Hopefully Constant Reader you are still there.
It's been a while.
It's a funny thing but when you lose faith in what you think of things then it is difficult to think that others will be interested too.
So I have not shared my thoughts on this, that and t'other and have wondered what might make me start again. That production? That film? That gig? That exhibition?
Well no. Not that exhibition.
But this exhibition has!
Yesterday afternoon Owen and I had an adventure and made our way to the leafy 'burbs of Dulwich. It's like another world! Hard to believe it's only 20-something minutes from Brixton by bus. I presume it's twinned with Richmond. You know, the kind of place where you wonder how did we ever lose an Empire.
Which was all very appropriate as we went to see an exhibition at the Dulwich Picture Gallery (I do like the use of the word Picture) which covered the years 1908 - 1922 in the artistic lives of six students of the Slade Art School: Paul Nash, C.R.W. Nevinson, Stanley Spencer, Mark Gertler, David Bomberg and, my own favourite, Dora Carrington.
It's not a huge exhibition but it does give you an insight into the six artists and in particular, their humanity. Time and again your read their own comments on the changes they are living through - their struggles with what movement best represents them and in particular, the men's response to the all-encompassing impact of World War I.
I knew Carrington and, to a lesser degree, Gertler and Spencer, but it was good to get more familiar with the work of the other three, Nevinson in particular. I had written him off as one of Wyndham Lewis' lot but was heartened to find out that they had fallen out. His modernist works such as 'Dance Hall Scene' give way to the more, blocky woodcut-like paintings of the War years. Along with Paul Nash's desolate paintings of the blasted Western Front, they make for sombre viewing,
It strikes me that Carrington is the most under-represented of the six artists while David Bomberg remains the most elusive to define. The exhibition does leave you feeling oddly sad, as so few of them seemed to fulfil the genuine promise of their pre-war years. Of the six, Carrington and Gertler killed themselves, Nevinson and Bomberg ended their lives in obscurity while Nash and Spencer thrived. Spencer is the strangest case, his unique vision remains the most constant throughout the exhibition. I wonder if this points to a reason for his more long-term success over his contemporaries.
Last year I had recourse to research more into Carrington's life so it was a joy to see her work again. From her early pencil sketches - her study of Gertler is particularly fine - and a delightfully illustrated letter to Paul Nash, to her paintings, she reveals how she made the personal public. None more so than in her hypnotic portrait of her beloved Lytton Strachey.
I stood looking at this picture for a long time, caught up in the intensity of her concentration, with, I don't mind telling you, a tear welling. Entering the last room I read on the wall the entry she wrote 21 days after Lytton's death from undiagnosed cancer "Everything was for you... I see my paints, & think it is no use for Lytton will never see my pictures now, & I cry" and felt so sad.
The exhibition is open until September 22nd so there is still plenty of time to experience it for yourselves - clicky on the image below:
It's good to be back x