The shipyard painter, political activist and razor-sharp cartoonist Bob Starrett has just written a new book The Way I See It on his eventful life and times. Below we reprint one of his stories and review an essential read
ENO's production of La Boheme is a triumph,
A whole bunch of strange personages has taken up residence among the gentle knolls of Yorkshire Sculpture Park.
Although biomorphic in shape their cast in bronze components reveals an intriguing humble provenance - for they would mostly been originally picked up at bric-a-brac shops or flea markets - before being bestowed their present elevated status.
The figures' presence induces unease akin to the feeling of being watched and this is reciprocated, however, by a perplexed curiosity about their intentions.
There is also a vague air of playfulness - an enticement to a round of hide-and-seek, perhaps.
Andre Breton, the French poet and eminence grise of the surrealist movement, called their creator, the Catalan artist Joan Miro, "the most surrealist of us all."
The surrealists were variously influenced by Marxist dialectic, Walter Benjamin and Herbert Marcuse and significantly by Freud's work with free association, dream analysis and the unconscious.
Their modus operandi of juxtaposing distant and unrelated objects is plainly evident in Miro sculpture here where each assemblage is "a generator of feelings" - through the employment of something real and recognisable - and "free of tricks or grandiloquence."
Miro explained the process as "I feel attracted to an object by a magnetic force, without any premeditation whatsoever; then I feel attracted by another object which, when linked to the first, produces a poetic impact."
These everyday objects - chairs and stools, tree trunks, dolls, shop window dummies, bowls, a tap, worn soap, tin-cans, a pebble, a hand-woven basket - are testimony to Miro's profound connection to ordinary life and language and an eloquent hymn to imagination set free.
There is a childlike wonderment in these jovial earthy figures imbued with individual characters and the kind of benign madness that is imperative to remaining sane.
The engaging, imaginative forms might be invested with a "palpable feeling of fecundity" but are often intrinsically comical in a way that will particularly resonate with children - bound to sense a kindred spirit of exploration through fun - making it a perfect introduction to modern sculpture which as a YSP special bonus they are allowed to touch to their heart's delight.
Inexplicably - although Miro produced almost 400 sculptures in his later life - rarely have they been seen outside Mallorca and Barcelona or indeed met with the acclaim conferred on his paintings.
This inspired exhibition, therefore, remains a unique opportunity for a great outing at a price less than a family ticket to your local cinema.
There is also on offer a simultaneous cultural programme of performance, music, poetry and family activities. Highly recommended.
Miró: Sculptor, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, West Bretton, Wakefield. Until January 6 2013.