Shadow and light go hand in hand. You cannot have one without the other and those three little words sum up life. A new exhibition opened this week in Winchester, Constable: The Dark Side, exploring the moody side of the English Romantic landscape painter displaying over 30 works on loan from a number of institutions including the Victoria and Albert Museum and Royal Academy. John Constable is well-known for his buccolic paintings and, as with the Romantic poets, his work is generally a little too sweet for my taste, So I jumped at the opportunity to see another side of Constable and talk to art historian and curator, Nicola Moorby, about this more surprising aspect of his nature and how it manifests in his work.
Continue reading “Constable: The Dark Side at The Arc, Winchester”
A new exhibition opened this week at the British Museum that aims to explore how a sense of personal luxurious living permeated from Persian culture into other parts of the world in the period 550-30BC, and was adopted by subsequent rulers as a form of civic ‘soft power’. Opening in the coronaton week for King Charles III, accompained by all the flamboyancy of royal pageantry for which Britain is well-known, this concept is a familiar one.
Continue reading “Review: Luxury and power: Persia to Greece at the British Museum”
Is sin even a thing in today’s mad, mad world? Where the word ‘sorry’ is flung about with thoughtless abandon and the sense that it grants instant absolution, does a speck of pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath, or sloth still keep us awake at night?
A new exhibition opened this week exploring depictions of ‘sinful’ behaviour through religious and secular art. The small but beautifully curated show features eight historic works from the National Gallery, and two contemporary works on loan from artists Tracey Emin and Ron Mueck. The exhibition offers the chance to get up and close and personal with iconic works in an intimate setting.
Continue reading “Review: Sin at The Arc, Winchester”
Inspired by a recent visit to St Paul’s Cathedral, this week I made it to the mighty Westminster Abbey. It was a day well spent, despite train delays and chilly weather. It is actually a good time to visit London’s iconic buildings, that is before the spring tourism season begins. The Gothic cathedral is quite modest architecturally from the outside and on first stepping inside the great doors the interior is rather, well, grey. However, there is treasure to be had and some surprises. Many heroes and heroines from centuries past feature under this one special roof. There are far too many to include in one post, nonetheless here are a few of the impressions that linger from my visit. Read on for the wonders of Westminster.
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In 2020, Sir Paul McCartney unearthed a treasure trove in his own archive. Almost a thousand personal photographs taken on his 35mm camera between 1963-64, when Beatlemania went global, goes on show at the National Portrait Gallery this summer.
Following the British band’s very first visit to the USA the four lads from Liverppol were metamorphosed into the most recognisable people on Earth. And this phenomenon took place in a pre-digital world. The previously unseen photography was taken in six cities, Liverpool, London, Paris, New York, Washington D.C and Miami, and reveals the reality behind the making of four music legends. What was it really like to be a Beatle, or indeed a global celebrity in the Swinging Sixties?
This week the Gallery announced a new programme for 2023. Read on for the treats in store when the gallery once again throws open its doors on 22 June 2023, following the largest redevelopment in its history.
Continue reading “Reopening this summer: National Portrait Gallery”
Starting off the year as I mean to go on, I visited the first major exhibition of 2023 which opened in London this weekend. Over 150 items arranged chronologically, from antiquity to early 20th Century, provide a visual narrative of the history of Spanish culture. On display at Spain and the Hispanic World: Treasures from the Hispanic Society Museum & Library at the Royal Academy, are pieces from the New York museum presented for the first time in the UK.
Favourite pieces included a Map of the Ucayali River, which brought to mind the Bayeaux Tapestry, with its delightful borders featuring fishermen, flora and fauna; the rather gruesome The Four Fates of Man; and the life-sized Duchess of Alba, in all her magnificent glory.
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Have you bought your new diary, or do you rely solely on a digital calendar? I’m a traditionalist and carefully select a beautiful hardback desk diary which becomes my bible for the year, with appointments, anniversaries, travel and events. Everything, large or small, noted to not only keep on track but, just as importantly, in anticipation of interesting and fun things to come. Having good things to look forward is important especially in today’s ever-changing world.
Already in the diary for the first part of the New Year are some exhibitions that have caught my eye. There will be many more to come I’m sure, but here’s five to get the year off to a creative start.
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Traditions, handed down through the generations, make the Festive Season special. Adapted over the years, and from family to family, their origins are sometimes forgotten but they remain constant. Even The Grinch traditionally marked Christmas home alone in his cave, as a protest against the commercialisation of the annual winter festival.
Celebrations are important and Thanksgiving or Harvest Festival, Easter and other national holidays represent the core aspects of any culture. Each has its own distinctive motifs and while gathering together with people (whether family and friends, or complete strangers in the pub) is central to Christmas, what holds it all together are the familiar rituals that light up the depths of winter darkness.
The good thing about festive traditions too is that you can choose what you like, and leave the rest. Here are 8 of my favourites to pick and choose from.
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Today is the first Sunday of Advent and this week I share my visit to see the royal decorations at the iconic Windsor Castle. The day trip was part festive, part reminisce (verb: to indulge in enjoyable recollection of past events) and part pilgrimage. Which seems entirely fitting as the year draws to an end.
Let’s get Christmas 2022 started!
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For some unfathomable reason I have never been inside Christopher Wren’s masterpiece. Recently, I made amends and spent the day in what is, surely, one of the most breathtaking buildings in the world. The approach to St Paul’s Cathedral across Blackfriars Bridge affords a great view of the iconic dome and towers, but it is nothing compared to stepping inside. It was love at first sight.
You are literally stopped in your tracks by the sheer size of the interior for one thing, but also by the Baroque oppulence of rich colours spread before you. Many of the panels on the soaring ceiling are set with glass chips that sparkle like jewels as they catch the light.
Where to start which such a lavish offering? Common sense prevailed and we booked a 90-minute tour with one of the expert volunteer guides.
Continue reading “Visiting St Paul’s Cathedral: The Highlights”
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