I was told that we were going to have Christmas without decorations. But this turns out to have been not entirely true:-
Monthly Archives: December 2016
This is my last blog from Somerset – and maybe my last blog before Christmas – of a tomb (not very Christmassy, but beautiful in its lettering) in the churchyard in Milton Clevedon, off the road to Evercreech, next door to a farm which produces cheddar cheese in a bit of unspoilt Somerset countryside:-
Happy Christmas !
Whoever it was who was asking after the state of Piet Oudolf’s prairie style planting in the middle winter, the answer is that it looks surprisingly well black in the sunshine, as does Smiljan Radićs Serpentine Pavilion, which we saw at the exact moment of the winter solstice:-
Louise Bourgeois (2)
We went back again to see the Louise Bourgeois exhibition, to admire the extraordinary freedom and fluency and authority with which she drew in the last decade of her life.
I had tried to photograph the three shapes in a vitrine first time round, without success, but second time, I was at least able to catch something of the tower of stocking-like material:-
Durslade Farmhouse (2)
It’s a pleasure being in a building where the walls have been left in their natural state, showing signs of their age as the house was left unoccupied for a long time before the Wirths bought it and began to restore it in 2011:-
The Othery Cope
One of the best things we saw yesterday was the so-called Othery Cope, a late fifteenth-century cope which was discovered in 1897, wrapped up in tarred cloth under the pulpit at St. Mary’s, Othery, north of Langport, and embroidered with symbols of the Virgin:-
We drove to Glastonbury Abbey across the marshes to admire its late Romanesque portal showing the Life of Mary, beginning with the Annunciation, through the Visitation, with a bestiary in the outer voussoir. It was constructed after a fire in 1184, overseen by Henry II’s chamberlain, Ralph Fitzstephen ‘building it of squared stones of the most beautiful workmanship’ (Adam of Domerham):-
The Sheppey Inn
It was impossible to find anywhere for lunch for eleven people in Wells, so we went out into the country to The Sheppey Inn in Godney – a remarkable, remote village inn which I highly recommend:-
We had a return visit to Wells Cathedral for a tour with Emily Guerry who knows it inside out. Begun in 1175, it’s an astonishingly ornate example of Early English Gothic with an excessively sculptural façade, with quatrefoils copying Rheims Cathedral, maybe by French masons who came on from Canterbury (Canterbury Cathedral had burnt down in 1174):-
The reference to E.K. Waterhouse in the Comments section has reminded me that I have been meaning to find out more about his time at the Barber Institute. He was a Marlburian, a contemporary of John Betjeman and a year above Anthony Blunt. I don’t think there was much love lost between them. When I was at school, I was asked to look up a poem by John Betjeman in the school magazine which was said to have the acrostic EKWATERHOUSEISASHIT, but it didn’t exist (at least the additional ISASHIT was a false memory). After New College, Oxford, he went on a Harkness Fellowship to Princeton, where he studied El Greco, which was fairly pioneering for the time, and then returned to work, but rather briefly, for the National Gallery, which he apparently regarded as hopelessly amateurish (it was before the days of the Courtauld Institute). After the war, he was – all rather briefly – Editor of the Burlington Magazine, a Reader in Manchester and Director of the National Galleries of Scotland, before settling as Director of the Barber Institute in 1952. The quality of his acquisitions must have derived from an ample acquisitions fund, a detailed knowledge of the art market and independence of taste, partly derived from his time as Librarian of the British School of Rome in the 1930s, writing his book on Baroque Painting in Rome (1937). He also, which I didn’t know, worked on the British Art section for the Royal Academy’s big survey exhibition of seventeenth-century art, held in 1938, which led to his scholarly study of British painting.
You must be logged in to post a comment.