Gainsborough and the Theatre, The Holburne Museum, Great Pulteney Street, Bath BA2, until 20th January 2019

Nathaniel Dance (1735 – 1811), ‘True but every goose can…’, c.1781, pencil, black chalk and coloured washes on laid paper©The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

There is much to enjoy in this exhibition that links the world of 18th century theatre in Bath and London through portraits by Gainsborough, works on paper and contemporary theatrical ephemera. The portraits – hung correctly at chest height  – are “real” people rather than elegant society portraits as is often the case with Gainsborough’s depictions of musical and literary friends.

Mrs Siddons, Thomas Gainsborough, 1785 © The National Gallery, London

Mrs Siddons, Thomas Gainsborough, 1785 © The National Gallery, London

Among them you will discover David Garrick, Thomas Linley, Auguste Vestris and Sarah Siddons. Near to the latter’s ravishing portrait are some contemporary small sketches of the work which are interesting since as a print was never made of the portrait those making the drawings had to have seen the original work. Sarah Siddons is buried in the churchyard (open space) near Paddington Green Church just near the Marylebone Flyover in London.

I was especially delighted to meet up with Richard Tickell once more as I had seen his beautiful portrait on visits to Phoebe, Lady Hillingdon many years ago. It is an image that has remained in my memory ever since. Tickell was born in Bath and married Mary, Thomas Linley’s daughter and so were they a part of this group of friends which also included Sheridan.

Thomas Gainsborough, Thomas Linley the elder, c. 1770, oil on canvas. By Permission of the Trustees of Dulwich Picture Gallery, London

Thomas Gainsborough, Thomas Linley the elder, c. 1770, oil on canvas, 76.5 x 63.5, DPG140. By Permission of Dulwich Picture Gallery, London

The singer Petula Clark in her 1998 poem ‘The Theatre’ says in the last verse:

“So here we are in this hallowed place, sharing a special time and space.
I hadn’t realized before, but maybe that’s what the theatre is for,
to bring us together, to make us see that the magic is not just some fantasy
tho’ we all need some fantasy.
No, the magic you see is in you, in me.
It’s a funny thing, the theatre. “

Well to my mind this exhibition does just that with the 18th century theatrical world of Gainsborough’s Bath and London.

 

www.holburne.org

BOOK REVIEW: London Theatres

LONDON THEATRES

by Michael Coveney  (Author), Mark Rylance (Foreword), Peter Dazeley (Photographer)

Frances Lincoln
ISBN: 9780711238619
£30

 

 

This sumptuous book which explores a selection of London theatres is a must for theatre lovers everywhere.

It does not confine itself simply to the West End but also takes in architectural gems such as the Theatre Royal Stratford East and the Hackney Empire.  More intimate theatres like the Almeida and the Donmar are also included as well as hidden gems such as the Alexandra Palace Theatre.

It is also extremely useful when booking tickets online as you can have a look at the book and see the exact location of your seat whilst also admiring the surroundings in which you will find yourself.

 

http://www.quartoknows.com/Frances-Lincoln

 

I am grateful to John Kirkwood for reading and writing about this book

OUT & ABOUT – Parafin

Fernando Casasempere
Reminiscence, 2017
Porcelain
135 x 135 x 115 cm
© Nick Turpin

The Chilean sculptor Fernando Casasempere’s new work Reminiscence (2017) has been included in this year’s Sculpture in the City. It is located in a walkway off Leadenhall near to the Gherkin. The artist uses pottery as his chosen material as it symbolises both the earth and nature. The wall sculpture also reflects culture as it evokes Pre-Columbian forms and architecture. It will be on view until May 2018.

https://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk › … › Visit the City › Art and Architecture

 

parafin.co.uk

BOOK REVIEW: Robert Adam’s London

Robert Adam’s London

Frances Sands

£25

Archaeopress

Printed ISBN 9781784914622.

Epublication ISBN 9781784914639. 

