We live in a strange world. Six weeks ago, the country was under siege from record-breaking rainfalls and flooding destroying the homes and businesses of many communities. Today in London we have had brilliant sunshine and spring shrubs have burst into colour, yet the country – indeed the world – is grappling with one of the greatest challenges in living memory.
March is a month linked with madness, and we seem to have it in droves in all sorts of different ways. And then of course there is the ‘Mad March Hare’, a mythological creature apparently linked to the fact that hares see spring as a time for new adventures and for mating.
How appropriate therefore that Barry Flanagan’s characteristicly sprightly, athletic, energetic hares are bouncing about in Mayfair in his latest exhibition ‘Alchemy of the Theatre’ which, like galleries across London, is closed but now available on-line, although the artist
Flanagan (1941-2009) has been such a prominent figure of British sculpture that it is difficult to appreciate that he died 13 years ago, his work still feels so energetic, so fresh and so contemporary, though the artist Sophie Ryder continues with a theme about hares, but these taking on more human characteristics. No-one has quite replaced his unique theatrical style with hares leaping, dancing, boxing, relaxing and otherwise enjoying life. Here at ‘Alchemy of the Times’ at Waddington Custot there were also drawings, paintings and other works in other media, revealing the versatility of the artist and reminding us of what a talent we have lost.
The exhibition is accompanied by a booklet with an essay written by Jonathan Watkins, Director of Birmingham’s IKON Gallery which reflects on Flanagan’s love of the cello which he learnt to play while he was studying sculpture at St Martin’s School of Art in the 1960′s, and can be seen in one of sculptures here, plus also the theatricality of creating his bronzes.
Waddington Custot, like other galleries, is closed during the current health crisis and is using technology for example the on-line digital viewing room at Art Basel Hong Kong this week.