Discoveries in Zoom

OK, so 200 million people a day are also working this stuff out, but if you’re new to Zoom then these ten discoveries will help you become a meeting master and enable your attendees to have a stress-free Zoom experience.

#1 There are several different places you can configure meeting settings.

Knowing where to look for the option you want is more than half of the battle in Zoom. In this article I’m going to talk about settings in four places. All the screenshots below are from the Mac version of the desktop client (Version 4.6.10).

The Home tab on the main Zoom client window:

Home tab in a zoom call

The Main Menu Bar when in a call.

The Manage Participants Window (opens from the menu bar during a call)

manage Paticipants

The Settings Page in your Zoom account on (sign in to the website, click ‘my account’ and then ‘settings’.

#2 You don’t need to download the desktop client to join a Zoom meeting.

If you want to lower the bar for your meeting participants, you can make it possible to join the meeting without having to download any additional software. Once this option in enabled, your participants can join the meeting from their web browser. When they follow the meeting invitation link, the welcome page will give them the option to open the call in the desktop client or join the meeting by clicking a link. Joining in this way gives limited functionality, but allows full participation in the call.

To enable this option, look under Meeting Settings (Advanced) in the Settings Page on the website. You’re looking for the option to Show a “Join from your browser” link.

Option to add Browser Link in settings

#3 Participants can join a Zoom meeting by phone.

If you’re planing a meeting or event and want to include people who don’t have internet access, have slow broadband speeds or are afraid of using new-fangled technology, you can set up your meeting so that people can join by phone. You can give participants a UK geographical number to call and they just need to enter the meeting ID and password to be added to the meeting. Participants will hear a voice telling them if they have been muted or put in the waiting room.

To enable this, you need to select the Telephone and Computer Audio option in the Schedule Meeting widow (opens from the Home screen).

Zoom Meeting schedule dialogue box

#4 Keep your link safe

There have been plenty of reports of people searching for links to Zoom meetings on the internet and then ‘Zoom-bombing’ calls with obscene images, comments and music. To avoid this, work out a way to distribute the invitation to your meeting so that it only reaches the people you want to be there. Even if you have set a password (and the latest versions of the desktop client do this by default), the link can still grant people access directly to your meeting.

Another way to protect your meeting is to enable the ‘Waiting Room function’. The drawback of this is that you have to admit everyone individually, which can be cumbersome in larger meetings.

#5 Spotlight the speaker

If you want all meeting participants to focus on one person (you or someone else) you can spotlight that video. To spotlight someone, hover over their name (in manage participants) or video in the main meeting window and click the three blue dots or more option. If you choose to spotlight someone, they will appear as the main image for everyone using ‘speaker view’ even if someone else starts talking or does a loud sneeze. Remember to turn off the spotlight when you move to a group discussion.

#6 Assign a co-host

The host controls are very useful if you are chairing a meeting, but if you’re trying to present something (teach a class, lead a church service, give a presentation) then it can be helpful to give someone else in the meeting the ability to manage users, control muting, spotlight speakers and turn features on and off.

To do this, find the people you want to co-host in the Manage Participants window, click the three dots that appear by their name when you hover over them, and choose Make co-host. This only lasts for the meeting you are in.

#7 Use security settings during the meeting

I’ve been using Zoom with children now for the best part of five weeks and I can confirm that if there is a feature that makes them look or sound unusual, they will find it. In our family the favourites are virtual backgrounds (especially making it look like you’re an alien or super-villain, making yourself invisible or giving yourself the face of your own, younger, self), renaming yourself as ’74oP9′ or ‘spamming the chat’ with reams of meaningless characters.

The novelty factor of these tends to wear off much faster for adults than for children, so if you need to get something constructive done, you can click the Security shield and on the main menu bar and turn off screen sharing, chat and renaming participants. Turning off the chat also stops participants from privately messaging each other, which is a useful safeguarding feature.

Security Options from in-meeting menu

#8 Stop participants from unmuting themselves

A similar setting to those described above is muting all meeting participants to cut down on background noise and feedback, or to introduce a protocol where people need to be unmuted before they speak in a meeting. When you schedule a meeting there is a set of Advanced Options which includes mute participants on entry. This means anyone who joins your meeting will have their microphone muted by default.

If you want to prevent participants from unmuting their microphone then choose the mute all participants option in the manage participants window and in the dialogue box that pops up, uncheck Allow participates in unmute themselves and click continue. You can do this before anyone else joins or at any point during the meeting. Again, this is useful for both Zoom-bombing and working with kids.

Mute Participants

#9 Enable breakout rooms for chatting in smaller groups

Breakout rooms are the Zoom equivalent of talking pairs or discussion on tables. They allow participation in a way that isn’t possible in a larger group, but need to be enabled in the settings on the website. You’ll find the option to enable Breakout Rooms in the In Meeting (Advanced) section of the settings webpage.

Add breakout room option in settings

As host, you can assign breakout groups randomly or move participants into a specific group. Co-hosts retain their ability to manage participants in the breakout group while the overall host can move in and out of groups to check what is going on. When someone leaves a group they come back into the main session, and can re-join their group from the menu bar.

#10 Optimise screen sharing for video

Sharing screens is a useful feature in Zoom (although you might want to turn off annotation if you’re meeting with children or immature co-workers). A shared screen will become the main picture in Zoom for your participants with the video shrinking off to the side or top of the screen. All you will see is the window or screen that you are sharing, which will look like it normally would outside Zoom and you can interact with that window or annotate it using the tools in Zoom.

If you want to share a video from your computer, there are a set of tick boxes at the bottom of the sharing dialogue window which say share compute sound and optimise screen share for video clip. I can’t discern much difference between the optimised and non-optimised video, but it seems sensible to click both of these if you want to share a video. Sharing YouTube in this way doesn’t seem all that successful, but you can get good results from a (legally) downloaded video or one you’ve created yourself.

Screen Sharing Dialogue Box

Theres lot’s more to discover in Zoom, and their support pages are full of well written articles which cover all the above and much, much more. Check them out at

Modern Art and the Life of a Culture – Review

In this compelling collaboration between an artist and a theologian, Jonathan A. Anderson and William A. Dyrness begin a conversation about how Christian artists, critics, enthusiasts and theologians can reclaim and rediscover modern art, identifying and celebrating its religious and spiritual impulses.

