Chorus


This weekend I’m singing. OK I know, I sing all the time, but this is in public, and at the South Bank Centre. The magnificent Chorus festival, a fixture for several years now over the May Bank Holiday, is on from Saturday to Monday, with warm-ups, rehearsals, workshops and performances.

chorusYOU can join in! Download the sheet music for the three songs for the opening session, come along to a rehearsal on Saturday at 11 or 12, and sing your head off at 1pm.

This is also your last opportunity to work with the glorious Mary King at the South Bank because she’s leaving!!!! She’s leading some warm ups and a workshop of Elizabethan catches (I love a good catch). So come along and take the opportunity to say goodbye.

There are performances throughout the day and you can catch us, in our new guise of Vocal Chords, on the Mandela Stage, Festival Terrace, at 1pm on Sunday. Our friends Trade Winds are also performing, on Saturday, at 2:30, same place.

On the side of the Angels, Part 8: Memling


Another in a series of observations of early medieval paintings in the National Gallery London, an endless source of inspiration and amusement. Intended to show how I find stories in a painting, not my opinion of the subject matter nor its creator. Nothing replaces seeing the real thing!

Virgins and Children, with Donors and Angels

(Readers of this blog may know I have a bit of a thing for Memling.)

The ‘dead’ dragon curled like a whippet at the feet of St George is about to take a nip out of the back of the Donor’s knee. George has had to whip the Donor’s hat off at the last minute.  You can imagine the conversation in the studio

But Herr Memling, it is my best hat it cost me a month’s income.

Indeed Sir, but would you truly wear it when you bend your knee to the King of Heaven?

Compromise, in the hands of the artist, and in this case, St George.

The child beats time to the angel’s lute, and crumples  a leaf of his mother’s book; the old man leaves the garden.

She wears the same dress, sits in the same seat, is backed by the same material, holds the same child – but each virgin is her own self captured in that moment in time, not slavishly copied from the last.

The finished edge of the cloth that makes the cover of the cushion the child sits upon – a Flemish weaver’s eye for cloth, from a German.

The Donne Triptych

St John looks as though he expects the lamb to do tricks and it has disappointed him.

Come on Larry, he says, count to five for the baby!

The child waves delightedly at Mr Donne. One angel smirks as it plays the organ, the other offers the child an apple. St Catherine looks severe, impatient with  Mr Donne who seems unaware the child is there.

Look, she says, these tickets cost me a martyrdom, you could at least engage.

Barbara hikes her tower up to perform a momentary illusion in the surrounding landscape and places a solicitous hand on Mrs Donne’s shoulder.

Never mind, she says, he’s a fool, but I’ll look out for you and the girl.

The evangelist isn’t sure his magic trick with the snake in the cup is going to come off.  In the distance a waterwheel turns, and a cow grazes.

© Cherry Potts 2013

On the Side of the Angels part 7: Carlo Crivelli


Another in a series of observations of early medieval paintings in the National Gallery London, an endless source of inspiration and amusement. Intended to show how I find stories in a painting, not my opinion of the subject matter nor its creator. Nothing replaces seeing the real thing!

Annunciation with St Emidius 1486, Carlo Crivelli

More than anything this is a picture about architecture: the message is almost swamped by fine brickwork and terracotta tiles.

A convenient aperture in the cornice allows the heavenly light to strike the virgin’s forehead.

Gabriel turns impatiently from an importunate Emidius who clutches the model of a cathedral, and is no doubt claiming intellectual property on that aperture.

Not Now, Em says Gabriel. kinda busy, got the whole of life as we know it to change – your cathedral can wait a few centuries, don’t you think?

On a viaduct above, the business of buying a bird in a cage is transacted; on the steps behind the archangel a friar gossips with friends and a young child spies round the bannister – on Mary, through her window, perhaps.

Up the street, someone notices the glancing gold of the Word and shades his eyes against the glare.

The rug is rucked under Mary’s knees, another rug hangs from the balcony above stirred by the wind. A cucumber and an apple rest on the step in the foreground. There are doves everywhere, and an ostentatious peacock vyes for notice with the terracotta friezes.

© Cherry Potts 2013

On the Side of the Angels part 6: Pintoricchio


Another in a series of observations of early medieval paintings in the National Gallery London, an endless source of inspiration and amusement. Intended to show how I find stories in a painting, not my opinion of the subject matter nor its creator. Nothing replaces seeing the real thing!

Saint Catherine of Alexandria with a Donor 1480-1500, Pintoricchio  1454-1513

Her wheel is broken.

She rests the upright sword easily by its pommel on the rim, her hair is slightly disordered, as though she’s just got out of bed – despite the crown.

