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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Wednesday, June 01, 2005
    The Condition of England
    "The condition of England... is justly regarded as one of the most ominous, and one of the strangest ever seen in this world. England is full of wealth, of multifarious produce, supply for human want in every kind; yet England is dying of inanition. What an iniquity of ways and means!"

    Inanition: Thomas Carlyle used that word 162 years ago in this quote which is still so truthful today. Inanition: n. emptiness, esp. exhaustion from lack of nourishment.

    The current exhibition at the Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art is called The Condition of England and the curators mix Carlyle's words about a nation in flux with the contemporary sage JG Ballard who similarly argues that "there are unseen shifts in the tectonic plates that make up our national consciousness."

    The exhibition is seven photographic artists' examination of the changing state of the nation, and they vary from Alice Anderson's deconstructions of traditional picture-postcard visions of England to The Caravan Gallery's uncompromisingly truthful postcards of today's English life in all its glorious idiosyncrasy and eccentricity.

    I'm visiting good friends in Middlesborough tomorrow, so I'll not lack nourishment, but I will miss out on a visit to the exhibition because Sunderland's just that bit too further north to do it all in a day. So I can only hope that The Condition of England comes here sometime; it looks like a cure for inanition.