Very nice piece in today’s FT, which I hadn’t spotted:-
The more I read about The Dig, the truer it seems to be – at least to the dynamics of the key players and the personality of Basil Brown. Someone has kindly alerted me to the attached account of Basil Brown, which quotes liberally from his diary:-
We watched The Dig last night, a perfect piece of lockdown therapy exploring the circumstances surrounding the excavation of Sutton Hoo just before the outbreak of the Second World War. I wasn’t sure how close it is to what happened, based as it is on John Preston’s fictional account. Carey Mulligan is definitely a great deal more attractive than the real Edith Pretty. Ralph Fiennes is totally convincing as the rustic excavator. Stuart Piggott who joined the dig at the invitation of Charles Phillips was definitely gay. So, it feels convincing, but possibly only in the way that The Crown is convincing, taking liberties with the truth in the interests of dramatic invention. Anyway, it’s extremely enjoyable, not least for its depiction of the intellectual snobbery of Charles Phillips, the Cambridge archaeologist who arrives to supervise the excavation and take all the credit.
So, after a long wait, not knowing quite what was happening and not being able to find out, I got the call last night and we went this morning to the Queen Mary vaccination centre in Arts One and we were done – the merest pinprick, but the most enormous relief, like a large dark cloud which now is half removed, the endless anxiety and precautions, not that they stop, but they feel suddenly less a matter of life and death.
The snowdrops are out in the garden:-
In our mourning for not being able to travel to Wales and missing the view of the mountains under snow, we have taken delivery of a bedspread which has our favourite places embroidered:-
My picture of the City now completely transformed by skyscrapers such that its distant profile bears not the faintest relationship to how it previously looked prompts the question how and why this has happened. After all, there was a moment not so long ago when the idea was that Canary Wharf should be the new Manhattan in order to allow the City itself to retain its character and integrity as a low-rise city, comparable to Paris, but without the boulevards, clustered round St. Paul’s. I know that Ken Livingstone was very keen while Mayor on liberating planning controls. But in the end responsibility for what has happened, good or bad depending on one’s point of view, must lie with the city planning authorities which is why I assume Peter Rees bears the greatest responsibility as City Planning Officer who, according to his biography, ‘led the planning and regeneration of this world business and financial centre from 1985 to 2014’.
I stopped as I was riding round Victoria Park this afternoon to photograph the City as seen from the far end of the park. I’m not sure what to think of it: a mirage ? What’s obvious is the extent to which its profile has changed so that the Gherkin – till recently one of the more recognisable buildings – has disappeared into the general high-rise mélange and the highest of the buildings, described by Edwin Heathcote as ‘the wodge’, is entirely nondescript. It’s what’s called ‘a cluster’. Another similar name springs to mind. All thanks to Peter Rees:-
You have to scroll down a long way to find The Art Museum in Modern Times, but there are lots of tempting books en route: The Crichel Boys, Marina Warner’s new memoir and Richard Wollheim’s Worms now reprinted, Midnight in Cairo, all available by mail order from JdeF. https://mailchi.mp/johnsandoe/books-for-new-year-and-winter-2021?e=2bdc7fa310
Brief, but beautiful:-
I went out to buy a bottle of milk this morning when my eye was caught by the wording of a poster right next to the tube:-
idea for a new art world
003: Curators should ask the public what they want to see and what they think galleries and museums should be used for
Interesting, I thought. The New Museology has arrived in the Mile End Road, alongside the chicken shops.
I read the rest of the suggestions:-
001: if I were the Tate, I would simply remove my racist paintings
How many might this involve, I wondered ? It’s a massive collection of nearly 70,000 works of art. Do they mean paintings on display or paintings in the collection as a whole ? Which count as racist ? It could be a lot, starting with Rex Whistler.
002: Universal Basic Income and affordable housing so that everyone, including artists, can make a living
A sensible suggestion.
004: people across the art world need to declare if they have rich parents who helped them get where they are today
I was interested by this being amongst the six top priorities of a guerrilla group and clearly an issue where internships have been so common across the art world and postgraduate courses so expensive.
005: the art world should not replicate the capitalist structures of other industries and instead should set a better example with a horizontal approach to decision-making and pay
006: dear museums, give back all stolen objects
An interesting set of thoughtful observations for the morning, written in a style they describe as cazjjj. I can’t think so many people are going to stop to read them, although it’s right next to a bus stop. Signed, the white pube.