D4D

Slapping the Stupid with Stun-Guns

Archive for the category “Day Trips”

Saturday – Chris Ofili, Weaving Magic

Following on from seeing the Giacometti and Soul of A Nation exhibitions, my final visit was to the National Gallery, to see “Weaving Magic” by Chris Ofili.

A friend of mine had seen this and really liked it, hence why I wanted to see it.

It’s a fantastic tapestry – designed by Ofili, and then handwoven by Dovecot Tapestry Studio, and based on “I know why the caged bird sings“, by Maya Angelou. It’s also been staged and displayed really well, in a room of its own, which has also been decorated by Ofili.

So you end up with a room covered in murals like this

And then the tapestry itself, the only thing of colour in the room

It’s well worth seeing – if you get the chance to go before the end of August, I’d recommend it. Even better, it’s free to go in and see it, which is… noteworthy, in the current climate.

Saturday – Soul of A Nation

While I was in Tate Modern on Saturday, I also went to see the “Soul Of A Nation” exhibition, which is about Black Art during the Civil Rights movement.  It’s not one I was really planning on seeing, and more of an impulse “Oh, why not” thing, but it was still interesting.

The Civil Rights movement happened in the US before I was born – not by much, but obviously by enough.  I know the basics of it, but not a lot of the detail, and always feel I should know more about it.   It absolutely amazes me that it was all relatively recent, that it was all happening fifty years ago. In that context, it’s amazing how far we’ve come – although there’s still a long way to go.

Anyway, it was an interesting exhibition – although there was a significant amount of (in my opinion) shite stuff, there was also enough to make it worth having gone in.  I also got to learn about AfriCOBRA, the African Commune of Bad Relevant Artists – most of which was admittedly bad, but still, made me laugh just for its honesty.

One of the other things I found interesting (and slightly sad) was that in an exhibition so deeply connected to Black Art, African-American History and Civil Rights, every single person viewing it was white.  There was a quote on one wall, the gist of which was that Visual Arts were the biggest bastion of White Male artists, and the exhibition visitors certainly helped to reinforce tbat.

All told, it was interesting enough. I don’t think I’d bother seeing it again, but I’m still glad I did get to see it.

Saturday – Giacometti

On Saturday, I went into London for a walk, and to visit a couple of exhibitions – which turned out to be three – as well as food and the like.  As there’s other stuff going on this week that I can’t be naffed to go into right now, I thought I’d write a bit about some thoughts related to the exhibitions. So that’s the plan.

The first one on the list was Tate Modern’s exhibition of works by Giacometti. Up ’til now, I’ve seen a few of his works, but not loads – and I’ve honestly never seen the appeal of them. They’re certainly distinctive, strange, and of note – but I certainly didn’t love them, and didn’t really get why he’s so well regarded.

Having seen the full exhibition, I still don’t love them, but I understand more of why he’s regarded. Oddly, his statues still do very little for me – I find them kind of odd, and kind of unsettling, but nothing more than that – and I certainly couldn’t sit and just look at one block of statues, as one person was doing. (He’d even brought along his own camping stool in order to do so, God love him)  However, I really liked some of the sketches, and some of his oil work that looked like it had been done in charcoal.

I think that in some ways I wasn’t convinced of Giacometti as being an actual artist – OK, he could do the sculptures, but that could’ve been just the one thing. Having seen the sketches, drawings, and paintings, I do realise that he’s a lot more of an artist than I’d thought, and a lot more talented.

That doesn’t make me like the sculptures and so on, and I still wouldn’t go from here to the bog to see another exhibition of his work, but all the same, I’m glad I did go.

 

The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui

Following on from a friend of mine seeing it, I decided to have a look and see if there were any tickets still available for “The Resistible Rise of Arturo UI” at the Donmar Warehouse on the date I was available in London with no solid plans. (Last Saturday)   As it turned out, there was – just one ticket apparently “near the back”.  That’s OK, I’m tall, so yep, ticket successfully obtained.

As usual with my theatre trips, I knew absolutely sod-all about the play. Indeed, I’d never even heard of it before the previous weekend.  That doesn’t bother me anyway, and armed with a decent review from someone whose opinion I tend to trust, I was willing to go for it.   All I knew was the name, and that it was by Bertolt Brecht.

And I’m really glad I did.  The original play is an allegory based around the rise of Hitler in Germany, but using the gangsters of 1920s/1930s America to tell the story.   It’s been updated a bit – there were lots of references to Trump and his collaborators, along with an (odd but effective) sung intro to each major scene, using modern(ish) songs.

It’s very hard to not see the parallels between Nazi Germany and Trump’s rise, so it all felt very relevant.  But still interesting in a lot of ways.

The entire of the Donmar Warehouse has been changed for this production, and it’s been made into a 20s/30s speakeasy. As you walk in, the actors are already on ‘stage’ talking, dancing and the like. It certainly made things more interesting, having Lenny Henry come round in character as the club owner, talking to – and shaking the hands of – all the guests, as well as other cast members doing the rounds.

As an aside, one thing that was great was that a lot of the audience around me were a group of visually-impaired people, coming to the theatre for a play that would also be audio-described for them by a company called TalkingSense – and as it turned out, I got talking to one of the narrators, who was sat next to me for the first half, before going to narrate the second half.  I thought it was brilliant to open up theatre in this way  (and I also liked that Arturo Ui managed to use one of the visually-impaired people as his ‘witness’ for one section)

Ah yes, the audience participation.  This was something really interesting, and not something I’d expected at all – this version of the play makes great use of the audience.  In the photo above you can see a gallery with people on it – in the second half, these become the jury for a court case, with the judge sat in the middle.  Another audience member became the railroaded ‘accused’, and by the end of the play everyone is involved, either standing in support of Ui’s bid to be the main gangster (sorry, “protector”) or sitting – in which case their votes don’t count.

