Chris James teaches at Cirencester College. Somehow, he also finds time to paint and sculpt: I met him at the Gardens Gallery yesterday, where he has an exhibition. I liked this colourful take on the Ruskin Mill lake, inspiration for a number of the works in what is a cheerful show. It is more three-dimensional than it looks - a virtual collage.
Chris moaned a little about the scaffolding surrounding the Gallery, which - he surmised - accounted for the small number of visits. Not the problem experienced by The Wilson, so we read in the paper: crowds have flooded in to see round since the reopening three weeks ago. I sat next to the Friends' Chair, Gina Wilson (no relation) last night, who enthused about the transformation.
On my other side was Barbara McNaught, whose art is non-visual: she has just published her second collection of poems, Strings of Pearls.
The art of comedy has also been on public display of late, though Jeremy Paxman's Newsnight interview (viral on YouTube) with Russell Brand was not entirely humorous. Indeed there was a deadly seriousness about Brand's sermon on revolution.
Far indeed from Pacem in Terris, Pope John XXIII's encyclical, published 50 years ago this year. "His is not a message of revolution," writes Bruce Kent in this week's Tablet. "We exhort our sons to take an active part in public life," wrote that good Pope. Brand, on the other hand, says he has never voted, and has no intention of doing so.
What credit will it reflect on the New Statesman for allowing him in as guest editor I wonder? It's paradoxical that someone so intelligent should wish to be so destructive - of our society. After all, "you can do everything with bayonets except sit on them." I thought Paxman was excellent.
Thomas (b. 1979, so four years Brand's junior) says that he "does seem to be able to articulate a lot of what the youth feel about modern Britain - in that there’s no point being involved in the process. The problem is that he doesn’t present an alternative. There is no alternative. So what next?"
As I see it, the RBs of this world wield immense power through their super ability to articulate. So, when their message is a despairing one, it tends to remove hope from you and me. We can only do right what we can, in the relationships we have. No? Some of the most right will be works of art.