Saturday, 26 July 2008

Gwen John – The Lost Love of Rodin

It was my day off from the summer school today and I had not planned to do very much. The weather has been very hot! I’m trying to recover from my Wimbledon tan and didn’t want to increase my tan any further. Yes, I blame all my friends for giving me a huge complex that my face looks orange! So, I had a lovely walk around the Birmingham University campus and came across the The Barber Institute of Fine Art. The museum was pretty amazing which did not have a huge gallery but quite well packed. It houses a couple of paintings by Monet and I saw one at least of the infamous Vincent Van Gogh. But what really moved me was the work of an artist by the name of Gwen John.

John is understood to be the most important female artists of the twentieth century. This specific gallery explores her spiritual life as she moved to Meudon, near Paris in 1911 to be near her former lover the sculptor Rodin. It is said that as their relationship deteriorated she turned to the Catholic faith and was received into the Church in the year 1913 where she maintained a close relationship with the local town convent. John spent a long time painting the local nuns, priests, townspeople as they worshipped. John made me consider the relationship between love and spirituality. The way in which they are interwoven and the way we express our feelings and desires.

A quote from Gwen John to reflect upon…

“Aloneness is nearer God…nearer reality”

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