Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Loving 'Love' at the Bristol City Museum

I spent the day in Bristol yesterday meeting up with our new external examiner for the Imperial Medical Humanities course, Dr Trevor Thompson. The University of Bristol offers an intercalated BA in Medical Humanities which runs for a whole year and presents a glorious mix of literature, poetry, philosophy and history. (If anyone is interested, apply by the end of the month.)

I tagged along to a meeting of the vocational studies group, informally linked to course. We visited the Bristol's City Museum and Art Gallery. The Museum currently has a touring exhibition called 'Love' on loan from the National Gallery. Louise Ormesher from the Museum gave a wonderful tour of a selection of artworks from 'Love' and the Museum's permanent collection which includes works from some of Britain's best known artists. Louise gave a real insight into the symbolism in paintings and encouraged us to think about the social, political and personal contexts of the artworks.

In relation to the post below on Mark Quinn's exhibition, 'Love' features his piece, 'The Kiss', a sculpture of Mat Fraser (who has thalidomide-induced phocomelia) and Catherine Long (an amputee). The work starts off as a cast of the subject's bodies but it is then sculpted in Cararra marble by Italian craftsmen. Quinn's choice of classical poses and pristine, unpolished marble raises question about notions of classical beauty.
I unreservedly recommend a visit to the Bristol City Museum. It also features works by Frank Dicksee (particularly his 'La Belle Dame Sans Merci') and one of my favourite artists, David Inshaw.

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