Art Impressions Over The Last Two Years

There have been five exhibitions I’ve viewed over the last two years that have made a distinct impact on me, and it’s about time I write about them. All evoked emotions within that I didn’t always expect and I’d like to articulate and acknowledge that fact.

Three exhibitions in 2018 all have a definite French flavour: Impressionists in London-French Artists in Exile 1870-1904 (Tate Britain); Monet & Architecture (National Gallery); Rodin and the Art of Ancient Greece (British Museum). I realise today that my love of the Impressionists (especially Monet) & Rodin stems from my first visits to Paris with my fiancée/husband Rob. I recall my first visit to the Pompidou, a vast chasm to traverse, and not being particularly keen on what I’d viewed, except for a fun Henry Moore sculpture on the roof. My feet were killing me, I was tired, hungry and grumpy, and I was led into a small annexe. My eyes fell upon the Impressionists and it was love at first sight, I was totally enchanted. I understood these “dotty” pictures of colour (Pointillism) and was transfixed by works of Monet, Sisley, Pissarro etc. My mood lifted immediately and I remained in the annexe for some time, taking it all in. Another place we visited was Rodin’s home now a museum, where I encountered his wonderful sculptures including The Thinker and The Kiss. Once again I was enthralled and couldn’t help but notice the distinct “classical” fundamental basis of Rodin’s work. The similarity to the art, architecture and sculpture I was studying at degree level with Classical Studies was uncanny. So the chance to see my French favourites within defined contexts was too good an opportunity to miss.

Stepping into the “Impressionists in London” I was surprised to discover the historical backdrop to their “exile”. In 1870 France unwisely declared war on Prussia, Napoleon deposed, three month siege of Paris, a popular uprising (Paris Commune) and a brutal government response. No wonder artists left in droves desperate to avoid the war, conscription, famine and political reprisals if you were deemed “on the wrong side”. Apparently and I quote “these artists faced no entrance restrictions: anyone, regardless of nationality, could come and stay indefinitely, including political exiles”. How different Britain approaches the idea of “refugees” today! My dismay at this thought mingled with the knowledge of the conflict backdrop, and I viewed the exhibition with a deep feeling of melancholy that I hadn’t expected. There were a few gruesome paintings depicting the ravages of war and some views (I think early photo’s) of a decimated Paris, which was very sad to see. These acted almost like picture bookends to the remainder of the exhibition which displayed portraits, scenic views and depictions of “society life”. I loved the paintings showing the countryside around London (Pissarro-The Avenue Sydenham 1871 & Saint Anne’s Church Kew 1892, Hampton Court Green 1891), the portraits (Tissot-Empress Eugenie & Prince Imperial 1874-75) and the elements of Victorian society life (Tissot-Hush 1875, London Visitors 1873, The Ball on Shipboard 1874). Of course London featured prominently as well particularly the Thames, Westminster and fog (or should I say smog from pollution). Monet’s House’s of Parliament series cover all these bases well and I also appreciated the lovely subtlety of Whistler’s Nocturne: Blue and Silver-Cremorne Lights 1872. I viewed these more endearing paintings with an added appreciation, having been made aware of the tumultuous circumstances that brought the artists to London in the first place.

The Ball on Shipboard 1874 Tissot     The Ball on Shipboard 1874 Tissot

The “Monet & Architecture” exhibition brought together paintings the artist made of   buildings in London, Venice and various parts of France. It was thrilling to view so many works that have rarely been seen, never mind all together. Although the Thames and the Venetian canals were well documented, other less well known delights were on display. I was captivated by the Cliffs at Varengeville 1875, The Ball-Shaped Tree Argenteuil 1876, Antibes, Morning 1888 and Sailing Boat at Petit-Gennevilliers 1874. All had that unmistakeable Monet “touch” of dancing colour and a wonderful play on the light. I much enjoyed seeing the architecture within the larger context of its more natural framework. It was somehow soothing and definitely was nourishment to the soul, especially in these dark politically troubled days in Britain.

