Thursday, 16 July 2009

Grasmere! The Lake District!! Summer!!!

My dear reader,

I hope you will forgive my recent shortfall of correspondence. It is not for lack of goings-on here worth noting, but from the abundance of activity. All Cumbria is confused as the weather turns manic-depressive and poor tourists require first aid after becoming dangerously entangled in their Ordance Survey maps.

The Wordsworth Trust has opened it's Edward Lear the Landscape Artist exhibition, which brings together for the first time Lear's sketches and watercolours of his tours in Ireland and the Lakes from 1835-6. I love Lear. I love that he got famous drawing parrots. I love the poems, the stories and the recipes. I love that he was the twentieth of twenty-one children, and that he called Kendal a 'slop-basin'. The exhibition contains letters from the tours. In these, Lear is so charming he makes the world around him - including his own travels, the rain that besieges him, and his illness and disappointments - into marvellous prose descriptions through humour and irreverence. This creates a wonderful contrast with the level of professionalism and obsession that he shows in his landscape drawings. The pictures are ridiculously topographically accurate, as demonstrated by a 3D digital map that makes you feel as though you're having an out-of-body experience.

Invigilating the gallery is also a little like having an out-of-body experience. I love everything I do here at the Trust, and it's all necessary, worthwhile work, but after an hour and half of patrolling a room (trying to tread the fine line between vigilant and stalkerish) I had lost all concept of space and time and thought my brain was in my knees. So, if you do visit, please give the people with walkie-talkies a kind smile, and possibly a lollipop - the exhibition couldn't be put on without us.

List of the Celebrated Invigilantes
who descend into nonsense but keep on walking

Heather Anderson, Lucy Clarke,
Amy Concannon, Jane Connolly,
Jeff Cowton, John 'Visitor Services' Coombe,
Helen Donald, Tomoko Egiuchi,
Catherine Harland, Emily 'me' Hasler,
Molly Heal, Catherine Kay,
Matty O'Neill, Rie, Esther Rutter,
Carrie Taylor,Rebecca Turner,
Victoria Weaver, Wendy Woodhead

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