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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Write at it!



The one good thing about my note making is that I am still at it.  Even when, like this morning, my official notebook was left at home, I still wrote something as I was savouring my weak tea at the leisure centre.  The quality of the tea is lower because there is a new person behind the counter and she has not been fully Rees-trained yet to produce the sort of brew that can dissolve a spoon – or at least stain it convincingly.  That will come in time.
            Instead of the notebook I used the back of two receipts and, although the notes are sketchy, I think that there is something that I can use, especially the sub-Dylan Thomas scrawl of “the strength of a little cough” – I think that has legs, so to speak.
            This comment, if it even merits that appellation, was all a result of a mistimed swallow.  You know the sort of thing, when someone says after a bout of coughing that something ‘went down the wrong way’.  Well, this was a sort of half swallow and I gave a sort of subdued cough.  And felt the effects of that discomfort for hours.  I am now used to sneezing under water, indeed I am really rather good at it – though I have sometimes thought about what might happen if I follow through after the sneeze and take a deep breath of water.  This has never happened and I always consider an underwater sneeze is positively therapeutic in ways that I do not fully understand.
            It didn’t stop with the sneezing however.  My eyes started stinging.  Nothing to do with the quality of the water, which is catalytically salted or something like that, and not, surely in early February some form of pollen?  Over recent years I have become a little more sensitive to spawning trees and plants, but surely not this early in the year!  
          The eye stinging has lasted into the evening but I am determined that my eyes will be fully operational for the double length offering of ‘The Strain’ which starts at ten thirty this evening.  This is directed by del Toro and presumably is another one of his ‘for money’ enterprises that eventually will fund another ‘Faun’s Labyrinth’ for art.  I have to say I rather like his trashy films as well.  And we are looking forward to some honest to goodness hokum this evening!

Tomorrow to Barcelona for the next meeting of my Poetry Group.  This has become an important part of my literary life and my going there usually stimulates me to work on what the writing focus for the evening has been and to work it into something that can go into ‘Flesh Can Be Bright’ when it is published at the end of the summer ready for The Meal in October.
            My bits of the book are almost done.  The cover is designed; the rough format is determined; typefaces and layout settled; indexes in the course of completion and the introduction waiting to be written – but, to be fair that can only be done when everything else is completed.  
          The other aspects of the book are well outside my frantic fingers.  The translations are out there waiting to be completed, though the Catalan translation is in safe hands and I hope to hear that the Spanish translation has been accepted by the person I asked; the drawings are still in my head; one set I can relax about, the others are far more problematical.  I still have to pick my time to ask about one set, and the last set . . . well, if the worst comes to the worst I will simply have to doctor photos of mine in an artistic and pretentious sort of way!  Though I obviously hope that it doesn’t come to that.  I have ideas of whom I can ask.  I think.
            Anyway it’s early February and I have set the end of May for all the stuff to be in and to be ready for me to set up.  That gives me four months to deal with the inevitable problems that will make spacious amounts of time as nothing!  But that is part of the fun of self-publishing anyway!

Lunch was designed to take Toni’s mind off the fact that not only have his books not arrived, but also there has been no response to emails which he has fired off asking where the bloody hell they are.  Or Spanish words to that effect.
            We ate in what we call the ‘Bucket Place’.  This unflattering name is given to a café which is conveniently situated next to a large car park almost in the centre of town.  You have to understand that virtually everywhere where you can park demands payment – except for the lunch hours.  We were therefore able to park opposite the café and then have our usual.
            The USP of this place is that you can order an ice filled bucket of five small bottles of beer and a substantial tapa for €7.  We splashed out and had another tapa of spiced pieces of meat with tomato bread, more bread and coffee with ice all for the cost of €12!  A full meal, delicious, for two and, as Toni only had a single bottle of beer, more than satisfactory!

And there was an email on our return telling Toni that his books would probably be with him by the end of the week.  I will not be holding my breath, in spite of the fact that these books only have to travel about 20 km.
            If and when they do arrive then it will be all systems go to find a fortnight’s holiday in Grand Canaria.  Wherever we go there has to be Wi-Fi, as we will both be doing our courses.  Toni with his new books!
            My own course has an odd sort of momentum to it.  Some parts simply swim along while others are gloopily theoretical.  I think that most of the artists that we are studying would be amazed if they knew (or indeed if they could understand) the pretentious nonsense written about what they might think that they were doing.  I suppose that is a little unfair because I have gained immense insights into the development of twentieth century art during this course and the more I read the more little bits seem to be fitting into place.  Strange that, isn’t it!
            The next TMA will be a real test as it calls for textual analysis as well as a theoretical overview.  It will stretch my ability and capabilities to do it well but I do think that I see a way through.
            The End Of Module Assessment (EMA) is the extended essay or thesis part of the course and this is the part for which I have selected two artists David Hockney (easy) and Alvaro Guevara (difficult) to compare and contrast.  The ease and complexity is not about their art but simple accessibility.  Reproductions of Hockney’s work abound and I can find any number of critics and art historians to use in my analysis.  Guevara is very different.  Although well known at one time, that time was almost 100 years ago and, as the end of his life was nothing like as successful as his early promise, um, promised, his work has sunk, almost without trace.
            There are very few examples of Guevara’s work in public galleries.  He may have been Chilean, but he had his real training and fame in England and more specifically in London on the fringes of and sometimes in the thick of the Bloomsbury Group.  There are paintings of his in the Tate, but I am not sure that they are on display.  I can get to see them in the storerooms of the Tate, but that needs an official application and at least six weeks notice.
            I am trying to track one particular painting of his from his series of paintings of swimmers and swimming pools called, ‘Little Splash’.  I know this exists and it was on exhibition in 1974 in London but as yet I have not discovered where it has gone or who owns it, or even if it still exists!
            My last contact was with the daughter in Norfolk of a man who dealt with Guevara’s estate and who was/is the owner of an art gallery.  This lead might result in my seeing a black and white reproduction of the painting ‘Little Splash’ or perhaps information about its present location.  Sometimes with the sort of research that I am doing the academic journey is the real satisfaction – which will have to compensate for not actually finding out anything of use!
            The great-grand-nephew of the artist, now doing a PhD in Leeds is keen to keep me up to date with a project that he is working on concerning his relative and has even offered to work in my research in some way to the exhibition on Guevara that he is planning!  A nice (in the appropriate sense of the word) linkage I think.
            My file is growing and I can say with a certain degree of confidence that it is likely that I am the foremost expert on Alvaro Guevara (1894-1951) in the whole of Castelldefels!  An expert, I might add, who has yet to see a single artistic work of the artist in the flesh!  My claim of paramount knowledge is unlikely to be disputed – though I would be delighted to find out that there is someone out there with a wealth of information that I would willingly plunder!

            The one bastion of knowledge that I have not yet breached is the Rothschild Collection.  I don’t really know where to start.  But it will be fun trying!
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