Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Monuments and Fritillaries

Having made a fine job of cataloguing some 210,000 paintings in public collections in the UK - many of them in store or otherwise unavailable to the public - Art UK now plans to do the same for the nation's sculpture. This is excellent news - but, if I read the description of the project's remit rightly, it seems to omit a hugely significant part of the national sculpture collection: the monuments that stand in our churches. Those in Westminster Abbey alone constitute one of our greatest national collections, but more to the point, so many of the very best sculptures of every period (but particularly the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries) are scattered around the country, often in very out-of-the-way churches, many of which are more or less permanently locked. To be able to access images and descriptions of these works online would surely enhance appreciation of an undervalued treasury of sculpture (as well as, ahem, being an invaluable resource for those of us engaged in writing about English church monuments)...


Meanwhile, the heat wave continues - rather wearing for us humans, but great news for the butterflies. On Monday I was out among them on a favourite hillside haunt, where Marbled Whites were flying in great abundance - even more perhaps than last year - and I saw not one, not two (the suspense!) but six Dark Green Fritillaries [below], each seen individually and all in flight, but unmistakable, and very beautiful. Then this morning, on Ashtead common, I found large numbers of my favourite White Admirals flying, along with slightly smaller numbers of spectacular Silver-Washed Fritillaries. After a run of dismal Junes, these past couple of weeks have been a joyful reminder of what this glorious month can be.

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