No Shelter: Mother without Child

No Shelter: Mother without Child

Found object, hand-cut canvas

This work was made in collaboration with Lavanja Thavabalasingam for the Correspondence exhibition held alongside and in response to the Moore in Focus: A Friendship in Letters exhibition at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts in 2014.

Henry Moore made a number of drawings of people sheltering in the Underground during the Blitz and his more well-known sculptures depict a mother and child. He also holidayed at Happisburgh where he discovered stones with holes in them on the beach, which led to his sculptural works taking the forms that are synonymous with his work.

No Shelter: Mother without Child was made using similar stones from Happisburgh. This work depicts the aftermath of an airstrike; there is no shelter and the child is missing. The hand-cut canvas depicts a cloud of smoke from an airstrike in the form of Jasmine flowers. Damascus in Syria is known as the City of Jasmine.

I did hope the work would be confined to history and not suddenly become immediately relevant today.

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PG Wodehouse writes from beyond the grave

In 1928 – not nearly half past seven for you old timers! – Alexander Fleming chanced upon the discovery of what came to be known as penicillin. It may be that Fleming was an untidy chap. Unskilled in doing the dishes and whatnot his tardiness may have contributed to a medical revolution.  Howard Florey and Ernst Chain developed penicillin so it could be produced as a drug.

In 2018 and supposing an event similar to this happens, I wonder of the consequences upon discovering our future Fleming’s addiction to hard-core European whackmags; the sort that causes one to simultaneously snort loudly and gasp with mild terror at seeing a […..] with three […..] holding an exotic fruit whilst cupping a […..] and […..]. The […..] seems to be […..] even though […..] appears to be […..] down and into a [……] and […….].

Of course the really shocking thing isn’t Fleming’s subject material, which appears to be harmless from a certain point of view, but the ghastly fact that Fleming actually resorts to paper-based filth. The sort of paper “newspapers” are made from. And Bibles.

A chap’s choice of bongo guff won’t cause my chagrin. There have been times when a stiff g and t. hasn’t hushed the chatterboxes and the occasional spot of bother may be the signalman’s whistle that the train has reached its destination. But in today’s world of nonstop pixels, MukNuggets, coffee, news channels and pods, paper is the Balam that causes a man to blam. A paper trail of tissues from the sticky wicket led the copper to the accused. Imagine the Detectives of the local force bash in the door to the laboratory and there is old Fleming sitting with his trousers round his ankles wrestling with his conscience, surrounded by mouldy old dishes.

 “When I saw the accused, m’ lud, ‘e ‘ad an a-pa-rent hex-per-esshun of joy and terror. Witch mey ‘ave had been caused by the vinegar strokes.”

“And what did you do after that, Constable?”

“Well, m’ lud, I advised Fleming to put his penicillin his breeches.”

Really?! Was it worth it? Just to see your name in glittering lights!

There are great men and great men do not get found out. Why they do not get found out is because they are not imbeciles. The celebration of the stupid is no reason to continue with the project. Some are desperate to join in with the project and whilst their enthusiasm is noble their exceedingly limited intelligence and feeble imagination does not provide the character necessary for present and future behaviour.

There are some men, however, who do choose to get found out. A risky business indeed, but then isn’t all business risky? There are some children who are so greedy and misbehaved they help themselves to another child’s toy simply because they want it. This desire for wanting something because someone else has it is futile, irresponsible, and symbolic of an underdeveloped capacity for empathy. The metaphor may be amusing, but is indicative of an altogether ugly thing indeed. One that causes hardship, suffering, and pain to many with total disregard for one’s own behaviour is otherwise known as a Dictator.

Today our Dictators assume the appearance of smiling chaps in blue/grey suits. They don’t shout from podiums in front of huge crowds. They appear warm and “human” on morning chat shows. They are approachable; just like the man next door. “What? Mr Camron? Old Cammers?! A rotten fiddler? No! He was so…familiar and nice. He always smiled and offered to do anything….ah. Cock. It’s always the ones you least expect.”

If it is “always the ones you least expect” then maybe keen observation should be employed where the least expected ones reside or work. As I said earlier some chaps want to be discovered.  Their shame is so great yet their public persona so believable that it is difficult to see beyond the smile and warm eyes. Old tricks, of course, as we should remember, can still defy logic and reason, but only in a fleeting instance. Sooner or later the method becomes learnt.

Maybe some kind of surveillance would be appropriate. Good lord no! Gosh it’s easy to fall into that trap. Paranoia, I suppose, causes a lot of bother. Of course when one’s got the dreaded twitches then it gets easier to mistake anyone for being a bally snitch. How ironic that the non-puffers of the ancient weed appear to be the most nervous. Before that unpleasantness in Pakistan the last chaps wearing sandals and a dress who caused a lot of bother were regarded as being some kind of saviour to humankind. Golly, one of them ended up being the Messiah!

No. A chap’s home is his home. Closed curtains during the day may be a result of a chap working overnight. Or, he may be a photographer developing film. Whatever. Unless there is a good enough reason to know another man’s business I say let them be. If one isn’t able to cover one’s tracks then the boys in blue will very likely catch the bugger out. If he’s clever a sneaky jewel thief working the French Riviera wouldn’t prowl rooftop villas in stilettos.

Then again, I would like to know that my business is just my business. Whether telephone, post, or electronic communique, my correspondence is a private matter. Goodness me it’s not altogether difficult. If I was engaging with potentially damaging or harmful material I would of course admit my guilt. I don’t recall ever being one of those ghastly children who kicked up a stink because another child’s toy may have appeared better than my own. No. Satisfaction with one’s lot is good enough.

It is my opinion that government serve the public to whom they were elected by. Gross manipulation and arrogance of power is not how a proper gentleman behaves. Common sense is being as badly handled as an amateur kite pilot. Interpretation of crime is a sticky patch.

As I gaze out the window and look upon this sunny day with marshmallow clouds drifting lazily from west to east, the birds tweet and the pigeons coo, I raise the volume on the boom-box and the South Central Los Angelenos twang of Snoop D O double gee why Dogg fills my study. I consider the flustered Germans who have quite rightly ticked off the Eton sorts and an amusing manner in which to raise the profile of my wafflings on pops into the old chestnut.

1)      National Security Agency

2)      GCHQ

3)      Snoop

4)      Terrorist

5)      Bomb

6)      Bradley Manning

7)      Edward Snowden

8)      Julian Assange

9)      Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger

Cheerio!