Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Chanel: Shade Parade

God, i feel ESTRANGED from this blog. still i hope to change that in the coming months. My distraction, in part, has to do with my new love affair with Pinterest, which is siphoning off my interest in posting all things visual. If you haven't discovered it... Do.   It's a series of online pinboards where you can pin things you like the look of. Genius.

Anyway, I digress. this advert is quite simply, amazing. and quite the way to make a re-entrance into the world of my blog after a summer break. think of my fingers prancing about like this as a warm up before they type.

I Heart. Big time.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Nicked: the musical

My dear friend Sam Hodges is playing our esteemed Prime Minister in a new 'urban' musical political satire, NICKED,which premiered at the HighTide theatre festival a few weeks ago. I'm off to see it this week with existing enthusiasm buoyed by this you tube trailer which is hilarious. political rapping: bring it.  

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Sea side treats (by way of M&S)

Mini bucket-and-spade jellies and chocolate ice creams from M&S bring sweet beach treats to, well, the office. Bite-sized delights. so dinky, so cute, so cool.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Moustaches: OUT OF CONTROL

 Oh GOD. Practical and affordable (£9). i wasn't expecting that.

 Can't quite say the same for the below. but hey, what they lack in usefulness, they make up for in F.U.N

Moustache badge

£17.50 for a badge?! seemingly so. does my moustache obsession warrant such a ridiculous and unnecessary expenditure? Hmmm. Still, thank you Sam for drawing it to my attention (x).

Ash Cloud

Hopefully this won't stop me flying tomorrow. though it is rather impressive looking. so much so it is currently my sister's screensaver. she's a funny one - fabulously so.

Friday, 20 May 2011


I have decided to start a fantasy art collection - ie a collection comprised of pieces of art that I'd like to buy, but can't. sort of like fantasy football but, you know, not. Although, in theory, one could start out with a fantasy lump sum and buy art like mad, and see how much the collection had appreciated at the end of each year. or something. Anyway. i saw this today and thought - I'd rather like that. called Diver, it's cibochrome print mounted on aluminium with neon and is part of married couple Rob and Nick Carter's neon 'Postcard from Vegas' series.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Vintage swimming

Good it's been eons since i posted anything. Yikes.
Still, this is where, who and how I wish I were today.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Pencil sculpture

Yet another chapter in my 'book of obsessions' (see moustaches, matryoshkas et al) relates to pencils. more specifically pencils with rubbers on the end, which i steal on a regular basis from swish hotels and with which I write all the time. but when i was sent a link to this post on Sharon Montrose's blog i sort of felt put in my place. writing with pencils with rubbers on the end is clearly too damn fricking obvious when you could, you know, be sculpting their lead into letters of the alphabet, figurines, hearts or shoes...  A big woop for Brazilian born, Connecticut based artist Dalton Ghetti

Thursday, 14 April 2011


I came out of Wastwater, a series of three short, tangentially linked plays (an elliptical triptych is what the Royal Court call it), having very much enjoyed them, but really quite foggy about what their point was. which was a bit strange. for some reason beforehand i though they had an eco link. but while watching, nothing of that nature particularly struck a cord. Each story takes place in the immediate environs of Heathrow airport - were the plays about the intimate, minor dramas lost in the roar of international activity? or the flightpath as metaphor for something - emotional journeys? the noise and fear and fright and excitement of takeoff and landing as one chapter closes and another opens? who knows. i'm still wondering. still, all of the above said, it was strangely compelling... 

I am fan of both Simon Stephens (playwright) and Katie Mitchell (Director), and I loved the claustrophobic intensity of each of the two-handers - the dialogue is pacey and has no pre-amble;  thrown into scenes dripping with drama from the get-go you must work to catch on to what's happening in them: who are the characters? where are they? what's their connection to one another? how well do they know each other?

Within each section, one of the characters is pushed to (and beyond) a significant, and potentially life-changing point by the other,  in a situation that is (one presumes) all too familiar to the latter. is it a good  thing? or darkly sinister? the tension is almost unbearable at points (in the best way, as oppose to a boring way) - the mystery being unravelled is teasingly, tantalisingly drawn out even as the dialogue races along.
weird. but in a good way.

