Luncheon at the Boating Party by August Renoir

My personal impressions of Renoir’s masterpiece… Milan Buddha Ghosh

Contemplating art, literature and cultural forms and norms, brings me intellectual insight, joy, pleasure, gratitude, wisdom, is meditation, is connection to self, friends, the world of art reflecting life, and life itself… contemplating, digesting arts meanings is all these things and more

Again, salvaged from a bin-yard. This painting is now rather faded because of age, it is pink grey and blues they appear to be other on a boat parked at the rivers brushy, bushy edge or at a riverside café. There are 6 gentlemen and 6 gentle-ladies, looking v mellow and summery. One around the table loaded with elegant wine bottles, fulsome, dark red grapes, and wineglasses, and interestingly, the women are all looking upwards and aside, with subtle joy. Only one woman is looking at a gentleman; they all appear to be middle-class of the Victorian era. One man wears a top hat. And

To me, it is about a day off work, not off life!

It is about rest and relaxation and people enjoying each others intimacy of friendship and conversation. There is definitely an erotic fondness between various men and women in the picture, the lovely search for love and the hope for it, despite its cost. Ah! Wistfully I say to me and you. In the right side of the picture one woman eyes are wine-mellowed and fond as she looks up to the face of a confident fond-eyed man, the fond eyes of love. It is a very romantic painting. And we know Renoir loved women, perhaps a little too much, like Salvador Dali he sexploited ‘his’ women the women he portrayed; sadly they treated them too much as sex object’arts – even whilst from Woman’s Hours inn radio 4, women discussing this, conceded to each other these sexobjects’art colluded in that exploitation, out of love, lust and admiration (human beings are complex massivley like reality). The heat is all around them on the French Riviera. It is classic August Renoir. I have had to smudge layers of dust off this ole fave pic, which I became to familiar with by contempt. But I discovered it recreating presence of moment and meaning, as I’m sure Renoir intended. I moved from concept – or story of life – back to experience, or presence. And this what art does it renews us, and recreates us, whether when contemplating alone, or with friends or strangers. It inspires our intellect and … heart. Arts ‘gets’ us where it counts; it reduces isolation in our suffering, like the yearning I, and many others, have to experience love with a soul-mate including, intellectual and erotic love, true companionship ion life. But since the art reflecting life – in this case Renoir’s Luncheon at the Boating Party, is not merely in our introspection neurotically intellectual mind, we experience, space, freedom, maybe enlightenment. The Buddha said no one could become enlightened without art/aesthetics or forgiveness for that matter, and art sometimes had double themes on forgiveness and the art of the erotic, including being badly hurt by ‘lovers’.

Leeds Art Gallery Welcomes You

We like Leeds Art Gallery. Not only is it free and warm, but there are often great exhibitions like the Fiona Rae one we covered in 2012. Jude Woods has the fabulous job title of Assistant Community Curator at the Gallery and was first mentioned on the blog in connection with the brilliant Black History Month event ‘Five’ in November, where a panel of 4 artists walked us around the gallery and talked about artworks from the perspective of ‘Empire’.

Five Black History Month

Now Jude has written us about her work at the Gallery, and some great opportunities to get down there and get involved. Jude says:

“It’s my job to encourage more people to come to the gallery especially people who haven’t been before. I also help people to enjoy the artworks by making our activities more accessible. I offer gallery tours to community groups and activities for children and adults. I work both at the gallery and out in the community. As well as one off events I also offer some regular groups which people can get involved in, at the moment they are:”

• Artful: easy arts activities for families in the gallery, every third Saturday of the month – Drop in between 1 and 3 or come to the whole session.

• Artful @ Marlborough Street (in the community hall): easy arts activities for anyone (adults and children) who lives around Marlborough Street (LS1), last Saturday of the month. Drop in between 1 and 4 or come to the whole session.

• Queer Eye Group: for anyone who is interested in Queer Culture, we explore the artworks in the gallery with a ‘queer eye’ using discussion, drama and arts activities. Tuesdays 4.30 – 6.30 and Thursdays 11 – 2, we meet most weeks but get in touch to find out when the next sessions are on.
• LGBT*IQ Social History Project: This new project is about collecting historical objects and telling the stories of our local gay communities, get in touch of you want to get involved. (LGBT*IQ: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans*, Intersex, Queer/Questioning)

• The Warm Welcome Project: (starts March 2015) every Friday morning (10.30 – 12) in the gallery we will have interesting conversations about the artworks, drop in or stay for the whole session. Find out more about the artworks, join in a discussion about art and life using easy words so everyone can join in.

