Peter Mooney at The Engine Room Gallery The Journey Continues

Begin here

‘Let us not neglect our meeting together, … but encourage one another’. [Hebrews 10:25 NLT] The 1st September entry in ‘Our Daily Bread’ in this quarters issue.

This is my introduction to the gathering, ahead of seeing the work, that compels you to think beyond the boundaries you normally have in place. The Engine Room Gallery is not a Church nor its visitors drawn by belief, but maybe the eklessia come to art to be addressed outside our place of comfort. The work does not disappoint on any level.

Do we see our own landscape in these paintings? 

For the unintimidated these are beyond our own landscapes but are from our own situation. 

The genus loci each of us appreciate of our ‘place’ has been reconsidered and made magical by Peter Mooney’s work.  The condition is present in everyone and it appears as he paints.


It is the domain of a land occupied with the present kaleidoscopic definitions that assail us.  Every square inch of this island has had, its invisible history, altered, extracted, modified, naturalised, made functional, or not, by human necessity, or left alone has not.  

The amalgam is what I see in the unorthodox but intensely close to many an often migratory artist. Picasso Malaga to Paris, Van Gogh Amsterdam to London, Turner London to Margate, and the close relation I see within Peter Mooneys work, Mattise Paris to London, Corsica, Morocco with the obsessional craft of African art being a massive primordial pull.  There is even the possibility each artist has gone to these places instinctively, as even the Ulstermen, Three Men on an Island tend to make me think. Not mere travellers but those seeking essences and soul, and in appearance only, they could perhaps capture in art, and thankfully they did those simpler existences would shed some light, by contrast and offset juxtaposition our own perceptions. That they achieved beyond their own expectations that in the contrasts art conveys was pluralistic endeavour so constant and perpetual as of our present, that some aura, that conducive source, in those people, whose culture they advanced into by intelligence of observation in their work, seen their hosts having methods themselves of image making. On Innislacken maybe it is the ritual solstice, it’s clear in the work of Rosie McGurran who paints its instilled radiance with those radiant spokes of times wheel, the solstice, circular yet linear, the fires, sunrise and eternity set before all as a constant. It is little wonder we open up to these stimuli. They are our hosts and we visit.

Paint and thought
Irish artists have sought the light and ethereal, contracting to their cause, landscapes on every coastline in Ireland. The unprotected side, the West being the most prominent of all.  Even Wiggenstien sought wisdom in the bays near Galway then set the engagement in words. His methods and thoughts to then maybe instill radicalism of ideas in Joyce, Beckett, and confidence the storytellers, poets and musicians are steeped in.

Setting out the Context
Painters seek out new evidences. The unreachable truth more tangible the more abstract and opaque it is. Paul Henry and constant inspiration, with artist Grace Henry (Emily Grace Mitchell – daughter of another religious family this time in Aberdeen) his colourist, with her Celtic Hibernian flair shared each other’s values but they divided. They split up as more than a teacher. Stephen Gwynne, took Grace’s work into his own sphere of art being a vital instrument of change, both with maybe a more idealistic need, as a fellow artist made separate those ideas. Paul and Grace fell between two poles, as religions part, as the times now even merit. The reading of this has to be included.
[He founded the Irish Centre Party in 1919, but his moderate nationalism was eclipsed by the growing popularity of Sinn Fein.] Grace Henry at that time maybe veering away from the Cubism Mainie Jellet had begun to abstract and some methods crossed paths. This I bring into the story of this exhibition, through the expansive debt of service all Irish Artists and their close neighbours arrive at similar crossroads. For many a work are seen, without advanced perceptions of what is instilled in their own work, the same radicalism, without parody of regression, that which is found across the more detailed researched, exposed Europeans and International Artists Ireland. The great Irish Architect Micheal Scott was with his influence on ‘Academy’ Art, susceptible to ignoring the Irish work that had equal if not greater status than the international art he brought; the acceptable part was that it too shed light upon the art forms elsewhere. As I grew up I was in awe without the chance to make the connections I now do, of Carroll’s Factory Dundalk, BusAris Dublin, Bank of Ireland Lower Baggot Street. That being another backward legacy of this islands art culture still in existence today.

Next Stepping off point
Before the infinite comparisons art throws up that I have touched on later there is the main assembled work ‘The Journey Continues’. The work of Peter Mooney, on the 3rd level of the former Tourist Office Building, for some time a home to The Engine Room Gallery.

no.40 Figure, Wild Violin on the Mountain

The above is perhaps one of the most active paintings. Each element though has a sense of belonging and a fastening to a wonder. A musician whose notes we cannot hear, only imagine. The ‘white horse’ form signalling the preface of a kind, of ancient sentinel crafted into the now unclothed mountain by past inhabitants. Trees still exist. Land is transformative and life giving. A life can be had here. The outlook, in the eyes of the right side figure, is maybe of a future that comes to challenge as it always has for millennia.

Figure, …

More familiar are the flora that Peter Mooney gathers in. The Peris tree a favourite. no.34 Peris Tree, Forest Flame.

I show the area as much as the painting here. The fact sunflowers are often painted at the very peak of their blossoms, are instead here in the correct narrative. Others have of course seen this (VvG), seen the plain rise and fall of a sunflowers arch.

One the return wall are 4 smaller sunflower paintings in a study group.

Every natural painting has been given a lease of life and will never fail to bring some vision of the homage the sunflower above many other studies bring to us of our own frailty or conversely our gift of life. Others are animated life, horses, people, some, no.22 Abstract Figures at the Foot of the Mountain. There’s also no.39 Krishna with Angel. The ‘God’ of protection, compassion, tenderness and love. This again expresses the grace that is present in the everyday and Peter Mooney uses the ebullience of colour, none of it unnatural, to show the often forgotten treasures colour introduces. He also shows it often as corrupted by the ‘production’ ‘text’ ‘logo’ advertising that; inviting an abstract and ubiquity of a recognisable roll call, The Rolo wrapper, Snickers torn plastic, Milk bottles, Coke Tins, Toy skulls, all invasive. Purposely the detritus is reclaimed to be inhabitants of, in a very minor way in the paintings, and a more direct way in the sculptures to show that axiom, that it is impossible in life unless you are a hermit atop a Mountain; litter is not often far away, to be unspoiled by it.

no. 24 Wild Roses

People do it summarily by their own defences, hedges, fences, palisades. In the excellent recent exhibition, the Ps2 setting in Fountain Street, of ‘Tributes’ the installation shared by Alex Plunkett and Nina Oltarzewska, both Belfast artists happened to have a circular ‘mobile’ with steel palisades of different lengths hung as a circular ‘angelus’ type bell. My interpretation! At 6.01pm one Thursday I happened to arrive at the idea while their performance installation was taking shape by ringing out the sound. It is no bare companion of either exhibition, a unique approach, that these memoir artefacts are joined.

Here I bring in instantly, a sharp but extremely exuberant extraordinary work of art that is classified as Reliquary. These are late 19th century.

These are African modern symbols made by artists; some names are recorded, on the commission of elders to ‘personify’ their religious piety by containment. These represent the capture. The valid connection they construe as of the spirit they worship being within the vessel these figures contain. The feet set on top as Guardians.

It may not seen in any way relevant to the exhibition of Peter Mooney’s work but I see an eternal drive in the narrative that is captured in Peter Mooney’s work that is so connected to this it has to be spoken about and thoughts on how it is instinctive of the allegory on many artists.

In the centre of the convex, the oval face in the domed plate, its staring eyes so quintessential to the ‘mbulu ngulu’, transfixing the viewer with their gaze.  It could be any number of human beings, it could be common man, the guardian being very ill equipped to defend or contain the treasure of a ‘God’ or ‘Spirit’.

Subjective Figurative images
It is the case we cannot be that figure except in representation.  Those Island ancient guardian known through art are symbols of symbols. They serve to categorise the ancient cultures and forms of worship. They actually appear in likeness to the forms and work here within The Engine Room Gallery. The sculptures are very different but have a story that their creator endeavours to convey. Equal under the Sun.

In ‘The Journey Continues’ the work is not quite autobiographical, these depictions, in paint and sculpture in their forms essay a view of the human condition. Never overstated but requiring the reminder of, from hence it comes, it’s fragility, it’s frailty seems in the recycled discards, are fashioned into that futility of things often gathered by ourselves. Very belligerently, ingeniously, unveiled for our discovery of meaning that might be transpositional. Derivatives of one kind or another the skulls are stacked, the totems dishevelled and modernity destroying its very ‘unnatural in this juxtapose’ natural dynamic.

Without doubt there is a delivery here and Peter Mooney has as I have been brought to think on his work, is also apart from the work.

That is, ‘The Painted Man’, the artist himself; and my being over-analytic see in that separation, the choice of ‘The Painted Man’ quiescent esoteric fashions of attire are themselves expressing this.  It is not so intensely made present but it does speak much of the artists belief in his arts voice. 

Peter Mooney gathers this in without the travel from his own backyard in County Antrim, itself a multicoloured condensed international ‘landing point’. 

That is an important point. 

Being in at a certain location and having so many narratives the soul of the place is always at the heart of most work.  The colours learnt from plants, his dialling into the crescendos of colour so cultivated by his mother in the family garden shake out the struggles by their gift of growth returning us this colour.

Titles of the exhibited 56 works begin with no.1 Summer Trees on Slieve Gallion through the Sunflower series to no.56 Summer Wild Roses, magically begin with Summer and close with Summer. Maybe we see colours more vividly and in our clearest vision their abundance in the height of the long summer light.

And colour it is. A colourist Peter Mooney is unconstrained but capable of producing magical blended and harmonious settlements.  They are a continuum, in a long heritage and lineage of art.  Here it is seen in all its radiance and conjectures.

Ancestral codicils 

If the ancestors came down the River Bann they would not in the least be surprised by the canvas Peter Mooney creates. 

They may quiz him on the recycled 20/21 century material discards incorporated but the imagery is classic African expression of the kind deliberated on, hosted by, conjugated orbitals eyes and ears to our universe.

The Journey indeed continues. Not alone in the journey but in the words of theologian Karen Armstrong The Narrow Path. Why bring in Karen Armstrong? Perhaps I’ve seen the will to impress upon us peace and tranquillity by us examining everything we do. These paintings in so many crossover aspects actually evoke, as many artists do, some I refer to in a small correlation, the religious or in its absence the spiritual conversation Karen Armstrong was brought to as her calling shrine but had its dark days.

