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Water Under The Bridge, acrylic on paper, by Diana Hale

The complete antithesis of everything I normally approve of – speed, bling, celebrity, fake, but the fantasy of that night trip along the Thames through Tower Bridge and up the River Lea (didn’t show much of that bit!) to the Olympic Stadium was pretty amazing!

Last weekend was coincidentally the anniversary of my first blog post and as the Thames was one of my original as well as ongoing inspirations I thought I should celebrate with some more images of my own.

Thames sketch, ink on paper, copyright Diana Hale

Thames sketch poem, ink on paper, copyright Diana Hale

Inspired by an Oscar Wilde poem Symphony in Yellow which finishes:

“…And at my feet the pale green Thames

Lies like a rod of rippled jade.”

Thames Upstream, acrylic on paper, by Diana Hale

I was interested in the symbolism of the Olympic opening ceremony in representing Britain and the central use of the landscape feature of the tor as a symbol of the unchanging core of the land, with the spiral pathway an echo of prehistoric earthworks. Intended as Glastonbury it also linked the pagan worlds of mythology with modern cultural references. The flags planted, which will disappear again of course, although the land will remain, made me think of wind turbines in the landscape. Although music, film and literature as cultural phenomena were represented in a rather Hymns Ancient and Modern meets Neverland Tolkienesque way, with the more contemporary fantasy worlds of James Bond and East End teens thrown in, there was no visual art as such. I thought the combination of celebrating the NHS with children’s literature was clever, with creepiness to pep up nostalgia. The portrayal of British history set up the old dichotomy of the country idyll versus industry. However this is interesting as I am currently thinking about urban and rural landscapes and rereading the wonderful Raymond Williams, The Country and the City of 1973, to see whether this is still a relevant opposition. As a Marxist historian maybe he influenced Danny Boyle!

I shall report back on this and the current New Statesman special summer edition The London Issue!

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