• Working in partnership with People in Action we offer 2 regular arts sessions for adults who have a learning disability: Saturdays 11 – 1 and starting in 2015 another during the week. Contact People in Action ( 0113 2470411) to join the groups.

• Multi-sensory tours for people who have visual impairment: available from March 2015, for both individuals and groups, get in touch to find out more.

Any questions? Get in touch to find out more:
Jude Woods, Leeds Art Gallery, 0113 2477021,

A little bit of culture does you good

Leeds Grand

What does the word ‘culture’ mean to you?  Art galleries? Museums? To me, it has always sounded a bit posh, and something that I’m not part of.

At last year’s Love Arts Festival, I was involved in some research with the University of Leeds which aimed to look at culture and what it means to us.  It got me thinking.

Maybe culture wasn’t something high-brow and elitist.  Maybe it was something I was involved in already.  At the time I was taking art classes, joining in with the Central Library’s creative writing group annual collection of short stories, in a choir, and making beaded jewellery.  That’s all culture, right?  And I’d be going to the cinema, had a museum visit with the writers’ group, an art gallery visit with my painting class, as well as all the visits and events with Love Arts.
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Five: A Black History Month Event at Leeds Art Gallery

Jude Woods is Assistant Community Curator at Leeds Art Gallery and I heard her speak at a recent meeting of the local arts group Scattered Leaves, where she talked about her work encouraging people who don’t usually go to art galleries to come in and see what there is on display. I didn’t need persuading since I’ve always thought free access to art is a brilliant thing to have in any city. Jude promised to write us a piece about her work for this blog in the near future, but in the meantime sent details of what looks to be a very interesting event coming up, combining art and social history, on December 1st.

One of the speakers, Carol Sorhaindo, worked for Leeds Mind’s community art project, and has run stalls selling her fabulous art work at Inkwell Summer events, so her perspective on ‘art from a post colonial perspective’ will be particularly interesting.

Five Black History Month


If you haven’t already seen Highlights, the “dazzling annual showcase of artwork by members of Arts & Minds”, you now only have until Sunday, and you’ll really miss something if you don’t see it. The quote in the previous sentence is from the blurb in the Love Arts programme, but it’s really not an exaggeration. This is an extraordinary collection – very varied, in terms of the type of image on display, with photography, straight and manipulated; pencil drawings; paintings abstract and realistic, ranging from the fantastical to simple images of domestic pets and other animals; scenes of gritty urban life and idyllic scenes of nature – but all generally of a really high standard, at least as far as I could tell, as a lay person who likes to look at such things.

One of the artists, local poet Liz Helliwell, has already blogged about the opening last Wednesday – see for her take.

I’ve put a few examples below to whet your appetitie, but they are really rather random – I liked so much of this collection that I’d have had to photograph most of it to give a true reflection. The Light is open from 6 a.m. to 12.30 a,m, daily, and the exhibition is staffed during the day. It’s free and the brochure says:. “Just turn up”. I would.


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The images above are Royal Park School, by Jill Setterington; A Daydream by the Water’s Edge, by Ian Gill; Villification by Liz Helliwell; Veiled Garden by Amanda Burton; and Divine Mystery by Patrick Hanratty.

Lasting Essence – an exhibition at the Arch Cafe


I have a print of one of Peter Shillito’s paintings in my front room. It’s a bright, complex, abstract design that people often comment on, and the colours in particular (strong blues, greens, purple) are very beautiful. Peter is a genuine mystic, whose poems and artwork form a whole – two different ways of pointing toward the same truth.

His exhibition ‘Lasting Essence’ is currently showing at the Arch Café, (just off Dortmund Square, round the corner from the St. John’s Centre). As well as about 20 of his paintings, there is a book of poetry with the same title, which has images of some of the paintings in it. It’s a lovely little collection. The title poem ‘written soon after a mental illness had torn my world apart’, sets the tone:

Little Tree

A small tree may grow

Its branches reaching out

like the arms of a child

Touching a golden sun

Its leaves whisper

and flutter free

Like a dove on a wing,

out into Eternity.

The theme of finding light out of mental darkness, and discovering that ‘breakdown’ can lead to ‘breaking through’, is a theme that runs through Peter’s writing. It made me think of another English poet/painter mystic, William Blake:

“What is the price of Experience? Do men buy it for a song? Or wisdom for a dance in the street? No, it is bought with the price

Of all that a man hath, his house, his wife, his children Wisdom is sold in the desolate market where none come to buy”

Peter is a member of the Living Artists Movement, the group Ushawant Kaur began, which printed his book. He’s also a regular member of the Scattered Leaves group, where practising artists and writers share their work every first Tuesday evening at the Civic Hall. The Lasting Essence exhibition will run until the 18th of August.

