Monday, October 26, 2009

London's Unknown Museums: 1 Willam Morris Gallery

Number one in an occasional series on museums and galleries in my native London. Unknown may be hyperboly, but they are less well known than the big ones like the British Museum

Willam Morris Gallery, Walthamstow
The first of these is my most local gallery as I as born not too far away from here in sunny Walthamstow. The gallery is fairly small and is unsurprisingly devoted to William Morris and the Arts and Crafts movement. The pieces that I like the most are often the furniture which is unsurprisingly made with excellent craftsmanship as I find some of Morris' textile design in particular to be rather densely patterned for my tastes. There are also various personal belongings of Morris which does help to build a picture of him as a man as well as an artist.

The exhibits include a bequest from Sir Frank Brangwyn RA of paintings, sketches and drawings. This does include some excellent pieces and I probably enjoy these more than most of Morris' work.

My most recent visit was prompted by an exhibition of drawings and paintings of Epping Forest, which runs close to the gallery and at one time extended over much of where Waltham Forest and the other North East London boroughs are.

I'd recommend this gallery to anyone with an interest in Morris and the Arts & Crafts movement or Frank Brangwyn. Otherwise it may not be so high up the list of places to visit, but if you have seen most or all of the major galleries in London it can be worth a visit. Like many local authority supported museums and galleries it is free, but visitors should try and buy postcards or other mementoes to help support these.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Podcast Review H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast

The H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast is a fairly new podcast concentrating on discussing H.P. Lovecraft's stories. The show is weekly and coming out on a regular basis at the moment. The regular hosts are Chris Lackey and Chad Fifer, who I believe are assoicated with the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society.

Each week the presenters discuss one or more Lovecraft stories, with the stories being taken in chronological order. There are excerpts from the stories read by a variety of readers. The discussion is by Chad and Chris with occasional guest presenters, taking a light hearted look at the material and Lovecraft's approach. They do take into account the context of the period and mention the influences upon HPL and his circle. The most recent episode at time of writing is no 15 on "From Beyond" and there is a great enthusiasm for the story and HPL in the discussion.

The sound quality is good as the presenters are professionals in the media industry and downloads from the podcast's own website or iTunes are reliable and fast. There is good use made of sound effects and music in the episodes as well.

I recommend this podcast highly with the only caveat being the presenters do not take Lovecraft's output entirely seriously which is an approach that makes sense to me as like most horror fiction there is a tendency to absurdity. This is particularly true of the weaker earlier works discussed to date. If you want to hear straight readings of H.P. Lovecraft stories then some are available free at Yog-Sothoth dot com or the Cthulhu podcast