Written by Ellis Ian Fields
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Sunday, 20 March 2011

image for John Martin: Heaven & Hell. Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle. Review OK, I asked for The Fallen Angels Entering Pandemonium.

John Martin's epic canvasses were extremely popular in the early-to-mid 19th Century, with their apocalyptic visions - like The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. He was even described as the greatest painter of his day by one commentator.

This is the first major exhibition of his work in more than 30 years - an enlarged version arrives at Tate Britain in the Autumn.

We sent Proserpine Gainsborough-Halfwit to Newcastle to assess the show...

O.M.G! I am sooooo totally traumatised. I should be having, like, post-traumatic stress counselling or something.

When Dr Fields said he wanted me to review the John Martin exhibition at Newcastle I thought he was joking.

I mean, like, Newcastle! It's like a thousand miles away in Scotland or something, isn't it?

"But they've got a few out at Tate Britain," I said. "Can't I just go and write a piece about them... or I could look him up in the books and do something."

But some of the Tate's are in this show, so Dr Fields insisted: "Martin was an answer on University Challenge this week. now get your arse up to Geordieland and do your job."

Well, I didn't want to go on my own and I wasn't using the train (Dr Fields just laughed when I asked about flying. What's so funny about flying?) so I persuaded Lucy to come with me and share the driving.

It took us about four-and-a-half hours to get there!

I don't know how we managed to get a room in the hotel - I couldn't understand a word anyone said. But Lucy said she was at college with a guy from Newcastle so she understood some of the lingo.

(She forgets I met him once at a party. He kept taking his shirt off and shouting something about 'Howaythelads' - and he had huge moobs!)

So in the taxi to the gallery (Dr Fields refuses to pay for that: "How f*****g far can it be?") the driver's babbling away and me and Lucy are like all "Yeah" and "Right" and we gave him £30 and he said something else and nearly laughed his head off.

(Oh, I suppose Dr Fields was right - we found the hotel was just round the corner from the gallery so we walked back).

But like I said, I didn't need to go. The pictures are big, epic landscapes in which the figures are dwarfed by the scale of nature. Nice, if you like that kind of thing.

A couple of guys tried to chat us up in the hotel bar that night - I think... I couldn't understand anything anyone said. Lucy was a bit too friendly, if you ask me - she can be such a tart.

Anyway, we got away first thing in the morning and I'm surprised we weren't picked up for speeding. I only started to slow down when we got past the midlands.

Lucy says I should grow up and get over it - but she's so easy-going and not in the least sympathetic. I'm going to see some friends and drown it all in bubbly!

Hope you're happy, Dr Fields!

The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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