Farewell London, eating in the dark, what I am reading…

July 31, 2009

Last weekend Paul and I had our farewell party at a local pub. Heaps of people came and we were there from 3pm until 10pm! I drank a LOT of juice. Unfortunately most of Paul’s photos are dark and blurry.
North star
Above, heaps of the peops at our farewell do. Below, with some friends (Cheryl, Charlotte, Kara) at the nightclub Cargo last Friday night. We saw a very cool band, Yacht, but as the music was blaring and the base was vibrating our bodies, I wondered: ‘Is my baby being totally vibrated right now?’
Cargo
Last night Paul and Cheryl and I went to the restaurant Dans Le Noir? and ate food in pitch blackness. It was quite a strange experience. I did enjoy it but was not very impressed with the food (and the two courses cost £32).

Our boxes of stuff were picked up yesterday to be shipped back to Australia. Now we have lots of cleaning to do and lots of stuff to get rid of. I can’t believe we are leaving in three days. It doesn’t seem real. I would like to go to the White Cube galleries on the weekend to see the current Gilbert and George exhibition and maybe the Hayward to see the Walking in My Mind exhibition.

I also think I’d like to do some wandering around central London to say goodbye. I have really loved London. I am however very excited about seeing my friend Sam and spending three days with her looking around Hong Kong (she informed me yesterday that rain is forecast for next week!) and I am starting to get very excited about being back in Brisbane and seeing family and friends. I am really excited about discovering Brisbane again. People often bag it out for being small (and very spread out) but I always felt there was a lot of stuff going on when I lived there and I really like it. I’m planning on going to the Gallery of Modern Art on my second day back (there is an exhibition of photography by young people from Palm Island that ends that day).

It’s been a while since I did a rundown of the books I’ve been reading, but that might be because I haven’t read many books this year.

Bad Science by Dr Ben Goldacre
I have wanted to read this book for a while. It is really very good! I have seen/heard Ben Goldacre talk a few times and he is really intelligent, informative and funny. You’ll learn a lot about the scientific method and how science works, and how science is abused and also about bad journalism when it comes to science. A very informative book. He is an NHS (National Health Service) doctor and a regular columnist in the Guardian. You can read his columns and other stuff at his website.

59 Seconds by Professor Richard Wiseman
A popular psychology book by a professor of psychology, this is an interesting book and the difference between it and other self-help books is that it is actually based on psychological research. It does have a tendency to simplify things and be contradictory sometimes but I am enjoying it. Richard Wiseman has a blog too.

Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson
This book of three novels is the first of three books in Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle. I have finished the first novel, Quicksilver and I enjoyed it a lot although I had to do a lot of looking up European history. The book is set around the end of the 17th and beginning of the 18th century in England and focuses on lots of historical figures (philosophers, scientists, politicians and other people). I plan to finish the other two novels in book one one day.

The Life of Pi by Yann Martel
I’m a third of the way in and so far, am not impressed. Some of my friends really love this book but I really don’t understand how. It’s quite annoying and has such a tone of ‘isn’t religion so amazing and wonderful and mysterious’ so I’ve spent most of my time reading it thinking, ‘actually no, I don’t think so.’ I wonder if I’ll finish it.


Serpentine Gallery, books and films

July 19, 2009

Yesterday Paul and I went to the Serpentine Gallery to check out their temporary summer pavillion and to look at their latest art exhibition. The current pavilion is by Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa of Japanese architecture practice SANAA. I liked it. If I wasn’t pregnant I probably would have had a coffee at the cafe there!
Serpentine Gallery and 2009 Summer Pavillion
Above, the Serpentine Gallery is on the right and the reflective Summer pavillion is on the left (The pavillion photos are by Paul).
The Serpentine Gallery's 2009 Summer Pavillion
The Serpentine Gallery's 2009 Summer Pavillion
Serpentine Gallery's Summer Pavillion 2009
The current exhibition inside the Serpentine is Jeff Koons: Popeye Series. I enjoyed the exhibition but am still undecided on what I think of Jeff Koons. I do like some of his stuff and this exhibition had a lot of objects that looked like inflatable plastic swimming toys (like rings and dolphins, etc) but they were hanging from the ceiling with heavy things hanging off them – they were actually made of aluminium and painted bright colours.
Jeff Koons: Popeye Series, Serpentine Gallery, London, 2009
Jeff Koons: Popeye Series, Serpentine Gallery, London, 2009
Jeff Koons: Popeye Series, Serpentine Gallery, London, 2009
After our sojourn in Hyde Park we headed up to Borders in Oxford Street where all the books are 50% off as they’re closing down. Even though I think most of the good stuff was gone (I couldn’t find any sci-fi or fantasy books!) we still bought ten books between us – and I know, I know, we just have to pack them now to send back to Australia but books are so much cheaper here than in Australia we couldn’t resist.

