Saturday, 30 April 2011

Polly & Craig wedding....

....Hot on the heels of the Royal Wedding, the next biggest event of the holiday weekend, was the marriage of friends Polly to Craig, at Islington Town Hall.

The service was simple, informal and if you ask Natalie, a bit of a tear jerker! After photo sessions in the beaming sun outside, we walked around to the Marquess Tavern, which was all ours for the reception.

Brief speeches were made, a hearty, tasty roast dinner served, then dancing in to the late evening. Brilliant. Congratulations to you both.

Friday, 29 April 2011

The Royal Wedding....

....I tried not to get in to it. In fact I watched very little of it. But still, I managed to actually enjoy and appreciate it.

At the altar

Today Prince William married long time girlfirend Kate Middleton, to become the Duke & Duchess of Cambridge.

Kate wore a stunning dress, created by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen, coming over all Grace Kelly in the process.


Grace Kelly

And whilst I was dreading the balcony kiss, it was a pretty special, warming scene.


And what Royal Wedding would be complete without the Beckhams'? Get in there David & Victoria!


Monday, 25 April 2011

List my photo: Update 7....

....Probably my biggest update yet, with a mix of arty pics that me, myself and I have taken. Look here.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

A Modern and post modern Easter Sunday....

....Happy Easter. This morning we decided to go to some more galleries, after I curated a rather long list of things I would like to see. So, after Paul Graham yesterday, today was the turn of, first, Tate Modern. Then the National Portrait Galley.
'Miro' is the first retrospective of his work in the UK for nearly 50 years. I was excited to see his full oeuvre, up close for the first time.

The show was extensive, as you would expect and threw up some real treats.

Still Life With Old Shoe, 1937

Miro's use of colour, at times, was quite extraordinary - how else could the mundane subject of the above painting, become so appealing? And his use of almost graphic-like representations of objects, in particular animals, that are borne out of his surrealist ideals, are magnificent. Seeming still so contemporary.

Dog Barking At The Moon, 1926

Yet even without colour, Miro could produce striking imagery, at first glance humorous, but in fact often depicting the brutality of Fascist regimes and dictatorships of that time. Such success is shown emphatically in his Barcelona Series, where 50 lithographs sprawl along one wall.

Undoubtedly my favourite paintings of Miro's, (not that I knew it on arrival), are from his series, 'Constellations' undertaken in 1940. Here the subject matter is stretched to it's surreal extreme, but the colour and graphic symbols remain. As a group of images, they are incredible.

The second half of the show, (and indeed Miro's career), did not appeal to me as much. Imagery became sparse, with single lines or objects. Canvases were burned to bring in to question the orthodox nature of painting. But what that second half did do, is serve to highlight just how prolific and varied Miro's work was in his career. No stone had been left unturned, but it is his detail, colour and graphic representations that will stay with me above all. Great stuff.

Afterwards, Kelly and I had a hot crossed bun pit-stop, in the members room, (and balcony), which was a lovely, serene reprieve.

We picked up again, with the Gabriel Orozco show. A Mexican artist, whom I hadn't heard of, but left absolutely loving his work.

Orozco spans all mediums, but sculpture is his most prolific. Witty, clever, funny, intriguing are all words I would associate with his work. For example in, Horses Running Endlessly (1995), a chess board is created at four times it's intended size, with only Knights populating it, creating the possibility of an, 'infinite circular dance of pieces'.

La DS (1993)

Or, La DS (1993), where Citroen's iconic car has it's middle section removed and put back together again, creating a, 'static object, perfectly shaped for velocity'. In his photography too, Orozco charms - I had seen his project, Until You Find Another Yellow Schwalbe (1995), somewhere before and liked it. But never linked it back the artist.

In it, during a residency in Berlin, Orozco took his yellow 'Swallow' bike around the City, parking it next to and taking a photograph with any other same bike. Here, the photographs encircle you from each of the four walls in the main space, repeatedly making their presence felt. I love being 'introduced' to an artist, and this exhibition was certainly that - I enjoyed every minute and it was a great antidote to the grandeur and epic nature of the Miro show across the hall.