Friday, 8 April 2011

Rocket to the Moon

At last, a play at the National Theatre that I've actually enjoyed this year. Huzzah. Clifford Odette's play, set in New York, in the sweltering summer of 1938, in a dentist's waiting room to be precise, is a hothouse of anaesthetised emotion... trapped in a stuffy, humid, small, soulless room the atmosphere is claustrophobic, constrained, stale, uncomfortable - much like the life of dentist Ben Stark, a man pushed one way by his haranguing wife (Keeley Hawes), and pulled another by her exuberant father, with whom she is at loggerheads.It's tiring to watch, let alone experience.

Everyone is bursting with opinions and passion but Stark himself. In sweeps the beautiful Cleo Singer, a pert, zingy, smiling breath of fresh air oozing energetic, excited youthfulness. The men go crazy, the women - ach, less so. The waiting room is the perfect setting for the waiting game that subsequently unfolds - what we're waiting for is less certain... is this an office romance or something altogether bigger, grander, more interesting...? They both must escape the claustrophobia, but what's the best way? with each other? or through some kind of self revelation?

It's cleverly played out - sinewy with emotion and  beautifully acted - Jessica Raine as Cleo is all  fidgety nubile sexuality,Joseph Millson Stark all twisted, manipulated confusion, Keely Hawes as his wife, strident, pose striking, looking-down-her-nose posturing while her father is a bouncing ball of rebellion and wit. I also especially loved the rather down-on-his-luck second dentist played by Peter Sullivan (so excellent in the Donmar's the Late Middle Classes with Helen McRory last year), who brought out the tragi-comic direness of his lacklustre life with glorious brio.

A tad long, but otherwise A1.


After Antichrist, dare we watch Lars von Trier's latest offering? I think yes....though we'll have to wait until July 1st.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

The world beard and moustache championships

Yes people, this is really happening - the world beard and moustache championships. Trondhjem. Norway. May 15th. words ESCAPE me. well, except for: Huzzah!

Russian doll obsession in motion

LOVE LOVE LOVE. about 2 years old. but better late than never, je pense.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Incurable Romantic Seeks Dirty Filthy Whore

Art i am lusting after... Harland Miller's new penguin prints from Other Criteria. What's annoying is when i first saw one of these and loved it, it was £500. now they are selling for £1,250. Fuck, bugger, bollocks.

Friday, 18 March 2011

The Most Incredible Thing

The Pet Shop Boys and Javier de Frutos' ballet interpretation of the Hans Christian Andersen story The Most Incredible Thing is indeed just that; The Most Incredible Thing. or at least i thought so as i sat there grinning manically and thoroughly caught up in the gloriously dynamic innovation of this magical story. The tale itself is a simple one - a king promises  his daughter's hand in marriage to the person who presents him with the most incredible thing. and that incredible thing (made by the simple carpenter you are rooting for who just happens to be in love with the princess, and she him) proves to be a truly knock-your-socks off clock which draws you inside, to its inner workings which are a multifaceted, kaleidoscopic world of pure wonder. there's some too-ings and fro-ings as sinister elements collude to overturn harmony, but it all ends well - with a marriage and the jolly pronouncement that 'no one was jealous'.

This production was conceived by The Pet Shop Boys, and there's a definite pop music cut and thrust to the ballet - it's upbeat and pacey from the get-go and there's no pretentious messing about when it comes to emotional impact - love, anger, danger and innovation are boldly articulated through both the music and movement. It works perfectly on stage; intensely dramatic, moving and punchy. I'm no expert when it comes to things like choreography, but all i can say is this - you feel every twinge of emotion in every sinuous flex as the bodies dance about - the angry tension, the fluidity of love, the resistance, compliance, nerves, joy and fear. It's magical.

