Why this Blog?

A place where I can lament the changing times; for eccentric comments on current affairs and for unfashionable views, expressed I hope, in cogent style; also occasional cris de coeur largely concerned, I regret to say, with myself.


I welcome your comments, so do please write. Please note however that all comments are moderated prior to publication. Whilst I fully appreciate that life can be frustrating, nevertheless, abuse, SMS language and illiteracy will not be tolerated!

Monday 3 February 2014

607: An Obsession: Carrington Saga

Here in England, we have recently been provided with a great treat by BBC4 in the form of The Bridge, this time, the ten-episode second series.  Wonderfully cast, directed and filmed. this crime thriller is really quite riveting, not least because of the central characters, in particular the rather baffling Saga Noren, the curiously obsessive but highly-efficient, Swedish police detective.  Towards the end of the series, we were given a little information about Saga’s difficult upbringing, apparently something to do with her mother and we are led to think, the cause of Saga's problems with human relationships, both personal and professional.
Saga (Sofia Helin) (Image: BBC)
The latter point is of course by no means unusual in life; there are innumerable cases in reality (I definitely KNOW of one case) duly reflected in fiction – as with Saga.  This brings me to my interest in the Bloomsbury Group, variously perceived as artistic  and philosophical pioneers and/or snobbish, narcissistic, unpatriotic, parasites.  South African poet Roy Campbell was highly critical, his feelings in his poem The Georgiad leaving little doubt in the mind of the reader:

    Now Spring, sweet laxative of Georgian trains,
    Quickens the ink in literary veins,
    The Stately Homes of England ope their doors
    To piping nancy-boys and crashing Bores,
    Where for week-ends the scavengers of letters
    Convene to chew the fat about their betters...
    Hither flock all the crowd whom love has 

    Of intellectuals without intellect
    And sexless folk whose sexes intersect....


Dinner, most ancient of the Georgian rites,
The noisy prelude of loquacious nights,
At the mere noise of whose unholy gong
The wagging tongue feels resolute and strong,
Senate of bores and parliament of fools,
Where gossip in her native empire rules;
What doleful memories the word suggests -'
When I have sat like Job among the guests,
Sandwiched between two bores, a hapless prey,
Chained to my chair, and cannot get away,
Longing, without the appetite to eat,
To fill my ears, more than my mouth, with meat,
And stuff my eardrums full of fish and bread
Against the din to wad my dizzy head:
When I have watched each mouthful that they poke
Between their jaws, and praying they might choke,
Found the descending lump but cleared the way
For further anecdotes and more to say.
O Dinners! take my curse upon you all,
But literary dinners most of all...
But whatever one’s position, it cannot be denied that there was real talent there, for example: Virginia Woolf, her sister Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant, Lytton Strachey, Dora Carrington, E.M.Forster, Maynard Keynes etc.  Mind you, even Forster (bearing in mind many of the group's prosperous upper-middle-class origins) observed:

    "In came the nice fat dividends, up rose the lofty thoughts"

It may well be that I am obsessive by nature - certainly the  criticism has been made -  I have developed a deep fascination for the life, work, and character of painter Carrington - as she wished to be known; I have ordered Gretchen Gerzina's biography in order to research my current heroine's life further.  

Carrington’s mother was apparently a classic Victorian religious maniac. Poor Carrington, her mother’s religious prudery appears to have had a devastating effect on her daughter which led to confusion about her sexual identity culminating one supposes, in her deep love for Lytton Strachey, a homosexual, and, following his death in 1932, her subsequent suicide.  Fortunately, her father it would seem, was a little more enlightened, leading one to wonder how he managed to tolerate his wife.  Carrington's brother Nicholas, wrote the following concerning the mother, which should give the reader a clear idea of her character:

“..The first was extreme prudishness. Any mention of sex or the common bodily functions was unthinkable. We were not even expected to know that a woman was pregnant. Even a word like 'confined' was kept to a whisper. The second was church-going and behaviour on Sunday. We all came to hate the whole atmosphere of a Sunday morning. The special clothes, the carrying of prayer books, the kneeling, standing and murmuring of litanies…” 

Horrible indeed and serving to reinforce my profound loathing of religion; given that suffocating atmosphere,  I find it easy to sympathise with the idea of the Bloomsberries worshipping at the feet of G.E.Moore and behaving accordingly.
Carrington’s work is undeniably superb, so here, a couple of examples:


And I had to include this gem as well:


Inevitably there are many articles and blog pieces about Carrington, this one is well worth reading and includes a wonderful example of the artist's work.  One of the better biographical articles is here.

Searching for information I also came across a fascinating blog article by artist Richard Warren, called Seven Suicides.  His illustration of Carrington is well worth including so here it is:


Meanwhile, if you would like to see Carrington in action (though sadly not painting), go here.

I hope soon to be able to return to this - to me - fascinating subject.

Until the next time.

No comments: