Sunday, 16 November 2014

Foundation Louis Vuitton

You know, the new Gehry which I am often greeted by blank stares, but really what did you think all of those builders have actually been doing in the Blois de Boulogne for the last two years?

OK. OK. So not everyone works in Mordor and has a good view of the park from their office window and not everyone has watched Gehry's latest masterpiece rise up above the treetops.  Even so, time to get with the programme Paris.

It is the most amazing building, a ship, a vessel in glass, wood and steel, surrounded by a modern moat and waterfall and with some stunning site specific artworks and some of highly dubious taste and art content and a lot of empty space for more, I guess when they get around to it.

But back to the building, it's wonderful, really.

Do go and inspect it for yourself, you will find it all ship shape and Bristol fashion and if you want to know more there are three exhibits: one with all the maquettes, plans, doodles etc another a specially commissioned film, but the most intriguing was the exhibition without artworks explaining all the stories, graff and scribbles which the builders added to the walls in the building process and which are, of course, all now painted over. These are a fascinating account of contemporary experience, history and culture and well worth your time.

Olafur Eliasson
As for the art work, well, Olafur Eliasson (you know, he of the sun in the Tate turbine hall a decade ago) has made a calming and warming light installation in the grotto and Gerhard Richter has filled an enormous room with some very fabulous paintings and some less so.

Ellsworth Kelly has covered the auditorium and other spaces with his coloured panels, but not exactly being a fan of these I'm not falling for the whole chromatic harmony palette BS.

Gerhard Richter
Cerith Wyn Evans' flute installation is truly magical, but as for the rest, it is not worth writing home about (especially not the hideous rose in the foyer.)

Nothing that innovative, nothing worth queuing to see.

Some things actually need dismantling and putting into storage, preferably the kind of warehouse where they don't have a sprinkler system and employ careless chain smoking security guards.

I hope the Foundation acquires a great deal more work to make the 14 euro entrance fee really worth it. They also need to double the cafe space and seriously reconsider the price of the books, which is frankly, exorbitant.

Top tip, unless you want to look pretty stupid, there is no need to bring your matching handbag.

But back to the building, it's fabulous, really.

(There goes my poet in residence commission, but, bothered?)

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Poem for Armistice 2014

My family is like almost every other in the UK.

Just ask a British friend and they will be able to tell you who of their kin was killed in the First World War.

My paternal great uncle, died of pneumonia during basic training before he even stepped foot in France. Private Howells shivered to death in an army tent in Yorkshire, far away from the home fires of South Wales.

My maternal great great uncle found his way to France but never returned. All we have is a photograph of him in uniform and his geology book.

A hundred years later and after a lot of searching, my aunt and uncle have located his grave.  We are planning a trip to go and say hello.

His name was John Lewis. This poem is for him.


Autumn, his plough folds the land
flattens mounds, fills trenches, yet
the lines are indelible.
In winter thin ponds form
in summer the clay shrinks
from boards and props.

Some years he doubles back
to level the fields, new steel
just turns up the old, not gull food
inedible scraps, no magpie
glitter in bullet cases
snips of barbed wire, bits of shells.

History’s not erased by work
still he tries to ditch the ghosts.
It’s hard not to see them
from the corner of his eyes.
There, the white plot fenced by firs
daily sight of that great loss.