Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Andrea Canepa

Sometimes you see something that just blows you away, it is increasingly rare to see, but at Arco Madrid I saw this work by Andrea Canepa, which defiantly loses something in the stills, but luckily I found a short clip for you to watch. I love it

Monday, 27 February 2012

The view from Arco Madrid

It being a Sunday, I was well aware that the buyers would have been and gone and most of the Gallerina's would be on dress down, even so there was plenty of Spanish style but it moves very quickly and the light inside the fair was woeful, making shots on the hoof very tricky. Here is an unedited selection, sometimes I like the rawness of the image rather than the close cropped photographs. The above shot maybe vague but what I liked apart from the lovely blue of the tunic, was the proportions of the outfit and the lovely deep tan of her coat. There was a LOT of that deep tan both bags, boots and coats wise.

Above this woman was wearing by far and away the most carefully curated of outfits.

I chose this and a previous photograph just because on the insouciance a jumper teamed with black trousers can bring, it seems to me that many of the Gallerina's here were very comfortably stylish.

Tan bags were everywhere, I have been searching for such a thing for years, and stupidly let one go last year because of the price, a mistake I will not make again now I know how hard good ones are to find. I particularly like them teamed with grey.

Slim pickings I know, being with my sister did hold me back form suddenly hurtling off at some random tangent if only someone would pay me to do this full time, I do love chasing people!

Friday, 24 February 2012

Lucian Freud

And so because I was not saturated enough by art last week, I went to the Lucian Freud retrospective currently showing at the National Portrait Gallery. I had a ticket for the teachers evening which essentially is a freebie with strings. The strings this time were a delayed start and a very crushed viewing. There was a bonus though in the guise of an excellent discourse delivered by a painter on the techniques of Freud's painting, as opposed to his life style which the media have always been fixated with.
The talk once again confirmed my suspicions that the older I get the less I know. The main premise of the talk centred around Freud's unusual painting technique, painting not the composition as a whole but finishing small patches before then moving on across the canvass until completed. This allowed him to shape shift compositions often to great effect.

The above painting is an example of an incomplete portrait, not the way I was taught and I only know of two other artists that painted in a similar way, Stanley Spencer and Henri Rousseau.
This suggests a lack of teaching which is not true, I think he initially did embrace tradition but was intelligent enough to realise that greater freedom came with his way of working. Many canvasses thus have extra additions to the side or bottom to accommodate the compositional changes he made, this tickled Kitty when I explained why.
I met Kitty after the talk and through devious maneuverings secured her a free ticket too! I was not sure what she would make of the show as she has led quite a sheltered life and there is a lot of genitalia on display here, but after her initial surprise she was great.

Kitty has just returned from skiing, her favourite activity, sadly she had twisted her knee so she had just been to the doctor for the first time ever in her 16 years! She has only once been near medical care and that was in A&E when she was very young for an infected cut, so she was very nervous but survived and procured her first prescription. She was somewhat taken aback when asked by the doctor if she smoked, and he was surprised that she had not even tried to. I think people forget not all teenagers are party animals.

This was Kitty's favourite painting, a portrait of Freud's mother. It is tucked away in a corridor in between rooms, but she noticed it going past and then again coming back, so we stopped for a while to unravel why she felt this one was so much better than the rest.

A few weeks back she told me that I was the only person who could make her a decent cup of tea, even she had failed to replicate a good cuppa, and despite me showing her how had failed, as had her father. I jokingly said that it was because I made it with love! She laughed and agreed that must be the case. Looking at this painting I realised it was the same, it was the only painting that had been painted with love rather than as a cadaver under the microscope, this painting hums with a tenderness unlike the other paintings and Kitty agreed that indeed that is what it was, the unconditional love of a son for his mother.

There are 130 paintings to see, it is an awesome exhibition, very enlightening and a joy to see the journey he made technique wise through his paintings.

