I am sure that a large part of the enduring mystery of the Renaissance masterpieces in the National Gallery was due to the absence of the explanatory matter that now drains away much of the strangeness and poetry of the Old Masters. I would stare at Crivelli’s Annunciation, charmed by the peacocks, loaves of bread and other incongruous items, the passer-by reading a book on the bridge and the Virgin in her jewel box of a house. I was forced to use my own imagination to stitch these elements into a master narrative that made some kind of sense, rather than read an extended wall caption and be solemnly told that the peacock was a symbol of eternal life. Perish the thought, and let the exquisite bird be itself, and nothing more or less than itself. What could be more natural, and more mysterious, than a peacock and a loaf of bread appearing on the scene to celebrate the forthcoming birth of the Saviour?
From J.G. Ballard’s autobiography Miracles of Life.
Tonus Peregrinus was founded in 1990 by composer Anthony Pitts, as a student in Oxford. It specialises in early music:
Perhaps it would be better to say that I saw the first butterflies I had noticed this Spring. The unassuming Small Tortoiseshell was the butterfly in question, and like the proverbial buses one was quickly followed by two others.
Spring’s arrival is definite.