Stephanie and I saw the Georgia O’Keefe exhibition in London a few days ago. Some of her paintings seem to be illuminated from within and the dark, often brooding, photographs by her husband, Alfred Stieglitz, are a fantastic complement to the stark beauty and simplicity of her paintings. Well worth visiting – the gallery wasn’t that crowded and we didn’t book in advance.
In the morning I went to an exhibition which has been extended until 4th September due to popular demand. It features the work of the Neo-Naturists, which I mention in A Brief History of Nakedness. As this article in AnOther puts it, the Neo-Naturists, who included in their number the wonderful Grayson Perry, were: “Anarchic, nude and vitally, vibrantly fun, 1980s performance group the Neo Naturists were a glorious tits-out reprise to Thatcherite Britain, to stiff upper lips and to art world po-faces.” The exhibition is on at the Studio Voltaire, just off Clapham High Street, and if you want to catch just a feeling of freedom in this world that seems to be becoming increasingly un-free, then it’s worth the trek. Read more about them in this article, to enjoy their wonderfully surreal antics, glimpsed here in Christine Binnie’s memories:
“Certainly the trio embraced bohemian ideals from early on. For Christine, a visit to Germany in the late 1970s was the initial spark of inspiration. “The German punks were all sunbathing nude around the lake, whereas in Britain the punks were very pale, wore black and stayed indoors.” The Binnie sisters had been brought up by their artistic parents to believe in “being natural”. Freedom of expression was encouraged at home, with crafts and organic food a part of everyday life. “We’re all quite outdoorsy,” says Christine. The sisters’ childhood also involved membership of the Girl Guides, and their early love of camping subsequently found its way into one of their Neo-Naturist performances featuring a nude cooking ritual with a Calor-gas camping stove.” BBC Culture
Body-painting was a major feature of their art – and it’s nice to see this tradition continued in Druid circles, with body-painting workshops being held at Wildways in Shropshire, home to many OBOD & BDO events. Here’s a description from the website:
Sacred Body Art – Transforming Bodies, Changing Lives – Ever wanted to try a new skin? Explore your relationship with the natural world? Seek an untapped, untamed song? Dance a dream into being? Seek a tribal understanding of colour and vibration? Take a shamanic journey? How would it feel to wear another skin? What animals, colours, shapes, gods or goddesses might the world of spirit weave for you?
Find out more here.
At a talk for the Wellcome Foundation in London a few years back, I suggested that the medical world should explore the psychological and physiological benefits of naturism. Millions are spent on drugs to relieve stress. Would it not make sense to investigate claims, made from the late 19th century onwards that naturism as a recreational activity offers health benefits? Well, perhaps a step forward is being taken, as next week, at the British Psychological Society’s annual conference in Cardiff, there will be a symposium on the benefits of naturism that will include contributions from two academic psychologists and a female Anglican priest. Sounds fascinating. The programme is here.
Perhaps it’s the warm weather that is bringing out the interest in nakedness. I’ve been asked to host the BBC’s website iWonder page on naturism…should be out soon!