Wednesday, November 11, 2015

That Australian life - the Lamberts

Today's post is just a snippet. I was determined to finish my post on the Scanlon report, but just ran out of time and indeed enthusiasm. So back to art.

This is a self portrait by the Australian artist George Washington Lambert (1873-1930). I have mentioned him before especially in the context of Australian artist Thea Proctor with whom he had an intense relationship. Sexual?  One doesn't know, although it's often implied.Certainly he is a sensual looking chap.

Today is Remembrance Day. In this context, Lambert was also an Australian war artist from the First World War.

I have ambivalent feelings about George Lambert, partly because of his art, there was bad as well as good, more because of a feeling (perhaps unjustified) that he overshadowed Thea Proctor, preventing her achieving her full potential.

Things run in families. It seems hard for us to escape our pasts. Interests and sometimes abilities and indeed weaknesses recur down the generations.This may not be comfortable for those of us sitting on our perch in the family tree, unable to escape our own pasts, but it does appear to have a sad inevitability to it whether we like it or not.

This is Constant Lambert (and here), George's son. The cigarette has been replaced by a cigar. Constant Lambert was a gifted musician and writer, a man of charm but great inconstancy who occupies a distinct place on British cultural history.

Constant was 45 when he died, two days before his 46th birthday.. His father had died at 56. Constant's son, Kit Lambert, British record producer, record label owner and the manager of The Who, also died at 46 and was buried in the same grave as his father.

Maurice Lambert, Constant's brother, also died quite young. In his case 63. Like his father and brother,
Maurice also became a significant artistic figure, in his case sculpture

One of the things that I don't properly understand is why the boys ended in London. The Wikipedia entry on Constant says that he never visited Australia, although he was always conscious of the Australian connection.

Lambert's wife Amy was Australian. They married in 1901. Both boys were born in England. When Lambert returned to Australia in 1920, Maurice would have been 19, Constant 15. They were already entrenched in London.

It is not clear to me from the biographical material that Amy came back to Australia with George. Certainly she was in London when he died. Perhaps she just wanted to be close to her boys.

 The artistic thread that followed down through three Lambert generations could not have been easy. We benefit from their work, while the colour in their lives adds interest. Yet there is also a price to be paid

Growing up, I was attracted by the concept of the artist in the garret. It seemed kind of romantic. Certainly I wasn't put off by minor things like the cold! Now, older, I wonder a bit. There is a lot to be said for comfort and at least a degree of stability.    


Evan said...

The quality of art is not increased by insecurity or discomfort.

Jim Belshaw said...

Do you know, Evan, I'm not sure about that. It may be that if you are secure and comfortable, the drive is less. Art sometimes seems to come from springs that, of themselves, lead to insecurity and discomfort.

Evan said...

Well, what is lead to isn't the same as the creation.

You can test my theory. If you are in a noisy and insufficiently heated environment with poor internet access does this help you write?

Jim Belshaw said...

Not sure that that's good analogy Evan. Depends what you are used too! And poor internet access can be a great aid to writing! You have to work with your own ideas and not get distracted!

2 tanners said...

The artist in the garret implies mediocre commercial success (and therefore critical acclaim). Sometimes this can make you hungry in ways that don't involve food, and keep you there. Success can make you more casual about what you do. This isn't restricted to art, the saying "Stay hungry, or success will kill you" is a business mantra.

*Starving* in a garret is a different thing, IMHO. To any self respecting artist, you do need to stay alive and feed your family (or contribute). I have two writer friends who thank their lucky stars for retail stores like JB Hi-Fi. They can work there to get through the lean times and are valued by their employers for their stability, lack of retail ambition (they don't want to join the managerial ranks) and knowledge of the product range. But they are writers, first and foremost.

Anonymous said...

Portrait of an artist who died of poor internet access - as more fully explained here

We used to dreeammm of a garret :)


Jim Belshaw said...

You are far too prosaic, 2t! Should I look for a job in JB Hi-Fi?

Didn't realise, kvd, that Wallis ran off with Meridith's wife. I think those links give me a post!

2 tanners said...

kvd, you had me in stitches!

When I were lad...

Jim, I'd be terribly wounded by your characterisation of my post were it not so utterly wrong. And had you not quoted it in another post (ahem). Artists in garrets (or other poverty stricken circumstances) often do produce great work, unrecognised at the time. The same goes for musicians - success usually kills a band while critical acclaim combined with financial failure can be absolutely a driving force. Queen were a good example of this, although I'm sure they would have rather not been.

It's just not romantic to starve while you create but are not afforded recognition or, as legend has it, to burn major artworks to avoid freezing, turning weeks of effort into expensive kindling.

Jim Belshaw said...

I laughed a bit at your last sentence, 2t. Too true. I hope that the follow up post is as it seems to be) a suitable recompense for my wilful interpretational sins!