Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs opening at the Tate Modern

Tate Modern’s major exhibition Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs opens on 17 April. It is the most comprehensive exhibition ever devoted to the artist’s paper cut-outs made between 1937 and 1954 bringing together around 130 works of his final works. The show includes the largest number of Matisse’s Blue Nudes ever exhibited together.

Matisse first used cut paper shapes to work out the arrangement of objects in his painting. While working on a painting, he often made sketches exploring alternative points of view or versions of the composition. When ill health prevented him from painting, he began to cut into painted paper with scissors to make maquettes for commissions, which included books, and designs for stained glass windows, tapestries and ceramics.

The exhibition begins with a film by Adrien Maeght showing the artist wielding his scissors. Background on his work tells us that Matisse was fascinated by dance and during the early ’50s, he made many large -scale works some of which are on display. London-based textile printer Zika Ascher visited Matisse while he was working on the Tahiti-inspired cut-outs, and the two agreed on a project to create printed linen wall hangings based on these compositions.
In room six another film gives a glimpse of his handling of paper, and shows how he holds the sheet in the air with one hand while cutting with the other. This was a way of working in three dimensions. As his work progressed, he was also using cut paper in different ways. For all his boldness and confidence, the process was always one of trial and revision.
Matisse recognised a strong connection with his cut-out method, and stained glass. In the last room is one of his windows based on a Christmas theme conveying the spirit of religion without addressing the religious subject.

Related events including family activities are being held throughout the period of the exhibition. This includes a live screening Matisse Live on 3 June in HD to around 200 cinemas, illuminating the artist’s work. The screening will continue around the country on subsequent days.
Henri Matisse: The Cut -Outs runs until 7 September 2014.

Tate Modern Open daily 10.00 – 18.00; until 22.00 on Friday and Saturday, and 19.30 on Sunday.
www.visit tate.org.uk Tel. 0044 (0) 20 7887 8888.

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Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park now open

photoThe Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park opened to the general public on Saturday. I was lucky enough to be invited in advance to see it. I wasn’t one of the lucky ones to have get tickets to the Olympics in 2012 so this is my first visit.
It is incredibly easy to get to on public transport. The tube station at Stratford comes out in the Westfield Shopping Centre, and the atmosphere and the shops around there could have kept me occupied for the whole day! Walking through it, past restaurants with seating in the open, gives it a very continental feel. It took me straight to the park.
The main Olympic stadium is currently being reconstructed for the Rugby World Cup. However the aquatic centre, devoid of its wings, is open, and can be used by everyone. You can see Tom Daley, the 2012 Olympic bronze medalist practising there if you’re lucky. It is very impressive and I was sorry not to have my swimsuit with me. It only costs £3.50 to have a swim.
The parkland area surrounding the stadiums has been planted with trees and there are play areas for children. The plan is to make this an area for cultural events too.
Open to visitors too within the park is the ArcelorMittalOrbit which towers over East London,114.5 metres high, designed by Sir Anish Kapoor and Cecil Balmond. Sure to become an iconic emblem of the area, there are two viewing platforms with views up to 20 miles in all directions. I picked out the Shard, the London Eye, and Alexandra Palace.
The park itself is free to roam in but to go up the Orbit will set you back £15; £12 for concessions, and £7 for children.photo

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Simon Callow in Being Shakespeare

Simon Callow in Being ShakespeareThe intimate atmosphere of the Harold Pinter theatres is a good choice for the one-man show, Being Shakespeare.
Simon Callow is brilliant as the raconteur of Shakespeare’s life. The history behind Shakespeare’s life is cleverly written by Jonathan Bate, using the seven ages of man, as outlined in ‘All the World’s A Stage’ from Shakespeare’s play As You Like It.
The story unfolds, with Callow using different accents to portray people, and interspersed with lines from Shakespeare’s numerous plays. Often, his discourse includes an explanation as to why Shakespeare had written them.
We learn that Shakespeare was an apprentice to his father in the glove making trade; that his father was a man of importance in Stratford-upon-Avon; and that he, Shakespeare married an older woman with property, and with whom he had children. He disappeared for several years, turning up in London working for the first established theatre in Shoreditch. This theatre was later rebuilt in Southwark, and opened by King Henry V, becoming known as the Globe. Initially, he used his experience to write lines for the actors, eventually gaining recognition writing his own plays. Not to be missed.
The season runs until March 15.
Beingshakespeare.com T. 0844 871 7622
Harold Pinter Theatre, Panton Street, London SW1Y 4DN.

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A Taste of Honey at the National Theatre

Revival of the classic A Taste of Honey in the Lyttleton at the National Theatre on London’s Southbank.

Jpeg 3 - Taste of Honey Prod-375As always the acting at the National Theatre is superb. However the theme of the play, a revival of A Taste of Honey is sadly dated in every way.
Set in Salford in the late fifties, Lesley Sharp and Kate O’Flynn star as mother and daughter in Shelagh Delaney’s play. When originally written, everything about A Taste of Honey would have shocked. Indeed, a film version quickly followed under the direction of Tony Richardson in which Rita Tushingham made her name in the part of the daughter, Josephine.
In today’s society having a baby out-of-wedlock or having a relationship with a person of a different ethnicity is now part of everyday life. Even the gay boyfriend Geoffrey, shock horrors, is now acceptable. It is surprising that Jo accepts being bossed about by her blond, good time mother, Helen who sends Geoffrey packing. Geoffrey has taken on the role of surrogate father, and it is seems unlikely that he would have slunk away so easily.
What a shame that with so many young writers struggling to gain recognition that the National chooses to stage a play that is so out of zinc with modern times. Is A Taste of Honey now a ‘period’ piece, and therefore acceptable as of a bygone era?

