This is a huge area of East German built factories turned into a complex of contemporary art galleries, trendy cafes and design shops.  It takes a while to get there but is very interesting to wander around the area and in and out of the galleries, Chinese and internationally owned.  Some of them are well established and exhibit big names; others much smaller with up and coming Chinese artists.  Scattered about the site are a quirky sculptures and graffiti.  Saturdays are supposed to be very busy and closed Mondays.  Worth a trip out there to see perhaps an unexpected and thriving art scene.


Nudes and ice cubes

Hauser and Wirth is showing Matthew Day Jackson’s Still Life and the Reclining Nude until 28th April.  The flower paintings not to my taste but the reclining nudes look like they are made out of charcoal and are very striking.  In the other half of the gallery is Lorna Simpson with Unanswerable, a range of paintings, photos/collage and sculpture.  There are photos with female protagonists pasted in to alter the narrative, glass “ice” cubes and paintings in ice blue and white with faded press headlines and images.  And dominating the gallery a giant snowball with a female figures on top.  Over at Sadie Coles there is also a wide range of Nudes (until 28th May) some very amusing and others more melancholic.  But all shows worth popping in.

I was very lucky to visit Beijing, Tokyo and Kyoto over the Easter break.  Tokyo had long been on a list of places to visit but I had been waiting for Yayoi Kusama to open her long-awaited gallery.  It opened in late 2017 and I managed to get scarce tickets.  Only complaint – far too small!  It is on a small plot of land so very narrow but tall.  There is a permanent exhibition on one floor, rotating one on another, a floor with pumpkin infinity mirrors and a gold and pink pumpkin open to the sky on the top floor.  Great lift with spotty infinity mirrors and a bonus, that many visitors would not have seen, red spot infinity mirrors in the ground floor toilet!  If you are going make sure you check website for tickets couple of months ahead or buy from a ticket reseller.  Tips: go to the loo when you are there and keep yourself out of the photo and don’t buy your Yayoi memorabilia from the gallery shop (limited and expensive); try M0MA shop near Cat Street in Harajuku.

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Did not know what to expect as Fouts is categorised under Surrealism, not my favourite genre.  Found myself delighted and laughing out loud at some of the exhibits; it takes a great mind to put together these objects.  Look at the exhibits and then look again as it is not always apparent what is going on there; took a second glance to realise that the electric chair was combined with a rocking chair.  On until 12th May at Flowers Gallery.

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Visited the Whitechapel Gallery this afternoon to see Dion’s weird and wonderful exhibition.  First room has birdwatching hides all decorated in a different style.  In the middle an aviary with a giant tree covered in bird books and beautiful zebra finches in the branches . You can go inside to take a look.  You then enter a room with pictures of stuffed polar bears,  amusing sketches and a unicorn’s horn.  Then on to the end result of a stint at Manchester University where he raided the museum archives for curiosities and created the Bureau for the Centre of the Study for Surrealism and its Legacy.  Next the results of a volunteer project digging the top 6 inches of the Thames and keeping the found objects.  They are displayed in a huge cabinet with drawers and cupboards that you can open; pottery, clay pipes, teeth, bones, bottle tops and much more.  The Wonder Workshop is dark with green glowing cabinets of creatures: some recognisable, some never existed and some extinct.    Wonderful show on until 13th May alongside the exhibit of the station art coming to the Elizabeth Line.

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Winnie the Pooh at the V&A

Recently we watched Goodbye Christopher Robin and I recommend it if you are thinking of visiting this exhibition as they go so well together.  I have to hold my hand up and say that I own several of the Pooh books and think the illustrations are just wonderful so I was always going to be a big fan of this one.  The illustrations are central to the show and you see several versions of the Shepard drawings or read a note that highlights the detail you may have missed eg Piglet holding Pooh’s leg as the gaps in the bridge railings would let him slip through and Christopher Robin’s shoe falling off his heel. It is a lovely exhibition, bigger than you would expect, with the river and bridge mocked up on the middle.  And full of adults.

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IMG_3667Going to go against the critics with this one.  I really did like this but I was taken with the set, the craziness of the party scene with frogs on sticks and cardboard boxes shuffling around and, most of all, by the witches.  It was a modern dress staging made to look almost post apocalyptic with Macbeth’s body armour held together with tape and ripped clothes everywhere and shredded black plastic hanging down.  But the witches were pretty strange with one looking like Bette Davis in … Baby Jane, all smeared lipstick and high-pitched cackling.  At one stage there were many strange characters in black with faces on the back of their heads slowly going up a ramp towards the witches, followed by more in red jackets.  Hard to describe but pretty off the wall and one to hang around in your dreams after the play.   And in the last scene the witches were on bendy poles watching the fight with Macduff.  There has been criticism of the two leads, Anne-Marie Duff and Rory Kinnear, but it was just good to see an interesting staging.   Would I recommend it?  Not necessarily but don’t worry if you have tickets and have been put off by the reviews.