Saturday, 4 February 2017

Beach and Star Fish, Seven Sisters Cliff, Eastbourne, John Piper. 1933-34

Off to Two Temple Place this afternoon for this year's exhibition - Sussex Modernism - bizarrely, in the most ornate surroundings you can imagine. It starts with a roast peacock banquet in 1914 for an old-school poet who thought this modern stuff was all tosh - well, that was a bit of a distraction because it set me off wondering what roast peacock tastes like and whether you'd need some bread sauce with it or a few chipolatas - but stay with me, because we're off on a tour of Sussex, starting at  Ditchling then on to Charleston Farmhouse ...  At the back of the catalogue, there's directions for a real tour - well, you'd have to whizz around to fit it all into a day, but it did make me long to visit Furlongs and Farleys Farmhouse and West Dean, though I'd rather take it slowly over a few long summer afternoons. Why rush?

Sussex wasn't just a rural escape, it was a threshold - gateway to Europe (for ideas and refugees) and also a site for potential invasion. Piper's cliffs are torn-out pages from the New Statesman: a strip of classified ads for English private schools, perhaps making some statement about the class system,  and (hard to read as they're upside down) news reports about Nazism in Germany

Landscape near Rye, Edward Burra, 1943
Burra wasn't too keen on Rye. (Harlem was more his thing.) He called it a 'ducky little Tinker Bell towne - like an itsy bitsy morgue, quayte dead' ,,, so I'm guessing he wasn't a fan of Mapp and Lucia. Dark clouds loom over his landscape ... are those skull bones being crushed in huge pincers?

Bronze Ballet, 1940 - Edward Wadsworth
Bronze Ballet, Edward Wadsworth, 1940
Wadsworth was working 'to the somewhat noisy accompaniment ... of the bombardment of Abbeville, Boulogne and Calais' - heard from across the Channel - 'all mingled with the call of the cuckoo.'

The Annunciation, Vanessa Bell, 1942
I've still never been to Berwick Church, but I do like the idea of the Angel Gabriel appearing in the walled garden at Charleston.

Two Temple Place has become a winter landmark for me; half way between Christmas and spring, although sadly the cake isn't anywhere near as good as it was a few years ago. Shame - but it's still free to get in and there's some fabulous pictures of this very quirky building here.


Veronica Cooke said...

This looks so interesting - Edward Burra is one of my favourite British artists. And it's a free exhibition, too.

I am going to have a day in London probably around my birthday in March so I shall definitely try to get to this; I might even squeeze in a trip to the V and A - at last!

I haven't lived in London (or Greater London which is where I lived from 1977 to 1981) for 36 years now, but it is the thing I miss the most - galleries, exhibitions and plays. Still you can't have everything!

Cosy Books said...

All so very lovely...but Mary, when I looked at the photo of The Annunciation I immediately thought 'pants!'. I'm sure it's beautiful in person.

Mary said...

There was a wonderful Burra exhibition at Chichester a couple of years ago, Veronica. Hope you enjoy your date out!

You're incorrigible, Darlene! I think everything Charleston needs to be seen in situ. There was a lamp and I thought, what a tatty shade - even if I could make that!

Lucille said...

I've just come back from TTP and was as usual distracted by the building and the visitors and not by the exhibition. I got lucky with a very nice slice of fruit frangipane cake. I did wonder if there had been a tussle over the Vanessa Bells given that she is simultaneously starring at the Dulwich Picture Gallery.
My friend and I thought just the same about the lampshade (someone's old nightie?) and even the painted coffers looked a bit slapdash. To be fair they probably didn't envisage their oeuvres behind plexiglass with portentous captions.