Monday, 31 August 2015

Children's Day

The forecast rain held off for Children's Day at the Notting Hill Carnival on Sunday. Thousands turned out to watch the kiddie performers (CLICK). Today it's pouring. There might even be thunderstorms, according to the weather forecast I saw yesterday evening.

Sunday, 30 August 2015

India Festival

This autumn the V&A Museum in London will present the India Festival, marking the 25th anniversary of the opening of the Museum’s Nehru Gallery, which displays some of the most important objects from the V&A’s South Asian art collection produced between the 16th and 19th centuries. There will be a series of exhibitions and displays to explore the rich culture of South Asia (CLICK).

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Notting Hill

The Notting Hill Carnival is with us again. This is Europe's largest street party. Sunday 30 August is Children's Day. Monday 21 August all hell breaks loose. The weather forecast is for heavy rain on both days. The Carnival Bands take to the roads from about 9am (CLICK).

Extreme Ballerina

If you think you saw a ballerina flitting about London during the previous week, your eyes weren't deceiving you. It was French "Extreme Ballerina" Agathe Petrini, who usually does her daring photo shoots in the Alps. The 21-year-old was brought to London by Virgin Active to launch its new fusion ballet class "Barre". Here she is posing on a Tube sign with The Shard in the background.

Queen of Crime

The Bankside Gallery in London is celebrating the 125th anniversary of Agatha Christie's birth with a free exhibition of rare photographs from the family’s personal archive, together with first editions of her most famous mysteries. Agatha Christie | Unfinished Portrait includes a Kokoschka portrait of Christie (CLICK). Shown is Dance class in Torquay. Agatha Christie in the centre (c.1904).

Friday, 28 August 2015

Clooney Launch

Have you noticed how glamour pusses feel the need to tart themselves up for going on the razzle, regardless of how scruffy their boyfriends or spouses appear? For example, take Amal Clooney and hubby George. Here they are at the Ushuaia Ibiza Beach Hotel launching Casamigos Tequila. Amal is dazzling in a sequined gold mini dress that shows off her knobbly knees. She's painted her fingernails. Hubby on the other hand wears wrinkled old jeans and dishevelled shirt. He hasn't even bothered to polish his shoes!

Botticelli Reimagined

In preparation for its major spring exhibition Botticelli Reimagined, the V&A has cleaned and restored Sandro Botticelli’s Portrait of a Lady known as Smeralda Bandinelli (c.1470-5). The work has dispelled a myth that the sitter's red hair had been enhanced by former owner Dante Gabriel Rossetti, who bought the painting from Christie’s in 1867 for £20. The Pre-Raphaelite movement brought Botticelli’s art out of obscurity and artists have responded to it ever since. Using infrared reflectography, V&A experts have also discovered how Botticelli designed and painted this portrait. CLICK for more information.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

The Shepherd's Crown

The final Terry Pratchett Discworld novel hit bookshops in the UK at midnight and fans queued to grab a copy (CLICK). Sir Terry wrote 90% of The Shepherd's Crown before he died. His assistant, Rob Wilkins, completed the novel. It will be published in the USA on 1 September. Shown is Paul Kidby's cover art for The Shepherd's Crown (2015) featuring young witch Tiffany Aching.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Open City Hubs

The free Open House London 2015 booklets are in London libraries now. I picked up my copy yesterday. Don't dither; they vanish like hot cakes. Instead of selecting a potential favourite and finding the queue is a mile long, why not try a hub, where you can walk out of one venue and straight into another? Shown is Temple Inns of Court and Temple Church. To mark the anniversary of the sealing of Magna Carta in 1215, Inner Temple, Middle Temple and Temple Church will have a host of activities over the weekend of 19-20 September (CLICK). On Sunday a Children's Court will be held at the Royal Courts of Justice.

