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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Little Ghost in Pictures | September

Long time, no see. LGHQ took a small break for summer. We took a trip to the West Coast of England for some surfing and went to Paris for some art and shopping. It’s been a good few weeks! We’re still mooching around London desperately trying to avoid the Olympic mayhem and taking refuge at the National to see London Road and the Tate for the Munch. We’ve been given a glimpse of an Indian summer today but Autumn is definitely descending. Check out Kim’s beautiful autumnal-like photos of a recent masked ball style party.We’ll be battling with the wind and rain in no time….

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!

Bold Tendencies | Sculpture (car)park

In the unlikely setting of a multistorey carpark on Rye Lane, Peckham, is the most amazing sculpture park you are ever likely to visit. I know, bold statement, right? But this is a bold statement for project that is successfully altering, if not changing, the way in which we view contemporary, public art. Bold Tendencies, now in its sixth and biggest year, is a non-profit, summer sculpture park that brings together emerging international artists and provides them with a platform that catapults into public consciousness.

The space is not glamorous, white walled and “fabulous dahhhling”. It’s shabby, worn down and the stairwell still retains that certain car park odour. However, it is also a location that can legitimately claim to have the best view of London. The panoramic horizon is one that has been carefully punctuated and fractured by the positioning of huge, beautiful installations such as Byobu from Laura Buckley and Fountain I by Peles Empire. From certain angles the plethora of new, contemporary work can seem to be standing alongside the Gherkin, the Shard and the Millennium Dome.

The location of the project is intrinsically connected with the artwork it includes. Speaking to the artist Mary Redmond, the industrial nature of the space is vital to the experience of her work. The piece, Seven Split Overglide, combines bamboo and plasticised organic shapes with scrap metal that appears to have been blown in from across the neighboring railroad. Redmond explains that the piece has been inspired by the Glaswegian tower blocks and Le Corbusier styled buildings she used to live near as a child. As we speak, a train rushes by and dust, grit and hot air is blown through the space forcing the scrap metal and fake flowers in her work to tremble. This wind tunnel effect, says Redmond, is akin to that created in the towerblock carparks she would walk through as a child.

Bold Tendencies opened earlier this month and welcomed over 1,000 guests to its launch party. To find anyone willing to drop the Del Boy/Rodney stereotype of Peckham can be difficult, so 1,000 people for a first night? It must be pretty damn good.

Check back for reviews of events held at Bold Tendencies this summer. For more information visit the website here

To be continued…

All images courtesy of Bold Tendencies: Byobu Laura Buckley, Fountain I Peles Empire, Seven Split Overglide Mary Redmond.

Little Ghost in Pictures | June

We know we’ve been unusually quiet this month, we’ve been busy bees (and the site had a few minor technical errors that put us out of action for a while) but we have lots coming up. We’ve been to the Bold Tendencies launch party in Peckham (which was, without a doubt, the busiest launch we have ever been to) and have been knee deep in mud at Latitude Festival. Reviews of both coming up shortly. There has also been a graduation, a trip to Stockholm and a new job so THAT is why we’ve been quiet. Lots coming up in July. Check back soon you lovely people. Thanks again. x

Food Revolution | Eat Street.

We’re talking about a revolution. And we’re talking about it with our mouths stuffed full of delicious, homegrown food.  It’s a food revolution, street food to be precise. It’s been bubbling and boiling under the surface since 2009 and this summer, what with the Olympics and all, is the proving to be the perfect time for it to really kick off. LG’s editor Sian Gray, took to the streets and undercovered the must see, must try, must tastes of the summer.

1) The Rib Man (above)

This man knows good ribs and he is willing to share (THANK GOD!). Head to Brick Lane‘s food market every Sunday to taste babyback ribs from pigs outdoor reared in the Norfolk and Suffolk countryside. Try them with The Rib Man’s homemade smokey BBQ and hot sauces (one sauce appropriately named Holy Fuck! by unsuspecting customers). He’s also the leader of the pack on twitter so follow him for more info!

2) Hardcore Prawn

Oh come on, with a name like that you can’t NOT love it. Set up by York born, Chinese Londoner Dan, this is food that has been put to the test. With chopsticks originating from sustainable bamboo plantations and with exotic and freshly sourced ingredients this is some of the best Asian fusion food you can get in the capital.

3) Every Day is Like A Sundae- Sunset Ices

Being served a REAL 99 ice cream by a lovely woman in a fifties dress is the epitome of the retro dream. Based in Morecambe, expect the traditional, old school ices here: Snowballs, Oysers and Angostura Ices. Inside the van are hanging paintings making this both my favourite ever foodie van and mini art gallery. 

All traders here are part of the Eat Street collective which holds residence at Kings Boulevard, N1C every Monday-Friday. All images courtesy of Eat Street. For more information check out the website here.