We are celebrating the fact that our small, Welsh cottage in the middle of nowhere has been shortlisted for the Architect’s Journal Small Projects Award 2020. It was not an easy project for Martin Edwards, its architect: how to add an extra bedroom to a nineteenth-century, rural cottage, without in any way jeopardising its character. He has done it beautifully by extending the line of the adjacent shed, but asymmetrically, so that the addition can’t be seen as one approaches the cottage from the north, and cladding it in Onduline, a lightweight building material like cardboard corrugated iron. Not only has his work not damaged the character of the original cottage, it has enhanced it. So, unusually, I am posting a photograph of it, bathed in the light of the evening sun, in Martin’s honour:-
We walked down to the river tonight in the evening light:-
The view is always the same, but always looks different according to one’s mood, and tonight the sky was filled by a dark cloud of a distant fire on the other side of the Straits:-
Snowdon in the distance, as always:-
The view towards Dwyran, with the Victorian church spire of Llangaffo in the distance:-
Some geese flew overhead (I don’t have a proper telephoto lens):-
And then the sun set:-
We have just had one of our fortnightly meetings fund-raising to fight the planning appeal. In some ways, it feels a bit surreal in current circumstances, but in others, all the more important that we maintain the continuity of historic institutions, particularly one which has been continuously in operation since before the Great Plague and made the church bells which rang in the Restoration. Equally, if and when this epidemic is over, it feels slightly surreal and actually faintly immoral that the Bell Foundry might still be turned into a luxury boutique hotel, gutting its interior, ripping out its history, and turning it into a bar and café instead of somewhere to maintain and develop craft skills.
I went for a constitutional on the beach. I think this is allowed under the current rules, although I was the only person in the world who thought so, which makes me feel guilty posting a picture of the sand without any footsteps and the distant mountains:-
I’ve realised that I can give a much better idea of David Walsh and his collection by revisiting it virtually.
The work which greets the arriving visitor is Julius Popp’s Bit:Fall, which is in many ways representative of the collection as a whole: making use of new technology, as much about science as art, by an artist fascinated by machines:-
The most popular work in the collection is Wim Delvoye’s Cloaca Professional (2010), because it involves a strong element of performance, the public assembling at 3 o’clock to watch a public excretion:-
And not to forget that it is a collection of antiquities as well, here is a picture of a late Minoan chest:-
I found in my inbox this morning a message of goodwill from the director of the CAFA Art Museum, the gallery attached to the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, which celebrated its 50th. anniversary in November 2018. Under normal circumstances, I might not have paid much attention to this, but the circumstances are far from normal and I found it unexpectedly touching, the sense of the international community of museums reaching out to friends across the world and the belief in collaboration, now temporarily in abeyance, but we can only hope will be renewed.
I’ve been asked by Mark Fisher to provide a bit more information on MONA and its collections to supplement my post yesterday about the book about them.
Without posting the whole of my long entry on MONA from my book (well, I suppose I could do that, but my publisher might not be so pleased), David Walsh was born in a suburb of Hobart and was a passionate collector from birth, beginning with coins and stamps and moving on to antiquities. His first museum was of antiquities, but then he got addicted to the more extreme forms of contemporary art – some of it macabre, some scatological, quite a lot of YBAs, like Jenny Saville. What I particularly liked and admired about the museum is that it’s very obviously personal, not just the standard works of the contemporary avant garde . I can tell you more when I’ve read the book.
Today is like yesterday, except everything feels completely different. Yesterday, we were effectively in lockdown, living in the purest self-isolation, but today it’s compulsory, with the prospect of being never-ending.
Anyway, I was surprised and pleased when a postman drove up and delivered an enormous box, which turns out to contain Monanisms, a book which is unobtainable in the British Library (even if the British Library were open) and documents very beautifully and luxuriously David Walsh’s collection which forms the basis of his museum, MONA in Hobart. An unexpected pleasure from the other end of the world.
Each day starts with a sunrise of unbearable vividness, the fury of imminent damnation.
It felt almost like summer out on the beach, alone apart from a few stray walkers with their dogs, acres and acres of empty sand stretching out to the lighthouse, no waves, only the lightest breeze, the sound of the gulls, and otherwise the uttermost, infinite silence and emptiness:-