Olivia Williams (Alice) and Olivia Colman (Jenny) are quiteIMG_2751 believable as sisters in the Lucy Kirkwood play, Mosquitoes.

Alice is a scientist. She lives in Geneva. As the Large Hadron Collider starts up in 2008, she is on the brink of the most exciting work of her life, searching for the Higgs Boson.  Jenny is her sister. She lives in Luton. She spends a lot of time Googling.  When tragedy throws them together, the collision threatens them all with chaos.

This is a play that would work without the science and maybe that element adds in too many ideas.  But portraying Alice as a scientist caught up in her work, serves to make her seem inept at managing the relationships outside of her work where emotion is involved, with her disturbed son, her mother and Jenny.  Jenny is spoken about by Alice and her mother as being the not so bright one and she is much more emotional and angry due to the death of her daughter.  But she is the sensible one who manages the issues with her mother and nephew better than Alice.

There is humour in the play as well as tragedy and it is beautifully acted by the two Olivias.  Well worth the wait as I turned up a day early in error.


One afternoon: 4 galleries

Great thing about London is that there are groups of galleries in close walking distance.  First stop was the White Cube, Mason’s Yard and From the Vapor of Gasoline.  Post war symbols of America like the American flag, dollar and cowboys.  Then across the road to Royal Academy and Dali/Duchamp.  Interesting show although I’m not a major fan of either.  Then on to Zhongguo 2185 at Sadie Coles, Kingly Street.  Bit bonkers but the inflatable head filling up a corner of the gallery was great.  Finally, Blain/Southern and Jake and Dinos Champan’s The Disasters of Everyday Life.  Favourite of the afternoon by far: Goya’s prints each set reworked in a different way, some are grotesque cartoons, others battle scenes in glitter and another set with cut out images set amongst an unrelated scene, many of which are very funny. There is a lot of detail in them so you need to take your time looking closely at them.

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Visited the Matisse in the Studio exhibition at the Royal Academy last week which was much more interesting expected.  You can see from photographs of his studio that objects were everywhere, collected from all over; chairs, textiles, chocolate pots, statues, African masks and much more.  These objects appear in the paintings, sometimes like the chocolate pot, over many years and in many different guises eg as a chocolate pot or as a vase.  Or they act as an influence eg the masks and statues on his paintings.  This is most obvious in the room Language of Signs where a Chinese panel influenced the cut-outs he produced towards the end of his life.  Worth visiting – on until 12th November.

Walking to the RA, through Burlington Arcade, we came across 300 delicate paper birds, created by Mathilde Nivet hung across the glass ceiling.  Worth a look.


Three Exhibitions in One Day

The London Design Festival 2017 started on Saturday for one week.  As with last year, the V&A had exhibits scattered around the galleries and as per last year, I made a note to myself to come back and visit the permanent exhibitions in more detail.  Best piece was the folded mattress like serpent Transmission by Ross Lovegrove in the Tapestries Room.

Next was Uwe Henneken at Pippy Houldsworth Gallery The teachings of the Transhistorical Flamingo – who could miss an exhibition with that title – not a Flamingo in sight as far as I could see but did not know Henneken and loved his work.   On until 21st October.

Last stop Pace London and Jean Dubuffet’s Théâtres de mémoire, graffiti like paintings with thought-provoking quotes.  On until 21st October.

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IMG_2845The play sounds a bit dry and  maybe a tad dull:

In 1993, in front of the world’s press, the leaders of Israel and Palestine shook hands on the lawn of the White House. Few watching would have guessed that the negotiations leading up to this iconic moment started secretly in a castle in the middle of a forest outside Oslo.  Oslo tells the true story of two maverick Norwegian diplomats who coordinated top secret talks and inspired seemingly impossible friendships. Their quiet heroics led to the groundbreaking Oslo Peace Accords.

But it is a great play, much funnier than expected, with dark humour and a thought-provoking ending.  And even though we know they shook hands it does not stop the tension building throughout.  Rod-Larsen and his wife enabled the delegations to meet in private to come to an agreement, which is quite an extraordinary story. The chief negotiators, Ahmed Qurie (Peter Polycarpou) and Uri Savir (Philip Arditti), create the best moments in the play.  But all the cast are very good and have to mention Toby Stephens as Rod-Larsen as his mum was in to watch the performance.  The ending is poignant as you realise how close they came to compromise and how far they have moved from that since – moving to discover the Qurie and Savir never lost touch.  It is tranferring to Harold Pinter Theatre from 2nd October so go and see it; deserved the Tony Award for Best Play that it received in the States.

In the long gallery outside of the main exhibit are the casts of the space under chairs and they look amazing, like blocks of glycerine soap, shimmering away.  Who knew that empty space could look so good; they in fact look like rows of boxes. The gallery itself looks great as Whiteread has taken down all the dividing walls leaving a large, white space.  There is a constant chatter in the gallery as visitors discuss what they are seeing and the alarms constantly beeping as they lean in to get a closer look.

Whiteread casts large objects such as rooms and staircases and much smaller objects such as hot water bottles, from a wide range of materials.  Some of them are just beautiful pieces such as the doll’s house in glass and the newer windows and doors with the light shining on them.  The amber mattress is wonderful.  But you sometimes forget that you are looking at negative space and have to remind yourself that you are looking at the space between the book shelves, rather than book shelves themselves.  The pieces make you work hard to see the space but it is space worth seeing.

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Serpentine Pavilion 2017

Not as interactive or eye-catching as other years.  If you didn’t know it was an annual exhibit, you might just think “nice cafe”.  The stucture is by Francis Kere and represents a tree with its canopy.  I suspect it looks best from above.

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