Fabulous Rachmaninoff Duo at St John’s Smith Square, London

Brilliant Duo

Timothée Botbol (Cello) and Dinara Klinton (Piano) played Rachmaninoff’s Vocalise arranged for cello and piano and his Sonata for Cello and Piano in G Minor. Dinara played his Prelude in D Op 23 No 4  and his Prelude in G minor Op 23 No 5.

Both brilliant performers, I had never heard the cello played with such richness of tone. I was blown away. And Dinara Clinton’s brilliant musicality and technique were amazing.

St John’s have a membership just right for me as I don’t like going out alone to evening concerts. For £45 (£40 with Direct Debit) you can attend 10 of their Thursday lunchtime concerts – only £4 each!!

Timothée’s brilliant performance was a far cry from mine when I learned the cello as a 15-year old and played in a quartet at our school’s prize day.

Memoir Extract

An ex-student, who’d gone on to play second violin in the London Symphonia Orchestra, gave our school a cello. I put my name down to have free lessons, but I wasn’t very hopeful because I was already having piano lessons. I wasn’t altogether pleased when my form mistress stopped me at the end of the week and told me I had been chosen to learn the cello. We always had loads of homework and I wasn’t sure I’d be able to fit in practising the cello as well as the piano.

Continue reading Fabulous Rachmaninoff Duo at St John’s Smith Square, London

A Great Weekend in Oslo, Norway, and a Visit to The Astrup Fearnley Museum

The Asstrup Fearnley Modern Art Museum

Loved our trip to the Astrup Fearnley  Modern Art Museum on the bay. Couldn’t understand why the collector bothered with so many of Damien Hirst’s half animals in formalin. When there was a scandal about keeping children’s brains I turned out my mounted specimens of cancers but I thought of offering the museum the head of my fractured right femur. I still have it in a jar in my bathroom cabinet – much more interesting and educational that half a cow.

Oslo harbour

Lovely view of the harbour complete with two-masted sailing vessel. Just not enough time to go across to the Viking museum.

Cindy Sherman as demure lady

 

 

I very much liked their collection of Cindy Sherman’s photographs. Amazing what she can turn herself into.

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Untitiled #152

 

 

Hard to realise that this painting Untitled #152 of what apprears to be a bald man is also her.

Michael Jackson and Bubbles 1988

We both liked Jeff Koons’  porcelain Michael Jackson and Bubbles, his chimpanzee,  in white and gold. Seeing Koons’ name reminded me of the hallucinations i had in the High Dependency Unit (HDU; dependant on care not on drugs) following my heart attack last August after I came off the ventilator.

Memoir extract from Chapter 28 of Woman in a White Coat

Continue reading A Great Weekend in Oslo, Norway, and a Visit to The Astrup Fearnley Museum

Charles Tunnicliffe in the Tennant Gallery; Woman in a White Coat coming soon

Covey Grey Partidges in the Snow

In a side room off the first floor at the Royal Academy next to the circular lift   is a delightful exhibition of Wild Life watercolours by Charles Tunnicliffe (1901-1979) in the Tennant Gallery.

If you walk up the staircase to the main exhibition on the first floor instead of using the lift you may miss the delightful exhibtions held in what was originally a drawing room created for Lady Cavendish. I hadn’t realised that the huge three-sided building that greets you when you walk through the gates of Burlington House is all one building, now home to five learned societies as well as the Royal Academy of ArtsSociety of Antiquaries of London;  Linnean Society; Geological Society; Royal Astronomical Society and the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Geese and Mallow 1944

Tunnicliffe’s watercolours are delightful and a pleasant change from the ubiquitous wild life photographs.

His painting called Geese and Mallow is very reminiscent of Hokusai’s paintings of fowl.

Illustrations for the Ladybird Books – What to Look for in Summer

In his lifetime, after the market for fine prints collapsed in in 1929s, Tunnicliffe was better known for the use of his paintings  to illustrate Ladybird Books as well as cigarette cards and calendars.

More recently Ladybird Books have introduced a humorous series for adults dealing with modern problems such as Mid-Life Crisis, Dating and Mindfulness.

Shopping at the Ocean City Mall in Oslo, Norway

Ocean City Mall

Luckily both Josh and I enjoy shopping though living in London with John Lewis, Selfridges and Harrods a bus ride away it’s hard to find things in Europe we haven’t seen before. We always enjoy long weekends in large cities.

After my Heart Attack, now a year ago, I need to stick to countries in the European union where an EHIC card gives me free emergency NHS treatment. Although not in the EU, Norway is covered though fortunately I had no need of medical care.

Modern Art Seating

Opposite our hotel in the centre of Oslo was quite a drab-looking mall from the outside –Ocean City – but huge and futuristic on the inside.

They didn’t have the kind of little notebooks I was looking for but we managed to buy the children some gifts from the large kitchenware stores.

Fabulous shop for knitters

 

Keen knitters like our daughter, Louise, would have loved this knitters’ paradise in the shopping mall in the next street.

 

 

 

The Spice Shop, 115-117 Drummond Street, London NW1 2PA

The Spice Shop Drummond Street

One of my favourite dishes is Green Thai Chicken Curry which requires coconut milk. I much prefer making it up from the powder rather than buying the tins. The only shop I know which stocks the Maggi coconut powder is the Spice Shop in Drummond Street.

