Join our mailing-list:
This form does not yet contain any fields.


    Trenchfoot Art

    It seems that owning a good pair of shoes is the prime requirement for an Artophile nowadays… and I don’t just mean in order to look cool  - though I try to do  that too of course. Along with an umbrella, a will of iron, and a certain resolute determination not to be beaten by the weather, this summer I have had to rely heavily upon my favourite (and trusty) pair of rubber soled black suede Bally’s: bought for a fortune about ten years ago (good shoes don’t come cheap) they have cushioned me through appalling weather from Italy to Istanbul, over pietradura and muddy fields,   and still they  beg for more.….. so my top tip of the year is  Sensible Shoes --– smart enough to slide unceremoniously into society, and tough enough to survive Trenchfoot.

    Someone somewhere should make an inroad into shoe design department and come up with a unisex leather weatherproof shoe that can be washed and scrubbed and brushed back to life ready for the morrow. Is that Prada?

    The state of the nation is reflected in its cruddy footwear. I have an endless fascination at how shoes tell so much about a person.  So much so that at a wedding in Oxfordshire recently I found myself taking photographs of the vain and indulgent, the inappropriate and threadbare, the sometimes stylish but usually inelegant  - just for the hell of it.  It started on a soggy lawn with tottering-by-ladies keeling gently over into the tent, and culminated on a squelching sisal and woodchip walkway at Garsington Opera  - honestly it’s time to leave the the Jimmy’s to Posh in Beverly and Palm!

    It was Tempest at the Serpentine Summer Pavilion opening last week  and we were all completely washed away – not least by the sheer originality of the pavilion design (Herzog and de Meuron of Tate claim) and Weiwei’s ‘earthy’ archaeological floor.  The brilliance is in the wonderfully soft acoustic of non slip cork  - finally someone has had the good sense to move on from the 1970’s builders merchant floor tiles and use cork to full effect as a wrap around chocolate brown surface veneer. Check out the moveable giant champagne corks (seating) and  the Serpentine summer program  - it’s Yoko  Ono on tap.

    This week ‘s been more country antics: if you want energizing, and own a decent pair of shoes then visit On Form in the heavenly gardens at Asthall Manor, near Burford. You need a keen eye: round every bush and briar is stone sculpture – all shapes and sizes: Paul Vanstone’s impressive Cararra marble heads, Anthony Turner’s Brazilian bean pods, and Emily Young’s Maremma men. Alternatively try   the Wapping Project on June 26th to hear Emily in conversation with Angela Palmer: it’s a great venue.

    For the curious amongst you late June is for Art School Post Grad and Degree Shows. This is the hot way to spot emerging talent: RA Schools/ RCA/ Slade /London Institute of Arts (Chelsea/ Central St Martins/Goldsmiths) Ruskin, and others all over the country. Ten minutes whizzing through invariably becomes two hours of delight at the extraordinary initiative and endless creativity of students. All free, so take yr chequebook.

    NM - TomaxMum


    To Margate - Another Nicola Mallows Classic!



    When you get to the edge of England it is sometimes nice to have Artifaction as well as Beachification: or is it the other way round? Tate St Ives is a case in point – Patrick Heron inside, Ben Nicholson roofs out, with rolling surf and golden yellow sand beckoning beyond. Oh - lovely SUMMER !

    The Turner Contemporary Gallery, in MargateNow we have Margate –the Turner Contemporary: it's a gallery designed by David Chipperfield (Neues Museum Berlin) and newly opened by Tracey Emin April 2011.  (‘old hat’ – but what the hell…). With a couple of relevant Turners on display + a smattering of Tracey’s neon wall one-liners, you  might be forgiven for wondering whether it’s worth the journey out of London. But  these cultural mini epicentres are all the rage now, giving  cultural focus  and landmark interest  to  otherwise tourist battered resorts such as Margate.

    Usually they have great eateries (a relief from sand in sandwiches), and there is pleasure to be had in the change of mood  in these  new buildings: they ooze appetite with commitment, reverence and contemplation, social interaction – for Art (and eating) are supplying the new pilgrimage centres, with museums becoming the modern equivalent of churches. You can  feel a palpable change of aura, a renewed spatial awareness and moment of chill or quiet from the urgency of Life. That’s how Tracey put it to me one day  after  I had just come back from seeing  her work in Liverpool Cathedral.  She has a point. 

    Tomorrow is the RA Summer Exhibition party …. A rollicking frolic with fizz and friends, I hope. This is a middle aged affair (most RA’s are over 60) and a rather  indulgent  opportunity to rub shoulders with the rich and famous while gorging oneself on delicious morsels. This year I am forgoing a  new frock in order to buy buy BUY. Every picture has an immortal seal of approval from a panel of selectors (Royal Academicians) - from a staggering 12,000 entries only 2000 are chosen to be ‘hung’. This gives every picture a certain, possibly questionable, cachet, but a perceived status never the less.  It is an opportunity to see a real mixed bag of contemporary art: prints, paintings, collage, sculpture and architecture. Prices range from £300 - £50,000.  I recommend Chris Orr’s  prints, which never fail to entertain: pictures of London and Life, and Antics. Pick up a free (while stocks last) leaflet on his recent exhibition entitled LithORRgraphy, which explained the art of chemical printing.   Heath and Safety in Art Schools has almost killed litho and etching– but it takes a lot to quash Chris, and this leaflet is short and sweet, with all the relevant myths explained….

    A print by Chris Orr

    On the whole I prefer the idiot’s/children’s guides to Art which take about 5 minutes to read, and leave me enough time to form my own opinion. Too much wordage on the walls is one of my pet hates….All those people crowding around reading when they should be looking ….… didn’t anyone learn anything from the David Hockney  show earlier in the year? In case you didn’t get it, it was a full scale installation about  seeing the wonderful in the ordinary, his journey through Life doing so,  with his eyes and mind  wide open. With customary ease and consummate flourish he demonstrated what he felt about the arrival  of Summer, the majesty of May and the Yosemite sublime using the Brushes App. on the iPad. Have a go - we’re all at it now! NM