Turner from the Tate @ The National Gallery of Australia

August 18, 2013

Went to the Turner exhibition in Canberra yesterday.  His panoramic landscapes are full of themes of awe and redemption, a world filled with deep shadows and ethereal hope.  He is forever the master of light and atmosphere.  You can almost feel the spray off the breaking waves in a dramatic seascape, or the soft, chilled morning sun over the mountains.

He was carried away by sunrises and moonrises, storms and clouds, like a man tossed about by the strength of his emotions.  A Romantic.  In many of his paintings, he cannot resolve the material world of people, buildings and ships with the landscape.  They often look stolid and out of place.  Only in his luminous visions of Venice and his almost abstract, Impressionistic later work are objects and atmosphere in harmony, as if he could only gain peace by concentrating on the elements of art, and white-washing the mundane.

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Jeremy Irons and the Counter-Stench Forcefield

April 26, 2012

16 April 2012

It took a couple of days for London to blow me away.  I was in the most touristy area imaginable, down by the Thames, around Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey, but some places can penetrate the shroud of crowds and postcards and souvenir stands.

I was struck for the first time by the scale of the city’s history.  Everywhere were grand buildings bearing the symbols of past eras, statues and flourishes that would stand as works of art in their own right but were instead serving as decorations, furthering the beauty of a whole.  In Australia, we have the poorer cousins of these monuments, and even they are the exception.  In London, they are everywhere, forming high walls of ornately worked stone, covering the horizon with grand spires and domes and arches.  No less ingenious modern skyscrapers pop up between them, reminding you that you are in a modern city, but one that has stood for hundreds of years. Read the rest of this entry »