Full of everything you need to make a good curry

 

They stock so many kinds of rice and curry pastes and powders and pickles and chutneys – it’s hard to choose.

Wide selection of exotic vegetables and herbs

 

 

Though you can now get many of these exotic vegetables in your local supermarket, they are fresher and cheaper here.

Yinka Shonibare in the Royal Academy Courtyard, London

Wind Sculpture VI

Great to see another of Yinka Shonibare’s large works – Wind Sculpture VI –  in the courtyard of the Royal Academy. There’s another near us in Victoria in Howick Place and there are others in Chicago and in the Yorkshire  Sculpture Park 

 

Shonibare’s Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle (BBC Report)

A British-Nigerian artist, born in London in 1962, Yinka Shonibare and his family moved to Nigeria when he was three years old. His work explores cultural identity, colonialism and post-colonialism and  has been short-listed for the prestigious Turner Prize. His Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle was chosen for display on the 4th plinth in Trafalgar Square,  facing the iconic Nelson’s column.

And interesting to see his television  interview at the Diaspora Pavilion at this year’s Venice Biennale.

I’m not  sure what Sir Joshua Reynolds, the first President of the Royal Academy,  would have thought of the gaily printed fabric scarf draped over the shoulder of his statue just next to Shonibare’s sculpture or how much of the works in the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition he would have considered art at all!!

Matisse in the Studio at the Royal Academy, London

Matisse in the Studio exhibition open until November 12th 2017

Aren’t we Londoners lucky? Just one great exhibition after another.

I liked best the photographs of Matisse (1869-1954)  in his studio surrounded by the myriads of objects he had collected over a long life time.  Of the original objects on display I most liked the Moroccan table and the little ivory figurines from Africa. The enormous African masks were intriguing and terrifying.

Matisse surrounded by his collected objects
Set of Matisse drawings

I have mixed feelings about his paintings but I love his drawings. The shop had a collection of reproductions on sale – at £198 a bit outside my price range!!

Goodies in the Royal Academy shop

 

Lots of theme based artefacts in  the Royal Academy Shop  including jugs and cups based on Matisse’s collection.

 

 

BP Portrait Award 2017 at the National Portrait Gallery, London

BP Portrait Award 2017
One of my favorite images – Honest Thomas by Alan Coulson

In an interesting collection of portraits submitted for the BP portrait Award 2017 by contemporary artists I was surprised to find that only one portrait was abstract, all the rest were figurative representational images. Though I liked many of them most were too ‘photographic’ for my taste.

Cecilia by Madeline Fenton

 

I always enjoy the BP Portrait of the Year exhibitions though I rarely agree with the judges’ verdicts!!

 

It’s Sales Time in London again

Sales Time in Mayfair

Why are sales so irresistible, especially if there’s a ‘twofer’ – two for the price of one. I really have more than enough shirts – those I made years ago when I was doing lots of dressmaking are still going strong but I wanted a pink shirt and a white one.

Plenty of shirts to choose from

My favorite shop for them is Hawes and Gieves . The branch in Victoria has now closed but it is no hardship to go to their flagship store in Mayfair’s Jermyn Street and walk through Waterstone’s bookstore to get there.

Just not the pink in my size

It’s not fair – the men’s department had just the colour pink I was looking for – one without a touch of apricot – but they didn’t have a women’s shirt in that pink in my size. Even the smallest men’s shirt was too long and with too long sleeves. But I did find just the plain white shirt I wanted and,  since it was almost a twofer, I also bought a white shirt with a leafy design.

Had to order the pink shirt online!!

The Encounter – Drawings from Leonardo to Rembrandt at the National Portrait Gallery, London

The Encounter at the National Portrait Gallery

The Encounter – another fascinating exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery of 48 drawings by the masters from Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) to Rembrandt (1606-1669).

It shouldn’t surprise me but surprise me it did – seeing how little we’ve changed in the last six centuries. The clothes – especially the hats and hairstyles – may have changed but the expressions, so brilliantly captured by these masters, remain the same.

Old Woman wearing a Ruff and Cap attributed to Jacob Jordaens 1593-1678

This old woman is so brilliantly drawn with the muscles of her cheek pushed up by the fist she is leaning on is one of my favourites. One of the reasons for wearing ruffs was to hide swollen tuberculous neck glands, rare now in the Western word and we don’t wear caps but you could see her or her sister in any present day gathering of old ladies.

 

A souvenir from the small shop in the exhibition

 

I am always a sucker for shops in art galleries. The National Portrait Gallery has a small shop attached to the current exhibition as well as the large shop at the front of the gallery – both full of things you don’t need but must have.

The women on the bag look very serious but if they broke into a smile you could see their like in the streets of London.

A few of Rembrandt’s drawings on the cover of a sketch book

 

A brilliant capture of male faces in these sketches by Rembrandt. I find them very reminiscent of Hokusai’s manga drawings.

I was pleased to find that the exhibition was quite small so I felt up to visiting the portraits on show from the BP Portrait Award 2017 – reviewed here next week.