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Walking Over Haddon in The Peak District

I confess I'm a fair weather walker, which means I often want to walk on our holidays, but whether we go is always dependent on the weather. I have a Goretex jacket but it's like a talisman. I own it, but I don't want to wear it and I hope vainly that just by having spent so much on it an schlepping it with me that it's going to ward off the rain! As you can see my travel planning involves a good deal of "magical thinking!" In California our cultural exuberance (paired with low standards) means we shamelessly call anything a "hike"  - as if we've scaled Everest in an afternoon. Here in England I'm not sure I even qualify as a "walker" because that denotes a level of seriousness I've failed at previously. Minimally it means you're wearing boots  and have an Ordnance Survey map (and possibly a compass) in your back pocket. I guess I'm more of stroller to be honest and I've blogged about my strolls all over the world; m…

EUR - Mosaics and Sculpture

Because I found it so interesting, and have so many pictures from EUR, I wanted to add a second post on the decorative details at the site. In particular an extraordinary bas-relief linking Mussolini with Roman triumphs. We were particularly struck by a large bas relief near the entrance to one of the government buildings. Above you can see Mussolini astride his horse surrounded by the adulation of women and children and heroic looking soldiers who are marching by. The entire representation is defined by purpose, direction and power. Mussolini is embodied as a man of action, a man of and for his people. Looking at it today feels like you are glimpsing into the fascist past and it remains chilling.

In a long tradition of kingship in Italy and elsewhere, Mussolini sought to place himself in the cavalcade of history as the noble and rightful heir of Roman authority. In the image above you can see Caesar and a representation of the sacking of the temple in Jerusalem along with the menorah. These  can be seen on the bas relief right above Mussolini's figure  and they deliberately echo the images found on Titus' triumphal arch in the Roman Forum. Indeed, both   are distinctive for their representation of Jewish subjugation represented by the menorah which you can see above.
In a very heavy handed manner Mussolini is linking himself to the history of the Western civilization, claiming a cultural, political and ancestral link stretching back to Greece, symbolized by the image of the Parthenon, see in the top right above. There are lots of other allusions I failed to decipher, but the message isn't subtle. Everything is thrown in here including the Colosseum and St Peters, the removal of antiquities from the colonies, and possibly even Charlemagne  himself, below.
Overall the buildings at EUR have very little decoration and this is partially why they look so modern. However, in addition to the bas-relief above there are several friezes and also two large mosaics panels pictured below. They cover the sides of two facing buildings and are very well wrought. According to the sign, they were designed for an exhibition of "Universal Science"  and were designed to link the "Arts, Occupations and Professions" and the "Corporationist Economy." 
I'm not entirely sure what the description means but the mural above seems to represent various professions - including most obviously music. The one below is less comprehensible and has a startlingly Cubist appearance, though no doubt unintentionally.
The style of the decorations at EUR reminded me of both the WPA murals in the US, which I've blogged about here, and the pro-Imperialist bas-relief on the Palais de la Porte Doree which so struck us when we were in Paris. Similar designs on public buildings invoking fortitude, perseverance, health and work were utilized by capitalists, communists and fascists throughout the 1930's and 1940's, no one group controlled the style or the message. 
It is a fascinating site and well worth visiting. 

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