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Friday, 28 October 2011

Harris Tweed- From Land to Street

I like tweed (there's probably a pattern forming here, teacups and tweed she's a pensioner). So I was delighted when I got sent this link to this report from the beeb about a new photography book celebrating the last 100 years of the blessed fabric, called Harris Tweed- from land to street by Lara Platman.

I think it's important that small regional producers of quality products like tweed, continue in their longstanding traditional practices. Not only as part of this country's heritage, but environmentally and ethically. It doesn't have far to travel, it's not made by exploited ten year olds in the developing world and wool itself is an often neglected natural resource that we have plenty of in this country and should be put to good use and I know I'm right about this because Prince Charles agrees with me.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Florence or a Machine

This little gem of a quiz, courtesy of The Guardian, asks you whether the lyric is from Ceremonials or made up by a computer. I got 6 out of 10, statistically speaking little more than guess work...

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Going pottery

I'm slightly overwhelmed by ceramics this week. An essay to write, a wander around Liberty's and a bit of BBC viewing too. Liberty's is by far quite my favourite department store in London. I saw the most beautiful Wedgewood. I wish tea drinking was what it once was- a ritual. 

I've been watching Ceramics: A Fragile History: The Age of Wedgwood. It depressed me in all honesty. The loss of an industry and creativity. Poor Spode! Poor Britain!

I shall buy some Emma Bridgewater eventually.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Essay season and being rescued by some Darjeeling

'Tis that awful time of year again, like a grouse in hunting season I am being shot at. Unlike last year though they aren't on the economics of communist Hungary but on art, yay! I've spent the last couple of days camped out in the glorious National Art Library. Although I must say they don't appear to have heating,  and my delicate sensibilities couldn't quite handle it. The solution of course was a lovely pot of Darjeeling ( a thing for teacups is necessarily followed by a thing for tea) and a slice of millionaire shortbread in the V & A cafe. I've never been before and I was delighted to see that other than the modern serving area it is decked out in a wonderfully original arts and crafts style. The room I sat in had huge tiles of the four seasons and the months as women on the walls and lovely little blue and white tiles of the women in Greco-Roman myth. A beloved auntie recommended that I try it, and it was indeed very refreshing!

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Romancing the Stone

You can tell it's autumn once the BBC starts reeling out a plethora of decent television shows. Plus you tend to see all those beautiful golden leaves everywhere which might give you a bit of a hint.

Romancing the Stone is another excellent series on British art. The first episode being on medieval sculpture and the second about the sculpture of the Empire. I can't wait for more! The beeb are really on fire at the moment:

Mandarin week 3

I'm still cracking on with it. The best that can be said is not that I have a natural flair for it, or a good ear for tones, it is more that I haven't given up entirely yet. This article in The Financial Times has made me feel that at least I am not alone.

Mandarin has the edge in Europe's classrooms

Monday, 17 October 2011

Pop video of the week iii

And this weeks goes to Girls Generation. Enjoy!

I actually made it to Frieze, yay!

Gosh it overwhelmed me, made my head feel funny. Plus I accidently spoke to Alexa Chung. 'Twas terribly traumatic, I looked a state that day. You don't expect to see someone Mulberry have named a bag after whilst wearing chinos and loafers, but unfortunately not in a chic wasp way.

There was so much to see, I don't know how to describe it all. I think perhaps it will be best to put up links to galleries and artists that I particularly remember:


Laurie Simmons- Love Doll (here is a link to an interview she has done)
Quite a creepy photograph of a Japanese love doll styled as a geisha, lying on a bed. It made me think about modern relationships and what men want from women. Not that I actually know this.

Karl Holmqvist- 'who runs this mother' (shown by White Cube); neon sign
Ah Beyonce's empty feminism

Yayoi Kusama- Tulip With All My Love 3-1 (shown by Victoria Miro)
Well because...

Danny Macdonald- Credit Card Offering 2011
The beastie from Alien bursting through Uncle Sam with an American Express card in its mouth.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Haruki Murakami interview in The Guardian

Ah! I love the man! I really do! I have never read a book quite like The Wind Up Bird Chronicle. The plot so surreal and the characters so convincingly odd and yet natural. It is always a pleasure to read one of his interviews, especially because he so rarely gives them. I'm excited for IQ84.


There is a tidy little article in The Guardian today about collecting, although  the focus is on post-war British china. The price range we're talking about is nowhere near the same league as what the big auction houses are fetching for a good bit of famille verte, although some of the wares they mention are quite pretty. Having already declared my thing for tea cups, I can assure you dear reader, that I will undoubtedly collect once I finally give up on this education malarkey and get an actual job...

Saturday, 15 October 2011

A slight obssession...

I'm more than a little infatuated with Florence and The Machine. As a youth I read a potent combination of Ovid and far too many gothic horror novels. The end result being a tendency towards being over nostalgic for myths and magic and a fondness for emotional melodrama. Gosh this song ticks my boxes. It helps that FaTM videos are always beautifully shot.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Pop up art show- BMDV.* 12th-15th October

I accidentally went to a show today whilst on my way back from purposefully going to see the new Tacita Dean at Tate Modern. I walked past a pop-up by Fred Lambton and Matthew Wilkinson on Gray's Inn Road (No. 91, London, WC1X 8TX). For a small exhibition, the space was the size of a reasonable corner shop, it was quite interesting. One of the more memorable works alluded to the iconography of  secret societies, the anatomical imagery used,  presumably, was closely related to the sexual nature of the title. A beloved auntie would never approve off it. The middle of the space was taken up with a female dummy with a goats head, wearing a pink froufrou tulle ball gown. Read into this what you will. The Artists' views on women perhaps or female vanity? I don't know, go, take a look and decide for yourself. Or better still ask them about it...