After which I would like to say we retreated for some delicious food. Sadly that was the case for Kitty but not me. We went to Les Deux Salons, a big mistake because I fancied something light, and they do not do light. I opted for a starter of cod and ordered some chips, to my surprise the cod came with mash potato! A starter with mash who knew? The wine was tepid and after the crisp joyful glasses I drank last week it seemed dull. I must be getting old, maybe Kitty should get out her paints!

Images from here and here

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

The view from Madrid

So I'm back, having spent a few days in York, most delightful, before jet setting off to Madrid for the first of my birthday celebrations.
It was my first Easy Jet flight ever, having feared their draconian attitude to human error, but my sister has them very sussed and so clutching out priority boarding passes we had very uneventful flight both there and back. The weather was mostly glorious, the architecture most covetous, the food delicious, the art amazing. We walked miles and miles and very much ticked out Madrid box. There were surprises too, the smallness of the city, it is tiny considering it is a capital city, I live in a city of 7 million + my last holiday in Istanbul, population 13 million + Madrid is 3 million + and we only saw them on Saturday! The city is a throw back to Leeds circa the late 70's, Madrid has that feel to it with very few generic shops and most of what you need compartmentalised into tiny specialist shopping areas. Unlike Leeds....

The architecture is very pretty.

The trees in the park surreal!

Tapas is everywhere, really, you can eat far better here than you can shop. I love the more out of the way places, with their beautiful tiled floors.

We found some lovely boutiques selling teeny tiny clothes, not for us giants!

And some very plush restaurants

More tiles, this time on the facade of a some beautiful buildings in the park, which is where most of the population gathers on a Saturday.

On the opposite side of town by the palace, all was calm and serene, I did not doze off in the sun I was just resting my eyes!

Sunday, my sister dragged me to one of the oddest markets ever, sprawling for many streets all the eye could see was rubbish, put the doll down!

We climbed this tower for a glorious view of rush hour, there appears to be little in the way of iconic architecture in Madrid, it does beautiful domestic, but little else stood out.

Like I say wonderful places to live everywhere.

Around the back streets were wonderful little shops selling food and cute stuff for the home.

Even a shop selling flamenco shoes.

I loved the tiles both inside, outside and underneath.

I I discovered the best places to eat were where women of a certain age gathered for lunch, the city is very female friendly with and abundance of aging couples who eat and group of women of all ages in bars and restaurants.

Down by the botanical gardens is this row of book sellers, we found many small stalls but failed to find the more upmarket shopping areas, my sister soon saw why the Spanish love the department stores of London because they have very little in the way of variety here, with only a smattering of Zara's and other high street stores.

The hotel was central and the night time is very, very noisy, so sleep was difficult as it only stopped around 4am, it certainly dispelled the urban myth that only the British drink to excess and get rowdy, the Spanish certainly do too.

We saw some amazing in art in both The Prado and the El Museo de arte Thyssen Bornmisza, which was show a stunning Chagall exhibition. After our feet were throbbing I then dragged my sister to Arco art fair, where I managed to grab a handful of sartorial style photographs and saw some wonderful contemporary art, it wasn't cheap but it was a great end to our break.

I arrived back midnight Sunday and was back at my desk the following morning, before going to college that night, it was truly lovely to go away, but lovely to be back in my own bed too, to catch up on many hours of lost sleep. Now to catch up with all of you !

Friday, 10 February 2012

I do love a meme

It is a lovely feeling when it is Friday, I have a week off there is food at home I have no meetings and no deadlines to meet, for a week at least. York and Madrid beckon, weather permitting and I am now just typing up my last post for a week. Bliss. So time to answer some questions....
I really struggled to think of anything random I have not already posted (see toolbar on the right side) I have a potty mouth,but that is not entirely a random fact more a given.
I must say I like the idea of compiling 10 guests we would most like for dinner, but that is one for my return.

