Thursday, September 20, 2012

Donnelly's Folly

Coming home from Killiney Beach after walking the dog I usually take the scenic route along the Vico Road.  The other day as I passed the discreet entrance to the Donnelly Art Gallery I noticed a planning permission notice on the gate.  Bemused I stopped and checked it out.  It appears that Marie Donnelly has applied for planning permission to change the use of the building to residential.

Planning permission for these premises was originally granted by DLR on the basis that it was to be an art gallery, for use by the public.  This palpably did not happen.  It would have been easier to get a camel through the eye of a needle than to gain access to the alleged gallery.  Many tried and many failed.  Phoenix Magazine regularly elaborated on these failures.  And I don’t recall a single exhibition ever taking place there.  

The owners should never have been allowed build such an architecturally brutish structure in such a scenic location in any case (think German gun emplacements at Normandy).  They now seek to compound their aesthetic insensitivity, and failure to provide the promised amenity, by changing its official use to residential.  

Monday, September 10, 2012

John Banville and Esther Freud

Esther Freud by Lucien Freud
These two did readings at the Pavilion Theatre, Dun Laoghaire, last Saturday as part of the Mountains to Sea Book Festival.  There was such a predominance of women in attendance that I was forced to ask the usher whether it was a women only occasion.  The book club phenomenon I suppose - although women are more tolerant in general of the pretentious twaddle that sometimes obtains at these affairs.  I was encouraged by Banville's presence as he usually provides a cold douche of realism with a tincture of world-weary cynicism.  He didn't let me down.

The pair were introduced by a luvvie called Dearbhla Crotty in a bright red dress. She was palpably nervous.  Surprisingly for an actress she needed cue cards to perform this perfunctory role.  The format was simple, each writer did a brief reading (around 10 minutes) and this was followed by a Q and A session.  Freud, a leggy, attractive and very English girl went first.  She's Lucien Freud's daughter and I'm afraid I couldn't get her naked image out of my head - I'd seen his painting of her at his recent show in London.  She read from Lucky Break her 2011 novel set in the theatre world, which she knows from experience. Worthy stuff and mildly entertaining I'm sure.  However the problem is in the juxtapositioning.  Banville steps up to the plinth and it's clear immediately that we're in the presence of a vastly superior wordsmith.  He reads from his recent book Ancient Light.  His language is fresh, forceful and free of cliche: "soften the wax of sealed convictions", "wisps of intimation" or when he refers to swallows "inscribing in the sky a series of ideograms".  The mismatch reminds me of that famous back stage scene in the Dylan documentary Don't Look Back when Donovan's fey rendition of Catch the Wind is blown out of the water by Dylan's riposte: an all-guns-blazing version of It's All Over Now Blue. 

And afterwards we get the Q and A where Banville (mainly) responds to soft lobs from the adoring audience.  One or two insights emerged into the man and his writing.  He doesn't do multiple drafts - he refines and polishes each sentence before he moves on, and then the refines and polishes each paragraph.  So when he reaches the end of his first draft, he's pretty well finished apart from a copy edit.  He also claimed not to be interested in character.  All the voices are his own.  He has little interest in humanity, considering it a virus upon the earth that could well be gone in fifty years time.  The only character he expressed affection for was a dog called Rex.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Pauline Bewick at Taylor Galleries

Pauline Bewick is one of those artists at whom the cognescenti sneer.  Graham Knutell could also be included in this category.  They both however share the ability to sell well.  Bewick is not shy about marketing herself.  Even in her seventies she remains a tireless self-promoter - and an amiable old bird to boot.  Her latest wheeze is to get Graham Norton to open her show - not the Taylor Galleries style generally I'd say.  The show itself can be divided into three parts:
  1. There's the usual fauns in fairyland and big-bosomed women, usually in states of extreme languour.  There's plenty of bland wild-life: birds, cats, foxes and even horses. These are all style and no substance.  The kind of stuff that dreamy adolescent girls might draw before they grew up and got sense.  In fact the pastel colours and facile lines suggest children's books to me.
  2. Upstairs we get a bit of a fashion show in one room -  dresses, jackets and suits in bright colours with some decoration. Entertaining if you're interested in fashion and more engaging than what gives downstairs.
  3. The other room upstairs features around 20 minimal line drawings.  This is Bewick showing off her characteristic sinuous curve - to little avail.  One called Leaning Back did catch my eye but not I fear for the right reason.
Overall impression: triteness losing the run of itself.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

This Sporting Life – September 2012

Now that the pumped-up, crotch-centric, jingoistic farce that was the Olympics is over we can focus on ordinary decent sporting activity.

 It is time officially to despair of the Tipperary hurling team.  They are clearly talented (look at John O’Brien’s ball skills) but they lack what Nietzsche referred to as the Will to Power.  Kilkenny have now overpowered them twice in consecutive years with a team no more talented but palpably more driven and determined.  Maybe it’s a case of leadership.  Sheedy won an All-Ireland with much the same team.  Is Declan Ryan just too decent a chap to unleash the beast in this group?

Frankel appears to be an equine freak.  Having carried all before him as a miler he has now come out and demolished a field of superior middle-distance horses (St. Nicholas Abbey amongst them) over ten furlongs in the Juddmonte International.  There is talk of the Prix De L’Arc and moving him up again to a mile and a half.  I would love to see him clash with Camelot but fear that the dreary economics that rule the Coolmore operation will prevail.

Soccer is back and while I despise the whole over-blown farrago in general, I do retain a sentimental affection for Everton, managed (on a shoestring) by that decent skin David Moyes. They have got off to a reasonable start and seem to have a settled squad so who knows.  We will be satisfied with a top 6 finish.

I was idly watching a rerun of the Sopranos recently – the one where Tony’s gambling is getting out of control – he’s losing on football, blackjack, roulette etc.  He’s gets pissed off each time he loses, but the most pissed off he gets is when he doesn’t bet on a game where he had predicted the winners.  How true that is for anyone who has gambled seriously.  It’s the ones that got away you remember.  The same is true of women of course.