Iain Cameron's Diary
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2004-04-14 - 9:37 p.m.

Go and read the Stephen Lewis speech under the Highveld button above - its in the editorial and on the News page. I cant find superlatives good enough for his statement.

Venice does have mosquitoes still – even in April – and I have brought back some bites with me. In fact the ones on my right arm are just starting to make their presence really felt.

Yesterday I read Graham Norton-Taylor’s chapter on Venetian art in the book of from his TV series from a couple of years back. I felt I had seen most of the works that he mentioned although not always appreciating their significance – especially a late Titian which James and I had hummed and haa-ed about in the Academia. It turns out that it is one of the last paintings he did and shows him still experimenting esp with the expression of themes of mortality.

At least I spent some time on his Assumption of the Virgin in the Friari which was the painting at the other end of his career which first brought him to wider attention.

GNT suggests that within Venetian culture the gradiosity of the art became a substitute for the state’s worldly success as the 16th century progressed. In, for example, the Doges Palace there are some extraordinary corporate statements in oil paint. GNT picks out Tintoretto’s Last Judgement which fills one side of the main very large state room in the palace. GNT goes as far as the comparison with Pollock’s total canvasses.

It must have been very hard to follow Tintoretto. He was asked by a “school” (a kind of club) to paint their club house. The results include a painting of the crucifixion which Henry James thought was possibly the best in the world upstairs above a room full of paintings that has so much impact that Ruskin (apparently) fell on the floor laughing when he first saw them.

Normally Baroque exuberance is not for me but I have to hand it to Tinto. He used the impressionistic discoveries of Titian, was a great draughtsman able to use his resources to amplify and deepen whatever subject he was tackling as a dramatist. Like a film noir cameraman he loved to frame a dramatic angle – up down across – on the scene. One of his last paintings was of the Last Supper viewed from corner of the room, near the ceiling. This now hangs in a Palladian church opposite St Marc’s Square across the Grand Canal and then a bit more water on the way to the Lido. The outline of this church was the only one that I managed to draw during this visit but it is still an intimidating place to put pencil to sketch book.

As far as I can work out Veronese tried to compete with Tinto but tended to do hollow grandiosity rather than profundity. After Tinto things went down hill.

There are two of these “school” clubrooms left from the 16th century. As well as Tinoretto’s there is the much smaller Dalmatian clubroom dedicated to St George and painted by Carpaccio – in a delightfully down to earth way telling various stories which relate to the ethnic origins of the people in the club plus religious themes.

It is pretty perfect as well and a few decades earlier than the larger clubroom next to the Friari – Tintoretto may well have been trying to outdo the Dalmatians – or his sponsors may have wanted that result . The strange thing in my view is that within this society art was used to celebrate corporate identity not just by the state or the church but by various voluntary groups of individuals who wanted a ennobling space to have their meetings and discussions. Who knows why? But at least we find ourselves applauding their communal enterprise around 500 years after the event – after all their projects have disappeared into the lagoon these visions remind us of the fact they managed to get something together.

I am back on the River Avon looking at Guy’s Cliffe, having taken the train from Guildford via Reading to Birmingham. After Reading this must be one of the prettiest trips on the railways of Southern England. First the Goring Gap where the Thames goes through the Chilterns then up the Thames Valley to Oxford. Then the Cherwell and Oxford Canal via Banbury past Cropredy to Leamington and then the Grand Union Canal to the outskirts of Birmingham near the source of the River Blythe and all in the spring sunshine.

As I arrived at work my new car was disappearing back to the factory to have the Satnav finalised and so someone gave me the keys to a Ford – they didn’t know which Ford but I eventually managed to find it after most people had gone home. It’s a bit big for me but I can hardly grumble – can I?

Home from the Saxon Mill to refine my Kipper recipe – tonight Kipper Balti avec ratatouille francais and crusty French bread washed down with a Chilean Cabsauv. Suits me though obviously its all a matter of taste.

I continue my MD reappraisal as I listen to versions of I’ll be Back, Place to Be, Alfie, A Nightingale Sang , the 3rd fugal movement of the Bm Bach flute sonata, and the Barbecue loop piece from Summer Lawns – it’s a cracker. I love them all. The kippers must already have rotted my taste – it can hardly have been the Chilean can it?

I think its time to plunge into “This is A Sentence”.

During which Laurence rang in response to a text I sent him about Deleuze. He subsequently mailed a page and a bit developing his current theme and I have just mailed back some comments - from the hip. I get the feeling that the ex S Pheasant bebop 5tet piano player at Hughes may have some views on the way L’s stuff is going.

I have been taking to Denise about the August Arden Nickfest. She seems nice.

There does seem to be a lot of work around but that can hardly be a surprise.

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