Thursday, 30 July 2009

NatWest Tower, Bishopsgate EC2

John Hancock's next panels are devoted to Manufactures and Agriculture. The Angel of Industry is spinning wool in the old fashioned way, with a distaff and spindle, but rather oddly she is holding the distaff under her right arm. Perhaps she is left-handed, or are angels ambidextrous?
On the right, ladies spin using a spinning wheel, although by the 1860s even they were on the way out, made obsolete by the steam powered spinning jenny.
On the left, a potter throws an urn on a wheel while another carries a finished pot from the kiln.
The Angel of Agriculture carries a sheaf of wheat and a sickle, and stands with one foot on that inevitable cliche of such groups, a cornucopia that looks about to distribute its bounty all over the heads of passers-by.
Behind, a pair of oxen draw a plough, urged on by a small boy with a stick. A knobbly oak tree rises in the background. Hancock clearly enjoyed himself with this scene - the figures are sprightly and vigorous, though the oxen look a bit glum.

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