It was a Good Year for Uncle Joe

Stalin was not a popular man. Indeed, according to the display in Russia’s State Museum of Political History in St Petersburg, Stalin’s regime was an abomination. Through films, posters, contemporary documents and a life-size mock-up of a family’s squalid living quarters, visitors are left in no doubt - from the perspective of the museum’s curators,…

In Brittany Skies

I am pleased to announce that I have made another change. This time it concerns how I view the sky - I now love it. Here, I refer only to daytime skies when all is visible and little is left to guesswork. At night, much goes unseen and what is visible is often mysterious, sometimes…

Reconnecting Down Under

The Australian artist John Peter Russell is one of my heroes. In 1884, at the age of 26, he went to France where he stayed for forty years. There, he was befriended by Rodin, Van Gogh and Monet, was one of Matisse’s key teachers, became a highly respected ‘French’ impressionist, and was then wiped out…

“It’s the Bottle”

Henri was standing at the side of the road hitching a lift. Like me, he was heading for the neighbouring town of Pont L’Abbé; in all, the drive would take about ten minutes. These days I rarely give lifts to strangers but the sky was leaden, the forecast was for rain and he was alone;…

Times Past

It was mid-morning and I was drinking a hot chocolate at one of my favourite cafes. The sun was stronger than usual, there was hardly a cloud in the sky and the waitress had just begun to set the tables for lunch. Locally known as Chez Marie-Cath - it has no name sign outside - the…

The Curious Contents of the Garden Shed

We spent the last two nights of our holiday on a Brittany island in a ‘converted farmhouse’ with its ‘landscaped garden’.  We arrived at the Bed and Brefast to find the front drive freshly raked, the beds on either side weed-free, and the plants within perfectly aligned. Janine welcomed us; she was relaxed, tanned, slim and smartly dressed. In…

Tales from Two Exhibitions

I rarely come away from an exhibition without some new insight. The exhibits themselves will be important but it is new ideas that will dominate and, if I am lucky, change how I think. And so it was with an exhibition at the British Museum on ‘Rodin and the Art of Ancient Greece’. It jolted…