By the entrance to Edinburgh’s Modern Art Gallery, you will find the first of a series of six Anthony Gormley cast iron sculptures; those well-known life-size male figures that stand straight as soldiers, arms by their side. The peculiar thing about this particular one, however, is that it is buried to its chest, just above … Continue reading What Does It All Mean?
Is there anything new under the sun? Is anything we write or paint or compose truly original, or is every creative act influenced (hopefully for the good) by what has gone before, so that what we produced has been re-learned, repeated, tweaked? Apparently whenever W.H. Auden read something in a book that he liked or … Continue reading Good Enough to Steal
I was indulging in my favourite pastime of the season, which is to moan about the short, dark days, when A. modified my melancholy. ‘The darkness gives you more time to be creative,’ she suggested, ‘for example, I’m feeling a jumper coming on.’ A. is a knitter. ‘New pattern or new wool?’ I asked. Maybe … Continue reading Homemade
I stood on the edge of a carpet of decaying roses in the middle of July of this year, which was, I think, around six weeks after they had been laid down. What amazed me was how long the flowers were lasting; that is to say, how they were still offering something to be enjoyed … Continue reading Decay
I went to see the Tuner Prize shortlist (the annual award for visual artists) in 2013, the year the exhibition was in Derry. At one of the installations I was given £1 for engaging in a conversation about what constitutes ‘progress’. The payment was part of the art. Really?! Although I claimed my pound, I remained sceptical. I … Continue reading Endless Art
Yesterday, I was the recipient of a cheeky wink. It was lobbed to me as I was disembarking the train at York in a distracted flurry, trying hard not to forget my trail of accoutrements that, over two and a half hours, I had liberally deposited above me (on the rack), beside me (on the … Continue reading Wink
Auden, Barrett-Browning, Cope, Dickinson, Eliot, Frost, Gallagher, Heaney, Ibsen, Jamie, Kinnell, Larkin, Mahon, Neruda, Owen, Plath, Qabbani, Rossetti, St Vincent Millay, Thomas, Updike, Vaughan, Wordsworth, Xenokleides, Yeats, Zephaniah. Who is your favourite? Feel free to reach beyond the 26 I’ve offered you; I was just playing the alphabet game, and, in doing so, left out … Continue reading Advent
Ireland has three patron saints: Patrick, Columcille, and one woman, Brigid. Today, February 1st, is Brigid’s feast day and it also traditionally marks (in Ireland at any rate) the first day of spring. There are many legends surrounding Brigid: she had a reputation as an expert dairywoman and brewer, with the enviable reputation of being … Continue reading Saint Brigid
The Bayeux Tapestry is coming to the British Museum in 2020 on loan from the French. It might seem to be too early to be talking about it, but two years is a blink of the eye when you consider that it hasn't left France for 950 years. The museum in Bayeux, Northern France, where … Continue reading May I Borrow It?
Walking around Edinburgh at any time of the year, but especially at summertime on the Royal Mile, I’m a sucker for groups of people gathered around street performers. Over I’ll trot, sheep-like, blindly going with the flow and I’ll stand, watch and wait. I linger waiting for the interminable preamble of performer/crowd banter before we … Continue reading Turner in Edinburgh