a space to talk about faith, church, god, society, our journey and all that real stuff that matters in a post modern world … or just the ramblings of a bald post modern pilgrim! I must stress the postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent the views of the Diocese of Chelmsford, the Bishop of Chelmsford, the parish of St Barnabas Little Ilford, the Church of England or anywhere I may happen to be working. These views are personal!
On Thursday friends from Greenwich came over to look at the organ and consider playing to for us now and again. This may happen but it was great to catch up and have lunch.
On Thursday evening it was another amazing privilege to spend some time with Rikard and Zara, this time to see some of Zara’s stunning work that was on display as part of the (In)visible Exhibition at Espacio Gallery in Bethnal Green. With the artists there expressing the struggle and reality of life’s difficulties I found this to be beautifully painful experience.
Friday is my day off but the day started with coffee with Stephen Timms who is my local MP. Again, it was a joy to spend quality time with this great MP who has been committed to East Ham and Newham for an incredibly long time, and one who knows so much and has established good links. I hope in the future as we move on we may work together on some things of value for the community.
Later that day an opportunity came my was that surprised me and I grabbed! I looked on the BFI website to see that there were 2 or 3 tickets surprisingly left for a live screen talk with Keira Knightley. So I grabbed one, sat next to an Austrian film critic, and listens to just an amazingly wonderful interview with an actor I have admired for some time. Keira was humble in talking about just how much luck she had had with roles, genuinely pleased at the reception she received from people, and outspoken and strong in explaining that she had deliberately taken roles of powerful woman who challenged society. Its as an amazing 60 or so minutes which will be treasured by many that were fortunate enough to be there.
Ok … I know I’ve been quiet
It was forced on me … no broadband for nearly 7 weeks has been a challenge to me …. so tethering to my phone has forced me to use data wisely.
blogging does not fit into that wise use when you need to concentrate on emails and stuff!
Since yesterday, however, I have been connected again.
No more data watching …. but now I have too much to put into a post
I don’t know what to blog about …
I could write about …
– the excitement of meeting with the Serbian Orthodox church who meet in the St Barnabas lady Chapel twice a month (see the pic)
– the amazement of visiting the Trinity Centre that does an outstanding amount of of community work and support
– my thoughts on how I feel about being in the minority as I walk around this beautifully diverse neighbourhood and try to understand
– our first PCC meeting where we had loads of laughter and sharing of great stuff
– the wonderful cakes that are baked my people of the congregation and they way they just love hanging out together (our service finishes at around 10.30 and people were still drinking coffee/eating cake/chatting an hour later …. that is so special to see!
– the fact I am already on first name terms with a local landlord and talking about Christmas
– getting to chat with great people from the Schools Trust and exploring how we can work together
– the pub theology group that meets in the morning in the pub …. coffee only being drunk of course!
– visiting the Tate to see Shape of Light and The Clock alone and with friends
– having the honour of good friend Rikard staying and now having a copy of the beautifully painful book ‘Look, I’m wearing all the colours’ which makes me smile and cry in equal measure
Maybe I will go into more detail of some of those over the next few days
It’s been a pretty active time
so … seems I am back in the world of blog … it feels good!
I had an empty day yesterday …. a day of space with nothing planned … so I took the opportunity to go for a meander around the Tate Britain, specifically going to see the Rachel Whiteread exhibition.
Stunning was an understatement …. this exhibition is just beautiful and I will return a few times before it closes …. if anyone would like to join me sometime that would be cool (a perk of the membership!)
Rachel Whietread is probably most famous for the cast of a Victorian house in 1993/4 …. which you can watch in this you tube documentary here:
The ‘blurb’ from the Tate brochure says:
Her sculptures are made using the technique of casting with materials such as rubber, resin, concrete and metals. Unlike traditional cast sculpture, which is intended to replicate objects, Whiteread’s works instead cast the space inside or around everyday forms.
I’ve always loved the concept and I have wanted to see her work for a few years. I was definitely not disappointed and fell in love with a few space sculptures …. particularly the stairs (my pic above) and one hundred spaces.
For me, there is something profound and inviting in exploring the underside, the hidden side, the space around rather than the object itself. Through investigating the hidden side, Whiteread has revealed a beauty and uniqueness that we would never otherwise notice, that we would never otherwise experience, and so our perception of that image would be forever lacking something quite integral and profound. The scary thought though, I believe, is that it is possible to believe we have a full image while being totally unaware of the hidden.
I think the innovation of looking underneath, behind, below, above and around is vitally key to my pioneering and how I seek to engage with others. Finding and exploring those hidden spaces off the beaten track, or down the dark alleys of cities has often meant I have stumbled on scenes of unexpected beauty. It has always, without doubt, been in the ‘hidden’ spaces which I have searched out that I have had some of the most profound and humbling experiences with amazing, often hidden, people. Amazing awesome people who have been told and treated in ways that make them feel unworthy and useless.
