One of my old English teachers used to start every class with “It was a dark and stormy night…” and expect one of us poor students to come up with something witty and intelligent to follow on, we didn’t, ever. But last night was a dark and stormy night, so stormy that it felt as if the house had been transplanted from its snug London suburb to the Yorkshire moors, with Kathy Earnshaw’s shade, looking remarkably like Kate Bush, dancing around outside howling to come in.
So rather than trying to sleep I finished reading The Savage Garden. Hmmm. Its a nice book, but strangely unsatisfying. As I read I found my mind wandering to other things, of which more in a moment. The book is a mystery tale which has echoes of The Da Vinci Code as Dante’s Inferno is the key to the story of the garden. This is very interesting and has encouraged me to reread Dante, but somehow it just doesn’t work, while the contemporary mystery which is intertwined throughout the story just isn’t mysterious or compelling. The best I can say about this book is that it feels well researched and Mark Mills isn’t a bad writer, but something went slightly wrong as it just didn’t grab me the way a mystery novel should.
One of the characters in the book is an up and coming sculptor and the book lists contemporary sculptors, one of which is Elisabeth Frink, one of my favourite artists. My very first job was working for an embezzler, I’m serious – he was eventually sent to prison in the US for embezzlement and allegedly found God while inside, but that is a whole other story – who had a sculpture park and herb garden at his house in Hampshire, I absolutely promise I am not making this up! Anyway he had two Frink heads in his sculpture park, In Memoriam I and In Memoriam II which were placed together in a walled garden, these two pieces of art were so full of power and emotion, I used to sneak out of the office and just spend time sitting by them, trying to understand them. There were other sculptures in the park by Henry Moore, Miro and even Barbara Hepworth, but none of them affected me as much as the two Frinks. Her Walking Madonna at Salisbury is also amazing and powerful, but I can’t find an image of it at the moment to link to. Her works are everywhere, London, Chatsworth House, Winchester, Belfast and worldwide, if you get a chance to see one or see a collection do, I promise it will be an experience, whatever you think of her work you won’t be indifferent I promise.