Today the best news awaited me at the bypass. The traffic signal work has been completed and the roadworks that have blighted the bypass have finished and the roads returned to normal. This is timed perfectly with the kids returning to school today and the consequent increase in traffic…because parents just have to drive their kids to school, I guess.
Not that I was at work today. An IT cabinet was being moved which meant there would be no connections in the Reading Room. I had an email from Kate saying to stay home. That sounds like she just sent it to me but it was to all the volunteers.
So, having a Wednesday to fill (again) I decided to go and see the exhibition of Russian artist Natalia Goncharova (1881 – 1962) at Tate Modern.
She started in the Russian countryside, painting the normal everyday activities of normal ordinary people. There was more than a hint of early Picasso in her style. Her depictions of traditional dress and agricultural labours are full of life and toil.
At the age of ten, her family moved to Moscow and she was soon enrolled in the Moscow Institute of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture. It was also in Moscow that she discovered the work of Picasso and Gauguin, among others. Her work gradually took on the Cubist ideas which she made her own, eventually becoming an accomplished Modernist in her own right.
She also met her partner for life, Mikhail Larionov, in Moscow. They both pushed the modern ideals of abstraction in art to greater heights, travelling the world and defying the authorities. Well, until the First World War started and they had to hurry home from Paris just in time for Mikhail to be conscripted.
Mikhail was wounded and discharged from the army as physically unfit for further fighting action and the pair continued travelling. They were in Paris when the October Revolution happened and didn’t return to Russia. Instead they lived in Paris until they both died. However, before that, Natalia was approached by the famous Diaghilev to design sets and costumes for the Ballet Russe tours.
As well as lots of other work, she was responsible for the incredible design for Ivor Stravinsky’s famous Firebird.
Most of her costume designs incorporated themes of traditional Russian clothes while maintaining Modernism. They were all beautiful.
It’s quite extraordinary but this would be one of those very rare Tate Modern exhibitions in which Mirinda would have loved the art. I told her so as she flipped through the catalogue. As usual she said she should keep her eyes open for exhibitions she might like given she spends most weeks in town.
Speaking of Mirinda…today she heard from the university that the minor changes to her thesis had been accepted and, apart from the exam board box ticking, she was now officially a doctor. Because of this we had to have a celebration dinner. Of course. We decided to try a new place: Pulpo Negro in Alresford.
It’s a wonderful tapas place nestled in a sleepy Georgian town. From the inside you could be in Granada or Cordoba until you look out of the windows and realise you’re actually in the watercress capital of the world. And the food was marvellous.
It’s fair to say we had an excellent celebration dinner complete with a five year old Rioja Reserva that just made us want to go to Seville immediately.
Meanwhile, at Old Trafford, the fourth men’s Ashes test started. After a hiccough or two – initially rain and wind and the first two wickets falling very cheaply – Labuschagne and Smith settled down to take the score to 170 before rain stopped play.
So a good start. They just need to keep it up.