“We don’t normally look at light. We’re generally looking at something light reveals.”
For those of you who stop by here from time to time you’ll perhaps be aware that I’ve already documented my enjoyment of staring into space on more than one occasion – and as member of The Cloud Appreciation Society I’ve also expressed my love of “visible masses of liquid droplets or frozen crystals made of water or various chemicals suspended in the atmosphere above the surface of a planetary body”. So quite why it’s taken me so long to become aware of James Turrell’s Skyspace over at Houghton Hall is beyond me.
Commissioned by the 7th Marquess of Cholmondeley (sadly commissioning great pieces of artwork is not for likes of me and you) and constructed in 2004, ‘Seldom Seen’ is a one of Turrell’s Skyspaces – a handsome modernist wooden box hidden away in the nearby woods. And to a certain extent that’s about it. On venturing inside you’ll find benches running around the perimeter which in turn allows those who’ve got this far to look to the perfectly square hole framing the sky above.
So whilst I understand that I’m not exactly overselling Skyspace as a spectacle, you really do need to believe me that once you’re inside it’s a revelation.
I could if I had the time (and perhaps more importantly the literary capabilities) try and explain quite how affecting Skyspace is, but I don’t think I’d get even close so I won’t.
Instead I’ll point you in the direction of the various Skyspace installations that can be found scattered across the globe (with a recommendation to get to your nearest example sharpish) and this short video from Turrell’s website (where the quote above comes from) about the development of this simple yet extraordinary art.
Filed under: Art, Weather | Leave a Comment
Tags: 7th Marquess of Cholmondley, Clouds, Houghton Hall, James Turrell, Light, Seldom Seen, Skyspace, Staring Into Space, The Cloud Appreciation Society
Another evening at the tremendous Lee Valley VeloPark with Mr Weir snr. as a belated birthday celebration. Once again I took a large number of photographs, and once again I don’t think I have a single shot in focus.
Still as taken with it as I was last time and to an extent that’s because I still wasn’t entirely sure what was going on.
Filed under: Cycling | Leave a Comment
Tags: Lee Valley VeloPark, Revolution Series
Being encouraged to think isn’t something that happens as much as it should do. So time spent at the Battle of Ideas this weekend, a two day event encouraging “free thinking and open-ended public discussion” at the Barbican, was a bit of a treat.
In the America: the twilight years? session that I attended on Sunday morning Sir Christopher Meyer referenced the much disputed quotation from Zhou Enlai who when asked about the impact of the French revolution several hundred years later replied that it was too early too say.
So I may scribble down my (largely illegible) notes at some point soon, although I might just let the thoughts rumble about making connections when the time is right. That said unless medical science takes some leaps and bounds in the next few years I might not be able to wait quite as long as Enlai to reach my conclusions.
I shouldn’t hang around though.
Filed under: Ideas | Leave a Comment
Tags: Battle of Ideas, Institute of Ideas, The Barbican
Today would have been the 75th birthday of Mr John Robert Parker Ravenscroft, known to most as Mr John Peel.
If you’ve visited here before you may have caught my ramblings about John in respect of my work with the wonderful Magoo and in particular my efforts to get their second single played on the radio :
I tried to instigate this radio-play by hand delivering copies all over London town and remarkably bumped into John Peel outside BBC Radio 1, who commended me on my Bill Shankly t–shirt (boy was I trying hard) and promised to listen to the record that very evening – whether he did or not remains unclear however he played the all the tracks from the record over the next few weeks and remained a fan / friend of the band up until his death in 2004 – in fact Magoo were one of the very last bands who recorded a session for him).
As my recollection of events fade it’s nice to have some evidence to back up my claims, and having dug around the various John Peel show recordings that can be found on the excellent John Peel Wiki I stumbled upon this:
I hope John knew the extent of the affection many of us had for him whilst he was alive – as he’s still very sadly missed by the extended family of those who knew him through his largely peerless radio programmes.
Happy birthday John.
Filed under: Music | Leave a Comment
Tags: #Peel75, BBC Radio 1, John Peel, John Peel Wiki, John Robert Parker Ravenscroft, Magoo
In the days leading up to our recent trip to the “finest seaside resort in Western Europe” I stumbled across this piece over on the BBC’s website talking about an exhibition on the inordinately talented illustrator Charles Tunnicliffe. Usually when I come across news like this the exhibition in question tends to be happening in some far flung corner of the kingdom, however by thankful coincidence our time in North Wales happened to be planned with almost perfect timing, seeing us arrive within reaching distance shortly after the exhibition opened.
