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Visited Brighton very briefly at the end of a day out.  Wandered down Trafalgar Lane to look at some of the graffiti.  And ate a cherry and raspberry bakewell at the Little Bird Cafe in Kensington Gardens; seriously one of the best cakes I’ve had in ages.

Visited the Ditchling Museum to see the Eric Gill exhibition curated by Cathie Pilkington.  I am an admirer of the latter’s work and intrigued by the premise of the Gill exhibition as I do find his sculptures technically brilliant; does knowing the biography of Gill affect how you view the works?

Ditchling was Gill’s home from 1906 to 1924, a place of great innovation and creativity for the artist but also the village in which he sexually abused two of his teenage daughters…..Within Gill’s work, the human body is of central importance; this major exhibition asks whether knowledge of Gill’s disturbing biography affects our enjoyment and appreciation of his depiction of the human figure.

The museum and village are rather lovely and it is always great so see Cathie’s work.  The Green Welly Cafe does a mean cheese and ham toastie on granary bread with ginger chutney too.  Does it affect how you view the work?  Go and see for yourself.

 

Third time we’ve gone underground in 7 months.  First the Hellfire Caves, then Clapham South and now Chislehurst.  And what did 2 have in common?  Marvellous mannequins and ghost stories.  Chislehurst Caves have a history of chalk mining and went to on to store munitions in WWI, opened to tourism in the 30’s, acted as air raid shelters in WWII, became a mushroom farm and then a nightclub with skiffle bands in the 50s and rock in the late 60s/70s – some of biggest names played down there: Bowie, Hendrix, the Stones, Led Zeppelin, T-Rex and many more.  We experienced the darkest dark ever where you could not even see your hand in front of your face and were told stories of spooky happenings down there.  Great guide – just us and our trusty Victorian lamps – and some rather special mannequins.  Could have sworn one of them moved!

This is a show about the influence of Surrealism.  50 female artists are represented including Leonora Carrington, Lee Miller, Eileen Agar, Louise Bourgeois, Tracey Emin and Sarah Lucas and it includes painting, sculpture and photography.  Not really for me and the experience was not enhanced by the lack of a guide given out at the front desk and no signs on the wall.  So unless you could recognise style or signature eg Tracey Emin, you had no idea who or what you were looking at.  On until 17th September.

 

Two great shows. The Giacometti starts with an impressive room displaying sculpted heads, moving through all his styles, and ends in a room with 3 striking, tall figures.  Everything in between is a revelation, dispelling the view of him just producing tall, thin figures.

I had not heard of Fahrelnissa Zeid and  you wonder why when you read the biography and discover how well-known she was, and when you see the breadth of her work.

Last year was a little disappointing and, after a lacklustre display from Sculpture in the City last week, I was prepared for a let down.  But it was great – 23 works organised by Frieze Art Fair that will be on show in the park until October 8.  favourites:  Miquel Barceló’s upturned bronze elephant Gran Elefandret; Vulcan by Eduardo Paolozzi; Michael Craig-Martin’s outline drawing of a Wheelbarrow (red); Final Days by KAWS and Endless Column, a totem of bronze footballs by Hank Willis Thomas.

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Ink at the Almeida

DSCF2486Loved this play directed by Rupert Goold at the Almeida.

Fleet Street. 1969. The Sun rises.

James Graham’s ruthless, red-topped new play leads with the birth of this country’s most influential newspaper – when a young and rebellious Rupert Murdoch asked the impossible and launched its first editor’s quest, against all odds, to give the people what they want.

It is a great cast.  The leads, Richard Coyle as Larry Lamb and Bertie Carvel as Rupert Murdoch, are really engaging with Tom Steed as Bernard and Sophie Stanton as Joyce standing out for me. It is clear that Murdoch buys the paper to get back at the establishment and Lamb joins the cause as he is also outside the group due to being a northerner.  Lamb trawls Fleet Street looking for staff and then follows a very funny brainstorming scene as to what the paper should offer.  We go from knickers in a tin via a kidnap to page 3.  There is a lot of humour, some singing and dancing in the first act, and a wonderful set.  It switches from a Fleet Street basement to a printing press room  all swathed in cigarette smoke.

The whole experience was enhanced by finding myself sitting next to Kevin Spacey in the interval as I am a huge fan.