Dulltown, Europe: Today’s letter of the alphabet is the capital C.
The letter C is very popular with the other letters of the alphabet because it looks like one of those special hanging-from-the-ceiling chairs that you see in the ‘party scenes’ in 1960s films, the other letters take it in turns to sit in the C and swing about.
I had only once visited the Dean Clough galleries in Halifax, West Yorkshire. It was several years ago and it was a really enjoyable visit. There was a big show of prints by British pop artist Allen Jones on at the time (A.J. print). I liked it very much, I even bought the rather expensive catalogue – I rarely splash out on such extravagances! The galleries are in a nicely renovated massive Victorian carpet mill, which in itself is worth a look. (D.C. Mill) Anyway, having only been there once, I thought, on whim, that I would have a day out, go there again on the train, and see what was currently on show.
The journey was a couple of hours long on two slowish trains, but I didn’t mind, it was my little holiday. On arriving, I soon found a nice cafe and sat in there studying the map I had sensibly printed out earlier; unfortunately it didn’t have many street names on it, but I wasn’t worried. I had a wander around the town, bought some guitar polish from a very pleasant guitar shop/cafe, and, as it was by then late afternoon, I thought that I should start heading for the Dean Clough mill.
Well, I got thoroughly lost three times, and became tangled up and confused in motorway underpasses and murky subways, I blame that Google map, but I eventually found the place as the orange street lights were warming up and duskiness was creeping up the valley.
Well, the art on show wasn’t really my cup of tea; it was the sort of stuff nice well-off people might have in their nice homes, on their nice living room walls for their very nice friends to come round and say that it was ‘nicely done’. Some nice landscapes, some nice portraits, some nice little prints, and some nice big big charcoal drawings. Upstairs in the photography gallery there were lots of framed square black and white prints (£250 each) by Julian Dyer, showing people commemorating WWI and WWII by dressing up in old clothes and uniforms and doing reenactments of wartime events. Dyer had used a 1970s black and white film camera to give an ‘element of authenticity’ (couldn’t he find or borrow a 1918 or a 1940 camera then?) What the show was all about was explained thus:
‘This anachronistic complexity in a time of digital convenience might seem a suitable tribute to people who want to recreate and reenact a time of conflict and austerity; but there is more than nostalgia at work here. Julian is challenging the argument put forward by Jean Baudrillard (1929 – 2007) that the passage of time bleeds photographs of their authenticity, turning them into simulacra.’
Well, I thought it was all pretty dull and pointless and nipped around the show in less than five minutes. However, in the room next door there were some interesting old photos of the mill itself, and also a giant Lego model of the building, which was impressive.
So, that was the art then. Really, the best thing about the day was that all the people I encountered, in the cafes, and the shops, and the people who directed me when I got lost, were surprisingly warm and friendly. I wonder if all the Halifax folk are like that, or if I was just lucky? It’s a very nice place Halifax – you should go there…