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Beauty defined

Museum photography
Annabel last week kindly showed the ‘Chelsea Art’s Club’, my ‘home’ in London, the memoir of Auguste Rodin, which was written by her great uncle, Anthony Ludovici, who was for some years the great man’s private secretary. I enjoyed this passage:

“Rodin was 66 years of age when I joined him, and yet his enthusiasm at the sight of beauty in any form was still as fresh and vigorous as that of a youth at his first initiation. Indeed, I was frequently bewildered by the intensity of his outbursts whenever he was confronted with anything that stirred his artist’s soul; and these exhibitions of childlike rapture continued to baffle me, until I realised that it was precisely this capacity to feel as acutely as he did, and to respond freshly and powerfully, in spite of advancing years, to the beauty and harmony of life and arts, which constitutes the truly artistic temperament.”

by Roland Blunk, photo by Anon

Driving Italian style

A while ago I posted a blog about driving in Italy. We have just returned once again from the region, but sadly nothing has improved, as this little tale will explain.

Three years ago we were spending a few languid weeks away from Suffolk, in Carmela’s home in Southern Italy. Situated 30 miles due north of Naples in the foot hills of the Matese Mountains, it’s a region that’s poor by our decadent standards, but far richer in the simpler things of life. I suppose the climate makes the obvious difference, with an extended ‘al fresco’ season stretching from April through to October, compared to our nine months of winter, followed by three months of bad weather. Although the locals are very house proud, nobody seems to bother with aspirational status hogging cars. Being a nation of crazy drivers sees to that. A few days ago whilst walking along a street full of parked cars in Naples, I realised that not one of the fifty or so we had just passed, was undamaged.

Just three weeks ago, Carmela and I were cruising at 95 in the mid-lane of the Rome-Naples auto strada, when a white Mercedes overtook us from the ‘slow lane’, swung across us and other vehicles, before heading off into the distance in the fast lane. All at around 150mph!

There’s an Italian apocryphal story that reaffirms that this style of driving is entirely safe: An Englishman accepts a lift from Luigi and is surprised by the Italian jumping the red lights in the busy town centre. A few hundred metres down the road the Italian again drives straight through red lights at speed. Our English passenger by this time has become a little uncomfortable. However, further down the road the Italian screeches to a halt. The astonished Englishman enquires why, with the lights set to green, he has stopped. “It is just in case my brother, Marcello, is driving the other way across town”.

by Roland Blunk, photo by Anon

I’m exhibiting at the Tate!

We’ve just returned from staying with my good friends Helena and Raymond Turvey in Cornwall. I’ve known the two of them since our Art School teenage years in London and a few days away from Suffolk, as much as we love it, was a refreshing break.

After visiting the ‘Eden Project’ and checking out the local terrain, we were introduced to the St Ives ‘Tate Modern’, with the most impressive work being this extraordinary conceptual piece by Slovakian artist Roman Ondak. The participatory/performance piece ‘Measuring the Universe 2007′ (above) grows over the course of the exhibition, emerging from an empty white gallery space. Each visitor is asked to stand against the wall, their height is measured, marked, named and dated using a black pen. These marks then build to form a dense black band running entirely around the walls with every visitor leaving a physical trace on the show.

Stunning in it’s simplicity and a great finale to the few days away from Beccles, completed with my first Tate exhibition!

by Roland Blunk (iPhone pic)

Magical tales from Austria

I had a surreal and truly magical experience today, whilst being uplifted to the piste in a cable gondola at Bad Gastein, Austria. Usually these brief journeys are a chance to reflect on the climate, snow conditions, plan the next descent and all importantly, where to have lunch.

But on this occasion no sooner had my Godson lloyd, his father Richard and I settled, when a young man dressed in a black dj, jumped in, sat down and introduced himself. “I am a magician can, I show you what I can do?” He then proceeded to entertain us throughout our fifteen minute journey with his astounding rope and card tricks. As soon as we arrived at the piste, the young man true to his profession, disappeared as unexpectedly as he arrived. Jokingly Richard concluded: “He was good, but not that good. I’ve got his wallet!”

by Roland Blunk (iPhone pic)