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about

A song about art (and the arty bits of London), putting the narrator into a heady trance

lyrics

Lyrics

Institute of Painters
The sign writing
“The Royal Academy square”
Lorenzo Quinn has Mayfair window show rooms
And we are in an arty zone of windows…
Thought inspiring

Millais annoys Charles Dickens
And saucy William Etty at the Tate Britain
Hamish Blakely
The brutal work of John Martin

Francis Derby’s dark art
We only smoked a cigarette to be beautiful
God provides for the lion but the Fox provides for herself

Churchill’s mosaic, fighting a green dragon
Turner’s day additions and competitions
He’d always sneak a bit more light in
Like Sergeant and Thomas Lawrence
Raymond Peynet…
No one can be the best in art

Duncan Grant in Bloomsbury
William Logsdail’s London
Bae Joon Sung’s hologram (ish) paintings at the Saatchi gallery…
Are all good things

Here we are at Burlington Arcade, which Paul McCartney ran down whilst chewing gum
Tea at the Ritz
The BAFTA offices

In Burlington Gardens, we’re looking out for :-
* Allen Lane’s penguin plaque
* Burlington Painting’s glass dome on the floor
* Saville Row!
* Sackville Street now… Named after herself of course

Walking up New Bond Street :-
* Atkinson’s Carillon. Only one in London. Never seems to ring
* Tiffany’s
* Sit between Holofcener’s carved statesmen
* It’s worth looking into Brown’s on Maddox Street
* Or the shop of Paul’s daughter, on the way to the square where a nightingale sang

On Brook Street you can meet :-
* Handel and Hendrix and Penhaligan’s perfume
* South Molton Street towards Oxford Street

Buy yourself a souvenir from Lush… From the home town of the guy who seems scared not to say absolutely everything in his ridiculous head
We now need to get drunk immediately