'Twas not the sort of thing one assumes one will come across on a Friday afternoon in Holborn, that is for sure.

*I have chosen to use the the acronym that the artists used rather than the full title in case anyone has taught their granny to google and they accidentally wander here.

Ai Weiwei and the ArtReview Power 100

Ai Weiwei is number one. Hardly surprising considering the amount the poor man was in the press this last year. Let us not forget though he had his zodiac animal heads at Somerset House, and exhibitions in both The Lisson Gallery and The Tate Modern or as Grayson Perry called it the 'Cathedral of modern art'. I particularly thought Sunflower Seeds was a very challenging work looking at the history of China's workers and its ceramics industry. Truly the most well heard Chinese voice on the international art stage.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

James Cahill- A Pure and Remote View

Professor James Cahill is one of the pre-eminent art historians who has done extensive work on China over the last few decades. He is now retired, but fortunately for us he has produced an extensive series of lectures that are on youtube in conjunction with U. C. Berkeley. This series runs from pre-Han to the Northern Song Dynasty paintings. They're very useful if like me, you are interested in gaining a solid knowledge of pre-modern Chinese painting traditions.

Monday, 10 October 2011

The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsmen

All hail Alan Measles!

Alan  Measles is Turner Prize Winner, Grayson Perry's, teddy bear and childhood hero. Perry goes about building a religion almost, for his furry chum using examples of artifacts from the Museum's collection and Perry's own experience. The exhibition is brilliantly curated. Pieces from across the globe and various cultures are grouped together so as to describe aspects of human attitudes towards religion and death. Personally I thought the ship to carry the soul into Alan Measles's afterlife was particularly meaningful.

Perry's exhibition at The British Museum was really rather entertaining. I always think that one of the unique things about British art is the sense of humour. Grayson Perry is funny as well as being socially astute. His vase detailing what he saw on telly one February evening is a case in point.

Pop video of the week ii

This week's spot goes to Ai Otsuka. I loved Hana Yori Dango, although I did think it had a bit in common with Pride and Prejudice. 

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Mixed Britannia.

Another post about the beeb, which at the moment is running a series about being mixed race in Britain. It's terribly interesting (I myself am mixed race) in regards to the changing attitudes towards race and inter-racial marriage in this country. As well as discussing how some communities were genuinely multicultural before World War II. Compelling viewing for anyone who follows certain aspects of British politics.

Won't you take me to Chinatown.

Supermarkets. I love supermarkets. Particularly supermarkets where I cannot read the labels. Lisle Street is a dream.

I have a rule that I buy something I've never tried before every time I go. So far the red wine flavoured pocky has been a personal highlight. They have a taste than can only be described as a cross between a poor merlot and a very good fruitella.

Of course I have to buy noodles. There are those instant ramen things that make the english version, quite rightly, seem awful. Although once I bought a packet of noodles which were described as Korean Starch noodles, I probably didn't serve them in the correct fashion,but my goodness ew!

Chinatown and its supermarkets always makes me feel like an inadequate cook. There are so many wonderful looking ingredients that I don't have a clue what to do with, one day I will learn! I'm also determined to eventually make those super cute bento, yummy and aesthetically pleasing.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

From Birmingham to Beijing: The Lure of a Chinese Career

This is a rather interesting radio broadcast from the BBC about British graduates going to China to intern because of the dire job market here. I think it's quite telling how a lot of British people perceive the further rise of China as an opportunity to do well.

The National Art Library, The V & A and motivational cake.

This afternoon I trundled along to the good old V & A in order to join the fantastic National Art Library.  How can one be expected to write about aesthetics when surrounded by the unseemliness of my university's concrete corridors? I much prefer a Victorian reading room.

Whilst there I thought I should most probably have another little look at some of the wondrous pieces in its various collections. I am always delighted when museums such as the V & A include contemporary art amongst their older works. Today I was not disappointed. Firstly, over the main entrance is a rather large, wooden construction entitled Timber Wave by AL_A. Then I came to the quite short, compared to shows where there is an entrance fee, but enjoyable nonetheless Power of Making exhibition. My two favourite things I saw today though, were the Textile Field in The Raphael Gallery, which essentially was a giant padded lounger across the majority of the floor space. Any museum which lets me have a lie down without my shoes on, whilst looking at some spectacular cartoons is a very lovely place in my book. Finally I came across a very amusing statue, the 'Bust of Lady Belhaven, 1827' re-imagined with hat by Stephen Jones, 2011. Marvellous!

And to top the afternoon off I stopped off at Fortnums for some motivational cake and went home with a tasty piece of apricot and ginger, wishfully called Apollo's Muse. I hope it was magic cake.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Pop video of the week:

Alright! I've decided that I shall have a pop song of the week. No cultural stone in East Asia shall remain unturned by this intrepid explorer, including the vom-inducing ultra cuteness of pop music. This weeks tune goes to Teen Top and their song, No More Perfume On You. My friend H, so wonderfully described it as 'KPop. Teaching young Korean boys how to cheat effectively!' It more than deserves the first ever spot.

First Mandarin lesson!

So I had my very first lesson today. I'm doomed, the only scrap I can remember is the word for weather. I am an Englishman through and through it seems.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Xue Xinran in The Telegraph

I enjoyed Xue Xinran's book, The Good Women of China when I read it years back, so I always take up anything by her when they pop up in the broadsheets. I have never been to China and what little reading I have done on modern Chinese society has left me without enough knowledge to really comment on the article. Interesting nonetheless.