Saturday, 31 October 2015

Evelyn Dunbar

The appearance of a painting by the late Evelyn Dunbar, the only salaried female war artist of WW2, on the BBC Antiques Roadshow in 2013 led to the rediscovery of her "lost studio" in an attic in Kent and doubled the known body of her work overnight. Shown is her Milking Practice with Artificial Udders (1940) which depicts how land girls were trained to work on farms during WW2. Evelyn Dunbar: The Lost Works is an exhibition of 60 of her best paintings at the Pallant House Gallery in Chichester (CLICK).

Transgender Tara

What is a judge to do with a transgender person who has lived as a woman all of her adult life and has undergone years of reconstructive surgery, but who is legally still a man? Tara Hudson may look angelic, but she has a tendency to head butt the opposition. She was jailed for 12 weeks and placed in the all-male HMP Bristol! More than 140,000 people signed petitions calling for her to be moved to escape sexual violence. She has now been taken to HM Prison Eastwood Park in Gloucestershire (CLICK).

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Maureen O'Hara RIP

Feisty Irish-American actress Maureen O'Hara, one of the last stars from the golden age of Hollywood, died in her sleep at her home in Boise, Idaho, aged 95. She starred with John Wayne in John Ford's Oscar-winning comedy The Quiet Man (1952). This photo is a still from that film. Maureen O'Hara will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery beside her husband. CLICK for her BBC obituary.

Jean-Etienne Liotard

The Royal Academy of Arts in London has opened Jean-Etienne Liotard, an exhibition bringing together over 70 works by the leading Swiss portraitist of eighteenth-century Enlightenment Europe. Shown is Liotard's Woman on a Sofa Reading (1748-1752). Tickets cost £10 (CLICK).

Wednesday, 28 October 2015


Here's another masterpiece heading for a brief visit to London. Orazio Gentileschi’s Danaë leads Sotheby’s New York Master Paintings Evening Sale on 28 January 2016, estimated at $25/35 million). The painting captures the Greek myth of King Acrisius's exquisitely beautiful daughter Danaë held in a secret location to keep suitors at bay. Jupiter, God of the Sky and Thunder, catches a glimpse of her and promptly falls in love. Knowing the female psyche, he appears in her bedroom as a shower of gold. Cupid attempts to legitimise the transaction. The painting will be exhibited in New York, Los Angeles, Hong Kong and London before the auction (CLICK).

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Alexander Mann

Scottish artist Alexander Mann's oil painting The Gleaners (1889) is the most beautifully composed painting I've seen in yonks. It follows the French theme of bucolic working class subjects, although it was probably painted whilst Mann was living in Berkshire. The painting comes to London for Sotheby's auction of Scottish art on 18 November, estimated at £60,000 to £80,000 (CLICK).

Natural Eye

The Natural Eye: Society of Wildlife Artists Annual Exhibition 2015 opens at the Mall Galleries in central London on 29 October. The bulk of art is ornithological, as the Society celebrates the RSPB's major new wetland reserve at Wallasea Island in Essex; but Chris Rose's award-winning undersea paintings will also be on display. Shown is Swifts over the Fen by Dafila Scott SWLA. There is a wide variety of styles. If you're into birds, this is the show for you. Entry costs £3, silver surfers £2.50 (CLICK).

Monday, 26 October 2015

Star Wars Stamps

There's nothing like jumping on a bandwagon. Royal Mail has issued 18 new stamps to celebrate Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Shown is British actress Daisy Ridley holding an enlarged version of the first-class stamp depicting her as Rey. The set is beautifully illustrated by artist Malcolm Tween. A miniature sheet with six vehicles and spaceships from the series has also been released. It will cost fans a fortune to buy all the Royal Mail Star Wars goodies on offer. How about the Millennium Falcon Bundle (CLICK)?

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Lauren Child

Bestselling author and illustrator Lauren Child, famous for her characters Charlie and Lola, has been working on her own hand-crafted dolls’ house for 30 years, Having completed her doll's house recently, she is putting it on display to the public for the very first time. You'll find it in the House of Illustration at King's Cross, London, from 30 October, admission £7 (CLICK).

