Category: Arts

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Dante’s Divine Comedy: tasting notes 18 – what is love?

Simon Chater

Virgil’s great exposition on love is centrally placed in the Comedy, occupying Cantos 17 and 18 of Purgatorio. With this, Dante signals that love, and the understanding of love, are at the heart of his poetic matter. Doctrinally, the ideas Dante attributes to Virgil are standard-issue medieval philosophy, derived from the teachings of Aristotle and […]

Dante’s Divine Comedy: tasting notes 17 – better together

Simon Chater

Life’s not a zero-sum game, say the souls on the Terrace of Envy, so don’t live it that way. Dante doesn’t ‘get it’ at first, but Virgil explains. We have just met Guido del Duca, scion of one of the leading families of Romagna, the region next-door to Tuscany, where Dante comes from. Like all […]

I saw the monster but couldn’t see the point

Mick Fletcher

On a cold, dull and windy day I went to Weston to see the monster. At a distance it looked disappointingly small, dwarfed by miles of empty sand and sea, but as I walked along the beach it grew until its full scale was apparent. So, too, was its oddity. The monster – a repurposed […]

Dante’s Divine Comedy: tasting notes 16 – enlightening grace

Simon Chater

The Divine Comedy is primarily a vision. It is the story of how one man, through grace, becomes pure in heart and hence able to see God. During his first night on the mountain, Dante’s damaged inner sight is cleansed and healed in preparation for the work of penitence that awaits him in purgatory proper. […]

Dante’s Divine Comedy: tasting notes 14 – a dewy facial

Simon Chater

The first canto of Purgatorio celebrates our release from the pain and grief of hell. Virgil washes Dante’s face in the morning dew. Dante begins by announcing the change of mood: Boats and ships feature strongly in the Comedy, as symbols of the soul’s journey towards the divine. Here Dante is at the helm, his […]

Dante’s Divine Comedy: tasting notes 13 – the hidden passage

Simon Chater

We are out of hell, but still close to the centre of the earth and it is still dark. Through the blackness, Dante can hear the trickling of a stream: The hidden passage that connects Inferno and Purgatorio is one of Dante’s masterstrokes, entirely his own invention. It conveys the idea that there is, after […]

Education in crisis, and it can only get worse

Mick Fletcher

In any sane context the car crash that is Conservative education policy would be enough to bring down a government by itself.  The schools bill before Parliament has been so savaged in the House of Lords that ministers have stripped out 18 of the key clauses, leaving it bereft of its original purpose, yet doing […]

Dante’s Divine Comedy: tasting notes 9 – What, are YOU here?

Simon Chater

On burning sands, under a soft rain of flames, Dante meets his former mentor, Brunetto Latini. His “sin” is homosexuality, according to the dictates of formal religion. But what does Dante think? We are in the circle of the violent against God, nature and art. The naked souls here, whose baked features are caked with […]

The Conservatives must back down immediately on the closure of the Royal Cornwall Museum

Editor-in-chief

Andrew George is calling on the Conservatives on Cornwall Council to reverse their decision to cut crucial funding for the Royal Cornwall Museum. Andrew is a Cornwall Councillor and has raised questions with the Council’s audit committee which meets later this week. Andrew said, “When your Party runs the country with an 80 seat majority, holds all MP seats in Cornwall and […]

Mickey Mouse, Peppa Pig and the war on empathy

Tom Scott

The government’s trashing of arts education will do great harm to the UK’s ‘soft power’. But as Tom Scott explains, the damage will go deeper than that. A few days ago, I was at a meeting of University and College Union (UCU) delegates from around the country. Hearing from other delegates about the swathe of […]

Dante’s Divine Comedy: tasting notes 8 – the wood of the suicides

Simon Chater

Suicide is the ultimate form of self-harm. In Inferno 13, Dante invents a new language of pain and despair to evoke the tortured minds of those who choose this ending. At the start of the canto we return to the landscape of the poem’s prologue, finding ourselves, again, in a pathless wood – not coincidentally, […]

