Friday, 19 March 2010
A seriously good day
The wheelchair symbols are very posh, I must say, not the usual white and blue signs but rather elegant brass ones. There are some huge glass revolving doors in the entrance - not designed for wheelchairs! But there's are smaller glass door on the right, which one of the helpful young custodians remotely opened for us. We wandered past the ancient Greek and Roman sculptures to find the lift. We were looking for the Impressionists' rooms, and also the exhibition of Roger Wagner. I'd picked up the news that our old pal was showing pictures from his new Book of Praises in the Ashmolean.
We found the temporary exhibition on Floor 3. As well as the 21 beautiful small paintings and the actual book with Roger's psalm translations, there was also his huge 'Menorah' (the great painting of the crucifixion in front of Didcot power station) and a new painting 'The Road to Emmaus'. There's a new departure in two of the paintings - he's used gold leaf in 'The Sanctuary' and 'The Redemption' - reminded me of icons. We could have spent all our time there. I loved the Emmaus painting, which is wonderfully thoughtful and crafted. The icing on the cake was when a tall chap quietly came in and picked up the sheet about the exhibition. It was none other than the artist himself. We hadn't seen him for more than twenty years. We'd been in the same home group before moving up north. It was such fun to see him again and catch up with each other. You can see the paintings on his website: http://www.rogerwagner.co.uk/index.html . But there's no substitute for seeing them for real. If you possibly can, GO AND SEE IT YOURSELF. You won't be disappointed.
We had some time before lunch and so we threaded our way through the groups of school children, causing their teachers heeby-jeebies by poking valuable paintings with grubby fingers. Looked at the Pisarro collection and the 19th/20th century rooms, and then the music instrument collection. It's impressive in a gloomy and confusing sort of way. No doubt there are great instruments there, but you had to read the little labels quite carefully to find out what was what. Hopeless if your eyesight's poor. There's a display which is meant to show you how a violin is made - which confused me, I must say. A shame considering the fabulous amount of money that's been spent on the rebuilding project over all. While I'm being a bit negative, I wasn't that impressed with the disabled toilet in the basement. I suspect the architect designed what he/she thought disabled people need. For example the lock wasn't as easy as might be; there were no grab rails by the basin, and grab rails only on one side of the loo itself. Disabilities differ, of course. So my advice to architects would be, talk to a number of disabled people about your design and listen to what they say, before you do anything rash.
And then it was off to lunch with my best man, John. His mother, the redoubtable Netta, aged 94 and still on two motorised wheels, has recently died. It was nice sitting in the sunny back room of his house, along with his daughter, over a bowl of his homemade soup and bread and cheese. A time of warm companionship. The only snag was in pushing my rather fine chair back to leave we managed to break its leg. John was very gracious about it. He is a very skilled carpenter by training and trade - http://www.oxfordcarving.co.uk/about.htm.
Then it was home for tea and chilling out. John sent us an email later saying the chair was mended.