Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Soho Joe's, then singing flows....

....The tri-annual birthday dinners for Richie, Nick and I continued last night, with a belated celebration for Nick. Despite it being very much a school night, we had an epic evening. We started posh, at Dean Street Townhouse, then it gradually got more debauched. Great (and incredibly good value) pizza followed at Soho Joe.

Richie and Nick tuck in.

Then after a few more beers at the Toucan, we took to Lucky Voice for a 2 hour sing song in to the early hours.

Can anybody find them somebody to love?

A super fun night and I couldn't think of two finer boys I'd rather spend it with. Happy birthday (again) Nick.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Kelly & Roy hit 2....

....So, in line with last year, we decided to get away for the weekend to celebrate and go for a walk. Lewes was the chosen destination - somewhere in good proximity to London that also gave the potential for scenery and a good, long walk. We stayed at a lovely little B&B, called The Corner House. Owned and hosted by Benetta Adamson, (who we learned was a retired, pretty successful national TV producer), the place was chic, stylish and well, we were pretty pleased. We dropped our bags in the afternoon and left to explore Lewes.

Lewes Castle

Walking down the High Street, we popped in and out of shops and then stopped off at the Castle. The weather was sensational and we were afforded an incredible view across the South Downs and Seven Sisters chalk cliffs.

Tucking in, at Bill's

More shops, then a pit stop at Bill's. A superb produce store and cafe that is buzzing at any time of the day. We tucked in to fish finger sarnies and bloody Marys. (It's a holiday after all, right?!). We walked back to the B&B as the shops closed, grabbing a bottle to accompany X Factor, before leaving for dinner in the evening. Once spruced up, we headed out to the local pub, (a tip from Benetta), The Kings Head.

Cheese. (And wine).

We had a truly fantastic meal - the perfect celebration. The service was sensational and everything was just really good. We shared whitebait to start, before Kel took pork for main and I went for venison. We then shared a homemade rocky road pudding.

The following day we were treated to Benetta's home cooked breakfast - a ridiculous spread. From fresh fruit, granola, cereal and toasts, to the full English works. Perfect.


We then set about on our walk across the South Downs. Unfortunately there was a thick mist for the first hour or so of the walk, but gradually it cleared, to the extend that the beating sun reduced us both to t-shirts in late November! It was a great walk, beautifully scenic and a respite from the Big Smoke.


Of course it wouldn't have been right if we hadn't finished off with a treat, so we headed to The Snowdrop Inn for quite simply the biggest roast dinner you will ever see. Too big perhaps. But I finished it of course. A great end to a great break, for a great celebration. Cheers.

[full reel]:

Thursday, 17 November 2011

John Martin : Apocalypse....

....The name of this show is a great one word summation of the exhibited work - Martin's oeuvre is epic, magical, mystical, biblical, fantastical, celestial, fictional - sensational. On an apocalyptic scale and often of apocalyptic subject.

For a humble Geordie lad, with huge ambition, not just in art, but also engineering and publishing, John Martin created quite a stir. His non-traditional style of 'landscape' painting and the sensationalist subject matter was often critically slammed, but what can't be denied are the paintings' impact - both then and now.

Visitors flocked to see visionary scenes, of incredible detail and imagination, not just locally but on a Worldwide scale.

The Great Day Of His Wrath, 1851-53

Ironically, despite the fervor, Martin had more critical and financial success with his series of mezzotint prints, including depicting Milton's, 'Paradise Lost' in a popular series.

Satan Arousing The Rebel Angels, from the Paradise Lost Series, 1827

But personally it's all about the paintings - the scale, the dynamism, the story. You can see where so much modern day inspiration has been found and used in film, particularly. Each painting could be a still from a blockbuster. Of Lord of The Rings. Of many others.

Sadak In Search Of The Waters Of Oblivion, 1812

What I found is that the show entertained me. It is creatively brilliant, populist, breathtaking, yet the most traditional of forms. A painting. A meticulously created still. But the realisation is vivid and spectacular.

The Last Judgement, triptych, 1853

The Tate Britain show brings the drama to life further, in the final room, where Martin's triptych, 'The Last Judgement', is brought to life theatrically with a lighting and voice over show. These paintings carry on the theme of the end of the world, as prophesied in the biblical Book of Revelation. They marked the culmination of a career spent painting apocalyptic disaster, that astonished audiences then and continue to do so. Including me - even in this digital, 3D, technological age.

Portrait of John Martin, by Henry Warren, 1839

Over 150 years later, this is a blockbuster - the Geordie John Martin done good! An epic show, that must be seen.

Going, Goldman, Gone....

....The door has finally closed on Goldman Close. We have completion.

Kel and I moved the remaining items to storage, where we packed the space like tetris.

