Alexander Calder: Performing Sculpture

At the Tate Modern

Hercules and the lion

It’s Hercules and Lion (1928)…but I’m not really convinced it’s a lion

First up – apologies for not briefing you on this sooner. To make up for it then, I’ll be concise (no…yes…no) and I’ll furnish you with a couple of pictures to get you in the planning mood.

To note – this exhibition has really grown on me. I saw it first with a fabulous partner in cultural crime back in January and then again this month, and the more I think, discuss and visualise it, the more important and interesting it has become. Additionally, my second partner in cultural crime has thankfully been busily fashioning his interpretations of the show at home, with a stray wine bottle wire or safety pin, which is always nice.

Favourite bits – the wire work. OK I know that most of the pieces had some kind of wire used in their composition – particularly as I guess Mr Calder has been best known for his mobiles, but I was really excited by the works displayed in Room 1 and Room 3. It was like Wire Work character alley, featuring circus acts and portraits and super nimble plyer work precision.

the acrobats

It was also pretty cool to see the original piece hung and then see its shadow – which crazy as it sounds produced a completely different image. Hopefully this media addition states it better than I can.

mask on wall

Other favourite bits – the mobiles, particularly the ones that looked so 70s but were really 30s-40s, oh and in the last room, there’s a sensational calm, Japanese looking one.


Final favourite bit – Hoorah for the merchandisers at the TATE shop, for I was able to come home with affordable usable glassware. This you can imagine is a pretty fabulous morning O.J. treat and a sensational way to have my own Calders.

Be quick, on until and including 3 April 2016.

(images all sourced at google images)

Botticelli Reimagined

At the Victoria & Albert Museum


Spurred by the inclusion of Tomoko’s 2014 masterpiece featuring some of my key passions – Hello Kitty, affordable travel and anything Japanese – I thought a trip down to ‘the world’s leading museum of art & design’ would be a wise option and…I was not wrong.

To place you in the visual zone, the exhibition is broken into three sections with the curator making an interesting choice of working backwards, so you don’t make it to the Botticellis until the final area – but I feel this decision was above wise. You can’t avoid being amused, entertained, impressed and drawn further on and in. Botticelli’s with you all the time, regardless of the medium or creative interpretation utilised. It’s spelt out clearly – Botticelli’s impact has been colossal and doesn’t appear to be ebbing.

My favourite section…the first area…for it’s a great mix of works from around the beginning of last century up until today. There are artists that I was familiar with and others, thankfully now I’ve been introduced to. It’s just a great mingling of artistic responses which pay homage to the ‘Master’.

In an attempt to keep it brief (and keep you reading), I’ve cut my ‘best of’ list from this section to just four and included some visuals to delight you further.

I couldn’t not share this gorgeous Venus after Botticelli by Yin Xin (2008)

Yin Xin Venus after Botticelli 2008-2

And a super way to spend five to ten minutes is to hang out with Michael Joaquin Grey’s (2011) computer generated images – they morph before your eyes. They’re in constant motion, taking and giving to each other,  I’m assuming in an attempt to mirror and find perfect balance, perfect beauty.

Michael Joaquin Grey computer generated Botticelli

Then there’s Donnat al Caffe by Antonio Donghi (1913), which I adored as I love Hopper, (and now love Donghi), and I’m sure you can see the similarities too.

donna-al-caff-1931 Antonio Donghi

And my final list maker – sadly I had to knock Edward Baird’s 1934 surreal painting out of the pickings for this (sorry these), but I’m sure he’ll understand, for Ms Elsa Schiaparelli’s two divine 1938 gowns…sorry I don’t have an image…are exquisite, tiny, supremely embroidered and I’m so happy were included in the show.

Then the Mid Section: It’s all Arts & Crafts and sorry Mum, it really wasn’t my cup of tea, admittedly it was 18 years ago, so maybe in another 18 years yes. I just couldn’t stop noticing Jane Morris’s enormous hands.

Then the third and final section: A really interesting mix of original Botticellis and others from his workshop and during the era.

I loved the noses, particularly as there’s an assorted ethnic mix. And I came away with two favourites from this area – not noses – but paintings.

‘Ideal Portrait of Lady’ painted around 1475-1480 by Botticelli. It couldn’t have been titled any better. This lady and this painting were pretty perfect.

And from the workshop of Botticelli sometime in the 1480s – a phenomenal ‘Virgin and Child with the young St John the Baptist’ (I’m thinking that’s the title, though it might not be), with this particular virgin being the most exquisite of the species I feel I’ve ever seen. Her cheeks, lips and eyes were dare I say ‘heavenly’.

The exhibition runs until 3 July

(all images sourced at google images)

Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine

By Diane Williams

Fine Fine Fine Fine Fine

11.20hr – 12 March 2016
I knew from the first 86 words this was treasure…so I quickly shut the book, smiled and looked forward to my new plan for the afternoon.  For last Saturday’s post meridiem I was going to take this baby in the one session and I couldn’t wait to get off the bus and start.

