Friday, 28 February 2014

Sage Vaughn: Nobody's Home - Lazarides Gallery

Literally nobody home! Although the gallery says its open Tuesday to Saturday till 7pm, it was locked and empty when I visited half an hour ago!

Oh well, I had a good peep through the window and the paintings looked beautiful. Soft colours, everyday home scenes with bright birds and butterflies looking at the same time out of place as well as perfectly natural.

It's pouring with rain so I didn't remain long to ponder from outside the window, but if the show didn't finish tomorrow I'd like to try visit again. Even though it is one of those intimidating looking galleries where you feel out of place and noisy and scruffy.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Britain: One million years of the human story at Natural History Museum

Of course I loved this exhibition. Not only am I fascinated by how people live but I'm fascinated by the ice age and how people began. This is probably a lot due to my love of Jean Auel's Earths Children books, the first four of which I've re-read repeatedly since I was 13. The stories follow Ayla, an early modern human child who comes to be taken care of by a group of neanderthals. The detail is epic without being boring and describes so many imagined societies and culture.

Anyway, the exhibition tells the story of human life in Britain. You can actually touch replicas of their tools! And watch video of how the tools were made! And did you know hippos used to live in this country back in the day when we were still attached to Europe?? There were hippos right where Trafalgar Square is! They have maps showing how things looked attached to Europe and gradually changing into an island.

There are skeletons on hippos and other animals in the exhibition. Bones with knife marks on so they know the animals were hunted by people. Giant antlers. Magnified images of pollen which is how they can tell what kind of plants were about. Models showing a neanderthal and an early modern human.

The climate changed a lot over the millions of years, from hot for hippos, to too cold for anyone. Neanderthals and homosapiens both lived here and there was interbreeding. Many people today actually have neanderthal DNA. There is video at the end where people have found out how much neanderthal they have. So interesting.

I might actually visit again because I want to absorb more.

On till 28 Sept 2014


Britain: One million years of the human story
Earth's Children

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Wildlife Photographer of the Year at Natural History Museum

I always enjoy this annual exhibition. Although every year it seems to get more crowded! So many beautiful photos though. Elephants greeting each other in the distance in black & white simplicity surrounded by sparse trees. A sunlit field of flowers. A view of trees from under water, framed by bubbles.

Here are two of my favourites.

Simplicity by Valter Binotto - blurred dew around a delicate violet.

Twin Hope by Diana Rebman - the MOST adorable baby twin gorillas in their mothers arms. No one I've excitedly shown my baby gorilla postcard to seems to think they're as cute as I do but I can't stop melting when I look at them!

Wildlife photographer mainly celebrates nature and its beauty but also at the end there are photographs showing how it is being destroyed. There seemed to be less of this, this year but there are some traumatising photos of elephants killed for ivory. It was really upsetting. Although the elephants had no heads, the guys who worked in the wildlife park could still tell which elephants they were as they had cared for them closely for so long.

I think the destruction hits harder after having looked at so many intimate photographs of life and beauty. I hope this exhibition can help us to think of the environment and creatures that live here. It's so hard to be good, everything seems to be bad. I'm slowly making tiny steps. I usually only eat free range meat. (I'm not ready to be a vegetarian but at the very least I think farm animals should be well treated and respected) I'm starting to avoid palm oil (I'm unclear on the details but I believe deforestation to get palm oil is destroying habitats). Sometimes it feels like these small things don't matter and can never make a difference and I get embarrassed if I have to mention it because people think I'm being ridiculous. But little by little attitudes do change and little by little things can change.

On till 23 March 2014.


Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Diana Rebman

Valter Binotto

Compassion in World Farming

Say no to palm oil

World Wildlife Fund

Astronomy Photographer of the Year at Greenwich Observatory

Wow. I didn't know you could take pictures like this from the ground. Incredible. And I loved that the text explained how each photograph was taken on one side and then the other side explained what we were looking at.

My favourite image is Hi. Hello. by Ben Canales which shows a tiny person looking up at the stars. When I didn't live in London (where you cannot see the stars), I used to stand outside gazing up, feeling like I could drown in the sky and it was so beautiful.


Ben Canales

Astronomy Photographer of the Year

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Walking from Howick Hall Gardens along the coast to Craster

One of my favourite walks, it's so beautiful. I'm somewhat in love with Northumberland and have visited every year for the past 3 years. Currently wondering if I can go twice this year...

Also, Howick Hall was the home of Earl Grey (as in the tea!) and the gardens are definitely my favourite gardens I can think of. So natural and sprawling yet considered. And also there's a tea room and one table has a window seat in front of a bird table so you can drink tea and look at birds up close!

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Cheapside Hoard at Museum of London

A mystery! Workmen demolishing buildings in 1912 smashed through a cellar floor and discovered piles of sparkling jewellery! Hidden treasure that had been abandoned. And it's the largest collection of Elizabethan/Stuart jewellery in the world.

There's background history to begin with including an actual mocked up jewellery workshop based on a drawing from that time, shop signs and a beautiful painting that shows London before the Great Fire.
Then you go round a corner and there is so much delicate sparkling decadent jewellery! Some is so tiny and detailed! Magnifying glasses are provided for closer looks but I preferred looking with just my eyes. I find the smallness beautiful. I saw pieces from the official photos and they are much more beautiful and tiny in real life.

There are paintings on the walls showing how the pieces may have been worn and also videos showing close ups.

I particularly loved a case of pearl pendants. The pearls were a bit decayed, not having enjoyed their time in the cellar, but still lovely and attached to intricate little teardrop shaped cages. There were also the most amazing tiny buttons encrusted with precious stones and yet not ugly! Sounds so ugly in my head but it wasn't.