Note – I’m not giving away anything major here – and the production ends tomorrow!

Lenny Henry is particularly impressive as the titular gangster, developing through the production. But he’s also well supported by a generally excellent cast – all of whom also seem to be enjoying taking part in the play. (Which isn’t always the case)

All told, it’s a very dark vision of life – yet also extremely funny.   I laughed a lot more than I would have ever expected to, in a play based on the rise of Nazi-ism.  If the run were longer, I’d probably enjoy going to see it again. It’s quite a thing.

 

London (2)

Following on from last week’s post, I was in London a lot last week.

On Thursday and Friday I was at the always-excellent Lead Developer conference, at the QEII Conference Centre, near Westminster Abbey and Houses of Parliament.  I could have chosen to stay in London overnight on the Wednesday and Thursday nights instead of travelling each day, but honestly, I couldn’t be bothered. So instead I ended up with longer days, travelling each day down to London and then walking (because I’m a lunatic) from Euston to Westminster, and back afterwards – roughly three miles each way, and yet still preferable to taking the tube.

It made for long days – particularly as I also chose to eat in London both nights, with a friend at Iberica on Thursday, which I’d not been to before (but will be go back to) and on my own on Friday at Monica Galetti’s Mere Restaurant, which I love. (And apparently I’m the person who’s been back the most since they opened in March – an achievement of which I’m simultaneously ridiculously proud, and somewhat ashamed)

And then on Saturday, having seen a recommendation from a friend, I had been lucky enough to get the last available ticket for the matinee performance of The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, at the Donmar Warehouse. I’m going to write more about that in a separate post, which’ll be done for later this week. (Just in time for the production to finish on the 17th. Helpful, eh?)

Sunday was allegedly calmer, but still busy – and involved catching rather more sun than I perhaps should have, although not to any point of danger or ill-health.

And now, I’m back for a new week of work, which is going to require some brain-power at some point early on.  Bugger…

London

[Somewhat inspired by a friend’s post on Facebook]

I was in London on Saturday – it was a pleasant day, sunny, loads of people around, having a good time.  Note : This is NOT going to be one of those “it could’ve been me” posts – I fucking hate that shit, trying to make a drama out of one’s own life when others have been in that drama for real.

I walked over London Bridge twice, and had drinks and food in Borough Market. Again, loads of people out in the sun, sightseeing, visiting the city.

I wasn’t there when everything happened later, I was home, and had been for a while.

I have plans in London on Thursday and Friday for a conference in Westminster, then on Saturday to see a play in Soho, and the following weekend for Taste in Regent’s Park.  I have these plans, and I won’t be changing them.  I’ll go to the places I want to be, I’ll live the life I have, and want to have. I won’t let fuckwitted extremist bellends change my life.

Some of it is statistics. I know that there are, on any given day, literally millions of people in London, and only a tiny, tiny minority are bellend extremist shit-for-brains, so the risks are pretty low – but primarily it’s because it seems to me that the best, and perhaps the only response most of us can make to this kind of thing is to carry on as normal.

The odds are ridiculously low that I, or anyone I know, will ever be involved in anything similar to what happened on Saturday night. And if those odds bite me on the arse and something does happen to me or anyone I know, then I’ll deal with those events and repercussions the best I can. I still won’t let the dickheads beat me, though.

Weekend Walking

On Saturday, I went into London – primarily to see Don Juan in Soho again, as I’d booked a ticket for myself, and then my friends booked theirs for a couple of weeks earlier. If I hadn’t enjoyed it when I saw it with them, I’d have given up the ticket or whatever, but I did like it, so I was OK with seeing it twice.

This time though, I wasn’t going to be drinking beforehand. Among other things, there were some bits of the play I was hazy on, or couldn’t get to gel with the rest of it, so that was another reason to see it again.  Instead, it was a nice day, so I decided to go for a bit of a walk.

And, because I’m an idiot of world-shattering proportions, I came pretty close to breaking myself. I didn’t, but it came closer than usual to happening.

I hadn’t accounted for a couple of things – primarily, the sun and temperature. London on Saturday was bloody hot, and sunny. Me being me, I hadn’t really made any plans or preparations, I’d just got a route in mind, I’d got my boots on, and walked it. Two hours, and 7½ miles later, I was pretty knackered.

Because of the warmth, I also noticed that the plane trees along a lot of the route were chucking out something that affected the back of my throat, and made it harder to breathe – not life-threatening by any stretch, just harder work than usual – which made it all more tiring.

Having now read that Wikipedia page, I’m more sure of this – the quote

However, it has a number of problems in urban use, most notably the short, stiff hairs shed by the young leaves and the dispersing seeds; these are an irritant if breathed in, and can exacerbate breathing difficulties for people with asthma.

seems to confirm my theory somewhat.

By the time I’d got to the Albert Memorial, I was pretty much stuffed, and also thinking I’d probably been in the sun for longer than I should’ve been.  But by then, well, I was on the ‘final straight’ so I kept on going, just at a slightly slower pace.

I did OK though, and was then more sensible once I’d got to my intended destination, by opting to sit downstairs in the shade, drink lots of water, and generally take some time out. From there, it was a simple short stroll to the theatre, and once the play was done, I closed the circle of that route, and walked back up to Euston.

Once I was home, I was properly knackered, and my legs were more sore than I’d have expected as well. But happily it all recovered overnight and was fine, so I’m happy with what I did – I just could’ve been more sensible about the entire bloody thing.  I suppose that “being sensible” might actually happen one day, rather than only ever occurring to me in hindsight, but well, we’ll see.

 

Post Navigation