After a solitary first half of 2016, mainly writing in the attic and creating occasional one off shows for festivals, the second half has mainly been attached to Professor Cox. From Glastonbury Monkey Cage via an Australian tour, a musical with Eric Idle, and finally a 48 date UK tour, I have been there to interrupt him noisily or be used for body parts if his spleen or pancreas fail (he’s already had most of my hair).
While traveling, I have tried to find time to visit art galleries in each of our destination. The near silence and elaborate daubs or struck stone have given me rewarding doses of humanity while civilisation seemed to increase its speed of disintegration. We were together the night before BREXIT, as he looked at the incoming polls, he said, “we’re alright. we’re alright.”
We were not alright. The next day we traveled to Glastonbury in a sullen gloom. The horror of the EU exit decision was not so much down to adoration for this far from perfect neo-liberal organisation, but because it seemed to be the breaking of a seal that would now release new levels of abuse, justified with the words, “I’m just saying what everyone is thinking”. The miserable, self-aggrandising words of those who cannot imagine that anyone else’s mind is not a festering cess pool. The night before the Trump election saw a similar chain of events.
I do not want to give up. I wish I didn’t care, but I do. Art intervals have given me air in this claustrophobic political stink pit.
Of all the galleries I have visited, mainly municipal, not one has been without something beguiling, beautiful or disturbing. In no particular order, here are the eleven that have made the greatest impression on me.
- I often visit the Turner wing of the Tate Britain, but it wasn’t until this year that I had the Damascene moment of truly seeing the light of Turner’s light. Firstly, it was a lone picture in LIverpool’s Walker Gallery that froze me to the spot.
2. Then, there was the Turner exhibition in Margate where I just sat and stared. This was a magnificent experience. https://robinince.wordpress.com/2016/11/06/3572/
3. I took a detour to visit The Hepworth. I had last been near Wakefield on a Monday, a deathly day for art visits as most galleries are closed. Fortunately, I had just enough time in between York and Leeds to see the Stanley Spencer exhibition a few days before it closed. As I had hoped, the humanity glowed.
4. As impressive as this exhibition was, it was when Spencer didn’t dominate the room that I was mournfully dazzled by him at The Herbert in Coventry.
5. Due to scatty attention to emails, I turned up to the dance studio for a rehearsal of Eric Idle’s Entire Universe when I was unwanted. Rather than ruing the day, I went straight to Tate Modern to look at the Georgia O Keeffe exhibition. What flowers! What colours! What pelvis bones!
As chance would have it, Eric’s wife, Tania was also at the exhibition. As further chance would have it, we do not see each other there.
5. At the Gallery of New South Wales, I queued for tickets and talked about death with my friend Carolyn. I was disappointed by the Frida Kahlo exhibition, but that was unimportant, as I was then taken by surprise and captivated by Julian Rosfeldt’s Manifesto, a collaboration with Cate Blanchett. https://robinince.wordpress.com/2016/08/15/nosferatu-manifesto-doves-and-elephants/
5. I was offered a wine tasting excursion in Canberra, but despite the grapes sounding luscious, nothing could deter me from a Diane Arbus exhibition. Why be wooed by a Semillon when you can be enraptured by whey faced 60s war fetishists and eager boys with toy grenades.
6. The Whitworth gallery contained the exhibition with my favourite title of the year, In a Dream You Saw A Way to Survive And You Were Full of Joy, and Elizabeth Price populated it with the works of imaginations that inspired her. https://robinince.wordpress.com/2016/09/29/fish-in-bras-chicken-in-underpants-but-is-it-art/
7. A room with a cast of William Blake’s head, a tattooed torso, and one of thos Frank Auerbach paintings that scares my sister, what’s not to like in York. https://robinince.wordpress.com/2016/10/20/long-live-the-new-flesh-and-the-old-flesh-and-the-tattooed-flesh-york-art-gallery/
8. My fondness for the House of Illustration has not stopped me from missing far too many of their exhibition, but with a father to nag me, and one failed trip by the two of us in deadly Monday, we finally made it to the Edward Ardizzone exhibition, and we were glad. https://robinince.wordpress.com/2016/10/11/i-love-your-light-and-therefore-your-dark-ardizzone-a-retrospective/
9. Despite spent years in Cheltenham, I had never been to the Wilson Gallery. Inside, I found the funniest, absurdist, satire menu of humanity and a terrific exhibition of the Cheltenham Illustration award.
I enjoyed many other things, in particular the loud lady of Sheffield commenting on the bums of statues in the gallery https://robinince.wordpress.com/2016/10/07/3268/ and Maggi Hambling’s sketches at The British Museum. And there was the Tate Modern exhibition of Elton John’s photography collection. https://robinince.wordpress.com/2016/11/15/elton-johns-museum-of-captured-souls-tate-moderns-the-radical-eye/
We have recorded plenty of Josie and Robin’s Book Shambles this year, including Nick Offerman, Alan Moore, Sarah Bakewell and Noel Fielding. Coming soon, Alice Lowe, Steve Backshall, Alice Roberts and Philip Ridley. All shows are HERE.