It began at dawn with me buying my morning papers from the kiosk in the nearby parklet (park is too generous a term for what has been whittled down to a traffic refuge). I was musing, again, on how unfair it was that I lived in a town with no public philanthropy, and thus a tiny gallery devoid of so much as a Greek pot, Roman statue, a bit of old mummy or even some old painting. Walls of late Victorian frippery we have, cool stuff we have not.
This is why I run myself raw and ragged, trying to see as much yartz and kulcha as I can overseas, because oftentimes it has to last me years and years. No dead Dutch dudes, no peasants frolicking in idealisised scenery, no huge melodramtic religious pieces, certainly no rapes, murders, martyrdoms or decapitations. Sigh.
Which of course made me think of St Sebastian. I saw a few in my travels, some sexy, some bored, some downright disturbing, but nothing made as much impact as the first one I ever saw in Paris. It probably isn't even as good as the ones I saw in Italy, if I saw it again, I'm sure, but it was my first and I'd never seen any religious art before, having had an impoverished up bringing at an impoverished school that never ever showed me a single picture of a work of art, and having no art available to look at locally. I had no idea. So I saw my first Saint Sebastian, and I realised, like a lightning bolt, that religious art wasn't bland and fey as I feared, but muscular, dramatic, ultraviolent and really, really gay. Neat.
So I was mourning the fact that there was no chance of a Saint Sebastian fix when I really, really needed one. Unbeknownst to me, there actually was a St Sebastian at the gallery. He was hiding in the gift shop. My brother found him there on the shelf in the corner and I squealed and bought him instantly. He is too cool, and he comes with his own pins, tied in a little envelope to his bound hands. I was going to take him into the office to torment the Catholics, but right now I'm getting huge mileage out of upsetting mother, who, despite being an Anglican, went to a Catholic boarding school and they must have indoctrinated her because nothing I have ever done has had her gasping like when I came home with my Saint Sebastian pin cushion:
Heh. You can buy them here: http://www.philosophersguild.com/index.lasso?page_mode=Product_Detail&item=0195 and the rest of the shop is a hoot, too. I wuv my Saint Sebastian. He's perfect.
So I did get to the gallery, despite managers appearing at my desk just because I merely thought the idea of leaving early, thunderstorms and downpours and huge lines of coppers in riot gear and sniffer dogs that bounded the park. I just walked through 'em like I did at lunch time. Like hell are they gonna stop me walking through the park. Was Nazi Germany this bad? It was all for a conference or somesuch but they closed off the streets again, patrolled the streets and looked me up and down in ways that intimidated fiercely. Fortunately I wasn't stopped or searched because I would have gotten cranky, then dead, because I object to the loss of my citizenship rights.
The mounted troopers (Peterloo, anyone?) also left great steaming piles of horseshit right outside this old building, steaming away in the baking heat. I wasn't as squeamish as those silly Yank tourists and their hygiene issues (heavens, those horses must be the most heavily vetted in the State and that horseshit probably contains less impurities than the breakfast cereal I ate this morning), but it sure did pong.
I also fretted over how herbal my chai tea was, but I made it past all the sniffer dogs. Finally, I got to the gallery, where I met my brother for a coffee. Easier said than done as the service at the cafe there was going for Fawlty Towers gold. How a peach tart ended up as quiche with salad I'll never know, but it was a complete farce.
So, I finally made it into the Crossington-Smith exhibit, with my brother to take me around as my personal guide. Hey, I can it getting something back. I liked her stuff. It was warm, and human and while often very domestic, always poignant and outward looking, like the portrait of her sister knitting. Her sister is knitting socks for the soldiers on the front in WWI, hence her calm determination as she sits, probably on her twentieth sock. There was another lovely pic, WWII this time, of the local church, with empty pews and no young man among the congregation. Simple, lovely, and a three hankie job.
I also really loved her landscapes, especially a lovely one of the bush where she had the burnt out summer colours just perfect, and one of the impossibly thick tropical jungle that loomed up at the back of her yard and houses in Turramurra look just like that. When I had friends, and they lived in Turramurra, their back yards were exactly like that: neat lawn as far as the Hills Hoist, then thick, thick actual jungle as the lot dropped off into a gully, where you could easily imagine lost tribes still lived deep within that had never seen a white man. It was just like that, and her picture captures it perfectly in mood. Her pictures are more about mood than detail, so you really need to stand in front of them to love them, alas.
I did enjoy it, even if we did get hemmed in by the poetry reading until a sufficient number of us made a very rude break for it through the chairs.
So that was my night out. Fun and frolics.
Today I had lunch with AP in a cafe down the street recommended by H. Lovely. We had fusili with scallops, cucumber, basil and fresh tomato. No wonder I'm super fat again. Xmas, New Years, Birthday and now just because. Tsk. Actually, AP was in to see the Crossington-Smith because I'd bigged it up a bit last night. I don't think she was as impressed, but then she didn't get the guided tour - grin.
It's been a good day at work, nice and light in mod, tone and workload, and cooler too, which helps. Must go and mock the drillers again. Hee.
The Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian
Saint Sebastian Tended by Irene
The Dying Saint Sebastian
St. Sebastian (Botticelli)
Paintings of Saints
Links to Images of Saint Sebastian
St Sebastian T-Shirt
Subjects of the Visual Arts: St. Sebastian
Grace Cossington Smith
Grace Cossington Smith
Grace Cossington Smith
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