Sailing Boat at Petit Gennevilliers 1874 Monet Sailing Boat at Petit-Gennevilliers

“Rodin and the Art of Ancient Greece” was terrific and explained exactly WHY the Frenchman’s work had that “classic” feel. Throughout his life Rodin looked toward the ancient sculptures for inspiration, buying them from dealers, studying them and then making his own interpretation of the various forms. Suddenly all the headless torso models and limb fragments made sense, and the flow of movement and dynamics of form become easier to understand. Pallas With The Parthenon shows a beauty (Athena) the deity of sculpture seemingly wearing the Parthenon like a crown. The Age of Bronze looks incredibly lifelike and uncannily similar to an ancient Greek boy carrying a spear. Being able to view The Kiss and The Thinker up close and from various angles was a very moving experience. In fact seeing The Thinker in various sizes including a miniature version on the Gates of Hell, reinforced the idea of motifs being reused in various guises, just like on the Parthenon marbles. It also made you question the context in how you viewed a piece, as Rodin seemed to play with the emotion, gender and meaning of his classical muses. Seeing the Parthenon marbles in the British Museum clearly had a profound effect on Rodin, who until then had relied on photo’s and plaster copies at the Louvre as reference points. To see Rodin’s work alongside the classical masterpieces that inspired him was magical for me.

Pallas With The Parthenon Rodin.jpg                                  The Thinker Rodin

Pallas With The Parthenon Rodin               Two Thinkers Rodin

In 2017 I viewed an unexpected delight at the National Portrait Gallery The Encounter Drawings From Leonardo to Rembrandt. I thought I’d go along to see it as I’m a member of the NPG but had no great expectations. It was absolutely fantastic and I was somewhat awestruck. Here I was face to face with exquisite portraiture of extreme clarity produced with a deftness of touch that at times used nothing more than simple charcoal on paper. Pictures that were intimate, so delicate in form and nature (the oldest artist was born around 1394) that I marvelled they still existed. Paper was a relatively new and expensive medium to use during the artists lifetimes, and it was prepared with washes to produce different effects, before charcoals, chalk and inks were used to draw the picture. I just couldn’t get over the idea I was viewing something created as much as 550 years ago (Study of a Young Man by Pisanello (c.1434-8). Mind-blowing is all I can say. I marvelled at two Metalpoint drawings Woman Wearing A Hood by Domenico Ghirlandaio (c1485-90) and Boy With Curly Hair by Benozzo Gozzoli (c.1460). The latter one made me think of a photograph negative due to the way the paper had been prepared. It was near black but then the boys form seemed to come through in shafts of silver to beautiful effect. Young Man In A Hat, Probably A Self Portrait by Peter Oliver (c.1620) made me think of Shakespeare in style. And Young Man Wearing A Cloak by Francois Clouet (c.1560) and Francesco Salviati Young Man Looking to his Left (c.1540) were simply gorgeous with photographic type clarity.

Young Man Looking To His Left                        Under the Wave at Kanagawa Hokusai

Young Man Looking To His Left   Under The Wave at Kanagawa Hokusai

Finally the Hokusai beyond the Great Wave exhibition at the British Museum was possibly the most emotional and biggest highlight for me. I’ve known Under the Wave off Kanagawa commonly known as the Great Wave picture since I was nine years old, when I spotted it in an encyclopaedia section describing volcanoes/earthquakes and the possible after effects including tsunamis. The chance to see the real Great Wave picture was amazing and I viewed the exhibition twice. It was incredibly busy the first time, much quieter for the second which allowed me the chance to soak up the experience better. What overwhelmed me was the amazing intricacy of Hokusai’s work and that of Japanese woodblock art in general. After producing detailed drawings, these were painstakingly carved onto woodblocks, a different one for each main colour, and together the woodblocks would be used to print the overall picture. Eventually the woodblocks would wear out, the original picture form was usually destroyed during the carving process, and the mass produced product that sold for a nominal sum wasn’t usually of the highest quality. So the fact these pictures still exist in any number is quite miraculous. The nature, flora and fauna pictures were beautiful, the landscapes sublime, mesmerising and evocative, and then I came upon the Great Wave. Compared to my encyclopaedia motif (large postage stamp size) this was huge, and yet I found it oddly small for such a gargantuan iconic symbol. Of course I seen details I’d never noticed before, three boats not two, Mount Fuji so small in comparison to the stormy sea and monumental wave with fronds of foam. It appeared to emphasise how mother nature can destroy both her own creations as well as manmade ones.  As I stood taking in this iconic scene I was silent, aware of the beauty, intricate detail, simple colours and the powerful statement being made by this fragile artwork about our own tenuous hold on life, and the tears rolled down my face.

