PREPARE TO BE AMAZED by Russell Lumb
This self-defeating exhortation to raised experience of something around the corner, encapsulates the desperation of a nation sated with faster, higher, bigger and better. Without wishing in any way to diminish the achievements of our Olympians and our Paralympians, for no one has wallowed in our success more enthusiastically than me, the games have, and continue to present the opportunity for moronic media commentators to hyperventilate superlatives to the point of collapse. The well-flagged victories, for we love to crank up the anticipation over several months, are everything but amazing, and the genuine achievement of the athletes can only be celebrated in devalued superlatives. The really impressive performances of Jessica Ennis and Bradley Wiggins, in both Olympics and Tour de France, spanning sufficient time to illustrate the close relationship between success and failure, demand something more than tired tabloid headlines, and new superlatives are coined to trump the last.
The honest, simple, street-level sense of community, including the vulgar headlines, which Jubilee and Games have rekindled has been a rewarding experience for this particular cynic. Visiting London for both events, it was impossible not to be impressed by the ethnic diversity of our nation, reflected clearly in the medal table at the end of the Games. One could even forgive the jingoistic view that Mo Farrar had “taken- on and beaten the might of Africa”. Mo Farrar is the might of Africa, running proudly in the British strip; his genes may be their’s but his gold medals are ours. The finest praise for Mo’s efforts was the heart-felt request for his autograph from Brendan Foster, previously one of the worst serial superlatives offenders, but also one of our finest distance runners. Achievement properly calibrated against a known value.
Having denigrated the casual use of the superlative, how then am I to tell you about my visit, last week, to Oxford’s Jenny Saville show ( Modern Art Oxford and The Ashmolean Museum ) without regretting my choice of a glass house? For anyone who did not see it last evening, I have left a copy of the catalogue with Tom, and recommend that you ask for a look, as words are hard to find. I have come to recognise over the years, my susceptibility to the lure of the new and the concomitant downgrading of previous heros, but I suspect that Jenny Saville will take some dislodging from my affections.
The catalogue cannot convey the effect of the huge scale of the works, which can be overwhelming, nor the scale of the individual marks, which are properly astonishing. Here is draughtsmanship of the highest order, sitting comfortably with the renaissance masters in the Ashmolean, and painting of equal power and sensitivity. Here is what we aspire to each Thursday evening. From Roger’s careful drawings to Tom’s endless experimentation with heavy duty paint. The only disappointment I have to report, is that the massive surge in desire for painting engendered by the show did not translate into my own work last evening, which was timid and sterile. Thank goodness for tomorrow; six hours to realise my potential! Prepare to be amazed.
Paintings and drawings by Chris, David, Hadyn, Ian, Patrick, Roger H, Roger S, Russell, Sandra, Teresa, Tom and Tony.
I've not come across the work of Louise McClary before, but I thought it looked intriguing with all kinds of interesting abstract ideas, mind you I'm a sucker for a bit of nature poetry so this ticks my boxes.
Roger H has just passed on some useful information regarding a new product by Arches, Oil painting paper.
I have to admit I was a bit sceptical until I watched this video, now I think it could be an exciting addition to the range of materials we already use, thanks Roger!