Not done with gallery-going just yet, Kel and I made our way to the National Portrait Gallery - where there were two shows of interest, Ida Kar and E.O Hoppe. Both were prolific and successful portrait photographers of their time, whilst Hoppe also used a point and shoot style of photo documentary, that has been copied ever since.

Bridget Riley, by Ida Kar (1963)

Tilly Losch, by E.O. Hoppe (1928)

Kar's portraiture, to me, seemed to be reputable for the often publicly known subject, above any real distinction in her image making. Hoppe, meanwhile, sees a Modernist feel run through his portraits and an elegant curation to his studio shots. Whilst I can appreciate the beauty of this work, it is not something I immediately love. However that is not the case with his more photo-journalistic work.

The Pearlies: Master Dennis Simmons, London (1922)

Borne out of a fascination of life in the decades in which the photos were taken, they hold an immediate interest, but also the nature in which Hoppe took so many of them - a Kodak Brownie, wrapped in a bag, with a ripped hole for the lens. This allowed him to capture a subject naturally, and unaware.

This is a much replicated style, particularly with the popularity of the Lomo camera in the last decade. Both were enjoyable shows and felt important in the history of photography as a genre.

With still only half the day gone, Kel and I popped our heads back out in to the sunlight and cycled across to West London for a BBQ with Chris & Karin and friends.

Robin, Tim & Kel prepping the plates

In a blisteringly warm afternoon sun, we ate and drank and the hosts even indulged us in a little Easter egg hunt in their garden.


Hannah had baked and brought along a fantastic plum tart, that we all demolished for dessert.

We left about 7pm, cycled back across to East London, dropped off the bikes and met friends at the Talbot pub, in Dalston, (after a quick arrangement made earlier). Here we carried on the late Sunday drinking.


We were even presented with left over Yorkshire puddings, which were gratefully received!

All in all an incredible and jam-packed day. What an Easter Sunday!!

Saturday, 23 April 2011


....Kel and I just watched this film, tonight. Stephen Dorff leads (a sparse) cast, directed by Sofia Coppola.

The Director treads the familiar ground of celebrity, but rather than an actor past his prime, (Bill Murray in Lost in Translation), the protagonist in Somewhere, Dorff, plays a successful, global movie star, Johnny Marco, despite which whose life seems to be more mundane than glamorous.

The opening scene of the film, in what is clearly a metaphor for his life, shows Marco driving in circles at the wheel of his top of the range Ferrari. Going nowhere, over and over. Scenes throughout the film replicate this slow, studious pace as Marco leads his life between filming.

Half way through, his 11 year old daughter, Cleo, played by Elle Fanning, joins him, after her mother leaves town. The intimate portrait of father and daughter is every part interesting and warming, as it is slightly awkward. But it seems to help Marco come to some kind of realisation - that he has to actively change his lifestyle. Leave it all behind.

It's a subtle, well realised film, highlighting the banality of a high profile lifestyle, but also the special bond between father & daughter. Coppola uses clever devices of repetition throughout - from the crackling of burning ash on each cigarette draw, to the dulling, roar of the Ferrari engine. Every thing is the same. It doesn't make for an action packed film, but a rewarding one, particularly in the closing scenes.

Photos, buskers & burgers....

....After the exertion of the previous day, Kel & I slept in and had no real agenda. Despite that, we managed a fair amount. Our first point of call was to recruit Doug on our search for a local burger, that had suddenly become the only nourishment that mattered. We settled with a Gourmet Burger, (in an unusually, off peak, soulless Spitalfields), which actually hit the spot perfectly.

After our feed, we walked around to the Whitechapel Gallery, for the Paul Graham exhibition.

The show exhibits the British photographer's work from 1981 - 2006, which in it's entirety is a vast body of work, but on display was a carefully edited cross section.

[Photo from a series documenting Britain's jobless in the 80s]

I enjoyed the work, generally preferring his earlier photographs across Britain & Europe to those taken in the US. The vivid colour and often large scale printing of the imagery, gave many of the pieces an almost textural, painterly aspect that was startling.

House viewing: A couple view one of Graham's middle America shots, (c/o Doug)

Graham's documentation is a theme that he retains throughout, and where I find most success and reward in his work. 'A1 - The Great North Road (1981-82)' follows exactly that - be it photos of the road itself, or the characters met along the way.

