Revolution: Russian Art at the Royal Academy

Boris Mikailovich Kustodiev, Bolshevik, 1920

Oil on canvas, 101 x 140.5 cm

State Tretyakov Gallery

Photo (c) State Tretyakov Gallery

Running until April 17, 2017 an interesting and extensive exhibition at the Royal Academy Revolution: Russian Art 1917 – 1932 focuses on the period of Russian history which ended Tsarist rule. A time when both Lenin and Stalin were in power.

The exhibition features Avant-Garde artists including Chagall, Kandinsky and Malevich. The artistic landscape of post-Revolutionary Russia and the emergence of photography, sculpture, film, posters and porcelain are on display alongside paintings. The arts thrived until the end of 1932 when Stalin’s brutal suppression drew the curtain on creative freedom. Socialist Realism defined Communist art as the only style acceptable by the regime.

With over 200 works, the exhibition includes loans from the State Russian Museum in St Petersburg and the State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow as well as some from the most significant international private collections. Many of the works have never been seen in the UK before.

I was fortunate enough to visit on a day when one of the 45-minute incredibly informative introductory tours was being held. Worth trying to visit either on a Wednesday at 2.30pm or Friday at 7pm to 31 March when these free tours take place.

Open until 10pm Friday also includes late night weekends
Related events include an art history and theory course on 25/26 March 10am – 5pm
Admission £18.00 Children under 16 and Friends of the RA go free.

Marc Chagall, Promenade, 1917-18

Oil on canvas, 175.2 x 168.4 cm

State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg

Photo (c) 2016, State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg

(c) DACS 2016

Royal Academy of Arts
Burlington House
Piccadilly, London W1J OBD.
T. 020 7300 8090

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Stylish 3* Hotel in Champagne

Le Marius Hotel

img_2153I enjoy hotels that have character and the stylish family run hotel Le Marius at Ricey Bas in the Champagne region fits the bill. On the Burgundy border, in a small village the 16th century Le Marius is made up of four houses from the region. All the eleven bedrooms are different in size, and stylishly decorated. Mine had a large bed and timber rafters with a mezzanine floor with a further two twin beds. The en-suite bathroom was modern. They also have one bedroom available for people bringing dogs with a supplement of €15.

In its stone cellars, formally used to store wine, there is an atmospheric restaurant where dogs are welcomed to accompany their owners for a meal.

The vineyards surrounding the village have three appellations Champagne, Rose des Riceys and Coteaux Champenois. Champagne producers are everywhere. In this village alone there were 65!

Le Marius
2 Place de l’eglise, 10340 Ricey Bas, France
T. 00 33 (0) 325293165

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Hockney at Tate Britain


Mr and Mrs Clark (Celia Birtwell and Ossie Clark) and Percy 1970/1

A major exhibition of two hundred and thirteen works spanning nearly 60 years of David Hockney opens at the Tate Britain on Thursday, February 9. This is a unique opportunity to see early classic paintings alongside more current work in a variety of media. Paintings, drawings and photography include a collage of images taken on his i-pad and i-phone transporting the viewer through different seasons. Throughout his life Hockney has frequently changed his style and ways of working, embracing new technologies. Except for the first room, most of the works are in chronological order, tracing his development from his time as a student through his iconic works of the ‘60s and ‘70s to the present day.

The accompanying audio which Hockney contributes to, is very comprehensive and worth listening to, to maximize on understanding and enjoying his compositions.


Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) 1972

A selection of related events are taking place during the exhibition including Festival No. 6 on the evening of Friday, March 3 where there will be live music, poetry, comedy and pop-up theatre performers.

9 February – 29 May, 2017               Open daily 10.00 – 18.00

Tate Britain, Milbank, London SW1P 4RG.

Tel. 020 7887 8888

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Flemish Artist James Ensor at Royal Academy


For anyone who hasn’t had the chance to see the work of Flemish artist James Ensor’s , particularly known for his bizarre masks, his exhibition is on at the Royal Academy until 29 January, 2017.

Despite spending his professional life in the Belgium seaside town of Ostend, James Ensor exerted considerable influence on the development of Expressionism. According to the curator and artist Luc Tuymans, Ensor was a scenographer, depicting a strange world that was neither tangible nor imaginary, populated by inscrutable beings. When Ensor was asked “What do you paint”? His reply was “Nothing”.

