Saturday 19 May 2018
It was a quiet afternoon at the St Clement’s Artweeks exhibition today. Being in competition with a royal wedding, the FA cup final and the kind of glorious May weather that makes an escape to the seaside sound enticing (until you think about the thousands of others likely to be travelling down the same roads to the same places!) was obviously tough competition.
Quiet isn’t bad though. Much as I would love hundreds of people to come down to the church and spend some time in contemplation – to be honest, even tens for a single session would be an improvement – it has been a good time to be quiet and contemplative myself. I’ve produced a couple of bits of fresh artwork, enjoyed a chance to chat with fellow stewards and, perhaps above all, the luxury of a stretch of time where the primary thing I need to do is just be in one place and where I’ve not been able to get distracted by a hundred and one other things I could be getting on with.
Quiet is also good.
Friday 18 May 2018
St Clement’s is now over halfway through its Artweeks 2018 exhibition but we’re still adding new material. Today, for our debut attempt at a Friday evening opening, Clare brought down some photos to pin up her display. Tomorrow, having got Colin’s photos display on the main screens, I have increased the size of the captions and added a set of my own images too.
So, even if you have visited already, do feel welcome to come back either to see the new additions or just to rest in the space provided by the church (12 – 4pm on Saturday and 1-3pm on Sunday).
Thursday 17 May 2018
After uploading the back garden shot for May 2018, I realised I had May shots going back a number of years to compare:
It is fascinating to look back through photography and see how things have changed – and also a few things that stay constant. For example, the John Downie crab apple (Malus sylvestris) in the centre has grown a lot but the Malus trilobatus on the opposite side of the path has thickened up a bit but hasn’t put on much upward growth at all.
Wednesday 16 May 2018
This week, I’ve managed to visit a few local Artweeks venues at lunchtime. Yesterday I saw Robin Danley’s paintings at Headington Library, a mixture of bold portraits and a few abstracts. Definitely worth a look although, in the time I had to spend there, I found myself more drawn to the portraits despite most of my recent output being abstract. Today Jane and I enjoyed Gilly Whittington’s ceramics. Overall though, we were less impressed with the Hoi Polloi Fine Arts degree show at Oxford Brookes.
Some of the pieces were fascinating – I was particularly struck by the large photographs of hands, rendered on a surface so that they appeared painted, and the digital self portraits that morphed between stereotypical characteristics of different oriental nations. However, quite a few of the pieces I saw wouldn’t have been remarkable in a school art room or looked like discarded rubbish. Is it art or is it students seeing what they can get away with, either to shock or because they suddenly realised they had a deadline looming and needed to produce something?
I’m probably doing them a disservice but there was an almost complete lack of explanation with the pieces on display. Only a few that I spotted showed more than the name of the artist and the media they had used (in most cases very obvious) and some of the explanations seemed that they could have been constructed by a ‘pretentious gobbledygook’ generator. By contrast, the self portrait had enough explanation to get me thinking. Even in a gallery, I think art is helped by some background reading, even if you don’t necessarily place that right beside the pieces themselves. For an educational establishment, I would prefer that the students had also provided at least a small board showing some of the developmental work that fed into their final results; I presume those who aware the degrees get something like that to support their decisions?
Playtime is immensely valuable, of course but I’d rather have the option of seeing the experiments that led to the finished piece, or at least a resolved stage, than just see a work that looks like the creator may have been aiming merely for weird or indulging in sloppiness without discipline.
Tuesday 15 May 2018
Someone in the building where I work has a generous sense of humour and frequently sticks some kind of joke, comic or visual gag to their door. I am all in favour and miss it on the days when the door is blank.
Today’s one particularly tickled me for some reason and, since it doesn’t rely on pictures, I can share it here. The person who invented the knock knock joke? They should get the no-bell prize!
Monday 14 May 2018
I see the UK managed third in the Eurovision Song Contest – third from bottom that is. I don’t think that is an untypical UK result, despite my impression of the piece being that it was quite a decent song, performed well even with the infamous stage invasion event. I could probably do as well if I knocked up a song this evening and got put through next year (don’t worry – I’m not planning to put that to the test).
However, it reminds my why any kind of artistic contest is really an oxymoron. How do you judge what is better? Why does it matter if different people like different things? Sadly, I think I’m in a minority and I can’t see the concept of popularity contests going away any time soon; I don’t expect to see the rise of the Eurovision Song Showcase anytime soon (where each nation puts forward a song that represents something good about the state of their recent musical output).
What I really want to know, with music and other art forms, is not what is popular but the answer to other questions. What else is similar to what I’ve enjoyed? What does it connect to in terms of the artists involved and the chains of influence leading too and coming from it. What do other people with similar taste to mine also enjoy. And, a crucial question to break out of my taste bubble, what are people with very different tastes enjoying, which I ought to at least give a listen to once in a while?
Sunday 13 May 2018
One of the songs we did at church this morning was relatively unfamiliar to me with various challenges like the timing of the chord changes. Although I get to pick most of the songs when leading the music, there is a certain amount of negotiation with the service leader too and it is good to make time for newer material as well as some safe choices. I thought I had the song down fairly well yesterday but, in pre-service practice, it was sounding off until I noticed that it was probably to do with the fact that the key and the starting note were both C but the starting chord was an F2/A. I think I was probably singing an F instead when trying to jump in cold and that was easily fixed by hitting a C chord to provide an anchor before before starting the song proper.
When I lead now, I tend to use my iPad with an app called OnSong; this means I can share my arrangement of the chords across several screens for the rest of the band and also transpose up or down as required. Unfortunately, when we got to the song in the context of the service, I forgot that I’d scrolled down during the practise and so I kicked off with the second verse. Whoops! That would explain why the congregation was strangely quiet.
Still, at least I got the right starting note! Meanwhile, not checking the starting point is a(nother) mistake to try and avoid in future.