Posted in Art

July 19: Coloured Sculpture

A few weeks ago, I took a trip to the Tate Modern to see The Jordan Wolfson installation Coloured Sculpture. Sadly, the exhibit was closed due to “technical difficulties”, and I was disappointed. It seems that there are many things that can go wrong with this piece of work, and today, there were technical issues with the eyes (I think it was the motion-sensors) which meant that the exhibit had to be closed again. Fortunately, I had already spent a fair bit of time being alternately horrified and sickened by what is clearly a representation of abuse. The bursts of Percy Sledge (When a Man Loves a Woman) made it horribly worse, and I feel fortunate that the puppet was not able to turn its gaze on me. It wasn’t terrifying, but it was disturbing. The videos of the piece don’t do it justice. You lose the scale, for one thing. That puppet is big, and it thumps down hard.

The work is on show until the end of August, and entry is free. Go and make your own judgement.

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Posted in Art, Theatre

May 17: RED

Having had a look at Rothko’s Four Seasons paintings yesterday, today I watched as the two years of Rothko’s life spent painting the pictures unfolded on stage.

I have to say, I am very fond of Rothko’s paintings, and Alfred Molina’s performance as the artist gave me an understanding that I didn’t really have before. I now understand why the Tate keep their Rothko gallery in dimmed light. I have more of a feeling for why there is so much red…

I really enjoyed this play. I got the wit and the subtle humour. I didn’t laugh out loud, like some of the audience- I actually don’t think I was meant to. I loved the choreography of the priming of the canvas. I really liked the music that was used. Alfred Enoch was excellent as the assistant. And Alfred Molina was a towering presence on stage. Five stars. All the stars.

Posted in Art

May 15: Picasso 1932

I love having a Tate membership. Today I rocked up to Tate Modern and waltzed straight into the Picasso exhibition. No quietus or pre-booked slots for me.

I liked the exhibition, although there did seem to be rather an over-representation of women in armchairs. I particularly liked the crucifixion sketches and pictures, which I hadn’t heard of before.

The concept of the exhibition was interesting. One year in the artist’s life, represented through the pictures painted in that year.

Two of my favourite Picasso works, The Weeping Woman and Guernica were not painted in that time, both being painted a few years later; but one of my other favourites, The Dream, takes pride of place on the poster and the catalogue cover.

On the way out, I came across a smallish room with Mark Rothko’s Four Seasons paintings, and spent half an hour drinking in the red. I think of these, Red on Maroon is my favourite.

Finally, in another little room by itself, there was a Gormley. I like a Gormley very much and I hadn’t seen this one before. It is untitled, labelled for Francis, and is life size. It bears a full set of religious stigmata.

Posted in Art

March 14: All Too Human

I took advantage of my brand-new Tate membership and strolled into the gallery, bypassing the queue for tickets and generally behaving in a privileged manner. The gallery itself is undergoing some major refurbishment, which made the trek through the permanent collection to the exhibition interesting. I got to see a whole room full of Gormley models that I hadn’t seen before, so that was a bonus.

I really liked this exhibition. I have liked Lucien Freud’s work for a long time, and more recently have come to appreciate Bacon. This exhibition introduced me to F N Souza, and in particular to his “black on black” work, which I found very interesting.

As a personal note, today I got a new tattoo.

Seems appropriate to our times.

Posted in Art

February 1: Tools of Endearment

Today saw the “opening” of an installation by Kalliopi Lemos. It was supposed to be starting at 6, but when I arrived a bit before that time, it looked as if it was all over. The pieces were lit up in low-key purple (presumably a nod to the suffragettes); the artist was having her photograph taken; it was starting to rain icy needles. A tourist jumped into the big shoe to have her photo taken, and was shouted at by a member of the NOW Gallery staff. There wasn’t much of a crowd, but it was pretty cold outside the O2. I think maybe a party was going to happen inside the Gallery, but I didn’t have an invitation.

The collection (which is apparently going to grow) is based on the idea of forcing conversation about the role of femininity in society and more particularly in the field of public art work. It is an interesting idea. I just wish the pieces themselves were more exciting.

Posted in Uncategorized

January 4th: Writing

I mentioned a few days ago that I was planning to write about a couple of my characters this year. So, I was browsing through Twitter, and up popped an interesting challenge that an artist has set herself (check out the details here ). She has specifically asked for her art to be shared, so here is the first in her series of illustrations.

It triggered an urge to revisit Billy, an old character of mine, which in turn led to a 1000-word opener to what might be an interesting fill-in of a major gap in his story. I’m not posting the link to the story, as I keep my writing persona away from here, but I haven’t written anything new for a long time, so I feel it is worth mentioning.

Posted in books

January 3rd: Reading

Last year I wrote about almost everything I read. This year, I’m only going to mention things I have really liked.

So, to start the year, I treated myself to a full set of Bryan Talbot’s Grandeville graphic novels.

I loved these books. I gave them 5 stars on Goodreads, and wished I could have given them more. They are beautifully drawn, and full of Easter eggs that made me smile each time I spotted one. Asterix and Obelix make a brief appearance. Tintin’s dog Snowy features in one of the books. And there are bears. Paddington Bear. Rupert Bear. Gladly the Cross-Eyed Bear (!)

If you don’t know these stories, imagine a mashup of Sherlock Holmes and Inspector Lestrade (the Rupert Graves version); add in an alternate history setting and a steampunk style. Oh, and the lead character is a badger.

It sounds weird. It is a bit weird, but not as weird as you’d think. There are some very bad villains (I won’t spoil it by telling you just who the worst villain turns out to be), and some clueless coppers. There is also a LOT of gory death. This is not a children’s comic.

The five books form a story arc, which is completed at the end of the final book. I want more though, and I hope that sometime in the future, Archie LeBrock will return.

