Wednesday, 2 July 2014
A Culture-Fix Gets Me All Inspired
We seem to have had quite a lot going on lately. You know, when your head starts buzzing, because you have too many different things on the go? To be fair, much of it is good fun and hardly feels like work at all, but still - I reckoned we were ready for a few days off.
So, when John and I were invited to go and stay with my uncle and aunt in Beaconsfield (between Oxford and London) for a few days, it sounded like a grand idea.
It was lovely to catch up with my folks (and being looked after for a few days is always nice). We also took advantage of the location to visit some galleries.
We went to an exhibition at the Ashmolean on the way there, where I discovered (in my ignorance) a painter I hadn't heard of before: Chaim Soutine. I just loved his crazy, frenetic paintings of Ceret.
On another day, we visited the RA Summer Exhibition. I have not been for a few years. It's a mixed bag of course, but the wild variety of work on show is part of the appeal. I particularly like how it was hung this year, with paintings and sculptures reflecting themes and styles back and forth. There are always pieces to love and hate, but it's never boring.
We walked from the Royal Academy to Tate Modern. My Aunt and Uncle went to see the Matisse Cut-Outs show, but we had already seen that (wonderful by the way), so we pottered around the standing collection, which is always rewarding, as it's so well put together.
On Day 3, John drove us to the Dulwich Picture Gallery. I was desperate to see the Art and Life show, as I love the work of Alfred Wallis and Ben Nicholson. I didn't know Christopher Wood's or Winifred Nicholson's work as well, so it was a surprise that her work in particular really stood out. I think it was the most inspiring exhibition I've seen since the extraordinary Hockney show at the RA.
We spent ages inside the gallery, then I spent ages in the shop, deciding which book to take home with me, to keep the inspiration alive. The exhibition catalogue is really good, with excellent reproductions, so I treated myself.
If you have never been, the Dulwich Picture Gallery is a fabulously green and calm oasis, tucked away in the midst of the busy, grubbiness of South London. It was a beautiful day too, so we had lunch outside then I sat on the grass and did some quick paintings.
It was a good thing the exhibition was so brilliant, because the drive back to Beaconsfield was diabolical and went on for ever, through rush-hour traffic (poor John was a quivering wreck).
On our last day, we all went out for a lovely walk in the sunshine, along the bank of the Thames, out near Cookham (Stanley Spencer country - another of my faves). It was fun eyeing up all the mega-expensive houses on the far side of the water. When we came across these cows cooling themselves in the river, I had to ask people to hang on for 10 minutes, while I did a quick sketch:
Our wonderfully relaxed walk ended up by chance at a village show, where we had an ice cream and watched the dog show: always good for a giggle. And then, all too soon, it was time to start for home.
Thank you so much to Bill and Anne for putting us up, feeding us and generally making our stay so lovely.