So long for air to brighten,
Time to be dazzled and the heart to lighten.
Seamus Heaney, ‘Fosterling’ (from Seeing Things)
A seasonal sonnet celebrating a magical epiphany one winter’s day in Sussex.
You may recall that our autumn film ‘Surrealism in Sussex’ featured Rodin’s ‘Kiss’ which for some years languished in the stables of Lewes House, home of the American-born art collector Edward Perry Warren. Warren had offered the sculpture for exhibition at Lewes Town Hall but when soldiers were billeted there in 1914 ‘The Kiss’ was draped in a tarpaulin so as not to have an adverse effect on their morals. A rare photo has recently resurfaced, showing ‘The Kiss’ modestly under wraps in the background of a Boxing Day party for hundreds of soldiers. The image was part of an extraordinary archive of more than 150,000 glass plate negatives, the work of four generations of Reeves photographers.
A century later, ‘The Kiss’ is having a warm Christmas at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney, the first time the sculpture has travelled outside Europe and, in a sign of the times, is the centrepiece of a celebration of the Nude.