Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Seriously Funny at CityLit

I've mentioned, positively on more than one occasion CityLit and have another reason to sing their praises.
At CityLit we looked at Humour (including the absurd)

On Saturday I joined a one-day course called Seriously Funny - a history of art and humour run by Ian Tucknott, Ian introduced himself as a cultural theorist and humorous artist (as well as a serious poet).  Examples of his work were shown line in/line out ( a work about communication using 'string' telephone' as a starting point)  and binoculars.

Ian revealed as the  day went on the debt and the influence he got from Marcel Duchamp.

There were only 6 of us on the course but this was not a bad thing as it enabled a high level of participation.

Part of Duchamp legacy

The exploration that the day provided covered topics around:

 being in on the joke and the superiority this gave the informed audience

-The idea that Galleries are serious places.

- we looked at the forms of humour in various art works  including incongruity,  Surrealism (and the Absurd) and Puns and the way that Satire was used (citing Hogarth as an early exponent).

Always nice to have the possibility of following up and Ian has promised to send us the presentation with links, which should include David Shrigley, Martin Creed, Erwin Wurm as well as Francis Alys (The Last Clown is an example of his work)  and Bruce Nauman (Double No was mentioned) also Banksy.

Hanna Hoch (1889 - 1978) and Yoko Ono were examples of female artists in a male dominated field.

Certainly much of what is covered in these works is 'serious' but humour is a great way of communicating some difficult topics.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Time for an Energy Deal?

Perhaps it's just another way of marking the passage of time ...

I suppose (for me) it's manageable but the annual energy contract reminds me what a mess the 'competitive' supply arrangements in the UK are.
Might ask for a smart meter too

I've nothing against my current supplier 'Flow' but the price hike of over £185 (about 18%) is way out of line for general inflation or the increased costs the company is facing so I do feel obliged to be ' non-loyal' and find another provider.

Looking at the 'switch' sites, which I believe get more than £50 per completed switch (be nice if in the interests of transparency the switch sites made this public)   I can see several better deals but there are others from other companies that are not supported by the automated switch - have chosen Oneselect - their price for 2017/18  actually lower (and with no early exit charge) than cost for 2016/17.

Either the UK government needs to make consumer supply market genuinely competitive or impose some sort of control (as they proposed a few months ago)- utilities like energy are 'natural monopolies' only differentiation is the service - flow have been fine and I will see how this company operates over next 12 months.

From my experience working with CAB on energy deals I know that the active consumer is in the minority and the well informed (and often financially secure) can make the best of these sort of switching deals - vast majority can't be bothered or are in debt and want to avoid confrontation that might ensue.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Back at Soane's

A great Museum
In a way of late I've come to realise that Sir John Soane does not, perhaps get the acknowledgement for his part in the creation of modern London that he deserves.

Earlier this week I paid (another) return visit to the central London home of the Sir John Soane Museum.

I also now realise that The Mason's Hall (quite close to what is now the Museum)  was designed by Soane and that The Bank of England wasn't - although various additions to it were.

Each time I visit the Museum I get some more information, either about Sir John, his career or his times.  Learning about the achievements he made is  as a result of information form the guides  who are on the whole pretty good.
The Dulwich Gallery - another of Sir John's projects

I wonder though if Soane was such a difficult father as the guy showing us Hogarth's A Rake's Progress said - he was obviously loyal to his late wife (and their dog) but I question  the perspective that Soane's wife bought the series of paintings is used as a slightly lazy shorthand to describe the dynamic between John Soane and his son or sons.
Masonic Hall by Sir John

If he was difficult it was perhaps as a result of how he felt his own rise was by hard work (he was son of a relatively humbler builder).

 George his younger son did have troubles but they were not too similar to Tom Rakewell -and his other son John (here's a picture of the two boys) predeceased him.

Pitzhanger Manor from a couple of years back - currently under refurbishment 

Soane was the man who designed the Dulwich Gallery and who had his family country home in Ealing (Pitzhanger Manor).

Another nice thing about the Museum is how they feature some modern works too - presently that's work by Marc Quinn - and is called 'Drawn from Life'

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

More Cultural Outings - Photographers' Gallery

A good place for Photographers to meet
It's sometime since I've visited The Photographers' Gallery (just of Oxford Street in the hear of London's West End), as a new exhibition is now on and as both John and I enjoy photography  it seemed a very good place to meet  ahead of a walk down to John Soane's House (near Holborn).

 The Photographers' Gallery is spread over quite a few floors (four plus basement) and the current works to be seen are dominated by  work of Gregory Crewdson 'Cathedral of the Pines' - both John and I were new to his 'oeuvre' so found it all rather intriguing.

What Crewdson (A former Punk rock group member who is now a Professor at Yale) does is work of a 'film-ic' nature - with dark images (in terms of the character of the subjects) looking to be connected serious events - the work is seen to connect to diverse influences including the artist Edward Hopper and Film director Alfred Hitchcock.

Also on show was an 'interactive' area  where visitors are invited to consider food photography -nice idea but  I'm not sure how well it works - it's an area of photography that is significant but the elements to use suggested the Japanese restaurants that use 3D plastic models.

It's a real challenge