Much as its good to be home and back in the bosom of my sorely-missed family after so many months away, its quite a culture shock being back in in this thriving (?) metropolis, once again. But in the last two weeks I’ve managed the transition and enthusiastically thrown myself back into the hustle and bustle of big city life, soaking-up, gratefully, much of what’s, culturally, currently on offer.
Highlights have included visits to galleries; the R.A.’s Summer Exhibition: http://www.royalacademy.org.uk/exhibitions/summer-exhibition/
the BP Portrait Exhibition at the National Gallery:
and, best of all, the ‘Lure of the East ‘, the British Orientalist exhibition at Tate Britain:
All were brilliant and totally inspiring!
Also, trips to the theatre. The new ‘Zorro’ musical is one of the best musicals I’ve seen in a long time with slick and polished performances from an amazingly talented cast and the Gypsy Kings’ fabulous music. It kept me on the edge of my seat, toe-tapping throughout – a definite ‘MUST SEE’!
Exciting and stimulating as they’ve all been, the hardest thing (apart from the weather!) to get used to is being constantly surrounded by crowds of people again, the sheer volume of traffic and the noise!. Equally, not having watched TV for over 6 months, I find the incessant bombardment from ad. companies (telling me what I MUST buy/own/have/do/eat/drive/wear/think/say etc, in order to have any kind of valid life), plus the puerile drivel (constantly peppered with foul language!) that somehow passes for ‘entertainment’ these days and, worst of all, the increasingly depressing news (murders, stabbings, nose-diving economy, social, ecological and political issues etc), are all quite overwhelming!
Maybe it’s an age thing and I’m fast turning into a ‘grumpy old woman’ but well, so be it – I am the age I am and proud of it! I absolutely refuse to be pressurised into joining the whole ‘nip and tuck’, ‘eternal youth’ culture that seems to have become the norm. Whatever happened to value-ing ‘life-wisdom’ and ‘experience’ over superficial physical attributes?. Going ‘under the knife’ will never make me look 20 again, no matter how much I spend. It will only make me look like a middle aged woman – who’s gone under the knife!!
Oh! How I long for the slow pace, simple, uncomplicated life and fresh, unpolluted air of a Greek island – and it seems I am not alone. Given all this doom and gloom, is it any wonder that Brits are leaving these shores in droves?
One comment I hear often about my work is how ‘vibrant and colourful’ it is – and how it reflects how ‘happy and optimistic’ I must be about Life in general. Well I’ll admit to feeling optimistic about Life – but it’s something, given today’s climate, I have to work very hard at, to achieve. That doesn’t mean I’m unaware or ignorant of (or worse; choose or refuse to recognise or acknowledge) the full range of horrors and strife that many, world-wide, have to face each day. Nor does it mean that I have no social conscience or that I neglect to do ‘my bit’ wherever possible to make a difference if I can, but rather that I consciously live with Hope, believing, as I do, that ‘good’ ultimately triumphs over ‘evil’ and that I actively seek out the beauty of my surroundings and in the people I meet wherever I can, taking nothing for granted along the way.
Given the mood that appears to have infiltrated society – across the board – in today’s Britain, I’m sure if I wasn’t as fortunate as I am and had no choice but to live here permanently, my paintings would be just as black, bloody, morbid and depressing, as any of the currently ‘celebrated’ artists of today, whose work reflects the world around them, as they see it. I have no intention of opening a debate on this blog, on what passes for ‘Art’ these days – there are plenty of sites far better equipped and well-informed, that can deal with such a volatile issue. I’m happy to resort to the time-old cliches of ‘Each to his own’, ‘Live and let Live’ and ‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ – ’nuff said!
One thing one can’t help but notice on Skiathos is how immensely patriotic and proud (justifiably so) the Greeks are, of their country and heritage, celebrating their history and culture at every opportunity. For all that I am accepted and welcomed on the island (and I am!), I’m always kept keenly aware that I am, and always will be, at the end of the day, an ‘outsider’ – a ‘guest’ – a ‘foreigner’. And that’s fine! After all, I am not – and never can be – ‘Greek’ – for no Greek blood runs through my veins. I am British and proud of that fact but it saddens me, to feel that same sense of patriotism and ‘belonging’; that clear sense of national and cultural identity, is something we are gradually losing here in Britain.
I’m off to the country tomorrow (Lincolnshire) for a few days and I’m hoping such observations thus far are merely the result of my living in a congested, cosmopolitan, multi-cultural city where even hearing the English language spoken is a rarity. If any of the England I remember and love and any fragment of a rural, idyllic ‘English’ utopia, complete with honourable values, still exists – I’ll let you know! (Or, better still, perhaps you could let me know!)
I’ll get off my soap box now!