A Damaging Trip

The big art news story of the day is that a 12-year-old Taiwanese boy put his fist through Paolo Porpora's Flowers while visiting the Taipei gallery on Sunday. The lad wasn't looking where he was going and tripped over a low barrier. He put his fist through the painting, worth nearly £1 million, as he stopped himself from falling. CLICK for details. A security camera caught the action.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Geometric Art

The Cortesi Gallery in London is back from its summer hols and reopened with Marcello Morandini Sculptures. Shown is Morandini's Scultura 526 (2008) made from Plexiglass. If you like being dazzled, this is the show for you (CLICK). Not my cup of froffy coffee.

Forever Bicycles

This is the last "sculpture" the City of London Corporation will inflict on the Square Mile this year: Ai Weiwei's Forever (2014) a stack of stainless steel bicycles. It will be installed outside Norman Foster’s Gherkin between 4 and 13 September to advertise the RA's Ai Weiwei exhibition, which opens on 19 September. This is the fifth edition of Sculpture in the City (CLICK).

Mexican Art

On Sunday this monstrosity was unveiled in Trafalgar Square. It's You (2015) by Mexican artist José Rivelino, one of four new large-format sculptures inflicted on London to celebrate the Dual Year of UK and Mexico 2015. The two bronze fingers weigh 25 tons (CLICK).

Monday, 24 August 2015

Watermill NY

Two Days ago The Nicole Ripka Gallery, a Watermill pop-up gallery in New York, opened an exhibition featuring Carole A. Feuerman's hyperrealist sculptures and photographs by Bonnie Lautenberg. Shown is Carole A. Feuerman's painted bronze sculpture The Message (2013). In October she will have a solo show in London, but I don't know where (CLICK). I'll let you know when I find out.


Yesterday the jihadist Muslim fanatics of IS blew up the Temple of Baalshamin, built in Palmyra nearly 2,000 years ago . The photo of the temple shown here was taken in 2014. A week ago IS brutally murdered Khaled al-Asaad, a Syrian archaeologist born in Palmyra who dedicated his life to working at the site. He refused to leave when IS attacked the ancient city. They beheaded him, hung his body as an example, then mutilated his corpse. His two sons attended a ceremony in their father's memory at the National Museum in the Syrian capital Damascus. CLICK for the BBC's brief and somewhat censored account.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Free at Mall

London has a reputation for being a very expensive city; but, if you know what you're about, there are many free art exhibitions. On 7 September the Mall Galleries in central London opens Minding Too Much: A Charlotte Johnson Wahl Retrospective, admission free (CLICK).

A 'New' Monkey

Meet Callicebus urubambensis, a "new" monkey which languished in the American Natural History Museum in New York City for almost a century, wrongly labelled. In 2013 a Dutch primatologist conducting a jungle expedition through central Peru found this previously unknown species and named it after the river where he found it. Terrific portrait by an anonymous artist. CLICK for more information.

Body and Freedom

I suppose it had to happen. The inaugural Body and Freedom Festival in Biel, Switzerland, claims to be the world's first ever festival for naked performing in urban space. It opened on Friday (CLICK). Shown is Swiss Gisela Hochuli doing her thing in the nuddy.

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Pop at Tate

On 17 September Tate Modern opens The EY Exhibition: The World Goes Pop. "This is pop art, but not as you know it," claims Tate, promising to break new ground in telling the global story of pop art. Shown is Isabel Oliver's Cosmética (from the series La Mujer) 1971. Admission will cost £14.50 for adults, £12.70 for silver surfers. The show will limp along until 24 January (CLICK).

Bartolini at V&A

The Victoria and Albert Museum and the Scottish National Gallery in Edinburgh have jointly acquired Lorenzo Bartolini's The Campbell Sisters Dancing a Waltz (c.1821) for £500,000. The uncle of Emma and Julia Campbell, the 6th Duke of Argyll, is thought to have commissioned the sculpture from Bartolini in 1821 for about £500. This charming work goes on display for the first time at the V&A until 20 November. It then travels to the Scottish National Gallery, where it will be on display for the next 7 years. So view it while you can (CLICK).

