January 15th, 2017


One Thing Leading To Another

It's odd how one field will be all but clear of snow and the one next to it still have something like a full covering. Is it to do with how exposed they are or does the nature of the surface play a part?  Our field which is tussocky pasturage is mostly clear but the neighbour's field which has been picked down to bare earth by chickens and geese is still snowy.

The police helicopter is making circles overhead- as it does sometimes. Noisy, bloody rattletrap! I assume it's watching the traffic on the A21.

Talking about flying rattletraps, the Estorick gallery in North London is currently hosting an exhibition of work by artists and photographers who were also airmen in the Great War. Sydney Carline is a name that has been forgotten and shouldn't have been. This image is suddenly all over the media. It shows British scouts (in Sopwith Camels, I think) leaving their aerodrome and flying over the Asiago plateau in Italy in 1918.

Here's another of his. It shows a British plane flying over the desert in Mesopotamia in 1919...

Carline died young- not in combat or in a flying accident, but from pneumonia- which developed after visiting his fellow artist John Nash on a particulary cold evening in 1929.

More Of The Same

Lets have some more Carline...

Here we have British planes attacking Turkish boats on the Sea of Galilee in 1919

And this one is called Destruction of an Austrian machine in the gorge of the Brenta Valley. Very pretty- and then one remembers that what is being memorialised is a man's death.  I love how the victim is placed dead centre- and how he's white- and the British places are circling him- like little brown birds mobbing a predator. I think that's an Albatross he's flying- most stylish aircraft of the war- while the British planes are Camels.

I don't suppose we'd call Carline a "great" painter. He was a talented professional who- like many war artists- got given an extraordinary opportunity- and rose to it magnificently.  He came from obscurity, did his bit, returned to obscurity again. Art-historical greatness isn't really the point.  All the same, these are great paintings.  No-one had painted war in the air before. It was a new subject. Carline was- in his own way- as much of a pioneer as any Cubist or Vorticist.

Fake And Half-Fake

Fake news is obviously a nuisance but reporting that selects its facts and spins the ones it uses- which is to say most reporting in the main-stream media- is equally pernicious- and perhaps more so because it takes greater effort and subtlety to unpick a half-truth than it does to dismiss a flat-out lie.