References

* The Institute of Painters – I’m using artists’ licence a bit here, as this institute on Picadilly is actually called, “The Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolour.” Its name is carved in big letters
* The Royal Academy – A very famous, privately funded arts institute on Picadilly. It was founded by George III. Its front quad often has large sculptures on show
* Lorenzo Quinn – A really cool Italian sculptor, whose work captures movement and gravity
* Mayfair show rooms – I saw some Lorenzo Quinn sculptures here, as well as one outside in Berkeley Square
* Millais and Charles Dickens – Charles Dickens hated Millais’ paintings, which he considered tasteless and unrealistic!
* William Etty at the Tate Britain – The Tate Britain is in Pimlico and a nude painting of sea nymphs there (by William Etty) caught my eye. What’s the world’s most beautiful painting? Well it would be a painting of a naked lady wouldn’t it? Obviously!
* Hamish Blakely – A lovely British painter who does a lot of 1920’s decadence, dancers etc. I also saw him on display in a Mayfair window
* “The brutal work of John Martin” – This refers to the painter of course, rather than the similarly named folk musician. He was a contemporary of Turner and drew some terrifying pictures of the apocalypse! Ray Haryhausen admired him and (crazily) he was also an engineer, who planned a Thames sewer system prior to Joseph Bazalgette’s
* Francis Derby’s dark art – I love Francis Derby. He paints with huge expanses of shadow and really pours the black paint on!
* “We only smoked a cigarette to be beautiful” – This is a misquotation of Neil Hannon from the Divine Comedy (who occasionally lit up on stage, “to feel beautiful enough for certain songs.”) Oscar Wilde also smoked on stage to great acclaim, as shown in the film, “Wilde,” with Steven Fry
* “God provides for the lion but the Fox provides for herself” – This is engraved on the floor of the Tate Britain. It’s by William Blake and presumably means that poor people have to work the hardest
* Churchill’s mosaic, fighting a green dragon – This mosaic is in the entrance to the National Portrait Gallery, in Trafalgar Square
* Turner’s day additions and competitions – J.M.W. Turner was quite competitive and would often add to his work on the day of a show (once he had seen the other works around his and checked the light in the room)
* Sergeant and Thomas Lawrence – These portrait painters have similar styles and are both wonderful. I slightly prefer Lawrence and saw a display comparing them at the Tate Britain. Lawrence was forgotten a bit at one point, which is now considered unfair
* Raymond Peynet – A French artist who I really like…. When I attended a book club (at the Cork and Bottle in Leicester Square) I first saw his paintings in their basement. I later saw them again in a Mayfair shop, where I finally learnt his name. He draws slightly twee cartoons; often featuring the same romantic couple. It’s much better than that sounds!
* “No one can be the best in art” – I believe this to be true. Art is just taste isn’t it…? You make things that you like yourself and can’t tell (and shouldn’t pander) to the thoughts anyone else
* Duncan Grant – A British painter and designer of textiles, pottery and theatre sets/costumes. He was a member of the Bloomsbury Group and involved in their bisexual affairs. Good for them! (As long as they were all happy; but I’m not sure they all were)
* William Logsdail – I haven’t been able to find out much about this artist, but some of his London paintings in the Tate Britain blew my socks off. He also painted some great Arabic scenes
* “Bae Joon Sung’s hologram (ish) paintings, at the Saatchi gallery” – This is a bit of a convoluted lyric! The Saatchi Gallery is named after the advertising executive who founded it, from his own collections. It’s on the Kings Road, which is miles away from Picadilly. It’s a lovely place though! Bae Joon Sung designs large paintings, in which parts of them give double appearances by the use of optical illusions. It’s very impressive
* Burlington Arcade – This is next to the Royal Academy and is a covered arcade of shops. Roger Fry named Britain’s first art magazine after it. It has a comical list of rules at either end, which forbid running, whistling or chewing gum
* Paul McCartney – The Beatles bass genius, who I probably don’t need to describe! The point of his name being mentioned here is that (as a joke) he once ran down Burlington Arcade whilst breaking all its rules at once
* Tea at the Ritz – A popular thing to do, if you can afford it… The Ritz is a very posh hotel on Piccadilly, in which non-guests can also pay for afternoon teas. Traditionally these comprise cucumber sandwiches, scones or and tea in pots
* BAFTA offices – The British Accademy of Film and Television Arts, on Piccadilly
* Allen Lane’s penguin plaque – This is at the start of Saville Row, to commemorate Allen Lane's founding of Penguin Books here. He seems like a cool guy - He allowed Lady Chatterley’s Lover to be published as well as James’s Joyce’s Ulysses, despite legal problems
* Burlington Painting’s glass dome – This is a lovely skylight at pavement level; looking down into the gallery. It’s directly next to Allen Lane’s plaque
* Saville Row – The centre of men’s tailoring in London
* Sackville Street - This is named after Vita Sackville-West, who was an author and gardener. She was famous for a lesbian affair with Virginia Woolf, who partly based the character of Orlando on her
* New Bond Street – A famous street of jewellery and clothes shops
* Atkinson’s Carillon – The Atkinson’ jewellery shop has a Carillon in its bell tower. This is a collection of bells, playable from a keyboard… As mentioned here, it’s the only one to exist in London although I believe it’s never used
* Tiffany’s – A famous jewellery and ornament company. I’d love one of their art deco lamps, although a replica would do fine
* Holofcener’s carved statesmen – This refers to a beautiful statue of Winston Churchill and President Roosevelt, on Old Bond Street. It’s designed so that you can sit between them to have your photo taken. Holofcener has also done some similar statues of other celebrities
* Brown’s on Maddox Street – This is a charming restaurant chain, who have a branch on Maddox Street. I’d presumed they were quite old (as they specialise in afternoon teas and traditional foods) but they actually opened in the early 1970’s
* Paul’s daughter – I’m referring to Stella McCartney here, who now runs a fashion company with a shop on Maddox Street
* “The square where a nightingale sang” – This refers to Berkley Square and the beautiful 1930’s song of this title. (Apparently, the point of the lyric is that nightingales don’t actually sing there, but the magic of two lovers meeting could make a miracle happen)
* Handel and Hendrix – The composer (Handel) and guitar god (Hendrix) both lived on Maddox Street and have commemorative plaques. Handel’s house is now a small museum
* Penhaligan’s perfume shop – I quite like to peer in this shop window on South Molton Street, as the products are old fashioned
* South Molton Street – Quite a nice shopping street, which emerges at Bond Street tube station. At Christmas, they often erect an interesting light sculpture (like coloured arcs across the walkway)
* Lush – A cosmetics company who have a shop here. They started in my home town of Poole, Dorset
* “Everything in his ridiculous head” – I’m trying to make fun of myself here, for these over complex lyrics which are so hard to follow. And my intense waffling

credits

from Everything Is The Same Subject (E​.​P​.​), released February 11, 2014

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Ian Evans UK

Pop/experimental/rock musician and songwriter from London

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