The African imagery is a constant source visited either literally or at a distance by artists.

Modern Work also recognising the past to define the present.

This for example is a South African work from 2016.

Blessing Ngobeni, Mask and Struggle, 2016 Mixed MEDIA ON CANVAS, 41 5/8 x 61 3/4 in. (106 x 157 cm)
Detail 1
Detail 2

More famous
Mattise was synonymous with his expressive use of color and Fauvist style. Throughout his career, Matisse’s paintings most commonly depicted figures in landscapes, portraits, interior settings and nudes.

Although Matisse typically painted unusual, abstract portraits, his paintings from Morocco were much more realistic. Was this because of the Tangiers and reddish sand colours the land composed? Not a journey into the psychology of the place.  John Lavery also went to Tangiers though he too was not to venture into the native culture beyond some figurative elements of the people who made these geometric shapes that instead occupied their art.

Henri Matisse, Le Marabout, 1912, private collection. Wikiart.

“Henri Matisse painted many sites around Tangier’s Kasbah during both his stays there in 1912 and 1913. Henri Matisse, Le Marabout”

Inside these images are the same subjects that perplexed those artist travellers. 

This man also was suffering from the anger that must be observed by painting the narrative in plain sight.  The way people deal with each other, planned or spontaneously is seen by painter.  

Achill Horses by Mainie Jellett, 1938

Cinema travels and a photograph lies.  The result of any painting is to momentarily cause a stillness and then contradictory continuation as preserved.  The enabler, the artist as communicator is remarkably in need of carrying on this work as it contains their own vision.  It is up to anyone seeing the work, the point where that shift occurs, between the artists vision and theirs.

Blissfully we have centuries of the transfer of thoughts onto media that is stone, board, canvas, paper. Then there are the writings on them.

Everyday newsprint is seen within several pieces, not overly so here. Picasso and other artists have long used used newsprint, letters, fonts. Again it’s there in tiny remnants in this work. Why? The instinct tells me it is establishing a finishing point.  People use the recognition then date it, reminisce, covertly gathered in, they script the picture it inhabits.

Those sculptural figures formed by artists, in the Gabon Reliquary shapes I’ve picked out here, are like a head in a Luna coil, the eyes like coral beads, the skinny legs like a toad or insects podiatry link to earth and it shows the pixie; is that a troll trope advancing?, like figure, capable of fleeing or fleeting when the God lifts the lid on our truth.  

The human tries only to be a guardian and temporarily at that, awaiting the revelation from what has so far been gathered in. This as the elders wish to have it. Here commissioned artefacts for them educators for the citizens they represent as leaders. They are to be seen to kind and the messages therefore configure the human with a lightness of foot.  The Unbearable Lightness of Being as Milan Kundera figured it. The flame of coppers reflection, also reminiscent of Cinema Paradiso and the moth flying too close to the fire. Artists burning out. 

All this out of geometry and shapes are not what was sought, but as instruments of art brought in allegorical forms by Picasso, Cezanne, Mattise, Chagall, even Van Gogh as those art pieces with their embedded volumes of ideas, we are stretched to accommodate.  Still the reach is close but only once in a while communicating as these works seem very conscious reminders of, the human necessity to learn and so pass on what has been reached.

John Graham 

The Exhibition is open through September 2022 and please check the Facebook entry page for opening times.

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Easter our belief

A given Sunday

There is a stasis on this Sunday.

This is the day the unaccountable resurrection is to unfold. Sorrow has made its presence raw and real as contemplative voices console each other as a life treasured as any other has been taken violently on the orders of a fearful people. Those palpable sorrows of a life taken are to unfold from the silence.

Is it the silence of a recognition that our world has the given prosthesis we have the gift of seeing. Silence is often mysterious as we observe but do not converse. No mind has found words. No meeting of minds, or is that it, the silence is the key to our unity. Words can be written to record otherwise, at the birth of Easter a Passover is null. There will be an absence of consensus on the present as the pasts cruelty to Mary’s and Joseph’s Son is an entanglement of conflicts.

Joseph the mere witness to the itinerant birth then the closure of a mans life. As I see it, his part was actively pressing the gift of self onto as he became aware of the journey Jesus was free to take. They, Joseph and Mary, had understood Jesus to become the messenger of essential truth. Joseph. Is he that active silence? That forbearance in the face of intangible events as truth is unfolding? This closure, this self sacrifice, of the Lord giving his only begotten son, to this vengeful murderous act, is it a warning of what our fate may be if the Lord’s Word is not heeded?

Forgiveness for those who took away by crucifixion, Jesus of Nazareth, is a scale yet to balance. It shall arise as this is Gods promise as we journey on our given life to see the life for what it is. A short small part of the community of God living in perpetuities from life to life.

Where answers lie is in the confines of our gift of life and the expression can only be made with all all the will in the world having the reinstatement of those words and Gods sacrifice to make different this malice divisions show.

Our Kingdom Come.


John Graham


4 April 2021

Literary Walls

For every word another is needed?

Field Work

A diversion on literature inspired by the work of the art around in the present day compelling us to look to the future and not back.

Nobel Lecture by Olga Tokarczuk

Nobel Laureate in Literature 2018

…. this is halfway through ….

A dream fulfilled is often disappointing. It has turned out that we are not capable of bearing this enormity of information, which instead of uniting, generalizing and freeing, has differentiated, divided, enclosed in individual little bubbles, creating a multitude of stories that are incompatible with one another or even openly hostile toward each other, mutually antagonizing.

Furthermore, the Internet, completely and unreflectively subject to market processes and dedicated to monopolists, controls gigantic quantities of data used not at all pansophically, for the broader access to information, but on the contrary, serving above all to program the behavior of users, as we learned after the Cambridge Analytica affair. Instead of hearing the harmony of the world, we have heard a cacophony of sounds, an unbearable static in which we try, in despair, to pick up on some quieter melody, even the weakest beat. The famous Shakespeare quote has never been a better fit than it is for this cacophonous new reality: more and more often, the Internet is a tale, told by an idiot, full of sound and fury.

Research by political scientists unfortunately also contradicts John Amos Comenius’* intuitions, which were based on the conviction that the more universally available was information about the world, the more politicians would avail themselves of reason and make considered decisions.** But it would appear that the matter is not at all so simple as that. Information can be overwhelming, and its complexity and ambiguity give rise to all sorts of defense mechanisms—from denial to repression, even to escape into the simple principles of simplifying, ideological, party-line thinking.

The category of fake news raises new questions about what fiction is. Readers who have been repeatedly deceived, misinformed or misled have begun to slowly acquire a specific neurotic idiosyncrasy. The reaction to such exhaustion with fiction could be the enormous success of non-fiction, which in this great informational chaos screams over our heads: “I will tell you the truth, nothing but the truth,” and “My story is based on facts!”

*John Amos Comenius, the great seventeenth-century pedagogue, coined the term “pansophism,” by which he meant the idea of potential omniscience, universal knowledge that would contain within it all possible cognition.

**The House of Intellect is a book, not being referred to here, that offers an alternative view. Firstly that the academics have their agenda and secondly that the politicians employ intellect then suppress its ability to make radical change as a means to govern.

…. here is an extract of her work ….

The Tender Narrator

by a woman known as Olga Tokarczuk

“How can you miss me when I’m not there yet?” I would ask.

I knew that you miss someone you’ve lost, that longing is an effect of loss.

“But it can also work the other way around,” she answered. “Missing a person means they’re there.”

This brief exchange, someplace in the countryside in western Poland in the late sixties, an exchange between my mother and me, her small child, has always remained in my memory and given me a store of strength that has lasted me my whole life. For it elevated my existence beyond the ordinary materiality of the world, beyond chance, beyond cause and effect and the laws of probability. She placed my existence out of time, in the sweet vicinity of eternity. In my child’s mind, I understood then that there was more to me than I had ever imagined before. And that even if I were to say, “I’m lost,” then I’d still be starting out with the words “I am”—the most important and the strangest set of words in the world.

It’s about contrary response (it can work the other way around) and as self reflection seen through the help of others. The message ‘to be’.

Singularly a confirmation bias and disconfirmation bias depending who you are. Amassed is all information and it is conflicting while at once being false and fact.

14 The freedom of the door
……has closed for many.

14 – before Covid (was found – not) in a beer ‘garden’

Opportunities window

You could call it omnipotent cruelty as machines will range forth and consume the complacent.

Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch

Little supported Cornishman

In his book on The Art of writing there are theories explored on how learning took root in the works of Universities with particular reference to Oxford and Cambridge.

After a few earlier excursions into why drama was despised by the authorities and Churches it explains they actually allowed the illicit writing within their walls of a documentary we access today. He quotes also an even earlier important fact, that the Pope, Gregory, Roman forbade the Latin hexameter to be taught. It was sufficient to retain the inheritance of words well formed and not distribute them. That can be traced up until Elizabeth I who understood their power. When Wellington fought Napoleon the European schools of learning were destroyed to provide materials while England had the luxury of being able to retain its University dominion.

Quonion non cognovi literaturam.’ in the 70th psalm ‘introibo in potentias Domini.’ ‘The praises of Christ cannot be uttered in the same tongue as those of Jove.’ Still the hierarchy of words is misappropriated for reasons to divide and the Church’s part in this is still clear whatever form religion takes. In historical Rome Alcuin forbade the reading of Virgil in the monastery over which he presided. ‘it would sully his disciples’ imagination. The point is it took the almost hidden act of monasteries and scholars within them to see that past theology and literature was retained. The theatres were outside and evolving. The Churches in reforming their scope sought to close these as the Puritans did in 1682. The great poems and much more survived.

Although a prolific novelist, he is remembered mainly for the monumental publication The Oxford Book Of English Verse 1250–1900 and for his literary criticism.

So the exploitation of words is not new, – see the writing above of Olga Tokarczuk which looks at the currency of fake news and other means words are used to construct narratives fact or fiction.

The school of thought around the 1650’s even sought Oxford and Cambridge to be challenged and were it not for its setting and the understanding of its importance might not have survived.

‘Annihilating all that’s made

To a green thought in a green shade.’

Isaak Walton is also quoted. The milkmaid we will not ‘load our minds with any fears of many things that will never be.’

Vinyl mounted

This is a firehose and ‘not in use’

Now I return to the thing words are held on.