…three fairly brief sessions later….yes I relished it and re-read it and relished it again…I offer this advice – go discover Diane William’s quick fictions.

They are off-beat, chuckle creating and so sublime. Williams puts into words exactly how it is.

It’s slightly batty, but not in an unfamiliar way, more akin to one’s usual disjointed thoughts.

Here’s a little taster – ‘She’s enjoyed their examinations of her backside in her bed.’(page 29). It’s in plain English but expresses so much more. Or ‘He takes a cloth and wipes the greasy face of his computer.’ (pg 32); ‘The family was blessed with more self-confidence than most of us have and with a great lawn…’ (p. 51); and ‘Beneath his coat, when I first met him, his shirt had seemed to have broken out into an inflammation -’ (p73). It’s fabulous description, not over-stuffed, rather crafted brilliantly.

Sadly, for me it’s over and I was quite distort when I reached the final page…but then with relief I noted that Williams has written more…so I’m off to source the championly titled ‘Vicky Swanky Is a Beauty’ and ‘It Was Like My Trying to Have a Tender-Hearted Nature’ to satisfy my needs.

This is short fiction but not stark. I challenge you not to be blown away.

(the very cool bookcover image sourced at google images)

Escaped Alone

by Caryl Churchill
at the Royal Court

Escaped alone

You know when you really like someone and the more you see them the more you want to see them and be with them, well that’s how I feel about theatre.  It matters not if I’m familiar with the play or the actors or the venue, it’s the whole process from when I’m selecting the tickets; canvassing my husband for funding; making the pre-show sandwiches; not sleeping the night before because I’m too excited; to the reading and re-reading of the programme; the hush of the audience as the lights go down; the staging; the sound; the costumes; the way the text is lifted from the page and turned into action and I dare not look away entertainment. …It enthuses me, it inspires me and thanks be to Chrissie for her excellent recommendation, it drives me to purchase…most recently tickets to take in my first Caryl Churchill (why did I wait?), last Thursday afternoon at the Royal Court.

Escaped Alone, although admittedly a lot went over my head, very gratefully provided me with fifty minutes of whilst I’m there and take home thinking material. It also introduced me to just one set, either Sally or Vi or Lena’s back yard, a perfect location to watch, listen and learn from the three friends and a neighbour who shared their afternoon with me. There was humour, there was understanding and there was anguish.

The characters were real and restless and doing their best.

The actors, my privilege to be in their audience.

And the play, thankfully available to purchase – so I’ve been happily exploring it further.

I won’t try and explain it to you, for my analytical skills are scarce, but I can relay that the dialogue was swift, conversationally, familiar – you know when you don’t have to really say it all, just a snippet of a sentence and your companion knows, and goes on with their contribution, which might fit or is completely off topic, but that’s OK.

You really get/got the impression that here were friends…and a neighbour…the friends have known each other for years, experienced together and now recollect and rejoice (almost) in their company.  And Mrs Jarret (the neighbour), she might be a little nosy…but is good and kind and normal (well sort of).

The accents were spot on and the costumes, couldn’t have been better cast.

It was so satisfying and addiction feeding – thank you Chrissie.

(imaged sourced at google images)

VOGUE 100 – A Century of Style

Jerry Hall 1976

Somethings are worth shouting about and Vogue 100 is one of them. This mainly photographic exhibition doesn’t just excite, particularly if you have a thing for gloriously dressed beauties, but also educates and showcases some impressive examples of photographic composition – and it’s the latter I believe that bulldozed me the most.

I mean I expected to be blown away by the glamour; the ensembles and the very hot women; but naively as it sounds, I hadn’t expected to be struck so by the precise composition and its impact on the image as a whole of the shots. Additionally, the creative genius – astounds.

The Vogue photographers don’t just know how to sell the clothes, they know how to push the boundaries of creative and we benefit as a result. Not only are we left with a social archive of each era, but we see, learn and enjoy, through the eyes of the hyper-talented individual who thankfully shared their vision.

I shan’t provide you with my super favourite list, for that would be impossible as it continues to change and grow, so to keep things brief here’s a snapshot.

  • Lucian Freud by Clifford Coffin in 1948. You’ll have a very emotional response. (Not tears or screeching, it’s the isolation or loneliness of the subject which grabbed me)
  • Anne Gunning by Norman Parkinson in 1956. It’s the colour and the model and the highly decorated elephant and the men.
  • Maggi Eckardt by Don Honeyman in 1960. Who would have thought an ocean liner could be the ultimate way to sell a cocktail dress, but it works.
  • Limelights Nights by Helmut Newton in 1973. I love him and I love Grace Coddington – and I want to be at a party like that.
  • And Kate Moss…every single shot of her…from the Corinne Day photos taken in 1993 through her incredible rise to queen.

I challenge you to find yourself an outfit, head down to the National Portrait Gallery before 22 May and feast on it.

(Image: Scenes from the Soviet Union – The glorious Jerry Hall in Armenia 1976 by Norman Parkinson – sourced at google images)