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Entries in documentation (2)

Monday
Aug302010

colliery landscapes

L S Lowry. Hillside in Wales, 1962. Oil on canvas, 762 x 1016 mm. Tate Collection T00591The 1824 drawing of Bath reminded me very much of the 1962 L S Lowry painting of a coal mining village,  believed to be near Abertillery in South Wales.  It is another town carved out of the rural landscape: tight, dense and relentless.  Do we mistake this density for a kind of urbanity or should it be more realistically considered expeditious worker's housing, one step up from the hostels of Fort MacMurray, or South Africa.
Lowry didn't include the rest of the colliery landscape, seen in this photograph below, with the pit head at the end of the terrace.
It is this historic spatiality that allows England to fit 51 million people into an area a bit larger than Vancouver Island and still have huge agricultural landscapes, estates and forests. 

South Wales mining valley, early 20th century.

Wednesday
Aug042010

the surrealism of ordinary things

Paul Nash. Chain and Net, John Nash’s home, Meadle, Berkshire.More from the exhibition of Paul Nash photographs. Margaret Nash wrote on the original negative of  Chain and Net, 'surrealist a very important experiment'.  This is not the surrealism of distorted vision as in Magritte or Dali, but rather the surrealism of Duchamp who seemed to find everything curious, even more so if ordinarily curious things were reassigned slightly twisted names.

It is the attention given to the ordinary that moves these images from snapshot to study.  They aren't documentary, although they have toponymic titles and dates.  They don't reveal a passionate study of a place, although they are all 'placed'.  There is a loving interest in form, not for its perfection, or its pathetic fallaciousness, but for its shape.  These seem quite pure photographs in the sense of being disinterested in the rules, the conventions, the emotive content of art.  

Paul Nash. ‘Totems’, old shipyard, Rye harbour. 1932