My Sunshiny Life











I love the Serpentine Gallery and popped in there recently when I was on a lovely Spring walk in Hyde Park.

Richard Hamilton, now in his 80’s, is the godfather of pop art, getting in before Andy Warhol and providing inspiration for a series of artists to follow,

The tone of his work is rather political and to be quite honest I didn’t get a lot of it.  It was interesting, but I wish that they’d had a little explanation of his thoughts behind the creation of his pieces, so ignorant attendees like myself could understand a bit more about what he was trying to say.

Quite a few of his pieces are taken from photos of historic events, like Mick Jagger in the back seat of a police car after being arrested. 

I liked one of the bigger art installations, which was a fully kitted out operating theatre, with Margaret Thatcher broadcasting a political message on an endless muted film loop.  The television set was positioned above the bed and you could imagine being the hapless patient trapped there for eternity watching Margaret Thatcher’s political mandate.

http://www.serpentinegallery.org

The exhibition is on until the 25th of April if you want to pop in for a look.



After seeing such extraordinary shots in last year’s show I couldn’t wait to go back and see this one.  Again, the standard was excellent and I still can’t get over how much patience and skill the photographers have to get the perfect shot.  Some of the entrants are children as young as ten. 

Going to the exhibition made me appreciate my little snappy snap Canon Ixus 200IS even more.  I was a little bit naughty and put it to good use in the gallery.  I’ve only just noticed that I didn’t have to be all secret agent, quickly taking my photos without the attendants catching me, as there is an online gallery on the Natural History Museum site.  I did quite enjoy my covert spy activity though and think I’d make a sterling secret agent.

~ Overall Winner ~ The Storybook Wolf by José Luis Rodriguez

Ice Fox by Henrik Lund

Flight of the Locust by Chris van Rooyen

White Water Fishing by Eric Lefranc

Respect by Igor Shpilenok

These two monkey ones are my favourites.  I’ve always been a big fan of monkeys and love the human expressions on their faces.

Borneo Baby by Brian Matthews

Water Fight by Andrew Forsyth

The exhibition is on until the 11th of April 2010, get your tickets here.



We’ve all had relationship break ups, but we probably haven’t coped with them the way that Sophie Calle decided to.  Upon receiving a rather odd break up email from her lover ‘X’ this french woman didn’t sit at home eating her way into another dress size, she embarked on a project to decipher the meaning behind it, asking a bunch of women to interpret the words. 

My interpretation of the letter… X is a self serving narcissist who focussed on his own feelings in the letter.  When they embarked upon their affair he’d promised to stop seeing the ‘others’.  Apparently he had four on the go at once.  He left them for Sophie and then realised his fan base just wasn’t big enough with one woman.  Breaking up over email is a cowardly act anyway and the fact that he focussed on his own feelings throughout, still professing love to her, but unable to change his alley cat ways to be with her showed a lack of strength and integrity.  Then at the last minute, as if realising that he actually had someone else to consider in the breakup other than himself, he urged her to take care of herself.  Twat.

The whole idea makes for a fascinating, if slightly indulgent art exhibition, as 107 women share their insight into the letter, alongside their photograph and job title.  The women were from diverse backgrounds, from a stay at home mother, to a judge, sub editor, scientist, police captain, dancer, actors, sms text translater and even a parrot.  I loved the response from a rifle shooter, delicate pellet holes punctuated the love letter which was mounted on a backlit board letting white light shine through.  The responses were presented in a variety of ways, some chose photos, some text and some were filmed.  An Italian woman read the letter while peeling onions, pausing every few sentences to weigh in with her opinion.  She finished her film segment by blowing her nose on the letter, blaming the onions as she wiped tears from her eyes.

A perfect bite sized gallery visit and I’ll be back on another day to see her other exhibition called Talking to Strangers.  Check it out for yourself at the whitechapel gallery.



{November 16, 2009}   East London Graffiti

I saw this wicked graffiti on a pub wall in East London tonight.  The one below must be an original Banksy as it’s covered in perspex to protect it.  Unless they’ve covered it to make it LOOK like an original Banksy, mmm, clever.  Quite annoyingly it’s also covered by a stupid fern, why would you do that?

Original Banksy?

Maybe she's born with it, Maybelline



{July 26, 2009}   Street Art Extroadinaire

I totally think this guy is a legend.  He makes transient chalk masterpieces that fade or are washed away.  Pure genius.  Check out his other work on his blog http://madonnaripugliesi.blogspot.com

Genius!

Genius!

Hope he makes loads of money, he deserves it!



{July 14, 2009}   Terror at Trevi Fountain

It was our last day in Rome and we had a lot to fit in.  Our first stop was the Spanish steps, which we had seen the day before but hadnt taken photos at.  I had romantic notions of channeling Audrey Hepburn and eating gelato on the steps.  I thought it would be much bigger too, but that is quite often the way when things are built up.