For any fans of Rookmaaker’s important book on theology and art, Modern Art and the Death of a Culture, this recent volume offers a different, more positive perspective on modern art and its worldview.

I’m excited to say that my full and thorough review has been published up on the Transpositions website – please do click the link to read and check it out here.


Grab the book from from £11.39

Grab the book from from $14.21

Read the full review on Transpositions here. 

Note: The Amazon links above are affiliate links, which means if you click through and buy anything at all, you help this site with no extra cost to you. I was given a review copy, though not under obligation to give a review, either positive or negative. This is my honest review. 

Ikon and Logos – An Exciting New Venture

Holidays are a great way of discovering the latest trends. Going away generally means you’re in closer proximity to a wider range of people, they are more relaxed and (in warmer climes) showing more of their skin than back home.

From my observations over the past fortnight away, two of this year’s trends are:

  • The ongoing march of (increasingly intricate) tattooed symbols across the whole body and
  • The addition of waterproof action-cameras to the now ubiquitous selfie-stick.


Tattoo at the beach

Tattoo Photo: Andrea Preda

Both of these trends are symptomatic of our increasingly visually-orientated culture. Bodies have become a portable canvas for meaningful images (although that meaning is often lost on the viewer) and even waves and sand cannot stop the constant filming, photographing, editing and broadcasting of our lives.

Over the past few years I’ve been thinking about how Christians engage with Visual Culture, especially as we think about communicating the living Word of God into an image-saturated world. In the words which are used at the licensing of every new minister in the Church of England, how do we profess the faith that has been handed down to us and to proclaim it afresh in each generation?

I’m very pleased to be able to announce that I’m going to be developing this thinking as I start a research Doctorate at Durham University. In September I’ll be joining Durham’s Doctor of Theology and Ministry (DThM) Programme, studying part-time, alongside my role as Vicar of St. Pancras Church in Plymouth.

In the New Testament, Jesus is described as both logos and ikon, word and image. The provisional title for my thesis is: Ikon and Logos – Communicating the Living Word in a Visual Culture.

I’ll particularly be looking at how Church of England theological education institutions are preparing people to minister in a visual culture, as I:

  • Survey what colleges and courses are currently doing;
  • Identify people who are exemplars of good practice in this area;
  • Reflect with and work together with some of these people to teach others how to engage with visual culture in a more meaningful way.

Hopefully, en-route I’ll be revisiting the art-history study I began on my sabbatical, seeing how previous generations used visual imagery to communicate in a non-literate culture. I’m also hoping to experience how everything from fine-art to photography and art installations to Instagram are now bringing the gospel to our visual generation. I might even need to get a selfie-stick.

If you are interested in reading a more detailed summary of what I’m intending to research then you can download it as a PDF by clicking the image or the link below.

Let me know what you think…


Ikon and Logos – Communicating the Living Word in a Visual Culture


Secular wisdom for church leaders – 7 top tips

Statue outside the Uffizi Gallery, Florence, J MARLOW

This week the General Synod of the Church of England are grappling with some of the details of the ‘Reform and Renewal’ programme. This programme isn’t without its detractors, in fact one prominent commentator this week described it as “mainly offering secular business-led, management-led and growth-led ideologies – but without adequate spiritual or theological depth.”

The criticism hay be valid. There are thousands of books on leadership in the secular world, and many of these have found their way onto the bookshelves of Christian leaders and onto the the reading lists of seminaries and theological colleges.

But how critical do we need to be when looking for inspiration from the secular world?

During my sabbatical last summer I read two books concerned with leadership. One was Eugene Peterson’s memoir The Pastor, the other was an older book translated into English. The preface began by setting out the author’s noble reason for writing:

“I realized there was nothing more precious or important to me than my knowledge of great men and their doings, a knowledge gained through long experience of contemporary affairs and a constant study of ancient history.

“Having thought over all I’ve learned, and analysed it with the utmost care, I’ve written everything down in a short book that I am now sending to [you].”

So far so good!

And as I read through, I found some key principles for church leaders, which I thought would make a good blog post. So here are Seven principles for church planters, grafters and growers.

#1 Live among the people

How can you know what’s really going on in a community if you’re not part of it? Just as God became incarnate among his people, so our ministry is one of dwelling with those we lead.

#2 Support those who are weaker around you.

When a new church moves into an area, those who are nearby (and already there) inevitably feel threatened by your new thing. They don’t have to feel that way if you make it clear you’re in it together and you’re there to help them too.

#3 Work to gain the support of the people, not just a small leadership team

Leaders often fall into the trap of surrounding themselves with people who think the same way and affirm the same things as they do. While it’s important to keep your leadership team happy and motivated, you’ll have a smoother ride in the long term if you focus on representing a wider group.

#4 Don’t expect help from outside

It can be tempting to think that all we need is a small group from another church to come and swell our numbers for a while, but don’t wait for the cavalry, because it isn’t coming! In any new setting you’re going to need to rely on your own people, no-one else is going to be motivated to grow what you are doing.

#5 Keep the main thing, the main thing

This one should be self-explanatory. If everyone knows what the organisation is for, what their place is within it and what your role is as leader, then you won’t get distracted by frills and risk losing focus.

#6 Be careful what people think of you.

In this world of instant communication and live-broadcasts, be aware of what’s on your facebook profile, twitter timeline and instagram feed. People are acutely allergic to hypocrisy, so make sure they don’t find anything which indicates your lack of virtue when they Google you.

#7 Be generous with your time and resources from the outset, not just once you’re established.

As in #2 above, you are not there just to build up your own empire. We could all use up our resources many times over, so don’t wait until you’re established to start sharing the good will.

So where do you think these came from?

Would it make a difference if it wasn’t an author you would naturally associate with Christian leadership?

Can you guess which book I was reading?

The book these principles were drawn from was written in Italian in 1513 by Niccolo Machiavelli. This book, The Prince, was a theoretical book, drawing on examples from antiquity and contemporary history to explain how rulers needed to behave in order to hold onto power. The Prince was so controversial, even it its own time, that Machiavelli’s name has entered our vocabulary as a word to describe unprincipled or underhand manipulation of others to do our will. All the principles above follow the section entitled Different types of states and how to conquer them.


