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Saturday, 25 June 2016

Winifred Knights, David Jones & Malvina Cheek

The Guardian profiles the current retrospective of work by Winifred Knights, one of the most original, pioneering British artists of the first half of the 20th century:

'This summer the Dulwich Picture Gallery is mounting a retrospective of her work, the first ever. On display are all her significant pieces, including The Marriage at Cana (1923), shipped from New Zealand, and Scenes from the Life of St Martin of Tours (1928‑33), a stunning triptych that will be unhooked from the wall of Canterbury Cathedral and trundled up the A2 to south London. Most thrilling of all, The Santissima Trinita (1924-30), generally considered Knights’ masterpiece, has been lent by its private owners. These works appear alongside The Deluge, together with scores of preparatory sketches.'

Also profiled is In Parenthesis by David Jones:

'Part-biography, part-fiction, the book is a lyrical epic that traces, via an alter-ego called John Ball, the contours of Jones’s own wartime journey, from his embarkation for France in 1915 to the Somme in 1916 ...

The Somme did ... mark a transition, for Jones, from what he describes in the preface to In Parenthesis as “the period of the individual rifle-man, of the ‘old sweat’ of the Boer campaign”, to a “relentless, mechanised affair” of “wholesale slaughter”, that destroyed any ancient sense of continuity in the “domestic life of small contingents of men”.

It is this break, this “change in the character of our lives in the infantry” as the war shifted from the personal and the human to the impersonal and the mechanised, with which In Parenthesis is often concerned. The central opposition throughout the book is not British versus German, but rather mechanical versus natural; the “unmaking” modern science of shell and machine gun versus the “making” communities of artisan infantrymen, desperately trying to maintain the form of their collapsing worlds with nothing more than their hands and tools.'

The obituary of Malvina Cheek notes that:

'In her later career, a series of large canvases, painted with a rich autumnal palette, reflected her interest in spirituality, in particular Freud and Jung. While she was growing up, her father had not encouraged a religious leaning in his household and she may have found an equally cool reception from her husband, an atheist, but the work displays an unmistakable passion.'


Bloc Party - Only He Can Hear Me.

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