The Word of Wood

Each person has a mask. (written pre-Covid) The speakers words are hailed in constructed certitude sent through a foghorn of metal gripped against a hidden face. People are like trees whose hidden worth and value is shielded by its bark. The best mask, the Stoffwechseltheorie composed by Gottfried Semper, thought of buildings and architecture; we can see it extends therefore to nature protecting itself from nature, ‘architecture is essentially a mask, and the best mask is one that hides its materiality. To each mask it’s protection and it’s living order are harmonised and as Alvar Alto, whose appreciation of nature fed into his work said of art, and it probably can be said if other forms than the one he practiced, it is the continual process of allowing materials to express themselves.

The Redwood tree developed its protection from the inferno of forest fires by creating for itself a sacrificial bark, soft and slow to burn, that would take the heat and under its own protocol die and form a crust knowing its skin was protection to the life of the tree living and behaving static and growing on the floor of the earth.

The process is silent and as the tree provides I even it probably does in the inferno create a reverse and emit carbon dioxide and shutting down the oxygen ignition needs.

The transmission of this thought into our lives is one of belonging somewhat in the James Lovelock Gia theory as part of a whole. It is called in Finland, Sachlichkeit. Things honestly present themselves in their own skin and what they are in reality and practice.

There is film on release showing the mask identity part false anthropology and native art. This is creating a lineage to the slave trade and Liverpool. The Amalgam at Tate Modern tentatively produces for a discerning but not to be too disturbing viewer a glance backwards to the black history GB advanced on. There is even a tree. For hanging people from.

Amalgam Tate Liverpool

Artists remove that mask and create an alternative view. The materiality is seen through contrasts. Colour and utility are questioned to discover the essence of reality. As words are not enough the artist using materials and combinations that – assault-reconfigure-upset the accord we are familiar with or strengthen our perceptions in seeing the crossover messages averse meanings reveal shed through the dying mask of a veneer revealed by the artist the hidden truth within us. Only then can we realise the power outside is beyond a short life’s discovery and contentment is to realise how essential it is to know our own Sachlichkeit.

Only my own views are expressed.

John Graham

3 January 2020 (updated 4/1/21)


For encouragement or not!

This got missed in its publishing part and sat a year as a draft! – it’s interesting! (Or not)

L’Ennue & Red Sorghum : Film Meaning in Lockdown

L’ennui (boredom)

Film 1998

Lost in Paris

The lack of energy in a city renowned for its vitality is amazing even in the late nineties when this was made. The slow pace of Paris is contrasted with a frantic abusive controlling relationship with an older man “you can see a bed but not a personality” Cecilia (Sophie Guillemin tells Martin (Charles Berlin) as this is seen natural in a disarming drama of societies values and morals. It looks crude and ott with no good things on offer.

Moral – If your bored it’s your own fault!

Strange secrets

Mad and Bad

Martin is a mad philosopher behaving as a bully with fits of jealousy when he becomes infatuated with a young intelligent actress. Cecilia is making her skills work across her world. It doesn’t slow down their sexual appetites but intensifies it. A little death every time.

Empire review synopsis is almost perfect (later I raise some historical concerns) in its vision.

Self interest

From Empire Review this extract ‘As the philosopher who has almost eradicated sensibility from his life, Berling expertly combines curiosity, lust and despair as he loses control of his intellect. But it’s Sophie Guillemin who provides the truer portrayal, with a display of dispassionate adolescent volition that is almost capricious in its innocence.’ David Parkinson Empire 1998

Obsessions in different periods

There is also an observation of French films of this period being observed as obsessed with copulation.

It is what reviews ought to do and challenges through cinema self mockery the genius of our accepting art film as moral guidance while at the same time is obviously a dark morose triangle, at times voyueristic. It’s a surprise there is so much sex but souls are also bared. Also obvious is the lack of guile in the young woman who is confused and unable to reject the enabled freedom she is locked into.

This review


It’s a functional fast moving film with few surprises navigating an earlier time, and almost provides an obsession philosopher/psychiatrist R D Laing would love, as it becomes in mood a retreat to the streets where in the 19th and previous centuries a large part of the female population were forced into being sexual objects satiating a powerful male run society. Their is even a crudely placed appearance of that industry with unreal and contrite conclusions. It leaves the screen with Cedric Khans Cecilia lost.

The David Parkinson Empire Review has insightful parts though even it is caught in the sexual prominence the film uses. This for example, …..

‘Initially baffled by how such an unprepossessing kid could have enslaved so cultured a man, Martin is soon besotted with her, too.’ He passes on the ‘use’ the ‘cultured man’ has made of a vulnerable girl.

He also has habits of the time with this extract.

A Parisian professor becomes sexually enslaved by a monosyllabic teenager.

These words are vile and judgemental for any reviewer to summarise the complexity of youth.

David Parkinson arrives at the same rating


Red Sorghum a story from 1919

The way this ancient story deals with love and betrothal is again with the women of principle young girl auctioned off by her family to a wealthy man nearly four decades her senior and he is riddled with leprosy.


Opening scenes introduce us to the girl she travels enclosed in a red sedan with four bearers who lead by a paid bodyguard. They make the journey jolting her on her way and along with six singers pipers, are going through the red Sorghum fields. Tall reeds of corn stalks conceal the imported grains secrets. Wine is made from the gluten free Jowar grain.

The fields stretch beyond the horizon and huge blue skies dominate the curvature of the Qingshako province removed from the cities and relying on this highly nutritious food.

Twists of fate and government control shapes how they live.

Director Zhang Yimou on set

Plant with healing binding properties

Little wonder its benefits allow for some diversions. Rich in protein iron and copper, this gluten free grain has been known to play a crucial role in cellular function and repair. The rich quantity of potassium and phosphorous helps lower cholesterol and manage high blood pressure. Jowar grain is rich in fibre and hence should be part of your daily diet.

Sorghum field

A cup of jowar has 22 grams of protein.

Jowar has essential vitamins, antioxidants and minerals. It is loaded with good amounts of calcium, copper, zinc, phosphorous, potassium and cell-building B vitamins.

Red Red Wine

The young girl believes she is ill. The community tell her “Sorghum wine kills all germs”.

Red Sorghum wine becomes the source of goodness for the community as they revive the winery. The cooperative practices the rest of society lacks is found in abundance selflessly. It is out with the old and in with the new.

Zhang Yimou examines the future,

In a way as this film was made while the renewal of China and the course taken since, it forms revalue the optimism this period that had gone along with imperial imperfections that were to suppress the Chinese later.

Almost a replication of the revolution. The time China is now in as a fascist undemocratic is far removed from the filmmakers writers vision of the true meaning of Communism or his providing expression of what might be.

His vision as a filmmaker is within a culture devoid of a revolution, and he shows a community is basically only as far as the horizon and that’s all it need be and visitors would be neighbours not family.

Zhang Yimou sees the power structures in the world and shows us the character of the girl Little Nine becomes an equal in her new environment and circumstances. She comes with qualities unfamiliar to the men in the community. This is a rebirth not just of the cooperative and communism but a lesson in human values base and real.

Tiananmen Square

Known as a Fifth Generation Director, Zhang Yimou was seeing a wave of predetermining Maoism, that would follow the eventual defeat of the Japanese. The Fifth Generation he belonged to suffered from the forced outcomes that came from the Chinese tragic and inexcusable massacre in Tiananmen Square, of their own, among them student’s, women, elderly and children. I know I’ve seen the unaltered pictures in the Royal Destival Hall.

When this was made it won the Berlin Film Festival Award in 1988 one year before the wall came down. Did it inspire that long awaited act?

Won the Golden Bear at the 1988 Berlin International Film Festival.

Royal Festival Hall had extremely disturbing images of the massacre in 1989 on its first floor out of the usual public view, routes. Seen on the way to performance.

As Germany was to take down the wall thus became a symbol as Tiananmen Square symbolised with it’s bloodbath suppression the opposite direction China was heading.

Within the film there is the exploitation by a militia gangster element who know no morals and act as a barrier to the freedoms asserting themselves within the community. The Sangou are against liberty and intimidate by spoiling progress.As Angela Merkel planted her Eastern German feet in the liberal capitalist machinery of West Germany she ritualised the false premise of wealth gathering as the epitome of human endeavour.

Red Sorghum makes a story of nature’s abundant giving, when respected. Becoming a catalyst for harmony but the ceremony of seasons are trivialised by the love lorn former bodyguard who demolishs all goodness in a feature of brokenness. The triangle is of a young girl, her betrothal to a much older man, the uncirculated jealousy. Meanness from a the bodyguard initially paid to protect her is met by her rejection of his base and controlling ways.


Just as L’Ennue was full of poor treatment of women this again goes into the barbed relationships routinely faced. French films had their sojourn in the ‘69 spawning of tales of revolution, wild ambition alongside female intuition were contests then. Here is another such battle, and a decade or so on the French have abandoned that for ‘the philosophers angst’ and a base treatment of women as this reflects the ‘eighteen mile hill’ high above the plains in China so a community in isolation is not safe from its own inherited demons. One brutality is followed by more and the red becomes a symbol of occupation, oppression and waste.

This story really concerns the imperialism of neighbours devouring hope. It’s as if the brutality is customised by race. Here the Japanese destroy thousands and show bitterness divides. The combination of evil and oppression is mirrored across red lines.

Zhang Yimou has as the Empire review link below – this interpretation – ‘The disease-ridden winery owner (to whom Jiu’er was exchanged for a mule) clearly represents the corrupt Ching dynasty that was toppled in 1911, while the emphasis on collective action suggests the nation’s predetermination for the Maoism that would triumph just five years after the vanquishing of the Japanese.’

Zhang Yimou

Making such a film debut with writing and concepts that are politically charged is astonishing when you consider the interrogation of an emerging China within a global context.

Author Hóng Gāoliáng Jiāzú; lit.: ‘red sorghum family’) is a Chinese language novel by Mo Yan. Published in 1986, it was Mo’s first novel and remains one of his best-known works.

Stunning scenery

There are times when the cinematography reverts to a tonal black. When silent compliance under a form of penitence or servitude is embarked on. The contrast are raw in ceremonial playing out of the forbearance, of their kin, like a stage drama. A dance in a non existent universe.

Conjuring tricks evoking thoughts like babettes feast are played out, or the last supper. The wine brought to the table as a cure for all ill. Another memorial is recalled.

