261In this blogposting…
*Bishop Auckland Food Fair
*Things You Didn’t Know You Didn’t Know
Now let the Devil take the hindmost…
Just in case you’re scratching around for things to do and places to go in order to fill up whatever empty spaces you may have on your dance cards - or even if you aren’t - I thought I’d launch the Truckshunters Public Events Information Service (TPEIS) and pass on some details of local shenanigans that have been passed to me….
BISHOP AUCKLAND FOOD FAIR
Yes, I know. Bishop Auckland. It does have a redeeming feature, after all.
The Food Fair - the largest in north-east England (although I’m not sure what competition there is) - will take place on 16 April in the grounds of Bishop Auckland Palace. Amongst the goodies to sample and buy will be handmade farmhouse cheeses, home-reared meats, relishes, fruit liqueurs and ales (yummy) as well as traditional arts and crafts.
You can get more information at (0191) 372 9196 or bishopaucklandfoodfestival.co.uk
This is really three separate street festivals rolled out over the three days of the Late Summer Bank Holiday at the end of August. On Saturday, the streets of Durham City will be resounding to the shrieks of children - not (unfortunately) because the wonderful Childcatcher will be stalking Silver Street or Claypath with his poisoned lollipops and enviable wheeled cage - but because that’s the day of Street Play.
Sunday is the day of Street Folk and on Monday, Folk Dance takes to the streets and alleyways of the city.
Last year’s Festival featured a bicycle ballet. Sounds good to me.
More information from streetsof.co.uk
Between 17 and 20 November, specialist artists from all over the world will bathe Durham City’s ancient and familiar landmarks on light, creating ‘a mesmerising nocturnal landscape’ (it says here).
I know that an event like this was held last year - but I missed it. I won’t miss it this time, though.
Why don’t we all go?
THINGS YOU DIDN’T KNOW YOU DIDN’T KNOW
*One in ten over-55s haven’t seen their parents for over a year
*On average, one medium-sized egg now costs 10p
*The most expensive street in England is Victoria Road, in Kensington, London; the average property value there is £6.4m
*The average British man spends 11 years watching tv and 10,500 hours in the pub over his lifetime
*Copper theft cost the UK £770m last year
*29 swans have been shot dead with an air rifle in Somerset recently - and no-one knows who’s doing it
...will take place at 1100 on Wednesday 23 March at Saltwell Towers in Gateshead.
Naturally, a splendid time is guaranteed for all
I have mentioned the John Martin expo at the Laing Art Gallery in Newcastle as a possible AGM venue.
Well, I’m delighted to say that the exhibition is gaining national coverage. We featured the work of John Martin more than once on the Blue Bus programme and it really is about time this astonishing local lad gained the recognition he deserves.
This is what The Guardian said about the expo a couple of days ago….
'He was an artist derided by much of the establishment, his work was dismissed by Thackeray as "huge, queer and tawdry", and after his death he was, for nearly a century, something of a lost painter. But the public loved the theatricality and apocalyptic vision of a man who will be introduced to a new generation with the first major exhibition of his work in 40 years.
More than 80 works by the wildly dramatic artist John Martin (1789-1854) go on display at the Laing gallery in Newcastle on Saturday. Later in the year the show will visit Sheffield and then London at Tate Britain, the co-organiser of the exhibition.
Martin has gone in and out of fashion – sometimes disappearing altogether – and the show's co-curator, Julie Milne, believes the time is right for a new appraisal of his work, which resonates with modern concerns about impending global disaster. "He brought history alive for people," said Milne. "He excited audiences."
Martin was always on the extreme edge of Romantic art. But his visions of heaven and hell, his fascination with judgment, damnation and destruction, have made him a favourite at the Laing where young goths and emos can be seen admiring his paintings alongside visitors who wouldn't have a clue what a goth or an emo is.
Milne believes Martin is undervalued in British art history. "We hope to establish his reputation as more than a flash in the pan. He had a unique vision but he was also one of the very strong exponents of the sublime, along with people like Turner, and he deserves his place alongside those painters. We don't want him to be forgotten about for another 40 years."
Martin was from impoverished, humble beginnings, born to working-class parents in a one-room cottage in Haydon Bridge, Northumberland. But he moved to London and became a star – a "people's painter".
Probably because of his childhood, Martin displayed entrepreneurial spirit throughout his career – and that was one reason so many other artists rated him so lowly. When he stood for election to the Royal Academy, he didn't get a single vote.
His detractors included John Ruskin, who dismissed Martin as a mere "workman" bent on the "reckless accumulation of false magnitude", and Constable called him a painter of "pantomimes". His work will still not be to everyone's taste. Even his biggest fans would say he is not the greatest painter of people. One of the works has Satan waving in an exaggerated "over here" way which is more camp than threatening.
But the public adored him and he made a lot of money. Among those who came to his studio and bought works from him were Lord Grey, who bought Clytie, and Prince Albert, who bought The Eve of the Deluge, being lent by the Queen.
The painting that helped make his name was Belshazzar's Feast. "People were just astounded by it," said Milne. It was bought by Martin's former tutor, William Collins, who "saw an opportunity to make money. He charged people to look at the painting." And they came in the thousands. "The picture had an almost cinematic effect and people flocked to see it."
There are two versions of the painting. The more famous, huge version is in a private collection and is being lent only for the Tate show. The Laing gallery will display an earlier version lent by the Yale Centre for British Art in the US.
Martin deliberately chose catastrophic events from history and the Bible that were bound to excite audiences. This is why filmmakers including Cecil B DeMille, DW Griffith and Ray Harryhausen were directly influenced by his visions.
Other fans include the comic book legend Alan Moore. "He was very interested in these themes of damnation and destruction – the end of the world," said Milne. In many ways Martin was ahead of his time, creating scenes that we might see in today's science fiction films.
He was painting pictures about being the last man on earth 150 years before Will Smith starred in I Am Legend.
Martin made a lot of money but he also lost a lot of money. He was a skilled engineer but bankrupted himself when he decided he would try to bring fresh water and sewage systems to London. "He did really want to change the world and change people's lives," said Milne. "He saw a lot of poverty around him, a lot of people dying through drinking contaminated water. The plans never came to fruition but years later people looked at them and said there was something in them."
Three of the most remarkable paintings in the show are huge, two of them bequeathed in 1974 to the Tate after hanging, improbably, on the walls of a small London flat. The three – The Great Day of His Wrath, The Last Judgment and The Plains of Heaven – brought worldwide fame as they toured the US and Australia.
Martin was never honoured by his own country, although the king of Belgium made him a knight, the tsar of Russia gave him a medal and the king of France gave him some Sèvres porcelain.’
The expo runs until June 5.
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