Seeing the world beyond the window

One of the things we’ve missed (among so many others) is the Watt’s Gallery. In particular, the current exhibition, Unto This Last: Two Hundred Years of John Ruskin. Normally we’d have headed across on a Sunday, sometime before the closing date (June 1) and enjoyed a lunch along with a wander through the exhibition.

Obviously that’s not possible in the Covid-19 World however, like a lot of places we frequent, Watt’s Gallery has started putting things on Youtube. One of those things was a lecture given by Dr Suzanne Fagence Cooper on Ruskin, called To See Clearly: Why Ruskin Matters.

Dr Cooper was, for a while, a curator at the V&A working on and generally being a bit of an authority on all things Victorian. Well, the arty things anyway. She does know an awful lot about John Ruskin. And, thanks to Dr Cooper, so do we now.

Ruskin was an interesting fellow. An exceptional artist in his own right, he promoted other greats like Turner and Millais. He was also rather keen on the natural world and was an early adopter of the climate change problem which he saw blossoming from the huge, stinking chimneys growing up around the country.

Ruskin was rather keen on geology as well. He loved the natural landscape of Switzerland and Scotland.

Naturally ‘sculptured’ tree trunk in Farnham Park

He had an odd relationship with his wife/cousin Effie – he preferred writing and drawing while she preferred to party – and their marriage was eventually annulled. She quickly went off and married John Everett Millais with whom she had eight kids.

The lecture by Dr Cooper was marvellous and almost made up for not seeing the exhibition. Though, I see from their Youtube channel that they have a seven minute video tour of the exhibition which we will, no doubt, watch.

Also in the Youtube universe, I watched an interesting debate between members of the museums of the Army, Navy and Air Force. I was waiting for Mirinda to finish her weekly ‘show’ and the debate just sort of popped up on Twitter.

It was to commemorate 75 years since VE Day (which is tomorrow) and was, as it turned out, fascinating. They were talking about which part of the armed forces was more responsible for the victory. The crown was taken by the Air Force. Interestingly, the chap representing the army was adamant it wasn’t the army.

Naturally, it was all rather civilised. For someone (like me) who knows far more about the Great War than the Second one, it was packed with information I didn’t know.

As for the mundane, I worked in the garden a bit today. Mirinda wanted me to free up the very successful Coelacanth (real name: Ceanothus) while removing a bit of the even more successful potato vine.

Coelacanth or Ceanothus for the purists

Both plants were pretty close to bee capacity when I waded in. I realised it was a mistake wearing a brightly coloured t-shirt when they started landing on me, trying to extract nectar from Fallout Boy’s head. I also managed to get covered in the little flowers of both plants.

Potato vine

After all the excitement of the day, we took the girls on a jaunt through Farnham Park before settling down to pistachio and lamb rissoles as requested by Mirinda.

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