Friday, April 29, 2016

A sense of place -?

This morning we drove through the fresh greens on the trees, with fields of yellow in the distant sunshine to catch a small exhibition before it closed.  A sense of place is a selection of art owned by Reading Museum.
Favourite was the tapestry diptych designed by John Piper commissioned in 1974 for Reading's Civic Centre: Urban Reading and Rural Reading
Having lived in Reading for a few years we recognised the elements particular to the place.  And this recognition of place was one of our points of discussion in looking at the rest of the exhibition.  I very much was attracted to Anne Redpath's Rubishaw, Aberdeen painting, with its flat pale light colours, but which did not remind me of the Aberdeenshire I know.  (And did they mean Rubislaw?  As in the location of the granite quarry? - So far I have been unable to find out.)
We both liked Christopher Wynne's View of the Sussex Weald, but I was not sure that the painting fixed the place for me.  Paul Nash's The Edge of the Wood was listed as being Oxford, and yet, again, having lived there for some years, I would not have placed that view there.  More likely I would have thought that somewhere continental, like France was the subject of such lush growth.
So the exhibition set off much thinking about art communicating a sense of place.  For instance, Ravilious' work has always struck me as being brilliant at summing up England for me, and I wonder whether that is because of his style, or because he chose iconically English subject matter/views, or whether his work has become/ been used as iconically English.
We each have our own mental picture of specific places, landscapes, towns, formed either by experience or by impressions left by art, literature, or advertising.  An artist's one view produced at a different time, in different weather, from a different perspective from one's own can be difficult to accept.  And so, I think I would prefer to see an exhibition all about one place - or of several works by one artist, or a few artists in order to get a flavour of their views of places depicted.  One place each, dotted about, can be pleasant - as it was today - but less satisfying in communicating the sense of place of the exhibition's title.  They could have borrowed current photography's title of 'Scapes to cover rural and urban landscape and seascapes.
It was, nonetheless an interesting exhibition which led to a good discussion.


  1. I really like the Redpath painting. I think you have posted an image of hers before which I also liked a lot. And the Piper, of course.

  2. Yes, Eirene, I am fond of Redpath's paintings. Unfortunately they are not often seen these days. It was certainly good to see this one.