The ballet opens with the pulsating ferocity of a video projection - numbers flash, followed by the laborious and intricate cutting of  paper into pretty shapes. when the curtain rises there's a paper castle suspended above the stage. it's double sided as if reflected in a mirror. this idea of two sides of one whole, opposites inextricably linked and reflections is one that recurs throughout the ballet, via the use of mirrors and monochromatic visuals. This theme culminates with the destruction of the clock; which is seen as being incredible as its creation. White goodness is set against the shadowy greys of evil. The stage floor is reflective, a melting pot for the two. This floor later proves the perfect foundation for a hall of mirrors which prevents the hero and heroine from meeting. They are both there, but they see only themselves. Creation is destruction, evil is the other side of good. it's a concept that's arresting, powerful, disturbing and fascinating.

The story is set in a communist-esque Russia... there's Soviet lettering and typeface, the corps de ballet are drone-like workers, moving about with mechanical grace - robotic movements, angular limbs - while the evil henchmen have a Ruski vibe with their collarless shirts and baggy trousers tucked into boots. The feel of the piece reminded me of the Futurists, or Vorticists... the sharp edges and breaks in the dancing and the music like the angularity of their paintings.

But for me, the performance truly took flight when the story was swallowed by the clock. the whole stage becomes the mechanical turning parts of the clock at the centre of which is the clock face - pared down to an inter play of black and white - a sort of 1960s/70s op art play of monochromatic light. the series of worlds within this clock, rather than being biblical as in the original story, are like artistic movements - surrealist, expressionist etc realisations of worlds - you get a dance routine on a lips sofa while noses and ears wander about. one dancers routine is enturely inside the framework of a piano, in another internal world it's all splishes of colour.

I just didn't expect to be as bowled over as i was. but i left buoyed by the imaginative journey and the brilliant marriage of dance and music and was still completely entranced by the time i arrived home.

The most Incredible Thing is on until March 26th at Sadler's Wells.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Kneehigh's The Red Shoes

Kneehigh's darkly unnerving subversion of the fairy tale The Red Shoes by Hans Christian Andersen was one of their first productions, and given how much of a fan of theirs i've become over the years, it was interesting to see a revival of play (at the BAC) that 10 years ago catapulted them from bucolic creative exile in Cornwall into the mainstream cultural throng of the capital - this year sees their latest production, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, open in the heart of the west end.

The Red Shoes as presented by Kneehigh takes the Christian moral of the original story, which condemns vanity, moral turpitude and self interest and praises religious subservience,  and tweaks it slightly but significantly. In the original the heroine is a vain girl besotted with her red shoes; she wears them continually, shamelessly flouting social and religious convention; she becomes demonically possessed by the shoes, which cause her to dance all the time, never giving her pause for breath so she is forced to have her feet amputated - only in death does she find religious salvation and relief. In this production the heroine is a much more sympathetic figure, a rescued waif who once possessed by her scarlet demon dancing clogs is categorically rejected by the church when she asks for help - the prospect of death after her physical mutilation is less a relief than the ultimate punishment for her sins. God (in a flying cap) seems to drag her kicking and screming into the afterlife. there's no sense this is a good outcome and so she flees - it's an escape that seems to suggest that being different and doing your own thing should not be condemned.

What initially rocks the moral boat is the cast of outcasts who tell the story. The tale is narrated by a flamboyant tranny standing on high - prancing about on a platform above the stage. He's confident, wry, cocky - no morelising authority in the traditional sense. Down below the 'puppet' actors who act out the tranny's words are dressed like members of the lunatic asylum in grubby underwear and with shaved heads - they silently act out the story, accompanied by stirring music, and sporadically don accessories which give a hint of a costume - a pair of glasses and a cape, or a floral headpiece and and an apron. you're never allowed to forget that these characters are really madmen - lost, confused and controlled by a puppet master. Their mime-style performances contribute to a haunting, eerie and unsettlingly dark message, but flashes of humour  light up the stage like strobe lights - it's mesmerising, sinister, disturbing.