1. What was your favourite film last year and why?
It may have to be Midnight in Paris simply because I can't remember any other films I saw!
Plays yes, That would be a toss up between Much Ado About Nothing with David Tennant and Catherine Tate and As You Like it, which I saw at the Globe, Both brilliant for entirely different reasons, but safe to say that no matter how much I try I always love Shakespeare the best!
My favourite TV programme is such a cliche, but has to be The Killing,, it had the most haunting soundtrack ever.
2. If money were no object, where would you spend your next vacation? and why?

I would fly my entire family, I mean the whole kit and caboodle out to ....Hawaii of course, Why? It is quite frankly the most beautiful place in the world.
3. Describe the earliest meal you can remember enjoying.
Anything and I mean anything cooked by my gran, truly delicious, primarily due to the startling lack of hygiene in her kitchen of course, how else do we get flavour?
4. If you were dividing domestic chores with a new roommate, which ones would you try to claim?

Throughout my entire life I have been shafted by vacuuming, I hate it, I still do not EVER iron, OK maybe twice last year! I am always happy to do the dishes especially as a teenager with very loud music!
5. Do you play a musical instrument? If so, which one?

Sadly no, I am truly very poor at all things musical, I love to listen, but as I have watched my youngest struggle to master the violin I am all the more appreciative of just how hard it is to learn.
6. When you're bothered by prolonged muscle or joint soreness that's interfering with your workout plans, do you visit a General Physician, a Chiropractor, a Physiotherapist, or a Massage Therapist?

Pop a couple of Nurophen and ignore it!
7. What activities do you hope will sustain you throughout your 80s and 90s?

Travelling, seeing and painting. and hopefully watching boxed sets of American TV series.
8. What was the first important car in your life?

My first car was a little Metro, truly it was so liberating ,having been tied to public transport until the age of 30! It was at a time when petrol was cheap and the mechanics were so simple, I was even taught to change my own brake pads. I went every where in that car,complete bliss
9. What was the most significant course you ever took?

The turning point in my life has to stem from the painting course I completed at The Slade School of Art, finally my demons of utter inadequacy vanished and I finally began to realise I could put down on paper all that had been swimming around my head.for the last umpteen years..
10. If you had the resources, which elementary or high school classmate would you try to track down, and why?

Elizabeth Stamp, I would love to bitch slap her so hard. I was a very easy going teenager and she was my utter nemesis, she would be so nice to my face and so utterly vile behind my back. Seriously, this went on all through school until finally she left. Looking back I wish I had realised just how poisonous she was and stayed as far away from her as possible. My one highlight is that I went to art college and she dropped out of school, so I achieved everything she wanted but failed to get.
11. Which chef would you like to have come to your house to prepare a meal for your guests -- or, alternatively, give you a cooking lesson in that chef's professional kitchen?

I found this surprisingly difficult, I think for the most fun it might have to be Heston Blumenthal. I am now writing without my glasses and can't see a thing, I fancy a packet of M&M's so will wave goodbye until next week, when I promise to be far more sartorially engaging!.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Dress Code Musings

So having fucked with our minds my senior management team are aiming to fuck with my sartorial style by Introducing a dress code. As you can see those of us who like to channel our inner hippy by wearing Birkenstocks have been barred, and instead we are expected to join the slatterns who parade around this building wearing vertiginous platform heels and skin tight suits bursting at the seams or they are pouring out of a low cut top that shrank in the wash.

I am all for some boundaries, but I would struggle to define them as like any hard and fast rules there will always be ways around them.

I have suggested that instead of the dress code we should introduce weekly mutton button.

It has taken two days but I have finally waded through tall that marking I showed you, of course after half term there will be another pile but for now I am marking lite!

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

The view from here

It was my painting day today, interrupted by meetings and those pesky lessons I have to keep teaching, nevertheless despite an initial setback I worked through the pain. The ones below are from last week, they are the one I feel look very claustrophobic, very closed in, like I am endlessly trapped in a dark Grimm fairytale trying to find a way out. What you can also see is a mountain of marking which I have neglected for too long and will need to tackle tomorrow. But today I tried to lightened the mood.

With these landscapes that are far less closed in. I tend to paint in my mind a lot whilst walking, life rarely delivers the results I have in mind but it does help me nevertheless.

