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Lust and passion at Christchurch Mansion

PUBLISHED: 14:00 29 November 2018

The Kiss is at the Wolsey Gallery, Christchurch Mansion until April. Picture: LJM

The Kiss is at the Wolsey Gallery, Christchurch Mansion until April. Picture: LJM


The Kiss, the monumental sculpture by August Rodin has arrived in Ipswich and even the BBC national news took notice.

It isn’t often that Ipswich appears on national TV because of its arts profile, but this week there was an actual broadcast from Christchurch Mansion which flagged up both this wonderful museum and the one off Kiss & Tell exhibition.

We went along on Saturday morning and wow! This huge piece of marble is installed in the centre of the Wolsey Gallery and you can walk right around it and, unlike the Venus de Milo at the Louvre, you can get an unimpeded view of this iconic sculpture. Despite the tragic back story – the would-be lovers are caught kissing by the woman’s husband and killed, thereafter doomed to eternal torment – it is a beautiful work from whichever angle you view it.

Born in Paris in 1840, Rodin died in 1917. The Kiss is dated to around the turn of the 20th century, and it emerged from the artist’s fascination with Dante’s Inferno. In fact, this is one of three versions Rodin crafted. It has been loaned by the Tate.

As well as The Kiss there are other works by Rodin, including one borrowed from the Britten-Pears Foundation at Aldeburgh.

The exhibition also includes works by Suffolk artists including Colin Moss, John Constable, Bernard Reynolds, Maggi Hambling, Thomas Woolner and more.

If you are a fan of fridge magnets, you can get one from the shop with The Kiss on it ... one of a selection of merchandise accompanying the exhibition. Kiss & Tell is at the mansion until April 29 and it is free and we all know what that means, we can go as many times as we like − how brilliant is that?

Meanwhile back at Corn Henge (as Stephen “Foz” Foster called it when I was talking to him on BBC Radio Suffolk last Friday), there is also much to admire. I love the engravings showing the Anglo-Saxon streets of Ipswich that still form the pattern of our town.

I was also pleased to see a briefing on the people who have illuminated the history of Ipswich by their achievements. They are there for all to see and, when I was there on Friday and Saturday, a lot of shoppers and passers-by stopped to read the pillars − despite the fact it was Black Friday all weekend and there was also a lot of serious shopping going on... at least there was by me. Now, I eagerly await the opening of Pret A Manger.

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