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Surreality / 12 August 2011

Somehow my personal artwork is progressing. Putting out bits as they form had seemed such a scary prospect; I’d half expected the exposure to kill the inspiration. But now I happily remember how much I used to enjoy working to an audience as a student.

However, I spent a chunk of yesterday submerged in surreality; from Peter Eugene Ball’s driftwood sculptures to Nick Blinko’s pen and ink drawings and the strange sensation of Pallant House floating, tethered to Sir Colin Wilson’s 2006 red brick extension.

Chichester Cathedral hosts “Sacred and Secular” until 29th September: haunting driftwood figures that span cultures, faiths and worlds, flowing back and forth between death and life.

Nog’s teeth. Live
long and prosper. Way
back beyond final frontiers;
the Bell-man alerts:
warning, warning.
And please Sir!
Me Sir, me Sir.
Take me down
enfold my arms.
When the lights go out
we will all creep away.

Take the ship;
horse-manes foam under
silent Styx; nosing through, we’ll
flee the public gaze.
Warning, warning.
Take me down
enfold my arms
my empty arms;
wag my tail.
When the lights go out
we will all creep away.

See through secrets,
swelling, biting.
Stations alert.
And please Sir!
Me Sir, me Sir.
Short, sharp creeping,
stiff bones weeping.
Take me down,
enfold my arms;
when the lights go out
we will all creep away.

I easily made a link between them and the amazing pen and ink drawings just about visible in Pallant House. I was very disappointed to discover them in a darkened room and positioned in cabinets way above comfort levels from my wheelchair. In fact they were too far away and poorly lit to see any of the intricate detail. The four enlarged, laminated copies on the table were helpful when taken into the daylight, but the magnifying glasses, pressed against the glass cabinets by standing visitors, were no help at all. This exhibition finished on the 14th August. 

Pallant House itself was an accessible surprise; it’s eclectic collection of twentieth century British artwork sitting more and less comfortably in the Queen Anne building. It was Andy Goldsworthy’s etched chalk boulder resonating in the marble fireplace that drew me in and allowed Pallant House itself to offer up it’s own surreal experience.

Some things just work perfectly and appear so simple and obvious. The genius is in the inspiration.

Somewhat in the same vein, I was pondering aloud about Susie Macmurray’s mussel shells neatly stuffed with red silk velvet; commenting that this particular idea would not have occurred to me.

“That is because you are not an artist” was the ignorant pronouncement of an arrogant soul passing behind me. Surreal.

Keywords: access issues,museums and galleries,