February playlist

So what with travelling, I have had to spend various hours in airports, train stations and the like, there are also just some bits of music that will remind me of the past while and I wanted to share these…

  • River Man – Nick Drake: a rather contemplative song but a lovely one nonetheless – I didn’t know this until recently but it was inspired by an Emily Dickinson poem.


  • Holding out for a Hero – Bonnie Tyler: a rather guilty pleasure that I am willing to admit – reminds me of NYE and dancing into the small hours …happy days


  • New York New York – Frank Sinatra: in my mind the song for the beginning of a journey – small or large – there is an irrefutable sense of optimism and excitement in this song – a sense of being on the verge of something great…


  • Carey – Joni Mitchell: dear lord I envy that woman’s vocal range…i love this song – a good one for the road.


  • One more cup of coffee – Bob Dylan: much like the above – poetically philosophical also very good whilst actually drinking coffee aha.


  • Primadonna – Marina and the Diamonds: a bit of a personal anthem this one – always gets me in the mood and gives me self confidence – tho maybe not in the most prim or proper ways – if i am playing this song you can well predict that the following events will lead to good anecdotes!


  • Back in the game (Chronixx remix) – Wu Tan Clan: ahhh the morning after the night before….enough said.


Album of the month: New Boots and Panties – Ian Drury and the Blockheads:

Heaven on vinyl – I swear there is a song for literally any situation – from self critique to full on lust, to hedonism to surrealism and all with a very good bassline and personal politics – good old fashioned early punk…


A recurrent theme – a poem

You’ve got inside me,

pinned me down,

won’t let me go –


Nostalgia is a scent,

the days, weeks, months…

hold me

and soon too,

let me go.


M. Benedict

Art as solace

There is a quote from Alan Bennett’s ‘History Boys’ : All literature is consolation. It is based on the nihilistic philosophies of Friedrich Nietzsche. Art too can do the same¬† amongst other things

For me at least, art can serve a similar role sometimes: due to the back catalogue of art – in all forms – timeless issues have been dealt with and discussed visually; at some point before you, the viewer, someone has experienced the same feelings as you – love,loss, despair – you name it someone has expressed that emotion or experience in some way.

Perhaps this is why Art Therapy has seen such a rise in the last few years: anyone can connect with visual language because it is intrinsic to our way of life – from advertising to the hallowed halls of the world’s many renowned museums and galleries.

Art’s has been a central form of communication around the world – it links people together regardless of linguistic barriers and I hope will continue to for millenia to come.


Jeanne Hebuterne – a tragic tale

The famous artist Amadeo Modigliani had many women during his brief but busy time on this earth and perhaps the most notable of all, or at least the one withe most fated life, was Jeanne Hebuterne.

Jeanne was just 19 when she was introduced to the hedonistic artist in the bohemian circles of Montparnasse and Montmartre. She was an aspiring artist herself and was quickly drawn to the charismatic but wayward Modigliani – a man by that point heavily addicted to 3 things: Absinthe, opium and women.

Jeanne’s innocence and looks quickly made her a popular subject for Modigliani’s paintings – she became that most typical of female artistic combinations – muse and lover. She bore Modigliani a child a year after they met, whilst in Nice where Amadeo was trying to promote himself to wealthy art collectors on the riviera.

Jeanne became pregnant again in early 1919 when the couple returned to Paris and all seemed well – had the prolific cad finally settled down?

Idyllic thought the scenario may sound up until this point, it would not continue as such. Modigliani was plagued by long-standing Tuberculosis and on 24 January 1920 he died.

Jeanne was distraught. Her family took her back – despite having previously been unhappy about her affair with the artist – probably due to 13 year age gap one might imagine. However, such was her grief (remember she was still only 21 at this point) that she decided it better to throw herself from the 5th story floor of her family home, by this point 9 months pregnant. It was only two days after Modigliani’s death.

After much debate, Jeanne was laid to rest next to her lover and her fitting epitaph reads: ‘devoted companion to the extreme sacrifice’.

Modigliani and Jeanne’s daughter, Jeanne Modigliani, grew up in Venice with little knowledge of her parents but later went on to publish a biography of her father.

Hebuterne’s work was exhibited in a major Modigliani retrospective in 2000 after much legal strife over the faking of roughly 77 drawings by her grandnephew.

Jeanne’s story is similar in theme to that of Camille Claudel ¬†– Rodin’s muse and lover…

La Madonna – the Edvard Munch version

Most people know Munch for his world famous Scream painting – a somewhat oddly colourful depiction of something rather unpleasant – but there you are. Much as I like this painting there is one of Munch’s that I prefer: his version of the Madonna.

Emanating from the rich, but dark, background is the Madonna – however she is not demure and doe-eyed as in most depictions – she almost protrudes from the canvas led proudly by her bare, pregnant belly. Her hair is left loose and her skin appears both pale and warm at the same time – perhaps pale because it is off-set by the red halo surrounding the crown of her head.

This a throughly modern interpretation of arguably the most important female figure in Christian religion. There is no blue, no downcast gentle submission to an omnipotent newborn – this is a proud young woman owning her body – a rare thing in the late 1890s.

To my mind her pose is similar to that of photos taken of revellers at the many Hippy festivals of the 1960s – yet this painting pre-dates such a movement by over half a century.

In short – a front runner in a more modern form of depicting women in art that is somewhat overlooked. – unfortunately.




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