Dulltown, Europe: Today’s popular, highly regarded, but fairly boring artist is Walter Richard Sickert (1860-1942) (WRS)
Yesterday, I was feeling a bit fed up and decided that a ride on a train might perk me up. I enjoy being whizzed smoothly along with my headphones on watching the sky with the grey and white interesting clouds sliding past.
An hour on the train can take one to the city of Leeds, which a bigger city than Dulltown; they obviously have a lot more money in Leeds, and it shows. Even their modern buildings seem to have had a little bit of imagination involved in their design; they are not wonderful, but they don’t look like they have been built for the lowest possible cost, as they do here.
Being a big city the inhabitants are a bit brusk and charge about a lot looking busy, not like Dulltown at all, where people are more amiable and stroll about open-mouthed and looking a bit lost. No, no, I’m being a bit harsh there, but you get the idea…
So, it wasn’t a bad day out really, my headphones enabled me to cope with the noise of the beer-drinking swearing football supporters on the train, and later in the cafe the three overweight African chaps shouting and laughing loudly at each other across a nearby table.
I wandered into the Henry Moore Institute and the sneakily connected Leeds City Art Gallery mid-afternoon and saw some art. Some of it was actually alright. There were some small Japanese sculptures from the early 20th c. – not spectacular, but rather sweet and very nicely done: Tetsuya Mizunoya, Kotaro Takamura, et al.
There was also a big show of stuff by a couple of sculptors whose names were unfamiliar to me: Carol Bove and Carlo Scarpa. It didn’t take me very long to get round it – if I were to sum it up in a word, that word would be ‘preciousness’ – in the negative sense of course. Carlo’s stuff seemed very well executed and made out of nice materials; it seems as if he was very taken with the look of metals, materials, and engineering, but unfortunately, compared with real engineering, which a has an inherent ‘beauty’ which stems from efficiency and the science of structures, his things look ‘over-engineered’ and really a bit pretentious.
Up the creaking polished wood stairs and across the unsettlingly curved bridge into the Leeds City Gallery I found an exhibition of far too many, small, black and white, pretty boring photos of bits of scrap steel. Someone called Garth Evans who in 1969 was apparently awarded a ‘Fellowship’ to do all this by the British Steel Corporation – nice work if you can get it Garth!
In the main galleries was an exhibition called ‘One Day, Something Happens: Paintings of People’ curated by Jennifer Higgie. There were one or two nice pieces in the show, and also some very annoying ones. There were some dirty-looking Walter Sickerts, a nice Eileen Agar one, and also a large David Hockney painting from 1965 – it’s called ‘Portrait Surrounded by Artistic Devices‘ – I’d never seen that one before – It’s lovely! Oh, he was so lively and rebellious in his early years – pity he suddenly calmed down and embarked on that long long career of painting ‘nice things’ for his posh friends, and as a consequence ending up being loved by all as a ‘national treasure’….
On the whole then, a satisfying day out – it almost cheered me up…