Just as in haircare product advertising one must wax lyrical about the 'botanical and fructive formula', the 'rich ceramide bullshitizomes' which perhaps 'transform and shine because you're worth it'; the same is true in any art critique worth it's salt. So forgive me if I feel a duty to use certain phrases in this blog. These might include: 'juxtaposition', 'symbolic of...' 'inwardly reflective', 'expressive', 'qualities' or the unbeatable 'quintessential dichotomy'.
Turning the world inside out
Another Saturday shuttle between Stratford and Oxford.... and yet another opportunity for me to swing by the Rollright Stones. But today the stones are different. Very different. An unusual addition to the site turns my perception of them inside out. For Anish Kapoor, (born Bombay, 1954) one of Britain's greatest sculptors, has had his 1996 work "Turning the world inside out" temporarily installed bang slap in the centre of the circle.
I am an artist. I love sculpture, especially modern sculpture. But when I heard this was going to happen I was only curious (and a little cynical, perhaps), rather than excited about it, fearing that in some way the sanctity of the internal space at the Rollrights would be violated. How wrong I was!
Cosmic regeneration, man
The highly polished ovoid steel sculpture stands about a metre tall and a metre and half wide, with an inverted funnel-like curve sweeping inwards and down from the top. The brochure tells me that this "embodies Kapoor's preoccupation with female and male symbolism with it's womb-like shape and indented crown. The reflective surface acts a metaphor for the cyclic nature of cosmic regeneration and highlights the artist's fascination with darkness and light."Yeah, well, that's as maybe.
Le coin des Pseud's? Pas!
But I LOVED it and particularly enjoyed the tension in the contrasts. The stones of the circle are rough and ragged, weathered, cracked and old, and yet spin and whirl and speak of time, of people meeting, of people celebrating life and death. The sculpture is smooth and shiny bright, modern and gracefully curvaceous and yet it speaks of time, of people meeting, of people celebrating life and death. How can two so completely different things be so utterly different and serve precisely the same function! Wonderful! What a juxtaposition! What a quintessential dichotomy! Put them together and you get - what? You get a vibrant living magic occuring that I feel privileged to have felt, for this is an installation of universal proportions that rocks your soul. Well, it did mine! It is a perfect marriage.
As I type this stuff, I feel like I'm writing for 'Pseud's Corner', but I'm not taking the piss out of myself (much). I was genuinely moved. Many people are moved emotionally when they hear certain pieces of music that touch their souls. I am able to feel this same emotion visually and I got this today at the Rollrights.
I walked into the stone circle to approach the big, gleaming blob and something else magical happened! I became part of it through my reflection in it's shiny surface and, of course, the stones are reflected in it too, so everything becomes one. And because the sculpture is round and the circle is round and because you move round it, wherever you go you see yourself in the stones. Wicked!
Having got my breath back, and after taking a few pics, I spotted George Lambrick, chair of the board of the Rollright trust, who started talking to the crowds (OK, there were about 20 or so people). He lectured to us in the bright sunshine about the the various excavations he'd made, the history and folklore of the site and put them into a chronological timeline and context, of which I was already aware, but most people had no idea that it was SO OLD. Especially the Whispering Knights which he explained were about 3800BC. I admit I hadn't realised that they were 1000 years older than the circle. From where we stood you could see the Knights clearly in the field to the south east. I asked him about the ugly iron railings around them and around the King Stone just opposite and he defended them for sound archaelogical reasons of erosion. However, he admitted that aethestically it looked shite, though he was far too polite to use the word 'shite'.
One piece of excellent news to report is that the Rollright Trust is in the process of acquiring a strip of land in the field immediately adjoining the circle to the south. The plan is to take down the metal fence and give the circle's portal more space and an opportunity for visitors to view and enter the circle in the way it was originally designed. Also, it's hoped that a strip of land across the field will be cleared as a right of way for visitors to walk more easily down to the Knights.
"Turning the world inside out" will remain at the Rollrights until 3 August 2003, although George told me he's hoping to get this extended for another two weeks. If this happens it would be interesting to photograph it at the time of the full moon! see it of you can!
Only then will you really know whether I have been talking bollocks or not.
Posted by Jane
19th July 2003ce
Edited 1st August 2003ce
Jane's TMA Blog
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