Still think this is an appropriate pattern for church leaders? Here’s what Machiavelli has to say about each of these points:

#1 Live among the people 

“When you’re actually there, you can see when things start going wrong and nip rebellion in the bud; when you’re far away you only find out about it when it’s too late. Another advantage is that the new territory won’t be plundered by your officials. Its subjects will be happy that they can appeal to a ruler who is living among them. So, if they’re intending to be obedient, they’ll have one more reason to love you, and if they’re not, all the more reason to fear you.”

The reason for ‘incarnational ministry’ is so that you are close to the source of any disagreement with your regime. You don’t believe the favourable reports of those on the ground, because you can see the reality for yourself and detractors can be dealt with, whether they are members or part of your leadership team.

#2 Support those who are weaker around you

“A ruler who has moved into a new region with a different language and customs must also make himself leader and protector of the weaker neighbouring powers, while doing what he can to undermine the stronger. In particular, he must take care that no foreign power strong enough to compete with his own gets a chance to penetrate the area. People who are discontented, whether out of fear or frustrated ambition, will always encourage a foreign power to intervene.”

This is about building a power base. By appearing to support those who are weak you can improve your our chances of holding off those who are strong, as those you protect and champion will stand up for you.

#3 Have the support of the people, not just a small leadership team

“A monarchy can be brought about either by the common people or the nobles, when one or the other party finds it convenient. Seeing that they can’t control the people, the wealthy families begin to concentrate prestige on one of their number and make him king so as to be able to get what they want in his shadow. Likewise, the people, seeing that they can’t resist the power of the nobles, concentrate prestige on one citizen and make him king so that his authority will protect them. A king who comes to power with the help of the rich nobles will have more trouble keeping it than the king who gets there with the support of the people, because he will be surrounded by men who consider themselves his equals, and that will make it hard for him to give them orders or to manage affairs as he wants.”

This recognises the fragility of leadership and the need to establish yourself as more than just ‘first among equals’ but the true leader. Machiavelli recognises that among those who lead with you, you are only one of many, but to the people you are their champion, so protect their interests and you will not be open to competition for the leadership.

#4 Don’t expect help from outside

“When David offered to go and fight the Philistine troublemaker, Goliath, on Saul’s behalf, Saul gave him his own weapons to bolster the boy’s courage. But no sooner had David put them on than he refused the gift, saying he wouldn’t feel confident with them, he would rather face the enemy with his own sling and knife. In the end, other people’s arms are either too loose, too heavy or too tight.”

“So, sensible rulers have always avoided using auxiliaries and mercenaries, relying instead on their own men and even preferring to lose with their own troops than to win with others, on the principle that a victory won with foreign forces is not a real victory at all. As always Cesare Borgia offers a good example … It’s easy to see the difference between these various kinds of armies if you look at the duke’s standing when he had just the French, when he had the Orsinis and the Vitellis, and when he had his own soldiers and relied on his own resources. With each change his prestige grew and he was only truly respected when everyone could see that his troops were entirely his own.”

In its Renaissance context, this advice is about who will fight for you and who will abandon you when the going gets tough. Those you borrow have other allegiances, those you pay can be bought off, but your own army fights for their own land, family and lives as well as yours.

#5  Keep the main thing, the main thing

“A ruler, then, must have no other aim or consideration, nor seek to develop any other vocation outside war, the organization of the army and military discipline. This is the only proper vocation of the man in command.”

For Machiavelli, the main this was warfare and the accumulation of a more absolute leadership. What looks like focus can all-too-often be just the lust for more power.

#6 Be careful what people think of you.

“A ruler must avoid any behaviour that will lead to his being hated or held in contempt; every time he manages this he’s done what a ruler should and can indulge other bad habits without worrying about the consequences. As I’ve already said, what most leads to a ruler being hated is seizing and stealing his subjects’ property and women; that he must not do.

“So a ruler must be extremely careful not to say anything that doesn’t appear to be inspired by the five virtues listed above; he must seem and sound wholly compassionate, wholly loyal, wholly humane, wholly honest and wholly religious. There is nothing more important than appearing to be religious. In general people judge more by appearances than first-hand experience, because everyone gets to see you but hardly anyone deals with you directly.”

Maybe we think the public and private are different spheres, even in the age of Facebook. Machiavelli certainly thinks that cultivating your pious public profile will distract people from your real concerns. Keeping real relationships at arms-length will also help guard against people seeing the real you.

#7 Be generous with your time and resources from the outset, not just once you’re established.

“A ruler in power and a man seeking power are two different things. For the ruler already in power generosity is dangerous; for the man seeking power it is essential.”

“A ruler leading his armies and living on plunder, pillage and extortion is using other people’s money and had better be generous with it, otherwise his soldiers won’t follow him. What’s not your own or your subjects’ can be given away freely: Cyrus did this; so did Caesar and Alexander. Spending other people’s money doesn’t lower your standing – it raises it. It’s only spending your own money that puts you at risk. Nothing consumes itself so much as generosity, because while you practise it you’re losing the wherewithal to go on practising it. Either you fall into poverty and are despised for it, or, to avoid poverty, you become grasping and hateful. Above all else a king must guard against being despised and hated. Generosity leads to both.”

When you’re on the way up (or the way into a new city, church or area) you need people to think you’re going to be fighting their battles for them and feathering their nest as well as yours. Once you’re established, you’ll need those resources yourself, so don’t give them away. Being a ‘Resource Church’ should initially look like you’re into distributing resources. By the time you are established, the resources should be flowing one-way – towards you. How else could you keep up what you’re doing so successfully?

So I guess we need to be careful where we draw our inspiration from and please do call me on it if you think I’m putting any of this into practice.

Here’s a final quote with a warning about misappropriating secular wisdom:

“When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers. Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Jesus Christ, Matthew 20:24–28 (NIV11)

Photos are my own. Quotations from are from Tim Parks’ translation of Niccolo Machiavelli’s The Prince (Penguin Classics). Available from Wordery.

You can also buy The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli from for £4.32 

You can also buy The Pastor by Eugene Peterson from for £8.93 

This post contains Wordery and Amazon affiliate links. This means if you click through to either site and buy anything at all, you help this site, at no extra cost to you.

I understand art, but is that enough?