Posted in Art, Theatre

Week 37

Theatre

Arts Theatre

Samuel Becket: Waiting for Godot

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This is a play I have waited for a long time to see. I dearly wished to see Sirs Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan as Vladimir and Estragon, but that was not to be. This version was Irish through and through, and had some moments of comedy breaking up the bleakness. I found Pozzo and Lucky very irritating, but Didi and Gogo were excellent.

Once again, I found that I had been moved to a stalls seat (always a problem for me in these little theatres, as it usually involves negotiating a LOT of steps) because of a small audience. I really wish that theatres wouldn’t do this. And this time they were very high-handed about it -as if they are granting you the great privilege of paying £50 for a cold, noisy seat in a half-empty theatre.

The play itself was good,  but the cast must have been as fed up as the audience with the noise leaking in from the basement bar next door.  I can’t recommend this as a venue, sadly.

Art

Illustration Cupboard Gallery

David McKee: 50 Years of Mr Benn

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I like Mr Benn, and was pleased to see this exhibition.

The pictures were mostly straight from the books, with some animation cels. The gallery is very small and tightly packed. There were three other people in the main room when I was there, and it felt like a crowd.

IMG_0925My favourite item was a design especially commissioned by Turnbull and Asser (the tailor next door to the gallery).  It is Mr Benn as James Bond, and is going to be a silk pocket square that is sadly just too small to be used as a neck scarf. (I popped next door to enquire, just to be sure).

Posted in Art, dance, Theatre, video

Week 36

The Arts can often be an antidote to the grim reality of life. At other times they can be cathartic, allowing release.   This week’s outings were all produced by women, and all addressed the hard parts of life.

Theatre

Dorfman Theatre

Lucy Kirkwood: Mosquitoes

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This play has been the season’s hot ticket. A complete sellout from the beginning of the booking season, only two tickets allowed per customer, and only very occasionally appearing in the “Friday Rush”. I managed to bag the single ticket on offer for the performance I saw, and it was well worth the effort I had gone to in order to get that seat.  Olivia Colman was absolutely wonderful as the most damaged (and damaging) relative anyone could ever have. Scientific themes threaded through this excellent play, but it was accessible to the non-nerd.  I loved it.

Art

White Cube: Dreamers Awake

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A very comprehensive feminist surrealist exhibition, curated by Susanna Greeves and featuring work by (amongst others) Tracy Emin, Mona Hatoum, Sarah Lucas and Louise Bourgeois. There were some beautiful works, some very peculiar works, some that were hard to look at. None of it left me unmoved.

Dance/Video

Rosie Kay Dance Company: 5 Soldiers

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This piece was staged during a local festival back at the beginning of the summer. I wasn’t able to get to it then, and so was really pleased to see it being live streamed from an actual army base this week.

The dance shows the progress of five soldiers through their training and deployment. The interaction between the recruits and their officer, and between themselves were very well portrayed, with some difficult moments between the sole female soldier and her male colleagues played out effectively. One of the soldiers suffers a life-changing injury during deployment, and this is addressed well.

The female perspective made all of my “culture”  difficult to look at this week. There seemed to be a specific harshness about life itself in these pieces.

Posted in Art, books, exhibitions

Week 35

This week signals the end of summer.

Exhibitions

Somerset House

Perfume

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I was a little worried about this, as I have an aversion to strong perfume, hovering around physical discomfort and sometimes actual breathing difficulties if the perfume assaults me in a confined space. However, the ten perfumes were presented in a way that made them pleasant and not overpowering.

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My favourite in the “blind” smelling was presented in a confessional-style cell., and reminded me of the smell of old churches. I later found out it was Incense:Avignon, created for Comme des Garçons, with base notes of Frankincense.

Also at Somerset House

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This was a strange little exhibition of faked artist biographies and portraits, alongside found objects and strange manipulations of everyday items. It was quite amusing and filled some time on a rainy day.

Art installations

Royal Festival Hall

Peter Lazlo Peri: The Sunbathers

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This piece has an interesting history. It was made for the 1951 Festival of Britain, and installed on the South Bank. After the festival was over, the work was lost until very recently, when it turned up in the garden of the Clarendon Hotel in Blackheath. A crowd-funding campaign was launched and the work was restored and installed inside the Royal Festival Hall.

It was smaller than I expected, although not tiny by any means. I liked it.  Sadly, the exhibition is temporary, and will soon be taken down.

Marianne Heske: Gordian Knot – Necklace

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This is another temporary installation at the Royal Festival Hall, which I was pleased to see on its last day in situ. I liked this very much. The macabreness of the dolls heads juxtaposed with the mathematics of the Gordian knot appealed to the geek in me. I would wear a necklace like this.

Water

The Edmund J Safra Fountain Court at Somerset House is a lovely example of a water feature that the public can get wet in. On the day I visited, it was pouring with rain and chilly, so I was able to take a picture of an unusually empty courtyard and “dancing fountain”.

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I crossed the river from one dancing fountain to another. Jepp Hein’s Appearing Rooms is less pretty, but more exciting. If you don’t correctly anticipate where the next “room” will appear you can get very wet. It was still raining when I was there, so again, I got a picture of an empty fountain.

Books

SUMMER reading challenge

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The idea was to read all six of the books before August Bank Holiday, and I achieved it with a couple of days to spare. I may set myself another mimi-challenge later in the year, but for now, it’s back to my main 100booksin2017 challenge.

Reading

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These two bring my total so far to 71. I am well on track to meet my target.

HarryHole is one of my favourite detectives, and I thoroughly enjoyed this continuation of his sober life with Rakel and Oleg, despite spending the first part of the book thinking he was dead.  HardCheese is an interesting and amusing “locked room” amateur detective mystery, well worth a read, and yes, there is cheese.