Then we tootled off to the Trevi Fountain where a hostage situation was unfolding.  The whole area had been cordoned off and the police were negotiating with a man who had climbed up to the top of the fountain, cut his stomach open and was shouting obscenities at the crowd.  As Chad rightly pointed out, its hardly a hostage situation if there is only one person involved, but in my mind he was holding himself hostage!  After a couple of hours he finally came down and we could go and appreciate the fountain, taking the obligatory photos = all of which I have my eyes closed in, most disappointing!

The Panthenon rounded out the big three sights for the day.  We were so rubbish, we didnt take our guide book with us and had no idea what the panthenon was all about, so had to go hunting for a sign in the place to get clued in.  The entire construction was dedicated to 12 different gods, now that is hedging your bets on a free pass through the pearly gates!

Terror at Trevi Fountain

Terror at Trevi Fountain



{July 12, 2009}   Rules to live by…

I’ve become very fond of the Italians.  They are a rule unto themselves and I kinda like that… except when this lady thought we were taking too long at the metro ticket machine and stepped in front of me and started inserting her own coins.  She couldn’t understand when I said she was rude and had butted in, she seemed genuinely baffled that I was upset that she’d cut right in front of me as I was putting my ticket transaction through.  The other idiosyncrasy is the ‘rules are a suggestion, not a directive’ attitude.  This is illustrated quite well by the picture here of a car parked on a corner – driven straight up on to the pavement.  It wasn’t the only one either.  Try that in London and you’d be towed before you’d even put the handbrake on!

Parking Italian Style

Parking Italian Style

Yesterday we walked, and walked, and walked.  We went to the Vatican and saw the pope.  We had a spot of tea with him and looked around his crib.  He’s been on MTV cribs actually; you might have seen the episode.  (That is a lie, an outright fib, a fabrication to make my story more interesting).

The Vatican

The Vatican

Sooo the Vatican.  It’s quite a cool place, but quite a long tour.  Sorry if I don’t seem cultured but jeeeeeesus (excuse my blasphemy) how long can you talk about one bloody painting.  I was skipping rooms and rooms ahead of my tour group.  For two reasons really, the first to get a seat and the second to look like I wasn’t part of a tour group (although the MI5 headpiece gave me away I’m sure).  There’s something a bit embarrassing about it all, being herded around like a flock of wayward sheep.  Anyway, our guide was good.  He was from the same tour company as the day before, so was also on speed and WAAAAAAY way over excited, even just saying hello to us he was jumping up and down. 

I really liked the cherubs and ended up taking loads and loads of pictures of them.

Angelic Innocence

Angelic Innocence

 I also really liked this picture, it’s quite gruesome but there was something about it that captivated me

Stunning yet gruesome

Stunning yet gruesome

Sistine Chapel

Sistine Chapel

The Sistine Chapel…   This little gem had been hyped from the start of our tour and when I first saw it I was like, is this it?  I think if you had a chance to walk through by yourself and contemplate then you’d be awed.  But wrestling through a throng of people, getting stood on, camera flashes everywhere and the noise level the same as a bustling market took away from it.  It was only when I got a seat, blocked everyone out and stared at the ceiling for ages that I got it.  What an amazing feat. Shame he was a grumpy bastard and that’s how he is remembered as well as being an amazing artist.

We left our tour group, I felt liberated, we could go anywhere we wanted!  So after a quick look see in St Peters Basilica we headed off through the square and out into the wilderness of Rome.  

Free from the tour!

Free from the tour!

We were starving!  We sat down for pizza anticipating a thin crust and lovely fresh topping.  That isn’t what we got, it was the worst pizza I’ve ever had.  We ordered a capriosca (spelling?) but when our pizza arrived it wasn’t the same as on the menu – it had tuna and some sort of mystery meat that I think was meant to be parma ham, gross.  I called the waiter over who informed me that the menu was more of a suggestion and yes, this was our pizza even though not one single topping matched the menu.  According to our waiter, the caprioscca is ALWAYS made with the closest things to hand.  Not in my world buddy, I sent it back.  It came back again totally wrong again, so we ate around the tuna wanting to leave as soon as we could.  The waiter came over again to repeat his story, like I was slightly dim and needed educating about the Italian pizza way.  I wanted to beat him with the dry disgusting pizza.  I gave him my most withering glare (as much as you can behind sunglasses) and he finally got the hint.  I warned some other friendly tourists not to eat there as it was so terrible, culinary justice was served and the world dining karma balance restored.

After a bad food experience you have to ensure that your next food experience is excellent, to ensure the great food equilibrium is maintained, so we had afternoon tea at our favourite local patisserie.  I had walked enough to build up quite a few calories in the food bank and spent them wisely on a cake AND some gelato!  They make all the cakes onsite and do a bloody fabulous job.  A thin wafer, dipped in chocolate, covered in jelly, sponge and creamy topping.  Fresh fruit toppings, tiramisu flavours, and the tiniest little wild strawberries I’ve ever seen!  I’ve made a pact to eat gelato, cake and limoncello every day.  You need rules to live by and these are mine for the holiday.

Heaven in a wafer cone

Heaven in a wafer cone

Loving the cake a day rule

Loving the cake a day rule



{July 11, 2009}   When in Rome…

Chad and I have been in Rome for a day and a half and I LOVE IT! What an amazing, chaotic, bustling, gorgeous city. Ancient ruins co-exist right beside modern architecture in a fabulous architectural mash up.

