Saturday, 28 February 2015


 St Marylebone Parish Church Crypt Gallery

Radiator 8, oil on canvas,  45x45cm (c)artist
There are bold art works which, as soon as you cross the threshold, leap  across the space to introduce themselves. And there are those which do not.
There are works with fancy  titles, and there are those simply called Radiator 8.

I found this painting in the Crypt Gallery, a warm, peaceful and well-lit stone chamber under St Marylebone Church. A crypt is a space beneath the floor of a church or other building, which used to house coffins and religious relics. Now things are different. This one's turned into a Gallery, with a Counselling and Healing Centre along the corridor. Outside, in Marylebone itself, there is blaring pandemonium: a major 6-lane  highway stacked with traffic, and a major train station, Euston. Inside, the Gallery is silent.

The picture invited me to stand and look at a radiator as if for the first time. I see an indispensable object bringing warmth and comfort on demand. It is a servant which rarely tires but pays 24 hour attention to our daily needs. I see the architecture too, the stately columns and arches, geometrically perfect, and the shadow which may move across  in unison like a row of chorus girls.  The colours are mostly sombre whites, silvery greys,cool but not cold, with a pinkish tinge, the way evening sun touches clouds. The fixture above it is a mystery.

Adjacent Pill Packs, oil on canvas, 25x30cm  (c) artist
Adjacent Pill Packs invites us to consider two objects huddled together on a shelf, humble and ubiquitous. They may make the difference between life and death. Millions of us handle these silver packs every day, complaining if they resist a quick opening. It's like shelling a nut: toss the empties airily away into the nearest bin, comfortable in the knowledge that there are plenty more packets where they came from. Our perseverance with these daily routines enables us to trust the future with a new confidence. But most of the canvas is uninterrupted space: calm, open, mindful, still. Oh, and by the way, that may be life-saving too.
Sandy Watching, oil on canvas, 50x76cm, (c) artist

I first wrote about Alex Hanna's paintings when I saw Sandy Watching, shortlisted at the National Portrait Gallery BP Awards in 2010. 'Watching' is a weasel word to describe the depth of a small boy's wrapt attention to something outside the frame. It remains one of my favourite pictures (Blog No 5).    -follow the link to galleries

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