20 October 2014

Crucible2 at Gloucester Cathedral

Crucible2 is the second sculpture exhibition at Gloucester Cathedral curated by Gallery Pangolin of Chalford, Gloucestershire. The first was in 2010 with 76 contemporary sculptures; this time 100 exhibits by 61 sculptors are set in and around the cathedral. Key pieces, in the view of the curators, include works by Kenneth Armitage, David Backhouse, Ralph Brown, Lynn Chadwick (Jubilee IV in the poster,left), Ann Christopher, Antony Gormley and William Tucker. The 20th and 21st century works are often positioned in startling and stimulating contrast to their mostly English Gothic surroundings. For example, Breon O’Casey’s Large Cockerel (circa 2000, below) in the Cloisters with the earliest fan-vaulting in England circa 1350:


The most celebrated monument at Gloucester is the tomb of Edward II circa 1350, seen below left in the background to Steve Hurst’s Gloucester in Berlin. Hurst, born in 1932 and a witness to bombing in World War 2, sees it as concerning “… the bombing of civilians no matter what their country or who launches the bombing aircraft. It is a personal attempt to regain the viewpoint of a child”.


In the background (right) are the laid up colours of the Gloucestershire Regiment. They appear again (below right) behind Paul Wager’s Omnibus which marks the centenary of the Great War 1914-1918. Similar sentiments inform Deborah van der Beek’s Collateral (below right) – eight million horses died in that war - but it was cast around spent munitions from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan which brought the expression “collateral damage” into common use.


The monument near Damien Hirst’s Anatomy of an Angel (Black) (2008, below) is to Sarah Morley, 29, a mother of four who died a few days after “having sustained the pains of Childbirth at Sea” while returning from Bombay in 1784.


Among the pieces I liked were Antony Gormley’s Pose (2012, below) with In Man’s Nature by Jon Buck behind).


Bryony Marshall’s DNA – Helix of Life (below, left) marks the 60th anniversary of the discovery of DNA. Subsequently mitochondrial DNA was identified as having been passed down to us all from a woman in East Africa about 150,000 years ago, known as Mitochondrial Eve, the inspiration for a sculpture of the same name by Sue Freeborough (below right):


The photograph below left of Geoffrey Clarke’s Taunton Deane Crematorium: Test Panel does not do justice to the colours of the glass. To the right is Sarah Lucas’s Realidad (2013), one of her NUDs series shown as bronzes at the Venice Bienniale in 2013.


John Humphreys’ Ipsius Imago a Latere Extensa probably succeeded as the artist wished in puzzling and confusing the viewer:


but perhaps was not as happily placed as the Eduardo Paolozzi plaster Vulcan near a strange moustachioed carving, perhaps a millennium older:


Among the sculptures in the open were Bruce Beasley’s Breakout II (below, left)in the Cloisters and outside Kenneth Armitage’s final work, Reach for the Stars (below, right).


Crucible2 ends on 31 October. There is no admission charge but a helpful map costs £2 and there is a £3 charge for photography. The catalogue at £16 is both good value and helps support the Cathedral.




16 October 2014

Boris Johnson’s Body Mass Index

Boris Johnson came out with this to the Daily Telegraph recently:
Although some people have been kind enough to say I don’t look as though I could conceivably be over 15 stone, I weigh almost 17 stone*.
and I wouldn’t have expected him to be quite so heavy either. On the other hand, although I’ve never seen him in the flesh, on the television he does seem a little shorter than many top male politicians who are frequently six-footers or more. This is not a healthy combination, at least as measured by Body Mass Index (BMI).

Unsurprisingly, Johnson’s exact height and weight aren’t immediately available, but his remark above and information from the CelebHeights website can be combined to make an estimate of his BMI. CelebHeights states Johnson’s height as “5ft 9.5in (177 cm)”. Comments there, including some from people who have encountered him, suggest this is about right, 5ft 10in being the maximum likely. Assuming that “almost 17 stone” could, if Johnson were being uncharacteristically modest, be as low as 16.5 stone, “Best and Worst Case” BMIs can easily be calculated:


Unfortunately, even when the lightest/tallest combination is chosen, the resulting BMI is over 33. Although Johnson as Mayor of London has no responsibilities for health, as he pointed out to Andrew Marr on The Marr Show on 12 October:
… Well unfortunately, as you may know, I don’t have direct responsibility for healthcare in this city …
he could, if he wished, like anyone else look at the National Health Service’s online BMI healthy weight calculator and enter the Best Case data above for a male of 50 who regularly travels on a bike. He would be told:



and so on. According to the The Health Survey for England – 2012 Chapter 10, about a third of English men of Johnson’s age are similarly obese or worse and nearly half are just overweight**:


Now it could be that Johnson, like Wikipedia, is more sceptical about BMI than the NHS:
For example, a chart may say the ideal weight for a man 5 ft 10 in (178 cm) is 165 pounds (75 kg). But if that man has a slender build (small frame), he may be overweight at 165 pounds (75 kg) and should reduce by 10%, to roughly 150 pounds (68 kg). In the reverse, the man with a larger frame and more solid build can be quite healthy at 180 pounds (82 kg).
Johnson certainly is of a solid build but he would still seem to have over 20 kg he could do without. The newer measure of waist-to-height ratio might provide a more comfortable fit, if his waist is no more than 42 in (107 cm, ie 0.6 times height for an over 50). Alternatively Johnson believes that for him in matters corporeal, just as in matters political, the normal rules don’t apply. To be fair, he did encourage all of us to lose weight in an article in the Daily Telegraph in June 2014, If we can’t do it on our own, then let’s lose weight together.

1987 and 2014
Like most of us Johnson has changed over the years (right). Unkindly, this brings to mind the lament of Frank Greco, a character in Mark Winegardner’s Godfather sequel, The Godfather's Revenge:
When I was young, they said I looked like a Greek God. Now I just look like a goddamn Greek.
But most of us, of course, never looked like a Greek God in the first place.

* Some readers may be asking, What is a stone? 14 pounds is the short answer, so a 17 stone man weighs 238 pounds, or 107.95 kg.

** An earlier post contained some international comparisons of BMI.  Also, as pointed out there, anyone with a BMI above 30 or below 18.5 should seek medical advice).