Sunday, September 21, 2014

Go West

For the last two years, the radius of my world has been about 60 miles. It is a far cry from the days when I was able to visit Chile, but on the plus side my carbon footprint must be relatively low.

Today I drove west and visited Bosham (pronounced Bozzum, I am reliably informed) to do the usual thing of walking around aimlessly, making slightly appreciative noises, imagining living in one of the houses and looking in vain for somewhere to eat, before getting slightly bored and leaving.

With mudflats and wading birds, Bosham was like a little piece of East Anglia in Sussex, although the locals seemed to be a little more prepared for the effects of global warming:

Down by the waterfront, Boden-wearing families hoisted the sails of their yachts, next to a sailing club building that read "MEMBERS ONLY" in block capitals. If you fancy joing the yachting set of Bosham, there is a three-bedroom house on sale, half a mile away, for 1.6 million.

(I've always liked the idea of sailing and once put out to sea in a dinghy that cost £17, from a beachside kiosk. It had two air pockets, which I later learned was a bad thing, but it got my girlfriend and I from Charmouth to Lyme Regis without incident.)

After a failed attempted to have lunch in Bosham, we drove towards Chichester and stopped at the first pub we saw. That was a mistake, but hunger makes madmen of us all.

I should have noticed that I was the only male who wasn't wearing a JD Sports football shirt, plus the ominous queue for the carvery - all you can eat for £6.95. We paid in advance and were handed a wooden spoon by a woman in leopardskin leggings: "You 'ave ta wai' 'til they call y'numbah."

I'm not a big fan of carveries. The emphasis seems to be on quantity rather than quality and there is something particularly unedifying about seeing people greedily filling their plates with twice as much as they need. A woman in front of me had two large portions of lukewarm meat, six roast potatoes, three Yorkshire puddings and enough cauliflower cheese to feed a family of four in World War Two.

I had half as much and still felt like an anaconda digesting a horse.

As an antidote to the carvery, we visited the excellent Pallant House Gallery in Chichester. Situated in a Georgian house and a modern annex, the gallery has an intelligently-curated mixture of 20th century British art and I would recommend it without reservation.

I particularly liked the way that the contemporary art was displayed in a traditional setting, for example this work by Andy Goldsworthy, which was put in a fireplace:


The work below is rather intriguing. At first glance, it doesn't make any sense.

But a closer inspection reveals hundreds of mussels filled with velvet. It still doesn't make any sense though.

The next gallery is particularly marvellous. Can you guess what is so unusual about it?

The answer is that the sculpture is only slightly larger than my thumb. This is a 1930s project which sought to recreate well-known works by contemporary artists, in miniature:

 In contrast, the person below is life-size:

This extraodinary cloth doll was created by Jaan Howarth, the wife of Peter Blake (apparently she helped him design the cover for Sergeant Pepper). The figure is the same person as the man in Kitaj's painting, just behind.

A guide told us that a small boy started drawing the dummy on a school trip and came back in his own time to complete the sketch. He was horrified to find that the hands were in a slightly different position.

I appreciated the gallery's enlightened attitude towards taking photos. Obviously it's a pain when people use noisy, bleepy cameras and flash bulbs that recreate an atomic blast, but for those of us that use silent cameras on suppressed flash, it's good to be able to snap away without being made to feel like a naughty schoolchild.

After an hour, my wife became galleried-out and was delighted to find a room with comfortable seats and a view of Chichester's attractive Georgian back streets. I found a community art project that consisted of square tiles, each of which was made by a different local person:

It was surprisingly good. I say surprisingly, because so many exhibitions of works by local artists are astoundingly awful. Chichester is clearly a hotbed of creative talent.

Even the street art in Chichester is a cut above the usual standard:


The one disappointment of the day was seeing that Marks and Spencers had got away with removing this traditional frontage, which I photographed four years ago. Another defeat in the battle against Clone Town Britain.

But with its quirky, Georgian streets and Roman heritage, Chichester is anything but a clone town. In the words of the Terminator, I'll be back.

17 comments:

Lucille said...

So Stik has moved out of London? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stik

Steerforth said...

Lucille - Perhaps he fancied a day out. Thanks for the link.

Bollops said...

Did you have to get a special pass in order to take photographs at the Pallant, Steerforth? The last time I tried taking a snap there a big fella walked over to me and told me it wasn't allowed unless I had a permission slip. This was during the Stanley Spencer exhibition, so perhaps it was a temporary thing.

Steerforth said...

Bollops - Apparently it's fine to photograph the permanent collection, as they have the copyright, but exhibitions are a no-no.