Friday, 21 August 2015

Illusory Portrait

Two psychologists at Sheffield Hallam University and the University of Sunderland have reported finding a gaze-dependent illusory effect in Leonardo da Vinci's La Bella Principessa. They think she smiles when they look away from her mouth. The eyes can play strange tricks when you gaze at something for too long. As psychologists, they should know this. La Bella Principessa is thought to be a portrait of 13-year-old Bianca Sforza, the daughter of Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan, who was soon to be married to a commander of the Duke’s Milanese army. She died within months of the wedding, possibly due to an ectopic pregnancy (CLICK).


Banksy and chums, including more than 50 fellow artists, have turned Weston-super-Mare's abandoned Tropicana lido into Dismaland Bemusement Park, a Mickey-take of Disney theme parks. Today was "locals only" day. A thousand people received free tickets. Tomorrow Dismaland opens to the general public. Six million attempts to get tickets online caused the website to crash! CLICK for news and photos of some very weird exhibits.

Pru'dhon Video

If you can't make it to the Dulwich Picture Gallery to view Pierre-Paul Prud'hon: Napoleon’s Draughtsman, watch this YouTube video by Chief Curator Xavier Bray and Assistant Curator Sorcha Ni Lideadha, who take you on a tour through the exhibition (CLICK).

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Jane Seymour

Finding a programme worth viewing on the BBC is becoming increasingly difficult. You have to search among all the cheap cookery shows. Here's a show that looks more promising. Actress Jane Seymour is the subject of tonight's Who Do You Think You Are? She knows that her father's side of the family came from Poland. She searches for two aunts, one who escaped the Warsaw ghetto, the other who managed to flee to Switzerland. The programme is on BBC One today at 21:00 hours ... er ... 9pm (CLICK).

Moore's Drawings

Waddesdon Manor, near Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, is showing Henry Moore: From Paper to Bronze until 25 October. This selection of 100 drawings from The Henry Moore Foundation is an eye-opener for anyone who regards Moore as a hyped up peddler of junk sculpture. The man who drew this Sheep with Lamb I (1972) was an undoubted artist. Why did he produce such awful sculptures? The exhibition is in The Coach House Stables and is free to view for those with a Gardens ticket (CLICK).

Export Ban

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey has placed a temporary export ban on this watercolour An East View of the Great Cataract of Niagara (1762) by Captain Thomas Davies. It isn't the most inspiring painting, but it is of historical importance. It was the first eyewitness representation of Niagara Falls, complete with rainbow, and testifies to Britain’s global military role in the eighteenth century. The current owner requires £151,800 to secure the purchase. CLICK to view a larger graphic and to read more.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Bomber Portrait

Thai police have released this artist's impression of the man who planted the bomb at the Erawan shrine in Bangkok on Monday, killing 20 people and injuring many others. CCTV caught him removing and leaving a backpack where the bomb exploded. An arrest warrant has been issued for an "unnamed foreigner" and a reward of one million baht (£17,950) has been offered for his capture (CLICK).

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

'Obscene' Diver

"Obscene" and "sexist" is how critics describe this Aoshima Megu Mascot created for the Japanese coastal city of Shima, which is hosting the Group of Seven summit next year. She's a cute, voluptuous, 17-year-old aspiring "ama" diver with huge manga eyes and big breasts in search of a boyfriend. Real "ama" divers, who harvest seaweed, clams and pearls, are furious and have signed a petition calling for the city to scrap the mascot. I assume this is because they aren't cute, voluptuous 17-year-olds with manga eyes and big breasts. Aw, come on, ladies. What's wrong with glamorizing "ama" divers? Why petition to be depicted as scarecrows? (CLICK.)

Monday, 17 August 2015

Nuba Beauty Queen

There seems to be an international day for almost everything lately. 9 August is the UN's International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples (CLICK). Promoting health is its principal aim. Many thousands of Nuba have fled the Nuba Mountains in South Kordofan, due to persecution by Muslim fanatics, and have settled in Khartoum. On 15 August the Nuba Mountains Cultural Heritage Festival was held in Omdurman to mark the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples. The happy bunny shown at the festival is Natalina Yaqoub, a 22-year-old student crowned Nuba Mountains beauty queen.

