Today I received a cutting from the Times concerning exhibitions at the Royal Academy and at the Laing gallery in Newcastle https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/saturday-review/exhibitions-exposed-the-naked-portrait-at-the-laing-art-gallery-newcastle-the-renaissance-nude-at-the-royal-academy-london-w1-tdrwdddbt. One of our club members did highlight the RA exhibition some weeks ago and I have written to the RA in the last few weeks to ask for a naturist group visit, but alas no reply as yet. I think we really need to mobilise some interest if we are to crack these institutions. By that I mean we need naturists to email them direct. I did also follow up with the Tate Britain with the same lack of response. It seems that they either are overloaded with emails or choose only to reply to certain inquiries. In the current wave of press interest in inappropriate behaviour, particularly towards women and pornography (for instance the site Tumblr has announced that it will be censoring the content that people place on their site and we already see the effect of such censorship on Facebook) , that the question of the purpose of the display of nude pictures in public has not covered the role of photgraphic and art galleries. We are far from the Victorian ideal of this display as an educative idea and I suggest it is simply a way to attract more fee paying people. The article highlights how much portrayal of the nude in art is free of all vestige of personality - the treatment is simply as an object with no element of vitality or humanity. The quote is 'To be naked is to be oneself. To be nude is to is to be seen naked by others and yet not recognised for oneself'. The lady author concludes that 'to be unclothed need no longer something shameful' and that this represents a big cultural shift from depiction of the nude as the representation of the male ideal of woman. Indeed the author mentions some of the pictures in display (admitedly at the Laing Gallery) as showing this shift within the pictures themselves - pictures of self confident women staring at the viewer. What I am trying to rationalise is that there seems little point is trying to point out the role of the gallery in the depiction of the nude in art - not the least because they, like Tumblr, can claim simply to be an intermediary between the artist and the viewer. Criticism may simply pander to prudery. Our request to go to see the exhibition at Tate Britain was precisely to see the nude portrayed as the human reality and to experience this skin to skin, as it were. Our trip to the Jerwood was in some way to carry forward the same idea. In Mark Wallinger's gallery there were no pictures hung and no distortion of reality (meant or not). The art was to create the space and give it meaning, but the display was of ourselves without make up or decoration. Not only were we able to see others, but unlike the real world we could see ourselves taking part too - recognisable, undoubtedly different, but significantly the same. I suspect we were unsucessful because we were so few. By the way what we (Alan, Keith and I) learned from our last talk is that presentation - i.e outward appearance - is everything. The website has been amended to portray our club as we actually are and not as just a club for (outwardly) beautiful people.
Finally there was a new subscriber to our website, which prompted me to put this 'conversation with a friend' on this blog as I have discovered that 111 people are following it and I thank you all. If you have any comments I would be pleased to received them at email@example.com.