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141115 – Distance – The National Portrait Gallery, London

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The high windows of the café at the National Gallery make the space conducive to reading. I have chosen Satre’s Intimacy an essay I have not read for decades and short enough to be read in an hour. The space is empty as we always arrive for breakfast as soon as the doors open. Intimacy upon its second read seams disjointed, unfocused. It seams to be trying too hard as it jumps from city space to the space captured by a caress. It crudely generalizes on gender and nationality describing each through the micro details of body odour or the roll of skin. The story has no rhythm or poetic but it is haunting as they are the spaces that we all know but never talk about.

We are off to The National Portrait Gallery to see the Giacometti exhibition and a small gem it is to. We are all aware of Giacometti’s ideas or presence and distance and the techniques used, the undefined edge, the elongated body and shrunken head. We are aware that the subject and background are given equal weight and that a moment and a distance are captured unique to that space and time and then vanish forever. What struck me most about Giacometti’s work was the similarity of working method across both 2D and 3D mediums. The constant building up of background, of mass and volume followed by the sharp cutting back, the incision that delineates an overlay that is the micro second before completion, the line on paint or the cut made by the knife on clay. Giacometti’s frenetic back and forth was not too dissimilar to Sartre’s spatial descriptions, so Intimacy was an appropriate prelude indeed.         

06-091115 – Relax – Durgan, Cornwall

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A well deserved weekend off with no mobile or WiFi just a good book, a beautiful view and a log fire. Thanks to the National Trust we have a cottage on the beach with a view of the sea. Back to work on Tuesday.

011115 – Percussion – Hyde Park, London

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It’s pitch dark and we are up at 4.30am to get to Hyde Park for 6.15am to witness the start of the London to Brighton run with cars from 1888 through to 1905 running. It’s a fantastic misty morning with an autumn leave backdrop and the Serpentine lays mirror still. The air is full of smoke and oil accompanied by the clatter of vibrating mechanicals. Huge four litre single cylinder engines popping up and down shaking everything attached to them into a forced motion choreography, occupants included. Depending on the displacement, upon the number of cylinders (usually one or two) and the rotation of the cylinder block this describes the dance. With the cylinders placed vertically the car vibrates up and down, the whole vehicle bouncing on its leaf springs. Headlights nod, hats flap, bodies jog. The cylinder block placed horizontally shakes the car from side to side, everything wags, left right, left right, occupants move in a rhythmic counter sway all to the percussion of a-chuga-chug, a-chuga-chug. There are over 400 hundred cars all swinging and jittering whilst playing percussion in one huge mist enclosed orchestra. Today we were slow and missed our chance we were overwhelmed by the shear excess of the day but now we have a clear agenda for the next meeting. After the cars have all left on their run to Brighton we move on to Berners Tavern (with the amazing ceiling) for breakfast.

311015 – Frank Auerbach – Tate Britain, London

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Imagine a 1970’s habitat jumbo cord sofa in beige covered in matted Afghan dog hair and Persian cat fur balls. Smeared onto this are the remnants of an exploded lava lamp and stains left by spilled coffee, angel delight, cherry coke and a TV dinner. This is then dusted with years of joss stick and cigarette ash that has been repeatedly scraped clean until patches are threadbare. This is an Auerbach.It makes no difference whether this is the 1950’s or 1990’s this is always an Auerbach.

The three dimensional texture of thickly applied oils on canvas has huge appeal I am wondering if I can find a computer programme that can weave or knit textiles into a 3d matrix.

231015 – Goya – National Portrait Gallery, London

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I came to the National Portrait Gallery to look at Spanish lace, border embroidery and how to tie an eighteenth century Spanish shirt. The exhibition is not large and the work ranges from masterful to mediocre. The crowds were impossible and even my membership pass helped little. Viewing paintings whilst in a queue or when standing three people back is pointless so I will return to this exhibition later in the year when things quiet down. And yes that's me on the end, sorry couldn't help it. 

