Have to admit I’m a bit preoccupied right now – mud wrestling with a story draft that seems determined to kick my arse. So I’ve been in danger of neglecting some of the more interesting flotsam that’s floated past my window. Let me put that right with a brief round-up.

S Is For…

The Leeds Surrealist Group has just launched issue 1 of S, its new periodical.

S is the successor to the late lamented Phosphor journal, and promises to be lighter and more frequent than its forebear.

Issue 1 is 24 pages, A5 format, in colour, and includes poetry, images, games and other texts.

It’s available to order now from the Surrealist Editions website.

Desmond Morris In The 21st Century

I suspect that, at 92, Desmond Morris may be the UK’s oldest living Surrealist (or at least used to be; he recently emigrated). He’s probably also the UK’s most ambivalent Surrealist: fiercely proud of his connection to the movement of the past, benignly aloof from most of the movement of the present…

Be that as it may, his paintings are still as luminous as ever. An exhibition of them is running in London now until 12 December. The gallery reports that social distancing measures are in place.

Desmond Morris In The 21st Century
Beaux Arts London
48 Maddox Street (off Bond Street)
London W1S 1AY
Open Monday – Friday, 11.00 am – 5.00 pm, or by appointment

The Botanical Mind: Art, Mysticism And The Cosmic Tree

Here’s something a bit different and more eclectic, brought to my attention by my pal Frank Wright (cheers Frank!).

Also in London, it’s an exhibition devoted to the “encoded, vegetal intelligence inherent in plant forms”. Works on display include pieces by Eileen Agar, Ithell Colquhoun, Bryon Gisin, Carl Gustav Jung, Hilma af Klimt, André Masson, Henri Michaux, Wolfgang Paalen, Edith Rimmington, Scottie Wilson, Adolf Wölfli and many more.

The gallery website has this to say about it:

The Botanical Mind brings together work by over 60 visionary, surrealist, modern, outsider, indigenous Amazonian and contemporary artists to reveal the ongoing significance of the vegetal kingdom to human life, consciousness and spirituality. Spanning more than 500 years and including historical and ethnographic artefacts, textiles and manuscripts, it looks both backwards and forwards, engaging with various cultures and wisdom-traditions to reappraise the importance of plants to life on this planet.

It’s on show in Camden until 23 December. The gallery asks visitors to book timed entry slots in advance via its website.

The Botanical Mind: Art, Mysticism And The Cosmic Tree
Camden Art Centre
Arkwright Road
London NW3 6DG
Open Thursday – Sunday, 11.00am – 6.00pm

Tantra: Enlightenment To Revolution

Last but by no means least, the British Museum is offering a special show of Tantric art and artefacts that I am truly lusting to see.

Untitled Neo-Tantric painting by Santosh, 1970s

From the museum blurb:

A philosophy originating in medieval India, Tantra has been linked to successive waves of revolutionary thought, from its sixth-century transformation of Hinduism and Buddhism, to the Indian fight for independence and the rise of 1960s counterculture.

Centring on the power of divine feminine energy, Tantra inspired the dramatic rise of goddess worship in medieval India and continues to influence contemporary feminist thought and artistic practice. […]

The exhibition showcases extraordinary objects from India, Nepal, Tibet, Japan and the UK, from the seventh century AD to the present, and includes masterpieces of sculpture, painting, prints and ritual objects.

The show runs until 24 January. Tickets must be booked in advance from the museum website.

Tantra: Enlightenment To Revolution
British Museum
Great Russell Street
London WC1B 3DG
Open daily 10.00 am – 5.00 pm


Image credits: Samvara thangka image copyright of the Trustees of the British Museum, licensed under Creative Commons CC BY-NC-SA 4.0. S photograph from the Phosphor Facebook page, reproduced under fair use. Desmond Morris’s Family from the Beaux Arts London website, reproduced under fair use. Santosh’s untitled painting copyright of the Trustees of the British Museum, licensed under Creative Commons CC BY-NC-SA 4.0.

Take a peek behind the veil.

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