Bollops said...

Ah, yes, I was in one of the side-galleries at the time. Thanks for the clarification.

Martin Hodges said...

Haven't been to Chichester in years, Steerforth. My son-in-law was born there, and in the 60s, my step-brother was a chef at The Old Cross (don't know if it still exists). He became quite attached to a young woman who kept house for the Rolling Stones. My step-brother, that is. Not my son-in-law.

Nota Bene said...

Ive been to Bosham once. How right your second paragraph is. The Street Art is by Stick...I love his work...there was a street art festival there last year...

valerie greeley said...

I believe it was my namesake Horace Greeley (no relation) who first coined the phrase "go west young man", well, we all need at least one claim to fame I suppose.

I love the look of Pallant House, I bought a book from there once but have never actually visited so enjoyed your images.

When I saw the mussels with velvet I thought it was knitting, maybe some connection there?

Sue said...

Good afternoon, I'm a new follower, great blog! I knew Bosham quite well years ago,my grandparents lived there. Last visit was to scatter my father's ashes in Bosham Creek, the swans swam up and sampled them. As a keen birdwatcher father would have been tickled pink!
I've also visited Pallant House Gallery and anyone who says it's a Georgian building is wrong! It's a Queen Anne building.

Steerforth said...

Martin - It's worth making a return visit, for the gallery alone.

Nota Bene - I'm glad my second paragraph struck a chord. Most of my days out end with a whimper rather than a bang.

Valerie - You should claim Horace as an ancestor. I won't tell anyone.

Re: the mussels, apparently they were meant to be a metaphor for someone's less than passionate marraige, but I can't remember how.

Sue - Queen Anne? Even better! It really is a splendid building and I think the modern annex works really well.

zmkc said...

I laughed and laughed - and marvelled at the beautiful wooden staircase. But then you upset me with Marks and Spencer. How could they? The one thing I really like about that American man who's something or other at Bristol University and writes books - Bill Bryson, (it's just come to me; this is a stream of consciousness comment) - is his passion for shopfronts. He won't shop at Boot's the Chemist because of their vandalism, I seem to remember. Actually, Bryson's Notes from a small island has some funny bits. I shall restrain myself from quoting them, (one bit where he walks about Dover with underpants on his head and ...) and stop before this turns into some kind of pirate blog post marauding about in your comments.

Lucy R. Fisher said...

That carvery sounds nice. ;-)

Steerforth said...

Zoe - I remember a less than subtle dig Bryson made at Paul Theroux's The Kingdom By the Sea - something along the lines of "You can vist both the museum and castle and still have time to slag off the locals..."

I'm a big Theroux fan, but it was a very grumpy book.

Please feel free to do a pirate blog post!

Lucy - The food would have probably been regarded as haute cuisine 40 years ago, in an age when people thought that al dente was a jazz musician.

Canadian Chickadee said...

Hi, Steerforth, the photo of the mussel shells and the velvet reminded me of a painting I read about recently in Canadian mystery writer Louise Penny's book, "The Long Way Home." It wasn't until Insp. Gamache turned it upside down and they looked at it the other way, that the painting of lips made any sense to them.

BTW - Paul Theroux is one author I simply cannot stand. When I finally bought a copy, I was so looking forward to reading "The Kingdom by the Sea," but I was absolutely appalled. I felt as if Theroux and I hadn't just visited different countries, but different planets. I think he must be a truly nasty man. In fact, "The Kingdom by the Sea" is probably the only book I actually destroyed and burned after reading.

Steerforth said...

Carol - I gave up reading The Kingdom By the Sea, I must admit, as the relentless sniping became rather tedious, even when it was justified.

On the basis of that book, he isn't a likeable man, but his books about Africa, Asia and South America show a very different person, compassionate, engaged and respectful. Perhaps he's better in poor countries.

zmkc said...

To join in the Theroux sub-discussion, I listened to Kingdom by the Sea on audio while ironing (not all at once). I really enjoyed it and it made me laugh quite a lot. Which makes me wonder if books can come across quite differently in different mediums (I might try Sons and Lovers through the medium of dance next - or perhaps I might not)

Steerforth said...

Zoe - I think you're right about audio books. There are many titles that I'd never bother reading, but would happily enjoy listening to, as abridged versions, in the car. In some cases - Alec Guinness's memoirs immediately spring to mind - the author's voice make it twice as enjoyable.

It's also interesting how an indifferent novel can make a fantastic film, while a critically acclaimed one can be a disaster.

I'll try the audio book of The Kingdom By the Sea and see how it compares to the book.