The tricks of performance are what maks it so special though - the fishing rod which whips the amputated red shoes about the herione's head, the dances and songs which are links in the chapters of the story, the sound effects which inject the fairy story with real horror (the sawing and crunching of bone as the butcher amputates the feet set your teeth on edge). It's magically sewn together - stitched with invisible thread, you easily follow the episodes of story, but they only really come together towards the end, when forgotten elements suddenly glow with relevance. It's no surprise it's been such a hit.

Monday, 7 March 2011


Last week I was invited along to the first in a series of seven deadly sins salons hosted by art collective ContainerPLUS, of whom i am a MAJOR fan. Held in their very cool offices in Shoreditch, the theme was lust, and racy talks by Coco de Mer founder Sam Roddick and historian Hallie Rubenhold (something of a historical specialist in wanton ladies) both titilated and amused, as did the aphrodisiac cocktails (pomegranite and lavender) and sexily sumptuous nibbles (incuding delicious dense brownies to die for). Before i left, i was blindfolded and led into a lust confessional booth where one of the women from saucily provocative dance troupe the Lady Greys elicited some sensual secrets from me and prescribed a deliciously fruity remedial tincture.  The next event, scheduled for mid-April has the theme of Greed...

Friday, 4 March 2011

Mini Bar for the Mind

The school of life has hooked up with Morgan's Hotel Group - each room now has a mini bar for the mind as well as a chic fridge filled with over-priced alcoholic delights. i love the idea of getting steaming drunk on miniatures and launching into pretentious drunken conversations WITH A POINT. or a purpose. or a direction. or something. very pretty packaging, isn't it?

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Grandfather Clock: Maarten Baas

Whilst wandering around the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam this weekend i stumbled across this grandfather clock... it's a video installation by Maarten Bass which appears to have a man inside it who draws the hand s of the clock to mark the time. insanely cool.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

10 stories about smoking

Always a sucker for a book jacket that has the wow factor, one that does so by brazenly flouting current social etiquettes is likely to appeal to me even more. And so to Stuart Evers' Ten Stories about Smoking which looks, as you might have guessed, like a rather stylish giant cigarette packet, and which is filled with ten smoky tales metaphorically sucked through the filter of a cigarette, a cigarette that's both tantalisingly tangential and central to each of the plots.

Flicking back the flip top of a (quasi-contraband) giant cigarette packet in an enclosed public space inevitably has its thrills (for me, anyway), and so I did it, not only did it, but loved doing it - right there, on the tube, in plain sight of everyone; I eased out the stories from the packet, and it gave me an illicit buzz. But that's where the gimmick ended...

The stories don't disappoint, far from it - inhaling each story is a hauntingly wonderful experience; each muses with pensive melancholy on life - on love, betrayal, destruction and seduction - and circumnavigates the central tenet that there's a certain empty (and destructive?) hollowness lurking at the centre of human emotion and existence, however intense or robust they may seem. Much like a cigarette itself. Moving and thought provoking, there's a beautiful delicacy to the way these tales of disaffection burn down to the filter, searing to the core of fragile human sensitivity like a butt stubbed out on the flesh.

The book's launch party, open to the public and on from 7.30pm - 10.30pm, Wed 23rd at The Queen of Hoxton, £5, should be an amazing event with artists from the worlds of film, theatre, music and spoken word reinterpreting the 10 stories...

Friday, 18 February 2011


I'm not sure what happened at the National Theatre on Wednesday night. Apparently it was a stage adaptation of Frankenstein, directed by Danny Boyle, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Johnny Lee Miller. I'm not so sure, more like a viciously masticated version of the brilliantly disturbing Romantic novel by Mary Shelly, a story that weaves the horrors and fears of childbirth (her mother, Mary Wollstonecraft died during Shelly's own birth, and Mary Shelly herself was pregnant when she wrote the book - she delivered the manuscript mere weeks before she gave birth) with the vibrato contemporary social paranoia relating to the advances of science and the industrial age.  I'm not sure if this production could have been any worse if it had been turned into a musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber. The good news is, the production sold out before the run began, so unless you have tickets, you can't see it. the bad news is you almost should see it, it's THAT BAD.  what can Danny Boyle have been thinking?

