Leeds Art

“I hope you become comfortable with the use of logic without being deceived into concluding that logic will inevitably lead you to the correct conclusion.”

This marvellous quote from Neil Armstrong, who has just died at the age of 82, appears in Claire Lawton’s Blog entry on the website of the Phoenix New Times.

Last week I visited Leeds Art Gallery to see the exhibition of ‘Art in our Time’, selected highlights from a century of collecting. The delights on show included several Spencers (Stanley and his brother Gilbert), the ‘Searchlights’ painting by Nevinson, a portrait by Wyndham Lewis (which takes me back to Ezra Pound’s Canto CXV excerpt in the Faber Book of Modern Verse) and the Paul Nash painting of a Quarry. Another striking picture of an imaginary ruin was John Armstrong’s painting ‘Phoenix’, which would be ideal as the cover image for a volume of Surrealist Poems.

There were other notable items: a painting from Charles Sims’ Mystical Period, Drink Deeply of Wine, a collision of angels and perfect Middle-Class Edwardians. And Canova’s statue of Venus, a perfect being made of fossilized light.

One collection of modern works included a photo by Boyd Webb, who specializes in imaginary landscapes where wrecked furniture floats on a carpet ocean. Photography is fast becoming an art form; ‘the camera never lies’ but at the same time a perfect rendition of a person or a place can be utterly misleading. Picasso’s Avignon hookers are more alive in that picture than they would be in any of Bailey’s faithful portraits.

Back in the late ‘80s I found a magazine article about Vincent Serbin, a photographer who creates montage pictures – compelling surrealist landscapes with a beach overlapping with the interior of a bedroom (rather like the abandoned office in those ‘Industrial Ruins’ pictures, where a tide of spilled receipts and dockets lies motionless in the doorway). And more recently I noticed the work of Lucas Simoes, whose techniques include layering of printed images to generate smeared portraits.

Journal Entry, 31 Dec 02:
Posted letters to Sheila & Dave, Heather & Mark, and a cheque to Cred Card Co.
In the news: Donald Rumsfeld (US Defense Secretary) has been outed as one of the key suppliers of plutonium, anthrax, electronics etc to some guy called Saddam Hussein (‘Well, he seemed like such a nice man’).
It is not clear whether DR didn’t know that he didn’t know that he wasn’t supposed to do this…
Cases of Syphilis, Gonorrhoea and Chlamydia in Manchester up by 200% on last year.
Halifax Bank says that house prices in the NW will show a 16% rise during 2003.
While tidying up and chucking out I came across that 1990 photo of me holding my newly-acquired Driving Licence.
A quiet night in, listening to Radio 2, white wine, chorizo, olives, fromage, salad, and reading John Brunner.
There are seventy flood warnings throughout the UK: tonight’s forecast – rain & snow.

Journal Entry, 25 Apr 03:
Compiled a beautiful report about our trip to B’pool – analysed the numerous defects in existing formulations and why they would give rise to our problems. Suggestions – put the missing (!) driers into the alkyd primer, grind the primer instead of using HSD to get rid of lumps, reduce pigment loading in CR, and increase the plasticizer level – lots more chlor paraffin and Lankroflex.

Journal Entry, 5 May 03:
Sat morning rode off to Kearsley for the Nightmare Rally – Seventh Seal and Scavengers MCC. Bands: Rolled & Stoned (v good early Bowie, Lou Reed, Mick Ronson, Mick & Keef etc).
Last night: Poison Whisky and Are You Experienced, tremendous Hendrix cover band who cremates his guitar at end of show.
Brett rang to tell me that on Fri afternoon there had been a chemical spillage from Sterling Tech: ‘residents within four miles are advised to stay indoors’.

Journal Entry, 7 May 03:
Arrived at work to find factory intact. Damn! Gill had been brought in to carry out QC during my absence and left a list of complaints about the state of the lab.
She had also been comparing drying-times on various batches of CR paint, the infamous B’pool Tower stuff.
Apparently last Friday’s drama was a resin exotherm which spewed out a plume of styrene and then turned into seven tons of useless rock.


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