All that remained was to take a photo, with our last posession, our bikes.

What a wonderful eight and a half years, but it paves the way for a new chapter, one where Kel & I can set up a marvellous new home. (After a 2 month rented hiatus of course). Onwards.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

We need to talk about Kevin....

....I didn't even reach the one hundredth page of the book. Which, given my reading prowess, is not that bad. But I found it to be a difficult read. So, as I like the easy way out, it was interesting to see this award winning book released as a film - this way, I could sit through images...much easier for me to digest - I'm a pictures man after all!

The director, Lynne Ramsay, has done a wonderful job. There are trademarks to be seen, as in her previous films, Morvern Callar and Ratcatcher, meaning it can be a difficult watch - but deliberately and effectively so. Juttering camera, in & out of focus, intense close-ups, long pauses. But in the context of the subject matter, they all have their place, adding to the uncomfortable intensity.

Eva & son, Kevin

The opening scene, of billowing curtains, is exquisite. Like a Vermeer painting. It sets a tone for the rest of the film - both in the picture quality but also by raising questions from the viewer - what is beyond the curtain? And, do I really want to know? The second scene grabs the senses, with more vivid colour, noise and detail. The drenched colour reminding me of the Richter portrait, Betty, that I saw for the first time on Monday.

Most people know the subject matter of this book - unfortunately it's a relatively familiar one - particularly in the U.S. But whilst we know the outcome, it is the relationship between Tilda Swinton, (Eva) and Ezra Miller, (Kevin) that is the main feature here.

The time altering scenes focus on Eva's struggle to raise Kevin - to love him, but also the struggle with her guilt in the aftermath of the incident. Whether Kevin is a difficult child that is difficult to love, or a difficult child because he knows he's unloved, is hard to tell.


Kevin's intelligent, yet anti-social behaviour comes to a head, and the act in which this is portrayed, is clinical as it is brutal. Clinical too in its isolation of Eva - as though intended to highlight her guilt, (be it right or wrong). It also means that she is the only one able to pick up the pieces afterwards.

The film is scored by Johnny Greenwood, alongside the use of familiar tracks from the 50s & 60s, that together provide quite an unsettling, if at times familiar, musical accompaniment.

A challenging film, but captivating and rewarding, of sorts, too. The acting is intense, but brilliant and through colour and texture the direction & cinematography have created a haunting picture.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Gerhard Richter : Panorama....

....Having a week off in London can be very fulfilling. So, whilst pretending that I haven't still got a load to do in the house before we move, I am taking the opportunity to get to the many shows that have eluded me until now.

This Gerhard Richter show at the Tate Modern is pretty epic. It is a review of the artist's work to date, which is expansive in content as much as it is in artistic style - Richter is a rare breed that seems to span genres, (to an extent), and maintain his masterly touch.

When I think of Richter, I think photo-realist images. There are some, (perhaps not enough in my eyes), of them on show here which serve to remind what a truly sensational painter he is. Then walking in to another room he is able to break down his painting to such abstraction, you wonder if he's suddenly lost all of that ability.

The artist, Gerhard Richter.

Richter's willingness to span artistic genres seems to come from a need to raise questions about his medium and also to respond to other prolific artists that inspire him. For example he painted, 'Ema (Nude on a staircase)' 1966, in response to Duchamp's famous, 'Nude Descending a staircase No.2', 1912.

Ema (Nude on a staircase), 1966

But it is not that Richter does not know who he, or his art is. He established very knowing styles - the blur affect created by dragging a dry brush over still wet oil paintings, for example. It gives an ethereal quality to his subject, reminding us that the image, that moment in time, is transient.

Ferrari, 1964

His, (often huge), abstract paintings are made of strong colour and thick paint, dragged by a squeegee back and forth, back & forth. At times they end up an almost Monet-esque density of colour, where there is no real subject but perhaps hundreds of answers as to what we see.

Abstraktes Bild, (from a series of that name).

Richter is still alive and practising his art today - it is very rare that a living artist receives a retrospective. It is testament to his ability to embrace the changing face & styles of art, his ability to be almost chameleon-like in his approach. This show is a brilliant survey of his work, but reminded me that I love him as a non-abstract painter above all else. His control of the paint brush is phenomenal, so when he deliberately decides to lose control, personally, I feel a little bit disappointed.

St. Paul's panorama - my own Richter, captured in a photograph from the Tate Members balcony.

Superb. A must see exhibition

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Goodbye Goldman + Nick & Aimee hit 31....

....On the same day that Kel & I packed up 69 Goldman Close, Nick & Aimee celebrated their 31st birthday. Doug & Toby assisted moving our gear in to storage, before we got home in time to set out the house, ready for the imminent arrival of guests.

