Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Sybil Andrews

The Osborne Samuel gallery in Mayfair is currently showing a major exhibition of linocuts by 20th-century British-Canadian artist Sybil Andrews (1898 - 1992). Shown is her imaginative Racing (1934) which looks as though it might have begun as a photo through a fish-eye lens. The exhibition coincides with the launch of a new book Sybil Andrews Linocuts: A Complete Catalogue by Hana Leaper. CLICK for details.

Body Shop

Today the Michael Werner Gallery in Mayfair, London, opened Body Shop, a group show of 20th Century depictions of the human figure in painting and sculpture. Shown is Allen Jones' Bra La La (c.1974). The exhibition runs until 5 December. CLICK for more information.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

TfL Video

What's this ear? It's the latest load of codswallop to be commissioned by Art on the Underground to bemuse passengers. It's a video by British artist Benedict Drew entitled de re touch (2015). The 8-second video will be displayed on digital screens on the London Underground network from 1 November until 28 February 2016 (CLICK). Why? Why compete with firms that pay to advertise on the Underground? And why waste money on vanity projects when there are so many improvements urgently needed on the Underground?

Monday, 28 September 2015

Iraqi Modernism

On 7 October Bonhams takes its second dip into Iraqi Modernism with A Century of Iraqi Art Part II. Shown is Jewad Selim's Figure of a Girl (pre-1961). It looks as though he could have done with a live model. Still, it's better than Shakir Hassan Al-Said’s lurid cubist Cockerel, which makes Picasso look good (CLICK).

Saint Sebastian

I recently came across this Gustave Moreau oil painting of Saint Sebastian (1870–5) complete with halo. What struck me was the saint's loosely fitting garment. What in the name of Gravity is holding it up? Maybe the Musée Gustave Moreau in Paris has the answer (CLICK).

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Lock 2 For Sale

John Constable painted two versions of The Lock (c.1824-5). This second version has refinements, such as the stormy sky, and Constable kept it for himself. When he died it was offered in a sale of works from his studio. Charles Birch, a leading collector, bought it for £131 and ten shillings. In 1855 Birch put it up for auction and it fetched £860. It was bought by wealthy industrialist William Orme Foster and stayed in his family. On 9 December it comes up for grabs in Sotheby’s London sale, estimated at £8-12m (CLICK).

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Victimisation at NG

The strike of staff at The National Gallery in London has reached 100 days. It began as a strike against privatisation and a demand for a living wage, then escalated when PCS union rep. Candy Udwin was unlawfully sacked for arguing the union case. A new law will guarantee workers are paid a living wage, but privatisation has gone ahead and Candy Udwin hasn't been reinstated. It is a disgrace that this national treasure, which receives around six million visitors a year, has such a useless management team (CLICK).

Friday, 25 September 2015


Tonight on BBC Two at 9pm, Auntie presents Patagonia: Earth's Secret Paradise. Episode 1 is Fire and Ice. Shown are two pumas (sisters) watching the cameraman. Hummingbirds, condors, lesser rheas, penguins, small deer and gauchos are all part of the mix (CLICK).

Gold Leaf Vagina

Has Anish Kapoor completely lost the plot? His Queen's Vagina has been vandalised three times since he inflicted it on the Palace of-Versailles. Some of the graffiti was anti-Semitic. Kapoor wanted to keep it. So he hotfooted himself along to petitiion French president Francois Hollande to allow the graffiti to stay (CLICK). However a local government official objected - anti-Semitic graffiti is illegal in France - and a judge ruled that the graffiti must be removed. Kapoor is now fighting the judge's decision. Meanwhile a team from Kapoor's art studio has laid gold leaf inside the Queen's Vagina (CLICK). What a farce! Dismantle it, Kapoor. It's rubbish.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

My Red Homeland

Having inflicted a "Dirty Corner" on the Palace of Versailles, Anish Kapoor has opened his first solo exhibition in Russia. Kapoor's My Red Homeland opened at the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Centre in Moscow. Shown is a visitor staring at her reflection in the show (CLICK).

