Where Art Thou?

12May16

BLOG - Moore

Sadly my hometown isn’t awash with art.

The local Arts Centre recently closed down having struggled on for the last few years, and the alternatives are few and far between (although somewhat unexpectedly we do have a new gallery arriving soon, opening with an exhibition of work by Roger Ackling and Richard Long). So it’s both a surprise, and to a certain extant a disappointment to find that in 1964 the town was host to a unique exhibition of Henry Moore sculptures. Surprise because I was completely unaware that the exhibition had taken place, and disappointment because it’s a long distant memory.

For reference purposes evidence of this exhibition appears in the November 1964 issue of The Architectural Review, and whilst I’d like to claim credit for stumbling across this fascinating piece, that particular plaudit goes to @nfkadam, who appears to have come across it whilst spending an afternoon researching at the British Library.

In the introduction to the piece by art critic Robert Melville (apparently a key member of the Birmingham Surrealists, no me neither) he tells us that “Something wonderful happened to an English town this summer”. And that wonderful thing was this exhibition of twelve large sculptures by Moore, placed in open-air sites around the oldest and most historic part of the town.

Perhaps the brevity of the exhibition (it only ran for a single month) is the reason that the memory of it has faded so far from local recollection, however the fact it happened at all is rather wonderful.

Wonder if they’d be up for a return trip?


This Is That

07May16

BLOG - Small

Haven’t blogged for an age, which is a shame because doing so makes me a marginally saner human being. So I was cheered on reading a recent blogpost from Russell Davies, to find that I’m not wholly alone:

“If I haven’t blogged for a while I get a bit blocked because all the tiny blog size thoughts jostle together in my head and I feel like I can’t let them out until I’ve stacked them up properly into something coherent and LONG FORM. And I’m not very good at that so nothing happens.

I need to kick myself to get more small things out. So this is all this is. This is this.”

Which isn’t to suggest that my writing needs as much coherence as Russell’s, just that if he struggles from time to time to put pen to paper I perhaps shouldn’t beat myself up about my lack of success.

However I also need to kick myself to “get more small things out”. So this is that.

Hopefully.


Four years ago almost to the day (and there’s a reason for this) I wrote about stumbling upon a piece of radio which was both beautifully ordinary and extraordinary in equal measure.

Today the PM radio programme reprised Geoffrey’s earlier journey to Swansea, this time seeing him take a trip by train into Cardiff. And once again it was as lovely a piece of radio as you’ll hear all year.

Bravo Geoffrey and good to hear you sounding in such good spirits.


Dad

21Feb16

Me and my much loved dad – who died a year ago today.

For those of us that remain the world hasn’t been the same without him.


BLOG - HCE

Having not had the need to consult the Highway Code for many years I wondered recently whether it was something that still existed as a thing in the era of “digital by default”. And as it happens it does – in fact according to a popular shopping website the latest edition is a limited one “Celebrating 80 years of the driving test 1935-2015” – although if modernity is you thing you can also follow the Code on Facebook and Twitter. Strange times eh?

BLOG - HCd

Anyway the reason for wondering was as a result of picking up a copy of 1964 edition of The Highway Code (including Motorway Rules). Considerably more handsome than the 2015 version it features a handwritten introduction from the Minister of Transport Ernest Marples (who apparently fled to Monte Carlo in 1975 to avoid a substantial tax bill) and some tremendously handsome illustrations, which sadly go uncredited – anyone any ideas?

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Today is Delia Derbyshire Day – a day to the celebrate “the late great Delia Derbyshire (1937-2001) – a pioneer of electronic music in England in the 1960’s”.

Delia was born in England in the 1930s and after successfully completing a degree in mathematics and music at Cambridge she sought work with Decca records, where she was told that they did not employ women in their recording studios. Undeterred, and after working in Geneva for the UN, she eventually returned to the UK to join the BBC as a trainee studio manager where she became attached to the fledgling Radiophonic Workshop.

Once ensconced at the Workshop she quickly and quietly came into her own, developing and researching into the theory and perception of sound whilst using only electronic sources, and within a few months had created her interpretation of Ron Grainer’s Doctor Who theme – perhaps the most iconic and recognisable piece of music to come out of the Workshop.

Unfortunately by the middle of the 1970s it seems that Delia became disillusioned with where electronic music was going – unhappy it seems (and this may seem a little perverse) with the lack of craft she associated with those involved in the emerging world of the synthesizer. As a result of this she disappeared off the radar for many years before reappearing shortly before her death in 2001 thanks to a resurgence of interest in her and her work by a number of musicians including, (and perhaps most principally) Peter Kember aka Sonic Boom – who she worked with on a couple of albums released under the E.A.R. (Experimental Audio Research) moniker.

BLOG - Delia D

Thankfully (due in part to the people behind Delia Derbyshire Day) Delia’s name is perhaps better known, or at the very least more respected that it has been for many years.

So if you’re lucky enough to live in or around Manchester then there’s a number of events you can attend today including electronic music-making workshops, live performances and a number of film showings featuring her music. And if you don’t then Matthew Sweet’s radio documentary on The Lost Works of Delia Derbyshire from, originally broadcast in 2010, is well worth a listen instead.


BLOG - PM

Although I often think of myself as a bit of a miserablist (and thanks but there’s no real need to confirm this to me), I’m actually remarkably content. That said from time to time the idiocies of modern life (Mr Albarn and friends were possibly onto something) push me nearer to the ‘grumpy old man’ demographic than is probably good for me.

Thankfully when this happens Mrs Weir and I are lucky enough to be able to pack up our necessary, and to be honest many unnecessary belongings and get out onto the tarmacadamed roads of Great Britain. Over the years destinations have varied although somewhere that’s always guaranteed to return me to my natural resting point is the village of Portmeirion.

We’ve managed to visit the village designed and built by Bertram Clough Williams-Ellis a number of times on our travels and I can think of no place I’d rather be than sat in the sun outside of The Hotel Portmeirion looking out across the Dwyryd estuary.

BLOG - PM

So whilst in the deepest darkest recesses of this impossibly gloomy ‘winter’ I was a pleased as punch to come across this guide to the village (published in 1965) boasting “fresh words and bigger pictures”.

And what words they are. I have to presume that those found in the guide come from Clough Williams-Ellis given that they are as florid in their construction as the village itself, with this paragraph that comes towards the end of the guide entitled ‘The Welcome Guest – And The Other’ being a particular favourite.

“Portmeirion desires to thank the great majority of its visitors for their gratifying courtesy in helping to maintain a high standard of seemliness within its bounds. It hopes that this admirable example may perhaps shame the small and less thoughtful minority into the same mannerly behaviour. It is encouraging to record that practically no malicious damage of any consequence has been suffered in thirty years. But even the careless shedding of litter, the picking of flowers and trespass into places that are obviously private, or even so marked, are offences that, oft repeated, can prove extremely tiresome not only to the Portmeirion Trustees and the residents, but to the more civilised section of the general public as well.”

I’d like to think that I would be considered a welcome guest at Portmeirion but given the requirement of maintaining such a “high standard of seemliness” I can’t really be sure.

BLOG - PM#B




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