Chris Wadsworth
Percy Kelly - Looking East to the Ennerdale Fells
Writer and Art Consultant

27th January 2014

MESSAGE ON A TRAIN

Five packed days in London is stimulating, enjoyable and exhausting. There is so much to do and see  - no sign of a recession here. I was caught up in a maelstrom of art.

The controversial renovations at Tate Britain are magnificent giving more space and light. The rehang gives a different emphasis to old favourites and a new look throughout.

The Paul Klee exhibition at Tate Modern is intelligently done and the Royal Academy has completely revamped facilities for Friends with a new restaurant, The Keepers, and a lovely bar and small garden area.

Only the London Art Fair was disappointing marked by the absence of many of the usual galleries and old friends whom I expected to see there. The best stand was the Hepworth Wakefield celebrating their fine collection. Hurrah for The North yet again.

But for me, with my penchant for fashion as an art form, Isabella Blow at The Courtauld was the highlight. What a beautifully mounted exhibition of this troubled, disorganised and brilliant woman who committed suicide in 2007.  As fashion editor of Vogue she promoted extra-ordinary young designers notably Alexander McQueen and Philip Treacey. She counted Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and Brian Ferry among her friends. She was eccentric (some might say mad) which is demonstrated in her personal choices of unwearable hats which masked the face and gave little vision, jewellery which was brutal (drew blood) and shoes excruciating to wear. She would catch a bus to work with a fully rigged galleon on her head and once called the fire brigade to a kitchen fire in her house with a  large pheasant poised on her head and  over her face. This is body language at its most revealing. How much we show about ourselves in the choices of what we wear. This is one of the most interesting exhibitions I've seen for some time – beautifully presented.

Visits to auction rooms, galleries and meetings with friends filled my time with not a moment to spare so it was a relief to escape from the uncaring crowds marching along with a phone in one hand and a plastic cup of coffee in the other unaware of anyone in their path and sink into the train to head back to the hills. A little over 3 hours in the Virgin Pendelino brought me back to civilisation as we up here know it; empty roads, fresh air and broad vistas.

A visit to the loo on the train made me smile. A disembodied serious voice gave out this message.  I had to go back twice to be sure I’d heard it right.
Please do not flush …
Nappies
Sanitary towels,
Paper towels
Gum
Old phones
Unpaid bills
Junk mail
Your ex’s sweater
Your hopes and dreams
Or goldfish...
Down this toilet.

Has anyone else heard this? Was it a personal message just for me or was I dreaming? Maybe it was the pheasant I had on my head!

 

 

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