As I continue my journey, which of recent time has been bloody painful on a number of different levels, I will continue to explore the hidden in full expectation of continuing to be surprised by what I find.
On the flip side of that … I guess there is a question in how much do we compact into our personal hidden paces, how much have we been led to believe that our hidden stuff is unacceptable and only fit for hiding. I suspect we all have a fair share of that …. I look forward to the day that maybe mine will be found and transformed!
To return to the start of the post … if you get a chance, go see the Whiteread exhibition … did I say it was stunning and all about exploring spaces …. yes? …. well go look!
If you have not managed to get to this exhibition then I’d encourage you to get there if you can.
The photos are stunning and although I have many favourites, ‘Glass Tears’ taken by Man Ray in 1932 is simply captivating. Yesterday, my second visit was mainly so I could go and gaze at this photograph again. I just love everything about this image …. the blurred reality/fantasy divide, the look of wonder, the siren-ness ….
The exhibition is a beautifully stunning collection of photographs that belong to Elton John who has generously loaned them to the Tate. He says:
‘Each of these photographs serves as an inspiration for me in my life; they line the walls of my home and I consider them precious gems. I want people to think, ‘I’ve never seen anything like that before, never knew this kind of thing existed’ – just as I did when I first saw these photographs.’
The walls of his home must feel painfully and unbearably naked. If I had such a collection I am unsure whether I would loan them out for so long – not because I did not wish others to see them … but because I would not wish to suffer the sacrifice of naked walls!
But … it seems Elton John has a good healthy attitude to ‘possessions’. he actually wants people to see them, to be aware of them, to be inspired and struck by them.
As well as the gorgeous Man Ray photos I fell in love with some Irving Penn portraits taken where he had placed his ‘model’ in a corner made out of old set scenery. The one of Dali made me smile but I found myself connecting with this one of Spencer Tracey in an unexpected way. the image is clean and relaxed and just exudes peace.
Anyway … I’ve talked shit for far too long … go see …. go see now!
Over the last few months there have been a few amazing experiences that I have had.
One was visiting Sotheby’s for the first time ever to visit the Bowie Collection.
I have always been a big Bowie fan.
I remember being shocked on the 10th January 2016 as I kind of had a mindset that Bowie was immortal.
I wept at the loss of someone I never had the joy to meet but still believed to be a friend, connected in some way.
I visited The Bowie Collection and was emotionally moved again as we were greeted by the amazing picture of the man himself saluting us in the middle of was was truly an amazing and beautiful exhibition.
The diversity of the collection was stunning and i can often choose a favourite, but on this occasion I struggled. The work that brought the biggest smile to my face came from a minnow in formaldehyde called ‘untitled fish for David’. All around the exhibition the labels told what Bowie paid for the work and where he bought it from. This one simply said ‘gift from Damien Hirst’ and was clearly some joke on the shark piece. I liked the thought of Bowie receiving this as a gift.
I particularly loved Odd Nerdrum’s ‘Dawn’ above. The juxtaposition of peace and calm and pain captivated me for ages … I could have sat in front of this for hours and hours. As a point of interest Sotheby’s estimated this would sell for between £60 000 – £80 000 …..it actually sold for £341 000 … amazing that an ‘owner’ of a piece of art can add so much value.
The collection guide had these words from Bono in the introduction:
In the end, his passion for art came from a deep conviction that ideas mattered and that the way we see the world has an enormous impact on the one we build, both personally and politically.
In the Richard Rohr meditations of this week we have been hearing a similar narrative. How we view the world, how we view people, how we view situations will determine how we react within them, and influences totally what we do and what we create next.
I believe ideas matter, but I believe people matter more … how we treat ideas and people is how we treat the world.
I attended a stunning exhibition last night. Disquiet Beauty ‘brings together the work of four artists who all explore notions of beauty and alienation, attraction and repulsion and the otherworldly in their use of materials and form‘.
Tessa Farmer’s fairy sculptures were amazing to see … and you could not help but smile at the antics of these superbly created beings. They are a real highlight of the exhibition.
The particular highlight for me, though, was Persephone, sculptured by good friend Zara Carpenter. The gathering went to see Persephone when she was being exhibited in Whitstable. I’d forgotten how amazing this sculpture is. It is easy to stand for hours and discover something new minute by minute.
There is something very alluring in this exhibition that pulls on a possible relationship between beauty and mortality … the desire to leave an impression and not be forgotten. I both inwardly smiled and was mildly disturbed in some measure by the paradox of beauty and death adjacent to each other.
So …. if you are in Rochester pop into the visitors centre to see this beautiful exhibition …. actually go out of your way to see it !
Thank you Zara ….. your time and amazing effort and curating this collection have given us all a little bit of joy!
I called in to the Matisse exhibition today at the Tate modern. For my birthday I was given a Tate Membership and I have been waiting for a good time to start it. Today was that day.
