Thursday, 11 September 2008

Hogarth Exhibition, Parliament and the Back Bencher.


One of the books that fascinated my brother and I when we were young was "Hogarth's England", a collection of prints engraved in the 1700s by William Hogarth. The engravings were highly detailed satires and portraits of life in England. What fascinated us were the more hideous aspects of the engravings. Some of them depicted quite nasty subjects.

Everything in his engravings has a point to make. In the backgrounds you see things that are commentaries on the foreground; The bull standing behind the cuckolded man so the man appears to be wearing horns is an excellent if not subtle example.

The National Library in Wellington has an exhibition of Hogarth's work at the moment. Spike and popped in to see it the other day and enjoyed it thoroughly. The exhibition includes some interesting juxtapositions with more modern works including a deadly series of cartoons by Trace Hodgson entitled "The Underbelly". Do go and see the exhibition if you get the chance.

Above is a small detail from "Credulity, Superstition and Fanaticism, A Medley". What is with the rabbits? I can see I need to do a bit more reading on Hogarth.


We were caught in the rain on our way to the exhibition so we ducked into Parliament on the spur of the moment. It's been years since I was in there. We had to divest ourselves of our cameras, phones, other bits of metal etc. to get in. I did forget about a number of items in my pockets but they either didn't set of the scanner or the security decided that we just weren't that threatening looking as they didn't stop us for a pat down or anything.

We were met in the foyer by a very friendly woman obviously set there to intercept people. She very quickly worked out that we had no business in Parliament and offered us a place on a tour group which had left some minutes ago. We decided to go on it and after being once again divested of our cameras and phones we joined the group.

It was an interesting tour and we quite enjoyed it. After finding out that Parliament was having an open day during the weekend I decided to make the security services' lives more interesting by purposefully seeking out all the cameras I could and ensuring that I looked like I was looking for them, scanning all rooms for entrances and exits, lagging behind the tour group whenever possible and just generally looking suspicious. I'm sure they will be looking for me in the weekend.

It was fun and I did find out that Spike and an associate had once been threatened with being held in contempt when they were making a verbal submission to a select committee some years ago. He did admit that they had been "quite rude to them though".

The Back Bencher

After leaving the Hogarth Exhibition we dropped into the Back Bencher for lunch. The Back Bencher is right across the road from Parliament so you tend to get quite a few staffers and politicians lunching tthere. I'm sure there can't be many countries in the world where yobs like Spike and myself can sit next to Cabinet Ministers and other MPs and have a beer and eavesdrop on their conversations.

Trevor Mallard was in there looking very pleased with himself. Not surprising considering he had just released some of the National (opposition) Party's policies for them. We thought about giving Trev a bit of stick but Trev is a bit of a bovver boy and probably would have kicked us half to death so we refrained.

Back Bencher verdict: Beer good. Food crap.

In all, quite a good day.

Update 21/04/2009:

An anonymous commenter left this on a much later post:

"Howdy, I happened along your blog while searching for information on a hogarth print entitled: Credulity, superstition, and fanaticism. A medley.

I saw your picture of the rabbits and the question of what they were about, well as it turns out Mary Toft gained alot of notariety for giving birth to bunnies in 1726, here's the link to the wiki page, and if you already found this out, then have a day!