Moore on Offer

A couple of weeks ago, towards the end of the school summer holidays I was fortunate enough to choose a day out which was able to keep my son entertained, and myself indulged in my passion for the sculptor Henry Moore.  A rare feat!

We are lucky enough to live about 10 minutes drive away from the world famous sculptor and artist’s former home, Hoglands, in Perry Green, Hertfordshire.  I have only visited once before, in 2010 on my birthday; a scorching hot day and thoroughly enjoyable.  One of those “perfect days” you never forget.

So a fortnight ago, once the decision was made, it was a similarly sunny day and hence perfect conditions to view the sculptures.  The week before I’d also seen Moore’s works at the Rijksmuseum during my all-too-brief, but highly enjoyable weekend in one of my favourite places, Amsterdam, so my interest was re-kindled.

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I particularly wanted to go to Hoglands at this time because works by Auguste Rodin, the famous French sculptor were also on display in  a rare joint exhibition.  Rodin is best known for his “Ballet Dancer” piece and I wanted to not only explore and familiarise myself with his works more closely, but also to compare and contrast with Moore’s more modernistic style of work, which is fifty years apart from Rodin’s, and in a completely different artistic style.

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The two sculptors however made perfect bedfellows and their works seems to complement each other in the extensive grounds of Hoglands.  Another reason for visiting was that there was a “Clay Workshop” which I thought would be right up my son’s street.  He’s quite the little artist and has inherited some of my creativity.

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When we arrived there, just after 11am when it opened we parked in an already half full field designated as the car park.   The layout of Hoglands has changed since I was last there.  Extra buildings and a new arrangement of some of the sculptures.  My son commandeered the layout map and so in an attempt to make it fun for him, we set off on our “cultural treasure hunt”, spotting which statutes were which, who the sculptor was (an easy choice of Rodin or Moore!), and taking photos of him with each statue as he pointed at it on the map.

We had lots of fun, not least in the infamous sheep field (a game of “dodge the sheep poo” ensued!) as we walked across the several acre field to view Large Reclining Figure at closer vantage point.  I’d seen exactly the same sculpture at the Rijksmuseum the week before (pictured above) in such different surroundings, and in doing so it provoked a completely different reaction in me.  Proof that art is worthwhile if it stirs the soul, or provokes some kind of a reaction (even a negative reaction).  Art that doesn’t inspire has failed on some kind of level.

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If you live in the area I’d thoroughly recommend the Rodin/Moore Exhibition.  Its a great day out and its open until
27 October, and open Wednesday to Sunday from 11am – 5pm.  You can find all you need to know about it here : http://www.henry-moore.org/pg

And some reviews of the exhibition here:

http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/arts/visualarts/article3725457.ece?oo=0

http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2013/mar/23/henry-moore-auguste-rodin-exhibition

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EBay Queen

I‘ve always loved a bargain, and quite frankly, who doesn’t?  So, ten years ago when the internet and world wide web concepts were still in their infancy, and I discovered eBay, I squealed for joy!  Not only could I bid on items I desired, but I could also sell my unwanted tat items to others.  It was like a technological “bring and buy” sale at your fingertips but without the Blue Peter-esque  targets.  I was in heaven!  What a brilliant idea.

Over the years many have aspired to copy eBay, but few have succeeded with the same rate of popularity.  Its global appeal and ease of use (too easy sometimes, if you have you PayPal account linked) appeals to many a bargain hunter, myself included.  So ten years later, some 1600+ items of feedback and 100% rating I can confidently nominate myself as “eBay Queen”.

So over those ten years, what have I learned?  Well, it’s been an interesting relationship between me and eBay.  Like most relationships, there’s the first flush of rosiness.  Everything’s lovely, and oh so very optimistic, and you’re hopeful for its longevity.  I set my eBay account up when I said “I do” to moving in with my then boyfriend, now husband.  I had a houseful of stuff to deal with, and like any self-respecting girlie had far too many clothes, handbags and shoes.  I’d already shipped 3 car loads of stuff to the charity shop (lots of which were in a lot more saleable condition than some of the rubbish I’ve been sent via eBay over the years, but that’s another story).  I was also on first name terms with the blokes down at the local tip who’d seen me offload many a car load of booty which I no longer wanted in my future life.  Everything else, the really good stuff, went on eBay.

The sales started to come in, and my PayPal purse was starting to feel heavier with each sale.  I became that annoying person to get stuck behind at the post office, as pensioners would tut and sometimes curse, when I dragged out a sack of 15 parcels to post to my buyers.  Initially I resisted the urge to spend, spend, spend my recent financial windfall, but I did spend many an idle moment browsing the enticements that laid within it’s virtual walls.  However, all too easily I became complacent in our relationship and soon it became, “Oh there’s a beautiful top, and look! Its starting bid is only 99p!”  And so it began….

Handbags have always been my guilty pleasure (some might say “downfall”).  I can never resist a beautiful piece of turned leather, preferably with front pockets and an adjustable shoulder strap, and possibly the odd designer name thrown in for good measure.  I’m a self-confessed snob when it comes to handbags; it’s been a lifelong art form in the making. So when I started viewing the handbag-shaped delights on offer, well, I was like Sue Ellen in a Wine Shop!

Nothing beats the feeling of winning an online auction for a much desired item for next to no money.  I was hooked!  My experience however has taught me to be mindful of that old saying “Caveat emptor”, in other words, “Buyer Beware”.  As previously mentioned, many a seemingly beautifully photographed item turned out in reality, once that package is opened, to be little like the glorious delights you previously viewed and coveted on screen.  Sometimes I have challenged this with the seller, especially if I feel I’ve been grossly misled, or ripped off.  Sometimes I’ve just let it go; life is too short to be arguing over a 99p “bargain”.  You live and learn, become more savvy, put it down to experience and don’t bid the next time around.

The bargains however have far outweighed the disasters, and when I wasn’t working, after my son was born, eBay was a complete God-send.  I even bid and won a Prada sleep-suit for him, a beautifully cute thing in gorgeously bright citrus hues.  However, after he puked all over that in exactly the same way as he did over the Primark sleep-suits, I decided to leave the designer baby goods alone!

There are many fake items sold on eBay and although they are cracking down on this practice to combat the fakers, it helps for you, the buyer, to know your product.  Do your research and learn for yourself how to spot a fake from the real thing.  Be pleasant and courteous to everyone you deal with and don’t be afraid as a buyer, to ask questions about your desired item if the listing doesn’t give you all the information you need.  A bug-bear of mine is measurements; I’m tall and so things like dress lengths and handbag straps are important to me.  If a seller doesn’t respond to my simple questions, then I tend not to bid on their items.  I find it’s a useful barometer for courtesy and promptness of reply, and how they’ll potentially deal with you should a sale ensue.

So with all that in mind, happy bidding!  And don’t blame me when you’ve spent too much! 😉

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