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 https://www.empireonline.com/movies/reviews/lennui-review/

Conclusions

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

3###

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.

Traditions

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.

Fixed

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.

Conclusion

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 –

https://www.empireonline.com/movies/reviews/red-sorghum-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.

https://books.google.com/books/about/The_Geography_of_China.html?id=tfVN0Gwx67YC

5#####

John Graham

30 June 2020

Belfast

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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

closed

“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 troublesarchive.com 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.

textile
sculpture

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 https://www.atelier-lumieres.com/en/home 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.
bit.ly.2uuHOrI

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.

piece

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.

space

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.

threads

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

Belfast

locate

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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

Belfast

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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
Tulips
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

Belfast

image

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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.

Contents 

Criticism

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.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=oth3sy1hGy4

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

Belfast

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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?

Yes.

Did you put it in a clean cage?

Yes.

Did you ventilate the room?

Yes.

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.

Mmm

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?

What?

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.

Next

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?

End.

John Graham

March 2020

Belfast

Each day is different : A poem

The time remains the same Passing to return again Humbling Consoling Terrifying

Today a new discovery Formally I greet you Informally I want you This is life in raw emboldened urge so formidable No keys are needed to enter its fate A phase of Gods turn

Friday 20 03 2020 I no longer have dreams Instead there are wishes There are day dreams For others new riches in survival Things always – change irrevocably Survival of mankind Has somehow disappeared Gone to another plain

I no longer have nightmares The relentless anxiety

Fixed realities instead instilled The equinox of the mind Shedding fear hope too Is suppressed

I go through the years

I have known loved A roll call of people Or just been with In simpler times

Those already gone

I reach to them

Ask what their reaction – would be

They come visit me

A mind in lockdown

I see they are free

They tell me their ease

The things I loved with them

Their troubles shared were lightened

The ghost of their life

Is alive in both now

Same thoughts and feelings

Never truer than now

Air is a lifeline

Ventilators silent friends

Rotation of lung oxygen

Replenished holding strings

Of life together while

Inside an enemy runs amok

Sliding days anticipate

A cohort of new integrities

Soul yes Values Yes

Belief No Virtue Yes

Purpose on hold as

Time itself rolls by

Seconds still turn tides

The Sun circles us

Keeps the earths seasons

Has somehow disappeared all life

Furrowed people

Ploughed people

Humans – people they all

Are us.

John Graham

20/21 March 2020

Belfast

Artist Unknown : Known Art PRONI – QSS Belfast

Artist Unknown : Known Art

The Artist remains anonymous leaving conjecture to the fore though the relevance of the art itself is slowly releasing its objective aims. Seeing the work in this very laidback utterance of records waiting inspection is highly immersive. It affords a massive degree of development of anyone’s perspective. Without a creative narrative other than the short circumspect motives of lauding to the place and context no genus loci is foremost. The 22 years of work are seen in a few items, 22 or thereabouts. Counting the past and Colouring the past all recall time.

With an exhibition title the past is somewhere in these pieces. Colour is the apparent manifestation but achieving a connection or correlation is intangible. That is not a downfall but a point at which to travel on to another aspect. These materials are the essence of an experience encountered either through words or the books and documents happened upon. Over a period of 22 years there are perhaps gaps and peaks. There is not reference other than a phrase at each piece that itself is a code of words themselves ambiguous and tertiary. That is itself a form of approaching record and memory as we all know how fragile and open to interpretation that can be.

The words written here are borrowed as well as an appreciation of the leap onto a fixed point taken in time where a sudden phrase or vision is unfolded.

Not displayed. Displayed.
Ideas embraced are kept away from the identity narrative but embrace here 22 objects in materials honed on material. I thought of the art here maybe being made by a machine, and unlike a machine art combines narratives set to provide us with a set of visions and understandings from an initial connectivity.