The other day I picked up a book of postcards in an art exhibition gift shop. They were illustrations from Grayson Perry’s book ‘playing to the gallery’, taken from his 2013 BBC Reith Lectures. Out of the context of the lectures and the book, however, the postcards stand as slightly obscure jokes about art, the art world and the artist himself. Jokes which, nevertheless, made me chuckle so I bought the book.
Over a pain au chocolat in the nearby bakery afterwards, I tried to explain the jokes to my five year old. Starting with this one:
Grayson Perry - Urinal
As I was putting the pieces together, I began to realise just how much specific knowledge about art and the artist was needed to explain the joke. Here’s what I think you’d need to know to raise a chuckle:

  • That in 1917 Marcel Duchamp took a standard urinal, signed it R. Mutt 1917 and submitted it to the American Society of Independent Artists for their annual exhibition as an artwork called Fountain.
  • That this subversive act marked that start of a trajectory in contemporary art that would allow artists to define anything as art.
  • That, had it been preserved rather than thrown in the skip, that urinal would now be one of the most valuable pieces of contemporary art every produced.
  • That the trajectory of ‘anything can be art’ has led to artists needing to use more and more shocking images and materials to arouse our emotions. This includes using human excretions in art (such as Andres Serrano’s 1987 photograph of a plastic crucifix submerged in urine and Piero Manzoni producing 100 numbered cans of his own faeces in 1961).
  • That ‘Highbrow’ and ‘Lowbrow’ are terms frequently used to differentiate between ‘good art’ and art that has ‘popular appeal’.
  • That popular appeal in that last point isn’t a compliment.
  • That Grayson Perry is best known for his ceramic work, which led to him winning the Turner Prize in 2003. (Famously leading to his quote that “it was about time a transvestite potter had won the Turner Prize”)
  • That, since 1984, the Turner Prize has been awarded annually to British Visual Artists for outstanding exhibitions or contributions to art in Britain.
  • That in his Reith Lectures, Grayson Perry described ceramics as part of the craft suburb, that one needs to travel through to get between the genteel countryside of traditional fine art and the hip urban environment of contemporary art. Middlebrow being very much the no-man’s-land of art that is neither cutting edge, or that popular.
  • That Perry’s work now sells from far more than the ‘two week’s dole money’ which he used to sell his pots for. In fact, in 2012, Perry’s ceramic vase Triumph of Innocence sold at auction for £85,250.
  • Not essential to the joke, but a nuance for the really sharp, you might also recognise that, since urinals of that design are not made any more, any copy of the work that you see today will have been hand-crafted. By a potter.

Or maybe, as my five year old put it, “It’s funny because there’s wee-wee in that standing-up toilet”.

For the professional communicator, it’s a dangerous moment when you begin to assume that your hearers have the same background knowledge as you do.
This is especially true when teaching the Bible, because there is such a lot of background to be aware of. As a Lecturer in Biblical Theology, my jokes might fall a bit flat when people don’t get humorous references to Jael and camping accidents (Judges 4:21), or Eutychus and boring preaching (Acts 20:9), but when I’m preaching I don’t want to mistake a technical detail for a common cultural reference.
On the one hand, unnecessary over-explanation leads to dull and technical presentations. On the other, inaccessible references leave hearers bemused and none-the-wiser. It’s always interesting to hear the reaction of your regular hearers to a visiting speaker. Are they saying, “it’s good to be stretched”, “that was a bit over my head” or “I didn’t hear anything new today”? These could be a good barometer as to whether your own preaching is building up a foundation of biblical understanding for your regular listeners.
It isn’t enough for communicators to just be experts in their subject.
Communicators need to know their audience as well as they know their material. Or make wee-wee jokes. The choice is yours.

Grayson Perry’s book, Playing to the Gallery is available from

or (UK) for £10.54
Grayson Perry’s postcards, also named Playing to the Gallery, are available from

Or (UK) for £6.76


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1000 Words – The Return of Narrative Art

As an aspiring artist, I’m well aware that in some of my pieces, the only hint of meaning comes through the title. I suspect that my secret isn’t unique and that I’m not the only one who occasionally produces work for it’s aesthetic (or commercial) value alone.

Chessboard Admirals | J Marlow | 2004

Chessboard Admirals – J Marlow – 2014

It’s a common criticism of contemporary art that it is meaningless, or that the supposed meaning bears no real relation to what is on the canvas or plinth. But to think this is to ignore the direction of travel which the art world has been collectively making away from the totally abstract shapes, splashes and slashes of ‘Modern Art’.

In a gross simplification we might see the following as marker posts on this journey:

  • In 1991, Damien Hirst’s shark in formaldehyde The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living was at once feted and maligned by the public for its simplicity and nuance.
  • In 1998, Tracey Emin’s My Bed told a story more clearly, but with an ambiguity that allowed art pseuds across the globe to claim a unique insight into the work.
  • Then in 2003, the prestigious Turner prize for the arts was won by Grayson Perry for his decorated ceramic pots and vases, many of which narrated accounts of Perry’s real and imaginary life.

A decade later, Perry has been catapulted into the national consciousness by his lecture series explaining and exploding the contemporary art scene as Radio 4’s Reith lecturer in 2013. The series was called Playing to the Gallery and can be downloaded from iTunes and BBC iPlayer. As one columnist wrote following the lectures, Perry has transformed seamlessly from controversial artist into “national treasure”. [Lisa Jardine, Guardian, 21/11/2013]

Having loved and re-listened to these lectures last year, one of the exhibitions which I’d resigned myself to not seeing this summer was Grayson Perry’s series of six tapestries, The Vanity of Small Differences.

The internet was fairly confused about how many sets of these tapestries existed and whether any of them were reachable in a day-trip from the South of England. Thanks to a tip-off in Art Quarterly, however, I caught up with one of the sets as part of an exhibition called Progress at the Foundling Museum in Brunswick Square, London, where Perry was a trustee. Progress marked the 250th anniversary of the death of William Hogarth, himself a major contributor to the Foundling Hospital Collection and this event brought together four contemporary works responding to Hogarth’s famous series of paintings A Rake’s Progress.

I was keen to spend as much time with the tapestries as possible, so (given the absolute 45 minute limit imposed by the Boy), we skipped the rest of the museum and then spent almost as long in the coffee shop afterwards.

Hogarth’s Rake’s Progress follows the life of Tom Rakewell, a merchant’s son who inherits a fortune and blows it on all ‘women, wine and song’ in vice-ridden London. Hogarth’s protagonist ends his life in Bedlam lunatic asylum, having been driven insane by drink, debt and prison. In his modern take on the rise and fall of the rake, Perry chronicles the life of Tim Rakewell as he moves though the social strata and taste tribes of contemporary Britain. Tim’s life starts surrounded by the ornaments and icons of working class taste and it ends ignominiously as he is thrown from the Ferrari he bought with the spoils from the sale of his technology company.