So lugging our books through Soho we headed to Leicester Square to watch the new (and sixth) Harry Potter but of course it was sold out (well, we could have bought tickets for the front row, which we weren’t so keen on) so we saw the sci-fi film Moon which was very good -I would recommend it highly. We also bought tickets to see Harry Potter today – two movies in one weekend, how decadent! I’m quite excited about seeing HP6 but Paul is less so at it goes for two and a half hours. We’re having lunch with some friends and then going to the film. I’m wondering if we should try to fit in some other London activity before lunch.

Yesterday we finally bought our flights home, so our families can stop asking us ‘When do you arrive back? Have you bought your tickets yet?’ We’re spending three days in Hong Kong with my friend Sam on the way home which is exciting. I still can’t believe I only have two weeks left in London. I feel like I need to be out going places, saying goodbye. I will miss it a lot.


Sunny weekends in London

June 1, 2009

Yesterday (Sunday) Paul and I wandered around Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens with Kara and Cheryl. We checked out the current exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery (films and photos by Luke Fowler) which was interesting. Below are Paul and Kara outside the Serpentine Gallery in Kensington Gardens.
Paul outside the Serpentine Gallery in Kensington Gardens
Kara in Kensington Gardens
The photos below are from the Peter Pan statue in Kensington Gardens.
Peter Pan statue in Kensington Gardens
Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens
Read the rest of this entry »


The Met is coming to Brisbane

May 22, 2009


Pretty cool advertisement for the Queensland Art Gallery and the Met Exhibition coming this year. I’m really looking forward to checking out QAG’s Gallery of Modern Art when I’m next home – it opened after I left. I hear it’s really great.


Hanging in the East end with Cheryl

May 4, 2009

Last weekend Paul and I went to art galleries around Mayfair (below are photos of the Sadie Coles Gallery).
Sadie Coles Gallery Read the rest of this entry »


Easter weekend

April 18, 2009

Paul and I didn’t do a lot on the Easter weekend because the weather was so bad – it was cool and overcast for most of the weekend – we actually stayed home and watched movies on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. On the Monday we went to the Wellcome Collection and saw a couple of very good exhibitions (Madness & Modernity: Mental illness and the visual arts in Vienna 1900 and Bobby Baker’s Diary Drawings: Mental illness and me, 1997-2008) as well as some of their permanent exhibits, (Napoleon Bonaparte’s toothbrush, Charles Darwin’s walking stick in) Medicine Man.

On Monday evening I saw the great documentary Afghan Star about the Afghan TV show of the same name. It was really uplifting – unlike other Afghan films I’ve seen.

In the last week I saw the photography exhibition Dreams at the Viewfinder Photography Gallery in Greenwich and I hung out with Lucy N’s partner Jamie. We went to The Bloomberg Commission: Goshka Macuga: The Nature of the Beast at the Whitechapel Gallery. There are a few other exhibitions on there that I’d like to go back and see. I also had dinner at Helen’s house and last night Paul and I went to the launch of Lady Sovereign’s new album Zigzag.