Tate Modern

Here's a brave boast: "NEW TATE MODERN OPENS 17 JUNE 2016". the £260m project is still £30m short of funds, but Tate director Sir Nicholas Serota said he was "absolutely confident" the money would be found (CLICK). I'm sure it will. Who will shell out the readies?

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

David Inshaw

The Fine Art Society in London is currently showing Time Past and Time Present, an exhibition of new paintings by David Inshaw. Shown is his Allegory I (2015) which has a distinct touch of Paul Delvaux Surrealism about it. Don't ask me what the allegory represents. Maybe it's a fleet of Isis people smuggling ships descending on sybaritic Europeans. The show coincides with the publication of a new book on the artist: David Inshaw written by Andrew Lambirth and published by Unicorn Press (CLICK).

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Passion For Freedom

Tomorrow the Mall Galleries in central London opens the 7th Annual Passion For Freedom Art Festival. The Organisers reflect on a difficult year for free speech and art which has seen 14 journalists and bloggers killed in addition to the 12 Charlie Hebdo murders (CLICK).

Donkey Documents

Today the Design Centre at Chelsea Harbour, London, unveiled the first public display of Banksy's Donkey Documents (2007) which shows an Israeli soldier checking a donkey's ID. This is Banksy's largest mural, on loan from Julien's Auctions which will sell it in the USA (CLICK).

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Downton Abbey

Is there anyone in the UK who doesn't know that the 6th and final series of Julian Fellowes' smash hit Downton Abbey begins this Sunday at 9pm? Shown is Joanne Froggatt, who plays lady's maid Anna Bates, receiving her Golden Globe Award in January 2015. CLICK for ITV.

Friday, 18 September 2015

Exit Jenna Coleman

Jenna Coleman has confirmed she's leaving Doctor Who, which is a shame because she's the best thing in it. The last series got sillier and sillier and was obviously running out of original ideas. The new series - Series 9 - begins on Saturday on BBC One at 7.40pm (CLICK).

Ig Nobel 2015

The 25th annual Ig Nobel Prize ceremony took place yesterday at Harvard University. Among this year's gems of improbable research are a study showing that the universal urination duration for most larger mammals is about 21 seconds, the effect of speed mumps on patients suffering from appendicitis, a chicken raised with a weighted artificial tail made to walk like a dinosaur and the Bangkok Metropolitan Police in Thailand for offering to pay policemen extra cash if they refuse to take bribes, an intriguing experiment indeed (CLICK).

Insight Astronomy

Today the Royal Observatory Greenwich Astronomy Centre opened the Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2015 exhibition (CLICK). Entry is free. Shown is Eclipse Totality over Sassendalen by Luc Jamet, winner of the Skyscapes category and overall winner (CLICK).

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Face of Britain

BBC Two is to inflict Simon Schama on its viewers in a new five-part series beginning on 30 September: Simon Schama’s Face of Britain (CLICK). The accompanying exhibition has already opened at the National Portrait Gallery in London. Schama and its curators devised a cross-period exploration of the history of Britain through portraiture. It's a mixed bag of paintings and photos presented under five themes: Power, Love, Fame, Self and People (CLICK). Shown is a detail from John Robert Parsons's excellent profile photo of Jane Morris (née Burden). Prof. Sharma is a pompous and opinionated presenter who loves the sound of his own voice. I watched his Power of Art series on BBC Two in 2006 and thought his attitude toward Caravaggio was pig ignorant.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Radio Times Festival

The Radio Times Festival takes place from 24 - 27 September at The Green, Hampton Court Palace. It will cost you an arm and a leg. Many of the tickets for individual sessions are already sold out. CLICK to see what's available. Shown is Emilia Fox, who plays Dr Nikki Alexander in Silent Witness, which is approaching its 20th anniversary. For £15 she'll show you how to catch a killer.

Celts at BM

The British Museum's autumn biggy is Celts: Art And Identity, which opens on 24 September. This is the first major exhibition to examine the full history of Celtic art and identity, beginning with the first recorded mention of "Celts" over 2,500 years ago, leading through centuries to modern Celtic influences. Shown is a Celtic Shield. CLICK to see more Celtic art. Tickets cost £16.50.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Illustration Comp.

