Friday, 21 March 2008

With Good Friday in mind . . .



Despite everything we now know about Eric Gill the man - as explored in Fiona MacCarthy's exemplary biography, a finely balanced and wonderfully readable account of this monstrously sinful would-be saint - Gill the artist and craftsman was undoubtedly a towering genius. His influence still permeates contemporary typography, illustration, printmaking and sculpture and his many works on a biblical theme remain unrivalled in their clarity and power.

On a similarly Good Fridayish theme, here's one of my Desert Island Discs: Erbarme dich from Bach's St Matthew Passion. Was a more soul-piercing piece of music ever written? For me, it has to be sung by a counter-tenor, and this rendition by Michael Chance - one of a fairly sparse selection on YouTube - is really pretty good.





Enjoy.


Now I'm off to listen to the rest of Bach's St Matthew Passion while baking cakes!

4 comments:

KSV Woolfoot said...

A Good Friday snow storm, and the kids visitng friends, left me an unoccupied hour do some blogging and to look around the internet. (Your blog is now on my regular rounds). Thanks for the YouTube posting of that bit of St. Matthew's Passion and Happy Easter.

Juliet said...

K - Happy Easter to you. I visit your blog often too. More snow?!? Does the snow ever end there? Snow is forecast here, but I doubt we'll get any, though it is very cold. My kids are desperate to see some this year - even a tiny bit!

60 Going On 16 said...

Eric Gill - yes something of a problem-poser for those of us who are interested/involved in typography. Years ago, a great friend - an accomplished stone-carver and lettercutter - had given me a detailed and professional introduction to Gill's work, which I grew to love. And before I left for Devon, my daily dog walks in London would always take me past his memorial to W H Hudson in Hyde Park.

But I was subsequently taken to task by a good friend, who was spending a weekend here. She has spent her working life in child protection, and is regarded as an international expert on protection measures. She couldn't understand why I had a framed poster of one of Gill's sculptures on the landing wall, not least because she knew I had read the Fiona MacCarthy biography. And I am only too well of the enormous emotional harm and physical and psychological damage that is the legacy of child abuse.

This whole area is one that we lovers of art and literature regularly grapple with. (For example, the accusations levelled at Lawrence Durrell after his death.) What is/should be our reaction to an artist's/writer's work, once we learn that he (or she) was capable of the most reprehensible of actions, especially those that involve children? We can, I suppose, still love the art but not the person who created the art. or are the two inextricably linked?

tarviragus said...

Happy Easter and thank you for the wonderful Bach.
I think 60 going on16 makes some interesting points about the life of artists and our position as appreciators of their work. I want to believe I am unconcerned with the artist and that it is the piece of work I am looking at that is all important. However, that said several of my friends are artists and aspects of their personalities and lives do manifest themselves in their work and I am aware of that when I see what they have made. I remember the reaction to the portrait of Myra Hindley made with the handprints of children shown at the exhibition Sensations some years ago which resulted in its being removed. Art and the people who make it can be shocking. It just does make us react in a subjective way...