There is a pin with a tiny ship on it, there's an emerald watch, there's an amazing perfume bottle. Folks used perfume to cover the stench of the times and Roja Dove created a perfume that may be similar to theirs and you can smell it from behind a little door in the wall! And there is much more than I mention,I've only mentioned my favourite things.

As you leave you can watch a short film wondering who might have hidden the hoard and why they never came back. The hoard was hidden before the Great Fire and at a time of civil war. The film tells a possible story and suggests more.

Museum of London is one of my top museums. The permanent collection is fantastic, so informative, interesting and fun and so far I've always enjoyed their exhibitions and events.

Security is high as the hoard is so valuable so you are required to put your coat and bag in a locker which costs £1. I never usually bother to use a cloakroom so it was kind of nice to do it this once but I was lucky I had the change on me as I didn't realise ahead of time.

On till 27 April.


Cheapside Hoard

Monday, 10 February 2014

Thames Walk/Albert Bridge

A beautiful evening walk along the Thames from Chelsea Harbour to Vauxhall. I'd never walked that bit of the Thames before. I liked Albert Bridge lots, all lit up and pink!

Georgians Revealed at British Library

Bit of a history lesson for me...despite having grown up near Bath and its beautiful Georgian architecture, I don't know much about the Georgians. I know a little more now though, mainly about how people lived. I think how people lived is the most interesting thing in history. Secondary school history really put me off because it was ALL politics and war. Obviously this is important but young me wanted to know about people and how they lived and felt. Present me still finds that more interesting but I do now want to understand politics and war as well although I find it hard.

This exhibition covers everyday Georgian life and pleasures. As you wall in there is a brief timeline of Georgian kings and historical events and we go on to normal people.

There were more middle class people so more people were able to read for fun, decorate their homes, go on holiday and go out dancing etc

Highlights for me include a set of teeny tiny exquisite little books called 'The Infants Library', various massive books with botanical illustrations, Jane Austen's writing desk and tiny glasses, plans of dance steps and Harriet Parry's 1825 travel diary. The travel diary is a scroll map annotated with pen and ink with drawings and notes as she records her tour Scotland. It's beautiful and I want to do this!
Then the last room is a giant map reproduced on the floor of Georgian London. They had wanted to show every house and number on it but realised it would be impossible! It's a beautiful map (love old maps anyway) and it's great to see it so big.

On till 11th March


Georgians Revealed

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Jameel Prize 3 - V&A

This fast and beatiful circle of pattern by Mounir Fatmi caught my eye as I wandered into the V&A and so I visited the Jameel Prize 3 exhibition.

I love arabic calligraphy so the work of Mounir Fatmi and Nasser Al Salem immediately appealed to me as both play with arabic lettering. Nasser Al Salem in a more minimalist way. Mounir Fatmi with layers and movement to create the effect of machinery and the fast pace of cities, change and development.

Faig Ahmed also depicts change and development with his carpets which follow traditional designs with surprising twists - a sudden warping of the design or a half pixellated carpet. Showing how traditions can change.

Another piece I liked was a a section of floor that looked beautifully tiled but was actually created using spices by Laurent Mareschal.

The Jameel Prize is for contemporary art and design inspired by Islamic traditions. All the work is interesting and there is more info and pictures on the V&A website (link below). On till 21st April 2014.


Jameel Prize 3 - V&A

February Exhibition Wish List

I'm going to try to squeeze as many of these as possible into February, as my ArtFund card (which gets me really good discounts) will expire at the end of the month :( A couple of these are free though (yay). 


I've seen this play before perhaps 7 or 8 years ago. And that production was ok but this one had me weeping throughout.

I forget that the Kindertransport is not a commonly known bit of history. I know about it because it is my history. The Kindertransport evacuated thousands of German and Austrian Jewish children just before the second world war. This took them from their families but saved their lives. My Granny and her sister were two of those children and my Granny has published 3 diaries chronicling her experiences as a refugee, her new life in England and her crazy love life as she grows up. I feel so lucky to have such a detailed window into her past. Plus she is awesome.

The play is more about mother/daughter relationships than the holocaust and I think this is shown wonderfully as well as showing how the holocaust tore families apart and the harm done to those who survived. It breaks my heart that war is still tearing families apart today. 

In the play, past/present/memories/fears all overlap. You see layers of life and how it interconnects emotions and relationships. I believed these characters had real affection and history and that's probably why my eyes wouldn't stop leaking. 

One story is of Eva, a German Jewish child evacuated to Manchester and taken in by Lil who cares for her as her own. Eva learns English and prepares for her parents to arrive. Eva's parents intended to join her in England as soon as they could but 'war breaks promises' and she finally has to accept she will not see them again and starts a new life.

Second story is of adult Eva who has changed her name to Evelyn and denies her past. Her daughter is preparing to leave home when she discovers a box containing proof of Evelyn's past as Eva. She feels betrayed at not knowing her real history or real family and that she has been so closed off. Evelyn doesn't want to remember who she was and all the pain of her childhood. She want to be an English woman.

Third story is Evelyn's memories and internal torment. Her mother survived the war and came for her but Evelyn had grown up with a different mother and didn't want to go with her. She feels guilty for losing who she was. She turned away from Judaism, her real name, her childhood, her real family. 

These stories are interwoven beautifully and interspersed with terrifying visions of the ratcatcher from Eva's childhood storybook.

I saw this production at Derby Theatre but it was only there a few days and ends today. It will be touring though and I hope if anyone reading this is interested, they manage to catch a performance.