#Lamentation | Grayson Perry#Lamentation, Tapestry by Grayson Perry. Photo by thornypup. )The Hastag is deliberate, and in the scene passers by can be seen photographing the wreckage and uploading their images from their phones.) 

The basement room in the foundling museum which was displaying the tapestries was only just big enough to accommodate the exhibition, but this gave us the chance to get up close and personal with the work. I’m an advocate of taking the trouble to see an original work rather a copy and these tapestries are filled with so many details that they would be difficult to take in at anything less than two meters high.

One such detail that I’m sure I wasn’t the only one to spot, was the little figure with the camera, reflected in a convex mirror, recording the scene in The Annunciation of the Virgin Deal. The mirror itself gives us an alternative viewpoint on the scene in the same way as Jan van Eyck reflects the room and figures in The Arnolfini Portrait. What we see in this mirror, however, is surely a self-portrait of Perry, as observer and chronicler of British taste tribes.

Tapestry Detail

Detail from The Annunciation of the Virgin Deal by Grayson Perry. Photo by failing_angel. Inset image of Grayson Perry from ‘In the best possible taste’ on Channel 4.

We looked at each of the tapestries in turn and, as we sat on the bench in front of #Lamentation, the Boy asked “is that Jesus?” In doing so he had picked up on the visual homage which Perry is paying to the genre of religious paintings and sculptures depicting the dying Christ in the arms of His mother Mary.

Christ in the Arms of Mary.Sculpture in the Church of Santa Maria del Carmine in Florence. Photo Jon Marlow

In fact, each of the tapestries has similar allusions to well known art works and genres which is one of the reasons that these art works will enjoy a place on the art curriculum for some time to come. The third image in the series is The Expulsion from Number 8 Eden Close which includes the reference to the most well-known work, Adam and Eve banished from Paradise, a renaissance fresco painted high on the wall of the Brancacci Chapel in the Church of Santa Maria del Carmine in Florence by Tomasso Masacchio.

The Expulsion for Number 8 Eden Close | Grayson Perry

#The Expulsion from Number 8 Eden Close by Grayson Perry. Photo by thornypup

The Expulsion for the Garden of edenAdam and Eve banished from Paradise by Masacchio – Brancacci Chapel, Church of Santa Maria del Carmine, Florence. Photo by Jon Marlow 

Masacchio was among the first of the renaissance painters to use perspective and create figures which seemed to inhabit a physical space rather than a two dimensional canvas or wall. In this regard, he stood in contrast to his collaborator on the frescoes in the Brancacci Chapel, Tomasso Masolino. When seen side by side in the chapel, the work of the two men appears to be from different eras, even though they were only 20 years apart in age.

In his physical space, Masacchio has captured the tragedy and agony of Adam and Eve, who have been permanently banished from the place where they could approach God. An angel looks down on them wielding a sword, not in anger, but as a reminder that they could never return. In contrast, Tim and his girlfriend hurry away from the forced conformity of the aspirational middle classes into “the sunlit uplands of the middle classes”, those whose taste is defined by what they know and appreciate rather than what they own.

By way of explanation why it is Jamie Oliver looking down from the thundery sky, the text on the windowsill has Tim’s girlfriend say of his mum and step-dad: “Their house was so clean and Tidy, not a speck of dust… or a book, apart from her god, Jamie.”.

These works tell a story and come with a written commentary. Could it be then, that the journey away from abstract art is complete?

Grayson Perry certainly thinks that art must have a meaning. In his interview with Simon Hattenstone in last week’s Guardian Weekend Magazine he says that the problem with many art students is that they are too anxious to create stuff they simply like. “You have to know the impact of everything you’re making, because that is the nature of contemporary art. It is very self-conscious: it knows, or should be seen to know.” [Simon Hattenstone, Guardian Weekend, 4/10/14] 

Things can appear abstract, but they are not allowed to be. Abstraction must be ironic because, in Perry’s words “Britain has the toad of irony sitting on it.”

So the next time someone asks me about my ‘process’ I need to come up with something more self aware than “I smushed a lot of paint around”. Even though that was my process this time around.

In the meantime, I’d love another opportunity to get close to these tapestries again. Maybe we could even lobby for them, to visit Plymouth.


Iconoclasm and Dictator Chic

No-one would seriously disagree that art is political.

'Judith beheading Holofernes', a bronze sculpture group made by Donatello and located in the Piazza della Signoria, Florence Italy. Picture: J Marlow

‘Judith beheading Holofernes’, a bronze sculpture group made by Donatello and located in the Piazza della Signoria, Florence, Italy. Picture: J Marlow

As you wander around the streets of any city, the art and architecture will give a powerful message about the last regime to hold real power in that place. Nelson’s column and the bronze lions of Britannia in London’s Trafalgar Square remind us of the once-powerful empire and the feeling of superiority which still infuse the city and its leaders. The People’s Palace in Bucharest and the surrounding boulevards are a lasting monument to the destructive power of communist president Nicolae Ceausescu, who ordered the razing of the surrounding churches and apartments in order to create a capital city which spoke of the unassailable power of the communist regime. Similarly, the streets and piazzas of Florence are filled with marble and bronze statues preserving the legacy of the Medici dynasty, who ruled the city for nearly four centuries.


 The People’s Palace, Bucharest, Romania.

All influential people, from despotic dictators to advertising executives, know that their message and ideals can be hidden in the arts. As we are entertained and enthralled, our inbuilt cynicism and resistance can be circumvented and we imbibe the message with the medium.

Often the ideas and theories which start circulating among academics, are picked up and popularised by the arts. Even abstract art which claims to be devoid of all meaning carries with it the unsubtle message of postmodernism, that all objective meaning is elusive.

So what should any self-respecting dictator, despot, Pope or CEO do upon seizing power? The obvious answer is to stamp their authority on the arts and the resulting iconoclasm can be very hard to stomach.