The exhibition is amazing. I will return, hopefully more than once, before it closes in September.
In a couple of rooms were video displays in which you could watch Matisse at work. I was struck by the vulnerability and trust that he showed. In his final years before his death, although he was able to cut the shapes himself he relied on his assistants for positioning those shapes. We see his assistants watching him intently as he directs them where to place each shape, how to rotate them, where the overlap should be … and so on. Every single piece of the ‘canvas’ ends up exactly where the artist wants it to be. Exactly. There is seemingly no room for error! To get to this, though, Matisse makes himself vulnerable and puts his reputation in the hands of these people.
It would be easy to argue that this is not vulnerability. At the end of the day, it could be said, the people put the shapes up and Matisse would eventually have said ‘ok … that’s fine’ … pretty much like the rest of us might do out of either exasperation or not wishing to offend. In one scene in a video, however, you sense frustration on both sides … frustration from the artist as the person is not hearing or reading where and how a particular shape could be placed …. and frustration on the assistant as seemingly the artists is being bloody minded and surely this is good enough.
Matisse exhibits vulnerability to the extent of being left alone with no help. I wonder if the were times when the assistants just wanted to scream, ‘I’ve had enough … I’m out if here!’ Maybe not … but I sensed there could have been.
I was particularly humbled as I watched Matisse at work and looked at his art as I moved from room to room. The rooms are set out in a rough chronological order. As Matisse gets older, more infirm, and seemingly less in control of his fine motor skills his works of art become more intricate, complex, ambitious and beautifully crafted.
I loved a lot of this work, but two rooms in particular struck me and caused me to pause … well it was more of a wait really, quite a long wait and I simply sat and looked.
The first room I gazed in was Ocenaia. Matisse built this stunning creation bit by bit, with no real idea of hat was going to happen. he cut and pinned pieces to his wall …. ‘Matisse had cut out a swallow from a sheet of writing paper and, as it distressed him to tear up this beautiful shape and throw it away, he said, he put it up on his wall, also using it to cover up a stain, the sight of which disturbed him. Over the following weeks other shapes were cut out and put up on the same wall.’ (Tate exhibition handbook)
The shapes are overwhelming, and simply invite you to rest a while … and I did.
I also got grabbed by The Parakeet and the Mermaid. A bizarre title of two things that should not go together as they normally exist in two different worlds. On this occasion though, Matisse brings them together because he can.
Matisse referred to this as ‘his garden’ and as he was too ill to get outside created something that brought the outside to him. I think that is sad, but wonderful in equal measure.
I sat in front of this for quite a long time imagining how this was a strong connection with the outside world for the artist.
I came away from the exhibition really quite stunned at how a frail old man, clearly struggling with life, and very weak could find strength to create such massive undertakings of work.
As Matisse becomes less in control his fine motor skills his work becomes more intricate.
As he becomes weaker, his art takes on a new hidden strength.
At a time when others his age maybe rest on their reputation, Matisse continues to push the boundaries and take on new challenges at a pretty major potential reputational cost.
I think that is an amazing level of vulnerability.
I came away wondering if my recent thoughts pondering the necessity for vulnerability and weakness to add value and integrity to mission are mirrored equally well in the art world … or maybe that is the other way round? maybe it’s more than that … maybe it’s a very human thing? Maybe this inbuilt requirement we have to feel less in order to do more is not just a bible/mission/christian thing …. maybe it’s more a human thing … a reality of humanity… to be continued … maybe
I had the great privilege of being at the cathedral this evening to view the Value of Touch exhibition and for the service of dedication for the bronze tactile plate which Wendy Daws has been creating over the past three years.
Good things were said tonight about Wendy’s talent and her desire for justice and accessibility of art and creativity for those with sight impairment. During my time at the cathedral I was fortunate enough to see some of Wendy’s work … but this bronze plate … which you MUST visit to touch …. it is amazing!
I could say more for how touch is important on so many levels as it speaks on a different league of acceptability and compassion … but for now I just feel really honoured to have shared in this tonight.
Thanks Wendy and Helen for the invite …. it was great to be there.
I’m looking forward to seeing this which opens on wednesday until the 19th August. If you plan to come and see it between 13th. and 19th. why not give me a shout and we can catch up over an amazing Deaf Cat coffee!
Today I had the great delight of attending the private view of ‘Frozen Estuary and other paintings of the Divine Ordinary’ an exhibition of Billy Childish’s work currently at Chatham Historic Dockyard. I can say nothing other than the work is simply stunning and very engaging. I could have simply stayed for hours and lost myself in some of the work.
I have had the pleasure of having 1 or 2 chats over the last 4 years with Billy and others in Deaf Cat. He is a wonderful person, very creative with great and interesting ideas and stories to share, but also a very ‘interested in others’ sort of person. He has a unique style and way of looking at life … and I have both enjoyed and been made to think by our brief encounters.
If you can get to this exhibition – it’s there until 30th September – then get yourself there!