On the weekend we went to the Anselm Kiefer Exhibition at the White Cube in Bermondsey. It’s just closed, but if there’s any of his work anywhere near you do go and see it. He is the most imaginative of artists. He sees with a keen but compassionate eye: several of his works made me want to weep. There’s one in the just-finished exhibition of an iron bed with leadened coverings and an enormous boulder on the bed that makes it sag. It’s called San Loreto (I don’t know why … ).
Either side of the bed’s iron headboard are wings, also made of lead, which saddened me because how could anything fly when weighed down with such a boulder?
There was a long tall thin room with shelves to the ceiling filled with paper, messages, labelled boxes, old machinery, leadened reels of film with film spilling from them, food, books and everything you could imagine. It’s called Arsenal.
I thought of it as an arsenal of the imagination, a necessary tool for each and every one of us in this often-far-too-utilitarian-and-sometimes-frightening world. And then, at the end of a sombre, sad, darkly desolate corridor lined with iron beds with leadened coverings called Walhalla, was a room filled with light and works of such size and intensity I could have stayed all day. It was as if a shaft of sunlight had pierced the darkness. This one’s called nubes pluant (from the Advent liturgy and meaning ‘Let the clouds rain’).
Go and find them if you possibly can (and thank you to the White Cube, Bermondsey, for permission to reproduce the images).
And the thing I would love to have invented in a parallel universe where time is infinite and all things are possible is Heywood Hill’s A Year in Books subscription scheme. It’s a glorious idea. You can buy (or someone can buy for you) a subscription to 6 or 12 books a year, hardback or paperback. But the unique thing is that each book is a surprise. You fill in a form online (or you talk to the lovely people at Heywood Hill) and tell them about your bookish tastes: fiction, non-fiction, authors you love, authors you hate, ideas you’d like to explore or not and then, magically through the post (my first book arrived a couple of weeks ago complete with an elegant January bookmark) comes a book you might never have discovered for yourself. A Valentine’s present perhaps? Bravo Heywood Hill.