In 2001 the Taliban destroyed two enormous statues of the Buddha, carved into a cliff in Afghanistan in the 6th Century, having declared them as idols and not permitted by under their extreme form of Islamic law. The niches where the statues stood can be seen towering above the Bamiyan Valley, which was added to UNESCO’s list of world heritage in danger in 2003. In a similar way the French Revolutionaries of the 18th Century took pains to decapitate the statues of bishops and kings that adorned their cathedrals and basilicas. Further back in history, in Florence in 1497, the followers of the preacher Girolamo Savonarola set fire to many works of art and books in what became know as The Bonfire of the Vanities. The art historian of the period, Giorgio Vasari reports that Botticelli was a follower of Savonarolo and may have put some of his own painting onto the pyre. It is certainly clear that Botticelli’s exuberant style become more muted in works painted after this event.


 Empty niches in the Bamiyan Valley in Afghanistan, Photo taken in 2005 by Hadi Zaher

But as we begin to tut under our breath at the waste and the cultural barbarism, we might recall our reaction to this images on the news.

US soldiers and Iraqi citizens topple a statue of Saddam Hussein in 2003.

Dictator Chic has not always been tacky statues and brutalist concrete palaces – what we celebrate in Florence is no less the result of a dynasty intent on displaying its dominance through the arts. The principal difference, it seems, between artistic iconoclasm that attracts our ire and that which gains our approval is the tricky matter of personal taste. Did we like what was pulled down?

An alternative approach to iconoclasm is to change the message without destroying the medium, as the citizens of Florence did in 1494 after the expulsion of the Medici family. In the 1460s the sculptor Donatello had made a pair of bronze sculptures from biblical stories which would stand in the private garden of the Medici Palace in Florence. One was of David, the shepherd boy from Bethlehem standing nonchalantly above the severed head of the giant Goliath. The other was a more visceral and disturbing scene as the apocryphal Jewish heroine Judith raises a sword to deliver a fatal blow to the neck of Holofernes, the general of the mighty Assyrian Army.

Judith Beheading Holofernes, Florence

 Detail from Donatello’s ‘Judith beheading Holofernes’ – Picture: J Marlow

In keeping with much of the art of the period and with the narrative of the scene, this sculpture group is infused sexual intensity. The account in the Jewish Apocrypha records that Judith, a noble widow among the Jewish people had entered the Assyrian commander’s camp and surrendered to him. On the night she will murder him we read that “Holofernes’ heart was ravished with her and his passion was aroused, for he had been waiting for an opportunity to seduce her from the day he first saw her” (Judith 12:16). To this end they drink and feast together until Holofernes had “drank a great quantity of wine, much more than he had ever drunk in any one day since he was born.” (v20). Later that night, as Holofernes lies unconscious on his bed, Judith reaches for his own sword and, in two strokes, hacks his head from his half-naked body. She then runs into the night having saved her city from the marauding army marshalled outside its gate.

Donatello has chosen to evoke that particular moment between blows, as Judith holds up Holofernes by the hair, raises the sword above her head and prays for strength as she completes her deadly mission. Despite his desires, Holofernes is impotent to resist and, as if to emphasise his incapacity, Judith’s foot presses down on Holofernes’ limp and useless sword hand.

Detail from Judith beheading Holofernes, Florence

The message given to this work by its Medici patrons was that Judith stood as an example of the victory of virtue and diligence. This was made explicit by a Latin inscription on the pedestal which read “Kingdoms fall through luxury; cities rise though virtues; behold the neck of pride severed by the hand of humility”. (Judith Testa, An Art Lover’s Guide to Florence, 2012, page 83)

When the Medici family were expelled from the city in 1494, the statue was taken down but, far from being destroyed, it was set up on the steps of the Palazzo Vecchio, the Florentine town hall in the central Piazza della Signoria.

Removed from the garden pedestal with its inscription, the Florentines were ready to reclaim this delicate work of art and imbue it with a new meaning. The new (and slightly mismatched looking) column upon which the work still stands reads “The Citizens set up this exemplar for the welfare of the public, 1495”. (Testa, p85).

Detail from Judith Beheading Holofernes, Florence

This reminder of a virtuous city throwing off the tyranny of a powerful and ruthless ruler, now stood to celebrate the victory of the Florentine citizens as they saw off the overbearing Medici.

The group has since been moved one more time, in 1504. It was shifted into a less prominent position ten meters to the left, displaced by the more masculine edifice of Michelangelo’s David.

This seemingly small act of jostling the position of the art works in the square reflected another change in the perceived message of the sculpture group. By 1504, observers could no longer see political overtones, seeing instead the fearful prospect of a man at the mercy of a woman intent on murder. By moving it to a less prominent location, the group would be preserved, but overshadowed by David, a statue which was considered to be more appropriate than one where a woman held such control over a man.


Detail from the replica of Michaelangelo’s marble sculpture David (Il Gigante) located at the entrance to the Palazzo Vecchio in the Piazza della Signoria, Florence Italy.
Picture: J Marlow

If there is a lesson for the artist in all of this it is surely that art with a degree of ambiguity has a better chance of surviving the winds of political change. If there is an opportunity to read different meanings into a work, then everyone can claim your art carries their message.

But is such ambiguity an abdication of responsibility? Should artists be content to let their work be appropriated and defined by their patron, or by any subsequent owners? Can art really be said to be political if its meaning can be modified to suit the whims of the viewing public?

If we are comfortable with the paradigm that the ultimate act of artistic expression was the creation of the universe, then there is comfort to be drawn from God’s infinitely complex sculpture group.

Detail from Patchwork Sea - J Marlow

 Detail from ‘Patchwork Sea’ by J Marlow, 2014

Creation is embedded with a message and in Psalm 19, a song written by David and almost certainly sung regularly by Judith, we read that their purpose is to reveal their creator.

“The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.”
(Psalm 19:1–4)

In terms of communication, however, the world is impressionist at best, and people are free to suffuse it with their own meaning or even to see it as a pure abstract.

If we want to understand the message we need to accept the artists’ description, but if God seems content to allow such a degree of ambiguity in his art, then we could be content to let others interpret our work, whether we meant it to be political or not.

An Art Lover’s Guide to Florence (Judith Testa, 2012, NUI Press) is available in the UK from Amazon via this Affiliate Link. 


The Limits of Limited Editions – Modern Masters in Print


Limited Edition

I like to think that I’m getting a bargain and this also applies when I’m shopping for art. At Christmas I bought myself a limited edition print of a canvas and rather than angling for a discount I asked the artist if he could limit the number of prints of this picture to ten instead of his usual 25.