I am currently engrossed in Hilary Spurling's biography on Matisse, an astonishing tour de force on an astonishing artist. I had no idea that what looks to me, effortless actually took so much out of him. The book is brilliant and a must read.

I had yet another late night last night at work on top of not only completing lesson observations on a a colleague, but then having an observation of my own lesson. The pace of change and constant monitoring in this place is exhausting.

On the way home I was reminded yet again of my age. I used to work in a huge school a few stops on the train closer to home, last night some young teachers that work at that school boarded the train and proceed to discuss their plans for the night. As my day ends theirs was still going. I really miss the camaraderie you get in a big school, and most of all I miss the impulse to go out on a weekday, now it's all I can do to feed Leyla and walk the dog!

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

When I am old

I have never really paid much attention to significant birthdays, another year passes by, it's nice to celebrate with a meal, but on the whole I have been fairly non plussed at the years strolling by.
Like most people, inside I feel young, it's only the odd fleeting glance in the mirror that brings me up sharp, that inability to recognise who's looking back at me has been occurring more and more of late, somehow any control over the elasticity of my skin I once had is failing and gravity is taking a greater toll than I had anticipated.
I suppose in the media I am what is described as a cougar, both fathers of my daughters are younger than me, Kitty went over to her father's to celebrate his 40th this weekend, I am approaching 50. The age gap that seemed negligible at the time now starts to seem cavernous, it's not much better with Emin.
To ease the transition into the second half of my century my sister is taking me to Madrid, Mother is taking me to Venice, Kitty for a curry! Whilst the day itself will be spent in a pub somewhere near a beach on the Norfolk coast. I should by the end of the year have had a ball no?

As for what I see in the mirror..both these ladies are the same age and I know which one I would prefer to look like when I hit my 70th+ The view from here
College was much improved, I think the lecturer has realised that she has much to learn from our somewhat esoteric way of seeing, and she was considerably more open to discussion last night. Again we had the Tate mostly to ourselves, we had a sneak preview of the Yayoi Kusama exhibition, there is a white room awaiting the application of stickers, plus some fabulous red and black spotty bouncing ball, sadly tethered. I think they should have had loads for us to bounce around the Turbine Hall, a missed opportunity.
We saw the Descendants last week, one area of discussion at college is how two people can watch the same film but see two very different films. I was moved to tears by the 10 year child's way of dealing with her mothers impending death. Emin came away thoroughly uplifted by the cinematography and wanted to go back to see it again, he loves Hawaii that much! Pretty much all else went right over his head!

Friday, 3 February 2012

The view from Christmas

I realised suddenly today I had yet to finish going through my photographs from Cyprus, and yet already half term is approaching! Madness.
So this week I was pursuing the Prado website when I had yet to pack away my photographs from my last break. I have spent very little time on this blog this week primarily because I was revisiting Cyprus through the wonderful world of paint. I decided come what may to stay in my painting room, an airless windowless ex dark room and paint last Tuesday. Yes, it has a small amount of ventilation but the fumes probably contributed to a low level but debilitating headache for the rest of the week.
The painting are very green, in more ways than one. I had tried to paint them in my head, but as always they did not go quite to plan, but it is as always a learning curve.
I veer from figurative to abstract and need to revisit them next week. Interestingly they are quite claustrophobic paintings, which I wonder if reflects the place I paint. I have also just about finished writing two lots of rationale, which pleases me no end.

It was good to revisit the photographs to remind me of the light, these were taken on the road back to the village from Mehmetcik, any thoughts you may harbour of year round sunshine on Cyprus can be disabused when you see how the clouds roll across at great speed and shed their load daily, it has rained copiously since we were there and temperatures have struggled to get into double figures.

Any plans we had for a warm winter retirement have been thoroughly scuppered by our experience there this winter. It seems to me that you are much warmer when in a climate that is geared up for the cold with well insulated houses, not the concrete gulags of Cyprus. So Berlin it is then!