Similarly in the latter project of this exhibition, 'A Shimmer of Possibility (2004-6)', Graham follows subjects in the US going about their every day life. But in doing so writes us a pictorial story, in to which we interject the narrative.

Pittsburgh, 2004

A good exhibition, but could have possibly been even more in depth.
Leaving, Doug, Kel & I retraced our steps along Brick Lane, to find Marques Toliver, (a recent discovery of mine through Jools Holland), busking to a small crowd.

The talented solo performer imparts his soulful voice to a string section of either individual violin or guitar. He sounded phenomenal, and we felt lucky to have stumbled across him. A real treat.

Kel & I stayed in for the rest of the evening - relaxing with dinner & a film. But another excellent day had.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Whitstable on a whim....

...Kelly threw up the suggestion of a day trip a little while ago. Then suddenly the Bank Holiday weekend was here. And suddenly Whitstable was our choice. We got up and on a train from Victoria that got us there by 11.30am and as the sun beat down, we made our way straight to the beach front and harbour. Almost immediately we were tucking in to oysters from Wee Willy Winkles, which were superb. Fish and chips, eaten on the pebbled shore, promptly followed.

We couldn't believe the weather, so stayed where we were for a while, before getting the customary ice cream for our walk to Whitstable Castle. Recently regenerated, the grounds looked exceptional.

We then walked along to the Tankerton edge of the coast and back, finishing in Whitstable town centre, at The Cheese Box for some fantastic cheese & wine.

We finished back on the beach front, at a bar, as the sun lowered in the sky. It was a wonderful day and we really liked the town, a lot. The return train journey flew by, before meeting up with Nick for a couple of nightcaps. Very merry, but very happy.

[Full slideshow]:

Monday, 18 April 2011

Tom Vek is back....

....Five years since his last record, We Have Sound, former college colleague turned mucial maestro, Tom Vernon Kel is back. Out of nowhere, he has a new album, Leisure Seizure and this fantastic new video, A Chore, directed by his pal Ollie Evans.

A long wait, but worth it.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Gentlemens' dinner & prize photography....

....The second in what I hope will turn out to be a long line of gatherings like this. After a successful Chinese lunch a couple of months ago, Bugsy herded us like cattle, once more, to eat some exceptional, erm, cattle.

We gathered at Le Relais de Venise, (L'Entrecote), which is widely regarded as amongst the finest steak frites in London. In fact, we didn't gather, we queued from midday, as no bookings are taken.

Once in, we didn't need to choose, as they only serve from one set menu. Salad / Steak & chips, (for which you get two portions of the latter).

I was bowled over, I really was. The salad, although simple, was great. And then the steak was melt-in-the-mouth-incredible. I was transported to a Parisian Bistro, whilst in the heart of Marylebone.

Also, I hadn't appreciated that the menu fixe included a second helping of the main course. Well, I was astounded. Delighted.

Some plumped for desserts and coffees too, as the chatter went on and on.

It really is a great social event, getting us altogether, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

And what is so good, is that it's not a boozy social. Or a drink-to-get-drunk affair. In fact, it's far more cultural, as was proved by going to a post dinner exhibition.

The Deutsche Borse Photography Prize, hosted by the Photographers Gallery, was relocated around the corner in the Ambika P3 Gallery, (part of the University of Westminster).

An incredible space played host to four shortlisted photographers, Roe Ethridge, Jim Goldberg, Elad Lassry and one of my all time favourites, Thomas Demand. In fact, the industrial, vacuous space looked like it could have been a vast cardboard structure, created by Demand himself, and we were his subjects.

The works were varied and interesting, but none really sparked huge excitement in me. As ever, Demand's work is flabberghasting, but I have seen it before. Jim Goldberg's eye opening images highlight socially and economically devastated countries.

Jim Goldberg, Guardian 2009

But for some reason I think Roe Ethridge will win. Bold, simple imagery. Either high brow or simple, they seem to hold that little bit more, that you can't quite put your finger on.

Roe Ethridge, Old Fruit 2010

All in all, a fantastic afternoon. Brilliant in every respect. Where's next?!