Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Archive for November 6th, 2019

Europe in Flux

Posted by jonathanfryer on Wednesday, 6th November, 2019

Europe in FluxThirty years ago this weekend the Berlin Wall came down, signalling the demise of Communism in Europe and the end of the Cold War. I still remember watching the extraordinary scenes on TV as East Berliners crossed into the West in a state of disbelief. It seems like yesterday. Yet for anyone under 35 there will be no real memories of when Europe was divided and nuclear obliteration was a background possibility. Or just how grey life was in much of central and Eastern Europe, as well as in the Soviet Union. Or how cruel, not just in the gulags in Siberia but also under the Stasi in East Germany or in the inhuman prisons in Romania. However, it would be wrong to think that everything changed from dark to light in November 1989. The subsequent conflicts in former Yugoslavia were most acute in Bosnia Herzegovina (I went to Sarajevo not long after the dreadful siege was lifted), and the economies of many parts of the disintegrating Soviet Union collapsed. So it is right and proper that the photographic exhibition by Pierre Alozie, Europe in Flux, running at the 12 Star Gallery in Europe House, Smith Square, Westminster, until 6 December captures not just the euphoria of that astonishing night in Berlin but also the struggles and the suffering that followed in different parts of the former Communist lands. Indeed, some areas have still not fully recovered from the trauma. And some of the greatest social tensions today are in countries that were on the wrong side of the Wall during the Cold War, but are now members of the European Union.

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Ethel Walker at the Thackeray Gallery

Posted by jonathanfryer on Wednesday, 6th November, 2019

Ethel WalkerA large Ethel Walker still life of blood red poppies and black-and-gold Chinese lacquer boxes dominates (in the positive sense of the word) the sitting room of our house in London. It was a painting that as soon as I saw it around 25 years ago I knew I had to live with. The artist (not to be confused with the late Dame Ethel Walker) lives in Argyll and the Scottish landscape, or rather its encounter with the sea, has been the main theme of her more recent work. A new exhibition of her seascapes, whose opening at the Thackeray Gallery in Kensington she attended last night, transports the urban viewer to a distant world of raw nature, where the light of a sun peeking or sometimes streaming through clouds casts strange patterns and colours, at once exuding a mystical calm along with the threat of squalls to come. One is literally drawn into her works as if by some magnetic force so that one finds oneself skimming over the sea like some low flying bird. Though the core theme is constant each image is different, deceptively simple until one surrenders to its power. The exhibition runs until 22 November.



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