The original canvas is in private hands and I’ve got the only print, so does it make any difference whatsoever to the value (financial or artistic) what the theoretical maximum print run of this picture is?

 Le Cirque, 1945 print by Pablo Picasso. Part of the Modern Masters in Print Exhibition © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

I was thinking about limited editions and reprints this weekend when I visited the “Modern Masters in Print” exhibition at the Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery. This exhibition is ‘on tour’ from the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and includes over 50 works by Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí and Andy Warhol. It seems that I’m not the only one to be confused about the relationship between prints and originals. Gill Saunders, Senior Curator (Prints) at the V&A reports that in some venues the feedback she’s received is that the exhibition should have included more of the ‘good stuff’. What people mean is that they want to see original paintings rather than prints.

With four exceptions, however, these works are not copies of paintings but works of art in their own right. All of the artists in the show were using different methods of printing as a means of experimentation and original expression.

The prints in the exhibition were original works conceived by the artist for the particular print method they had chosen. They didn’t see them as a commercially more productive technique, but as a way to develop their artistry.

Matisse described preparing plates for printing as “drawing with new tools” and Picasso also found that the printmaking was feeding his creative process in other media.

Andy Warhol, when asked in 1971 about the difference between his paintings and his prints, famous answered “the difference is that paintings are on canvas”. The acid-test of authenticity in print seems to be whether the work was conceived for the medium you’re looking at or if it is a copy of a work in another.

 The Frugal Repast, 1904 print by Pablo Picasso. Part of the Modern Masters in Print Exhibition © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Picasso’s powerful study in poverty and alcoholism ‘The Frugal Repast’ was only his second foray into print. It was made during his blue period in 1904 and used a zinc etching plate which had previously been used for a landscape print by his friend Joan Gonzales. In fact, the faint remainder of Gonzales’ image can be seen in the first impressions to come off the press.

The original print run of The Frugal Repast was very short due to the fragility of the zinc plate. In 1913, however, the plate was steel-faced by the art dealer Ambroise Vollard and the resulting run of 250 prints were widely distributed and helped to build Picasso’s reputation as a print maker. While we don’t expect Vollard to have had truly altruistic motives, this is a good example of the use of technology to broaden the impact of a work of art, rather than restricting it to preserve the value of the limited edition.

Print and reproduction technology has moved on considerably from the early 20th Century and our digital age has introduced questions about limited editions which are not confined to the two-dimensional paper printing which Matisse, Picasso, Dalí and Warhol perfected.

Earlier in the year I listened to the BCC 2013 Reith lectures given by Tuner Prize wining artist Grason Perry. Grayson’s current exhibition is a series of six tapestries, each four meters long, which echo William Hogarth’s 1730s morality tale A Rake’s Progress and pay visual homage to several classical paintings in the process. It’s called The Vanity of Small Differences. Each of the tapestries in the exhibition was woven in Belgium using a computer-controlled digital loom which produced the six works on display and two sets of artist’s proofs.

Digital-Loom-and-PerryArtist Grayson Perry watches a digital loom weaving one of his tapestries. Image from the Channel 4 series ‘All In the best possible taste – with Grayson Perry’

Although the works in The Vanity of Small Differences are unique originals, it would be possible (although costly) to produce an identical second set at the click of a mouse. These are unique only due to the decision of the artist, something which Gill Saunders calls “The artificiality of the limited edition”.

Thomas Cronenberg, a member of the European Tapestry Forum Standing Committee takes this criticism of the tapestries as original art works even further. Writing in trade magazine Textile Forum (issue 2/2103) he says that these works have “very little to do with crafts and much more in common with commercial art or, said in an extreme way, colour photocopying.” Because the production of the tapestry is a step removed, he does not see the hand of the artist in the finished work.

A short stroll around the V&A reveals that this question of authorship, design and reproduction has been around far longer than mechanical looms. The largest works in the V&A are a series of paper drawings known as the Raphael Cartoons. These paper paintings are full scale designs for tapestries which were commissioned by Pope Leo X in 1515. The finished products were hung in the Sistine Chapel and show scenes from the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles.

The Raphael Cartoons are housed in Room 48 of the Victoria and Albert Museum, South Kensington.

In Renaissance Art, the term cartoon refers to the design for an artwork in another medium, usually full size and usually on paper rather than canvas. Closer inspection of these cartons show that they have been cut into vertical strips which were the width of the looms used by the weavers who would copy the design. The cartoon was a mirror image of the finished tapestry as the weavers would work the fabric from behind.

Despite being among ‘the greatest treasures of the high renaissance’, the cartoons on show in the V&A are the 16th Century equivalent of the digital files generated by Grayson Perry. With a pleasing symmetry both artists sent their designs off to Belgium to be rendered in thread, albeit with The Vanity of Small Differences enjoying a more exclusive print run than the Raphaels.


Detail from ‘The Conversion of the Proconsul’ – Raphael Cartoons © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

One detail of the Rahpael Cartoons did raise a question in my mind about the acid-test of authenticity. Did Raphael intend the cartoons to be works of art in their own right, rather than simply designs for the tapestries? The detail in question is the Latin inscription shown below the throne of Sergius Paulus in ‘The Conversion of the Proconsul’ (above). If this was purely a template for the weaver then the text would be expected to be a mirror image, but the text in the cartoon has been written to be read from the front. This does seem to add fuel to the fire of those who would say the designs are are more genuine and unique expression of the artist’s work than the finished product.

But even here we run into problems about authorship and authenticity. Matisse began his experimentation in print using woodblock printing, but producing the plates was so time consuming that once he had drawn the image he gave the task of carving the hard wooden block to his wife. His signature might have been on the final print, but is it any better than a photocopy of his drawing?

Woodblock used to print Matisse’s ‘Nude in profile on a chaise longue’ Part of the Modern Masters in Print Exhibition © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Laying aside the cost and projected value of the work, there are three questions which will help you decide whether to buy a print, a limited edition or hold out for an ‘original’.

  • Are you looking at a copy of an original, or a work of art conceived in the medium you are buying?
  • How accurately does the print reflect the original? (Is it a good copy?)
  • In your enjoyment of art more about what you can see or about the uniqueness of the piece you own?

I’m looking at my limited edition print as I write. To be honest, it isn’t the number at the bottom which grabs my attention.

