GALLERIES by Leigh Hatts
CATHOLIC artist Peter Clare had a surprise when he came to oversee the hanging of The Journey exhibition at St George's church in Bloomsbury.
First, it was not being staged in the Crypt Gallery below but in the church. Second, he found that not only was there the existing Anglican worship but also daily well-attended Catholic Masses.
The Christmas Day fire damage at nearby St Anse1m and St Cecilia's has saddened many who know and used the Catholic Church which has 17th century origins.
Peter Clare has just retired. He enjoys teaching but ever since the age of eight he has wanted to be an artist.
The displaced congregation now has a temporary mass centre at the 18th century Anglican St George's.
Those used to gazing at a large 200 year old "Deposition of Christ" and a splendid Sardinian coat of arms now have the bright and busy contemporary paintings of Peter Clare on two sides.
The Journey is a cycle of paintings for meditation. Bloomsbury is itself a resting place on this journey which for Peter Clare has been long and, like some of his paintings, often stressful.
57-year-old Peter Clare has just taken early retirement from teaching mathematics in Birmingham to paint full time.
He enjoys teaching but ever since the age of eight he has wanted to be an artist. He has been one ever since but had to mainly confine painting to academic holidays. Even so he has managed nine one-person shows including The Cana Cycle which came to a West End gallery in 1975.
Since 1986 he has been at Cleobury Mortimer in Shropshire working on The Journey which he began 14 years ago. It is appropriate that Peter Clare is in London with his Journey for the idea came as he was travelling by train through the Peaks and recognised his habitual excitement when going up to a big city.
The Journey has become the vehicle by which he continues to explore his spiritual and human reality. The pictures may not have a clear message but together they form a record of a meditated experience. Some of the paintings are packed with scenes of activity both sacred and vulgar. In one picture trams rattle through a town where some people are in the confessional whilst others are at a strip show.
The first picture is the artist's personal icon, "Christ the Pantocrator", which he says he seemed to paint itself.
"Man in Garden" is a new version of his painting now in Ty Mawr Convent at Monmouth. This mirrors most the simplicity of Clare's Stations of the Cross which are scattered through the exhibition.
These 14 smaller works convey some of the emotions encountered as Christ made his most famous journey. For Lent they have become part of St George's worship will be used in Holy Week for Stations devotions.
The show closes on Easter Day to go on tour.
"Crazy for You" would aptly describe the reaction of the audience and the media to the new musical at the Prince Edward Theatre. The music and lyrics of "Crazy for You" are by George and Ira Gerhwin, and presumably they are the reason for the show being described as 'nostalgic'. Songs such as "Shall We Dance", and "I Got Rhythm" will kindle sentimental memories in the older generation. However, it would be unfair to both the director, Mike Ockrent, and the choreographer, Susan Stroman, to describe the show as being pure nostalgia. The choreography is the most exciting to be seen in London and the director is able to incorporate it smoothly into the period of 1930. William Ivey Long's costume design are stunningly colourful and stylish. But it must be added that without the immense energy and talent of every member of the cast, this success would have been