Saturday, November 03, 2007

salle de bain, chez micawber

3BT w/e 3rd November 2007

First in London on Wednesday, and then in Sussex on Friday, billowing plumes of sunlit steam, their pulsating transit indicating the passage of unseen steam locomotives.

Before dawn, as my truck slowly trundles away from the pumps at the Texaco petrol station on the A3 by Putney cemetery, an “African” cleaning lady emerges through the automatic doors, hands spread wide and arms at right-angles to her body. On the left hand she carries a sweeping brush and a dustpan, on the right she carries a mop and a bucket, upon her head she balances a large roll of blue paper towels, like a tall hat. Her wide hips seem to move in an exaggerated counterbalancing dance rotation that keeps the head moving in a smooth straight line … and as she catches my delighted smile& mimed applause, she laughs out loud.

In Tate Britain which opens late on Fridays, two deep-green patinated & polished bronze discs by Barbara Hepworth in a glass case, seen by me for the first time, standing parallel but slightly offset on a square plinth, ( Discs in Echelon, 1935 ) each with a soft curved edge at the bottom that gently transforms into a sharper but not-quite-cutting edge at the top. As I stare at their subtle symmetries and nubile polish, I remember with some delight having passed her in the doorway of the same gallery some forty years ago; a tiny, vital, strong-looking woman with a large flat forehead & a quick purposeful stride.