A Blackwell’s Treat – Rising Stars: Part III


I’ve just arrived back in from a pole position placement down in the Norrington Room at Blackwell’s. For we have just returned from Rising Stars: Part III, the perfect opportunity to hear, learn and meet three highly engaging (though very different), bright sparks, ‘new’ on Literary Street.

Chaired by Dr Clare Morgan, the evening went from strength to strength. Not only as I had front row, less than 3 metres distance and guaranteed eye contact from published authors (please look at me, look at me) – however perhaps more so, for these talented story-tellers were incredibly different in terms of approach to writing and happy to share ‘their’ story with smiley lady (maybe too smiley lady) in front row and others in the room (less smiley, though keenly interested).

It was like heading to a Masterclass in how to write readable and sought after books. And also an ideal way to work out who’d you like to invite for dinner (all of them), so you could have their company and conversation for longer.

I found myself gripped by each question furnished by the Chair and each answer which was delivered thoughtfully, by the writers.

And what topped it off…each author, as well as their experience of the writing process, was incredibly unique. So, not so sadly – I can’t even provide you with a ‘my personal favourite’ recommendation.

Best thing to do in these circumstances, purchase all the books, look doe-eyed at the writers (including the Chair…she was great…and published), and stand even closer to these heros as they sign the title page.

And keep an eye out for:

The Last Hundred Days                                  Patrick McGuinness

Communion Town                                           Sam Thompson

The Gurkha’s Daughter Stories                    Prajwal Parajuly

George Bellows

And what happened 21 days ago.

Punished by the loss of our child to an adventure camp, my husband and I quickly rushed into juvenile delinquent mode, commencing a week’s long commitment to:

  • little sleep
  • lots of adult movies – but not those kind
  • a huge breach of moderate alcohol consumption recommendations
  • and a trip to Soho

And it was on the afternoon of our adventure to the latter, we introduced ourselves to Mr George Bellows, an American realist painter, currently being exhibited at the RA.

OK. We didn’t meet him as such as he did pass away almost 90 years ago, however we did manage to take in 71 examples of his creative talent.

And within five minutes of entering the show you will (I did), assert that this chap’s a highly accomplished all-rounder. For not only can he paint; he can draw; additionally, he is sharp in his observation and depiction of early 20th century life, especially those less glamorous subjects whom find themselves either ring side at fights, working on the shore of the Hudson or swimming in the nude.

Let’s return to the paintings (38 in total), for these impressive works provide the viewer with reason enough to go see his artistic achievements in the raw. Especially, the first couple of rooms of the exhibition.

Be prepared to admire a mixture of cityscapes, views of the Hudson River, boxing fights, seascapes (and cliffs) and subjects whom appear a little less kept than your usual turn of the century folk whom tend to show up in portraits.

In addition – please note – he really knows how to paint snow.

Look out for – I promise I really tried to be concise here:

  • Men of the Docks (1912)
  • New York (1911)
  • Summer Night Riverside Drive (1909) – receiving a highly commended for use and effect of light
  • And, a snow painting (which is predominantly mauve and white – I think in the second room on the left of the entrance to the next room –if only I’d purchased the catalogue…it’s very, very good)

The show runs until 9 June 2013

Lichtenstein: A Retrospective

Lichtenstein  – A Retrospective

There is something wonderful and fabulously reassuring about heading out to a take in a little art and being greeted by a seething mass of under 8s.

Yes kind reader, I have mellowed in my latter years and find this soft change not as uncomfortable as I’d presumed it would be.

Rather, I find these days, children lying on floors in galleries, armed with sketchbooks and colouring pencils at the ready, exactly the kind of behaviour which should be encouraged. Even if these same small darlings find it necessary to pencil roll the whole ramp of the ground floor of the museum between taking in the talents of the modern day master and eating their organic rice cakes (and leaving crumbs).

To my feedback then and what was hanging on the walls of Level 2, at the Tate Modern, Sunday 17 March.

Lots and lots of glorious Roy Lichtenstein.

A chap I knew next to nothing about however wished to explore.

Let’s look at Room 3 of the exhibition to start with what pleased me the most:

  • Alka Seltzer (1966)
    an impressive black and white with a mermaid like pound coin fizzying in the centre.
  • And head to Magnifying Glass (1963, I think)
    to be grabbed by Mr Lichtenstein’s ability to illustrate the difference between magnified and not magnified

Either head now to Room 4 or 5 – I chose 5 purely by accident though happily didn’t suffer for my silliness.

There are two Seascape paintings in this room, both interestingly painted in 1965, which are worth a little standing in front of and enjoying. The first (the smaller of the two) on your left as you enter, is a wacky pearly blue and incredibly unique when compared to his other works in terms of texture and appearance. Then, cast your eyes to the right (if you are facing the first) and you’ll find the other Seascape , grab the closest child’s ipod or iphone, switch to lego photo app and upload an image…see…very similar.

Now return to Room 4 – War and Romance.
This is the room that will bring joy to any pop art admirer or male child.

My personal favourites:

  • Masterpiece – 1962
    (and I had to buy the postcard)
  • Takka Takka – 1962
    for this lifted the amusement factor further with ‘The exhausted soldiers…always hungry for decent chow, suffering from the tropical fungus infections, kept fighting.’
  • And M-Maybe – 1965
    ‘M-Maybe he became ill and couldn’t leave the Studio’, for it’s reassuring that other women have cut ungrateful, user types too much slack like I have in the long decent past.

Now find yourself Room 7 – Art about Art.
It’s like the Lichenstein App, featuring some pretty persuasive reasons why Roy was (and is) such a legend.

Look out for:

  • Cubist Still Life – 1974
  • Frolic – 1977
  • Washington Crossing the Delaware 1 – 1951
    this one made me chuckle in a most unladylike fashion

Then, I found myself wishing it was the Summer Exhibition where I could position a little red sticker against the glass cabinet that protected Reclining Nude in Brushstroke Landscape (study) – 1986

This was a really good room.

But wait there’s more. Yes, it’s Room 8 Artist’s Studio where you can play, spot the lemon and a special call out to:

  • Still Life of Goldfish – 1972

I could go on, though that might spoil your experience…it’s on until 27 May 2013.