191015 – Gypsy – Savoy Theatre, London

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I am generally not one to go and see musical theatre but the reviews for Gypsy and in particular Imelda Staunton playing Rose had me climbing the stairs to the Grand Circle of the Art Deco Savoy Theatre. From her first entrance Imelda takes over the stage, her portrayal the overbearing and pushy mother fighting to get her daughters to be stage stars to make up for the missed opportunity she would have relished in her youth. The whole cast from the group of young children and the nauseating Baby June, through to Lara Pulver as Louise and Peter Davidson as the downtrodden agent Herve. In the final curtain call the sheer exhaustion of the performance was clearly shown on Imelda’s face, as she really did become Rose from start to finish.

181015 – Mademoiselle Privé – London, Saatchi Gallery

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To Colbert on Sloane Square for morning breakfast of ouefs briolle avec boudin noir before heading to the Saatchi Gallery for the Mademoiselle Prive Exhibition.

On the wall of the café are black and white photographs taken within a decade of World War II. We fly into a discussion about Dior and the pencil skirt and how the design came about through rationing of materials and how the fifties rebelled against this. Second we note that Paris that had not been bombed unlike Berlin or London, but instead occupied leaving many of its historical streets in tacked a fact noted in The Seven Ages of Paris by Alistair Horne.

Mademoiselle Privé greets the visitor with a wild flower garden has been installed outside the Gallery through which you meander whilst hearing the sounds of birdsong to the entrance, a delightful start. Sadly this is another exhibition by a Luxury brand that has little content and a huge amount of money invested. Details and textural fabrics of the couture pieces were lost in the darkness and there was a lack of descriptive information telling a story. I was hoping that there would be some insight to the Heritage of Chanel in terms of the fabrics they use, the detailing and how this has evolved throughout it’s history along with a more tactile section to get a better understanding about this. Chanel has consistently produced such incredible collections and at this exhibition we have so little access to them, so it was disappointing.

Despite my thoughts this does not appear to have deterred the public from attending as represented by the queues to get in. 

171015 – The Fabric Of India – V&A, London

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This morning I am sitting in my bathroom staring at a towel. It has a double sided combed cotton pile. It has a hemmed border and both ends have a flattened detail over several bars that make a diagonal wave across the warp of the towel. The towel is a faded lilac I have had it for many years. I have washed it, dried it, folded it, I have washed with it possibly thousands of times. The towel is made of Egyptian cotton. I know this as it is written on the label. The towel is just an ordinary john Lewis towel and I find myself staring at it blankly as I do not know exactly how it was made. I am reminded that so many of the everyday objects that I use I have no ideal how they work, what they are made of or how they were manufactured. What has bought me to this towel staring was the exhibition at the V&A The Fabric Of India.

The exhibition splits into two distinct halves. The first talks about techniques and processes the second about conclusions and uses. The two halves of the exhibition space are joined by a delightful transition space made with walls of vertical elastic cord that have a wonderful optical affect when moving. When just through the transition space and I am confronted with a 200mm border of an asymmetrical composition of people, animals and plants and I read that it has been woven. At this point I realize that I cannot understand how this is possible. The complexities involved are beyond comprehension when knowing that it is made by hand working on a primitive loom. I can understand warp and weft, I understand how to make basic patterns, I do not understand how a pattern can be given a bias one side to the other or how to make complex asymmetrical compositions. A fascinating exhibition and one that will be scheduled a re-visit. It was a shame that a working hand-loom was not in operation as the primitive sounds would have added greatly to the ambience. 

111015 – LV – London

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The difficulties faced by companies as they try to incorporate digital media with tradition could not be better exemplified than in the Series 3 Louis Vuitton exhibition. The exhibition that can at best be described as confused or lost creates a saturated abyss of digital imagery often used without purpose. I concentrated on the logo and font images below.

031015 – Paris – Toc Toc

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Toc Toc

270915 – Apple – Selfridges, London

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The Apple window for the Selfridges store in London is an impressive art installation. I have been unable to find out who carried out this work or how it was done but there is very little repetition. I would guess that this is one of the largest installations of 3D printed work I have seen to date. Inspired by the screen savers on the Apple watch the installation has been on view since August and I often visit when in the area. Here are some detail photos.