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ANGIES ALLSORTS SHOW 220 RADIO LEIGHTON 14TH NOVEMBER 2018

7.30-9.30pm: Part 1-56m 46s Song 1-11; Part 2-57m Song 12-23

When Radio Leighton began officially broadcasting to patients on November 14th 1968 Hugo Montenegro topped the UK music charts with The Good The Bad and the Ugly. In football, England was half way through its tenure as World Champions, Manchester United were the  European Cup holders and Crewe Alex had division three league status, having gained promotion in the summer. The UK was between Eurovision wins, Prince Charles celebrated his twentieth birthday as a university student, neighbour BBC Radio Stoke was only an 8 month old baby and man had yet to walk on the moon.

To celebrate Radio Leighton’s golden birthday   I’d like to take you on a nostalgic journey playing music and looking back at some of the news and sports headlines from over the years. Welcome to my Angies Allsorts News/Sports & Music Archive, and listen out for my Golden Team references throughout the show.

  1. ALSO SPRACH ZARATHUSTRA (GT 1: 2001 A Space Odyssey film 1968 release)

Elvis Presley used this tune to herald the start of his concerts after he returned to the singing stage following his 68 Comeback Special. Here’s a song from that TV broadcast

  1. ELVIS PRESLEY with IF I CAN DREAM (GT2: Elvis 68 Comeback Special)

Evocative lyrics sung at a time of racial conflict and inequality in the USA when Elvis’s nation was embroiled in the Vietnam War. Back here the Race Equality Act was invoked and the Dagenham Women walked out demanding equal pay rights. Considering the tensions in our society today and seeing people still fighting for equal pay NOT A LOT SEEMS TO HAVE CHANGED.  But something that did change for Elvis in 68 was he became a father for the first and only time, when his daughter was born on February 1st. Thanks to modern technology our Golden Team member Lisa Marie sings alongside her Dad:

Rarity Record of the Week: 3. ELVIS PRESLEY/LISA-MARIE PRESLEY with WHERE NO ONE STANDS ALONE (GT3: Lisa-Marie born Feb 1st 1968)

The loneliest people over Christmas 68 were the crew of Apollo 8 who became the first humans to see the dark side of the moon and to witness how beautiful and fragile planet Earth was. Just 7 months after Apollo 8 paved the way to the moon Neil Armstrong took his “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” when Apollo 11 went to/ Eagle landed on the moon in July 69

  1. CLIFF RICHARD with FROM A DISTANCE (GT4: Apollo 8 over Xmas 68 became the first manned space flight to leave low earth orbit and travel to the moon)

Extra audio from Stewart: Countdown & “Houston The Eagle Has Landed” announcement

Another man taking a giant leap that summer was James Bond when he got married to Tracy in the film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Who can forget George Lazenby in his only Bond film being widowed in a drive-by shooting on the way to his honeymoon?

  1. LOUIS ARMSTRONG with WE HAVE ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD

I mentioned James Bond because Daniel Craig the 6th actor to play the role was born in Chester on March 2nd 1968. So Daniel is another Golden Team member/ GT5. Somehow I don’t think his parents would have dreamed their son would grow up to play such an iconic film role, or be called upon as Bond to escort the Queen to the 2012 Olympics.

I’m reminded when I think of the 2012 London Olympics of the many events that have brought a tear to the eyes, such as military conflicts which have been seen on a wide scale throughout the worlds regions. In the sporting world football has had its share of tragedy since 1968 with fans perishing on the terraces of Ibrox in 71, Hillsborough in 89 and Bradford & Heysel in 85, and of course the Munich massacre of Israeli athletes in 72 deeply affected the Olympics that year. Our vulnerability has been particularly exposed when Mother Nature has vented her wrath through volcanoes, earthquakes, famine, flash floods and wild fires. Human error was behind disasters such as the Piper Alpha fire in 88, the Exonn Valdez in 89 and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010. But it has been human malice that has caused the most devastation with bombings during the troubles, Lockerbie in 88, the Manchester Ariana Grande concert and Westminster Bridge both in 2017, the World Trade Centre in 2001 and the London bombings in July 2005 the day after the city was awarded the Olympics. A small moving tribute to that dark time was included in the opening ceremony in 2012 and I think the hymn is a fitting memorial in acknowledgement to all those lost:

  1. EMELIE SANDE with ABIDE WITH ME

Of course it’s sad to think of those no longer with us but I think it helps to remember the joy and love those people brought into our lives. Celebrity alumni of the November 14th birthday club certainly live on through their achievements and include artist Claude Monet born 1840, US composer Aaron Copeland 1900, first Prime Minister of India Nehru 1889, discoverer of insulin Frederick Banting in 1891, and former first lady Mamie Eisenhower 1896.