Friday, 23 October 2015

Half Term

According to the V&A Museum of Childhood in east London, the school half term holidays are from Monday 26 to Friday 30 October. The museum has free, drop-in activities for all ages for the holiday period, including the Big Draw (CLICK). On 24 October it opens On Their Own: Britain's Child Migrants, a collaborative exhibition between the Australian National Maritime Museum, National Museums Liverpool and V&A Museum of Childhood. Thousands of unwanted British kids were shipped to the colonies, where they were often treated as slave labour and abused in various ways. It seems an inappropriate show for the Museum of Childhood.

Thursday, 22 October 2015

The Last Kingdom

I wonder how the BBC decides to promote its programmes. Some, like East Enders, are flogged so often that you can't escape the commercials. Others, like The Last Kingdom, seem to be overlooked. Auntie's lack of confidence? Tonight the first episode of The Last Kingdom is aired at 9pm. Shown is Saxon boy Uhtred, played by Tom Taylor, watching the Danes' boats beaching near his father's village of York in AD 866. Uhtred is captured by Viking warlord Ragnar and raised as a Dane. Can Uhtred regain his Saxon inheritance? And do we care (CLICK)?

Pooch Drawings

David Remfry RA likes drawing celebrities and their dogs. The Royal Academy of Arts has published a book of his drawings: We Think the World of You: People and Dogs Drawn Together by David Remfry, price £16.95. Shown is Laura Kaplan's dachshund Oscar (2008). The exhibition of these works is in the De’Longhi Print Room at Pallant House Gallery in Chichester. Entry is free (CLICK).

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Peng Liyuan

Monday, 19 October 2015

Venetian Drawings

The Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford, has opened Titian to Canaletto: Drawing in Venice, in collaboration with the Uffizi in Florence. This "ground breaking" exhibition traces the role of drawing in Venice and its importance over three centuries. More than 100 works have been brought together for this first major exhibition of Venetian drawings in the UK. Shown is Giovanni Battista Piazzetta's Head of a Youth (detail). The young bruiser looks like a boy soldier to me. Tickets cost £10 or £9 silver surfers (CLICK).

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Stirling Prize 2015

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has awarded this year's prestigious Stirling Prize to Burntwood School, a large comprehensive girls’ school in Wandsworth, London, by Allford Hall Monaghan Morris (AHMM). CLICK for RIBA and more information.

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Catrina Hooghsaet

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey has placed a temporary export ban on Rembrandt's Portrait of Catrina Hooghsaet, which has an asking price of £35 million. The painting has been in the UK for more than 250 years (CLICK). Can a buyer be found to keep it for the nation?

Satsuma Adam

I find this difficult to believe. The Art Fund has awarded Priley Riley the Ultimate Edible Masterpiece of 2015 for this tinned satsuma copy of Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel fresco The Creation of Adam (CLICK). It reminds me of The Turnip Prize. Too much effort though.

Escher Video

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Mall Galleries

The Mall Galleries in central London is currently showing two worthwhile exhibitions. In the North gallery is the Royal Society of Miniature Painters, Sculptors and Gravers Exhibition 2015. As the maximum size is 6 by 4 inches, they can squeeze around 700 works into this limited space. Admission is free. The second show is the Royal Society of Marine Artists Annual Exhibition 2015. Anything to do with the sea is their province. You can almost smell the ozone. shown is John Stillman's On the Beach, Cowes. This is in the Main Gallery and Threadneedle Space, admission £3, £2.50 for silver surfers (CLICK).

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Wildlife Photos 2015

The BBC has named the winner of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition 2015. Amateur Don Gutoski took this photo - A Tale of Two Foxes (2015) - showing a red fox hauling away the carcass of its Arctic cousin following a deadly attack in Canada's Wapusk National Park. The ranges of the two fox species overlap at Wapusk, which hugs the shore of Hudson Bay in Manitoba. Wildlife guides have seen such conflicts, but believe this is the first one captured on camera. Hence it was chosen as the winner out of 42,000 entries (CLICK). The exhibition opens at the Natural History Museum on Friday.

