Friday, 25 July 2014

Royal Childhood

With HM the Queen up in Scotland for her summer holiday, a new exhibition opens in Buckingham Palace tomorrow: Royal Childhood. This brings together objects from the Royal Collection, the Royal Archives and the private collections of members of the Royal Family, as well as previously unseen photographs and film footage. The exhibition spans more than 250 years with well-loved toys and treasured family gifts to tiny childhood outfits. Shown is Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret enjoying a Rocking Horse. This exhibition is for rich tourists only: adults £19.75, silver surfers £18 (CLICK). Londoners, view the BBC video and save your money: CLICK.

Chinese Toad

Since Florentijn Hofmanis' Giant Inflatable Yellow Rubber Duck visited Hong Kong last year, the Chinese have been going ape on jumbo inflatables. This Giant Toad in Beijing's Yuyuantan Park has caused a furore, because wags on Chinese social media have mocked its similarity to former president Jiang Zemin (inset) who was nicknamed "The Toad". The Communist Party is miffed about this mockery and has banned references to the toad (CLICK).

Pankhurst Portrait

Yesterday the National Portrait Gallery in London unveiled this painting Dame Christabel Pankhurst (1909) by fellow suffragette Ethel Wright, first shown at the Women’s Exhibition in London in 1909, a fundraising event which highlighted women’s skills and potential. It was bequeathed to NPG by Elizabeth Ruth Dugdale Weir in 2011 and hasn't been on display to the public for 80 years. It's in Room 30, next to the free display Suffragettes: Deeds not Words in Room 31, which shows photos of the turbulent Women’s Social and Political Union (CLICK).

Aviation Art

I'm a bit late with this news. The Guild of Aviation Artists Annual Exhibition opened at the Mall Galleries in central London on Tuesday and flies until Sunday 27 July. If you have the slightest interest in aviation art, this is the annual big one. You'll find it in the Main and North galleries, admission free. Shown is a detail from 56 vs. 18 by Keith Woodcock FGAvA. And don't forget We Are Falklands in The Threadneedle Space, also free. Both close on Sunday at 1pm (CLICK).

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Meriam Ibrahim Free

Meriam Ibrahim, the Sudanese woman sentenced to death for "apostasy" by an insane and vicious Islamic court, has finally been allowed to leave Sudan. She and her husband and two children flew to Italy, where they were met by the Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. They were then whisked off to meet Pope Francis at his Santa Marta residence at the Vatican. He thanked Mrs Ibrahim for her "witness to faith". She may have escaped the jackboot of Islam, but her lawyer says that two days ago Muslim group Hamza issued a statement declaring that they would kill her and everyone who helped her (CLICK). I suppose that's their witness to faith.

Moscow Portrait

Following Tuesday's announcement that there will be a public inquiry into the murder of Alexander Litvinenko (CLICK) ArtDaily has posted a file photo taken in May 2007 of a visitor - smoking a cigarette! - at the Marat Guelman gallery in Moscow, contemplating this Portrait of Alexander Litvinenko on his Deathbed by Russian artists Dmitry Vrubel and Viktoria Timofeyeva (CLICK). Do you infer an attitude of gloating from this picture?

Bongsu Park

This striking image reminds me of Jonathan Miller's 1968 BBC film Whistle and I'll Come to You, adapted from the ghost story by M. R. James (1904). It's a still from a video by South Korean dancer Bongsu Park: Core 2014. A number of her videos will be shown at Rosenfeld Porcini, 37 Rathbone Street, London, in Sound & Vision from 25 July to 30 September (CLICK).

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Fountain Art Fun

If your idea of art is getting wet, here's artist Jeppe Hein’s installation thingy Appearing Rooms Fountain outside Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre, London. Where will the fountain appear next? Get it right and you might just get sprinkled. Get it wrong and you get a jet of water up your knickers. Great fun for kids (CLICK).

Fantasy Scenes

Here's an unusual image: a photo of a working vintage arcade machine set on a shoreline, probably Whitley Bay. It's one of a series of photos by Danny Passarella which can be seen in his exhibition Fantasy Scenes, which opens at The Gallery of Forge & Co, Shoreditch, London, on 25 July and runs until 3 August, admission free (CLICK).

