After my major heart attack last August, I lost most of my sense of smell and taste, so I was delighted to walk past the railings on the approach to Morley College to be greeted by this sweet familiar scent coming from the jasmine bushes planted behind the railings. They were just coming into bloom and I realised that my sense of smell was coming back.
The scent brought back memories of the small house we had from 1993-2003 in Nerja in the South of Spain. We had planted night-scented jasmine on our terrace and the scent would waft across as we sat drinking our after dinner coffee.
I have been feeling guilty that after my heart attack I haven’t felt motivated or well enough to visit some of the great exhibitions presently on in London but I’m slowly catching up.
Last Sunday we went to see Beyond Caravaggio at the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square, London – an exhibition showing his far reaching influence on artists of his time. It’s interesting that without having his own school, Caravaggio’s style was taken up by so many painters, though he hated being copied and would threaten to beat up anyone who did so.
After 20 or so years his combination of live models, dramatic lighting (chiaroscuro) and storytelling fell out of favour until the 20th century, since when he has been increasingly popular.
Caravaggio (1571-1610) said that painting still life requires as much artistry as painting figure and his still lifes were certainly beautiful. The boy with fruit and flowers in the exhibition was his rather naughty Boy bitten by a lizard 1594-5 which shows a lizard biting the boy’s middle finger with beautifully painted fruit and white roses in a glass vase and behind the boy’s ear.
I wish I’d seen the BBC1 Imagine program – Georgia O’Keeffe by Myself – before I went to the Tate exhibition. From the poster I had expected to see lots of her flower paintings which I’ve always liked, but there were only two and though I very much liked New York Street with Moon, her Lake George paintings and her paintings of skulls and bones, the exhibition lacked the coherence of the TV program. The exhibition seemed bitty to me, but having watched the program and seen how her art evolved, I appreciate her non-flower works much more. It would be good to visit the exhibition again but there are so many good things to see in London just now, I am unlikely to make it.
The other works on the same floor were by the Indian painter Bhupen Khakhar. Josh and I both particularly loved the deep blues and greens of the paintings in the first room. A sad man, plagued by living in a world where his sexuality was forbidden, much of his work is related to his homosexuality. Rich vibrant colours and often moving, I much preferred it to the Georgia O’Keeffe, with the caveat that if I had time to go back I might well revise my opinion of the exhibition of her work.
Unfortunately, or fortunately, we were too tired after visiting both exhibitions in one morning to tour the new Modern Art Wing of Tate Modern. Another day.
We’ve had Mallard ducks on our 9th floor balcony and a peregrine and we can hear the blackbirds singing from their nest above us. Once a pair of ducks nested on the roof opposite and raised a family of ducklings there.
Now a small bird has made a nest in our courtyard and laid five eggs. It seems amazing. The new gardeners only replanted the window box quite recently.
I caught a glimpse of a little brown bird flying away as I walked past but I’m not sure what type it was.
A neighbour said it was a robin, but surely they have blue eggs?