Cass Sculpture Park

I loved this work most of all.  I should qualify this: on this visit, I loved this work most of all!  On another visit, I am sure other works will resonate more powerfully.  The Cass Foundation is dedicated to supporting new works through commissions, so there should be new pieces on each return visit.


The ‘tree’ greets you as you go to the gallery where the tickets are sold so I stopped on the way in and stopped on the way out.  It is called ‘Icarus Palm’ and is by Douglas White. It was made from tonnes of tyres, supplied by Fyfes who shipped them from overseas in the way that, in earlier times, exotic plants were sent back home from abroad by botanist explorers.

The dead nature of the tyres crafted into a replica of a live tree works for me and there is beauty in its form.

The Cass Sculpture Park at Goodwood in West Sussex is in my hinterland.  What’s in yours?


Cass Sculpture Park at Goodwood

There were so many striking works of art on display at the Cass Sculpture Park but several stood out for me.  Sir Eduardo Paolozzi’s ‘London- Paris’ and Bill Woodrow’s ‘Regardless of History’ were two.  Here is another.

The work is placed among the trees so that ‘discovering’ it is more dramatic.  It is called ‘Host’ and is by sculptor Peter Burke.  There are 40 human like figures standing together.  Each one is different, despite being made with the same process and despite all being made from recycled water tanks.  The work speaks of identity since these differences may be slight but are profound.

The Cass Sculpture Foundation is a Treasure House

I was much struck by a sculpture by Sir Eduardo Paolozzi in the grounds of the Cass Sculpture Park at Goodwood in West Sussex.  The piece was entitled ‘London- Paris (Wood)’ and spoke of the artist’s identity.  Paolozzi was a sculptor from Leith, Edinburgh in Scotland who was the son of Italian immigrants.  This heritage is reflected in this work which was the last piece he worked on before his death in 2005.

The sculpture is designed to fit on real railway lines and could be moved up and down the railway network, should someone choose. On it are parts of a human figure, outsize and disjointed, but arranged so that the form of a person is clear.  Across it and around are other items that could be carried by rail.

As a boy, Paolozzi would travel from Edinburgh to Milan, changing trains in London and Paris, hence the title.  His was the experience of many, many others who had family links in another country.

The Cass Foundation at Goodwood is a Treasure House

The title should perhaps read ‘is a Treasure Garden’ since the exhibits are displayed within trees and lawns of the grounds of this part of the West Sussex countryside.  I was in Chichester so keen to visit this sculpture park that I heard about many years ago but have never visited.

The park is the brainchild of Wilfred Cass and his wife, Jannette.  They believe that younger artists need to establish themselves but the art form is by necessity very expensive.  Younger artists need commissions to be able to proceed with the vast expense of buying the materials they need.  Here, the Foundation helps.  Artists are given the money to create and the space to exhibit, often alongside more famous and established artists. All the work is for sale, that is a fundamental aspect of the scheme.  When a work is sold, the profit is used to cover the costs of the materials before being split equally between artist and Foundation.  The Foundation part of the profit is used to commission new work.

This means that it would be worth revisiting the park each year knowing there would be new work to see.

I was delighted to see Bill Woodrow represented here.  His commission for the fourth plinth, ‘Regardless of History’, is here.  I would love to buy it but it is, apparently, the most expensive work currently on show.  I saw it when it was on the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square in London and loved it. Well here it is in the countryside of West Sussex.

The Cass Sculpture Park at Goodwood is in my hinterland.  What’s in yours?

Your Beauty is Worth Nothing

I went to Salisbury to see this film which was showing as part of the Salisbury International Festival.  The story of a boy with a Kurdish father and a Turkish mother living in Vienna brought home the pain of trying to survive in a country where the culture is so different.  The theme of identity was strong.  Here was a boy, Veysel, who struggled at school because of the language barrier and who tried to be the glue that kept his family together.  His much older brother has rejected his father because of political activity that led to their need to seek asylum in Austria.

Veysel has to learn a poem in German to avoid repeating a school year.  He knows he needs to show commitment to his new country but the language barrier is a high one for him.  With the help of a neighbour, he translates the lyrics of a song from his homeland into German.  The title of the film is the title of the poem he learns.

We start by seeing the fantasy Veysel carries around with him.  He has a youthful crush on Ana, who is herself a refugee and who sits in class in front of him.  The need for a connection is strong and we see both the reality of Veysel’s school life and how he would like it to be.

This film is the debut of Huseyin Tabak.  It is a reminder, should one be needed, that refugees seek protection rather than a life of comfort in Europe.  As Veysel shows us, trying to fit in is not an easy task.  The performance by Abdulkadir Tuncer as Veysel is amazing.  The camera spends a lot of time on his face and it is a sign of the strength of his acting that we learn so much about his internal world from the limited expressions he releases.


I hope this film gets a wide distribution.  It is in my hinterland.  What’s in yours?

End of Empire

This British television series from the 80s tells the story of how Britain disengaged from the Empire it had ruled for centuries.  The story starts with the Second World War and ends in the early 80s when the Rhodesia question was finally settled.


The series was timely because it managed to capture the voices and opinions of colonial types who were elderly and, mostly, in retirement in the home counties of England.  Had the series been made any later, many of the people most closely involved would have passed away.

It was the nature of the Empire, and a symptom of the times, that most of the talking heads were male.  What made the series riveting was the fact that both sides were interviewed and, because time had passed, most were candid.

The defeat of the British by the Japanese in Singapore was a pivotal moment in history.  It shocked the British but it proved to many countries living under the rule of Great Britain that the mother country was not all powerful and could be removed.  When the war was over the time had come test the power of the Empire.

There were forces at home helping the freedom movements, though.  Fenner Brockway was interviewed talking about the feelings emerging from the war that you could not fight tyranny in the form of the Nazis only to insist that other people lived under British rule.

Figures such as Gandhi and Nehru feature in the early programmes but their roles as thorns in the side of the powerful were replicated across the world.  There were fourteen programmes in the series, each one covering a colonial struggle.  It was, like ‘The World at War’, a major television undertaking. If only we saw more like it now.

‘End of Empire’ is in my hinterland.  What’s in yours?

Torch Song Trilogy

Not many films have made me return to the cinema within the week to see them again but this one did. Maybe, because this was before films were downloadable or available so easily on video cassette or DVD or maybe it was because the film touched me so much.

Harvey Fierstein is a man with a message.  this film, directed by Paul Bogart, is based on Fierstein’s play that was a hit in London and Broadway.  I didn’t see it on stage but I saw it on the screen and had to see it again.   The representation of gay men on screen living real lives was new to me. Most films with gay related themes were about the angst of coming out. Here we had gay men who were out and (mostly) proud.  Fierstein tapped into something quite different with each section of the trilogy.  We had young men finding themselves in the city, men finding love with each other, and men adopting sons.

The film is a comedy in parts but has tragic elements too.  For me, back then, the most important aspect of this film was that nobody had to explain their sexuality to anyone else; they were gay and there we are!

Matthew Broderick, Anne Bancroft and Brian Kerwin were also in the cast but so was a young actor called Eddie Castrodad.  His role was significant because he played the gay teenager adopted by Harvey Fierstein’s character in the third segment of the film.  That a teenager would be out was amazing to me!


‘Torch Song Trilogy’ may not make it into many lists of the best films of the 80s but it is in my hinterland as it was important to me.