Books About Town

Now that the school summer holidays have begun, it's time to find the cherubs something fun and free to occupy them. In London, Books about Town has the answer. The National Literacy Trust and Wild in Art have brought 50 unique hand painted BookBench sculptures to the capital for families to find and enjoy. The benches are shaped like open books with excellent pictures by leading illustrators to depict which story the bench represents. Shown is design team Fiona and Neil Osborne's BookBench painting for Edith Nesbit's The Railway Children (2014). The user-friendly Books About Town website scrolls through all 50 BookBench sculptures and shows maps of their locations: CLICK. The search continues until mid-September. On 7 October the BookBenches will be auctioned at the Southbank Centre to raise funds to tackle illiteracy across the UK.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Google Chrome

For the last week or so, Google has been trying to sneak its Google Chrome installer onto my computer without my knowledge or consent and my anti-virus protection has been blocking it. But still it keeps trying. Does anyone know what Google is playing at, apart from being an invasive pest?

Litvinenko Inquiry

On Sunday I mentioned the case of Alexander Litvinenko, the former KGB officer who became a British citizen and was murdered with radioactive polonium (CLICK). His widow, Marina Litvinenko, has been campaigning for an inquiry into his death. Chief suspect Andrei Lugovoi, another ex-KGB agent, has since been elected to the Russian parliament. The UK government has dragged its heels in order to placate the Kremlin. Today Home Secretary Theresa May announced there will be a public inquiry chaired by senior judge Sir Robert Owen, who was the coroner at Mr Litvinenko's inquest. PM David Cameron has obviously had enough of appeasing Putin. With the world condemning despot Vlad over Malaysia Flight MH17, it's long overdue that the truth came out (CLICK).

Monday, 21 July 2014

Mini Monet

If you want to see the latest collection of paintings by "Mini Monet" Kieron Williamson, now aged 11 years, you'll need to zoom down to Picturecraft Gallery in Holt, Norfolk, The show runs until 30 July. Don't expect to buy any paintings. All 40 will have been sold prior to the exhibition for about £400,000 (CLICK). Shown is Kieron Williamson's Snowdrifts at St Benet's Abbey, Broadland (2014). He works in oils, watercolours and pastels.

Gilbert & George

Oo-er, it's Gilbert & George at White Cube Bermondsey, posing for the opening of their exhibition Scapegoating Pictures for London, which limps along until 28 September. Best taken with a whiff of nitrous oxide, they seem to suggest with a canister (CLICK). The "living sculptures" joke is wearing a bit thin now, lads.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Putin's Watch

The trouble with despots is that they tend to believe their own propaganda, because nobody under their rule has the guts to tell them the truth. If Russian media were truly free, they would probably be following similar lines of enquiry over the destruction of Malaysia Flight MH17 as western media. But nasty things happen to people who cross President Putin. Remember Alexander Litvinenko (CLICK). So Russian media is full of conspiracy theories trying to shift the blame to Ukraine, where Putin places it. So, how did this dangerous despot gain the FIFA World Cup 1918 for Russia and how much did it cost him? The watch Vlad is wearing in this photo has been identified as a Patek Philippe costing $150,000. For the latest on Malaysia Flight MH17 CLICK.

James Garner RIP

James Garner has died aged 86. He had been ill for some years, following a severe stroke in 2008 (CLICK). A very personable actor with a light touch, he starred in two hit TV series: Maverick in the late 1950's and The Rockford Files (1974-1980). Both series were created by Roy Huggins. Between TV series, Garner starred in major movies such as The Loudest Whisper (1961) and The Great Escape 1963). In 1994 he starred in the movie remake of Maverick with Mel Gibson as Bret. Shown is James Garner and Jodie Foster in a still from Maverick (1994). In 2005 the Screen Actors Guild presented Garner with a lifetime achievement award. Also, he belatedly received a Purple Heart medal for having been wounded in Korea in 1951.

John and George

Ex-prisoner and homeless, John Dolan spent three years sitting on Shoreditch High Street with his dog George. To pass the time he drew pictures of the buildings and his dog, then began to sell them to passers-by. He was noticed by Howard Griffin Gallery of 189 Shoreditch High Street and invited to put on an exhibition last year. It was a sell-out. Now he is back with a new show John Dolan - John and George, which runs until 17 August (CLICK).