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The London Mastaba

Christo and Jeanne-Claude have created the London Mastaba floating on the Serpentine Lake until 23rd September when it will be dismantled.  It is 7,506 stacked barrels on a floating platform, 20m in height, 30 wide and 40m long.  It is painted, red, blue and pink and is very striking – and the ducks and swans seem to like it.  Whenever I see things like this, I wonder why we don’t get to see more outdoor art more often in London’s spaces.  Makes up for the rather dull Serpentine Pavilion this year.  The Serpentine Gallery also has an exhibition on about the London Mastaba.

 

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lehmanlThis play, directed by Sam Mendes, is long at 3 hours plus two intervals.  But it is worth every minute to watch Simon Russell Beale, Ben Miles and Adam Godley play the 3 Lehman brothers, Jewish, Bavarian immigrants to the USA in the 1840’s.  We follow the family starting off with a general store in Alabama, moving into trading raw cotton and then, as the years pass,  moving into coffee, banking and railways.  And of course, the end that we all know, bankruptcy on September 15th 2008.

The set is simple and effective – a revolving glass box with video screens behind which take us through the burning cotton fields, the civil war, the Wall Street Crash to closure –  the latter is covered very quickly, maybe too quickly and could be the only flaw.  But then again this is the story of a family and no family members remain at the time of the bank’s collapse.  A pianist accompanies the play sitting down in the stalls.

But the 3 actors play the entire cast and it is astonishing.  I consider Simon Russell Beale to be the best stage actor out there – he is great at both comedy and tragedy and everything in between. And here he covers the whole gamut of gender and ages playing Henry Lehman, a tightrope walker, a rabbi, a wonderful divorcee and his own nephew amongst others.  Miles and Godley pull off a similar feat with Godley running through a whole range of potential brides and children to great comic effect.  They play family members and colleagues across the centuries, wearing the original costumes they emigrated in, turning into new characters with gestures and maybe the addition of a hat or pair of glasses. It is carefully choreographed with them moving filing boxes around to build bits of the scenery and weaving in and out of the various rooms to change scene.

Was it long – yes it was.  But it makes it even more astonishing that just 3 superb actors could learn all those lines and make it look so easy to play such a huge cast of characters.  It is funny, moving and just stunning performances by some of our greatest stage actors.  The theatre erupted into applause and a standing ovation.

Buy a ticket today before the reviews make it a sell out.

 

 

Witterings and wanderings

Took a trip to West Sussex last week near to Chichester on a Friday.  Visited Pagham for the first time which has a beautiful and deserted pebble beach which you head to through part of a nature reserve.  The spit stretching out into the sea reminded me of Croatia.  Then over to West Wittering beach for a walk we’ve done a few times now having first visited in 2015 – entrance to beach packed but then few minutes out you just find people with their dogs and boats splashing about.  First time I’ve seen anyone in the water there due to days of heat.  Beautiful as ever.  And then a stop at Cass Sculpture Foundation for a wander around the grounds – bit disappointed as not many new acquisitions so will leave it longer until I visit again – but great if  you are a first timer.

Went to take a look last Saturday at Frieze before the football.  Regent’s Park was again the starting point for Pride so it was a packed and colourful place.  Favourite was A Needle Woman by Kimsooja – beautiful colours and looks like it goes right down into the earth.  Had no idea there was a door where you could step inside and be surrounded by the light so make sure you don’t make that mistake.  Also like the slightly ghoulish  Dancing Clog Girls by Laura Ford and Outdoor Miner Simon Periton

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It is back on the City streets, Sculpture in the City 2018.  There are some big names such as Tracey Emin, Marina Abramović and Sarah Lucas.  The latter’s sculpture is a kitsch horse and cart which looks like the kind of ornament by gran had on her mantlepiece only this one is cast in bronze.  I enjoyed the wandering around the streets finding them all – my fave Body, a homage to the motor car by Jean-Luc Moulene.

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This permanent collection of modern and contemporary art by women at Murray Edwards College, University of Cambridge, is such a surprise.  You wander all over the College itself, down corridors, into the canteen where staff are having a meeting, the student bar, all by reporting to reception and then wandering around on a self guided tour.  All the big names are here Rego, Emin, Cooper, Hepworth, Hambling and many more I’d never heard of.  It is such a lovely way to see art and it was a very quiet time of year.  We also wandered around the sculpture collections in the grounds of a few other colleges too, waiting for our Kettles Yard time slot.  Highly recommend a visit.

 

One hour add-on to our day out to Cambridge.  Stunning cathedral; lovely ice cream in the town.