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Archive for October, 2012

My seasons run Spring, Summer, Strictly come Dancing (SCD), Christmas, Longer days and then Spring again! The SCD season has kicked off a busy couple of weeks. Still unpacking and processing clothes from Thessaloniki and Glasgow but fortunately some lovely ART lit up last week.

Helen Stalker introduced us to David Hockney’s ‘Rakes Progress’ series of prints, when he landed in 60’s America, finding it decadent and enthralling but seeing connections with Hogarth’s Rakes Progress. The day in Wales on Thursday was a joy, loved LLandudno Mostyn’s building with the Elephant House Shuttering – Rosie AB explained it all to Gus – very important architecture, first seen in the Elephant House in London Zoo – yes really.

Textile genius Michael Brennand-Wood (MBW) took us on a guided tour of his art and his life at Ruthin Craft Centre in the afternoon. He certainly inspired at least one FOW to take a new direction in her textile creation. Did he inspire any likely bidders for his work (see perspective cover) which will be part of the BIG Auction during the Gallery Opening Celebrations? I see some common themes emerging with my SCD addiction and MBW …..textile, colour, talent, effort, passion ………..while I sit and watch!

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Alexander III of Macedon may have been a beautiful youth with curly blond hair, tutored by Aristotle for three years, en plein air, as a rebellious teenager but he did not gain his reputation as history’s most successful commander without plenty of exterminations, assassinations & massacres. With a job description to go forth and conquer, he was certainly an achiever. He died at 32 as a result of disease, heavy drinking, severe wounds and a broken heart following the death of the love of his life, his friend from school, Hephaestion.

I need to deal first with the things I didn’t like about our sun baked, enthralling ‘study tour’ of Thessaloniki and Macedonia. I don’t like the way people in Mediterranean countries ignore their problem of unwanted dogs and cats, I find the sight of their sad hungry eyes very upsetting. I didn’t like the graffiti and the beggars with their deformed feet stretched out on the pavement for us to step over every day. Although I did meet our most familiar beggar on his way home one night and he was walking fairly well in a decent pair of shoes.

But of course it was a wonderful holiday with history and archaeology round every corner in Thessaloniki and super museums to hold all the recovered treasures. As always on Whitworth trips there were the unexpected extra places to see. One highlight for me was the Monastery of Latomou, a tiny 5th-century church, high on a hill and a UNESCO World heritage Site where we were only able to catch a glimpse of the restoration of an exquisite ceiling mosaic but a place of unforgettable spirituality and atmosphere.

Then off to follow in the footsteps of Alexander. First to Pella where he was born where we were privileged to be taken round the site by Alexandros Vouvioulis, the leading archaeologist currently working on the site. I love the floor mosaics made with different coloured pebbles. How skilled the craftsmen were 2300 years ago. Next to the Vergina tumulus museum where we could walk right down to and almost touch the tomb doors of where Alexander’s father and son were (probably) buried. Finally to Dion where Alexander assembled his armies before beginning his wars of conquest. It was very easy to imagine the noise of the great army of mercenaries from all corners of his Empire bristling with weaponry clattering along the stone road that we walked.

All this was brought to life by the knowledge and passion of our tutor/guide/guardian Dr John Karavas who patiently put up with my personal antipathy to Alexander. That is until I realised that he specialised in the military archaeology and Alexander was probably his hero!

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