Friday, March 25, 2016

3BT, 25th March 2016

In the wee small hours, the funfair on Clapham Common stands in darkness, a broken silhouette against the trees and the city’s orange night sky … except for one small ride, a childrens’ roundabout at the edge of the compound, where an engineer is working alone and is just switching on the pastel coloured lights, pale blue, pale pink, pale lilac, pale green … “girly gorgeous”, like corals and anemones in a sea of shadows.

Coming up the stairs from a basement lunch at the back of Itsu in Piccadilly, I glance along the shiny floor towards the wide windows and the sunlit street.  For a second the world seems black and white.  And for a second the silhouetted girl between me and the door might be a lovely lovely girl I knew thirty years ago.

In the Wellcome Foundation’s  States Of Mind exhibition they have a line of framed drawings by the Spaniard, Santiago Ramon y Cajal.  These are on scraps of paper and card, painstakingly rendered in pen and ink to depict forms and structures for which there were no previous conventions or stereotypes to build on, and which demanded a kind or truthfulness, sensitivity and delicacy,  that only the most dedicated artists achieve.

spain's other great artist of the twentieth century ... santiago ramon y cajal

some of his drawings are currently displayed in the wellcome collection on euston road

the shock and pleasure of finding these delicate and perceptive analytical sketches is as great as if you had just walked in to his laboratory and found one besides his microscope