Well that's another Yule log pushed through the planer, ready for racking and stacking. A brief visit to Albion before the festivities, rewarding on several levels, being woken at two in the morning by a three year old and his elephant is probably worth swimming the channel for. Waitrose can provide a very good Stilton and endless festive entertainment in the car park, which is a winter pantomime, self parking SUVs piloted by twelve year olds, brilliant, it's blinking Swan Lake.
There is always time for a ferret, which often brings surprising rewards. I have of late been banging on about drawing so it was serendipity that brought me two drawings to please. An Australian artist, Colin Colahan, I have to confess I have never come across him before. Multi talented he made a reputation in England in the thirties as a portraitist, and was to become an official war artist. He lived and worked as a sculptor in his later years in the south of France. Anyway he could draw a bit, more than a bit, and I was lucky enough to find a couple of his efforts.
The drawings are very much of their time, some are perhaps a touch lascivious, but not all, maybe not very PC, but neither am I. What they really are is bold, energetic, informed and technically superb, I'm thrilled to have found them.
So starters in Oxfordshire, main course in Haarlem, just love those French toll booths! Great time, good company, grandchildren and a superb Christmas table. Boxing day to the Rijksmuseum, brilliant. First visit since the revamp, and it's really good. Do the thing, pay the homage, all those fat militiamen in tasselled armour, all those raised glasses and shiny pikes, got to love it, how it all gleams and glistens, you could sleep safe in your bed with those stalwarts pounding the pavement, hammers cocked and breechs charged. Paintings to make you weep wonder. Alongside the tumult of oil and canvas there is a myriad of fascinating artefacts. If you could take something home, it might not be the oil sketch of the skating clergymen, it might be the stern of the Royal Charles, captured and scrapped by the Dutch in 1673. It most certainly could be the collection of anthropological masks, rivetting, disturbing and brilliantly displayed.
Before I move on, I have got to mention the whalers hats, these just blew me away. A row of very singular woollen hats, very distinctive colours and designs. They were taken from the skulls of Dutch whalers who had frozen to death in Newfoundland and whose remains had been discovered during historical excavations. The colours and patterns were very personal and used to distinguish men in their harsh and inclement working conditions.
I have a dark secret and visiting Haarlem allows me to indulge my bizarre appetite. As there are only three of you who read this stuff, I think I can, for a brief moment only, let the mask drop. On a quiet street off the main shopping drag is a very unassuming little shop, easy to miss, but to the initiated it is a place of pilgrimage, glory, heavenly glory.
It's really hard to do this little emporium justice, to use a Corbynism, it is rammed, it is choc a bloc with religious statuary, large church pieces, small devotional pieces, altar furniture, all denominations, every conceivable material, stone, plaster, ceramic, wood, metal, objects collected from all over Europe, if you are enamoured with this kind of art as I clearly am then this is the place. Brilliant, I escaped with two virgins and a hermit!
Happy New Year.
AGED AND AWKWARD