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Friends, food, art, etc.

Yesterday, I enjoyed a splendid day out in Manchester. I caught the train west across the Pennines in brilliant sunshine, reading Robert Harris' Pompeii as I went (and noting down the page numbers of all the things in it that annoyed me), and met up with angeoverhere and johnnydefective at the station. We proceeded for lunch at a delicious dim-sum place, where ladies with trolleys and trays kept bringing round more and more delicacies, and we just said 'yes' to whatever we wanted. Conversation encompassing jobs, houses, incoming babies, geeky T-shirts and the crazy antics of mutual friends flowed across the pork dumplings and on through town to the Art Gallery, where we enjoyed a post-prandial hot beverage while M's chair vibrated inexplicably.

At 2pm, there was a changeover of personnel: angeoverhere and johnnydefective departed to buy curtains, while I rendezvoused with miss_dark, vonheath and foxy76 for an afternoon of Art and Cake. We had a marvellous time wandering through the galleries discussing severed legs, decomposing eyes, family secrets and ugly crockery, interspersed in a most civilised fashion with further refreshments in the cafe. My favourite gallery was, predictably enough, the Victorian pre-Raphaelite section, which had lots of delicious Classicising scenes from the brushes of Alma-Tadema, Albert Moore and the like. I came away with postcards of this gloomily erotic Sappho by Charles-August Mengin, this Delphic Sibyl (who reminded me of thebiomechanoid) by Burne-Jones, and this Chariot Race by Alexander von Wagner, which was inspired by Lew Wallace's Ben-Hur.

I also bought one more postcard of a work which had stopped me in my tracks as we were going round the gallery with its sheer preposterousness:

The Shadow of Death by William Holman Hunt (1871)

(Do you see how clever and ironic it is? Do you? Do you?)

It wasn't until I got home and actually looked at the back of the postcard that I realised it was in fact by my favourite Bad Artist ever, William Holman Hunt, who also produced this brilliant piece of creative anachronism:

A Converted British Family Sheltering a Christian Priest from Persecution by the Druids by William Holman Hunt (1850)

That one, I'm happy to say, hangs in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, so that I have had the pleasure of seeing it, too, in all its canvassy glory. I now feel flushed with the desire to go on an ironic Holman Hunt pilgrimage, seeking out, viewing and *koff* 'appreciating' all his works in galleries across the globe.

Anyway, after having our artly fill, miss_dark, foxy76 and I went on a very profitable shopping trip to Primark, and then wended our way eastwards again, discussing weddings and offering advice to my sister about carrot cake icing as we went. I had at one point intended to go out to Wendyhouse in the evening, but I realised that being in a fit state to do some work today wouldn't be a bad idea, given that our students arrive tomorrow, so I forewent the pleasure. And so I have spent today finishing off my curtains, doing washing and writing documentation for my new courses in a very pleasant and relaxed fashion.


( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 16th, 2007 10:29 pm (UTC)
It's been a long time since I've been around the Art Gallery (not since it lost the 'City' part of its name). I should go again sometime.

I love Waterhouse's Hylas and the Nymphs.
Sep. 17th, 2007 08:19 am (UTC)
Ah, so that's why some people call it the City Art Gallery and some people don't, is it?
Sep. 17th, 2007 06:31 am (UTC)
It was a splendid day! *beam* Although I am returning some of the Primark buys today! *grin*
Sep. 17th, 2007 08:20 am (UTC)
Oh, sorry to hear that. Were some of the nighties not to your taste after all?
Sep. 17th, 2007 03:26 pm (UTC)
The blue one was just too see-through!!! *eek* and I swapped the knitted dress/top for a smaller size... so will probably be returning that one tomorrow! *grin*
Sep. 17th, 2007 06:54 am (UTC)
I did suspect Pompeii would annoy you - though it's probably better researched than most Roman period based fiction...
Sep. 17th, 2007 08:23 am (UTC)
Actually, as I was saying to swisstone recently, in a way it is the scrupulous research that actually annoys me. From my point of view it looks laboured and self-conscious - and it also means that the bits which jar do so all the more by contrast.
Sep. 17th, 2007 08:30 am (UTC)
I found it still quite a nice story to follow though - yes, a bit over detailed in places, but no more so that say Tolkein or Robert Jordan (who sadly died yesterday) for example. Mind you - I don't read much that's set in the Roman era (erm, Asterix?), so maybe I let him get away with things that would annoy more in other books.
Sep. 17th, 2007 08:43 am (UTC)
I don't know - I'm getting kind of bored of the story, too. I'm half-way through, and nothing much has happened yet! Still, it's fun snarking at it, if nothing else, and I'll certainly finish it.
Sep. 17th, 2007 07:35 am (UTC)
Um, that's a rather dramatic shadow. It looks like Jesus has a rat crawling up his side.

Also: yay for dim sum!
Sep. 17th, 2007 08:24 am (UTC)
OMG, yes it does!
Sep. 17th, 2007 08:52 am (UTC)
Gosh, you know Lindy and Clare! Small small world!

I've never seen that second Holman Hunt: isn't it mad?
Sep. 17th, 2007 10:35 am (UTC)
Yes - I've only met them recently, but they're a very welcome addition to my ever-growing social circle here in Leeds.

And I am truly coming to appreciate the speshulness of Holman Hunt now that I've put those two paintings together. I scan and scan them for hints of ironic playfulness - but I fear that he painted both in all seriousness.
Sep. 17th, 2007 05:51 pm (UTC)
I love Holman Hunt too - completely over the top melodramatic victorian fabulousness.

I've always thought Jesus looks very 'teenage sarcastic' in that painting, almost as if he's saying to God 'so is this what you want me to do?'

Holman Hunt - terrible subject matter but stunning use of colour and amazing draftmanship.
Sep. 17th, 2007 05:56 pm (UTC)
Indeed! Or it's like the Messianic equivalent of a teenager practising Rock Star poses in front of the mirror. You're got to look suitably inspirational when you're being crucified, after all.
Sep. 17th, 2007 06:40 pm (UTC)
I tend to think of Hunt as a poor portraitist and an equally poor propagandist. That said, paintings like The Scape Goat are very good.

- Kharin
Sep. 17th, 2007 07:46 pm (UTC)
Ah, you are cutting indeed! But yes - the detail and realism in some of his paintings (and the Scape Goat is a good example, as far as I can tell from seeing it online) is rather impressive.
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )

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