Simon Tait's Diary

Luminous Lewes

One of the most delightful county towns in the country gets the light treatment this weekend, but a son et lumiere with a difference in that it traces the ancient town’s long history. Among other things it’s the place where Thomas Paine wrote his Rights of Man, but the light installations pick out the many other things Lewes hosted, elucidated by poetry, music and performance created by the acclaimed poet/writer, John Agard, and Ruth Kerr, soprano/composer, with her choir, The Paddock Singers. It’s called LewesLight and is completely a non-commercial operation, with the professionals involved giving their services free, and is devised to give work experience opportunities for young people, and be a showcase for the work of digital media design, photography and production arts students at Sussex Downs College, Lewes, who have created it with the help of undergraduates from University of Brighton and Northbrook College, Worthing.


Burrell reborn

That strange and invaluable collection in what looks like a giant summerhouse in Glasgow’s Pollok Park, the Burrell Collection, has got £15m from the Heritage Lottery Fund to do the place up. The full cost is expected to be £66 million with half of it coming from Glasgow City Council and 80% of the rest already raised. The collection of 9,000 objects of art and design was given to the city by the businessman Sir William Burrell who specified that it should be housed somewhere 16 miles from the city centre. But there wasn’t anywhere, and in the end the current building was erected in the park in 1983, now listed. Now it is badly in need of refurbishment, and a new look. Here’s how the front elevation will look when the place reopens in 2019.

Paradise referred to

Where do poets find their muses? Well, in the work of other poets quite often, and Keats’s House Museum in Hampstead has discovered that the author of Ode to a Nightingale among a sheaf of other much-quoted Romantic poems liked to turn to John Milton and his Paradise Lost. And not just turn to - on display is Keats’s own copy which is covered in his notes and remarks, probably while he was working on his own epic works such as Hyperion and The Fall of Hyperion. “Milton in every instance pursues his imagination to the utmost...he sees Beauty on the wing, pounces upon it and gorges it to the producing his essential verse...” he has scribbled in a margin. ‘The light and shade – the sort of black brightness...the thousand melancholies and Magnificences of this Page – leaves no room for anything to be said theron, but: ‘so it is’-.” It opens on December 6.



Squaring up to dance

Billed as a cross between The Office and an Australian cage fight, DanceEast in Ipswich
is offering this challenge in dance by the Australian dance company The Farm. It mixes slapstick, physical theatre and dance to tell the story about an office rivalry between an older and a younger man. It’s called, not unreasonably, Cock Fight and it starts on October 27.

Out of the water closet

Fred Hohler won the first Critics’ Circle Unsung Hero award the other day, and he chose the moment to announce his next project. The first one was the Public Catalogue Foundation, the enterprise to find and catalogue 230,000 oil paintings in public ownership but, as it were, hidden from public gaze. The 85 volumes he produced is now online as Art Line, an invaluable resource. The new one involves pictures like this fabulous 18th century picture of the new Royal Docks in London – he is turning his attention to bringing three centuries of watercolours, of up to 1900, out of the cupboards they’ve been hiding in. He’s calling it The Watercolour World,
it will eventually be online too, there is already sponsorship from the Marandi Foundation, and the Prince of Wales has agreed to be its patron.


Pop goes an illusion

So where do you think Pop Art was born? New York? Andy Warhol’s home town of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania? The Royal College of Art. Nah, and the real birthplace has just reopened after a £3.8m lottery-funded refurbishment. It’s Newcastle University’s Hatton Gallery where the godfathers of Pop Art Richard Hamilton and Victor Pasmore used

the gallery as a showcase for what they and their students were developing. Here are Hamilton and Pasmore, left and right, mounting one of their early exhibitions there. So the reopening show, running until January 20, is Pioneers of Pop, which includes the first use of the expression in a letter by Hamilton to friends dated 16 January 1957: “Pop Art is: popular, transient, expendable, low-cost, mass-produced, young, witty, sexy, gimmicky, glamorous, and Big Business”.




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