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Art as a Start

The lions' den

Oh dear now I’ve done it. I’ve stumbled Daniel - like into the cultural lions' den because my head was so full of cherubs I wasn’t looking where I was going. Not only that, I’ve managed to dismiss two thousand years of art history in a foppish swish of the biro. But before you lot club together and corner me in a lonely windmill as you chant kill the monster waving burning staves, let me try and claw back a degree of goodwill by elucidating. The enticing fruit salad of colours in the foreground of, say, a Tiepolo, a bouncer, a Rubens or a Van Dyck create a key hole through to peep into the room for which that painting was conceived, but on which the door of history has slammed shut. So, in the case of Tiepolo, there I am suddenly transported back to the fondant fancy fantasy of a space that originally surrounded the light bright delicacy of the work.

Similarly the stamped leather panels as dark and rich as instant coffee are easy to visualise based on the muscular volutes of a Rubens forearm. Sure the subject matter, the emotion each artist strove to express impresses, but principally I find myself back in the painting's period as effectively as if I’d stepped into a police telephone box wearing a long striped scarf and a floppy hat. But why is this kind of time travel such a hobby? Just to clear one thing up at the outset it’s not to seek inspiration by recreating historically inspired schemes through the medium of MDF and a little bit of string for television makeovers (although it’s always handy to have a few PVA based techniques up one's sleeve). No, it’s because I personally take enormous comfort from history. I derive a real feeling of security from the knowledge that carbon based life forms throughout the ages have had the same basic problems to face, comparable insecurities to conquer, and identical highs and lows although the outfits may have changed radically. And it’s nice because we, like every generation before, are constantly blinded by our own mortality and far too obsessed by our conviction that Nostradams concealed somewhere in an arcane quatrain that we are to be the last generation ever.

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