David Jones, artist and poet (1895-1974) begins his PREFACE TO THE ANATHEMATA :

'I have made a heap of all that I could find.' (1) So wrote Nennius, or whoever composed the introductory matter to Historia Brittonum. He speaks of an 'inward wound' which was caused by the fear that certain things dear to him 'should be like smoke dissipated'. Further, he says, 'not trusting my own learning, which is none at all, but partly from writings and monuments of the ancient inhabitants of Britain, partly from the annals of the Romans and the chronicles of the sacred fathers, Isidore, Hieronymous, Prosper, Eusebius and from the histories of the Scots and Saxons although our enemies . . . I have lispingly put together this . . . about past transactions, that [this material] might not be trodden under foot'. (2)

(1) The actual words are coacervavi omne quod inveni, and occur in Prologue 2 to the Historia.
(2) Quoted from the translation of Prologue 1. See The Works of Gildas and Nennius, J.A.Giles, London 1841.

11 May 2015

More Melbourne Black : Herald Outdoor Art Show

Previously, we travelled with Stanley Kubrick's black rectangular monolith : from 1913 and the 'Black Square' of Kazimir Malevich to the new Black Pavilion of the Antipodes at the Venice Biennale.
Yesterday, on the The Music Show, Andrew Ford interviewed the English composer and Orthodox priest Ivan Moody (listen here). We appreciated his summary description of the 'Black Square', highlighted in the extract below :

Andrew Ford : As you point out in the book (Modernism and Orthodox Spirituality in Contemporary Music), in Soviet Russia the ikons of Orthodox religion were replaced by the iconography of the Soviet System, and Christ was replaced by Lenin, and in a way this brings Religion and Modernism together, doesn't it, because they were both suppressed.

Ivan Moody : They were both suppressed and, just before they were, you had these interesting phenomena such as the Malevich 'Black Square' which is an ikon that has disappeared into itself; because when it was displayed in its first exhibition it was displayed in the corner of the gallery as though it were in an ikon corner. And there you have the two resonances meeting head on.

In the previous post, we might also have included among those black milestones the iconic 1880 iron mask made by Ned Kelly, and Sidney Nolan's later refinement of it.

Recently, we acquired some 1950s-60s catalogs of the Herald Outdoor Art Show (Melbourne).

photo from Rennie Ellis collection at the State Library of Victoria

Tim Burstall writes about this exhibition series in 'The Memoirs of a Young Bastard'. A footnote there describes it thus :

Herald Outdoor Art Competition : The first outdoor art show organised by the Herald, then Melbourne's afternoon daily newspaper, was held from 8-14 December 1953 in the Treasury Gardens. It was conceived as a democratic event, with no restrictions on entry and no fees, commissions or rents. There were separate sections for amateur and professional exhibitors, a number of practising artists were invited to display their works in the latter category.

The 94 page catalogue for the 1953 event details around 2000 exhibits from artists who included George Bell, Charles Blackman, Arthur Boyd, Guy Boyd, John Brack, Ola Cohn, Noel Counihan, Sybil Craig, Leonard French, Barry Humphries, Bruce Petty, Clifton Pugh, various Skippers and Danila Vasilieff...
photo from Rennie Ellis collection at the State Library of Victoria
Alan McCulloch was appointed art critic at the Herald in 1952, the year before the Herald Outdoor Art Show began. McCulloch designed the covers and the inside drawings of the four catalogs we own.

One of the covers particularly interests us with its variants of the black square. Earthy brown, black and white : a black cosmic watering-can with no visible means of support hovers above and nurtures a variety of black plants in a variety of black pots.

That metaphor seems clear enough; the back cover less so, and more interesting for that. Thoughts of Malevich's 'Black Square'; of Nolan's black Kelly mask with eye; of Joseph Campbell's 'The Masks of God' (1962-1968) with an Eye of God and a rectangular halo; and the black rectangular pot (Created in the Image of God) containing a Tree of Life, the gift being offered to us. Archetypes find their way through : in the beginning was the Black Square and the Black Square was made ...

 A Person Looks At A Work Of Art/
 someone looks at something...