As promised yesterday, here are the photos of Nathan Coley’s exhibit at GoMA, The Lamp of Sacrifice, 286 Places of Worship, Edinburgh 2004. He began with a couple of pages torn from the Yellow Pages.

The work is based on Ruskin’s idea that “buildings and architecture are two separate things – one being purely functional and the other having meaning” (GoMA handout). So Coley made cardboard models of 286 churches listed in the Yellow Pages and assembled them in a higgledy-piggledy fashion on GoMA’s floor.

I added what could be construed as meaning, if you believe in that sort of thing, by positioning a tall white pillar behind a spire to represent the elevator to Heaven. I also cropped the bit showing the ceiling so as not to spoil the illusion. But I did leave in the Yellow Pages, so there would be a bible of sorts.

Here’s a bird’s eye view of this strange ecumenopolis.

I find this fascinating. Architectural models of any sort always draw attention, whether it’s Hitler’s model of the new Berlin or a model railway layout. Here, the absence of streets focuses attention on the buildings and how you might navigate between them. Should you want to. Not many people do.

A Sense of Space, Rendered Flat

One of the things I did when I fled to Glasgow on Referendum Day was to visit the Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA). It’s one of my favourite places, combining a fine neoclassical building with uncluttered, beautiful, modern interior spaces, and interesting exhibits. And it’s free.

There were a couple of artists whose work I photographed. The first is Sara Barker, with For Myself and Strangers. The other, Nathan Coley, I’ll leave till tomorrow.

Barker makes abstract 3-D sculptures out of wire and painted materials that change as you move round them – no view of the the work is ever the same, because your position/perspective is always changing. By photographing one of them, I rendered it flat, but a photo from another angle sees it differently.

It makes me think of the fight for independence, about the sense of freedom and space it opened up, now rendered flat. Still an absorbing picture, depending on your point of view, but without movement a set of partisan images.

Grayson Perry: Playing To The Gallery

Grayson PerryThis year’s BBC Reith Lectures are on the subject of that mysterious place, the art world. I’ve never quite understood how it works. Fortunately, Grayson Perry is here to tell us, based on his 30 year career as a successful potter.

He’s an engaging speaker, direct, honest, witty, cynical, yet serious about art. The titles of the four lectures – Democracy Has Bad Taste, Beating The Bounds, Nice Rebellion, Welcome In!, I Found Myself In The Art World – let you know he’s going to places less honest commentators wouldn’t touch with a barge pole. It’s subversive and affectionate at the same time.

Perry gives the lectures in his alter-ego as Claire, but since this is radio, it falls to Sue Lawley to describe his frocks, all designed by his students.

Grayson Perry: Playing To The Gallery

And here’s a video interview from a year ago.

The Art of Australia

The Gathering - Sidney NolanThe BBC recently broadcast The Art of Australia, presented by Edmund Capon, a former Director of the Art Gallery of New South Wales. I knew nothing about Australian art, not even the names of any artists, so I watched the documentary to see what I was missing. A whole world, apparently – I was blown away by the energy, bravura, and sheer diversity of Australia’s artistic output.

The BBC series has packed up its tents and the programs are no longer available. Fortunately, the series is still being broadcast by ABC for Australian viewers, and their website still has the first two episodes online. The last won’t be broadcast till November 5.

As a taster, here’s the video of a talk in the Art Gallery of NSW about Sidney Nolan, one of the most interesting of the modernist painters featured in the series. He’s well-known for his iconic portrayals of Ned Kelly, as shown above in The Gathering.

In Praise of Seasons

First this painting by Giuseppe Arcimboldo, who worked a niche market in the 16th century. His specialty was portrait heads “made entirely of such objects as fruits, vegetables, flowers, fish, and books.” This one is Vertumnus, Roman god of seasonal change, as personified by Arcimboldo’s subject the Holy Roman Emperor, Rudolf II.

Rudolf II as VertumnusJohn Keats invokes the god of seasonal change in his poem To Autumn. Here is the great actor, Ralph Richardson, reading it on the Russell Harty Show.

And finally, an acoustic performance by Dando Shaft of September Wine.

A very happy Autumn to you all.