Saturday, 19 April 2014

Over the Thames


German Art in London

Royal Academy- "Renaissance Impressions", chiaroscuro woodcuts from the collections of Georg Baselitz: see RA website.

British Museum - "Germany Divided", works by Baselitz and his generation from the postwar Germanies.

National Gallery - "Strange Beauty", German Renaissance art at the National Gallery.

German art has perhaps enjoyed a, er, Renaissance in Britain, as shown by a fine survey of nineteenth century works from the Alte Nationalgalerie in Berlin on loan to the London National Gallery in the 1990s (?). (I remember visiting this with a friend after returning from Berlin where the Gallery was under renovation).

The fact of three parallel exhibitions of works, from Renaissance times through to the post-World War Two Germanies, must be a sign of increasing awareness of specifically German contributions to Western Art across the centuries.
German artists at one point apparently took their lead from the more popular Dutch.
Altdorfer, Grünewald produced fascinating individual work sometimes criticised for "ugliness", and Albrecht Dürer of course is a major figure from any viewpoint with superb detail and precision of anatomy and nature.
Holbein was adopted by Britain in the same way we took on Handel / Händel in music two centuries later. His painting of fabrics in his portraits really is stunning, how can this not be "beautiful".

The double billing for modern artist Georg Baselitz involves woodcuts and prints he collected with those he produced himself alongside works by contemporaries from the 1960s on. The British Museum has the latter, with an enjoyable contrast of earlier Chinese landscapes in a neighbouring room. Edgy, anxious drawings of strange figures and and not comfortable viewing but they do give a feel for a kind of state of mind of that generation of artists.

The light-and-shade chiaroscuro wood blocks in the Royal Academy show Baselitz's interests, and while quite grim in some cases - Hercules clubbing a hapless figure to death - the detail and skill is striking.

Location:London, UK

Friday, 18 April 2014


To "In the Navy", Village People.

"With the Vikings,
We will always be at sea,
With the Vikings,
Helmets there for you and me,
With the Vikings,
Shields and swords at the rea-dy,
With the Vikings ... !"

Sunday, 16 February 2014


Fun and expert paintings (and some carvings and other pieces ) of modern Birmingham in the local art society's HQ near St Paul's Square.
Website for details.

Location:Brook Street, Jewellery Quarter

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Birmingham skyline

Location:Library of Birmingham, Broad Street

Discovering Birmingham

I tried Geocaching twice today and found nothing including the point, but enjoyed reading about the buildings near where the deposits where supposedly placed, which to be fair perhaps is the point. I can't see why I should traipse around looking for an old camera film tube someone's jammed by the roadside and which has probably been swept up by council refuse. (Sorry, grumble over now).
Better however, and where you can be sure of the information's authenticity, is the "Dozens and Trails" App from the new Library of Birmingham (I hope not so called because of any plan to close the others) or Central Library to older Brummies.
Plenty of archival photographs of sights and documents, and information on local landmarks and history. Writers include historian Dr Chris Upton who used to work for the library and knows his material, having conducted tours, written books and articles and newspaper columns for some years now.
The trails section has four themed tours such as public statues and Birmingham on sixpence a day, the latter taking you though the associations woth poverty many experienced here, as embodied by the old workhouses (now City Hospital, for example). Great advantages over Geocaching: you can see the objects and you know there'll be there ... and they're worth investigating. You'll find new things if you're an old Brummie, and a valuable introduction to the city if you're new here but interested in more than just sleeping or going for a drink.
"Dozens" has the archive material, on all sorts of topics from
community libraries to James Watt and family and World War 2 propaganda.

Downloadable from App Stores.


Saturday, 4 January 2014

A wet walk near Birmingham

Shows how you can still discover places of beauty and interest on your own back door, however long you've lived somewhere.

Partly covers the route of the old Lapal canal and tunnel, which a conservation group is trying to have restored and re-opened.

We walked along the old canalside and into Leasowes Park, which is under the aegis of Dudley Canal.

En route are the ruins of Halesowen Priory, more hidden history of the Midlands.

We started the walk from the Black Horse pub on Manor Lane, B62 8RJ, there's a walkway from the other side of the road.

Location:Leasowes, Halesowen