Nick, Richie and I re-create a memorable shot from a late night / early morning in Berlin some years ago.

With the house bare, and only plastic cups and paper plates to use for food and drink, there was more than an air of student party about the send off to No.69. But I wouldn't have had it any other way. It was an early start and therefore an early end, with cabs whisking us off to Platform Bar, where we celebrated Nick & Aimee's joint 31st.

Nick & (half of) Aimee

It was a packed bar, full of friends and it made for a boozy, dancey, fun night. In all, it felt like a pretty epic and certainly tiring day. One step closer to handing over the Goldman Close keys for good. Amen.

Full reel:

Monday, 7 November 2011

Twight Night....

...Tonight was Twight Night. Or correctly written according to Twitter, #twightnight. An evening curated by Chris Floyd and chaired by Miranda Sawyer, it was a panel discussion and Q&A at the Paramount Bar, where Twitter was the subject.

Chris Floyd

Steve Furst, (@stevefurst), Poppy Dinsey (@poppyd), Rhodri Marsden (@rhodri), Alexis Petridis (@alexispetridis), Michael Holden (@thewrongwriter) and Grace Dent (@gracedent), all discussed their interaction with the medium, what they felt it was for, why they used it and basically anything that Twitter has bestowed upon them. (Largely abuse, love, work and PR in equal measure it seemed).

The panel, (minus Michael Holden)

It was an interesting discussion to be a part of and also to meet in the flesh some of the journalists / columnists that I only ever seem to read in the weekend papers! The location too was spectacular, with panoramic views across London, that the misty fog tried it's best to disguise. And we were fed, intermittently, with brilliant hot dogs.


Hot dawg

There was nothing revelatory revealed about Twitter - I think we all agreed that it's still a worthy place to be, it's still important and fun and interesting and educational. Perhaps only that now there is more flotsam & jetsam to wade past in a bid to reach it. But there in lies the beauty of Twitter - the choice of who we follow and we're followed by, is entirely ours.

Friday, 4 November 2011

One Hundred and Forty Characters....

....It's a real life thing, that directed me toward a social thing, that created a real life thing, that created an exhibition. Something like that. So a photographer, Chris Floyd, (or @ChrisFloydUK if we're going down that route), came in to work to show me his (photography) book. It was very nice. So was he. He mentioned this One Hundred and Forty Characters thing, I nodded along, understood. So I followed him on Twitter, and watched the project evolve from afar. And now, this is the result. An exhibition of 140 characters that Chris follows, that have become real friends, bridging the social ether.

It's interesting observing and even taking part in conversation on Twitter, then finally meeting those who you follow, or share messages with. And the private view for this show was full of that - people that both knew and didn't really know each other at all. Fascinating. The photography itself, (for we're not just here for the idea and social gathering!), was a homage to Richard Avedon - black & white portraits on flat white backdrops and imagery sometimes splitting across frames. It allowed personality to shine through, making evident the new found relationship between photographer and subject.

One Hundred & Forty Characters from Chris Floyd on Vimeo.

The evening moved on to Giant Robot for food and drinks, where we got another quick chat with Chris, that confirmed his loveliness and also the brilliant, yet simplicity of his idea. Go and see it now at Host Gallery.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Midnight In Paris....

....There are a lot of elements to this that should make me dislike it. I've fallen out of love with Woody Allen films for a start - a bit worthy, wordy and well, below par of late.

Also, the inclusion of Owen Wilson in the cast rang instant alarm bells. He just a dufus, right? Well, kind of, yes, but it works perfectly for this, amongst a stellar cast.

Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams

The scene is set in Paris, obviously, and Wilson plays Gil, a Hollywood actor chasing a whimsical dream of being a writer, surrounded by the City he loves. His fiance, Inez, played by Rachel McAdams is not au fait with gay Paris - in fact it's evident that they're not quite taken with each other. Gil's fantasy job becomes a fantasy for real, with his midnight strolls through Paris inspiring him in the most unusual ways.

It didn't feel like a typical Allen film, (or a Wilson film for that matter), but I got lost in the fantasy myself - the city, the charm, the whimsy. It certainly wasn't brilliant - the acting not quite as fluid as I suspect Allen would have liked and whilst a charming idea, it was executed a little bit briskly, (the film reached just 90mins), meaning occasionally the time frames felt a little rushed. But it didn't detract too much from the easy watch - particularly if you have a love for the arts, music and gay Paris.

Nicky hits 32....

....Nicky celebrated her birthday with another Tuesday night gathering, over another dinner. This time is was at the Londesborough, a rather marvellous pub, (sister to the also fabulous Peasant).


We ate well and topped it off with a big ol' cake. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!