So through a short spell of driving rain (during what was an otherwise unremittingly warm and sunshine heavy week) Mrs Weir and I travelled across Thomas Telford’s famous bridge into Anglesey to Oriel Ynys Mon, Anglesey’s Centre for Art and History, to pay homage to “the greatest wildlife artist of the twentieth century”.
Although many consider Tunnicliffe to be a very fine illustrator his work isn’t perhaps as well known as it should be, however if you’re as fond of the publishers Wills & Hepworth and their Ladybird books as I am you’ll know him for four of the most popular editions from the 536 series – namely What To Look For In Spring, What To Look For In Summer, What To Look For In Autumn and of course What To Look For In Winter.
The exhibition featured a wide variety of Tunnicliffe’s work – with much of it being inspired by the island he made his home in 1947 – and included many initial sketches, measured works (he was nothing if not meticulous in his research), and finished artwork from some of the many books that he contributed to – including most importantly (for me at least) an abundance of examples from the What To Look For set supplied directly from Ladybird Books and the Reading University archive.
Plainly Charles Tunnnicliffe’s contribution to the art world was significant, however his illustrations for Ladybird Books were perhaps even more so given his role in educating generations of children and young people about the world around them. So if you’re in striking distance of Anglesey I’d highly recommend a visit to the exhibition to see the work on show, and to perhaps remind yourself, what to look for.
Somewhat coincidentally as I was writing this I stumbled across this documentary on BBC Radio 4 Extra, originally broadcast on BBC Radio 4 back in 2001.
Filed under: Art, Books, Illustration, Ladybird Books, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment
Tags: Anglesey, Charles Tunnicliffe, Ladybird, Ladybird Books, Oriel Ynys Mon, Reading University, Thomas Telford, What To Look For In Autumn, What To Look For In Spring, What To Look For In Summer, What To Look For In Winter, Wills & Hepworth
When the late great John Peel finally made an appearance in Who’s Who, one of his interests was noted as “staring out of the window”. For as long as I can remember I’ve shared this particular recreation and to be honest I’m always a little suspicious of those who don’t.
So whilst investigating the work of photographer Brian David Stevens, in particular his wonderful Brighter Later series, I was struck by the accompanying text in which he references W.G. Seabald’s book ‘The Rings of Saturn’, where the author writes of the sea anglers in Lowestoft:
I do not believe that these men sit by the sea all day and all night so as not to miss the flounder rise or the cod come in to shallower waters, as they claim. They just want to be in a place where they have the world behind them, and before them nothing but emptiness.
So in future rather than making clumsy attempts to explain why I’m happily staring out into space I shall attempt a more poetic response and tell people that I’m enjoying being “in a place where I have the world behind me, and before me nothing but emptiness”.
Filed under: Ideas, Travel, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment
Tags: Brian David Stevens, John Peel, Lowestoft, The Rings of Saturn, W. G. Seabald
One of Great Yarmouth’s finest exports recently pointed me in the direction of Here’s England, a book originally published in 1950 which is “aimed squarely at American travelers – it’s replete with history, architecture and practical travel information, but first and foremost it’s a book to be read for sheer enjoyment.”
Having now tracked down a copy for myself (a copy it seems once owned by the Nioga Library System) I’m delighted to see my home town coming in for great praise from the authors Ruth McKenney and Richard Bransten:
King’s Lynn was a complete, total, and wonderful surprise. When we came back to London, we discovered (sheepishly) that Lynn, as they call it for short, has for years been famous among English intellectuals, scholars, architects, poets, painters, novelists, and sophisticates in general.
I hope I shall not spoil your pleasure if I tell you in advance that King’s Lynn is a remarkable and beautiful town.
Quite what they’d think of the place some sixty years later is something we’re never going to know, however I think even the town’s most vocal supporters (and I consider myself up there with them) would be hard pressed to consider it “by far the most beautiful and interesting town in Europe” – still it’s nice to be considered in the running.
[The picture above comes from a postcard I picked up a while back, showing King's Lynn's South Gate which rather confusingly is noted as the West Gate - quite how the town has worked it's way round the compass remains unclear.]
Filed under: King's Lynn, Norfolk, Travel, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment
Tags: Great Yarmouth, Here's England, King's Lynn, Nioga Library System, Norfolk, Richard Bransten, Ruth McKenney