The House of Illustration and The Folio Society have opened next year's Book Illustration Competition, which aims to identify and promote new talent in illustration. You need to be over the age of 18 to enter. For 1916 the task is to illustrate a new Folio Society edition of Michael Morpurgo's famous War Horse (1982). The closing date is 18 January 2016. CLICK for details.

Taylor Wessing

The National Portrait Gallery has named the four photographers shortlisted for the £12,000 Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize, the top such prize in the world. The photos couldn't be more diverse. They range from an amusing naked cherub, through a group of five girls failing to interact, to a close up of a black beauty taken in a London street (CLICK). For me, the outstanding photo is Amira and her Children (2014) by Ivor Prickett, taken inside her tent in Northern Iraq when he was working for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The sombre and dignified matriarch with protective arms round her children says it all.

Monday, 14 September 2015

Wild Woods Winner

The winners of the British Wildlife Photography Awards 2015 have been announced. There are some stunning photos of British wildlife in 16 categories. My favourite is the winner of the Wild Woods category: Chaltanya Deshpande's Flutter in the Woods, taken in London (CLICK).

Flash Mob at BM

Yesterday a flash mob invaded the British Museum in London to protest against sponsorship by oil and gas giant BP (British Petroleum). Dressed in black and carrying black umbrellas, the mob formed the word "NO" in the museum's Great Court. A sign unrolled on the floor demanded "NO NEW BP DEAL". Tate Modern was also targeted. A deal was struck in 2011, worth £10 million over five years to the British Museum, Tate Modern, the National Portrait Gallery and the Royal Opera House. It's peanuts to BP, but a useful source of income for the beneficiaries (CLICK). I don't know what these naive twerps are protesting about. Sponsorship is a legitimate advertising expense that gets the company's logo shown on prestigious websites. When people stop using oil, BP will stop supplying it.

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Tower of Babel

Here are some of the buildings made out of bone china that Barnaby Barford used to build The Tower of Babel at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. He photographed over 6,000 shop fronts, visiting every postcode in London. The Tower is made up of 3,000 shops (CLICK)

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Queen's Vagina

I've been trying to ignore Anish Kapoor's embarrassing load of old tripe at the Chateau of Versailles, but it has now been vandalized three times, has involved French president Francois Hollande and is in danger of becoming an international incident (CLICK). Its official name is Dirty Corner, but it has been dubbed Queen's Vagina. I think it fair to say the French don't like it.

USS Enterprise

Here's a blast from the past. Remember The Trouble with Tribbles, when the USS Enterprise is invaded by cute fluffy aliens that breed like ... er ... tribbles? Apparently that was the last time the original studio model of the USS Enterprise was updated. Next year the Star Trek TV series turns fifty. The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC intends to celebrate this anniversary by displaying a restoration of the 11-feet long USS Enterprise in its Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall (CLICK).

Friday, 11 September 2015

Palladian Design

If you're into architecture, here's the exhibition for you. Palladian Design: The Good, The Bad and The Unexpected tells you everything you ever wanted to know about Andrea Palladio, but were afraid to ask. Shown is Arnold Thornely's Artwork for Stormont, Belfast, Northern Ireland (1932). It looks far too grand for those Irish twits who pretend to be parliamentarians. BBC magazine has posted a taster page of the exhibition (CLICK) which can be visited at the Royal Institute of British Architects until 9 January 2016, admission free (CLICK).

Kaye Song Wins

The National Open Art competition has been won by 18-year-old Londoner Kaye Song with her oil painting Asleep, the final project of her A-level coursework. It's the first time she's entered an art competition, inspired by the chance of exhibiting at the Royal College of Art. The winners were chosen by public vote. Another 18-year-old student, Phoebe Atkey, came third with an impressive cityscape of New York. Professional cartoonist Patrick Blower took second place (CLICK). The show of 134 artworks opens at the Royal College of Art on 21 October.

