Op-art as a movement became questionable – said a note on the wall – because it was too readily accessible.
Well, whoever those sour faced guardians of the difficult and obscure were, they were quite right. The gallery at Compton Verney yesterday was full of people exploring the optical effects of the prints and structures and simply enjoying themselves.
It was playful; it surprised and entertained; it involved you in a real exploration the way eyes, brain and body were caught up in the artist’s constructions. There was – to me – an unexpected delight in the absolute precision of it all – a wondrous meeting point between art, science and engineering.
The only downside was that, after an hour or more, you felt you needed something solid and ordinary to rest your eyes and get your balance back.
No photographs were allowed except of this magical installation by Liz West that gave us rainbows for shadows and, as you moved around, seemed to conjure new colours out of nothing at all. You had to be there – but in lieu, here are photos and an explanation of how the effect was achieved:
Over on the Berliner Philhamoniker site they are letting us watch and listen to their performance of St Matthew Passion for free – but only until the 17th April.
Which is fair enough. Actually it’s more than fair – the music is wonderful of course, but for this performance they involved a chap called Peter Sellars to ‘ritualise’ it. Singers and choir move about, partly acting out the Passion. It isn’t opera, the effect is much slower and more stylised, but it is immensely moving and powerful.
Some nostalgia here. This was on the back pages of so many of the comics I’d read as a boy. Was Charles Atlas real? These days, would the skinny youth stay at home crouched over his twitter feed and find other routes to revenge?
We visited March in the Fens yesterday, hoping to see inside the church there. St Wendreda’s is famous for the angels that decorate its medieval timber roof:
The church is kept locked and a leaflet told us to go to a garage nearby and ask for the key – but we found the system discontinued. Two youths, a while before, had taken the keys and robbed the church – so, sadly this photo is only of what we might have seen.
We did see this on the wall of the modern parish hall next door:
Who knows what those slightly anxious cherubs are up to: it could be a choir practice, or the last trump, or something Pol Pot might have recognised…