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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The Swinging Sixties celebrated at the V&A


What goes around, comes around and the latest exhibition at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum ‘You Say You Want A Revolution? Records and Rebels 1966 -1970 evokes an era where 50 years on the country is again going through major changes.

Opening tomorrow September 10, 2016 in partnership with the Levi’s brand, the exhibition examines the five years from 1966 to 1970 when youth culture drove an optimistic idealism, believing it could change the world. The journey takes in the years when an optimistic youth-driven culture argued for radical change across every area of society. Driven by visions of a better way to live rebels pioneered revolutions in identity, belief, politics, consumption, living and communication.

Imagine a Better world. What would you change and why? The issues that had roots in the 60s but still dominate contemporary discourse are explored. This includes environmentalism, globalisation, individualism and mass communication. The question asked is ‘Where do we go from here?’

The exhibition is viewed through music with LPs from the collection of the late John Peel, broadcaster, DJ, producer and journalist. Peel attracted a devoted audience and is one of the most influential music broadcasters of this and any period.

The visit passes through seven distinctive types of revolution: Revolution in identity, ideas, in the street, consuming, living, communicating, ongoing Revolution. What it means today? And what it might mean for tomorrow?


Innovative Sennheiser headphones which automatically come on, help create an immersive experience. A hairdressing salon from Vidal Sassoon, movie reels from Woodstock, an Ossie Clark costume made for Mick Jagger, photographs and music from the Beetles, and original artworks by Richard Hamilton as well as interviews with key figures of the period including Twiggy are among the hundreds of exhibits. The exhibition comes at a timely period in our lives today. So much was achieved at that time and we, the country, need this attitude and inspiration again today.

The exhibition runs until 26 February, 2017 with a series of special events including some for children. Revolutions Weekender from November 4 to 6th is a Festival of Peace, Love and Music with events and activities inspied by the Swinging Sixties.

Most events are free but worth checking on: T. 020 7942 2000

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David Hockney at the Royal Academy

David Hockney 3 (c) David Parry

David Hockney at the Royal Academy of Arts (c) David Parry/ Royal Academy of Arts

Whether you like him or not David Hockney is considered one of the most influential British artists of the twentieth century. An exhibition of 82 portraits and one still life (fruit) is currently on show in the Sackler Wing of the Royal Academy, running initially alongside the summer exhibition. The portraits are of his friends rather than people one might instantly recognise although some are well known figures in the world of art. I personally like seeing portraits of people I can relate to or at least recognise.

Hockney is prolific in his work, painting over 90 canvasses in the summer of 2013 with the majority of these on show. The exhibition runs until 2 October, 2016.

key 55 - Barry Humphries

David Hockney
Barry Humphries, 26th, 27th, 28th March 2015
Acrylic on canvas
121.9 x 91.4 cm
(c) David Hockney
Photo credit: Richard Schmidt


The Sackler Wing,

Royal Academy of Arts, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1J OBD.

T. 020 7300 8090

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Luxury Hotel in Umbria

Park Hotel Al Cappuccini

camera del chiostro superior (1)rItaly’s hotel star rating is very confusing. This, I was reliably informed, is largely due to the Italian tax system where-by the benefits of being five star carries with it a hefty tax. The Hotel Park Al Cappuccini must be the chicest hotel in Umbria and yet it only has a four star rating. It is undoubtedly classier than the five star hotels I visited. Also confusing is that despite its size and the fact that it has ninety-two bedrooms, it is a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World.

When I arrived there was a meeting of Lamborghini cars. Lined up in the car park of the hotel, each car was of a different colour so perhaps it was a corporate event. Whatever I was only able to see bedrooms in the new extension which, while very nice, didn’t look as stylish as the photographs of those in the main part of the hotel, a restored 17th century monastery.

At night with one of several Lamborghini

At night with one of several Lamborghini cars

The hotel minutes from the town of Gubbio, is situated within a park, and oozes chicness. Spacious lounges, large open fireplaces, and precious tapestries and paintings adorn the walls alongside contemporary works of art.

IMG_0580The health centre and spa is a big complex using the holistic principles of nature with a water park that includes countercurrent swimming, and hydro-massage areas as well a children’s pool. Guests also have the use of a high tech gym, tennis court, mini-soccer pitch and mountain bikes.

Park Hotel Al Cappuccini,

Gubbio, Umbria

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Bloomsbury Group Exhibition in Bath

Vanessa Bell by Duncan Grant

Vanessa Bell by Duncan Grant

The exhibition A Room of Their Own: Lost Bloomsbury Interiors, a collection of items from the Bloomsbury Group, is on at the Victoria Art Gallery in Bath until September 4.

The exhibition celebrates Roger Fry, Vanessa Bell (sister of Virginia Woolf) and Duncan Grants’ passionate approach to arts and crafts, as they regarded the various disciplines of equal status to painting. The artists not only produced paintings and fine art but also designed and decorated ceramics, furniture, fabric and rugs. Their artistic venture began in 1913 with the formation of the Omega Workshops, and between the First and Second World Wars people queued up to have their homes decorated in the Bloomsbury style. Sadly a lot of the work was destroyed by accident or through bombing during the Second World War. The only major decorative scheme to survive, and a ‘must-see’ for anyone interested in the Bloomsbury Group, is the home of Bell and Grant at Charleston in East Sussex (open April to November).

During the exhibition talks and lunchtime tours are being held on Thursdays to 11 August between 12.30 and 1pm which are free to ticket holders.

Painted Gramophone by Dora Carrington

Painted Gramophone by Dora Carrington

Painted Corner Cupboard by Duncan Grant

Painted Corner Cupboard by Duncan Grant

Victoria Art Gallery by Pulteney Bridge,
Bath BA2 4AT.
T 01225 477233

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