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Vogue 100

British Vogue magazine celebrates its 100 birthday next year. On 11 February the National Portrait Gallery in London opens Vogue 100: A Century of Style. Over 280 prints from the Condé Nast archive and international collections will be brought together to tell the story of one of the most influential fashion magazines in the world. Top models such as Kate Moss (showing her knickers), Claudia Schiffer and Linda Evangelista; top photographers such as Cecil Beaton, David Bailey and Mario Testino: top stars such as Marlene Dietrich, Fred Astaire and Gwyneth Paltrow; and top prices! Tickets cost £17, silver surfers £15.50 (CLICK).

Ringo Starr at NPG

Ringo Starr has been a happy snapper since he was about 18. To coincide with the publication of his book Photograph by Ringo Starr, he has opened a display of his photos at the National Portrait Gallery in London. He includes a lot of photos of his fellow Beatles (CLICK).

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

20/21 Art Fair

Today the 20/21 British Art Fair 2015 opened in The Royal College of Art. This fair specialises in Modern and Post-War art up to the present day. It totters along until 13 September. Shown is Henry Moore's Madonna and Child Studies (1943) from Waterhouse & Dodd (CLICK).

Northern Lights

The Fleming Collection in Berkeley Street, London, has opened Northern Lights: Aberdeen Art Gallery at the Fleming Collection. The Aberdeen Art Gallery is currently closed for a major redevelopment and is spreading its collection around various venues to keep it out of the builders' way. This gives Londoners the chance to view William Dyce's masterpiece Titian Preparing to make his First Essay in Colouring (1856-57) and Turner's 1832 watercolour of Caerlaverock Castle in Dumfriesshire, among other treasures (CLICK).

Arabian Art

Yesterday the Whitechapel Gallery launched Arabian art in the east end of London. Barjeel Art Foundation Collection: Imperfect Chronology – Debating Modernism I is the first of four displays in Room 7 that will form the largest single historical presentation of Arab art in the UK. Shown is Kadhim Hayder's Fatigued Ten Horses Converse with Nothing (The Martyrs Epic) 1965. Admission is free. CLICK for more information.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Durrington Walls

This is an artist's impression of the neolithic "superhenge" found at Durrington Walls less than two miles from Stonehenge. Ground-penetrating radar was used in the Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project, a collaboration between the University of Birmingham and the Vienna-based Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Archaeological Prospection and Virtual Archaeology (LBI ArchPro). LBI ArchPro's motorized magnetometer covered the site and banks (CLICK). This is the largest henge ever found in Britain.

Monday, 7 September 2015

Brahma Restored

The bomb blast that killed 20 people at the Erawan shrine in central Bangkok and injured many more on 17 August also damaged the Brahma statue, knocking a lump out of a chin. The statue has now been repaired and restored. Thai police are still hunting the bomber.

Sunday, 6 September 2015


The LAPADA Art and Antiques Fair returns to Berkeley Square in central London from 22 - 27 September (CLICK for details). Philip Mould & Co. will be there, exhibiting a collection of miniatures. One of them will be Andrew Plimer's Portrait of an Officer.

Sir Anthony van Dyck

The National Portrait Gallery in London is currently displaying Van Dyck: Transforming British Art. Shown are three portraits by Sir Anthony van Dyck: Portraits of King Charles I and Queen Henrietta Maria flank Van Dyck's Self-Portrait, which was saved for the nation last year and is now on a three-year nationwide tour. The flanking portraits are on loan from the Chequers Trust. Other works by van Dyck, by his contemporaries and followers are also on display. CLICK for an informative video.

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Doña Isabel

The National Gallery in London has released an XRF image of Francisco de Goya's Portrait of Doña Isabel de Porcel (before 1805) showing a painting underneath. CLICK to see it. The painting is currently in the exhibition Goya: The Portraits in the Sainsbury Wing, which includes around 70 works unquestionably by Goya (adults £16, silver surfers £14 CLICK). Meanwhile National Gallery staff are still on strike over privatisation. So it's not worth visiting the Gallery if you can't view paintings in the free areas.