Where to start? The script, probably, which was at best lamentable, at worst laughable, and not in the way intended... which leads me on to: where did the random injections of comedy come from?  i thought the story was supposed to resonate on a philosophical and tragic level. apparently not. the funny moments were utterly bizarre and not that funny. anyway, that was a minor grievance in the grand scheme of things. the script basically drew out the most basic elements of the story, and that's it. a GCSE synopsis in script form. and, actually, not even that. Absent of nuance or subtlety, it failed to tease out themes with anything more than an obvious poke. Brrr.

On stage you're thrown straight in to the meat of the plot, with the monster fighting his way free from a oval membrane and thrashing about the stage, naked, sort of moany-howling as he tries to speak and walk for the first time. i worried this period would never end. it certainly took it's time. It was gratuitous, unnecessary, overlong and overindulgent and, much as i am a super-fan of Benedict Cumberbatch, for a monster,  is a was a little, errr, un-monster like. pretty hot even, i'd say, save from a scar on his head (pretty much the only real sign he'd been assembled from the bodies of dead drunks and criminals). Which is about as far from the gigantic proportions of the monstrous beast you can get, really. scary? hell no. well scary in the sense of ordering a monster and getting a scarecrow. anyway, what really confused me is that Frankenstein (Johnny Lee Miller phoning in his performance according to Hannah and completely failing to convey any of the  character's demonic obsessiveness or conflicted agonies throughout) rather than being abjectly repulsed by his sinful, unnatural creation and rejecting him with vitriolic fury simply takes one look, says 'eeew', and scarpers. as you don't even see him create the monster, their bond is negligible. It totally undermines the entire rest of the play ie there is no real spark to ignite the monster's sense of rejection, which builds into a fury culminating in a killing spree that includes Frankenstein's brother. you have no sense of the unhappy rejection mounting to volcanically eruptive proportions at all. there is no real relationship to be rejected from. And as for the S-P-E-L-T O-U-T'  homo-eroticism... sheesh! someone stick a machete in my head, please.

Skip to the action as it unfurls in bosom of the Frankenstein clan and you have love interest Naomi Harris tearing to shreds what pathetically poor dialogue she is handed, a father who delivers lines in such a way that to compare him to wood would be to flatter him, and extras who conform to type in the most grating manner - plump maid with a west country accent, anyone?

This is the kind of theatre that makes me hate the theatre - it's over the top, 'actorly', heavy handed. sadly it's the sort of thing that people who don't go to the theatre might be tempted to book for but, having watched, will leave not just sorely disappointed, but put off booking for other things.  i wanted to shout: THIS IS NOT WHAT ALL THEATRE IS LIKE, I PROMISE.

What was, however, undeniably brilliant was the set - it was knock your socks off... steam trains power into the audience like the oppressive insistence of the industrial revolution, and scientific progress itself. The monster's shameful retreat to the countryside, where he takes refuge with a blind old man sees the appearance of a cocoon like sanctuary, a pale white Wendy house with translucent walls, it's both a metaphor for the sight of the old man and a protection from prying and hateful eyes, as it blurs and softens reality. Incidental usage of rolls of grass, showers from above and flames are all imaginatively introduced, conveying distance, variety, and changing scenery of the monster's journey with ease and speed. Very clever is the civilised beauty of the Frankenstein home which on its underside is symbolically all jutting beams, slimy walls and murky shadows, a lair where Frankenstein retreats to create a she-devil mate for the monster. The white shards of arctic ice that set the scene for the final chase between monster and creator envelop the audience - we are the landscape of the chase between monster and creator, science and civilisation... and finally the lights... above the stage are a sea of lights hanging down - domestic seeming lights clustered together through which light swims like on rippling waves. They are beautiful, magical, emotional and incredibly powerful, sweeping you along involuntarily - but which ultimately only serve to exaggerate all that's missing on stage below them.

