Yesterday I was reminded of the genius of Hergé in a huge airplane hangar near Toulouse, currently hosting the exhibition “Tintin et ses Avions”. The energy and humour, adventure and danger with which the Belgian cartoonist filled thousands of frames continues to delight generations of avid readers across the globe.
On a roll with good reads. In Adventures in Human Being GP Gavin Francis weaves ancient and modern, literature & medical science, nature & anatomy, anecdote, cartography and illustration. Horizon-gazing while peering down a microscope, a kind of da Vinci-an, polymath way of describing our bodies and how they function (or fail).
Stanley Tucci, one of my favourite actors, has turned his hand to directing with Final Portrait, a film about Giacometti and the tortuous, frustrating, beautiful, often chaotic process of creating. The sculptor’s brother Diego says “my brother can only be happy when he’s uncomfortable. In every part of his life.”
Maira Kalman, ironic, iconic, quirky, witty, melancholy, optimistic, colourful, a gifted artist who finds humour in the mundane and the historical: “If you want to understand [America] and its people and what it means to be optimistic and complex and tragic and wrong and courageous, you need to go to [Thomas Jefferson’s] home in Virginia. Monticello.”
Son resists my choice of film due to possible educational content. He has a point. Films currently by the DVD player cover: German Collective Guilt; genocide seen through the lens of Sebastiao Salgado; showing how perilous it can be for children in some countries to get to school and a film offering solutions to the world’s ecological, economical and social problems…
The French writer, painter and psychoanalyst Françoise Cloarec introduced me to Séraphine Louis, orphaned at 7, a domestic servant, & eccentric, visionary primitive self-taught artist who used a strange concoction of wax, blood and plants to paint canvases secretly, by candlelight. Admitted for “chronic psychosis” she died in a lunatic asylum and was buried in a common grave.
Cloarec has also written about Michel Storr, a Paris street sweeper who drew magnificent cathedrals and utopian cities in crayon and ink. Abandoned aged 2, his childhood spent passed from placed to place with often abusive foster families. Deafened by beatings, he had serious health problems. Cloarec is fascinated by the link between creation and mental health.
Back in May 2018 the Governor of the Bank of England told MPs the cost of Brexit to the UK economy had already reached £40bn and counting. Britain has dropped below Italy to become the slowest growing economy in the G7, making households already £900 worse off than they would be had they voted to Remain.
A broad, tree-lined street. Sun, blue skies. 50 contemporary ceramicists and a café staffed by volunteers. So zen. Delicate white pots draw my eye. A few euros adds another fine Japanesy porcelain cup to my collection. Extraordinary people, poets in clay who offer beautiful, practical objects at incredibly reasonable prices.
Older woman on the corner clutching a small white paper bag. Old guy with a guitar on a bench outside the Natural History Museum. Immigrants and their baby on a mattress near the Art School. Pregnant young woman at the traffic lights. So many in real need in an economically dynamic town.
Prolific, fascinating, original, Yayoi Kusama is instantly recognisable by her red wig and the dots that cover not only her clothes but the colourful walls, ceilings and floors of many of her installations. Fashion icon, writer, performance artist, Kusama often lives in a hospital for the mentally ill. Art her way of avoiding suicide.
A new film explores Yayoi Kusama’s journey from a conservative upbringing in Japan (she has said she found Japanese society “too small, too servile, too feudalistic, and too scornful of women”), and her time in the States in the Sixties where she knew Georgia O’Keefe and rivalled Andy Warhol. Transforming trauma into art.
Across the road a building plot, once wonderfully wild, recently mown. Magpies colonise. Brazenly, they take on local cats, eat the eggs of other birds, make a terrible racket and trail remnants over to our yard. Could I train them, I wonder, to get the rat I saw in my compost bin?
Ken Clarke on Brexit: “I’ve never seen anything as mad or as chaotic as this”. The only Tory to vote against triggering article 50, his passionate pro-Europe speech made him an unlikely hero of the ‘Remain’ left. So how bad does he think Brexit could be? “A historic disaster.”
John Ruskin (1819-1900) art critic, patron, draughtsman, water-colourist, prominent social thinker, philanthropist wrote essays on subjects as varied as geology, architecture, myth, ornithology, literature, education, botany and political economy. Kurt Schwitters thought him the best writer on colour, better than Goethe.
In the past, international couples had to demonstrate that they could maintain themselves in the UK without recourse to public funds. Theresa May changed that with her £18,600 minimum income rule (upheld by supreme court justices) for British citizens to bring non-European spouses into Britain – a policy which is separating tens of thousands of families.
Fascinated by hand-drawn texts, I’m experimenting with using my non-dominant hand to create the voice of the main character in my latest book, a 7 year old who happens to be a vet. Applying more pressure and rounding out some of the vowels, not joining up the letters – some interesting results.
“The primary threat to nature and people today comes from centralising and monopolising power and control. Not until diversity is made the logic of production will there be a chance for sustainability, justice and peace. Cultivating and conserving diversity is no luxury in our times: it is a survival imperative.” (probably from the Guardian)
Train slowly lurches to late arrival time – problems at a rail crossing further down the line. Really unpleasant ticket collector rejects my valid ticket and charges me double. Woman in front blasts hairspray in my face. Overcrowded, noisy, stench of bad food. Impossible to work. Train-, like plane-travel, used to be more fun.
The neighbour stands looking over the spiky wire fence telling me nothing should be planted closer than 50 centimetres to the boundary line. I look at the ugly materials used to separate our gardens, then at the climbing roses, jasmine and honeysuckle I’ve planted, and sigh.