Hebdo Gargoyles

Yesterday BBC News published a gloomy update on satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, whose offices in Paris were attacked by Muslim nutters who shot 12 people dead (CLICK). Somebody is determined that the last laugh should go to cartoonists Cabu and Wolinski, victims of the Muslim atrocity. During renovations on the Lantern Tower in La Rochelle, two gargoyle sculptures of the cartoonists were added. Shown is the Gargoyle for Wolinski (Georges Wolinski) 2015. Something safe for nutters to shoot at.

M.C. Escher

Today the Dulwich Picture Gallery in south London opened The Amazing World of M.C. Escher with nearly 100 graphic works borrowed from the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag in the Netherlands. This is the first UK exhibition of Escher's work. Shown is his Bond of Union (CLICK).

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Zabludowicz Show

The Zabludowicz Collection in London chose Canadian artist Jon Rafman for its annual transformation, which runs until 20 December. There's a maze and a bath full of plastic bubbles to climb into to watch a video above. Shown is a still from Mainsqueeze (2014). CLICK to learn more.

Monday, 12 October 2015

Empty Lot

Tate Modern must be desperate to find somebody to fill its Turbine Hall. Its latest commission is Abraham Cruzvillegas's Empty Lot (2015). The boxes contain Twenty-three tonnes of soil from around London. The soil will be watered in the hope that something exciting will grow. It took 5 weeks to install and curators are chuffed to find a mushroom growing in one of the planters (CLICK).

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Felix Vallotten

Today I chanced upon Felix Vallotten's 1913 oil painting La Blanche et la Noire (White and Black), which is an updated version of Édouard Manet's 1863 Olympia (CLICK). Both paintings show a high-class prostitute with a black servant in attendance. More democracy 50 years on!

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Hirst's New Gallery

Damien Hirst has finally opened his Newport Street Gallery in Vauxhall, south London, which will enable him to display some of the 3,000 works from his own collection. His first exhibition is Power Stations, a major collection of work by abstract artist John Hoyland (1934–2011). Shown is Gallery 1. The exhibition looms until 3 April 2016. Admission to the gallery is free (CLICK).

Freud's Daughter

Today Christie’s in London unveiled Lucian Freud’s Naked Portrait on a Red Sofa (1989-91) an intimate portrait of his daughter Bella when she was in her twenties, estimated at $20m-$30m. The oil painting will be displayed until 17 October, then will go to New York for auction at Christie’s Rockefeller Centre in the curated sale The Artist’s Muse on 9 November (CLICK).

Friday, 9 October 2015

Frieze Art Fair

I've been trying to ignore the Frieze Art Fair, but half of the third rate art I come across lately seems to be heading in that direction. It's in Regent's Park, London, from 14 to 17 October (CLICK). If you need to know how much admission costs, you can't afford it.

Putin's Lies

In his studio in Baghdad, Iraqi artist Mohammed Karim Nihaya puts the finishing touches to his portrait of Russian President Vladimir Putin (2015) taken from a photo on the Internet. Mohammed sees Putin as a hero, having swallowed his lies about attacking IS (CLICK). In fact Putin is supporting his chum, the foul Syrian dictator and war criminal Bashar al-Assad, who has starved, bombed, gassed, tortured and slaughtered thousands of his own people in order to cling to power. Is Putin the most deluded and dangerous fruitcake on the planet? Russian media dare not contradict his lies. So his popularity remains high.

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Shepard’s War

Remembered with great affection for his illustrations for Winnie-the-Pooh and The Wind in the Willows, E.H. Shepard served as an officer in the Royal Artillery in the First World War and produced a significant body of work drawn in the trenches on the Western Front and in Italy, Tomorrow the House of Illustration in London opens EH Shepard: An Illustrator's War, displaying over a hundred original artworks, many never seen before. The exhibition coincides with the publication of Shepard’s War by James Campbell. Shown is Shepard's The Newcomer: "My Village, I Think?", a detail from his Punch cartoon of 1918. The drawing shows a soldier returned from war sitting in a ruined village. What the hell was it all about? is the unspoken question (CLICK).