270915 – Glass & Ceramics Re-Visited – V&A London

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Today we were at the V&A looking at the often-visited galleries of ceramics and glass. The objective was to look at possible new forms for fashion using items and qualities in the displays as inspiration. Some sketches below.

​250915 – Magnolia Pink - 100% design, London

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Vivienne Westwood Magnolia Pink Presentation

What Does The Colour of Your Brand Say 

Today I am giving a presentation at ‘100% Design’ Olympia. I have not given a formal presentation since teaching at Universities in the early 90’s so I felt the emotive mixture of excitement, nerves and the honor to have been asked to talk. The theme given for the presentation was 'What Does The Colour of Your Brand Say'. I chose the topic of the Magnolia Pink of Vivienne Westwood. During the mid nineties Vivienne was designing collections Vive La Cocotte, Vive La Bagatelle, Erotic Zones that recall the sense of faded grandeur from the Belle Epoch. The colour Magnolia Pink is both sensual, sexual and historically referential. The presentation elaborated on this theme. I was joined in conversation with Karen Haller, a colour psychologist and Fiona Humberstone, a Brand Colour Consultant and the presentation was chaired by Emily Hare from Contagious Magazine.

220915 – Prada Fondazione – Milan

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A final check in the store, then I head off to Fondazione Prada in the south of Milan, designed by Rem Koolhaas. Coffee in Bar Luce by Wes Anderson and I feel as though I have been transported onto the set of the Royal Tenebaums.

230915 – James Goldstein – Milan

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I met James Goldstein at a work event last night and have been invited to James Goldstein’s home when next in LA. The Sheats house by John Lautner of 1963 has been an inspiration since I first saw it when I was a student.

220915 – Volkswagen – News

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Today I’m in shock at the news that Volkswagen knowing doctored emissions tests. This has to be one of the most stupid decisions I have ever seen by a corporation of this scale, a corporation I had huge respect for. To repeat the familiar quote, it takes a generation to build a brand and one mistake to ruin it. How much of a company is a brand worth, in my profession - all of it. It will take Volkswagen many years to repair this damage and the losses will be huge.

200915 – Gilbert and George - Bethnal Green Road

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Special treat today, 8am driving along the Bethnal Green Road heading east and we see Gilbert and George walking in the same direction. I haven’t seen Gilbert and George since I last worked with them on the Serpentine exhibition in June 2002. I was lucky enough to visit their house, a house without a kitchen. We stopped the car and jumped out to say hello only to catch them as they popped into the Astro Star Café for breakfast. Here’s a wonderful photo. I would have liked to discuss yesterdays Pop exhibition at the Tate but a potential new Westwood campaign was shouting for attention. I’ll have to ask Vivienne. Thanks for the photo Gilbert and George.

190915 – The World Goes Pop - Tate Modern

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There were three highlights to this show. A painting that can be displayed either way up, a re-composition painting and Nicola L’s Red Coat. Group clothing here used to represent the political collective reminded me of Fritz Koenig’s Herd bronze sculptures of earlier years.

I have always found Pop Art difficult as I find it shallow and immature, an endless string of one liners. We discussed this (husband and I) at the show and concluded that pop Art was teenage youth trying to escape Edwardian values. All that separated the youth of the sixties and the Edwardians were the Great recession and two World Wars. Not a strong foundation to argue for evolutionary art.

Image left to right. 1-2 Nicola L's Red Coat, 3 Fritz Koenig, Herd.

050915 – Porsche – Andy Prill, Halsted

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Andy Prill open day at Halsted. Today we are looking at classic Porsches and Porsche engine restorations. This is really a catch up day as Andy has recently moved to new premises.

290815 - Soundscapes - The National Gallery

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A dark crawling shape appears over the rocks and comes to stand centre stage, Dionysus, an androgynous Ben Whishaw and with a wicked grin instantly makes you feel slightly unnerved about what is coming next in this production of Bakkhai at The Almeida Theatre. Opposing Dionysus is Pentheus, Bertie Carvel, just and righteous, before his mindless murder by his mother Agave. The haunting female Bakkhai tell the story through song, shouts and high shrieks bringing a strong climax to this Greek tragedy.