Immersive theatre at its most intense: To Refuge

Rachel Marshall

I just spent 45 minutes sitting in a bunker in central Exeter listening to sirens and bombs. This was Four Of Swords Theatre’s performance To Refuge, based around a work by Ukrainian playwright Elena Hapieieva: In the Bowels of the Earth. It was immersive theatre at its most intense. The performance takes place under The […]

The joys of printing and XR

Leslie Tate
Tree of life

I interviewed Stroud-based printmaker and artist Nat Morley about her unique processes, her protest art and her time spent with Barrel Well Aboriginal Community, Australia. Nat was a prize-winning geographer at Oxford University, sings with Tewkesbury Abbey choir, and her artwork is on permanent display at the Cotswold Craftsmen Gallery in Nailsworth. Leslie: What are the main artistic medium/areas you work in? […]

The man behind Operation Mincemeat

Mick Fletcher

The film ‘Operation Mincemeat’ released over the Easter weekend, tells the exciting story of a key event in the second World War. The Germans were tricked into thinking that an attack on Europe from North Africa would start in Greece rather than the more obvious route through Sicily. Historian Hugh Trevor-Roper called it “The most […]

Don’t miss the Tinners Moon Festival, Ashburton, Devon!

Anthea Simmons

We wrote about the wonderful Ashburton Arts Centre back in October 2020 and director Andy Williamson explained why the venue was so loved by performers. The Tinners Moon Festival, which had had to be cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic, is in full swing right now and you really shouldn’t miss the opportunity to […]

Proof of incompetence: the Channel 4 debacle

Mark Davyd

Regular readers of my Facebook posts will know that it is my position that this current government is dangerous because of its incompetence. I recognise that many of you find them to be cruel, or their policies deliberately designed towards the vicious and unnecessary, but my own experience is that they haven’t got a clue […]

Alfabetti spaghetti – become a pasta masta!

Mike Zollo
alfabetti pasta

It was probably due to World War Two and the British servicemen returning from Italy that interest in Italian food began to take off in the UK… as immortalised by Sophia Loren and Peter Sellers. As regards pasta, in the 1950s one had to shop at International Stores or J Sainsbury to buy macaroni and […]

Dante’s Divine Comedy: tasting notes 7 – seduction by literature

Simon Chater
Rodin's 'The Kiss'

Among the carnal sinners in the second circle of hell, we meet Paolo and Francesca. Of all the stories in the Inferno, theirs is perhaps the one that most invites our empathy: the seventh of Simon Chater’s dips into Dante. Dante’s scene-setting is a powerful example of contrapasso ­– the idea that the punishment should […]

Au revoir to au pairs from Europe?

Tamsin Beadman
white black and brown hands on EU flag

“Carrero Blanco was blown up two streets away,” Isabel, my señora, mentioned casually on a chilly Madrid afternoon in December 1983 as we sat in her luxurious flat on Calle Hermosilla. “Have you heard of him? Ten years ago today, ETA blew up his car in Claudio Coello and it flew right over a church. […]

Dante’s Divine Comedy: tasting notes 5 – the gate of hell

Simon Chater
gateway to Hell

Led by Virgil, Dante sets out on his journey. At the entrance to hell he sees these words inscribed over a dark gateway: The famous line here is the last, wryly quoted today in many a workplace and home. The absence of hope is the defining feature of hell, as anyone stuck in a dead-end […]

Dante’s Divine Comedy: tasting notes 4

Simon Chater
Dante's Inferno colour plate from early edition

Enter Virgil, voice of reason Continuing his series of dips into Dante, Simon Chater begins the descent into hell and finds some interesting parallels between Dante’s Florence and the world in 2022. Reason, sweet reason! How we – or some of us, at least – long for you in the age of Brexit, Trumpism and […]

Egyptian artefacts and enchanted arbours at Kingston Lacy

Valery Collins
Illuminated trees at Kingston Lacy

During the medieval period, the grand estate known as Kingston Lacy was part of a royal estate within the manor of Wimborne in Dorset. The manor house stood to the north of the present palazzo, close to a deer park. Supporters of the Crown were allowed to let the estate. After it was sold at […]