In a local Church a wall ‘viamold’ sculpture by Rosamund Praeger shows a man in non military attire with a snake at his feet looking across a valley to a a large house hill as the Church remembers the two world war victims. The belief is Rosamund Praeger got the image from the Irish image of the famine, a sketch with a hovel where the solider stands and across a valley on a hill the landlords house.

natural corona eclipse

The embossed text reads ‘Press on’ words that are repeated in the film. Like the future a corona eclipse sends us the message the laws of the universe are to be obeyed. It appears in the film as a visual reminder of higher things and beyond horizons that must be returned to.

A reviewer stuck in recent boredom (L’Enneu again) thought two recent pieces he’d read, Tom Stoppard’s The Hard Problem and Bill McKibbens’s Falter, explored if we are “hard-wired” (somehow) for empathy/altruism.

The book Babettes Feast holds a community around the one table with outsiders among the gathering.

Martine the convent caretaker says, “Now you will be poor the rest of your life“,Babette replies, “An artist is never poor.” It is set in Jutland in 19th-century Denmark. Again an isolated community.

Written in 1950 post ww2 it examines humanity – “And it happened when Martine or Philippa spoke to Babette that they would get no answers, and would wonder if she had even heard what they said Orshe would sit immovable on the three-legged kitchen chair, her strong hands in her lap and her dark eyes wide open, as enigmatical and fatal as a Pythia upon her tripod…..”

You couldn’t get more isolated than a convent and here the symbolism of a women’s retreat is evoking simple rules for simple pleasures.

Isak Dinesen the writer of this short story had been a five star chef in Paris, having sought political asylum in Denmark.

Open palms. The resurrection as a film is simultaneously in the period when the Berlin Wall came down, when Red Sorghum was made.

Cinema seeks to capture the zeitgeist of one period through another and act as a unifier of our perceptions and thoughts stimulated by instant immersion. The immediacy is without an instance, until this form of review or after film discourse takes place, and often carrying the plain speaking superficial meanings around at the time. Or like my own choice of best ever film, Ordet, untangles a whirlwind of thought and discovery.


Through this period of forced reflection during the Covid 19 epidemic it has thrust us forward into needing reference points evaluating what we know, what really is and how the future is part of our own making.

Red Sorghum is seen in a wide lens also. The table is a constant source with wine central to the sharing and its properties are teased in so many processes just as life’s forces. The intoxication taking over and many succumbed to its altered energy.

Zhang Yimou is a Chinese film director, producer, writer and actor, and former cinematographer. He is part of the Fifth Generation of Chinese filmmakers, having made his directorial debut in 1987 with Red Sorghum.

The Empire review below sums up the political point here –

‘But it represented life and death, birth and renewal, and the physicality and humanity of the villagers as much as it did the Party’ – is how the Empire review sums it up as a forceful political essay.

From the Empire review –

is this extract –

By setting the story in the barren wilderness around the north-eastern Gaomi Township, Zhang departed from the lush southern landscapes that Beijing preferred to see extolled on screen. He also depicted his protagonists in a far from idealised light, as he permitted them to indulge their basest instincts, right down to urinating in the wine vats (which, ironically, improved the flavour). Moreover, by allowing the only avowedly Communist character to perish at the hands of the invading imperialists, Zhang also suggested that the workers resisted their tyranny through their own innate heroism, just as their own labour and ingenuity had revived the fortunes of the winery.


John Graham

30 June 2020


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This was reviewed after seeing the films again on a domestic screen and still the magic of Cinema creates feelings never touched on by the ingenuity of the creative community. The genius of Cinema is often traumatised by badly conceived forms and weird unrecognisable scripts. But story and the human psyche is a minefield of conflicting ideas. Tread carefully and Be Safe.

A False Dawn by Ursula Burke : A Review


“The sound as an augury of death”

This title is a starting point. I’ve chosen it as it speaks of the anticipation of looking at the new exhibition by Ursula Burke, ‘A False Dawn’. The word anticipation is our expectation ahead of time.
On 31 May 2020 plans were to close the exhibition here in limbo. While we consider time and second waves there is alteration in our vision and it is not only the wounded concerning us but those who have tragically lost their lives in the outbreak of Covid 19. Despite our experiences in the face of a plague it is human nature to consider the methods we employ to understand it and the wider dangers everyday life has in store. By no means a reflection but a catalyst for thought this exhibition currently hidden away from us speaks of many things.

The introductory title photograph I took and titled to head this essay is obviously showing the Lockdown confinement of the exterior that hides (in March/April/May 2020) the exhibition lying behind the 5th floor Upper Gallery wall.

Inside, on the other side, the drip painting lies behind. The wall suddenly becomes a current edition of the angry it leaps from. This present protection the enclosure provides, shields the new work, creating an extraordinary sense of the present as its original conceptual form centuries ago is reinterpreted somewhere we cannot experience in the intended installation. The prescience is un-calculated but if anything, maybe in the mould of prophethising is shockingly realised and the prophet being here, Ursula Burke.

On the 5th level of the Ulster Museum, traditionally the Art being the highest entry to the confines of ours and the museums strata of telling discovery. Augury is a word Ursula Burke fastens onto and it’s emblematic place in the sculpture sends us in several directions. The repurposed fresco with birds is resonant of several contexts across a longer period of time.

In the Artist statement this is said – “Often, I take a Northern Irish context as a critical point of departure from which to generalise my approach outwards to international concerns.”

This work takes in some pieces from previous exhibitions that lend their heft to this particular ascribed process. The following text from those earlier exhibitions, in part description, shows the process of thought employed by Ursula Burke.

“A large proportion of my work at present is made using Parian porcelain, a hard paste porcelain that is famed for emulating Parian marble, the substance used for carving many of the Greek and Roman sculptures from antiquity. Even though Parian is extremely hard after firing, the nature of the material exudes a kind of softness and elasticity, (almost fleshy) which at the same time formally emulates the characteristics of marble. In content, the reference to the classical period that the work allows enables me to make a conceptual bridge between idealised versions of society much in debate during the classical period and the necessity for continually suspended versions of the ideal within a post-conflict society. Northern Ireland as a region is consistently working towards peace; persistently speaking and striving to move towards an indeterminate point in the future where real, meaningful and lasting peace between tribal communities has been realized. The schism between idealized forms of civil society and consistently suspended versions of the ideal in post conflict society is at the heart of this work.” From the Art of the Troubles, The Ulster Museum Belfast, 2014; Arafudo Art Annual, Fukushima, Japan 2014; March & June Mostra, British School at Rome, 2014; Spazi Aperti, Romanian Academy, Rome, 2014; Hope for a Better Past, The MAC, Belfast, 2013 & Instances of Agreement, Kao Yuan Art Centre, Taiwan, 2011. They resonate again here.


The vision here
It summons up a thought process on life as seen though the past as a vision of the future. Called ‘A False Dawn’ it supposes also a negative position maybe where we are at, but it covers a lot of ground. The past is seen in the referencing spatial sense of the original fresco and it in part a reconstruction of. It also is a gathering of violence against the person, posing in an array of mediums the entry to the debating chamber, meeting places to discuss differences and forge policies of unity an opposite prevails into the present day and beyond.

The work seems to presuppose the history of humans default to former patterns that negatives will ensue. Far from obvious are the immemorial themes point to the wasteful oblique way we see the environs and world we live in and all its inhabitants. These only appear with scrutiny of the ‘fresco’ with images contained within it. Some local and as I alluded to the wall takes on more genus loci with the wall having in the view hidden our ‘Parliment’ a few miles out the other side having, and it’s very probable Ursula Burke had that symbolic an immovable part of our reckoning or at least a fixture of it.

Further on here I will refer to other works that seek to use art as the countenance for or own debates.

There is a reaction to repression of every kind here in the work and at its core is the politically ardent will that caught out post war worlds. Reconciliation is never over. After these ancient inherent human abstract relations pattern in nature survives beyond us. Made as each are in that miracle of combinations that under the microscope only retain pattern and forms of symmetry our abstract world is incurable evident.

The Italian fresco is a beginning but the core is the restlessness borne of dreadful pain mirrored in the apathy with which fine art beguilingly transports us towards as some judgement or acceptance of the absurd.

Fight with flight
The birds are the only animals seen in the exhibition and they figure in the settled full wall perch of the blue diagraphic take on enterprise. The glory of a fresco is simulated in the form of a testing pseudo deterioration by strands of dripped bud paint, speckled distempered plaster. The appearance is less fecund than any original fresco but holds an arresting scale in the soft light of the Gallery. It is based on the Villa of Livia which has been restored at the Palazzo Massimo in Rome which is, in this iteration, a bit like the Van Gogh simulator without the colour intensity.

The villa was abandoned in the 5th century AD, and subsequently pillaged and looted for antiquities. In 1863, the famous statue of Augustus of Prima Porta was discovered on the site, as well as the birds and trees frescoes in an underground dining area. These were moved to museums in the city to conserve them.

The deterioration as depicted here is arrested and an arresting state of compromise for our satiated souls. Reclaiming it with this mural effect is taking the visitor into a world that is outside the former and is evoking through the use of the flightless birds sorrowful dripping tears of paint and the abundance of natural things an anotherness we cannot see. It goes beyond us. To this Ursula Burke brings a presence of mankind’s intervention and confinement. In today’s compromised world it has wild connections. Nowhere will there be a more relevant juxtaposition in Art installation. The terracotta wilderness is the only comparable example of these themes as this has advanced new infinite interpretations.

The terracotta wilderness of the former is obliterated by the intensity of a blue landscape with grid mesh patterns and inserts of hand held lenses capturing a circle of place, Carson’s Statue or The Stormont Mile.
We are pulled into the wilderness of our transmuted political lives.

The allegories may be there but the tonal qualities of the former fresco as a vehicle are explored as an effect less intensely or otherworldly here as Ursula Burke realises her ‘Augury of the Birds.’ The Villa of Livia is the original title and this alternative is extending the reach of the original due to its pastiche allegory of a beautiful location, even garden of Eden. … “La Villa di Livia a Prima Porta da praedium suburbanum a villa Caesarum”.

The place here, it’s genus loci, is compared to this former mythical imagining which itself is captured in its frozen fall from perpetuity and is a relic of another view of the world. The meaning is placed in either location to be one where we aspire to flourish beyond expectations held across the fence in the fresco. “Livia had a fresco painted on the walls which reproduced the nature outside. In fact there are several types of trees, and there are also 69 different types of birds, like those found in the woods around the villa,” said Biondi.

