Thursday, March 25, 2010

On why I make the 'Meditations' on art

'Lovely, lovely!"

There's a funny story behind the weekly videos on art that I'm posting here and on You Tube. The reason why I call them Meditations is because for a brief period, I was contributing 200 word pieces on art to US Catholic magazine, and that was the title of the column, which was printed on the last page of the magazine. The reason I and a few other writers were sending in our Meditations on art was that the regular contributor was no longer available. That regular contributor had been good old Sister Wendy Becket, who had shuffled off this mortal coil and gone to meet her bleedin' maker, to quote the Parrot Sketch. For those who don't know who Sister Wendy was, well, she was a nun who was very popular at one time for talking gushingly about art. She was given her own series by the BBC for a while in the 1980s and 1990s. I seem to remember she would say that things were "lovely" quite a lot. Bonnard's bathroom pictures? Lovely! Rubens acres of naked flesh? Lovely, lovely! Robert Mapplethorpe's photo of himself with a bull whip inserted in his arse? Oh, lovely! (Ok, I made that last one up).

She was all right, really. You can't say bad things about Sister Wendy, can you? But if you're watching or listening to my weekly meditations, try not to picture me in a wimple.

UPDATE: I've been told that Sister Wendy is still alive. If I'd bothered to check the intertubes before I wrote, I would have discovered that she's 80 years old and living in a caravan on the grounds of her nunnery in the UK. Sorry, Sister Wendy fans.

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