In Vino Veritas 13

Episode 13

Life in swinging London was in non-swing mode, not helped by my sad ‘digs’ in downtown Putney. An upstairs room in fact. In real estate parlance it would be described as a ‘builders dream’ or, depending on your situation, a dreary dump. I can still see the only form of ventilation. It consisted of one of those 15cm acrylic fans that are let into windows. Wow. What with that , the Pompeii walls and threadbare carpet, this boudoir was not quite the ticket if I could get my hands on a bit of that mini skirted, wide-eyed womankind as seen on TV. Not only that, every move I/we made would be tracked on the owners domestic grapevine. No doubt of that. This would not do. Will fix. In the meantime a trip to Wales seemed in order.

My companion was another Kiwi, male this time , and unemployed.
Two of the images from this sojourn in the mining valleys still remain. Although there is, or was, plenty of mining on the West coast of Tasmania, (including the hazards associated with this industry), they did not approach the scale of Aberfan. It must have been in late October that, by chance, we saw the massed grave of 144 people, 116 of them children, who were crushed under this collapsed colliery spoil tip. The lowering skies were a backcloth for a scene of utter devastation.

 

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The second indelible memory of this trip occurred when we fetched up at a village pub to have a couple of beers. The natives, exclusively male, were friendly, and, of course, as soon as we opened our mouths, questions of nationality cropped up.
Once the words ‘New Zealand’ were uttered, the translation was immediate.
ALL BLACKS! Then….by some strange alchemy, a good chunk of the bar was cleared, various condiment bottles and napkin holders were placed in strategic points
and a goodly group of the locals gathered and, all very silent, watched proceedings.
THEN, a spokesman intoned, in a wonderful cantabile D Thomas sort of way exactly what happened at Cardiff Arms Park when there was a DISPUTED try in an earlier Welsh/ All Black game, which the All Blacks won. The pieces were expertly moved here and there around the park as the game progressed. The date? Wait for it…1905.

Back to London. After a while, but not with unseemly haste, domestic arrangements took a turn for the better. It must have been that linen suit that did the trick.
It seems that my other New Zealand friend, female this time, she of the table tennis fame, found heavy communal living not to her liking. Thus it was decided, (not discounting my iridescent wit and charm, nor her attractiveness) to put together an alternative arrangement. So, we agreed to implement a ‘cut the numbers’ living proposal.

Our accommodation, near Wimbledon Common, was a first floor flat. Downstairs, our Welsh landlady lurked. Her countenance resembled a map of the Brecon Beacons.
She was also armed with a 3 metre (or so it seemed) broom handle, which was whacked on the ceiling if she heard the slightest noise.
But, the real architectural gem in this place was having the bath conveniently located in the kitchen. If one was wondering what was for the next meal, this could be ascertained by seeing what detritus in the shape of fruit or vegetable offcuts that were bobbing about in the bath. It also facilitated a very convenient way of catching up on the days events whilst keeping a close eye on any boiling water involved in meal preparation.

Earning an income now moved centre stage….very quickly.

Music Box – Salome

Salome

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Salome, Acrylic on paper, 70 x 35 cm

The original play ‘Salome’ was written, in French, by Oscar Wilde. Richard Strauss saw the play and immediately set to work on producing a German operatic version. It was duly performed in 1905.
What with a heady mix of the biblical, the erotic, and the murderous all wrapped up in splendid music it was controversial to say the least, and banned in London until 1907.
Towards the end of the opera, after quite a bit of to-ing and fro-Ing, Salome, who must have been quite a girl, performs the then startling ‘dance of the seven veils’ before the besotted King Herod, finishing up lying naked at his feet.

Herod then promises to grant her most desired wish….. which, of course turns out to be the head of John the Baptist. Said head is duly delivered and is fervently kissed by Salome. Goodness. The climatic music is extraordinary, a much debated chord seems to echo the degradation of Salome. This lowly state does not last long, the lovely girl being crushed under the shields of the soldiers. Not too many jokes, but wonderful stuff.

This painting is currently available to purchase / for exhibition. Please contact me for more details.

The clip below is taken from the official youtube channel of the Royal Opera House.

 

Music Box – Gotterdammerung

I often listen to music as I paint…

Gotterdammerung

This painting was prompted by the closing pages of Wagner’s great Ring cycle.

Brunnhilde orders a huge funeral pyre to be built by the river Rhine.
Eventually she lights the fire, mounts her horse and rides into the fire to be consumed by the flames. The opera concludes with the glorious music of the Rhine
overflowing its banks and extinguishing the blaze.

Gotterdammerung

The first Wagner I heard was at primary school age. It was the introduction to Das Rheingold. I had never heard of Wagner, just loved the stuff.
The horns and lower strings transport the listener to a magical world, rather like watching the time lapse growth and metamorphosis of some fabulous plant. Ravishing.