Ensor’s childhood was spent among the treasures of his family’s curiosity shop which gives a clue as to how the seeds of his wild imagination were sown. Ensor enrolled at the Academie Royals des Beaux-Art de Belgique in Brussels and through the people he met he entered a circle of progressive, free-thinking liberals who influenced his evolution as an artist. Born of an English father and Flemish mother, in 1929 he received the title of Baron from King Albert 1.

Tickets £11.50 (£10 without a donation.) Under 16s go free.
Open Saturday – Thursday 10am – 6pm  Friday to 10pm
Royal Academy, Piccadilly, London W1J OBD.
T. 020 7300 8090

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Major Modernist Photography from Elton John’s Collection opens at Tate Modern


Glass Tears 1932 Man Ray

The Radical Eye: Modernist photography from Sir Elton John collection opens at the Tate Modern on November 10.

Sir Elton John owns one of the largest collections of modernist photographs in the world with over 8,000 prints from the early twentieth century to the present. The exhibition showcases 190 of them in the frames in which they are displayed at his home.

The Radical Eye has a duel meaning being not just the eye of the artist, but also the idea of the camera lens being a different way of seeing the world. The majority of photographs are black and white.

Artists in the modernist period exploded what the camera could do that the human eye alone couldn’t. This re-evaluation coincided with a period of upheaval from the 1920 to ‘50s. The exhibition charts a changing emphasis from the subject of an image to the visual qualities of the photograph itself.

For the first time, rather than emulating other art forms, photography began to embrace qualities unique to itself. This stretched from its ability to reproduce the world in sharp detail to its capacity to create through the manipulation of light, chemicals and paper.

Sir Elton John speaks about his collection in the audio that accompanies the exhibition. There is also a video taken in his home where he talks about how he discovered photography, his commitment to it, and the pleasure he derives from it.


Black Boys Helen Levitt c1940

The exhibition runs until 7 May, 2017.

Open from 10.00 -18.00 and until 22.00 Friday and Saturday. T. 020 7887 8888

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Cruising on the Douro in Porto


Major cities tend to be based near rivers and Porto in Northern Portugal has the River Douro. I was on a trip there with several colleagues and one way of seeing a city is from the river. We chartered a cruiser from FeelDouro, a Yacht Charter and Cruising company based at Douro Marina. The company specialises in private cruises on the Douro River which flows the 210 km to the Atlantic Ocean. The company also has a second base in Pinhão. Ideal for boat tours to the heart of the Douro Valley Wine Region where the grapes for port are grown.

Set itineraries can be two or three hours as well as a full day. An option is to have dinner on-board or organize a tailor-made trip for anything up to seven days. Their fleet can take 12 with a catamaran that accommodates up to 16. The cruiser I went on was quite small with one double cabin and a small kitchen. Their boats are skippered although if someone is qualified they are able to charter one of the yachts.

Although quite compact, our cruiser was very comfortable with areas where we could relax both inside and out. Seeing buildings from the river gave me a different perspective of the city, and with a glass of the local Muscat and homemade cake served on board, a fun way to see the city.

Read the full story about my trip on the website at



Port cellar on the banks of the Douro



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Dog-friendly Pub the Owl in Lovely Setting


Discovered a lovely pet friendly pub in Loughton. The Owl looks out on a paddock with horses. There are table and chairs outside and an area with swings and an assortment of things for children to play on.

Inside there is an open fire and best of all, when I asked for the menu I was also asked if Poppy, my dog, would like to see one too. Poppy declined as she had already had breakfast but could have gone for a small bowl of Dr John Silver, apparently a complete food with crunchy bite size pieces basted with chicken juices £2.00.

From the Owl menu, I chose their chicken curry described as spicy, although actually quite mild Sri Lankan curry served with rice, poppadums, and mango chutney £11.95.



As well as their main menu they also have a selection of home-made pizzas with a different menu on Sundays which includes a selection of roasts. On Sundays, there is also a doggy roast, a mixture of meats, vegetables, potato and gravy.

A big plus is the friendly staff, and somewhere I would certainly visit again. A car is needed to get there and there is no problem finding somewhere to park.



The Owl Pub, Lippitts Hill, High Beech, Essex 1G10 4AL.T.  0208 502 0663 

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