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Chat and Create

Chat and Create   When I went to the Wellbeing Web training session last Tuesday I was interested to see unusual activity in the coffee bar at Swarthmore. There was a big paper tree spread over two tables, looking suspiciously like the colourful tree on the new Swarthmore brochure…

The Swarthmore Tree

The Swarthmore Tree

 and piles of flattened aluminium cans waiting to be made into leaves, based on artwork of people who’d contributed to the project via the Chat and Create sessions at Swarthmore and the recent Unity Day on Woodhouse Moor.

I’ve met Sue Bowden before and know her as a community arts worker, maker of stained glass & a planner of schemes to transform scruffy corners of the city into blooming gardens, so I wasn’t surprised to see her involved in this. It seems a winning combination. Who doesn’t like chatting? or creating? Plus the warm glow of recycling, and drinking Swarthmore tea…….

Summer sessions continue on Tuesday 3rd, 10th & 17th September from 10am – 12noon.

Then from September 24th the sessions will run Tuesdays 4pm – 6pm.


Writing Poems

  I’ve always enjoyed writing and the creative urge.  I like poems for a few reasons.  I  like choosing and arranging the words and the rhythm of the poem.  It’s good when people relate to the poem.  I find writing poems can express inhibited emotions and opinions.  I go to a good creative writing class at Inkwell in Chapelallerton.



Long term,



Is the diagnosis.

Your thoughts of violence?


Your lurid fantasies?


Your misanthropy?


Get a job.

Go see a nice film.

Buy a Top Ten single.

You won’t be bored then.

In the interim, take these tablets

To be somebody else.

No, they’re not drugs.

They’re special tablets.

They won’t affect your body

It’ll just feel like somebody else’s.

Least you won’t be bored though.

Don’t take them with drink,

Unless you’re with friends

And in licensed premises.

Another appointment?


Take this.

You know the way out.

By Daniel Tavet

….we’ve fired a robot to Mars. Next up, living on the moon?

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…you’ll love it.

‘Maybe you can live on the moon in the next century’ – Fiona Rae

Taking a quiet hour or two for yourself and visiting an art gallery, or maybe a local museum exhibition here in Leeds, is something I recommend, if like me, you sometimes struggle with those niggly blues. Looking at other peoples’ ideas – for me – really takes me out of myself.

Big canvases, bold paint strokes, bright, confident colours, and an amazing range of different brush spatters and strokes all clamour for your attention when you stand in front of one of Fiona Rae’s paintings. It’s like stepping into someone else’s head for a while.

Fiona Rae’s head looks like a busy, dynamic and most important of all, a FUN place to visit!

It’s busy stuff alright. Bright. Dark. Colourful. Quirky. Odd fluffy pandas floating about amongst digital shoot outs and video games and flowers. Dramatic colour clashes but also little corners of quiet delicate beauty, as well.

What I like is how absorbing each different picture is. I find myself standing in front of each one for ages, getting lost in all the detail.

Picture titles like ‘As I run and run, happiness comes closer’, ‘Side by side, I’ll be yours forever’ and ‘My favourite puppy’s life’ just make you all the more intrigued as to what the stories are here. I like that. ‘What on earth is she thinking here?!…’

And the great thing? there is no right or wrong answer to that. Fiona says as much in an interesting video which you can watch about her and her work. The Art Gallery are playing this video for you to help you find out more in the corridor alongside the quiet exhibition space.

We all have our stories inside of us, and we all have special moments of dark and light that make us the special people we are. This exhibition reminds you of that.

Art galleries are undemanding, restful places, where you can wander about at your leisure, and just see whatever it is that takes your fancy. Leeds Art gallery is great for this. The staff are friendly and helpful if you have a question about stuff. And it’s FREE! And if you get bored of being stimulated by all the art in there, you can always go grab a lovely cup of tea and a cake in the Tiled Hall tea room next door. Nice scones. ; )

a small pleasure. and it’s the small pleasures you give to yourself that can make all the difference.

The beautiful Fiona Rae painting exhibition at Leeds Art Gallery this summer, runs ’til 26th Aug. Be quick though, because it ends soon! Take yourself to another place and go visit: it’s well worth a look. ~ Stuart Petch

Link: Leeds Art Gallery