Cunning to Work in Gold and in Silver
THERE is a mystique as well as a panache about functions at Goldsmiths' Hall which I find irresistible. No other chandeliers seem so huge and
coruscant, no other carpets so vast and springy, no other tapestries so splendid a backcloth for exhibits which, however precious, are never labelled Do Not Touch ; and over it all broods the seventeenth-century gilded figure of St. Dunstan from the Worshipful Company's barge, tongs in one hand, crozier in the other, his fair round belly suggesting that he has been wined and dined at many a Freeman's banquet. Accustomed as I am to art galleries of all types from the fungoid basement to the damask-wall-and-fitted-carpet, I go up the marble stairs asking myself whether I shall sign the book as the representative of THE TABLET or as the wife of a Freeman of the Company. The first would presumably secure me a free catalogue and the second a free drink. Of course, the question does not arise. Both are thrust into my hands before I have time to show my invitation. Gate-crashers do not enter into the cognizance of a body which received its royal charter in 1327 and had its roots in the fraternal soil of the trade guilds. The occasion was the exhibition held to celebrate the centenary of Georg Jensen, whose name has almost become a syn'onym for modern silver. His native Denmark thought this comic little man, who looked rather like the screen persona of Charlie Chaplin, important enough to warrant the issue of a special postage stamp. Why was he so significant? Mr. Graham Hughes, Art Director of the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths, thinks that it was not because he was a great man or a great innovator—all the pioneers of visual freedom at the turn of the century, from Mackintosh to Lalique and from Wolfers to Gaudf, were more inspired and more original than he—but because he succeeded where others failed. He popularized conscientious craftsmanship and hand-some simple design. The severe style praised by copywriters for its " clean uncluttered lines " and commonly known as Swedish Clinical is not so much his invention as that of his associates and successors in the business which he founded ; and the work of such designers as Sigvard Bernadotte. Nanna Ditzel, Henning Koppel, Harald Nielsen, Magnus Stephensen, Soren and Jorgen Jensen is given due prominence in this exhibition beside the Art Nouveau creations of the master.
A much smaller but no less rewarding exhibition in the City is at All Hallows, London Wall (not to be confused with All Hallows by the Tower), where an interesting display of contemporary hangings may be seen. The exhibits include embroideries, fabric collages, tapestries, woven panels and examples of the process known as tie-and-die. Whenever I see abstract needlework designs in exhibitions I am impressed by their superiority over the average abstract painting. Perhaps it is because the colours and textures are usually more exciting, perhaps be-cause one . is conscious of the more demanding discipline and craftsmanship involved, perhaps merely because the tradition of abstract pattern in textiles is so venerable and universally accepted. (People who sneer at Jackson Pollock would not dream of questioning the validity of a tartan or a Persian carpet.) Although the exhibits at All Hallows are not all necessarily.intended for ecclesiastical use, I hope that anyone who wishes to commission textiles for use in modern churches will make the journey to London Wall before settling for some mass-produced damask dossals or a set of horribly historiated hassocks.
Arthur Pollen's gilt-bronze statue of St. Patrick is now a well-integrated feature of Westminster Cathedral, but this sculptor's less monumental work, executed in a freer style, may not be so familiar to the general public. A number of small pieces may now be seen at the Lower Gallery (Pond Place, S.W.3), together with paintings by Charles Hett. A sculptor whom Mr. Pollen obviously admires is Lynn Chadwick, some of whose recent work is on view at the Marlborough New London Gallery; but Mr. Chad-wick's development seems to be temporarily arrested, perhaps because the possibilities of the pyramidal forms with which he is obsessed are limited. Guy Krohg's enamels at the Upper Grosvenor Gallery represent a display of virtuosity, but they defeat the whole purpose of this medium which should not be used as a durable and expensive substitute for easel pictures. With a few exceptions such as no. 8, most of them could be mistaken from a distance for oil paintings. The Leicester Galleries are combining a show of recent work by Calliyannis with the sort of exhibition which they can mount so well—a collection of nineteenth and twentieth century etchings and lithographs which includes several Rouaults, a book of 147 wood-engravings by Eric Gill, and a number of bargains in Samuel Palmers and Sickerts. Alfred Dunn's kinetic structures at the Redfern Gallery are fun, but his paintings and graphic work are rather dull. Achille Lauge's pastels at the Kaplan Gallery will be a revelation to those unfamiliar with this unassuming Impressionist and Divisionist painter (1861-1944) who often achieved effects of great beauty. WINEFRIDE WILSON.
QUNDAY'S Meeting Point on BBC 1 was an extremely Li interesting account of a group of young Germans coming to stay in the homes of a Jewish congrega-tion near London. Time of Trial showed first how the prospective hosts, who had offered to have the young people, anticipated the visit, and some frankly con-fessed that it had been a great effort to overcome their distaste ; some of them had suffered deeply at the hands of the Germans. But they wanted to over-come emotion and let their heads work for a better understanding. The first picture of the meeting was of the Sabbath evening service at the South-West Essex Reformed Synagogue, where the Rabbi ex-plained the purpose of the visit. The next evening an orthodox Rabbi spoke out hard and uncompromisingly against the visit, recollecting Belsen, where he had buried between thirty and forty thousand Jews, saying he could never forget or forgive. Though we did not see the upshot of this address, we were told that he had acted as a catalyst, causing his hearers to get up and argue with him. Next we had short glimpses of the young visitors at various institutions: they had a heavy programme, and one wondered if it should have been so packed. Hosts and guests were ques-tioned again at the end. Conclusions were not very definite, on the whole ' • nor would one expect them to be. The remaining distrust on the Jewish side could be summed up by one speaker, a pre-war refugee, who remembered just such nice young people, his companions at school in Germany, who had become Jew-baiters. Oh the German side the most illuminating
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