Acton Art

If you're looking for a different art display, London Transport Museum's Depot at Acton houses over 7,000 works of art commissioned by London Transport during the last century. The Museum Depot at Acton isn't normally open to the public, but guided tours are arranged. Tickets for poster guided tours must be pre-booked and cost £10 for adults and £8.50 for silver surfers (CLICK).

Saturday, 15 August 2015

V&A Dundee

Why on earth is London's V&A Museum opening a branch in Dundee at a cost of £80 million? The original price of Japanese architect Kengo Kuma's award-winning design was supposed to be £45 million, but the costs spiralled out of control. Dundee councillors want their waterfront regenerated, but not at any price. So they commissioned procurement expert John McClelland to investigate (CLICK).

Norman Rockwell Museum

Norman Rockwell's Boy with Baby Carriage was his first illustration to appear on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post, on 20 May 1916. The Norman Rockwell Museum has launched a new online illustration history resource dedicated to the illustration arts (CLICK).

Friday, 14 August 2015

Figure Studies

From 24 to 29 August the Mall Galleries in central London will be showing the annual exhibition of The Hesketh Hubbard Art Society, which offers its members life classes (the study of nude models). Shown is a Nude by one of its members. Admission is free (CLICK).

Art Book Fair

Last year 10,000 people visited The London Art Book Fair at the Whitechapel Gallery. This year the entire ground floor will be taken up by the fair, which presents the best in international arts publishing: artists’ books, catalogues, magazines, rare publications and brand new releases. The fair runs from Thursday evening 10 September to Sunday 13 September, admission free (CLICK).

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Stop The Con

This is the most spectacular photo I've seen in yonks, taken by Edwin Bobrycki. I've cropped the original to fit it into my blog. It shows Tesia’s stunt on El Capitan in Yosemite National Park to publicize Survival's Stop The Con campaign. The con is that tribal peoples are excluded from their land in the name of conservation. The land then deteriorates, because tribal peoples are the best conservators. Tesia’s leap off El Capitan is a must-see video on the Survival International website: CLICK.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Frogmore House 2015

Frogmore House and Garden in the private Home Park of Windsor Castle will be open to the public on 25, 26 and 27 August this year. It is still used by the Royal Family for private entertaining. Tickets cost £9 for adults, £8 for silver surfers (CLICK).

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

The London Group

Artists, you have a fortnight left to submit your artworks to The London Group for its 82nd London Group Open exhibition, which takes place at The Cello Factory in two stages from 13 - 23 October and from 27 October - 6 November. Shown is Paul & Laura Carey's Saddled Rhinoceros (CLICK).

Face of War

Recognize him? It's Russian President and Mafia boss Vladimir Putin made out of 5,000 bullet shells collected in the separatist east. Ukrainian artist Daria Marchenko, who created the portrait in Kiev, calls it The Face of War (2015). Watch out for the polonium, Daria (CLICK).

Monday, 10 August 2015

National Gallery Strike

The National Gallery in London has appointed private company Securitas to run its security and visitor services. This has incensed members of the PCS union, who have been campaigning against privatisation. They are now going on an all out strike from tomorrow 11 August. Much of the free areas of the gallery will be closed. Shown is Jan van Eyck's Arnolfini Wedding (1434). CLICK for NG.

Tiger Poaching

Yesterday I mentioned International Tiger Day. Today came news that Bangladeshi police in the Sundarbans mangrove forest killed six tiger poachers in a gunfight lasting 15 or 20 minutes. The police seized five guns and ammunition and three tiger pelts from animals killed not much more than a week ago. The population of rare Bengal tigers in the Sundarbans in south-east Bangladesh has slumped from 440 to 100 in a decade, due to poaching these endangered animals for their beautiful pelts (CLICK).