Kinky Sex: A Sermon

So, it's a bit after the event, but my valentine's weekend was rather more filled with sex and lovers than i expected... yes, OK perhaps not literally, but what the hey, it was a riot. Friday saw me head to Battersea Power Station for a Lost Lover's Ball, which despite sounding like a woeful soft porn flick in the blurb was actually a pulsating throng of fancy-dressed and masked people buoyed by enthusiasm for partying hard. I basically went for the location, and it was amazing to be at such a lavish party inside the dilapidated ruins of such a landmark building - surreal in an industrial wonderland kind of way... Super fun on the dance floor segued into a Saturday filled with heavy remorse and self loathing, so I was fit for nothing come Sunday but a sermon condemning me to hard time in hell. or so i thought. The School of Life's Sunday sermons are a world away from trenchant religious preaching, but are filled with fire and brimstone none-the-less; evangelising comes from maverick speakers about unusual topics. This week's sermon was on Kinky Sex by Grayson Perry (watch it online here in a little while) who, dressed in a black rubber dress with exaggeratedly large breasts, the nipples of which were pierced, held forth about the glorious perversions of kink and how the truly kinky (like transvestism) is a compulsion, not a saucy foray for a Friday night by 'vanilla' couples, a compulsion that's forceful, unignorable, innate. we finished the sermon by joining in song... the 'hymn' was Venus in Furs. gloriously appropriate, i thought...

Shiny, shiny, shiny boots of leather
Whiplash girlchild in the dark
Comes in bells, your servant, don't forsake him
Strike, dear mistress, and cure his heart

Downy sins of streetlight fancies
Chase the costumes she shall wear
Ermine furs adorn the imperious
Severin, Severin awaits you there

I am tired, I am weary
I could sleep for a thousand years
A thousand dreams that would awake me
Different colors made of tears

Kiss the boot of shiny, shiny leather
Shiny leather in the dark
Tongue of thongs, the belt that does await you
Strike, dear mistress, and cure his heart

Severin, Severin, speak so slightly
Severin, down on your bended knee
Taste the whip, in love not given lightly
Taste the whip, now plead for me

I am tired, I am weary
I could sleep for a thousand years
A thousand dreams that would awake me
Different colors made of tears

Shiny, shiny, shiny boots of leather
Whiplash girlchild in the dark
Severin, your servant comes in bells, please don't forsake him
Strike, dear mistress, and cure his heart

Thursday, 10 February 2011

The Children's Hour

You may know this play as the film The Loudest Whisper with Audrey Hepburn and Shirley MacLaine. I didn't, so went along to the Comedy Theatre's current production starring Keria Knightley, Elizabeth Moss and Ellen Burstyn, happily unaware of the shocking plot twists in store. It's a fantastic play, which, in brief and without the major revelations, tells the story of two female teachers who have worked long and hard to establish a girl's boarding school, but whose efforts are viciously undone by the spreading of a malicious rumour fabricated by one of the girls to avoid punishment after running away, purporting that they are lesbians.

Although the lesbian aspect of the story is less shocking now than when the play was first staged in 1934, much of the story's emotional cut and thrust still resonates deeply with contemporary audiences - well with me at least. What affected me most was the darkly potent power of gossip and here say. The wily cruelty of bullying manipulation. The tragedy and harm that can be done when acting from panic rather than with rational consideration. The agony of being in love with someone you can't have. Not quite understanding the emotions behind your own actions. The agonising oppression of guilt. Wavering loyalty, faltering courage, abject betrayal. I gasped with disbelief on several occasion, mouthed 'no!' too and hid my face in my hands. not in a panto way, in a genuinely physically moved way. It's a great play if you ask me.