Lots of art and hummous

April 5, 2009

On Saturday afternoon Paul and I went to the Mythologies exhibition at Haunch of Venison (that I had been to during the week). Paul liked lots of the stuff there too. I liked the rude silhouettes by Tim Noble and Sue Webster. There were skeletons of Tweety and Sylvester in full flight by Hyungkoo Lee (which we’re sure we’ve seen before). Carlos Amorales had some cool films – one had floating black objects of varying shapes and sizes and it wasn’t until I recognised mainland Australia and then Alaska that I figured out what was going on. I realised that there are a lot of countries/islands that I don’t know or recognise! Every now and then, the black shapes would all come together and become a map of the world. When all the countries and islands are separated it is hard to tell them apart (but I did recognise Italy, the US, Greenland, mainland Australia, Spain and Iceland). The exhibition space was pretty cool too. I think I read that the private gallery (Haunch of Venison) have leased the space from the Royal Academy for three years.
Art by Heather and Ivan Morison at Mythologies at Haunch of Venison
Art at Mythologies
After that we headed East to Liminal: A Question of Position at Iniva in Shoreditch which was small but had some cool interactive new media art. As we were close by we went and checked out the White Cube Hoxton Square and saw Ashley Bickerton: Recent Wurg which was ok. By this point we couldn’t be bothered going up to the Victoria Miro Gallery to check out the dancing in the gallery (even though it wasn’t that far up the road).

On our way to Iniva we got a bus that didn’t quite go where I was expecting but it did take us right next to Bunhill Fields Cemetery which I was very excited about. William Blake, Daniel Defoe and other nonconformists are buried there!
The gravestone of William Blake at Bunhill Fields
A memorial to Daniel Defoe near his grave in Bunhill Fields
A grave in Bunhill Fields
Gravestones at Bunhill Fields
I really want to go to Abney Park Cemetery again and take photos – it is really big and overgrown and is packed with graves.

Saturday night we had dinner with Matt and Neena at Hummous Brothers in Soho. It was really yummy and we hadn’t seen them in ages (since last year some time).

On Saturday morning Paul had a microsoft exam and he got 100%! Well done him. Only three more exams to go.
Paul and I reflected


More art and a job interview

April 2, 2009

Today I had an interview with an architecture firm right next to Tate Modern. Here’s hoping I get it! After the interview I wandered around the Tate for a bit and I saw the Reckless Sleeper and The Annunciation by Rene Magritte, Three Dancers by Pablo Picasso, Mountain Lake and Forgotten Horizon by Salvador Dali and The Fig-Leaf by Francis Picabia. I also had a very rich hot chocolate with the BIGGEST mound of cream on top and a rhubarb crumble dessert (and then I spent a whole hour on a treadmill this afternoon!).

Yesterday I went to the Mythologies exhibition at Haunch of Venison, now situated in the old Museum of Mankind space behind the Royal Academy. It was very cool – lots of art, some boring and mediocre and some really good (this is often how I feel about big shows like this). Here are reviews from the Independent and the Guardian – they’re not very flattering reviews. This blog post has lots of pictures of some of the art.

Sometimes I feel a bit overwhelmed by all the art I see here. Sometimes I think I should stop going to see it and should maybe just stay home and make it.

On my way into town yesterday I sat near a group of teenage boys on the train – they were doing what teenagers do, talking and laughing and paying each other out, when one of them practically screamed in surprise – I looked over and saw sitting opposite him was a guy with a rather large split in his crotch – much to his horror. As he made claims of ‘why didn’t any of you tell me.’ I started laughing and couldn’t stop. Poor boy. I didn’t mean to laugh at him – and as all his schoolmates saw that I was laughing they just laughed more. So after I managed to stop laughing a different one of them mentioned to his friends that we had just gone past Turminem Green station. And they all started laughing at him because it is Turnham Green, not Turminem Green and I started laughing again. Luckily they all got off at the next stop.

Paul has another of his Microsoft exams on Saturday. After he’s done we’re planning on going to the Collection at the Victoria Miro gallery to see some dance exhibition they have on there at the moment:

This spring Victoria Miro collaborates with Siobhan Davies to present The Collection. For three weeks, performers and artists present specially commissioned dance and artworks at Victoria Miro Gallery in North London and Siobhan Davies Studios in South London.

The Collection is a series of ambitious collaborations that look at the interfaces of contemporary art and dance, where these worlds intersect and how they might inform one another. At the heart of the project is a mutual curiosity for potential exchanges across both art forms, and an exploration of the connections and disconnections within them.

It could be really interesting or it could be a boring wank!

Oh and our gas bill for winter was MASSIVE – it was twice the bill from the previous quarter. No more heating! For many, many months. Even if it’s cold.


