. Wednesday (usually a day off) saw me at work for the stocktake, although I did escape for an hour to have lunch with my parents who were in Cambridge for the day. There was more stocktaking on Thursday afternoon (I was spared in the morning so that I could do my turn on the Cambridge Country Market--the organisation formerly known as the Cambridge WI Market-- stall and was delighted to do a roaring trade in my crocheted broochers and corsages).

I had planned to head off to the coast today (to Sheringham and Cromer, about 3 hours away by train) but overslept rather drastically. Tried to do some knitting but it kept going wrong. Well, I suppose to be fair it was me who kept going wrong, not the knitting, but I got really rather fed up with the yarn and needles and so hopped on a bus into town with no plans whatsoever at all. Somehow, I ended up here,where I had a wonderful time just using the "follow your nose wherever it goes" principle. And after some old favourites (cermaic, Italian religious paintings) I ended up in a gallery full of Howard Hodgkin's most recent paintings. And, forgetting all museum-goer's etiquette, I burst out laughing. For Hodgkin's later paintings are broad strokes of vivid colour, textural paint extending onto the frames. Whilst they look quick and spontaneous I noticed that several had dates like "1999-2003". Hmm, is all that texture to do with painting over previous compostions? One picture, in particular, has lots of horizontal bands of colour but then, about a third of the way in from the right, there is an angry vertical band of dark grey. Happily the only other person in the gallery was an attendant and she shared my amusement. Like me, she loved the colours but wasn't sure that she exactly "got" the paintings. But she drew my attention to the wonderful titles. I particularly liked "Old Books". Once I'd seen the title what had previously been just a load of horizontal brush strokes (the rather scratchy ones you get when your brush isn't terrribly well loaded with paint and the bristles are in annoying clumps) really did look like a stack of books.

After that I found a room with a selection of 22 satirical engravings, showing the way the English and French stereotyped each other in (more or less) the 18th century. So: starving Frenchmen roasting frogs on spits outside a pub called "The Roayl Clog" (apparently all French peasants wore clogs) and English ladies in poke bonnets looking most frumpy compared to the elegant French. One English soldier was depicted with a barrel of beer round his neck, possibly the earliest depiction of a British lager lout?

I think I'll have to go back and take another look! Am now planning to head off to the coast tomorrow, though I fear rain may stop play...

1 comment:

picperfic said...

you and I seem to have so much in common galleries are somewhereI love to go but much to Barry's annoyance, I do like to visit these places alone. I lose myself in them and smile and think and laugh my way round them. One of my favourite laughing experiences was to see 'the lettuce' (a pillar with a fresh lettuce tucked in a crevice daily)in the Tate Modern, I laughed, I liked it, others scoffed and scorned. Then I went to Paris a few months later and the very same sculture was in the Musee Du Louvre! More laughter with added disbelief and joy!