She doesn’t look impressed with the fat friar, who might be a Borgia. She tucks the border of the robe, and the book, into the crook of her arm, getting ready for something.

He is smirking, embarrassed into a fit of giggles – perhaps he has just farted.

© Cherry Potts 2013

Bee wars


Some strange behaviour seen in our street this morning.  Our front gardens are at about elbow height when you are on the pavement, which lends itself to nature observation while walking to the post box.

There’s a slightly tatty house up the road, with an uncut bit of grass out front which is full of primroses, violets, and grape hyacinth (known a little uglies in our house) it looks lovely and we have concerns that when the house is done up the garden will get paved over like its neighbours. So anyway: A noticed a bumble bee making free with a rather small violet, and making a bit of a meal of it. There were a few honey bees about, and two of them zoomed over and watched the bumble like those little drone camera things you see in spy movies. Then they took it in turn to land on the bumble’s back, until one of them literally pulled it off the violet. The bumble was unimpressed and went straight back to the violet, so they did it again, then as the bumble clambered back once more to its interrupted feast one of the honeybees went off in a huff while the other went back to its spy surveillance.  Very odd.

Bee2 copyright Cherry Potts 2011
Bee2 copyright Cherry Potts 2011

So what? Well – there is a demo on Friday to try to persuade the government not to block the EU’s aim to ban a pesticide which is destroying the bee population at an alarming rate. No bees means no fruit and veg getting fertilised; potentially in the extreme, no plants which eventually means no oxygen. We need to keep an eye on our bees and help them survive.

Information from 38 Degrees:

Bulgaria had been lining up alongside the UK to block a ban on these pesticides. But yesterday, after beekeepers from across the nation marched through the capital, Bulgaria’s minister for agriculture, Ivan Stankov, changed his mind. Bulgaria will now vote for a ban.
We need Owen Paterson, our own environment minister, to follow suit.
So, this Friday 38 Degrees is teaming up with a whole host of other organisations to march on parliament and stage our very own March of the Beekeepers.
38 Degrees members will be meeting at:
10:30am this Friday 26th April
The statue of Churchill in Parliament Square, London.
You don’t have to be a beekeeper! You can come dressed as one, or as a bee or just come as yourself: bring fruit, flowers, friends and big smiles.
We’re joining forces with Avaaz, Buglife, Environmental Justice Foundation, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Pesticide Action Network UK, RSPB, and the Soil Association to show the environment minister how important the protection of our bees is to us.

On the Side of the Angels, Part 5: ‘Follower of Hugo van der Goes’


Another in a series of observations of early medieval paintings in the National Gallery London, an endless source of inspiration and amusement. Intended to show how I find stories in a painting, not my opinion of the subject matter nor its creator. Nothing replaces seeing the real thing!

Virgin and Child, Follower of Hugo van der Goes circa 1485

Gentle, intimate, devotional: the virgin can’t quite bring herself to look directly at her child, and he doesn’t look at her, staring off into middle distance, his lips open on a sigh, he rolls the beads of a crystal and coral (?) necklace – too many beads for a rosary? – and tangles his fingers in the cord.

She looks a though she will rest her forehead against his in a moment – feel the astonishing heat from his skin, breathe in the scent of him.

It feels as though he will pat her kindly on the cheek and turn away, his mind on things to come.

© Cherry Potts 2013

On the Side of the Angels, part 4: St Peter and Dorothy


Another in a series of observations of early medieval paintings in the National Gallery London, an endless source of inspiration and amusement. Intended to show how I find stories in a painting, not my opinion of the subject matter nor its creator. Nothing replaces seeing the real thing!

St Peter and Dorothy, Master of the St Bartholomew Altarpiece circa 1505-1510

St Peter is about to drop his accumulated gear – two enormous keys, a book (in chamois cover) and a pair of spectacles. He is eyeing  Dorothy’s cleavage decorously, but not decorously enough.

Her incredibly fine dress is effectively inside-out, the white, demure exterior raised to reveal red and gold velvet lining and a velvet petticoat, even the lining of the sleeves is traced with flowers, like the ones in her hair, and the extraordinary goblet shaped basket she’s carrying. One can’t help feeling she’s not as devout as she’s pretending. She looks a bit of a good-time gal, and very pleased with herself.

They each step out of the picture towards us: he barefoot, she in sharply-pointed pierced-leather shoes of high fashion and a rather strange gait, her left foot seems to be on backwards.

It is as though he’s just asked her for a dance, and astonished that she has accepted (if not the idea of dancing, then dancing with him), is fumbling his catch.

© Cherry Potts 2013