The scope is left uncertain and aim is intense recalling observation now illuminated and entrusted to cabinets and walls displayed in accordance with expressed wishes so far as can be understood. Pairs. Light. Single eye level sight. Triptych on a line separated by a height on the line of sight each a crest fallen or risen. Stark daylight comes in window filtering shifts outside of time passing. Inside merging with LED and spotlight directed on other things. Room of sides. Some open. Cases repeat use. Different context. Explaining objects. Deciphering others perceptions. Editorial nuance. Collaborations of consent. Elaboration sent.

Time remains constant meaning fluid as metal. Sheets of glass hang as semi-state liquids. Porcelain is stacked along a wall in glass cubes solitary as Meissen mutable bodies violations of humanity stocked for future recall and memory yet discarded invisible broken and rendered gas in a fire. Dacha porcelain melted through malleable corrupted expedient obedience.
Set in a case intact still and caught in hubris and artful connectivity. Light shades it’s luminous transparency. A balance is found. Memory invoked. No story told. Ideas flow. Here are examples of the Porcelain on display and in this place is taken the viewer elsewhere without delving into specific references.

October 24th 1777
A true Genius will always Remember
to Leave a Space – unwritten – to Come in
Contact with the wax or wafer – by which
Means – the Reader Escapes – half an hours
Puzzle to Make out a Sentence – & Ever
while you live – never Omit – no –
not – that – what! – what! – dates! – dates! –
am not I a Grocer? –
pun the 2d –

The daily choices determined your mood and discard elements of the past lurking in the shadows of the day’s past. Those days recall the spaces left empty.

Magic is before you still as the ever-present it looks to you and asks what it means for you to take it in. Thus the art is realised. Somewhere a forgotten energy stored is released and summons you to the garden. It is earth stood on it is a thin veil of crust over a molten melting furnace we inhabit. Those metals surge to meet us and the conglomerate spells of their integrity allow the freedom to explore ourselves.

Here are some titles – they are random like a memory.

No. 7 October 22d 1778
My Dr friend
have you never – beheld – a Bust with
double – no! – not double – but with
two Very diferent profiles – one Crying
& one Laughing – thats just my
Situation at Present – for poor
De Groote – huzza – is Presented to
the Charter house – by – Bless him –
the good Arch XXXX Bishop of Canterbry,
but, by a standing law, he can not be
admitted till a Fresh Quarter begins –
& as he says – he may be dead by that
time – we will hope not – well this is
the Laughing Side. – The Duke of
Queensberry died this morning –
alas – ‘I ne’er shall look upon his like again’

the Clearest Head & Humanest of Hearts
I have – in common with many –
many – a Heavy loss – I loved the
good Duke – & not without Reason –
he is Gone to Reap a Reward – that
St Paul could not Conceive – in the
flesh – & which I will be bold to
say – they both – Perfectly
Enjoy – at this moment. God
of his Mercy Grant – that thee & I,
& all I love – yea & all I know
may Enter Eternity with as promising
hopes – & Realize the Happiness – in store
for such as the Duke of Queensberry

Far from the element of truth is the offer of alternatives equally valid and worth consideration. It is why the pages are filled with narrative in our daily lives and completion for new thoughts materialised as conjunctions in science discovery or rationally deduced revision is found in the capsule of a moment in time and then the dialogue moves on. This art is a message in that context. Colouring the past is cumulative and expansive in its scope. The offer made is to unearth your own archeological logic of existence.

Colouring The Past – 5 Feb to 31 Mar
Exhibition, Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI)
in Belfast.

An exhibition by Antico

Influenced by both the colours of ancient manuscripts and the vivid emotions of jazz, this unique exhibition brings together twenty two works which span twenty two years of output from this artist. The music that influenced the artistic practice will play during the opening event.

Antico has studied archives and artefacts across the world and drawn upon this experience to imagine a sense of the past. Our concept of the past offers us the opportunity to reflect upon history on a more personal level. What can this body of work tell us now?

Venue: Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, 2 Titanic Boulevard, Titanic Quarter, Belfast BT3 9HQ

QUEEN STREET STUDIOS BLOOMFIELD AVENUE

Emergence III Is the third iteration/showcase of recent graduates from Belfast School of Art facilitated by QSS
New start
The Graduate degree show put together at QSS Queen Street Studios is located within the new premises acquired over last year and shows also its heft under the fragile spaces artists within a sector very short on resources and is a very good taster of work unfolding. Their; QSS, helping other artists is just a token and sign of the reservoir of good functioning practice within the local art community. ‘Joy for humans lies in human actions; kindness to others, contempt of the senses, the interrogation of appearances, observation of nature and of events in nature.’ Marcus Aurelius. Some of these boxes are already ticked here.

