Living with…Florence and the Machine…for a week
Pre-Raphaelites in Birmingham
Don’t ask me why, but the moment I saw a picture of Florence Welch (lead singer of Florence and the Machine), I thought of the pre-Raphaelite women in the art gallery in Birmingham. Don’t normally get too arty in no81bob’s world so I’ll be excused a brief jaunt up the A45 to a collection that I’ve visited quite a few times in the last 25 years. Well, the museum is free and it’s got quite a nice cafe.
The Florence connection is a picture called The Blind Girl, which features a red haired girl (yup, there’s the Florence connection – not complicated really) facing towards the viewer. Her eyes are shut – which means she must be blind then in painting world. A younger girl sits on her lap and looks backwards where two (not one, but two) rainbows sweep across the stormy skyline. It’s not very subtle stuff about what each girl can sense, but I’ve always loved it.
So let’s walk around the collection a bit further and rest at two other favourites. One is a picture of a woman standing by a tree waiting for someone. Carved in the tree are some initials, the woman looks sad and it’s implied she’s been waiting a long time. What’s amazing about the picture? The ivy – it is the brightest, glossiest ivy you have ever seen in your life, you can but wonder! Again, nothing subtle about it. I think it’s called The Long Engagement.
But my all-time pre-Raph favourite from the gallery is called Pretty Baa-Lambs and again features a young woman in a field this time holding a baby. Behind and around her are lambs gambolling (I’m right, it is only lambs that can gambol, isn’t it?). One lamb to the right is performing what must be an impossible wow move, all four legs in the air two a-front, two a-back (see below) – I would love to see a lamb perform that manoeuvre in real life. But the best bit, for all the fact that the field is full of pretty- baa-lambs – that has to be the ugliest of babies. And considering Ford Maddox based the child on his own, you’d have hoped he’d have done a more flattering job.
Anyway, promise no more art criticism in no81bob’s world for some time, but if you are passing Birmingham Art Gallery pop in for the ivy, the wow gambolling lamb and the ugly baby. Nothing subtle there. Oh, and grab a coffee…
Ceremonials – Florence and the Machine (2011)
There’s a little more subtlety in F&TM’s album from last year, Ceremonials. Officially Q’s album of the year and a close second for Time magazine’s accolade, this knocks stars off Adele’s contribution to the year which sold significantly more and everyone knows. So roll over Adele, it’s Flo time.
The album opens strongly quickly doling out the two singles, Shake It Out and What The Water Gave Me – the former has a wonderful chanted whooping chorus that whistles around your head for the whole day. The latter rumbles ominously and explodes in to an hypnotic power anthem. But it’s not all over with those two. The album is packed with incredible material reminding me a lot of Kate Bush in experimental mode – the distinctive drumming sound, the eerie female chorus and enigmatic often spiritual lyrics. A particular favourite is Leave My Body, a beautiful if spooky chorus
Said I’m gonna leave my body (moving up to higher ground)
I’m gonna lose my mind (my history keeps pulling me, pulling me down)
Video of the week is Shake It Out – again, most definitely a touch of the Kate Bush with the sweeping red dress and white dress, the long hair and slightly wild eyes. And that is one weird party she’s at.
Overall highly highly recommended. This albums coming back for future weeks. I’ll do that star thing, as I’ve never done it before.
And before anyone asks
It’s got to be Harry hasn’t it, now that it’s proven that he’s not a criminal.