An embroidered alphabet: letter Y and a visit to the Jeff Koons exhibition at the Ashmolean

Hand embroidered Y (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

A simple blocky letter surrounded by flowers, this week my initial brings a bit of colour back to my alphabet – which is probably a good thing as I’m considering working on an all white alphabet next. The days are noticeably lengthening – isn’t is something like three minutes a day? – which is encouraging for someone who has to put her needle down when natural light goes. My husband’s eyes have also been doing a better job for the last couple of day – only we tend to whisper this very quietly to each other in case the wrong bit of his brain hears and reverts to its old ways…

Hand embroidered Y (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

To Oxford last Saturday to meet up with old friends, we bumped into my husband’s old boss who pressed upon us tickets for the Jeff Koons exhibition recently opened there. It wasn’t something we especially wanted to see, but in the interest of intellectual openness we took ourselves along. It started surprisingly well with a basket ball suspended in the middle of a glass case, with no visible means of support and shifting perspectives as you moved around the case. Rachel Campbell-Johnston in The Times suggested this was a trick achieved with the help of Nobel prize physics; I suspected it was more Darren Brown magic and mirrors. For Waldemar Januszczak in The Sunday Times, Koons can make beguiling things which delight the eye and push at boundaries. Unfortunately, he found the Ashmolean exhibition devoted mostly to the poor stuff. And for us, after the basket ball it was straight down hill, precipitously so as near the end of the exhibition, a couple of dental perfection white statues (plaster casts? 3 D printed?) reminded you that the real thing was downstairs in the permanent collection. The addition of large bright blue steel balls – ‘gazing balls’ to statues and canvases was confusing and irrelevant. I’ve since gathered from Waldemar’s review that theses are garden ornaments designed to “bring a note of cosmic profundity and galactic infinity to the suburban American garden”. Me neither. Fortunately the way down was through wonderful galleries of double sided glass display cases and after wandering round classical funerary urns, Dutch delft pottery and Stradivarius violins, we reached the café much happier.

Sketches of Ys found on the internet

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  1. Posted February 15, 2019 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

    Yes, I, too, have wandered around an exhibition in ever increasing bewilderment! A good thing there are permanent displays in which to reset one’s head!

    • Mary Addison
      Posted February 23, 2019 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

      The story of The Emperor’s New Clothes flits unasked into my mind more and more often …

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