Poor painting!

Last week I spent 3 days in London with LSH (long suffering husband). I was there to collect my work from the Masters Show at the Bankside Gallery. While there I saw a few great exhibitions at the V&A and the Royal Academy. The RA's big blockbuster Abstract Expressionism is superb, but at the top of the house there is a fantastic show called Intrigue: James Ensor by Luc Tuymans.

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There are some really macabre paintings, of subjects not unlike those of the Mexican Day of the Dead, which are made even stranger as he painted them in pale or pastel colours. But what made my day, and I am thinking of writing it along my studio wall, is what he said of print…

“Poor painting! An art exposed to the incompetence of restorers and the imperfections of reproductions. I want to survive-I think of hard copperplates, imperishable ink, easy reproduction. I therefore prefer the etching as a means of expression”

Then I went to the V&A for their show of the year, “You say you want a Revolution? Records and Rebels 1966 - 1970”. When the V&A do a big show, they really do it well. This is a show that is well worth facing the Ryanair nightmare and heading to London for!

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So, on entering the show, I donned the headphones which trigger various music, interviews and sounds relevant to the exhibits and trotted into the time tunnel. The first few rooms are very “news-y”, with lots of things to read, and “fab” photos. There are also some of the costumes from the Peter Blake and Jann Hamworth's Sgt. Pepper's album cover, and various other iconic singers from the time. What struck me about these, and others that are sprinkled throughout the exhibition, is how small they all were.

The Vietnam War room has a screen on the ceiling where a helicopter seems to be hovering, about to land; then, halfway through the show, you enter Woodstock. Carpeted with grass, three walls of huge screens with a film of the concert, The Who’s drum kit, a Jimi Hendrix's smashed guitar, various singers' outfits and beanbags to lie down and experience it all! By this stage I needed the beanbag (and possibly a joint!), as I was wrecked trying to take everything on board.

After Woodstock, there are the various innovations of the time including the non-iron drip dry shirt, some thoroughly groovy furniture, a $10,000 kitchen computer that never sold*, and the Moon Race (complete with space suit, which also seemed tiny!)

Also featured are the different lifestyles and movements, and their ideals of the time, including; the hippie/commune and self sufficiency; the Peace movement; Paris student riots; the Black Panthers; as well as some from the darker side, like the Manson murders.

In another room there is a wall of people who were prominent during the 60’s and 70’s talking about their ambitions then, how they panned out and if they made a difference. To the left side of this there is a screen which shows footage of some of the most defining moments since then as The New Seekers “I’d like to teach the world to sing” is playing. The compilation was very stark at times; but, I was struck by how in the 60’s people had really tried to change things for the better.

The final glass case would make anyone weep. It contained just 2 items. A small hotel notebook with the original words of “Imagine” in pencil and beside it William Blake’s “Jerusalem”. And with both pieces of music playing I left feeling very sad that the world didn’t learn anything more from the Revolution.

Go to London to see the show - start your own revolution.

*Drop, an app and device for iOS will do the same now for less than $80!