The clip below is shared from youtube.

 

 

 

Mumbles the Tennis Player

Dear Auntie Gill,

I know you advice and mentoring is concerned with tennis problems but I wonder if you could help me with a rather delicate matter that has just arisen. I have recently had a birthday celebration, should that be the word, and have received a gift which was, and is, a deeply affecting present. Not only was it well researched, it was well chosen and, from my knowledge of the products, would not have been cheap. Top class would cover it. Deeply moved. To complicate matters it came from one of my female tennis chums, and, not to put too fine a point on it, she is rather attractive. The odd thing is that on the court she is demur and retiring, as quiet as a mouse, and not given to improper behaviour.
When we have baseline rallies I always hit the ball softly because her game is genteel and totally without any crash, bang, wallop stuff. A touch player. The only time she squealed was when a mouse ran across the court. She doesn’t run, she glides. When there are net cords she is so understanding. Always gives a rueful smile.
So what am I to make of this gift? Is there a hidden agenda do you think.?
She once complimented me on my designer stubble but that’s about it.
As you know I have led a sheltered life and making any kind of approaches fills me with dread. I stutter so much it is rather like the castanets in Carmen.
How should I respond, if at all? What happens if her boyfriend is a Sumo wrestler?
Hmmmm…I doubt that.
When we have a hug at the end of the match, I go weak at the knees. Mind you, they are weak enough anyway.
Any advice on how to proceed would be of inestimable value. I have a fine collection of back numbers of the Australian Women’s Weekly which could be of interest to her.

Please advise,

Mumbles.

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In Vino Veritas 12

Episode 12

Our penultimate stop was the very pleasant Dutch Caribbean island of Curacao. The visit was modestly interesting, mildly dignified by a good look at a huge oil refinery. Seen one you have seen them all. But lo!, said oil refinery is still in the news up to this very day if the splendid ‘Curacao Chronicle’ is to be believed. It seems that an American oil outfit has lifted the sanctions it placed on the refinery which has been operated by a Venezuelan state owned company. The Venezuelans have agreed to pay compensation to the tune of 2 billion dollars. One’s mind boggles at how much that would be in Venezuelan Bolivars, what with the current rate of inflation! If it was paid in cash, it could be conveyed in an oil tanker. Quite appropriate.

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After an eternity, Southampton vaguely emerged into view. Well, a thin, grey silhouette of it did.
Low cloud, drizzle, murk. A green and pleasant land lurked somewhere behind the shower curtain. Next stop London, and of course, more precisely, Earls Court. This was a well established Australian ghetto.
I wonder if the sobriquet ‘swinging London’ was, like the ‘ploughman’s lunch’, invented by an advertising agency. A ‘youth driven cultural revolution’ no less. One was attracted by the female look, ‘a mini-skirt, long straight hair and wide-eyed lovelyness’
Gosh. I certainly missed that wide-eyed bus alright. AND…a ticket to this fun- loving hedonism in a ‘shiny epicentre of style’ needed loads of crinklies. My financial epicentre lacked both shine and style.

Getting gainfully employed started on a rather low rung. Not to be confused with Dirk Bogarde, I did a spot of night portering. My movie was rather prosaic and very tiring. At 3 in the morning subservience did not sit well, never more so than with a battalion of South African guests.
Those, of the aristo variety, were cavalier, previously servant supplied and arrogant to the point of loathing. Their baggage seemed to consist of huge bags of recently minted krugerrands which had to be lugged up 5 flights of stairs. They never tipped.

Yet, moments of delight and great fun occasionally appeared.
Again, very late one night, a couple of postbellum Americans lobbed in. I dubbed them Rhett and Scarlett. Rhett glowed with a Jack Daniels tan and desperately wanted some ice for his bourbon. I explained that we had grief in our chilling department and no could do. He pressed on and on. Meanwhile Scarlett emerged from the bathroom crowned by a clutch of hair rollers whose wiring would break German radio codes. Rhett banged on AGAIN.
‘Right’ I said to him, ‘let me give you a simple questionnaire.’ ‘OK,’ he replied.
I went on , ‘If you take the **** out of ‘ice’, what do you get?’ ‘That’s easy,’ he said, ‘there is no ****in ice’. ‘That’s what I have been trying to tell you!’
He roared with laughter.
‘OK’, I said, ‘stay loose and, like general McArthur, I shall return.’ Which I did, clutching a bucket of ice which I nicked from a neighbouring hotel.
His gratitude was far more than a weeks wages, but beyond that a kind of friendship developed during their stay. As he was about to leave, with the oven -ready Scarlett, I presented him with a bottle of Haig’s Dimple. Quite right too.