I very much liked the blue washed wooden board of the set and the shabby chic decor. i loved the school girls' 1930s maroon tunic uniforms and the teachers' mid-calf skirts, tucked in blouses and neat little bobs and sensible-heeled Mary Janes. Aesthetically the decor and costumes were unobtrusive, elegant and effective, adding to the atmosphere without scene stealing.  The performances were wonderful too, from all the leads, but i was especially entranced by Bryony Hannah as the liar Mary - a loathsome, detestable, evil witch disguised as a little girl.  Ellen Burstyn was perfect as her soft-touch alarmist grandmother who, while poised and elegant, isn't poised or elegant enough to stop her wild panic from causing havoc. Elizabeth Moss brought a quietly tragic resplendence to the role of Martha, the unfortunate subject of the most cruel dramatic irony in that she doesn't understand about her character what the audience can see only too clearly. Keira Knightly, initially outshone by Elizabeth Moss (whose part is, in truth, the more interesting one), admirably holds her own, i think (jutting jaw and ridiculous poise aside - she needs to relax, big time - she's always such an actress rather than an actual person), a perfect schoolmarm whith whom you might very well fall a little bit in love with and later a nervy shadow undone by those she tried to help. All in all a great play, wonderfully performed.

As a minor addendum, it playwright Lillian Hellman has a long relationship with the author of the hard boiled detective novel The Maltese Falcon, Dashiell Hammett. Not only is this an utterly fabulous book, but Dashiell is the name of my new godson, born not three weeks ago...

5x15: a mixed bag, but worth it

The last time i went to 5x15 (a monthly storytelling event a bit like The Moth in NYC, and where 5 speakers each stand up and talk for 15 minutes about a subject of their choosing) it was for the launch,and I'm thrilled the project has gone from strength to strength. Happily the second strength has landed them in The Union Chapel on Upper Street, rather than The Tabernacle in Notting Hill which is not only SUPER convenient for me (I live very near) but such a fabulous location - candlelight, columns and stained glass windows certainly lend a certain theatrical grandeur to the proceedings.

Monday night's speakers included the rather ill-prepared Janet Street-Porter who ranted about dining out and waxed lyrical about shower caps; Jay Rayner who treated us to an impromptu jazz performance on the ivories and raved about it's wonders; Paper Cinema staged a paper animation of a sinister Edgar Allen Poe story involving a town overrun with the dead who terrorise then woo the villagers; Tiger Mother Amy Chua, (above, teeny tiny) who agitatedly attempted to defend her rather draconian and exacting parenting methods; and the glorious, inspiring, thoroughly wonderful Judith Kerr, author of one of my favourite books of all time, When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit - a fictionalised account of her own childhood flight from pre-WWII Germany to Switzerland, Paris and eventually London - which is what she talked about here: she was utterly magical to hear, especially with her cut glass war-time accent. 

For more info, visit 5x15.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Playing with moustaches

Seems I'm not the only one who likes playing with moustaches. This kids play set from Cow&Co seems to agree they are fun for all the family. Who's have thought? Still, £74 (yes, you read right) seems a little steep.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

John Stezaker

The John Stezaker exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery is a complete joy to wander round. You can absorb the ideas and aesthetics, and push them round your mind marinating on them without wrenching your brain into a achingly high gear (nice on a Sunday afternoon) yet still feel nudgingly challenged and provoked.

Most pictures are minimalist collages that take images of glamorous men and women, some movie stars, some in fact actual film stills, and montage them, often ever-so-slightly altering them, but to great effect. A beauty becomes a curious monster with eyes fanned out (very bottom); two faces are joined with only one perfect meeting place (below); silhouettes obscure an image but instead of a black shadow, the silhouettes is a second face that fits into the first one like a puzzle with the wrong picture. My favourite images were the  portraits with a wide square cut out. Some, like the above, give an almost surreal telescopic perspective into the mind of the subject - a picture perfect waterfall or a tunnel into the vacant distance. Others leave the square blank, a Tabula Rasa or blank slate where the viewer can project their formulation of the subject's thoughts or what might be happening in a scene or what a person's eyes might look like and signify, into the gaping hole that demands to be filled.

John Stezaker is on at the Whitechapel until March 18th.

Friday, 28 January 2011

Lanvin playing cards

 Whilst on James' blog (see below), i saw these incredibly cool Lanvin playing cards.
$85 maybe, but Ace none the less.

James Lambert: Look and Learn

James Lambert's video art installation at Sketch on Conduit Street is awesome. Kind of like David Shrigley on an acid trip; simple little bird like creatures (drawn in a 1970s-esque block colour palette of mauve, orange and black), dance, bob about and busy themselves to a schizophrenic but seriously fun soundtrack (at least that's what i heard when i was in there)  in a video collage of individual scenes that are projected on  to the top rim of the walls - a bit like an oversize cornice. super cool.

