Pre-Raphaelites | Tate Britain

With over two hundred works spanning across painting, sculpture, furniture and wallpaper, the Pre-Raphaelite exhibition at Tate Britain is something to contend with. The group of artists, writers and poets are frequently associated with their personification of beauty but here the curators are arguing that the brotherhood were also radicals, innovative inventors that led the first British modern art movement. Although the stunning red headed women that frequent the canvases are present throughout, the exhibition is split into additional themes including Nature, Salvation and Mythology.

It is an ambitious exhibition. For one thing, the Pre-Raphaelite exhibition includes all of the popular and expected paintings from Rossetti’s women, Millais’ Ophelia to the dying body of the suicidal Chatterton by Henry Wallis. These paintings are, to me, beauty in its purest form but they are also over-familiar. They’re the images of tortured souls that grace the pages of Victorian poetry books and classic novels. It’s a challenge to argue that this densely emotional, passionate aesthetic is the work of proto-modernists.

However, the Pre-Raphaelites were painting at the same time as Karl Marx was writing. In 1848, when the brotherhood formed, Marx and Friedrich Engels has published the Communist Manifesto. It might be a little far fetched to suggest the group were modern artists, but they did share revolutionary ideals. They made pyscho-drama of Victorian society and mocked the hypocrisy of the age. Their blatant approach to female sexuality was forward thinking. Millais’ 1851 painting of Mariana shows a woman locked in the Vicarage and longing for something far more satisfying.

If you’re a fan of the Pre-Raphs, like me, then this exhibition has everything you could want. Not only the popular paintings of torture romantics and bold, suffocating colour, but also a vivid exploration into alleys of though not previously associated with the group. Does it achieve in presenting them as proto-modernists? Perhaps not fully, but it does successfully marry the fictional heartbreaks of Tennyson with the brutal reality of Dickens. It’s excessive, emotive and heavy with the romance only accessible to poets and artists. A collection of images that make physical all that is bitter sweet, ‘a love that moves the sun and the other stars’.

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The Curious Incident… | National Theatre

God were we lucky to get tickets to the National Theatre’s adaptation of Mark Haddon’s best selling novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. It’s difficult to actually convey how impressive the performance was. Besides Luke Treadaway‘s ability to capture the mental complexities of the main character, Christopher, perfectly, the stage was mind-blowing in its transformations and the supporting roles were beautifully constructed. We found this little review given by The Guardian (who rightly gave the performance 4stars) and we couldn’t agree more with it:

Simon Stephens, for a start, solves the problem confronting any adapter. First he has a teacher (Niamh Cusack) reading aloud the story that 15-year-old Christopher Boone has fashioned from his Holmes-like investigation into the killer of his neighbour’s dog; then, against Christopher’s wishes, the novel is turned into a play. This not only frames the action, but also sets up a rich tension between fiction’s invention and the obsession with facts, forensics and systemised data that is a symptom of Christopher’s autism. His mathematical mind is also brilliantly reflected in Bunny Christie’s design of glowing geometric grids, and in Paule Constable’s lighting, which conveys the hero’s love of the night sky.

A remarkable performance from Luke Treadaway captures all the hero’s zeal, obduracy and terror of tactile contact, and pins down behavioural qualities all of us, at some point, see in ourselves. The movement direction, from Frantic Assembly’s Scott Graham and Steven Hoggett, also conveys Christopher’s confusion when confronted by the bustle of London life. I flinch from manipulative touches such as miniaturised trains and a live dog: two things calculated to send audiences into swooning raptures. But this is a highly skilful adaptation, and Paul Ritter and Nicola Walker as Christopher’s parents movingly remind us of the messily contradictory human emotions that co-exist with their son’s world of perfect patterns.

The Curious Incident… on at the National Theatre until Oct 27th 2012.

Article adapted from Michael Billington for The Guardian.

Persephone | Heaven in a book store

Thonet chairs, a poster of Sonja by Christian Schad, books wrapped in brown paper and pink tissue, a basket of greetings cards, Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar, real flowers, a walnut wood desk and thousands and thousands of beautifully published books. This is my heaven.

Located on Lamb’s Conduit Street near Holborn, is the Persephone Books store and office. With the familial smell of furniture polish and new paper, the shop appears as though it has just popped out of a scene from a novel by Dorothy Whipple or Agnes Jekyll.

Persephone ‘prints mainly neglected fiction and non-fiction by women, for women and about women’. The words of each revived novel are enveloped between the folds of a dove-grey jacket and the ‘fabric’ endpaper that resembles something from the late William Morris era. Each book is accompanied by a decorated bookmark and a preface by well-known female writers.

Everything that I want to achieve is embodied within the store. A place without pretense and dedicated entirely to fabulous, female fiction. I urge you to visit!