Friday, 4 September 2015

Metalpoint at BM

On 10 September The British Museum opens Drawing in silver and gold: Leonardo to Jasper Johns, featuring works by some of the greatest artists from the late 14th century to the present day: Raphael, Dürer, Rembrandt, Edward Burne-Jones. Shown is Leonardo da Vinci's Bust of a warrior in profile (1475–1480). Organised by the National Gallery of Art, Washington, in association with The British Museum, the exhibition brings together a fascinating collection. Tickets cost £8, under 16s free (CLICK).

HIX Award

The HIX Award 2015 has been won by Allyson McIntyre for this load of old bull Moon Cries for Ferdinand. It doesn't say much for Goldsmiths College, where Allyson is in her final year of a MFA in Fine Art. Nor does it say much for the HIX Award, set up in 2013 by restaurateur Mark HiX and gallery director Rebecca Lidert. Allyson wins £500 worth of HIX restaurant vouchers, which should keep her in hot dogs for a few weeks, a stay in HIX Town House in Lyme Regis, £500 worth of Cass Art supplies and a solo exhibition in the CNB Gallery. "An absolute deserved winner, can’t wait to see what she does next," said Hix (CLICK).

Totally Thames

Unless you're a mudlark (someone who scavenges in river mud for items of value) or a skipper you're unlikely to realise the depth of tide in the River Thames. Trot along to bankside near Vauxhall bridge and you'll find four excellent life-size sculptures of shire horses with riders exposed at low tide. Jason deCaires Taylor's The Rising Tide (2015) is his modern take on the four horsemen of the apocalypse. The horses' heads are the heads of oil well pumps, a comment on the impact of fossil fuels. The work was commissioned by Totally Thames, a September festival that prompts us to take a trip on the Thames (CLICK).

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Manga Now

Today The British Museum opened Manga Now, a free display of work by three of Japan's leading Manga artists. Shown is Chiba Tetsuya's Fair Isle Lighthouse Keepers Golf Course, Scotland (2015). If you have a budding Manga artist about the home, this could be perfect (CLICK).

Longest Reign Coin

On 9 September Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II becomes the UK's longest reigning monarch since Queen Victoria. The Royal Mint has struck this Longest Reigning Monarch 2015 UK £20 Fine Silver Coin with all previous heads shown, designed by Stephen Taylor (CLICK).

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

RAF Museum

Staff at the RAF Museum in Colindale, north London, are celebrating because the museum's First World War in the Air exhibition has been named the UK’s Best Heritage project in this year’s National Lottery Awards. 7,000 people voted for the exhibition. The museum wins a £2,000 cash prize and now boasts the National Lottery Awards trophy on its website (CLICK). Admission is free.

Wildlife Photos

The Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2015 exhibition opens at the Natural History Museum in London on 16 October. The competition attracted 42,000 entries from 96 countries this year. Shown is Thomas Peschak's The Shark Surfer, an image I find difficult to believe (CLICK).

Sunday Times Comp

The prize winners of the Sunday Times Watercolour Competition have been announced. Akash Bhatt wins the first prize of £10,000 for Blue Room, a portrait of his mother. Michael Williams wins the second prize of £6,000 for Land, Sea, Island (shown) an incredibly detailed painting of the Welsh island of Skomer across Jack Sound. Leo Davey wins The Smith & Williamson Cityscape Prize of £1,500 for Drip, Regents Canal. The free exhibition of 90 shortlisted works opens at the Mall Galleries in London on 14 September (CLICK).

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Japan Backs Down

The 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games seems to be coming unstuck from the outset. In July its new Olympic stadium was cancelled, due to spiralling costs. Now the official 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games logo by Kenjiro Sano has been withdrawn. Belgian designer Olivier Debie says Sano plagiarised his 2011 logo for the Theatre de Liege. Put side-by-side, the similarity is obvious. Silly Sano (CLICK).

Wildlife On TWO

I'm a sucker for wildlife programmes. This evening BBC TWO comes up trumps with one in Africa and one in India. At 19:00 hours is This Wild Life in which Saba Douglas-Hamilton, her husband Frank and their three young children continue their move to the Samburu National Reserve in Kenya to run a safari camp for the first time (CLICK). I saw the first half-hour episode yesterday and it flashed past. At 21:00 hours actress Freida Pinto introduces India: Nature's Wonderland (CLICK).