Other Portraits
That illusion is not far from in both the former and Ursula Burke’s own latest interpretation here, one perceived by the Artist know as the old man of Modern Literature, one James Joyce, whose eyesight, with another ironic twist of fate in this context, was about a tenth of normal sight and therefore he was unable to invest in the visual much other than an observant contempt-or, while being in the opposite a master of the language lingual he contritely put a verse to this connection –

Buy a book in brown paper
From Faber and Faber
To see Annie Liffey trip, tumble and caper.
Sevensinns in her singthings,
Plurabelle on her prose
Seashell ebb music wayriver she flows.

His book was of the two shores of the Liffey, on the harbour of people, the brown paper bag the admission it was censored and contained connections with Finnegans Wake..

Not the enigma poetry expected but a blunt instrument of a sales pitch. This is itself a play with words as you are invited to enter a tributary of life where the rawness and morality is cast in metaphors of the rivers proximity to us. The river is carrying away our thoughts. The changes in the tidal flow are stilled only by the momentary galina.

What he was doing was leaving a literary ghost mark for a world that was unprepared for it. Anna is both woman and river and “her fluvial maids of honour”, from all corners of the world, constitute 350 river names.’ Edna O’Brien.

This is the same wilderness an author felt able to enter and express while H.G.Wells, Nabokov, DH Lawrence, thought the less of it, TS Eliot was along with Samuel Beckett no stranger to its strangeness as ‘Anna Livia Plurabelle’ became a morality tale of the river as the conscious being, once entered you cannot return to join in the same place again. The essay by Edna O’Brien is simply a testament to that works genius.

2 planes

Bleakness lies before the precious and it is not recreational, recreation is a simile after all and it is an escape while being present. What appears is the thought Ursula Burke is in contest with the world as seen. That she attests to other consciousnesses and parts and gives here a very formative tale to investigate. Along with Joyce she is a companion to the diversity and is gathering in throwing porcelain of her own concepts in bruised and battered allegories which for a long time have proven solid and robust conquests of authorative voice.

The wonderful new book by Colm McCann ‘Apeirogon’ which he snatches a story of combatants he met as lives witnessed in the Middle East to convey the union of ordinary people through the common loss of a child, is illustrated in physical existing metaphors wherein the entry points A,B,C, in the occupied areas are under surveillance of drones cameras and watchtowers the lines of movement that must be adhered to. Gate A is to a Palestinian area, it is illegal for Israelis to enter it. There reasons might be collaboration and assistance? Gate B is to an Israeli held area which Palestinians can enter with adherence to the areas rules as they provide services to the area. Gate C is a settlement occupied only by Israelis. Only Israelis are allowed in. This is the real manifestation of a global human malaise. To take it to another level is the containment of the rooms, a truth, an encounter then a reflection. The broad scope is a problematic one in this confined space. Later I suggest reasons for this opinion.

Just as another fine line of connection there is a review in Los Angeles of the novel being also about birds. ‘Also About Birds: The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict’ in Colum McCann’s “Apeirogon” by Ben Libman

Beyond malaise is the witnessing of such division and conflict and Ursula Burke has produced in the area of the 5th floor something akin to the separate rooms, at least for my purposes of analysing what I’d seen within its pictorial walls that similar guise. Akin is the name VSO call their volunteer magazine which centres on the junctions of family and repair. This is also a part within the scope of Ursula Burke’s vision here. The many pieces of sculptured heads themselves are displayed on trestles and Dias as types of singular grief and fortitude.

The typed imprint sometimes seen in Ursulas work, of tattoos and messages is again used but less dominantly. The tattoos are in fact the bruises and broken defaced, literally heads full of self image and identity harmed but unbowed. Each forms a art of the same collective. The ‘rooms’ – Gates I eluded to – are usefully given mapping in the accompanying exhibition booklet.

The collective is known as ‘The Wounding’. In the same room, the point of entry are two smaller pieces, Blue – The Sphinx greeting you as you enter and the foremost image identifying what the exhibition is taking you toward. Due to the limitations of space there is only a small explation of the aims and it is immeasurable how much can be taken away or witnessed in calculations of meaning and the exploration of the work.


It is brutally beautiful from the onset. Delivering a coruscating abundance of tales in principle using humans at its core. Natures supremacy is also our configuration. The birds are in an evolutionary state, as we happen to have common migratory processes instilled within us. The flight as opposed to flightlessness is adjudicated in poetry, Seamus Heaney’s works are peppered with birds. As local artist Jefferey Morgan has often in his paintings, his fellow Artist in words, Michael Longley has himself a fascination with birds and their flight. Even in this same space (RUA 2019) birds were appropriated in Jeremy Morgan’s painting of Wiggenstien, as a perch for birds, his trusted companions placing context to philosophy in the edges of Connemara.

Jeffrey Morgan’s Wiggenstien

The Sphinx is an art subject since it’s earliest embrace. In essence power is anthropomorphic with this creature a heraldic peaceful force showing control, the complete opposite of ourselves of its innate image of pure evolution. This is no Tutankhamen (another tomb is believed to exist beyond the famous Egyptian find) but it is emblematic of faith, virtue, spirit and soul all equated with blue and light blue is associated with the Throat Chakra in eastern mysticism. The element of ether belongs with this and the bruise signals I am here, a human, both the yellow and red absent from blue transition to the physical take it to a stage statues do not have.

It is hard to speak of the delicate forms the world takes without seeing the contrasts presented. They are a dialogue of themselves. The hanging head ‘Augury’ in the third room is a synthesis of a beam, a pressure treated, well selected, worn railway sleeper of a crossbeam, a bodyof woolen torso. Who am I? – it seeks an answer to. Both of itself and the visitor under its presence. The stainless steel grille of the sixties ventilation above and behind it is brought into it in my view, with its rational place occupying the space also and filtering away the august air of the solemn interior in which we invent time and thought.

solitary insular war

Inherited. A congress of anger.
In ‘Augury of the Birds’ is a context which is as I recently reminded a commentator having a pop at a geographer in a political context, of the animal having a locale and no borders – pinemartins. One of the Irish animals that possess enough guile as to be from even further away. These common carnivores are found in Scotland and the species mustelid have been around a long time. They are not confined by fences while birds are even less confined. They find a way to cross boundaries.

Here there is a joy alongside a trying contest with hope in this display and conceptual world. By creating, and arches sanctity of place, light and stillness take the visitor to a similar room or series of spaces as the La Villa di Livia a Prima Porta. No longer a place of restful pastoral solitude here there are cast relics or people. The heads and bruised elegance given to the new born is cast with its brethren’s burden. The baby is a clear embodiment of this veil of sorrows already inhabited by the person. James Joyce spent years developing a new dialogue and who is Finnegan? Who is the wanderer? The point from one place to another is taken by allowing seeing places symbolising your existence. A habitat or vantage point like the Martello Tower.


The man-made is like a Seán Hillen postcard montage/collage sustained with images taken in combinations and gathered. Like a rickshaw on the canal towpath incongruous and accepted. The allegory of Birds is one which goes beyond our eight mile, for most experiences of that scale, vision unlike the birds whose flight allows them elevation and survey. Often looking at horizons it is observed or intuition tells us, why would you look for meaning in it, what is meaning and why would it have to have meaning.

Library of Congress
Like Joyces work this Gallery is a ‘book’ of ideas subverting the ordinary scroll of everyday blindness. Joyce’s tenth of normal eyesight comes with the baggage of having to find other ways to create. Recently I have been discovering how common the impairment in sight is found in art. Locally the colour blindness encroaching in degrees and in severity was occurring with Paul Henry and Basil Blackshaw. Ursula Burke is using the head as the all seeing self and its variances are dispersed with degrees of damage and all physical with the awareness there is damage within always.

A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us.’ Kafka. In the current ‘Democrat’ debate a commentator pointed out – literally – if Elizabeth Warren had an axe/sword at the discussion Bloomberg was all over the place, he would be ‘shish kebab’. Perhaps those words should be removed from any political context. There is a plethora of subjects in political debate for violence which Ursula Burke has brought to this and it is a wild card I throw into the cannibalism of political discourse. Discursive not constructive. The view being, it is present in chambers of supposed governance.

There is another oblique observation which I throw in as it comes from the family of ‘The Origin of the Species.’ Gwen Raveret, a very quick mind and Artist when a boarder at school in France wrote when returning to the comfort of the Darwin household this.

In all that time there is only one vision that I keep: a flash, seen through the garden hedge, of some sheep in the next field, with the frosty, winter light running along their backs. It seemed like something from another world: the real world, to which I should escape again some day. It kept me alive.’ Gwen Raveret. (A Cambridge Childhood)

In that clear mind the outside vision is seen through nature. People happen to inhabit that world along with the animals she recalls. The words are extraordinary well in keeping with the Darwin insights.

The Wounded
With the tenderness of porcelain Ursula Burke is calling out “the company of self-obsessed fuck-offs who squandered and destroyed the world …..” Gabriel Tallent. Except they continue to preside over the collapse. As in Dresden the mercurial pliability of the material as manipulated in the Dachau Concentration camps is once again primordial in its fragile solidity. These works are combined and brought from each singularity of a human entity, to become the assembly of The Wounded. The scene graceful and stark. Each head has a four cornered timber dias and they rest on the flat top at eye level. The combined display’s each suppose a human scale though they are at times not at the human scale but either or above or below. The child’s head for instance is larger than its normal size as is The Sphinx – Blue. As Colin Davison has in his Lives series and as is his practice the energy of a person is advanced beyond the know parameters thus confronting another aspect, that of an outside deliberate context. Apathy, hurt, fortune, fortitude, resilience, absence, they are all there and more besides. That is the gift art brings, as the lie Picasso referred to. The False Dawn maybe is presaged in the baby at the beginning of life consumed by applied identity.

There is an ever more disturbing connection to be made and it is with regard to that pliability of the Parian Porcelain. In a tragic irony it became a fixation of Himmler as in the Edward de Waal book ‘Figurines in Dachau’, of The extraordinary story of Porzellan Manufaktur Allac as it is further testified, the delicacy was a fine art beloved by Himmler and Hitler. Himmler called porcelain ‘one of the few things that give me pleasure’ and Hitler gave it as gifts. That skill advanced in Dachau a violation of human life.

The Concentration Camps became a crucible, some surviving it is presumed due to their skills and competency with the material, within Dachau. The factory in Allach became too small, and at the end of 1940 it moved to Dachau concentration camp. There were many advantages of having the factory here. There was the immediate gain of using the prisoners. The Allach porcelain company – as with the porcelain manufactory in Meissen – was losing skilled workers to the eastern front, and here they could draw on the talents of inmates. The few prisoners brought in from the camp in 1941 grew to over a hundred by 1943.