This book is a delight and has wide appeal for devotees of Robert Adam’s architecture and interiors and lovers of London. Written by Dr Frances Sands (Curator of Drawings and Books at Sir John Soane’s Museum) to mark the exhibition held earlier there at the turn of the year it is a very much stand-alone volume too.  The starting point is Richard Horwood’s map of London (1792-99) and through this each of Adam’s projects can be discovered. It takes us on a fascinating stroll through the areas of London, both north and south of the river, where Adam worked and reveals that some buildings and interiors survive albeit much altered but certainly more than I had expected while others totally lost. So whether in the comfort of an armchair or in hand while searching the streets where Adam worked it is very much a book to savour and enjoy.

http://www.archaeopress.com

Victoria Crowe OBE RA

 ‘Victoria Crowe’, Browse & Darby, 19 Cork Street, London, W1, until 2nd June 2017

Crowe,
Evening Hillside and Thaw,
oil on board, 12 x 19 inches

This is the artist’s third ‘one-man’ show with the gallery and celebrates new paintings of Scotland and Venice – places where she has studios. They are shown alongside preparatory works on paper and prints.  It is no wonder that Crowe is regarded as one of Scotland’s most noteworthy contemporary artists.

28. Crowe,
Reflected Skyline ,Tramonto,
oil and mixed media on paper, 15 x 23 inches

www.browseanddarby.co.uk

Tall buildings not wanted in Westminster!!

A West End Labour survey has today found that residents overwhelmingly oppose plans to build more tall buildings in Westminster. More than 80% of respondents believe that Westminster Council is wrong to want to develop more skyscrapers and tall buildings. Residents cited the following concerns: Tall buildings and skyscrapers pose a threat to Westminster’s unique character. Tall buildings block out light; block out historic views and […]

via Revealed: 80% of West End residents oppose Westminster Council plans to build tall buildings — labourwestminster

“Chinese Nell” and friends!

Queer British Art 1861-1967, Tate Britain, Millbank, London SW1, until 1st October 2017

Solomon, Simeon 1840-1905
Sappho and Erinna in a Garden at Mytilene
1864
Watercolour on paper
330 x 381 mm
Tate. Purchased 1980


I have thought long and hard about this exhibition which marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Sexual Offences Act legislation in 1967 which meant partial decriminalisation of male homosexuality in England and Wales.

Paul Tanqueray (1905-1991)
Douglas Byng
1934
Vintage bromide print
239 x 193 mm
National Portrait Gallery
© Estate of Paul Tanqueray

Well done Tate Britain for its partnership with this year’s London Pride (Pride in London at Tate Britain, 2pm to 10pm 24th June). Given what still goes on in countries such as Chechnya we must be grateful for the passing of the act.

David Hockney
Life Painting for a Diploma
1962
Yageo Foundation
© Yageo Foundation

However, I do wonder, although admittedly progress has been made, how much things have really changed in our own multi-cultural society?  We know how differing faiths do not accept homosexuality as being right or acceptable.  Many families, whatever their ethnic background, struggle to accept a member of their family being gay. Gay people get homophobic abuse or are physically attacked for no reason other than they are “different”, even my partner and I have been hissed at in Westminster’s Edgware Road.

Angus McBean (1904-1990)
Quentin Crisp
1941
Bromide print
National Portrait Gallery (London, UK)
© Estate of Angus McBean / National Portrait Gallery, London

I recently saw a production of La Cage aux Folles at the Wimbledon Theatre.  I think the real time to celebrate acceptance and inclusion will be when LGBT people can say/sing the words from the show –

I am what I am
And what I am needs no excuses

– And know they don’t have to look over their shoulder. Impossible, or could we all work harder towards it?

John Craxton
Head of a Greek Sailor
1940
Oil on board
330 x 305 mm
London Borough of Camden
© Estate of John Craxton. All rights reserved, DACS 2016. Photo credit: London Borough of Camden

Among the exhibits in this somewhat politically correct exhibition is a monogrammed dressing gown that belonged to Noel Coward.  He was friends of Ian Fleming and his wife Ann and they both had houses on Jamaica.  In one of her letters Ann writes that Noel is referred to as “Chinese Nell” on the island *.  Need I say more?

Out
Keith Vaughan
Drawing of two men kissing
1958–73
Tate Archive
© DACS, The Estate of Keith Vaughan

 

*The Letters of Ann Fleming by Ann Fleming, Mark Amory (Editor), Collins Harvill, 1985

 

 

tate.org.uk