Artwave @ The Quadrangle

 

18 August – 2 September 2018

The Quadrangle, Ailies Lane, East Hoathly, BN8 6QP

Across two large studios in an idyllic location in the heart of the East Sussex countryside, three contemporary artists share their unique take on abstraction. From expressionism to geometric, and utilising a range of techniques and mixed media, their work explores different styles and crosses over in unexpected ways.

Meet with and chat to the artists, view an exciting range of vibrant and thought provoking work, and soak up the calm and creative atmosphere of this unique corner of Sussex.

Original artwork for sale at varying prices, along with affordable prints and cards. Browsers also welcome!

The artists:

Chris Mansell MA

Chris Mansell graduated with a masters from the Royal College of Art. His abstract paintings combine painterly techniques with printing, and play with both minimalism and expressionism. Having worked for many years as a technician in a number of arts institutions, his deep knowledge of techniques gives depth and integrity to his work.

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“I suppose I have been, mainly, influenced by the painterly abstractionists, like De Kooning and Rothko, but my favourite work still decorates the cave walls at Altamira and Chauvet. I will never tire of looking at these images from 35,000 years ago which are still as sophisticated as anything which has happened since.”

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Abi Myers

 

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Although working largely within the abstract aesthetic, there are many underlying themes and inspirations behind Myers’ work. Interests in literature, psychology and conceptual art combine with a passion for colour, shape and the exploration of composition to create works which are both visually stimulating as well as being an expression of concept.

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Spray paints, acrylics, emulsions, marker pen, and other mixed media combine to create impactful contemporary abstract paintings.

Abi Myers graduated with a BA Fine Art from Portsmouth University in 2003. Alongside her own artistic practice she assists other artists and arts institutions.

www.abimyersart.com

 

 

David Armitage

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Armitage has been working as a professional artist and illustrator for several decades, and the relationship he has built up over time with this most primary of artistic mediums has been a balance, with Armitage mastering the use of colour and mark, whilst accepting his part as slave to the medium, inviting accidents as part of the creative process.

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Both abstract and more figurative works are inspired by various sources, including travels to other countries, shrines, landscapes, people and tragedy. Large scale colour-scapes are his metier, but he is also finding ways in which to distill the same energy, space and depth into smaller scale works.

Armitage has received much critical acclaim for both his painting and illustrative works, and has exhibited both nationally and internationally.

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The exhibition runs as part of Lewes Artwave Festival 2018. There are many other open studios nearby, please see their website for details, trails and maps.

Open daily from 18 August – 2 September, 11am – 5pm. Free entry. All welcome. There are no stairs, but the ground is uneven in parts. Purchases by cash / cheque.

Death as a Career Move

The idea of ‘death being a good career move’ struck a chord with Mumbles.
In a bizarre dream, with his cat (and confidant) Trevor, he came up with a cunning plan.
Perhaps a virtual death?

d r e a m   m u s i c…

Dawn. Washes of candy floss pink and Naples yellow caress the Eastern sky.
Jarring black contrast. Trevor sits atop the winged figure on the bonnet of the Silver Ghost.
He sports his black top hat, Stokely shades, black cane and gloves. Sits statue like, beside himself with grief, but set of his jaw Sherman square. Cortège solemnly glides through Polegate.

trev funeral
Turnout of local marching girls astonishing. Palpable deep grief. Trev tips the cane to acknowledge. The Uckfield Silver Band plays ‘Waltzing Matilda’, a ditty that needs no tuning and certainly didn’t profit from any here.
The splendid procession arrives at the Eastbourne Crematorium. Hushed silence as Trev stands beside the coffin. Coffin is bedecked with a tapestry depicting the heroes of the Tasmanian Artists Rifles Battalion.
Inside, the Crematorium groaned with the tear- stained great and good.

After stumbling over Daniel, Donald, Ronda eventually got to ‘David’ in a reminiscence that was a monument to brevity.
Trev stiffened. His Eulogy was a minute away. He shuffled his notes. Then, he became dimly aware of someone moving in to sit beside him. God, he stank. A horrendous cocktail of BO, Cutters choice roll-ups and over oaked Rioja. A halitosis laden breath engulfed Trev. This stuff would have burnt the paint off a German Battle cruiser.

It was Mumbles! ‘What the xxxx is goin on Trev? Who is the dude in the box? He looks as square as Queen Anne. Mumbles went on…
‘I come in here every day to get warm….about every hour or so it heats up nicely…’ Trev was incredulous.
‘Where is your earring?…’ said Trev…. and then his jaw dropped. ‘You haven’t got a left ear either, what the hell have you done?!’
‘I thought it was a good career move’, came the feeble reply. ‘Besides, I can listen to your terrific eulogy with my other ear……CAN’T WAIT!…..’

Mumbles awoke with both ears intact.