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‘Sensing Spaces’

Standing Sentinel

Standing Sentinel


Definition of ekphrasis from a literary description of or commentary on a visual work of art

Ekphrasis was on my exceedingly long list of things to do sometime (along with sorting out my bedroom, refilling the trenches in the garden, cleaning the oven…) however a visit to the Royal Academy is unlikely to inspire a fit of wanting to tackle the tasks in the brackets…  Fortunately, a recent trip to the Sensing Spaces: Architecture Reimagined exhibition at the RA did remind me I wanted to try working on a poem to describe an artistic experience. It’s my first attempt at ekphrasis; I make no claims for it, but it was fun to do.

The exhibition runs until the 4th April 2014 and is recommended if you are that neck of the woods (Piccadilly, London, The World…)

Playing with Light

I come to write
With corniced eyes…
My brittle, bad, habit
But the ink stays wet.

Explore these mindspace secrets
Containing voids for our flesh
Spiralling into the firmament
To face down gilded mood angels

Inside, glean the skinned wood groaning
Tread the knotted smooths made of splinters.
I’m a noise hum-thrumming through
In search of softening spaces

Always, never, diverted
To forgotten whorls, loops and arches
Pressed against the lost twins in satin concrete
Both wearing the scold’s bridle

Trapped under hollow sheaves
And mussed-up smartphones
Reclining lovers plait
Hair into straw rainbows

Squeezing between valiant hazelnut switches
Close-by, a disconcerting grumble of beaches
Where the Sentinel reflects, only, One Way!
To the #Zen Garden

Lenticular clouds beam
Making me blink. Or think. Inverted
Clusters bustle under pointing corners
As we abrade our hides

Lurk behind bamboo ogees
Watch the game with cedared curtains,
Plus silhouettes… slow-dawning…
All playing with light.

playing with light

Glass half empty?

Just be grateful for the drink.

Lao Zi


This isn’t another Olympic or Paralympic post, it’s about an upcoming exhibition at the Royal Academy starting next month.

This is the head of Seuthes III a king of Thrace and contemporary of Alexander the Great.
It was made around 2300 years ago somewhere on the Northern Aegean coast and excavated in Bulgaria only eight years ago. The bronze head is slightly bigger than life size, with copper eyelashes; the eyes are picked out with four different colours of glass paste.

It looks amazing.

Over two millenia collapsed in an instant between the gaze of those eyes and ours.

Bronze of Seuthes III c. 3rd Century BC


– that made me shiver:

The publicity about the new Van Gogh exhibition at the Royal Academy. This is notable for the 35 letters written by Van Gogh that will be shown alongside his art. For those of us, like me, too greedy to wait until we get to the RA transcripts of them are available here

Sir David Attenborough’s description of a chopping tool used about 2 million years ago. The object and his description are beautiful and both can be seen and heard here

– that made me shudder:

The wife who let her lecturer husband out into the academic world in trousers just the wrong side of too short. He was a nice man and deserved better. Perhaps she is having an affair, or maybe she just no longer looks at her husband.

The woman who crashed into a brick wall on a three lane carriageway near the Olympic park when her steering went and had to be pulled out of the wreck by my other and doubtless better half who (and this is a double-edged sword) had no thought for his own safety as he rescued her.