Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts


We came, we saw, we Glastonburyed.

The iconic festival drew us to its bosom and spat us out five days later after an orgy of music, world food, mud, tenting, smelly, dirty toilets, and the visitation of the biggest ego in rapping – Kanye West, who, despite flashes of genius, failed to deliver the musical boner that he promised.

Oh well, what Kanye couldnt grasp, a red-headed goddess known as Florence eagerly grabbed. For it was this 29 year old mystical indie rocker who, on Friday night, seized the chance to replace the planned headliners Foo Fighters and make a million hearts flutter with her incantations of the likes of ‘Dog Days are Over’ and ‘You’ve got the love’. She ran, she jumped, she embraced the crowd. She was undoubtedly the queen of Glasto 2015.

The Who, who headlined the final day, were the polar opposites. Despite being ageing grandads, they are still channeling the rage of youth by virtue of some of the best songs in the rock and roll canon. Opening with ‘Who Are You?’ And then running through all the greats including ‘I can see for Miles’, ‘My Generation’ and ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’. And yes, despite being 70, Daltrey nailed the scream at the end of the latter. In case you don’t know it is probably the most famous scream in Rock’n'Roll, and enough to send most of the 100,000 crowd at the Pyramid Stage into a frenzy of sorts.

Glastonbury has its critics – particularly as the lineup this year was a bit lacking – but it is the Oasis of festivals. It doesn’t give a toss what you think because it is the most amazing and best loved festival in the UK by a country mile, some would say in e world.

On my first day I spent a glorious couple of hours in the ‘Green Fields’ which is the location for craft and healing stuff, but my eyes and ears were averted by a crowd of 30 or so souls surrounding a piano, placed in a clearing for anyone to use. Various festivalgoers were taking turns on the piano while the crowd sung along. It was a special moment delivering smiles and laughs aplenty. It felt that this was what Glastonbury was all about whatever the big acts delivered – just people making and enjoying music together in the sunshine.

I knew in a moment why people come year after year.

Korean Cultural Centre: Artist Talk Party and Fashion Show

I am constantly surprised by the fact that many Koreans I meet in London don’t know about the excellent and spacious Korean Cultural Centre, KCC, nestled in the middle of Northumberland Avenue, just a stone’s throw from Trafalgar Square.

The KCC does what you would expect for a Korean-government funded operation – host all manner of events that promote Korean culture. The good news is that much of what they promote is by living artists who you can meet and exchange ideas with. read more

Review: United Visual Artists, Momentum, Barbican Curve


Momentum is a new ‘immersive’ installation at the Barbican, London. It is to be found in what is known as The Curve, a 200 yard curving corridor-cum-artist’s-space within the massive, City of London funded, Barbican Centre.

It is the work of United Visual Artists, the London-based masters of the wonderful Light Emitting Diode (LED), the simple technology that is fast transforming the world of electronic art. read more

Review: Marvin Gaye Chetwynd & Tala Madini, Nottingham Contemporary

Just a hop and a skip from Nottingham town centre is the city’s vibrant Contemporary art gallery, with its welcoming foyer, cafe and large gallery spaces.

This is the Brainbug. Is it me or does it look like something else?

Two shows are currently running: The performance artist Marvin Gaye Chetwynd (formerly Spartacus Chetwynd), and Los Angeles-based Iranian Tala Madini. Chetwynd is best-known for being a finalist in the 2012 Turner Prize, and Madini for her somewhat disturbing depictions of male authority and machismo.

Lets’s look at the wonderful world of Chetwynd first.

A word of warning. This work is not for the art purists. It is deliberately scatalogical and anarchic. read more

Review: Martin Creed, Hayward Gallery

The man who put  the on/off switch into art

Some Mothers do ‘ave ‘em. Move over Bruce Nauman, when it comes to big neon statements, Martin Creed is the man.

A show titled ‘What’s the point of it?’ puts the boot into the critics before they’ve even started. Never a bad idea, and perhaps a sign that arch ‘minimalist’ Creed is keen to ask visitors to decide for themselves what it’s all about before looking for explanations from critics and catalogues.