There are tears of joy as well as sadness and during 2012 I didn’t half well up at times. Never in decades of watching gymnastics or the Tour de France did I think I’d witness Great Britain achieve the ultimate success in these activities. Bradley Wiggins became the first British winner of the Tour in 2012, since then Chris Froome is a four time winner and Geraint Thomas won the 2018 Tour de France. British Gymnastics Olympic success that began in 2012 has rolled on unabated to my utter delight. Other happy British sporting moments I recall from Leighton’s 50 years include boxing world champions Jim Watt, Alan Minter, Barry McGuigan, Frank Bruno. Olympic success for Torvill & Dean in 84 and a young rower Steve Redgrave won his first Olympic gold in rowing that summer. He went on to win 4 more golds in the following 4 summer games. I think Sir Steve’s 5 Golds from 5 games surpasses Sir Chris Hoy’s 6 Golds from 3 games for cycling. Lewis Hamilton won his fifth Formula One Drivers Championship this year. In 1985 Boris Becker become the first unseeded and youngest player to win the men’s singles at Wimbledon. And Dennis Taylor won the World Snooker Championship 18-17 frames with the last ball in the last frame, defeating Steve Davis. A good song to summarise the effort and emotion behind all these sporting achievements is:

  1. WHITNEY HOUSTON with ONE MOMENT IN TIME

The birth of a baby is a special moment in time and Radio Leighton shares its special day with French cyclist Bernard Hinault 64, former US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice 64, the Prince of Wales 70, British actor Russell Tovey 37 and Apollo 13 astronaut Fred Haise 85 and reporter Katy Kay 54.

Through medical innovation parenthood became a greater possibility in 1978 when the first test-tube baby Louise Brown was born. The lyrics from my next song I feel sums up parent love of a child very well.

  1. ANASTACIA with YOU’LL NEVER BE ALONE (GT6: Anastacia 50 on September 17th)

Another famous birth of 1978 changed the land of soap drama forever when the Ewing’s and Barnes entered our homes in the American soap Dallas:

  1. DALLAS THEME TUNE

Yes JR, Bobby, Miss Ellie & Co became household celebrities and The Who Shot JR saga made the national evening news headlines. Until JR and Southfork came along most people would have probably associated the city of Dallas with the assassination of John F Kennedy on November 22nd 1963. He was elected the 35th President of the United States in 1960 and was the youngest to reach that office. He later declared that man would go to the moon by the end of the Sixties. Alas, Kennedy never lived to see his vision fulfilled and the days of “Camelot” with Jack and Jackie ended. Another American couple who captured the world’s imagination were Danny & Sandy from the 1978 film Grease:

  1. JOHN TRAVOLTA & OLIVIA NEWTON JOHN with YOU’RE THE ONE THAT I WANT

40 years after Grease, it wasn’t Danny & Sandy making headlines but Prince Harry and Meaghan Markle when they married at St George’s Chapel Windsor. Here is a song from the wedding ceremony:

  1. THE KINGDOM CHOIR with STAND BY ME

Another “Get Together” that got people talking in 2018 was the impromptu appearance of Jason Donovan alongside Kylie Minogue during Proms in the Park. There little dance on the stage had the crowd ecstatic. You know both Jason and Kylie turned 50 this year, as did the musical Joseph:

Linking Lyrics Theme GOLDEN 50 YEAR OLDS (all show)/ Artist of the Week JASON DONOVAN

  1. JASON DONOVAN & KYLIE MINOGUE with ESPECIALLY FOR YOU (GT7 Kylie born May 28th& GT8 Jason Donovan born June 1st 68 both 50) [Note: I said Especially For You the third best selling single of 1988, it was actually fourth. I forgot Kylie’s I Should Be So Lucky was third, Yazz & The Plastic Population with The Only Way Is Up was second and Cliff Richard with Mistletoe & Wine was the top seller of 1988]
  2. JASON DONOVAN with ANY DREAM WILL DO (GT9: Joseph & His Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat performed in its embryonic form Easter 68 thus aged 50)

Extra audio from Stewart-HRL birthday greeting from Alan Harding & the wedding song for Scott & Charlene Robinson in Neighbours. Almost 19.6 million UK viewers tuned in to see this TV soap spectacle in 1988.