Look and Learn @ Sketch is on until14th Feb.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Twelfth Night

Hmmm. wasn't sure about this at all. Directed by the amazing Sir Peter Hall  and starring his daughter, the beautiful Rebecca Hall, it had so much promise, but was, sadly, only a so-so production, though one elevated from complete forgetability by a stalwart handful of stand-out performances.

What were brilliant were the comic roles - Simon Callow, Charles Edwards and Finty Williams as Toby Belch, Sir Andrew and Maria, the riotously mischievous underlings of Olivia's household who set Malvolio up for his humiliating fall. they were hilarious, especially Sir Andrew, a character who usually irritates the hell out of me, but who was lambasted to the hilt with comic perfection through every gesture. the three characters were such a pleasure to watch - so uniquely silly and so energetic in their rambunctious plotting.

Still, for me, warning signs that i might not leave the theatre glowing with happiness and laughter started the moment Duke Orsino appeared. IE line one. not ideal. He seemed to be an escaped front man from a New Romantics pop band - all flowing locks, open shirt, hairy chest, voluminous velour coat, sweeping strides and languorous, louche lounging. he was utterly nauseating and a completely dickhead... put simply, UNBEARABLE to watch. i contemplated gouging my eyes out with the heel of my shoe. i restrained myself. just. i know Orsino's a bit of a tit - a man in love with the idea of love as Olivia is in love with her state of mourning, but this was insanity. INSANITY. Realist Viola would never have fallen for him.

i also had no truck with things like the scenery... it was downright weird with a sort of sail/canopy construction that was rather pointlessly raised and lowered to create, one supposes, some kind of different atmosphere (?) for the various scenes. A handful of leaves lay strewn by the stage sides while mini houses rested on a shelf at the back of the stage signifying the town in the distance. Result, in my opinion: A Level set decoration. Ditto costumes, which were Elizabethan + strange forays into lurid tones. Olivia's orange dress was enough to burn holes in the retina.

i could go on. i won't, but needless to say i was pretty disappointed, which was sad.

Twelfth Night is on at the National Theatre and runs until March 2.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

London Art Fair: Chris Kenny

After four and a half hours spent moseying round the London Art Fair this weekend, I was pretty much ready to skewer my head on a shard of metal passing itself off as contemporary art. Still, in the main it was incredibly helpful re the book i am working on, which is about buying contemporary art. In terms of wanting to buy individual works myself, there were a few things which, had a i a few thousand comfortably to spare, i would really like to have taken away with me. No.1 was probably one of the pieces on display by British artist Chris Kenny.

Chris Kenny is an artist who makes sculptural collages from found text. I first discovered him at Samuel Johnson's house just off the Strand, when i went to the House of Words exhibition there about a year or so ago, where he was showing a collection of funny miniature books with curiously provocative, humorous and philosophical titles. Here at the LAF were larger works either telling a surreal story or combining phrases to evoke a sense of something - celebrity, the universe, nature. On sale was a very cool story about a couple called (if i remember correctly) Marguerite and Dave. I would have taken pictures, but my iPhone was still up the spout after i had to get a replacement and the new one decided it was incompatible with my macbook. helpful? very. Anyway, both the dissonant and complimentary randomness of the phrases and words he compiles together are a complete joy to read. it's part story, part word association, part art, part theatre of sorts. the below images are taken from his gallery site, England & Co.

 All the way to Idiotsville, 2008 (above).
You can just about make out part of the  weirdly wonderful story.

Why does the universe go to all the bother of existing? 2010
below are a series of questions included as part of this circle of phrases:
Which way is London from here?
Do men follow you in the streets?
What are children a substitute for?
Is a poem worth dying for?
Do fetishists get married?
How exactly does looking at pictures corrupt the viewer?
How does this make you feel?

All worth asking if you ask me. I'd very much like to have one of his artworks in my house.