A cool house, photographs and friends in London

March 30, 2009

On Saturday Paul and I fulfilled one of our longstanding London plans and went to John Soane’s Museum on Lincoln’s Inn Fields. It was really great. And free! Soane was an architect and a collector and his house is chock-full of interesting things. Go here to have a 360 degree look at some of it. Soane (1753-1837) was the son of a bricklayer, the personal architect of two prime ministers, and the designer of the Bank of England, the Dulwich Picture Gallery and Westminster’s Law Courts, as well as Britain’s red telephone box. The house has the sarcophagus of Seti I, other really old stuff and lots of paintings, including three Canalettos (‘Riva degli Schiavoni, The Rialto Bridge from the North and Piazza S. Marco) and two series of Hogarth paintings, A Rake’s Progress and An Election – I was so excited to see the Hogarths. Soane had a country house in Ealing, Pitzhanger Manor which is now a museum, so I might have to go pay it a visit.
Sir John Soane's Museum, London
Above and below, the entrance to the John Soane’s Museum.
Sir John Soane's Museum, London
On Saturday night we went to a housewarming party for someone from Brisbane who we met over here (through a friend from Brisbane).

On Sunday we went to the Photographers’ Gallery (which has moved to just off Oxford Street) and we saw the finalists for the Deutsche Borse Photography Prize 2009. There was some good photography there. They also have a good bookshop and a nice cafe (I must remember that for if I’m ever near Oxford Circus and want a coffee and don’t want to go to Starbucks).

Then we met up with Cheryl and Alex and wandered around Spitalfields Market, Brick Lane, and surrounding streets, including the Gherkin and the Leadenhall Market.

I recently read that the Whitechapel Gallery is about to reopen after being closed for a couple of years. I’m excited about that. I’ve seen some pretty cool art there.


Some recent art

March 26, 2009

Last week I was working around Shoreditch and I went to the Hoxton Square White Cube gallery in my lunch hour and saw some cool art by Rachel Kneebone and Marcus Harvey. Rachel Kneebone’s piece was a large and beautiful ceramic hole with lots of small figures that seemed to be falling down into Dante’s hell. Marcus Harvey had a few pieces but the grandest was the large picture of Margaret Thatcher made of lots of different bits of plastic, many of which were dildos. Harvey became well-known for doing a large picture of child murderer Myra Hindley made up of children’s hand prints. I’d recommend this exhibition but it finishes this Saturday (28 March).

On Sunday Paul and I met with my new friend Stephen and we saw AlterModern at Tate Britain and Transition at the Barge House Oxo Tower. Altermodern had some interesting art but wasn’t brilliant. It is part of the fourth Tate Triennial and is on until April 26. Transition was a collaboration between Submit2gravity and Exeter Artspace, bringing together artists from London and the Southwest. The exhibition spent a week at Exeter Castle before coming to London for four days. It had some really kickarse interactive art and there was lots of new media stuff too. I really liked it.

Yesterday I saw some wonderful art by Lalla Ward (former side-kick to the doctor on Dr Who, former wife of Tom Baker, knitter, embroiderer, illustrator and current wife of Richard Dawkins – she sounds like a really interesting person!). Called Galapagos, the exhibition consists of fabric and ceramics with pictures of wildlife from the Galapagos Islands, and the sale of the art will aid the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust. I really love needlework, embroidery and fabric art and these were really beautiful. I did have a rather strange experience when I went to see the exhibition at the Chris Beetles Gallery (there is nothing about the exhibition on their website but there is on the Durrell website). The gallery has two sections (one at 8 Ryder Street and one at 10 Ryder Street) and 10 Ryder Street was locked and I couldn’t go in until I got someone from number 8 to let me in. Unbeknownst to me, I was locked in after being let in, so when I was finished looking at the art and was ready to leave I couldn’t get out. It felt like I waited for ages (but maybe it wasn’t that long) before I went down the stairs inside the gallery and discovered that the two galleries might be connected underneath, and after calling out ‘hello’ a number of times, the woman came and let me out! Very strange. I really want to go back to buy the catalogue (it’s 40 large postcards for £20). I believe the work is being auctioned on Saturday (28 March).