Creed is one of those artists that divides opinion fairly consistently. The cheeky Englishman-cum-Scotsman, 45, is perhaps best-known for winning the 2001 Turner Prize for Work no. 227: the lights going on and off. It consisted of a large gallery room where, guess what, the lights simply went on and off, alternating every thirty seconds.

It was the sort of work that most people hate because it falls into the ‘I could have done that’ category. Ah, well yes, minimalism – don’t you hate it? Those who loved it – me included – had the difficult task of defending it from the haters. Needless to say the tabloid press had a field day – and Creed’s future was assured.

But the truth is Creed pulled it off, and he continues to do so. So suck it up folks.

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Review: 12 Years A Slave

The most remarkable film of 2014?

Most probably.

There’s a lot of buzz about this film, and it’s not difficult to see why.


- It shines yet more light on a dark and largely unspoken area of history.


- It is yet another sign that Steve McQueen is blurring the lines between being an artist and a film maker.
- It is one of the most moving, disturbing films you will ever see.
Those reasons alone will make nearly everyone want to see it, and nearly all will ‘enjoy’ it.
In a nutshell, it’s the story of an educated, ‘free’, black man living in Saratota Springs, New York, in the 1840s. He has a family, a nice home and is an accomplished musician. He is lured to work in another town, kidnapped and taken to be sold into slavery in New Orleans. His captors rename him, pretending he is a missing slave – a shocking practice that was not uncommon at the time. What follows is predictable on a general level in that your know it isn’t going to be a walk in the park, and you know from the title how long this entrapment is gong to last. What you don’t know is the depths he has to go to to survive and the levels to which his new masters sink in the mistaken belief (mainly based on personal profit but also wrapped in misplaced religious beliefs) that they can treat other men as their inferiors.


So far so bad.

ICA Off-Site: A Journey through London Subculture

Vitrine number 24. Everything you need to know about the YBAs in 3 minutes

If you were living in London anytime during 1980 until today you will remember your favourite bits of the weird and wonderful subcultures bubbling beneath the mainstream.

Some achieved mainstream recognition, others were known only to a close band of acolytes. All are celebrated equally in this ‘project’, as the ICA prefers to call it.
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Art Everywhere must happen every year

Did you spot the work?

During August an audacious plan to put artwork onto thousands of billboards finally came to fruition.

Showcasing great British art across the UK, Art Everywhere was the largest exhibition of its kind in the world. From the 12–25 August 2013 some of the nation’s greatest art was on display across 22,000 poster sites and billboards up and down the country. Artists, curators, media owners and entrepreneurs joined by a love of art have fuelled this massive charitable celebration, and the general public crowd-funded over £35,000 to help make it happen.
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Sohrab Crews launches ‘Extra Life’ as part of Palace Wharf opening

West-London based artist Sohrab Crews is launching a book of drawings titled “Extra Life”. The 60 page book (priced £25) contains 25 recent monochrome drawings, with an essay and interview by Paul Carey-Kent.
Crews – best known for his paintings and sculptures that include walking sticks as centre pieces – will  also be showing new drawings; those from the book, and a collection of recent sculptures at the Palace Wharf Open Studio, as part of the Open House London 2013 weekend.
 Private View: Friday September 20th, 6-9pm
 Open to all: Saturday 21st & Sunday 22nd, 12-6pm.
ACAVA Artist’s Studios
Palace Wharf
Ground Floor
56 Rainville Road
W6 9HS
36 Artist’s studios open with riverside terrace.

Photo of the Week: Summer’s eve at Greenwich

London Poem: The Summer of ’13

‘Twas the summer of 2013

A winter with brass balls hardened every soul in expectation of an unremarkable summer.

We knew we would have good days, but only dared hope for one or three in July and August perhaps.

But mid-July came and an explosion of sunshine befell the good souls of London, who never tire of life, but often tire of limp wet summers.

Hot days became hotter days, and then became hottest days for a decade plus a few more. read more