Italians are super friendly and take time out to explain to our dumb ignorant selves about items on the menu that we can’t read. We’ve just been to dinner, to a VERY busy, fabulous, yummy, local Italian restaurant (we were the only tourists, which is just how I like it) and the wait staff tried to help us out as much as they could explaining the menu. Unfortunately for me, it wasn’t quite enough. Now I’d much rather take a chance on menu lotto than go to some shithouse place in a tourist trap area, so I no complain (well not much anyway). After I’d ordered my meal, which I’d been told was fish, I was telling Chad about how much I’d hate it if the fish came out with a head still attached (seriously, how can you eat something that’s staring at you) or if I was served up little baby squids and tentacles. Calamari, love it, baby squids (tentacles, GROSS!) not so much. This isn’t a thriller; I think you can see what’s coming. Yep, it was ‘The Tentacles’. I was grossed, a little tear came to my eye and a pout automatically appeared. Chad graciously let me eat some of his delicious pasta and I sorted through all the squidgy bits to find the rings and fish bites.

Here I am talking about food and I’ve been discovering so much more. YES, for a change, life to me is more than what I’m having for my next meal (or what everyone else is having). We’ve been ultra busy in the short time that we’ve been here. We’ve interacted with locals, found an A.Mazing local patisserie cafe/gelato yummy place and we’ve been VERY cultural. We started out yesterday, with a trip to the Colosseum. Wow, what an amazing place. Did you know that not all the gladiators died? If you think about it, that would be SO bad for business. Get a good gladiator and have him last one match? No, these guys were kept on for a while to earn their keep. When there was a match where someone was supposed to die, they’d meet before hand and do a bit of match fixing so there would be a draw. WWF took its acting style from the Romans it seems.

Colosseum

Love having a travel partner/picture taker!

Love having a travel partner/picture taker!

Colosseum 3

Colosseum3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then we went on another tour in the afternoon of the Roman Forum, apparently the heart, soul, business and political centre of Rome in the good ole days. Our guide was absolutely fabulous, granted I think she’d popped some amphetamines before taking our group around, but her hyper enthusiasm was welcome after a long afternoon in the sunshine. She filled us up with facts about ancient Rome, of which I remember absolutely nothing but it was nice feeling learned for a few hours anyway. I truly think the NZ education system has a lot to answer for. Neither Chad nor I knew any answers to the questions she posed. Romulus, Remus, Octavious… WTF!

Modern art amongst ancient ruins

Modern art amongst ancient ruins

There was a guy who was a total swot/teacher’s pet who delighted in answering every question, so even if I’d known an answer I wouldn’t have got a chance to say it anyway. He also wore socks with his sandals, enough said for crimes against fashion.

Crimes against fashion exhibit one

Crimes against fashion exhibit one



I saw this exhibition in SaLon, Westbourne Grove about a month ago and just hadn’t got around to putting it up.  I’ll give you the intro that I got on the takeaway sheet from the gallery as they summarise the work far better than I could.

Masquerade: The faces that greet us each day on the cover of newspapers and magazines appear so familiar and yet really they are strangers to us.  The media presents us with these masked characters and their daily charade – what is it that makes these people so intriguing?

The work that has gone into the portraits is immense.  They are intricate beaded creations and Sarah also uses semi precious stones, crystals, chipped glass and broken plates.  The artist info sheet reads ‘It is important to Gwyer that she can make political and social comments without a loss in aesthetics or alienating a section of society.’  I think she has captured this well, illustrating but not caricaturing the subjects.

There are three series portrayed, Addicts, Artists and Best of British.  It appears that British society loves a scandal and it may be telling that out of all the portraits there were to photograph, the only ones I have are the ones of the addicts.  Sorry Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin.

A very kind portrayal of Miss Winehouse

A very kind portrayal of Miss Winehouse

The attitude is captured beautifully

The attitude is captured beautifully

Russell Brand

The Kate Moss one is A.Mazing!  The portrait is made up of thousands and thousands of different pictures of Kate.  Pictures within the picture making up the picture.  Very clever.

Pictures within the picture

Pictures within the picture

Still an icon

Still an icon



{June 22, 2009}   Simone's Sand Sculptures

How cool are these sand sculpture landscapes?  Simone makes them and I’d like to see how they’re made as I find the whole thing quite intriguing.  Apparently a tooth pick features in some way and I imagine a fair amount of skill and practise features highly too!  It’s kind of like when you wonder how the ship gets in the bottle…  I’ve wondered that for years actually and just searched for it online.  There are a few schools of thought on how it’s done;

* You hire a team of ants and give them a lot of sugar to go hard out working on it (no one likes a smart arse)

* The sails are collapsible so the ship fits through the bottle neck and then the sails are all rigged up

* You use long slender tweezers to construct the whole thing inside the bottle

* The bottle is made around the ship (this one seems a little too hard)

I think I’ll just enjoy the artistic beauty of it and stay ignorant. 

Simone's Sand Sculptures



et cetera