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Goya Portraits 2

Today The National Gallery in London opened 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 are on display. Shown is Goya's The Duchess of Alba (1797). Admission costs £16 for adults, £14 for silver surfers (CLICK).

Freud Etchings

London auction house Phillips is to offer a collection of 32 etchings by Lucian Freud. The collection spans most of the period from 1982 to 2004. It will be displayed on the 7th floor at Phillips Berkeley Square from 9 to 15 October, for auction on 15 October. The highlight is Naked Man on a Sofa (c.1985) estimated at £120,000 - £180,000. CLICK and scroll down to view all 32.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Art For Youth

Today the Mall Galleries opened Art for Youth London, an exhibition of over 1,000 works of art by about 140 emerging and established artists. 35% of sales are donated to national charity UK Youth, which supports young people through a range of programmes. Prices start at £200. Shown is Kate Morgan's Under 0ther Stars. The exhibition runs until 9 October, admission free (CLICK).

Emin Poster

Would you be daft enough to pay £50 for this signed poster But Yea (2015) by Tracey Emin in a limited edition of 500? If so, trot along to The Other Art Fair at the Old Truman Brewery in London from 15 - 18 October. The Emin poster is for sale exclusively at the fair (CLICK).

Monday, 5 October 2015

The Unversed

Lisa Wright won the Threadneedle Prize in 2013. Over 30 of her latest works are currently on display at Gallery 8 in St James, London. Lisa Wright: The Unversed presented by Coates & Scarry follows her obsession with pubescent figures, often naked. "Puberty heightens everything," she declares. Shown is her Young Pretender (2015). The exhibition runs until 17 October (CLICK).

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Strike Ends

On Monday staff at the National Gallery in London will return to work following a strike that lasted 111 days. PCS union rep. Candy Udwin will be reinstated. Securitas has a contract worth £40 million over five years (CLICK). Will they be worth all the hassle?

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Dressed by Angels

Yesterday the Old Truman Brewery in Brick Lane in London's East End opened Dressed by Angels, an exhibition celebrating the 175th anniversary of family-run costumiers Angels, which has dressed the stars for West End shows as well as for Oscar-winning movies such as Lawrence of Arabia and Titanic. On display are more than 100 outfits including clothes made for Fred Astaire, Noel Coward, Laurence Olivier and Dr Who star Tom Baker. Tickets cost £16 for adults, £13.50 for silver surfers (CLICK).

Friday, 2 October 2015

Fabric of India

Tomorrow the V&A Museum opens The Fabric of India, the highlight of its India Festival. This is the first major exhibition to explore the dynamic world of Indian handmade textiles from the 3rd to the 21st century. Tickets cost £14 or £12 for silver surfers (CLICK).


The Southbank Centre is hosting this year's The Koestler Trust exhibition of art by offenders, secure patients and detainees. RE:FORM is the title chosen for this year. Shown is Will We Learn To Love Again? by an inmate of HM Prison Shotts. It looks as though Kim Jong-un has a hand up Mickey's trousers. The free exhibition opened on 1 October and runs until 29 November (CLICK).

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Buddhist Art Plus

The Mall Galleries in central London are currently showing two free exhibitions. In the Threadneedle Space is Bruce Little Originals, a collection of bronze sculptures capturing the spirit of wild African creatures. Shown is a bird taking off. In the Main Gallery and North Gallery is 360 Peace and Harmony, an exhibition of Buddhist art brought by the Oriental Culture Research Center (CLICK).

Fitzwilliam Cartoons

The Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge is determined to raise a smile this winter with two exhibitions of cartoons, both running from 13 October to 31 January 2016. Firstly there is Ronald Searle: Obsessed with drawing, selected from a recent gift of his work presented to the Museum by his children. Shown is his Molesworth (1999). CLICK to read more. Secondly there is Cradled in Caricature: Visual humour in satirical prints and drawings, drawn from the Museum's own collection plus key loans (CLICK).