Little Ghost Outside | Stockholm 2012

We know we’ve been a bit AWOL recently, but we’re back and better than ever with some beautiful photos, tales and collaborations! First up is Stockholm: the place where just everything is beautiful and intrinsically cool. Little Ghost contributor and editor of What’s His Is Yours Hannah Glick gives the low-down on the places to see, eat and drink as the stunning Swedes do themselves.

Fotografiska

Definitely the coolest gallery in Stockholm (yes, it beats the Moderne Museet), Fotografiska is a photography exhibition venue set in a stunning Art Deco building on the riverfront on Soder, Stockholm’s Soho district on the island of Sodermalm. Fotografiska is the place to go to see cool, directional photographers just before they hit the big time, and to see topical and genuinely interesting exhibitions. Grab a coffee and pastry in the café upstairs for an unrivalled view of the city.

Address: Stadsgårdshamnen 22

Shopping in Soder

We recommend bypassing the mainstream shops in the City district and heading straight for the quirky and cool independent stores, cafes and bars in Soder. My favourites were Grandpa for chic vintage interiors and Scandinavian fashion designers such as Whyred and Fifth Avenue Shoe Repair, while Konst-Ig may well be our favourite book store in the world, perfect for a cultural fix and lengthy page-flicking through the delicious array of art and design books on offer. And of course, no trip to Stockholm would be complete without stopping by the holy grail of Acne for a lusting-session.

Address: Fridhemsgatan 43 (Kungsholmen) and Södermannagatan 21. Address: Åsögatan 124

Cider in Soder

After pounding the streets, rest your feet in the park Vita Bergen, set atop a hill in the east of the Soder district. Kick back with a cider, mingle with young, beautiful and stylish Swedes and take in the view of Soder’s rooftops.

Herman’s

Something of an institution, Herman’s is a vegetarian destination hosted by hippies with a breathtaking view of the city. Feast on the huge array of yummy veggie grub in the daily buffet and bbq, with unlimited tea and coffee included. Herman’s is always buzzing and packed to the brim, with live music at the weekends.

Address: Fjällgatan 23b.

Drinks in Debaser

Known as the best venue for rock music in Stockholm, legends such as Bob Dylan and the Strokes as well as smaller, independent bands have graced the stage at Debaser, set under the bridge between Soder and Gamla Stan, Stockholm’s old town. Check out the undeniably stylish Swedes, take in the beats and grab a few drinks while you’re at it.

Addresses: Slussen, Karl Johans Torg 1

Check out Hannah’s blog here for killer photographs, editorial insight and just about every item of clothing you could ever want.

Minstrel & Chronicle | Hannah Barry Gallery

LG editor and bona fide story fanatic, Sian Gray, goes to the private view of ‘Minstrel & Chronicle’ the latest exhibition at Hannah Barry Gallery in Peckham

 

Salman Rushdie said that those who do not have power over the story of their lives- to retell it, rethink it, deconstruct it, joke about it, change it as times change, are powerless and cannot think new thoughts.

 

Discussing this with the LG team, it seems the storyteller is having a moment in the spotlight. We’ve heard journalists discuss the new public commentators who continually develop, debate and change news stories via discussion boards. The hugely successful actor, Mark Rylance, performed as Rooster in the hit West End play Jerusalem and brought to light the importance of imagination, ‘with an abused girl, a henpecked publican and a grieving, demented academic all [resorting] to the only thing that comforts despair — myth, mystery [and] storytelling’.

 

Now in the back of an Industrial Estate in Peckham, ‘Minstrel & Chronicle‘ the latest exhibition at Hannah Barry gallery has taken hold of the same theme. Here Nathan Cash DavidsonAntoine Catala, Sophie CundalePeles Empire and Samuel Fouracre are among the artists examining the role of the contemporary artist as storyteller; rethinking, deconstructing and changing it throughout their works. The show’s central concern is ultimately ‘the tension between the impulse to communicate and the inherently anarchic processes of art making‘.

Here, high culture is married with pop culture, language is subverted and distorted and this Peckham gallery becomes a microcosm of the wider world in which the minstrel narrator is employed in order to address society, politics and art. It is a fascinating exhibition that encompasses both tradition and innovation. The works on display may be varied with a range of media being employed but there is a sense of a shared idea and a common desire: to further the tale of the storyteller.

May 30th- July 28th 2012

all images: www.hannahbarry.com

ps: Poetry Evenings on 12th and 29th June – following the exploration of the artist as narrator within a hybrid and networked culture, these two events will question a similar impulse within the poetic turn, whereby language might in the same moment create as well as connect.<– Absolutely love the idea of mixing Art, poetry and Peckham!

Globe to Globe | MACBETH/MAKBET: Teatr im. Kochanowskiego @ Globe Theatre

‘Co się stało, to już się nie odstanie’
‘What’s done is done.’

