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Showing posts from September, 2011

Watts Gallery, Compton

Having submitted my PhD thesis a couple of days early I took today to visit the Watts Gallery in the rural village of Compton, Surrey.

Ever since it was refurbished, and opened in June this year (thanks to funds from the National Lottery, amongst others), and a review featured in The Guardian, I'd been meaning to go. The only work of Watts that I knew, like many others, was Hope (or, as some critics and myself would have it - Despair), from its home in Tate Britain. It is now at what feels like its natural home in Compton, but will be returned to Millbank in November.
It wasn't a long or arduous journey - the Haslemere train can be picked up from Clapham Junction, from where it takes about 25 minutes. If you're not driving the tricky bit is timing your arrival into Guildford train station for around quarter to the hour. This then gives ample time to walk to the bus station to pick up the no.46, which only runs at five minutes past each hour. The bus journey is only te…


No, its not a review of Sartre's novel, but my current state. It's been a regular lechorous companion since I was young. One of my earliest memories was feeling trapped in nausea, my toddler self clinging onto the coarse orange cushion of our old second-hand settee, limpet-like, as the room became full of visiting Irish voices. My Dad's relatives on a rare visit to Hulme, Manchester circa 1975/6. I tell myself now, thirty-five/six years later that this spate of l'nausee is due to the PhD - I'm planning on printing and submitting it tomorrow. Last week the nausea was due to the mock viva. Before that the stress of academic self-doubt combined with economic insecurity and job hunting. Maybe I'm so hyper-sensitive that life is one long bout of nausea? Am I perhaps living in bad faith - is that what the nausea is a symptom of? Whatever it is, I am submitting this PhD tomorrow. And then I shall wait to be called to the real viva. Perhaps I'll take a bottle of g…

First-person narratives

Today's Five Books interview on The Browser is with William Fiennes. I found it to be both interesting and odd, however, that Fiennes chooses such a great selection of first-person narratives, including Edmund Gosses's Father & Son, but then keeps going on about how self-centred and egotistical the first-person narrative is, an attitude perhaps more at home with Phillip Gosse than the son Fiennes then claims to admire! It sounds to me that Fiennes thinks it's ok for a writer to be 'self-centred' if they've been dead for over a century. He then unpacks 'memoir' to be the 'me-me' form. We, all of us, should be self-centred, for it is preferable to finding a grounding in the centre of another!


Movement and moving

I took myself off to the Royal Academy yesterday, having pre-booked for the Degas exhibition. Degas is of course known for his pictures and sculptures of ballerinas, at rest and dance. The opening to the gallery was barely lit with projections of spinning dancers far up the wall. It was enchanting. But once the first room was through the dim light - which was throughout - started to give me a headache. Because the exhibition could not have been a flagship one for the RA with those works of Degas alone, it had also included the works of other movement artists, such as Muybridge. The gallery had a large number of precocious looking young girls, shoes sans heels, and a few creaky looking old dowagers. I overheard people talking about the technical aspects of Degas's art - as his sketches were included - but, I have to admit that all this movement failed to move me. I would have been quite disappointed with yesterday had I not spent the mid-morning at trusty Tate Britain.

One room fea…

Jane Eyre

I went to watch the latest adaptation of Jane Eyre last night. I had been a little apprehensive - how could it possibly be told from a unique enough angle that would differentiate it from all the others? Well, it wasn't - and yet it worked fine. This gothic story is powerful enough not to need any new fireworks. The chronology was spliced somewhat though - a meek attempt at a different angle. It opens with Jane running from Thornfield, and on towards the evangelical St. John Rivers. It then weaves in, via flashback, her time with the Reeds, and on to Lowood. The cinematography of the moors is moody and misty enough. And Judy Dench as the housekeeper is wonderful; a great Yorkshire accent. The dynamics between Jane and Rochester is well maintained - and I shed tears towards the end as she returns to him. Yet. And yet - what struck me about the story was just how much it was the desire of a woman - Charlotte Bronte. It is, through and through, her projected desire - of how things sh…

Lost data

Hugely pissed off that I finally got to post a longish piece on here on my way home from work this evening, and somehow it's disappeared; at least, I can't see it. It was on the novel that I've recently read, Alistair Morgan's 'Sleepers, Wake'. The upshot was that it draws on what is now a familiar motif of White (male) South African writers. Violent threats don't just hang over the text but serve as premise. It was a good read, but not great. It failed to catch me at an emotional level - like I felt from both of Ian Holdings two novels - both of which I've posted about on here. Music wise, Laura Marling's new album A Creature I Don't Know features a slightly smokier voice than that of her previous albums. I haven't listened to it all yet. PJ Harvey's Let England Shake is a worthy second-time Mercury winner; I'm listening to it as I write this; such a great range of influences yet also refreshingly unique. Tips for this weekend: Gary…