Monday, 20 February 2012

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Balls to that!

Life lately has been about as jet-setting as it gets. For me, anyway. I can't live out of a suitcase, and all that packing and unpacking, and travel, is tiresome -especially if you're going by Megabus!
Last weekend I went to London for one of my oldest friends' (old as in long time, not old in age!) Katherine's birthday.

As I waited for her to meet me on her tea break, to provide me with keys and a map to her cute little flat, I pretended to be posh and wandered around Selfridges on Bond Street, practically drooling my way around the food hall, and receiving my fortune from the 'Word-a-Coaster' which currently dominates the Orchard Street window.

Now I'm not one for clairvoyance (Alex thinks I'm mental when I suggest it's 'of the devil'), but I due like I bit of conceptualism.

Apparently all the fortunes are unique, just like ours really. And although I am dainty, but far from light-footed, I think I'll be saving my little piece of limited edition, numbered art!

Saturday saw us visiting Tate Modern for the Yayoi Kusama show, and the theme of balls, or dots, continued.

(Do you think I'm wearing enough pattern?!)

Kusama's vibrant and varied career encompasses painting, collage, performance, sculpture, etc, etc, which I really admire -myself being someone who likes to dabble in different disciplines.

Her more recent painting remind me of aboriginal art. I was both impressed and envious of her friendship with (hero) Joseph Cornell -he donated her with collage materials and even gave her gifts of his own work -some of which was displayed (I reckon I could have slipped one into my bag!). Balls of an entirely different variety featured in her 1960's 'happenings' -the 1967 film 'Kusama's Self-Obliteration' was shown, the climax of which was writhing bodies painting each other with dots and descending into what can only be described as orgy. Kat and I showed exactly our level of maturity as we could hardly stifle our giggles. And I call myself a Fine Art graduate!

Our favourite bit was the installation 'I'm Here, but Nothing' which was a typical set up of a living room (sweet retro furniture), lit by UV black lights. The interior was covered with little fluorescent dot stickers which glowed, looking like some sort of domestic plague, and was described as a 'visual shorthand' for Kusama's 'hallucinatory visions'. I just like the idea of an artist having motifs that they constantly return to -like branding, or a tag, where you can look at it and instantly think... yeah, that's their work.

If I was more amused than nauseated by the orgiastic happenings, I was disorientated to the point of queasiness, but equally delighted, by the 'Infinity Mirrored Room'. Maybe that was as much due to the multiple reflections of myself as it was the lights.

Thankfully I was very much recovered for dinner at Bistrotheque -chicory, pork and pear slaw with crackling, hake with chorizo, razor clams and braised baby gem lettuce, and chocolate delice (or was the 'dice'?!) with mascarpone and an almond tuille.

More pretending to be posh then! Next time it's the Wolseley...

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Face Paint.

This week I realised that instead of my pretty much constant make-up serving to make me look more groomed and grown-up, it's been masking flaws by way of making me look...younger! How and when did this happen? I may be 30, but I more often than not still get asked for ID when out of an evening visiting the choicest nightspots.

It may be because my fragile skin has been chapped beyond recognition by the biting Netherlandish air. Never have I felt cold as such experienced when trekking through Amsterdam in a blizzard between Waterlooplein and the Van Gogh Museum. Snow can be horizontal and razor sharp.

Alex and I only ever seem to holiday when and where it's freezing cold. Often in February around the time of his birthday. I don't know if it's because it's exactly 6 months away from my birthday, so gives me something to brighten the winter months, or if it stems from my distaste for overly hot weather -my Mum is still highly amused by my behaviour on a holiday to Italy in an August heatwave, during which I turned 17. I spent the majority of the time either at the shower block or beneath a parasol. The day we visited Venice I was positively wilting! Or if it comes from my confusion about and misunderstanding of why my fellow Brits seem to vacate our fair Isles at the time of year when our own weather is at its best...?

Our February trips have included Paris, Whitby and Glasgow -the latter is a close contender for coldest holiday ever, and if it wasn't for a kindly IMAX manager sharing the last taxi running, we would have been stranded, yet again in a blizzard -do you see the pattern emerging? -and quite possibly perished from hypothermia.

Unfortunately on the latest trip, the climate rendered me incapable of either removing my gloves, or pausing to take many photgraphs of the surprisingly beautiful (I didn't know what to expect!) Amsterdam. But then, at least I'm not the sort that believe if a photo wasn't taken it didn't happen. Memories count more than a million bunches of megapixels.

I haven't flown many times, so I remain fascinated by the snowy peaks of clouds glimsped through the plane windows, and so inkeeping with our wintery theme.

I also had no idea that Amsterdam was such a destination for deliciousness. I'm no great adventurer, and I swear by my DK Eyewitness Travel guides. How terribly mainstream! And this time we went as far as to eat at 2 restaurants the guide recommended -and weren't disappointed! Fondue and entrecotes at Cafe Bern were the ideal way to thaw out two tremoring travellers.

Plus we had the privilege of sharing pastries with some of the locals...

I'd read that Amsterdam is full of both pigeons and stray cats. Sadly we only made two new friends of the feline variety, but were treated one day to a pre-breakfast spectacle of half a bloodied mouse. Fortunately being 'straight edge (!)' I wasn't nursing any narcotic nausea from the night before!

I also went quite mainstream (for me) in my enjoyment of the Van Gogh Museum. I can be a bit snobby with my art when I want to be, and deny my enjoyment of the artists the world and his dog love, but I have to say, a desire to paint again has been ignited (I recall feeling similar stirrings but a couple of years back-

('all cried out' post, October 2009)

and now I'm feeling inspired enough to have a root through my art cupboard and see if I still have any oil paints hiding there. It's about time I took a break from intricacy, and daubed paint on canvas with wild abandon...

Vincent Van Gogh, 'Wheatfield with Crows', 1890

I shall definitely visit Amsterdam again, although perhaps when it's slightly more temperate. I was able to do the two things I most desperately wanted to -along with Van Gogh there was the Anne Frank House. I was moved to tears. I am now reading her diaries, and am intrigued by what the teenaged mind is capable of when subjected to such extreme, heightened situations. Not that I want to in any way mitigate the horrors of the holocaust, or liken the experiences of the occupants of the secret annexe to the triviality of an American TV show, but I can really see why Angela Chase from 'My So-Called Life' was shown to identify with Anne.

"I'm starting to like Anne Frank."
"Is she a sophomore, too?"
"No, she's dead."

So anyway, until the weather warms and I venture across the Noordzee again, I'll occupy myself with painting, whether the surface is canvas, or my fair and flimsy face.