Oceania x 3

Friday 14th December 2018

Thrice I have been: once to the PV with the Duchess of Sussex and twice to Private Breakfasts, as Aunt Lavinia’s plus one then as Royston King’s. Oh dear! Have I really grasped Oceania? My other pre-occupation this autumn has been the Romanovs, where again I was shown exclusively and could have reached into the open cabinet and plucked some Fabergé … and dear darling Buckingham Palace itself, over whom I have poured for hours – more of that later.

So my world really now is the Royal Academy and Buckingham Palace.

The Romanovs v. Oceania. Compare and contrast. One highly frocked, jewelled, enamelled, the other quite nude but also keen on craft, maybe art. The first time at the Royal Academy one was taken up with Royalty, canapés and getting on to dinner. We viewed briefly and Royston said it was marvellous that the things were there, in the Royal Academy, not in some anthropological museum. Thus they were elevated. The third time we were quite busy cornering the Secretary to congratulate on his knighthood plus putting him right about the new extension. He even changed direction and followed Royston to the new rear entrance, once the gateway to the Museum of Mankind, to hear his criticisms. I thought it was horrid, I’m sorry to say. Royston said more had been spent than on any other museum in recent times. And there was nobody there.

I think the Oceanic peoples were/are fun but clever. Picasso and Brancusi adored their wooden gods as sculpture. So did Henry Moore. So not primitive but the essence of form. The trouble is missionaries chopped off the wooden stiff willies which were a great feature. Some pictorial decoration for a house tells the story of a woman who was dis-satisified with her man’s member so sought another. Her reward was great for she found a penis on such a scale it arched all the way across the bay where the fish pranced underneath it and the birds flew above. What could be better? Royston said the great donating ladies, grande dames of Belgravia and SW7, were strangely thrilled. It’s true there was a distinct change in their purr. I couldn’t grasp how the square pieces with wires going in various directions and where they cross a white blob are maps. But that’s what they are – maps. Too brainy for me.

Val said that the whole of Polynesia was incredibly noisy before Western man arrived. It was the beating of bark to make cloth. Going on all the time, according to Val. They also did incredible feather work. Hours and hours stitching in red feathers one by one. Had to be red feathers because they’d only got one bird that had any and even then that was only about three. After that they liked yellow feathers, again there was only one bird with any but it had a few more than the red one.

So they made things hard for themselves. Plus they carved away – carved feast troughs, carved entrances for the hut-home, carved boats. Frockage also was attended too. The Chief Mourner’s outfit has to be seen to be believed

All in all, it seems that they honed and shaped and sculpted every aspect of their lives. That’s art.

Bruncusi and Picasso Admired this One: Blackened Shoulders is Where Worshippers Rubbed in Oil

Bruncusi and Picasso Admired this One: Blackened Shoulders and Head is Where Worshippers Rubbed in Oil

Fabulous Coconut-Matting Lady

Fabulous Coconut-Matting Lady

Royston Liked this One Best

Royston Liked this One Best

Some People

Some People

The Work! Incredible

The Work! Incredible. Don’t Tell me this is Primitive 

Not Quite Sure what This is despite 3 Visits

Not Quite Sure what This is despite 3 Visits. I think It’s Man and Woman 

Bark Cloth: so Fine

Bark Cloth: so Fine

Polynesian Idea of Western People with their Little Outfits

Polynesian Idea of Western People with their Little Outfits

Modern Polynesian Bottom

Modern Polynesian Bottom

Posted Friday, December 14, 2018 under Adrian Edge day by day.

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