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Tiger Day

Did you know that since 2010 there has been an International Tiger Day held on 29 July? The idea is to celebrate this endangered species and to make people aware of its plight. Shown is an Indian boy in a park in Bangalore having his face badly painted as a tiger.

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Kaufman Collection

Today The Autry Museum in Griffith Park, Los Angeles, opened New Acquisitions Featuring the Kaufman Collection. On display are 49 paintings and sculptures of the American West donated by Loretta and Victor Kaufman. Shown is Eanger Irving Couse's Ben Examining the Pots, undated. Its significance is lost in the mists of time. Was Ben trying to sell California for a few pots? CLICK.

Friday, 7 August 2015

Open House 2015

The dates for Open House London 2015 are 19 & 20 September. Over 700 buildings will open their doors to the public this year. The Open House London 2015 guides have been published. If you want to buy a copy in advance CLICK. If not, keep an eye open for a freebie in your local library. They should be available in the next few weeks. Shown is Open City's recent View of London.

Animal Tales

Today The British Library in London opened Animal Tales in its Entrance Hall Gallery, a free exhibition exploring animals on the page. From Aesop’s Fables to Ted Hughes’s Crow, the stories told about animals are often stories about us. Why do they play such an important role in literature for adults and children alike? Shown is the Title page from CS Lewis' The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (London 1950) illustrated by Pauline Baynes. This free show looks perfect for summer holiday visits for kids (CLICK).

Thursday, 6 August 2015

The Globe at V&A

The Victoria and Albert Museum's tarted up Europe 1600-1815 galleries are now due to open on 9 December. The museum commissioned Los Carpinteros (Marco Valdes and Dagoberto Sanchez) to create The Globe, a contemporary installation in which visitors can pause to reflect on the Enlightenment (CLICK).

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Designed to Impress

The Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge is currently showing Designed to Impress: Highlights from the print collection in the Charrington Print Room (16). works by Rembrandt and Dürer hang alongside prints by Canaletto, Blake and Munch. The exhibition is free (CLICK).

Culture Capital

London's Science Museum, Natural History Museum and British Museum are the top three most googled museums in the world. The New York Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC were the next two, according to London & Partners, Mayor Bouncy Boris's official promotional company. Shown is Girl Pets Dinosaur at the Natural History Museum (CLICK).

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Goya Portraits

On 7 October The National Gallery in London will open Goya: The Portraits in the Sainsbury Wing, the first ever exhibition dedicated to Francisco de Goya as a portraitist. Around 70 of the artist’s finest works from public and private collections around the world will be displayed, including paintings, drawings and miniatures never before seen in London. Shown is his portrait The Duchess of Alba (1797), Admission costs £16 for adults, £14 for silver surfers. The show will run until 2016 (CLICK).

Monday, 3 August 2015

TPOTY 2014

All the finalists from the Travel Photographer of the Year competition (TPOTY) can be seen at the Royal Geographical Society in Kensington, London, until 5 September (CLICK). Shown is Sue O'Connell's close-up of a Model at a Fashion Festival at Jember, in East Java, Indonesia. Regular readers will know that I don't like black-and-white photos, but this is a stunner. CLICK for BBC News Magazine.

Classical Ideal

Sir John Soane's Museum in London is currently showing Drawn from the Antique: Artists & the Classical Ideal, a major exhibition first launched at the Teylers Museum in the Netherlands. This is the Sloane Museum's largest international loan show to date, bringing together works from ten leading museums in Europe and North America. The exhibition examines the influence of classical sculptures on 500 years of European art from the Renaissance to the 19th Century. Shown is William Daniels' Self-Portrait with Casts: The Image Seller (c.1850). The exhibition runs until 26 September, admission free (CLICK).

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Cilla Black RIP

Shock news: singer and TV star Cilla Black has died aged 72. She died in Estepona in the Costa del Sol, Spain, where she lived. It was only last year that Cilla received honours from BAFTA and the Royal Television Society to celebrate her 50 years in showbiz (CLICK).