Geography and Boundaries
While a heaviness of subject is somewhat eased by the actual area of the exhibition in what is a very large space within the Museum in the three parts of the 5th floor it has a difficulty. This is so large a subject the confinement of it is problematic. The particular and evident use as much is possible of minimal presentation by exhibiting one piece on one wall emerges as a tentative approach. There is little room for reflection.

Embroidery is a dominant presence which it is possible to approach as well as view from afar. This is seen as a hanging of an image created with the softness of thread while being the concord of hate in the image as people assailants each other or defend themselves. Blood is threads dripping in tapestry. The Politicians piece is given largesse and prominence and the wooden star frame is accentuating the methodology. The piece is however crowded in the sense it has companions in the room and they are not linear. If only the pace was larger and it were possible as would happen in a linear Gallery or Circular, Getty type space, lead you through from a piece to another piece. Instead it is a conflict of images and though the earnest use of light and separations is used effectively as much as is possible it seems a narrative is lost.

Despite my ‘eulogy’ on certain aspects and being able to draw interpretations from it on a vast scale at times, it torments by not being a story developing as it could. This is evident in seeing it with others and hearing responses and the quickness of a journey does not help. Would it be better were The Wounded be confined to their own room and reflection be removed from the other works? It is difficult to imagine. Another thing I found was not being able to describe its arc to an artist before they visited and it is not entirely obvious where the story begins and what the nature of the fresco analogy is. Is it important to read the ‘fence/bird’ metaphor as the original had foreseen? Is it suffice to take the fresco for what it is by long objective observation? It was long silent before being revealed.

This is a unique reconstruction and was delivered by work on many levels by a number of people under the artists instruction. It is formed with architectural references also in the entry point and the articulation the Gallery, a modern sixties space with delights of formation and detail familiar and a shift in art presentation in itself. Now sans Pirelli Black Rubber Floor unfortunately.

Embroidery is a method deployed as an invocation of political abuse. Comparisons for me are to be made with the work often carried out by local artist Brendan Jameson. It was not long ago he replicated a war picture with plastic bricks and fired pellets at the pixelated plastic image and it showed the connection of a bombing and burnt presentation in a soft caricature the hardness of violence. Often Brendan Jameson produces work similarly contextualised of hard subjects developed with soft materials, sugar cubes towers, cranes and wool is often employed. It is a demographic pluralised by many in art.
Often troubling images are significantly made impactive by use of colour and texture. All art is a combination of the signatures, symbolic, icon, index. The hardness softness is a vocabulary which will last long and be emotive.

The use of tapestry is often seen as belonging to Power bases but that is long gone as a means of expression except the clothes and dress attire is often still predicated on status and power. By creating this soft expression of the subjects it is a dynamic pushing us to new collections of ideas. There is a thought of the location becoming a debating chamber itself, of the aftermath of debate being scrutinised by us. This is part of the envelope of any art project, to transmit and alter and show a way of seeing which is the converse and opposite of normal perceptions of the same thing or realised in an alternative shocking or engaging way.
Our familiarity of the discourses is of course a point to hold and it is also capable for other universal viewpoints to arrive at much the same thought processes.

Of all art work with a narrative centred on human conflict and Guernica apart, I found the ballet ‘The Green Table’ by performed by The Bathsheva Dance Company of Israel the most powerful I have ever witnessed. As our own ‘troubles’ spiralled and became a proximity of human harm visited on many taking away lives and their future this recoiled as a parallel depiction performed as a ballet, it arrived without warning as acts of violence do. Other forms of art could provide similar responses, it so happened to commit totally to the horror of war and human disagreements being at the core.

If we go back to the original and the notion earlier, ‘this Gallery is a ‘book’ of ideas subverting the ordinary scroll of everyday blindness. Joyce’s tenth of normal eyesight comes with the baggage of having to find other ways to create.’ it presupposes a normality in that the original was designed as a dining area. Imagine what discussions might have fed those at the table. The outside is perceived as harmful while dining is a convivial and discursive learning rewarding essential social norm. While dining there is withdraw to a safe refuge to take in the harvest of all they survey.

The Green Table’ is that place of discourse and it is used not for dining but as a place to reflect and act out positions of difference and the meaning is held all are equal while a temporary lapse in normal hostilities are replaced by conversation. It seldom works as conversation is held among people as they swamp agreements or common purposes while energising other equations as a test among their piers. So the table is a mediator on levelling out. The people are of course ardently different holding outside ideas they must attend to, adhere to and visit so they are not confronted once they’ve left of change. That is also a spiral of centrifugal force. Like a satellite of thoughts much as the reverence held by the construction of Newgrange and other core layline driven spaces. These rooms are a place of discovery in the most part. They reflect on what is. They also offer food as the dining room is destroyed and in limbo while we navigate the pieces while discovering thoughts fresh and recalled.

Paucity in Religion
As the work is attempting to take on a huge subject and our lack of mediation among nations it races toward the singularity of existence seen focused on individual choices and from the sign of the baby holding a flag on entering the world it is apparent this is individuality with context. The onrush of societal norms are that contagion it is difficult to remove ideas away from.

Predicated by the notions and practices instilled since birth it is rare that independent thought perseveres without some identity context. None more so than religion. I can see the argument and that is a toxic word in some places is that our times have always been trapped by war and conflict with Northern Ireland a place known primarily through its troubles near past. So I have found the following story from a pioneer going to another place, taking with them no doubt their own societal convictions, some puritanical and conflicted with the freedoms of others, to be very tangible.

The aspect of faith or belief, in which peace is a foundation sought through religious positions is brought through in the context of the USA sate of Montana a narrative which is brought by necessity into the thinking of a pioneer. I have not seen a clearer statement on the examination of religion as seen through the individual and their own choices and the fundamental need to be observant of their own actions and place it in context of a worlds mission. Progress through peace. The exhibition alarms us and covers this – Religion – Passage – without having the place to display it.

wall fresco

James Fergus – Montana
“I said religion often had something to do with the fate of nations… the Christian religion brought about a long period of ignorance still known to us as the dark ages, during which thought was curbed, common education banished, and conscience given over to a rude, vulgar and ignoranat priesthood.

 "And whatever good Christianity may have done since, much of the degeneracy of mankind during this period must be laid at its door... Christianity alone was left to darken and degrade the masses of Europe with only an occasional flash of independent thought, until the 14th century when we gradually see the flicking lights of a coming dawn. Gallieo, Bacon, Luther. 

James Fergus as many pioneers sought a new dawn to live a life somewhere identity was not fixed but hindsight brought those words spoken above. In a nation never conscious of the Indian belonging to their lands and the desolation of a form of life caused by the migration into their lands it became, evokes another false dawn.

Another analogy I find in the film The Ghost Story by David Lowry which in this context unravels life backwards in a place revealing a past and positioning a future.

….walks over to to one of the pressure treated beams that line the road. She sits down.

This essay has taken many turns and has remained unpublished for a few months as the nature of the exhibition takes on more relevance and meaning. Now published 01 06 2020 I have settled on a degree of understanding and interpretation and as this world shows there is every truth in the individual having their own view in this compellingly complex world.

To finish I have noticed another reality. The Wuhan ‘origin’ of Coronavirus 19 was from dead bats. Bats it is pointed out in another book ‘Quarantine’ by John Grace, hang from caves upside down and their ‘eyes’ having limited vision in the conventional ‘sense’ are fixed as they hang on the ground, not the heavens above. The Bible uses the ‘quarantine’ of forty days in the desert to get across the story of ‘human examination’ where prayer expresses inner most thoughts. The daylight fasting contrasts with the bat and it’s lack of sight, no need for daylight and living a life in darkness without a canopy of exterior wonder as colour, our use of vision, gives us so much apparent contrasts that ultimately are illusions.

John Graham

01 June 2020



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V E Day 2020 All Souls are Mine

QUB Victory Memorial
The Cross put on the Memorial at 11.00am 8 May 2020
All Souls Belfast
V E Day
Friday May 8 2020
The East Window

The day Victory in Europe 75 years after peace was obtained the days of remembering continued.

Here we are in 2020 with a sense of connection and humanity has had its say in the face of a virulent disease. We can prepare for making a stronger peace by realising the world we share for a short period of time as the Creator has given us. The strength of kinship and the selflessness of the National Health Service Carers and the Care Homes Carers along with the family’s and isolated who are facing up to their mortality whenever it shall be brought as it is to all, we give collective thanks for the treasures life has given and the hope that stays within us through every moment the Creator has given us. Amen

Look after yourself and care for the vulnerable. Be safe Be at Peace

John Graham

8 May 2020


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Walk don’t Roam

Looking at Buildings and their settings takes on new meaning in these times. Having seen the loss of many functional reusable buildings replaced by mediocre architecture given by the profession at its worst the plain truth reveals itself in the present.

You’ll need a drink after this!

Here are a selection of photos randomly taken of an array of locations many of which will be familiar but not seen lately.

Behind this wall lies the Ursula Burke exhibition which contains the wounded. It depicts and behind this very wall a replication in the artistic interpretation of Ursula Burke the Villa de Livia fresco. That was created in the fifth century to convey the peaceful protection from a world over which birds flew freely and many creatures lay. All not hospitable and therein lay the future which we must enter. To call Ursula Burke’s exhibition profound and seeing the past ages of the fragile relationships we have with the world beyond the horizon, all having different surroundings is a huge understatement.
The Church axis blocked by a darn Bank in the seventies
The original much loved building seen only close up
The view removed
Spot the awful Hamilton Architects tin additions – go to the Park to see more!
A certain Arch practice obliged in providing a set of designs for Buildings along the pavement edge for QUB Estates but thankfully they were dropped. Who on earth thought it was a good idea in the first place? How did the architects not see the Mies relation of a tower set back, which mostly is disregarded, but nevertheless is essential and the reason why the Ashby building sits so well and has added a fine natural corner in a highly used and mixed use area by landscaping relating to both the location and the building. ?
Take home your rubbish or drop in the bin nearby kindly placed by the BCC fgs
The Red Devil’s will return
Oscar Wilde went through this doorway – and came out again – around 1888?
Gods own
Tim what were u thinking?
Isolate and educate
Is that corner not inappropriate? asked the dog
Bresson got there and found this
Perspective found this
Spot the roof add ons to the Museum (the tropical ravine was not restored well – it now has 2 roofs and a walkway) did anyone visit the beautiful Kew Gardens version? Staggering here!
Where have all the cars gone?
Barbecue Ribs overdone
Don’t look behind me – there’s a facsimile Library – don’t believe the brochures it’s 20/21at century architecture honest and C.S. Lewis would have been aghast!
A meaningless adoration with space above – is it a bell tower a lighthouse or folly?
Time to return home

All views are my own in this essay.

