Richard Warren

20thc British art and poetry (mainly), plus bits of my own – "Clearly I tap to you clearly along the plumbing of the world" (W S Graham)

Monthly Archives: August 2011

Sebastian

Photos of a fetish sculpture, Africa Gallery, British Museum

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Sandringham

Slow and in miniature, our shadows squeezed, we move
in glare across the lawns, past the suspicious statues,
towards the gravelled entrance to the inviolable hall.
Here, it is said, was once a room for each day of the year,
but now you may purchase the privilege to view a week’s quota,

likewise buying into a reverent embarrassment, re-learned
surprisingly quickly; like an estate worker enlisting
for Gallipoli, I remove my hat. We shuffle along
the rope partitions, gawping at the Spanish tapestries,
thoughtful not to move too sharply, for fear of treason.

Refreshed in white and cream, the wedding cake interiors
stand beyond taste or judgement. The ballroom is barbarous with enemy
armours, symmetrically trophied. Since Albert passed,
not one object moves within its space. Each
has its accustomed measure, and nothing is to be altered.

Gargantuan portraits re-figure across the generations
features, gestures, uniforms. Only the ceiling-high mirror
darkens with every year. Routinely self-regarding,
on stair and landing, move with ease the invisible occupants
of this undying dynasty, this house of vampyres.

Copyright Richard Warren 2011

The delirium of decay

Photos of stonework at Lindisfarne Abbey

Paul Potts on ‘The World of George Barker’

Paul Potts

New page added here (or use the tab above) with the full text of a 1948 article, “The World of George Barker”, by the extraordinary Paul Potts, together with a bit of an intro. Also of interest with regard to Dylan Thomas and David Gascoyne.

Establishing the canon

Dodging mobility scooters by Ann Summers, I drift
into Smith’s, where I check through the mags for the zeitgeist,
but discover I am vintage, which brings responsibility:
what to snap to fix in the brain, confirming
an arrangement to remember not the unrememberable moment
but its numbered image? By the ‘Tragic Life Stories’
large girls in leggings shout at each other. Stuffing back
a tattoo monthly, I head off for Costa’s,
with an option to plot the key points of my obituary.

At home, by the flaked pillars of its excessive portico,
I sip on a Pimm’s, and consider my stateliness.
The gardens that decline from the lawn seem in order;
beyond the unsafe bridge and the ludicrous urn
the scene appears blurry and haphazard. No deer
are in sight. In the east wing we’re reconstructing the decor
of long abandoned rooms, despite repeated objections
from the busybody brigade. Magenta? Same difference …
These perpetual renovations are becoming burdensome.

In the library, more problems. I thumb each index,
seeking my name. Without that bastard’s intervention,
I’d have made the anthologies; might things have been otherwise?
Critical opinion shifts its unlovely weight;
so which books to throw? And would we regret it?
These bear another’s archly Deco bookplate;
no good to me. Burn the lot. Their curling ashes
make baroque the tired fireplace. Disencumbered, I feel able
to bring needed revision, to construct my new tradition.

Copyright Richard Warren 2011

The invisible sculpture of Annesley Tittensor

Wolverhampton Art Gallery currently has a semi-permanent exhibition (till January 2012) of work by luminaries of the Wolverhampton School of Art in its various incarnations between 1850 and 1970. The prevailing feel, as is only to be expected, is competent, distinguished, but bland, and until we get to one or two of the most recent items it’s hard to detect any impact of Modernism. In the 3-D, the dominant feel is that of establishment sculptor Sir Charles Wheeler, alleviated a little by the slightly Deco classicism of Robert Jackson Emerson. All a bit Royal Academy. But then there’s this –

Dharana (in yoga, a state of concentration) is a slender 70 cm wood carving, dated to 1936, by the mysterious Annesley Tittensor. Compared with everything else around it, this is self-consciously of its time. The curved, extended neck, and the tilt of the elongated oval of the face show clearly the influence of Modigliani, maybe even a hint of Brancusi, and behind that an awareness of non-European art. The very economical attention to the draperies of the clothing relieves the overall minimalism, as do the curls of the hair, though to my mind these are a small but unnecessary concession to the decorative. But anyway, this is a beautiful piece, and the stock gallery image doesn’t do it justice. Neither do my phone-snaps, but they may help to give a fuller idea.

But what do we know of Annesley Tittensor? Remarkably little. Googling his rather splendid name will give you the info on this one sculpture, plus a single source at Glasgow Uny’s “Mapping the Practice and Profession of Sculpture in Britain and Ireland 1851-1951database. Born in 1916, he studied under Emerson at Wolverhampton from 1935, proving an “exceptional” student, and went on to the Royal in 1938, graduating in 1940. After the war he was still in London, and had one piece (“Angel Musician”) accepted at the RA in 1948. Later he returned to the West Midlands to teach at Walsall School of Art. He died in 1991. That’s about it. On the strength of this piece, you’d expect Tittensors to be lying about all over the place. So where are they? And are they as good as this?

Follow-up page to this, with many more images of Anneseley Tittensor’s work, here, or click on “A better view” above.