Jpeg 10 - Taste of Honey Prod-134
In rep until May 11.
www.nationaltheatre.org.uk T. 020 7452 3000

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Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore!

Isabella-blow-1997-c-mario-testinoSomerset House, home to London Fashion Week, is the ideal venue to showcase the fashion icon, Isabella Blow, A must-see exhibition for anyone interested in fashion.
Born Isabella Delves Broughton, she was a member of Britain’s elite society. Brought up on the family estate Doddington Hall in Cheshire, her family’s circumstances meant that she was obliged to earn a living. She chose fashion as a career. Her gift, as described in the exhibition was ‘to take the ruins of her class, and the rubble of history to convey British fashion and style in the twentieth century’.
Isabella Blow, Vanity Fair, May 1, 2003During her career, Blow worked as a fashion editor and stylist mainly for Tatler, The Sunday Times Style Magazine, and British Vogue. She attracted young creative people, became their patron, and wore the things they made.
Blow responded to clothes that were unconventional. She was instrumental in inspiring young, up and coming people. She is credited in assisting Philip Treacy and Alexander McQueen to achieve international status. She commissioned Treacy, who is credited with reviving interest in hat design for contemporary fashion, to make a headdress for her wedding to Detmar Blow. When he was still at Central Saint Martins, she bought Alexander McQueen’s entire collection.
For the 1996 London Fashion Week, she had a hand in staging two of the key shows – for Alexander McQueen and Philip Treacy.
The exhibition covers her beginnings through to the people she influenced, the clothes she wore, and includes dresses and hats by McQueen and Treacy. It finishes with a film of the catwalk show made in October 2007 as a tribute to her untimely death.Isabella Blow, 2002 (c) Diego Uchitel
Somerset House, Strand. Daily 10 – 6pm Thurs. to 9pm
Finishes March 2, 2014
£12.50 www.somersethouse.org.uk

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David Bailey at the National Portrait Gallery

Bailey’s Stardust
Over 300 photographs, both colour and black and white are on display in the largest exhibition of work done by David Bailey.
Entitled Bailey’s Stardust, the exhibition opens tomorrow February 6, and runs until June 1, 2014 at the National Portrait Gallery. The exhibition curated personally by Bailey, spans over fifty years up until the present day.
Best known for his black and white portraits, several are also in colour. As well as portraits, there are also statues, and copies of publications that his work has appeared in.
Despite not regarding himself as a fashion photographer, it was Bailey’s work for Vogue in the early ‘60s that made his name. The photographs cover different subjects and aspects of his life. Although he is primarily associated with celebrities and models, the exhibition showcases the wide breadth of his work.
A large majority of the photographs are of people that are so famous that they are instantly recognisable. Kate Moss, Jean Shrimpton, Vivienne Westwood, Zandra Rhodes, Catherine Deneuve, David Bowie, Michael Caine – the list is endless. One room is devoted to the Rolling Stones.
Catherine Deneuve with David Bowie
However, we should not forget that he grew up in the East End of London. In the mid-sixties he got to know the Kray twins. Photographs of them are included as well as those from a collaboration with Reggie Kray’s former wife on a book of the ‘toughest, hardest men in Britain.’
His work also extended abroad. On display are Band Aid photographs to raise public awareness of the famine in the Sudan; powerful photographs of Aboriginal people in Australia, and portraits of the tribes’ people of Papua New Guinea.
Events, some of them free, are running throughout the period of the exhibition.
Entry £16.00 Senior citizens £14.50 Concessions £13.50
The National Portrait Gallery is at the side of the National Gallery, around the corner to London’s Trafalgar Square.

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Poppy, My puppy goes to School

Poppy goes to Puppy Training

DSCF1964Poppy is now three and a half months old and growing. She is still a relatively small dog but she is a puppy. Puppies like to play and anything within range is a suitable toy. Like children you don’t have to buy them expensive toys. Plastic bottles, empty cartons, paper, and particularly tissues are a source of pleasure.
If I put my handbag on the floor by mistake her nose is immediately in it. Tissues are the objects of choice, to be taken away, pulled apart and the eaten or left shredded. That doesn’t mean that she doesn’t have toys. Yes she does. Balls and squeaky toys are plentiful but not as exciting as my recycling bag. This always has lots of objects in it to be taken out and played with no matter what they are. Being a puppy, she is also teething, and aren’t those teeth sharp even if she is nipping in play.
DSCF1957I thought I could train Poppy myself but she is fulltime work, similar to having a young child. I soon realised that I had no choice. The London Veterinary Clinic recommended Nina Bondarenko as a suitable puppy trainer. Fortunately the lessons are held nearby and yesterday was lesson one. As well as Nina there was also a young lady having work experience, and another doing a thesis on puppies so with only three dogs we were taught on a virtually one-to-one basis. I must say it is not just Poppy who is being trained. I had to learn the techniques, and am now practising them at home. I wish I had gone earlier.
Interestingly, when we got home Poppy was so tired that she spent the afternoon resting so I had some respite. We will have to see how much of it works.
By week two, I had learned some of the techniques. Poppy can sit on a slippery bench and jump on and off. Sadly, we don’t have anything like that at home to practise. The main problem is the repetition as although she caught on easily, we had to keep practising especially when she was in a strange environment. The good thing is that there are other puppies there too for her to play with and despite them being bigger she can hold her own. Keeping my fingers crossed that she remembers her lessons, and I do too! DSCF1960

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