20th century art

Joan Eardley

One of my biggest regrets about falling ill right now is that I have missed out on an exhibition of Joan Eardley's work. She is probably my favourite Scottish painter and I had been looking forward to the National Gallery of Scotland's first major Eardley exhibition. Before Christmas I was too busy to find time to make the trek to Edinburgh (and to be honest, the prospect of travelling anywhere near the middle of Edinburgh at the height of the shopping season scared me profoundly), but I had promised myself that post-Christmas I'd have a few weeks to catch up. As it turned out, I did not. Grrr.

But Eardley is wonderful. The painting I posted above ("Two Children") can be seen at Glasgow's Kelvingrove museum. The piece is big, powerful and almost overwhelming. It feels out of time - very modern, very traditional and very much of its time .. all at once. The Eardley paintings I have been fortunate to see all share this strange quality; they also share a quiet anger, an air of resigned melancholy. Her famous depictions of children have an odd, almost urban art feel to them coupled with a traditional motif (- and I cannot resist her almost nonchalant use of lettering). Eardley's later landscapes are almost abstract by comparison.

In unrelated news, I'm halfway through Clarke's Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell. I tried reading it a few years ago but gave up after 45 pages or so. This time I'm mostly confined to my bed and am enjoying taking my time with the book. Sometimes you have to be in the right frame of mind for a book to find you.

Destroy in Order to Create

To make a Dadaist poem:

* Take a newspaper.
* Take a pair of scissors.
* Choose an article as long as you are planning to make your poem.
* Cut out the article.
* Then cut out each of the words that make up this article and put them in a bag.
* Shake it gently.
* Then take out the scraps one after the other in the order in which they left the bag.
* Copy conscientiously.
* The poem will be like you.
* And here you are a writer, infinitely original and endowed with a sensibility that is charming though beyond the understanding of the vulgar.

- Tristan Tzara