Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Marrakech: a sketch in colour

It's my first time to the dark continent. I am sure this has been said before but the light here engulfs you, driving all thoughts of the damp gray miasma of London away. London, where the streets insidiously swallow you whole, like being banished to the underworld. Persephone would never have eaten so much as a crumb if she had been dragged down Mile End Road. Having seen London at its worst recently, I've never been so pleased to leave, and re-enter the world of not-London.

Marrakesh. This crazy, erratic, bountiful place where skeletal horses share the roads with tractors, lorries and motorbikes; and hungry eyed people are thrown bananas from the charitable stall owners. The abundance of colour hits you like the smell of the fumes, but like the skin of the exotic edibles, you have to work hard to get at the jewel-like interior. The green mottled oranges disguise the sweetness within; behind graffitied ancient frontages of winding faded peach/sand passageways you enter a world of silence and tranquility. And a fruit salad of colour.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Please Relics Me, Let Me Go....

Here, have some kittehs instead
This lecture was on relics and the cults of the saints and I was presenting – hence the post on propaganda. We have already touched on many of the topics related to saints and relics because they are so central to Catholic worship. Reaffirmed by the Council of Trent, in that particular session they discussed relics at the same time as images, so there is a mingling of ideas with many clerics not making a distinction between the two. 

On reflection and in my current state of mind – you try reading 20+books about Annibale Carracci in two days – the point our tutor made about Mary being the most miraculous was key. This is something I am going to revisit for my essay, however suffice to say that many icons of the Virgin were reframed and repositioned in Renaissance because of their perceived miraculous nature. For my real feeling on this entire subject, please see my concluding paragraph!

Wednesday, 13 November 2013


The pain sizzles and spins,
Unreal rainbows rise and rotate
As the escalator in my head
Spews forth movement.

The earth doesn't turn as it should.
The disorientation in my mind
Unmaps, unravels, undermines,
Lost stumbling forward.

The stomach queases sickly and
The battering ram of pain unstills
And unceasing assaults my eye.
Unseeing arms outstretched.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Kemp on Leonardo: 'Space Time and Form'

Almost exactly a year ago I was at a University of London lecture listening to John Onians and in my blog I touched on the nature of connections with a brief mention of the Royal Institution and James Burke. It so happens that the first time I heard Professor Martin Kemp speak was at that same venerable institution in early Nov 2011 and so it continues; from one great art historian to another, connected over subject, time and space, the threads that hold my interests together just keep tightening.

Professor Kemp was presenting the 2013 Murray Memorial lecture at Birkbeck College. He was an appropriate person to deliver this lecture because he was taught by Peter Murray at the Courtauld Institute in the 60s. The Murray Bequest is an important part of the History of Art department which provides student financial support, acquisition of books for the library and public engagement with free lectures like this one.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Relics: Ideological Messengers of the Church?

True Cross, Santo Toribio de Liébana, Spain.
(photo by F. J. Díez Martín).
This post has come out of a preparation for a class presentation on relics. The module name is 'the art of persuasion' and yet it seems that we have launched straight into the art without actually thinking consciously about the persuasion. Preparation for this course took place in July 2013 at the British Library with the 'Propaganda: Power and Persuasion' exhibition and so finally I was able to draw on prior knowledge to apply to an area in which I am becoming increasingly familiar.[1] To see how relics were used by the king and state, I also read recent books and articles.[2] When I talk about 'relics' I'm referring to the bodily fragments and associated paraphernalia associated with the saint in question which are usually kept in reliquaries or altars in Catholic churches the world over. Given that my tutor will be talking about them specifically, I don't want to cover the same ground as her.