LG’s Freya Gosling takes advantage of not working this rainy Thursday to get to the Globe Theatre on the Southbank to check out part of their Globe to Globe programme: 37 plays in 37 languages. 

Gangsters. Tracksuits. Cocaine. Velour. Gloria Gaynor. And not a word of English language spoken. Not what is traditionally expected from one of Shakespeare’s best known plays. But Polish Teatr im. Kochanowskiego’s adaptation of Macbeth signifies all that Shakespearean performances should be about: theatrical imagination.

Described as a ‘carnival of stories’, the Globe to Globe season sees theatrical companies from all over the world coming together in one venue, ‘to enjoy speaking these plays in their own language, in our Globe, within the architecture Shakespeare wrote for’. And while it is arguable that these performances cannot fully express the playwright’s original theatricality without Shakespearean language, anyone who has ever studied Shakespeare or just seen one of his plays performed can confirm that language is just one faction of the plays’ multifaceted appeal.

Visually, Teatr im. Kochanowskiego’s version of The Scottish Play is stunning, with courtly clothes of nobles interpreted through shiny tight fitting suits and slicked back hair; even the King’s crown has been replaced by sequin-spangled black loafers, and the witches caterwauling about the stage giving prophecies in full drag attire, gold platforms, feather boas and neon synthetic lingerie. The cast rapidly move between dancing, fighting, fucking, drinking, snorting and eventually, mostly, dying. One friend compared Macbeth’s dragging Lady Macbeth’s dead body across the stage to the moment of despair when Romeo dances with Juliet’s dead body in Kenneth Macmillan’s ballet.

But it is the accompanying emotional intensity that really makes this performance a spectacular success, as well as the adaptation’s modern urban style effectively– less tapping than hitting –into contemporary social issues. The hierarchies in the play are represented through modern gangster culture, where men kill for alpha-male status, women are commodities to be bought, sold and abused at will, and blaring music and class-A drugs feature in a lawless life of crime and chaos. A perfect approach to a play where human emotion features so rawly and frequently; guilt, horror, disgust, desire, fury, malice, elation, depression, despair. In short, humans living to extremes, and often on the brink of total collapse.

Even the transgender-witches, who initially seem like the modern equivalent of the Porter’s light relief role in Macbeth, are given greater depths by their continued presence in the entire performance. Their leading representative, Lola, initially lusts after Banquo and pines his murder in the second half to a mournful version of ‘I will Survive’.

Altogether this performance is a feisty, firery emotional minefield coloured by cocaine, Spadex, bottles of vodka and hits from the 80s. Little Ghost loves!

Globe to Globe season continues until June 9th 2012, so get booking!

http://globetoglobe.shakespearesglobe.com/plays/macbeth/english-95

Postcards from Clacton-on-Sea

We don’t often talk about poetry on here. We really should. I love it, I always have, I always will. I like the old stuff, the new stuff and just about every beat of iambic pentameter in between.

In 2009 I came across Luke Wright who, for some reason, caught my attention and hasn’t set it free since. Below is one of his most recent poems (Jan.14th 2012). When I went to University, I told everyone I was from London, even though I now live in a city close to it. It is partly true as London is where I was born and raised until the age of 3. But really ‘I’m from London’ was just the easier option. Feeling like a traitor now….

The London/Essex Dilemma

YOUNG MAN:

If anybody asks me, I’m from London
never Essex, rarely Hornchurch, London
East end, it’s the beating heart of London
got the tube, in my book mate, that’s London
drink my pints and sow my oats in London
sweat and earn and sleep and piss in London
Shakespeare wrote his sonnets here in London
half the world was governed here in London
Richardsons and Krays sliced throats in London
buzz of fourteen million in London
cloak of anonymity, that’s London
sweat of seven thousands boozers – London
heat of bodies packed in tight, that’s London
greatest city in the world is London.

So really mate, why choose to be from “Essex?”

OLDER MAN:

Well firstly friend, I see you like your hist’ry
but really Krays and Shakespeare, come on mate
that’s tourist stuff and as for boasts of empire
what’s next, a little ode to Wills & Kate?

See, pride in where you come from starts with hist’ry
so you should know, I hate to break your heart,
traditionally old Hornchurch is in Essex
and London was a fair slog from these parts.

You’re bowing down to roads and tubes and planning
you’re letting them dictate your past to you
but Essex is the county of rebellion
two fingers to smoke, that’s what we do.

John Ball, Wat Tyler, working men revolting
Essex, it’s the county of the free
that monkey they call Mayor in the blonde wig
you have him mate, he’s not to do with me

It’s not all green, green grass and Little England
it’s room to breath away from the machine.
It’s not all loads-a-money/TOWIE/Blingland
that’s London seeping up the a13.

So keep your smog and sad serrated sky
I’m Essex and I’m Essex till I die.

Images: Press shot of Luke Wright for Cynical Ballads, Postcards from Clacton copyright Leo Cinicolo