John Graham

2 May 2020



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OpJB : A Book Review

Don’t judge a War by its History

OpJB is a story told by a former secret agent of the British Naval Forces, a spy and double agent who from the age of sixteen became a key player in the extraordinary extradition of a figure so connected to the Nazi brutality in the Second World War that it is found sometimes unbelievable that this story could possibly be true. During the period up to the closure of the war and its end there was an operation which this naval officer whose credibility as a Nazi sympathiser allowed him to arrange a rendezvous at the age of twenty in a suburb of Dublin, in Herbert Park to meet his Nazi target intelligence collaborators. It happened on 23 January 1945 at 0700.

The resulting rendezvous went according to plan and he headed north to Londonderry and departed to Liverpool. The operation it set in train was instigated by Winston Churchill and his King George V, involving this agent, Louis Mountbatten, Ian Fleming and others.

From missions during the war in which many fatalities happened through the actions of this officer including at the age of sixteen attacking a U boat base off Donegal and killing four, three with his bare hands this operator had gained the value of reliability in his actions as a combined operations appointee.

Many will disbelieve the story few records exist of purely because the outcome is perverse and counterintuitive and is the devils own job in explaining as of any value.

In a terrible twist of fate, a twist of sands?, the IRA destruction of Louis Mountbatten and a young boy in the waters of Donegal in 1979 was a cruel irony given the Nazi war had been defeated and many Irishmen had contributed alongside Mountbatten and Americans in securing the victory.

How ironic the Brexit Union is breaking up the accord with once feared enemies. Not that feared, despised British Irish relationship held by many but the union of Germany and the United Kingdom.

How ironic it is the waters of Donegal hold in the islands people in an insurgence across borders flocks of birds and fauna traverse. Borders are futile enemies despite this putting behind tragic and infinitely bigger losses, some fifth of the earth’s population died in the conflict that was author to this final act of discovery.

Of his actions which the faith held in God is replaced by the black angel he refers to, he states early in the book, “The fact they might have been for the greater good, and maybe helped a bit, will never atone for the loss of life and the suffering that I brought about.” That is a colossal statement on anyone’s reflection of the war and there underlies a guilt at the betray of God in the fight, the warring taken part in.

There is no emphasis or half hearted declaration intend or played out in the narrative by facing these facts but it is the in the writers of the story we are given the insight however buried and seemingly insignificant it is, in part due to the selfishness of self appraisals is nonetheless a lesson to be drawn. A clear one on the despicable savages of war and this being on such a scale it remains truly fixed as a memory for use in current times.

Deep into the book a baby is cradled and dying and a woman crosses herself, in the orthodox Russian manner, right to left, and sobs grieving over humanities low.

Normal life or an approximation of it tries to carry along its path in Dublin. There were houses in which a German encampment had established. 52 Northumberland Road was one such base. Scattered around were Germans living in homes among the locals and unseen for the most part. This was the legation. Into the operators hands once he is face to face in a Berlin with the head of German intelligence, the betrayal is secured with rolls of English £5 pound notes amounting to the operators soul fee. He succeeded in administering a false placement of intelligence information so setting the ball rolling. Except it was not false information he was to pass on but of a raid which saw the killing of some three hundred Canadians and others.

Three hundred dead at least, that is itself horrifying and the ancient question lives on. Is the death of a few worth the saving of the many? This is the basis on which this book is written. While it is a record of the authors part in a historical narrative and an event which is itself a coming to terms with what has just been gone through by inquest of the actions, it is formidable in its telling as a compelling vision into mankind’s wickedness. The foremost war people reflect on is acted out in separate elements and this is a picture of a thread running through it.

It is in the reading, very difficult to conceive it is true as it continually releases more astonishing detail and insight into the workings of key figures in the events and how they, the events materialised contrary to common knowledge and perceptions from the distance of history retold.

In Kilkeel there was and still remains in part, an airport training post occupied by American troops, of around 18 years old mostly training for operation overlord D-Day and Dwight Eisenhower paid them a visit. In preparation for it an account is given in the book of a disastrous exercise he mounted in England. It was another part of warfare in its operation going badly wrong.

The aircraft training story at Kilkeel is told by the local community and local council with pride and rightly so. They played a part in hosting, creating the base and rigorously fostering with the all might they could muster in this plan while never knowing its purpose.

With the runways now dug up and forming field walls and gun mounts used as gateposts remnants pepper the area. There is even a cinema barn housing an artillery cockpit training tower with a sanded floor onto which reels of film of targets where screened, navigated and fired into.

From looking back into this period through the remaining physical elements in Kilkeel to 1945 it is very difficult but in part possible to imagine the massive operation D-Day preparation entailed. To treat these episodes in this book as Fake News would be wide of the mark. The actual events however horrifying were and are recorded as fact by this first hand account. The tests have been put to its validation.

In a 1996 Review of this book by The Independant it is treated as highly fictionalised. Here is part of the appraisal.

Successive British governments cheated Hitler’s Jewish victims of the wealth and property he had robbed from them. Britain rescued and hid a man condemned to death at Nuremberg. The Canadians were deliberately led into their massacre at Dieppe.

And one last touch – our hero claims to have blown up the Dutch submarine which had observed the Japanese fleet en route for Pearl Harbour and signalled a warning, so that Roosevelt’s abandonment of the American Pacific fleet to destruction should never become known. Mr Ainsworth Jones has chosen to blacken the honour both of Churchill and of this country, and to sow renewed bitterness against us with the victims of the Holocaust, with Canada, with Ireland, with the Netherlands and with the United States. This, even in fiction, is not so much unbelievable as unforgiveable.

Treasonable actions by a few maybe but did this occur?

Many truths are available and those arguments in the wake of history have washed up some staggering stories. I think it beyond most journalists or investigators to even come close to the truth so in my mind it resides as a hearing of a mans account, ‘highly fictionalised?’ and worth evaluating further.

Controversy visits all memory. The few who know the truth often remain silent. The horrific nature of this period are endlessly contested. The post in Wikispooks is both endearing and loose with the facts.



On the publication of the 1998 Bormann DNA report, and statements given to the media, London’s Daily Express newspaper called the Bormann report a ‘’whitewash’’ perpetrated by the Brandt government. Later the Stewart Steven foreign editor of the Daily Express was sacked for publishing the ‘’whitewash’’ article.[citation needed] Stewart Steven was part of team that went to Buenos Aires to investigate Bormann documents. The findings were verified as valid evidence as to Bormanns survival. After which he published an article as to Bormanns survival, he was bullied into resigning as editor of The Daily Express

Repairing the damage was a huge task for subsequent leaders. Churchill was ousted and Clement Attlee was seen as a social focused individual steering people back to the relative peace and recovery necessary while the Nuremberg episodes took over the task of inquest. Would leaders such as Billy Brandt and those British leaders such as Macmillan seen it a duty to protect the hard won Sovereignty by the victor and allow the dissolution of Germany into a fractured state. East and West? Highly probable as a stabilising necessity.

Milton Shulman, film critic and former intelligence officer asked Nigel West aka Rupert Allison to investigate the claims made by the author of OpJB.

An extract of his own reflections of it are written here.

….. Only five pages of the thirty-three submitted dealt directly with attempting to rubbish Creighton’s facts. If a winner had to be chosen, I believe Creighton’s specific details were more convincing than West’s often vague or instinctive allegations. To give him credit, West was frank about acknowledging the difficulty of assessing an operation which Creighton had originally dubbed -The Operation That Never Was. The secrecy surrounding it was total and any written documents about it had had to be shredded and destroyed. Only three people knew what was going on, Creighton, Susan Kemp and Barbara Brabenov are still alive. MI5 and MI6 were excluded from the plan.

When further problems arose subsequently due to the unearthing of this, is a 2015 interview on the same by Christopher.

Just as I read through the book and the continuing emphasis on the Martin Boorman operation and the Swiss store of sequestered riches in the Boorman accounts etc. I thought the author was not to reveal any other magnitude of dreadful acts of killing allied forces by sending them to their deaths he comes forward with another episode which is in fact the annihilation of Dutch Submarine crew in connection with their knowledge of Pearl Harbour. The direct effect was to bring the American’s into the war.

The Paratroopers in this war were a stark contrast to those who succeeded them. Commanders were desperate leaders when mercenary tactics went out under such as Major Mike Jackson who later orchestrated a coverup of events on Bloody Sunday 1972 in Derry when, on whose explicit orders is often placed at PM Edward Heath’s desk, he set about perpetuating the myth they were firing at gunmen when in fact the pre-mediated actions of Corporal F and Solidier G went to slaughter innocent marchers and civilians form the same United Kingdom they came from.

The pair were joined by others in the Para regiment who had been incited by the gunfire and shootings already happening. This is a witness account of Solidier 027 who in 1997 gave an account – passed to the British through the Irish Government. They were to form part of the Saville inquiry and Tom McGurk and Damien Kibbard, the journalists who put the testimony together in The Sunday Business Post.

This 1st Battalion Parachute Regiment was on a different mission and in contrast this book lacks the omertà of Soldiers in action ever explaining their actions. The code broken by Soldier 027.

Being trained for war these soldiers went out to kill given the instruction from above, not for liberty or saving lives or tyranny but forthright destruction on a nationalist basis. The liberty of Locke and Mill were token trails of prevailing logic or Law never occurred to them.

Now in today’s courts the deluded General Geoffrey Howlett also goes about to sully the name of civilians mowed down by his 2nd Battalion paratroopers. He was then Lieutenant Colonel in command, in August 1972 in Ballymurphy. In the pretence of defending the shootings on mistaken gunmen or women he in the recent Ballymurphy inquest speaks again the lie of the record of the time maybe being mistaken.

This is complete and utter cruelty an lacks credibility and remorse.

