Art as Background

The Fighting Temeraire tugged to her last berth to be broken up, 1839, oil on canvas. National Gallery

J. M. W. Turner (1775-1851) was growing up, and remains to this day, one of my favourite artists. He painted, printed and drew prodigiously, leaving to posterity a collection of more than 550 oil paintings, 2,000 watercolours and 30,000 works on paper.

Part of my fascination with Turner stems from my god-father, who wrote the book Angel in the Sun, about Turner’s vision of history. He sent me a copy in the late 1990s when I was in my first flush of university study, an impressionable age, and my interest in Turner’s work has blossomed ever since.

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Gothic Reprieve

The Cloisters at Gloucester Cathedral

Today I passed a building. In a suburban environment this shouldn’t even rank as noticeable, let alone the start of an article. But what struck me was how dull and quotidian it was. As though it had been stuck onto the landscape by a draftsman in need of a decent ruler.

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Into the Jaws of Death

Though born more than thirty after the end of the Second World War, the global conflagration suffused my childhood. My father served in the War and carried the scars throughout his life. He was one of the lucky ones. As a consequence, every year I take a moment to remember those who put their lives on the line to secure the freedoms I have enjoyed all my life.

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Gakyō Rōjin

Hokusai painting the Great Daruma at Honganji Nagoya Betsuin (Nishi-Honganji) in 1817.

Until the age of 70, nothing I drew was worthy of notice.

Katsushika Hokusai

#onthisday in 1849, aged 88, the artist Katsushika Hokusai (葛飾 北斎) died. He was not only one of the most important artists of the Edo period in Japan, but one of the first Japanese artists to achieve fame abroad. It is hard to talk about Hokusai without mentioning his Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji series, of which perhaps the most famous are his Great Wave and Fine Wind, Clear Morning pieces.

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