Monday, September 01, 2008

Hellboy, Epstein & Enright

Seeing family has limited my cultural happenings. It's not that the things are mutually exclusive, just that they don't always coincide. For instance, Alnwick Gardens, is a very modern compromise. A new garden, but with public money replacing what would have been previously the landowners - and with it a new set of obligations - to let the people in, to make it ecological, to make it family friendly. A pleasant day out, with children, and on a mostly warm day last week, but I'm not sure I'd go back. Much less compromised, in some ways, was the New Art Gallery in Walsall. Shockingly, this was my first visit, but then my trips back to the Midlands tend to be short, and seeing the family. It's a great space, with any compromise between being a repository for superb collection of modern art, an exhibition space, and a community facility, being minimised by the design of the building providing room enough for all. On Saturday, it was particularly busy, which goes some way to justify why we should have art galleries not just in our minor towns, but when we do, that they should be close to the city centre, allowing easy drop-in. There's something inspiring about the story here: that the Garman Ryan collection was donated to Walsall since that was where Kathleen Garman, lover and wife of Jacob Epstein was born. Inspiring, because, almost unbelievably, Walsall, that least impressive of industrial towns, is connected by her, to the very heart of 20th century Modernism.

I'd missed the film Hellboy when it was on Five a couple of weeks ago, so watched the DVD last night. It wasn't bad, if you like that kind of thing, with a nice line in humour, but I kind of remembered, half way through, that I don't really like that kind of thing, not much anyhow - and, as I get back to reading Anne Enright's Booker winning "The Gathering", I'm pleased I heard her read from it at the Manchester Literature Festival, since I've got her Irish accent keeping me company throughout. The book's probably not my kind of thing either, but I'm enjoying the company at least.

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