17 artists are on show. Works vary from Silkscreen prints, Acrylics on Canvas, Oil paintings, mixed media including soap, embroidery, some recycling and a small but very thorough working of Sculptural themes which I set about writing first given they gained my interest most.

Sculpture
Fantastical, celebratory, lighthearted and evocative are some of the other boxes ticked. In the centre of the main room is a water closet. It sits in a white container gridded with black lines and it spills as the Trevi fountain or the Peeing cherub the pure aqua normally associated with cleansing, so an opposite act is in is circulated and no overflowing content is uncontained. The overflow is circulated and no overflowing content is uncontained. A paradox of a loo.

Leoni Hill Why is this failing?

There is a section of floor where a carefully curated set of (paper) banana skins. Decorated and plain on the plane of the floor making a forest of little yellow hills. Like an aspect of a terrain visited and a banana republic is happened upon this is a bit of a confounding mystery to some. Asked what the the bananas were about the best instant reaction was, ‘About £2 a kilo.’ Somehow it may cost more in time.

For some unknown reason I happened to think the room was containing objects and a collection of art that were speaking to each other. Not to overdo the sense I was struck by how for example the work was a course of art development and we were looking at the present form of expression and how this generation or group were seeing the volume of, the globe of, nature of art and its ability to convey an interest or view. Very few pieces if any failed in that respect.

The most interesting work and I saw it in the RUA 2019/2020 show was Lens II which is so delicately realised and fine tuned it will adapt to whatever situation it finds itself in. Though it would be wise to keep it away from natural sunlight in case it’s lenses ignite a combustible material it might focus on.

Aimee Nelson Lens Structure 2

The exhibition has more sculpture and it is worth attention. With this work by Paddy McKeown an example of making magic from simple shapes. This time a cone.

The many paintings on display are across a spectrum of approaches with pattern often appearing and the emergence of the stylised Hockney type openness to figurative abstraction immersed in colour. Without the Californian weather. An intelligence of culture and political immobility is captured or occasionally alluded to. The lack of prescriptive dialogue is a sign of carefully avoiding a rhetoric or belonging in a timeframe. The acuteness of single works is evident in many pieces, the accurate vision of natural landscapes as recomposed in singular visions is a frequent art narrative and is continued here.

I liked the work of Anna Horathova who along with her sister are working in fine art photography and other mediums. This photograph is taken in Kiltonga Woods Newtownards. It is a beautiful atmospheric paper print.

Here are some very nice pieces of work proving it is hard to distinguish or correlate a critical view on anything as there is much to be absorbed and much to find in the future from these works.

Something to rest your head on.

All views are merely opinion and hopefully are an insight to the works here shown.

John Graham

14 February 2020

Belfast

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The Flax Field

This poem was written in appreciation of Rev. William Macmillan who was laid to rest on
23 01 2020 at Dunmurry NonSubscribing Church Northern Ireland.

The Flax Field

On its girth a corpse of trees

The stead was high

Stood like guards at its edge

Inward they appeared protective

Outward they hold back the wind

In its gust it swayed

Towering watchful over us

Took in the air our lungs expelled

And drank it in – a unity begun

A life alpha and omega spun

The dialogue was spiritual

of the ever giving earth

Ecumenism one of God

I heard the whispers grow loud

Speaking oneness in the world

Each life a gift precious

And sharing grace and worship

For the years it has to unfold

That wonder to behold

Not profit on another’s loss

Our ways are rooted

Where we are born

Everyday given a vision

With a boundary our horizon

From the Valley or the mountain

A day encountered another promised

Each shall see alone

Where shadows fall the light dims

The whirl of spinning earth

Arrives in that same place

John Graham

The Irish Bells

23 January 2020