Dorothea Tanning

Having spent months cooped up at home, not waslking far, not venturing out, suddenly we have a ten day holiday in Portugal, and then two days later a two-day raid on London. We’ve always done these, but as the joints stiffen so the itineraries get a little less ambitious - more time sitting in cafes, fewer galleries attempted. And I make it part of the routine that I grab one of their collapsible stools before I start. It makes a huge different to my gallery stamina if I know that at any point I can find a small space, plonk down the stool, and just sit for a minute or two. That way, it’s still varied and interesting enough to make it worthwhile.

Two of the main attractions this time were both at Tate Britain - Van Gogh in England, and the monster Don McCullin show. But in a way the big bonus was the unexpected - Dorothea Tanning at Tate Britain. Had never heard of her, only went on the strength of two rave reviews, but they were entirely justified. american woman who got involved with the Surrealists, married Max Ernst, and then weirdly fell under the radar (not through any fault of Ernst, or the gang, who clearly rated her). She interesting, lively witty, but also prolific and varied - as you go from room to room, charting changes in subject matter and style, it’s an unfolding revelation of talent on the move. Yet another instance of wanting to buy the book, so as to hang on to this excitement, and follow it through properly, rather than leaving it behind on the busy trail of exciting discoveries which quickly become forgotten. So here I am, facing another expensive book, but not sorry at all. I know I’m going to enjoy going back through this, and I’m grateful to have had the chance.