The state were acting in accordance with orders and in this, is also driven to this day by a Secretary of State Karen Bradley, whose idea of killing of innocent people in Northern Ireland was never a crime. This has since been retracted as ‘an inaccurate statement’ though given the way it came about was without doubt intentional and gives truth to the lie of what British Establishment wish people to believe. Truth is always hard and in these circumstances it is no less unconscionable or of any legal merit in terms of justice or reconciling people with the past. The impartiality is clearly absent in the U.K. governance of past actions governing not only its history in Northern Ireland but in past WW2 actions and outcomes .

When the central task the book concerns itself with; extracting MB and accessing the hoard he is in control of, – in isolation with the numerous other actions it took to win a war, – there is a questionable story of JB and the author when meeting Ribbentrop in his Erie as Foreign Minister at a remote location of taking a clumsy, very detectable risk when they are in a large villa with presumably a very attentive staff including SS keeping an eye on their guests even when they least expect observation. It is highly improbable the transmission of code via. a piano and extensive wiring was undertaken. Firstly the success of the mission was not in question and all arrangements were in the hands of others who knew precisely why they were there and the location by other means of MB. The risk was immense and the material; it was a long trail, highly detectable of wire from goodness knows where could have put the central mission completely into the bin. So what is going on in the story tellers mind you have to ask. Is it a false trail and a bit of hyperbole for the sake of making what is after all a mission going particularly well? Or is it false in its entirety making the accompanying main story one completely in the writers imagination. For such a strange twist there are no explanations hurrying to the forefront in defence.

Another problem I had concerns the unit size and sending to Berlin as a preparatory unit in the order of fifty personnel was making the prospect of discovery larger and the duplication of tasks fundamental unnecessary burden.

Having so many local contacts and in-place paratroopers they surely had sufficient personnel to make the path clear and did they need to ‘disturb’ defences?

What is and where is truth?

Any disturbances of the defences put in place in the form of mines and barriers would be noticed and it is implausible the unit sent with the local assistance could not have been smaller and nimble. After all, the whole premise before this has been the versatility of the few individuals in action and their uncomplicated approach.

While home operations has the necessary intelligence and planning of the operation covered with all its possible outcomes accounted for there is a change in shift in implementation of the plan. Why so many involved?

When the return to England happens; and this underpins again they had no need for transmitting any information given the hosts were holiday hosts asking, when are you going home? the subject of character is interrogated.

Licence to Kill

JB has never fixed a weapon to kill someone and there begins a characterisation of those nom-de-plumes expedited. JB is seen as a foppish spy of aristocratic zeal. He is given the rounded form of Sir Percy (Blakeney) and the author is less able to approximate his role in character in forming for himself the identity allusion of Andrew Ffoulkes as the comrade. The more appropriate form may have been Peter Pan or Dorian Grey as the derring do is often fanciful with a Wildiean voluptuous embroidery calling to mind Barry Lyndon.

Finding out the true version of events is nigh on impossible withstanding time travel is not possible. Science alert Note. This week time was stopped and momentarily reversed. The art trail is a mainstream part of lawless intrigue and lately even the American writer, Lynn H Nicholas, on the fate of the Nazi war loot is inclined towards some revision. In Switzerland the art is still protected and canyons of art is stored in countries such as Ireland off list.

In a landmark resolution, German Culture Ministers pledge to lay the groundwork to return colonial-era art. The Rijksmuseum also may return looted artifacts.

In the UK where major money laundering and elite corruption is rife and deep rifts exist between truth and falsehoods then it is necessary to err on the side of the writer. Recent years have unearthed through The Times and Guardian journalism, operations probing and finding the Nazi expatriated millions and art treasures trail with no bonafide acquisition marked down. The author is in the same arena and is crossing into territory where the killing weapons are not used. This contrasts beyond the war which witnessed barbaric conflict of nations is replaced by new demons. Cases come thick and fast.

Artful Law

Art and Law is replete with discovery. An art dealer was detained last month at Paris Airport as part of his ongoing battle with Poland’s authorities over a Nazi looted painting.

Boormans extraction took on a form very removed from the purposes of war but within the very heart of Berlin’s invasion by Russian troops. The sorry tale of the latter’s brutal methods addressing the defenceless civilians of Berlin is partly exposed in the story told. The surreal deployment of an entourage in the order of 150 into the clash of allied forces, Russians and the German infantry in their last actions becomes a detailed piece of war theatre. The evidence it took place is for the inquisitors to pour over. This account is properly a detailed recollection and is told without hubris. Bonds creator is not found in the later parts of the plan so any further account, while Boorman is taken out of Berlin is not able to be verified from his viewpoint.

JB is summoned into action by his upper middle class sovereign army leaders. It so happens the War was a necessary evil as an evil became illuminated then entangled in the aftermath of war. Be it Israel and it’s occupation by the Jews displaced and millions destroyed of their ethnicity the War was responsible for many absurd demarcations and Berlin itself would not be free until 1989. Then the Liberal Socialism economic model first expanded by Billy Brant an exceptional leader in many respects able to mitigate the dreadful outcomes in order to, in the main it was the priority a feuding divided Europe and World.

It gave the UK a form of self belief which raised the people from divisive poverty created a NHS which we now realise is the heart of everyone, yet the elements of common good were exploited by cultures of Capitalism no more visible in the Thatcher Regan years.

To the Queen whose leadership is an exemplar and though it is the shield that creates division – refer to an earlier blog on Brexit and Law the Christianity seen and shown in the Queens heartfelt strength of character puts the exploiters of that individual care and compassion she shows in infinite ways.

John Graham

17 April 2020


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Into the Mystic : Belfast talk

We communicate with ourselves saying a great deal hoping others will agree and have the same thought. There comes then the Belfast punctuation, seeking response, the call and response, like it’s not them saying it but it’s ordained truth. “Know what I’m saying” some say. “I mean” others may say. “You know” as if their saying it’s already your thinking. I spent a Will musing on this and here’s the result. With a nod towards Van the Man.

Into the Mystic

It’s deadly

So it is

Can’t see it

So it’s not

He caught it

So he did

I’m OK

So I am

What some tea

So you see

Time moves on

So they say

God still loves you

So he does

I’m certain

So am I

We’ll pull through

So you see

We’re strong

So we are

Things will change

So they will

Gone before you know it

So it will

Your resilient

So you are

Deaths for everyone

So it is

We’re the same

So it seems

We’ll be OK

So we will

Everything changes

So it does

This teas grand

So it is

It’s deadly

So it is

It’s no joke

So it’s not

Your an old fool

So you are

Can’t beat it

So that’s it

So what now?

We’ll see tomorrow

So we will

What happens happens

So it does

We’ll have our peace

So we will

The big wheel spins

So it does

We can’t get off

So we can’t

Stick with it

So be brave

Remember Miles

So what

That’s what he meant

So what

John Graham

31 March 2020

Don’t run this by me : Shopping

In it and with it. Just do it? – no that’s not correct – Do the right thing.

While it’s important to be very careful and be ultra cautious there is a time for lightheartedness.

This is not exactly of that variety but it was a diversion I needed.

The Canary is a selfless creature and wants love and has been the tiny bird used in history as a sacrificial one. If only we were able to identify without resorting to that method the harmful things we need avoid including the personal awareness everyone now seems to be forced to engage with.

Sketching without drawing

Stand back please your too close to the counter.

Thank you now what can I get you?

This is a dead parrot.

Sir don’t slam it down on the clean surface please?

It’s dead When I bought it yesterday you said it was just a bit peaky.

Sir it’s a canary not a parrot.

So you lied about that too?

You are obviously upset, did you feed it correctly?


Did you put it in a clean cage?


Did you ventilate the room?


Then Sir it’s obviously caught the virus from you.

No it didn’t I washed my hands.

Sir that’s not enough and stop leaning towards the counter.

The parrot had a virus when you sold it.

It’s a canary and I didn’t sell it with a virus. And it’s a zoological virus, you can’t catch it.

Oh yes I can and it’s now in my house.

Well Sir I suggest you self isolate and don’t buy anymore birds.

I want a refund immediately and take back this bag of seeds.

I can’t do that I’m not using cash today only contactless.

It’s the principle I’m concerned about. You sold me a pup and it’s now dead.

It’s not a pup and it left here alive.

Stop this nonsense and give me a refund.

I can offer you a token of something else as you are obviously angry.

Angry I’m bloody livid.

I can give you a box of Ibropropgen they will calm your nerves. Or some candles to relax you 4 should do it.

Four candles and painkillers? You must be joking. Haven’t you any masks or sanitiser?

That would be stretching it a bit far, your the seventh customer this morning to come in for a refund and this is my last face mask and I’ve desanitised this counter I don’t know how many times.

My shelves are clear and this bin bag is full now. Will you be taking the 4 candles and the painkillers it’s the best I can offer and it’s not my fault there’s a virus.

Look you can keep your dead canary and stuff it where you like. I want none of this. Have you got forks?

Sir I want you to leave and please don’t swear.

I need forks for my fork handles I’ve a dead dog who your canary spat at. I’ve got to bury it.

Ok Sir if you would just deposit the canary in the bag I will see if o have those but if you swear once more you will be getting no goodwill gesture.


That will be £12.50.

What four forks an ache and you expect £12 quid? Are you having a laugh.

No Sir I told you to stop swearing, yet you continue.

I didn’t.

You said four forks ache.

I said What Forks ache?

Stop leaning over and take your hands off the forks and leave my gas mask alone.

It’s a face mask not a gas mask and have you any gas masks out the back your hoarding? And do you have any D fork handles?


Fork handles have D handles and Spade handles have T handles Hace you got a fork handle with a D handle please?

Dear lord Just take your 4 candles … these 2 T handle is all Ive got and put the handle on the fork and spade no one will know the difference and I’m giving it to you free I’ve just about had enough.

Fork and Spade – now your at it – will you stop swearing please

Sir, these are difficult times just please leave, there is another customer behind you.


This parrot I bought yesterday is cream crackered.

It’s not a parrot it’s a canary and it was alive when I sold it.

(The previous Customer picks up the 4 candles and painkillers and leaves – and has the last word)

I told you this virus would catch on.

Sir it is a canary and it’s unfortunate has not been cared for or kept in a clean safe place since.

OK thank you kindly I mustn’t have looked after it or washed my hands properly of cleaned my cage at home.

Indeed Sir, If you could put it in the black bag over there please. Thank you. Anything else I can help you with?

Toilet rolls?

Aisle be back.

(They both stare at each other. Unmoved.)

Sir, those are self service, Aisle B back.

Where did you get those?


John Graham

March 2020