Modern Masters in Print is on display at the Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery until 23rd August. Entry to the museum and exhibition is free – don’t miss it. (The four exceptions mentioned above were a series of striking railway destination posters for SNCF designed by Dalí and commercially printed.)


Art for Under 5s – Turner and the Sea

fishermen upon a lee-shore in squally weather

Impression of ‘Fishermen upon a Lee-Shore, in Squally Weather’ by Joseph Mallord William Turner. 2014. 

A couple of months ago I took the Boy to the “Turner and the Sea” exhibition at the Royal Maritime Museum as a dry-run for gallery visits during my sabbatical. The experience was a good one and so, in the first art-related post of my sabbatical, I’m going to share my five tips for visiting exhibitions with under 5s.

1) Keep it simple, but don’t patronise.

Small children tend to be taken to art galleries for one of two reasons. Either a parent wants to go and can’t find a babysitter, or they see it as important to their child’s education that they have a good grounding in art history before they go to school. In the case of the Boy, it’s a bit of both and our trips tend to be a mixture of keeping him engaged and keeping him amused.

Now, I’ll admit that my expectations are probably higher than they should be for the level of engagement a three year old can have with an Old Master, but we’ve always tried to encourage the Boy to have opinions about things, especially art and music. And the questions we should all be asking ourselves about art and culture are fairly easy for children to answer. Do you like it? How does it make you feel? What’s happening? What does it remind you of?

Philip James de Loutherbourg - The Shipwreck 1793 - detail Painting

The Boy picked out this detail as his favourite part of the exhibition. The wreckers in Philip James de Loutherbourg’s ‘The Shipwreck’ look like pirates. Apparently.

What I’m not such a great fan of are activities for children which have nothing to do with the art, like trails to find stuffed toys hidden around stately homes. These do seem to suggest that visits are more about keeping children amused while you look around than helping them engage with what you’re looking at.

When faced with a 2 meter wide canvas there is a limit to how much discussion you can have about technique or the historical importance of the work. But you can talk about the action and the colour. How do the different parts of the painting elicit different responses? The Turner and the Sea exhibition included works by other artists so we tried to guess whether each one was a similar style to the rest of the exhibition or if it looked different.

Of course, it was a particular high-point of the visit when the Boy correctly identified which painting was a Turner and which wasn’t ‘because of the sea’. I’m not sure it was a repeatable exercise, so I didn’t ruin the illusion by trying it again.

A First rate Man-of-War driven onto a reef of rocks, floundering in a gale

‘A First rate Man-of-War driven onto a reef of rocks, floundering in a gale’ by George Philip Reinagle. Not a Turner!

2) Find non-marking ways of sketching.

Making sketches of what you’re looking at is arguably the best way to appreciate what is in front of you. Add this to children’s natural love of drawing and you have a great way to encourage their inner artist while being able to look yourself. Having said this, gallery staff tend to look very worried if a small child is wandering around priceless works of art with a crayon, so I’ve loaded up my iPad mini with a drawing pad app which cost about £2.50 but has saved hundreds of pounds of babysitting fees over the past two years. It also makes the whole process of moving around a gallery much easier if you don’t have to worry about collecting up all the pencils.

Be prepared for adoring comments though. If you have a small child sitting sketching in front of a early Turner then expect comments about “a young Turner”. Not all comments are straightforward though. One lady looked at the Boy’s screen and asked “Are you drawing a sunflower?” “No” came the reply, “I’m copying this Turner”. And this was his interpretation of “Wreck of a Transport Ship”. You can see her confusion, but then he’s always preferred more abstract art than me.

Wreck of a Transport Ship

Joseph Mallord William Turner, ‘The Wreck of a Transport Ship’ c.1810Joseph Mallord William Turner, ‘The Wreck of a Transport Ship’ c.1810

3) See the good stuff first.

Exhibitions are usually arranged in a linear order, often beginning with an artist’s earlier and less developed work. You want to see the good stuff before children get impatient, so don’t feel bad about missing out the first few rooms.

I find that impatience comes in three phases:

  • Stage one: I’m enjoying this.
  • Stage two: I’m bored with art but happy to do something else while you look around.
  • Stage three: We have to leave right now!

With Turner we had about forty minutes of stage one (with drawing on the iPad), fifteen minutes of stage two (with world map puzzles, again on the iPad) and it took five minutes of stage three to get out of the exhibition. Strangely, as soon as we got into the gift shop we reset to stage one.

Joseph Mallord William Turner, ‘The Battle of Trafalgar, 21 October 1805’ 1823-4

Joseph Mallord William Turner, ‘The Battle of Trafalgar, 21 October 1805’ which I was enjoying as we moved from stage one to stage two.

Joseph Mallord William Turner – ‘The Fighting Temeraire tugged to her last berth to be broken up’. Formerly the nation’s favourite painting, which I had to go back to the National Gallery and see alone, as we had entered stage three before we found it in Turner and the Sea.

If you do some research before you leave home, you can generally find out what’s going to be where in the exhibition. This also gives you the opportunity to familiarise your child with the most well-known works in advance, so finding them is part of the discovery.

4) Queue-jump if possible.

I’m not suggesting pushing in but, if you book in advance, many places offer timed tickets which reduce the amount of queuing at the door. Standing in a queue to get into the exhibition cuts into your stage one time, as I found at the Natural History Museum to my cost.

5) Don’t worry about other people.

Some artists seem to inspire a muted awe in their viewers, and Turner is the apotheosis of this reverential appreciation. But people who visit art galleries, and especially those who pay for exhibitions, are generally keen that young people learn to appreciate art for themselves, so they would rather see children engaged and talking than absent or silent. Other visitors to a gallery will be using the audio-guide headphones, so can’t hear you anyway.

If you’re at stage one of a visit then most other visitors are going to be charmed, rather then annoyed by a small person commenting on the exhibition. If you’re at stage two then you may need to have headphones on the iPad. If you’re at stage three then the person who is most likely to be disturbed by your child is you, so cut your losses and head for the gift shop.

  • What have you learnt from your own trips out with small children?
  • What have you seen working and not working when you’ve encountered other people’s children in galleries?

Sun Rising Through Vapour

Impression of ‘Sun Rising Through Vapour’ by Joseph Mallord William Turner.

Evening harbour scene with boats being unloaded and spectators

Impression of ‘Habour Scene with Boats being unloaded and Spectators’ by Claude-Joseph Vernet.