Pandemic Pondering #249

Another Box pondering.Today I was volunteering in North Hall. Originally the main entrance/ foyer of the old museum and now the hub of the museum. Everyone passes through North Hall and many people do exactly that, they pass through North Hall , noses buried deep in their museum plan, anxious to get to the gallery of their choice. Some pause for nostalgia remembering this hall as children or as the parents of children, revisiting the memories of the old museum. North Hall currently holds a piece of Contemporary Sculpture named Figurehead II by its creator Alexandre du Cunha. To not pay it attention is a waste of a revealing art moment.

Toe to toe with Figurehead II

From the picture above it is hard to even see a piece of contemporary art. And yet this picture really simply shows a relationship between contemporary art, craftsmanship, and decorative art.

I want to call Figurehead II a monolith, but it is not in one piece and not truly made of stone. It is Monolithesque and created from 4 mass produced concrete drainage pipes. It is an ordinary object repurposed as a sculpture , repurposed because it has holes gauged out of the sides of the segments of drainage pipe and a sculpture because it stands, out of context, within an art gallery. It is a ready made piece of art like Deschamps Urinal entitled Fountain, just a little further down the drain chain. It can never be a drainage pipe again. Set within the original Victorian entrance foyer and stairway, the sculpture captures attention. In some ways incongruous but actually a dominating, beautiful concrete tower. Tactile and interactive it invites visitors to explore it with hands and eyes. It teases the adventurously minded to clamber in and pose for companions to photograph them, framed by it’s grey concrete edges. It directs your eyes to the Victorian staircase and landing and in some views the circles pick up the detail of a fifteenth century ceiling panel.

Here is my humble opinion as to why this is such a simple art lesson. Explaining where this piece of contemporary art sits with decorative art and crafsmanship. The concrete pipe is a mass produced manufactured item. Where the holes have been carved out you can see the construction ingredients of stones and cement. Sitting, as it does, on the original museums Victorian decorative floor. It is immediately obvious how similar in construction the two things are, and yet the decorative floor just ‘ is’ a beautiful piece of craftsmanship. Intriguingly the concrete pipe occludes the markings that gave the decorative star a purpose. It is actually the points of a compass but without the letters denoting direction being visible it has been stripped of any usefulness. Without purpose it doesn’t exactly excite your mind to think around it. Figurehead II , love it or loath it, makes you think in all sorts of ways and that,in my opinion, is the point of this piece of contemporary art.

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Pandemic Ponderings #60

A day of two words.

Now there really is no link between these two words apart from the serendipity of them turning up within a lunchtime conversation within one minute of each other.

This is Pandemic Pondering #60 and I like to make special numbers a little bit different or special.

Kakistocracy could be worthy of a blog as some parts of the world are living through one right now , but I’m not certain I would feel uplifted by discussing it.

Petrichor is quite another matter. I’ve loved Petrichor all my life without knowing the word until today.

In rural Essex , where I grew up, Petrichor was pretty rare. Essex has one of the lowest rainfalls in Britain. But when it happened it was glorious.

The word was created by two Australian researchers in the 60’s. The smell is actually produced by bacteria that release Geosmin into the air when rain hits healthy soil. Humans are particularly sensitive to the fragrance and it is almost universally loved. Curiously it is also responsible for the earthy taste of beetroot which is not universally loved.

Beetroot and feta galette with za’atar and honey.

Sam’s Tamimi and Tara Wrigley, from Falastin a cookbook.

So the smell of Geosmin is what I and most humans love, and certainly my Essex experience would exactly be explained by Geosmin.

But what about my love of London streets after rain, there is precious little healthy soil in some parts of the city but there is warm tarmac and cement added to the Geosmin from parks and gardens.

© theoldmortuary

St Paul’s and its neighbours in the City of London.

Cornwall and rain are inextricably linked and Petrichor is a rare treat because once the rain sets in there are very few chances to enjoy that wonderful smell despite us having acres of lovely healthy soil. Some of it on riverbanks.