Tuesday, 26 February 2013

The Door

A door thought closed in my mind
Opens when news of death hits home.
A door holding back memories of life
Before now, before knowledge, before.

A door of new friendship thrown open
In response to a confused lonely girl;
A door never shut to us at that strange
Never time between child and now.

A door into a world of laughter and
Light, easy times of warm delight.
A door to happiness, newness, with
Parties to raise roofs, glasses and spirits

A door mirrors her time, her beauty,
Living on because people like her just do.
A door to that 'other' links us with them
In rushing images untethered unbidden.

The door that takes the dead away
Will always remain open to remembrance.
The door that closes on those most loved
Will in truth be the one refusing to shut.

This door of losspain opens once more to
Remind me of people love, loved, gone
The door they emerge from to enwrap me
When I peer round, calling their name.

For my good friend's mother who passed away suddenly. Feb 2013.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Anatomies; or looking inside ourselves

How much of an expert do you have to be to write a book about something? Recently we’ve had physicists writing about biology; chemists writing about history of science, suggesting that if you’re a scientist, you’re qualified to write about something which isn’t your usual field. Is this because scientists are inherently curious? Or is it because a history or personal exploration of a ‘new to them’ area is perceived to be lighter, softer and more popular than their usual specialism? Or are we so consumed by interdisciplinarity that no subject is beyond reach if you have contacts in the right places, access to an excellent library and the confidence to carry it off? I’d still like to know where all the excellent history of science specialists are though.

Anyway I’m going to suspend cynicism in this case and take this new book at face value. Hugh Aldersley-Williams’s engaging and very personal book ‘Anatomies: The human body, its parts and the stories they tell’ is a brief history of the body as seen through various lenses of art history, culture, literature, anecdote and historic scientific obsessions and developments. His interest in the body arose through a gap in his knowledge – like many of us at school, if you wanted to do physics and chemistry, then biology fell by the wayside. Thanks to people like Adam Rutherford, we are aware of the technological advances in biology, genetics, the genome project and so forth, however, as Aldersley-Williams’s points out ‘it doesn't tell us about ourselves in the round’ (p xix). His interest is in looking at the way the body interacts with the world has a whole, the raft of meanings, and taking a wider view of the parts.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Ramblings about the Grotto Grande

Interior of first chamber
This piece of work has been sat in my MA file for years. However the subject matter has recently become quite popular and if the gossip is anything to go by, it's shortly to get the Dan Brown treatment. So before this happens, I thought I'd get this essay into an abridged form (ha!) on here.

The Grotto Grande, or Buontalenti's Grotto sits in a quiet corner of the Pitti Palace/Boboli Gardens in Florence and has been subject to many interpretations. It is very much a patchwork reflecting the personalities of the three Grand Dukes under which is was built. The ostentatious façade (1556-1560) built for Cosimo I began as Vasari's fish pond and decorated with Bandinelli's Ceres and Apollo. It was the partnership of Francesco I and Bernardo Buontalenti who designed and constructed the façade’s second storey and the three unusually decorated chambers. The completion of the third chamber and the finishing touches were provided by Ferdinand I (1587-92) after the death of his brother, Francesco.

The surface of the upper storey has been covered with material from nature. Stalactites soften the classical edges of the facade and there are mosaics of coloured shells and stones which picture the insignia of the various Medici dukes. Though they are now poor specimens and you have to really look for them, there are plants in terracotta pots behind the stalactite edges of the gable. There is an anonymous eighteenth century watercolour of the grotto showing large healthy plants; this was a considerable time after Buontalenti but there is no reason to doubt that this was his idea.

Friday, 8 February 2013

Olafur Eliasson - Model for a timeless garden

Flashing flashing flashing
Strobing flashing strobing flashing
Black white black white

An array of jewels are there not there
Spread out like Hatton Garden windows
Diamond drops the same not the same

Glittering moving stillness arrested
Piece after piece burbles frozen monochrome
Both suspended in air and tied to earth

If light had a sound this is it
Splashing pulsating radiating waves
Fresh water like liquid ice melts

Like rainbows in moonlight
A watery game an insight into magic
Model for a timeless garden

Flashing flashing flashing
Strobing flashing strobing flashing
Black white black white

Model for a timeless garden, 2011 

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

'Bang Bang You're Dead': Jay Gun at WW Gallery

After a normal day of Formula 1 photos, a university seminar on disturbing medical images and a podcast about Galileo and psychopaths, I returned home and wondered what to relax with on the iPlayer. A timely text from a friend recommended the Charlie Brooker Weekly Wipe - 'do it now - it's 30 minutes of life well spent'. This collection of acerbic observations from the news was amusing but the section on US gun culture needed no commentary from Brooker to be shocking; just to watch snippets of adverts, the Piers Morgan shouty interview with Alex Jones and the small child showing off her pink REAL guns was astounding. And worrying. Which is why when I saw Jay Gun: The Most Dangerous Man on the Planet, I didn't know whether to immediately laugh or cry.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

F1 Revisited - a new season of Darren Heath

A year older, a year not that much wiser, but the last twelve months have certainly blurred past. Whether it was 100mph with the landscape as coloured lines, a brief moment of dark introspection or an intense effort to stay focused, time has rumbled on; after all, another year, another Grand Prix season. Once again Darren Heath's images of Formula One give the office gallery a sense of excitement and drama. With a more leisurely interest I went down to see what differences could be found, given the exact same topic and medium which was exhibited a year ago.

Monday, 4 February 2013

Management Meeting Meop

How many times can you say the same thing?
Different ways
Round and round the table

Process mandatory pick up with the event of significant changes

All talking and no understanding
Communicating changes
Repeated views but merely louder

Definite definable outcomes easily auditable 

Blanket stares into the biscuits
Bottomless coffee 
Soporific gaze at clock going backwards

Publishing guidance on how to communicate

Red flagged emails read in a millisecond
Compliant lawyers
Responses required with no conscious awareness

Policy documents regarding multiple policies published

We are agreed
We are as one
We are a Single Remarkable Administration

Friday, 1 February 2013

Hearts of Florence

It's almost Valentines Day and warmth, Spring sunshine, tiny fluttering love birds (sparrows if I'm being honest) are in evidence in Florence. Being of a romantic disposition, I found the coldest and dampest museum possible, and was immediately drawn to the stone, metal and broken hearts of New York based contemporary artist Janice Gordon.