  1. ANGRY ANDERSON with SUDDENLY

The Marine Broadcasting Offences Bill 1967 changed radio history. The act was brought into being in the hope of killing off the pirate radio broadcasts that competed with the BBC services by playing pop music for a younger generation. The BBC decided to bring in Radio 1 to play pop music, whilst Radio 2 would update the Light Programme, Radio 3 would be similar to the Third Programme and Radio 4 the Home Service. Eight regional BBC centres would also be established including a Radio Stoke-on-Trent which began transmissions in March 1968 (GT10). The 1970 elected Conservative government of Heath allowed the concept of commercial radio to begin, and so the transformation of our national radio service was complete.

  1. RAY STEVENS with TURN YOU RADIO ON

Back in 67/68 when radio was being revolutionised an unknown horse that would become a household name began his racing career. As a two year-old Red Rum took to the flat circuit at Aintree in 1967, the day before Foinavon became the luckiest Grand National winner at 100-1 after a melee at the 23rd fence. After a year of flat racing Red Rum took to the fences instead and became a champion steeplechaser becoming the most prolific horse to run the Grand National. Rummy won in 1973, 74 & 77 coming second in 75 & 76. Here’s a little known fact, in retirement Red Rum was the first horse ever ridden by comedian Lee Mack who turned 50 on 4th August (GT11). Lee became a stable boy as a teenager because he had the idea of becoming a jockey.  A song that came out a few months before Red Rum’s first National victory was:

  1. THE OSMONDS with CRAZY HORSES

One of the most heart warming stories from the Grand National is that of Aldaniti and Bob Champion in 1981. The jockey had been given months to live after being diagnosed with cancer and Aldaniti had been treated for tendon trouble and a fractured hock bone.  By winning the event in 81 having overcome such life threatening hurdles proved that both man and beast had triumphed over the odds. Britain that year won the Eurovision Song Contest with:

  1. BUCKS FIZZ with MAKING YOUR MIND UP

1981 saw a young 19 year old by the name of Lady Diana Spencer making her mind up to accept the marriage proposal of Prince Charles. The happy couple married in St Paul’s Cathedral on July 29th 1981. The birth of two sons Prince William in 1982 and Prince harry in 1984 seemed to complete the fairytale story. Sadly their marriage did not survive and they divorced. On August 31st 1997 Diana Princess of Wales was tragically killed in a traffic accident, and the world mourned her loss.

  1. PAUL ANKA with DIANA

Extra audio from Stewart-Anthea & Shirley singing Happy Birthday

A hit in 1957 the year the Treaty of Rome established the Common Market (EEC, EU) with members Belgium, France, West Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and The Netherlands. The UK came to the party late becoming a member on the 1st January 1973. Unlike Radio Leighton there will be no 50th birthday celebration of EU membership for the UK as the nation is on the brink of withdrawal.

  1. EUROPE with THE FINAL COUNTDOWN

I’ve heard concern over Brexit with regard to the Eurovision Song Contest and football’s European Cup participation. An odd priority in my opinion, but fear not, because we took part in these long before 1973. In 1968 the year Radio Leighton was conceived, Man Utd became European Champions and Cliff Richard with Congratulations came second in Eurovision just one point behind Spain’s entry La La La sung by Massiel. No one probably heard of the Spanish contestant again. At least when Scot Fitzgerald sang Go for the UK in 1988 and suffered the indignity of losing by a point to Switzerland, the young winner Celine Dion became a world-wide sensation.

  1. SCOT FITZGERALD with GO

Extra audio from Stewart-the 1988 UK Eurovision song & Lets Party from Bob

Celine turned 50 on March 30th and sings a song with lyrics we can all relate to in today’s unsettling and turbulent world:

  1. CELINE DION with A WORLD TO BELIEVE IN (GT12: Celine 50 on March 30th)

Extra audio from Stewart-birthday greetings from Leighton Hospital Chief Executive Tracy Bullock

It’s time for me to sign off now and I hope you’ve enjoyed my nostalgic trip down memory lane celebrating some of the highs and lows over Radio Leighton’s 50 years of broadcasting. My Allsorts show tonight began with a 1968 film tune and I end with one here

  1. BARBARA STREISAND with DON’T RAIN ON MY PARADE (GT13: Funny Girl 1968 film release)

Good night and Congratulations Hospital Radio Leighton for 50 wonderful years.

  23. CLIFF RICHARD with CONGRATULATIONS (GT14: UK Eurovision entry 50 years   ago!)