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October 2017

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04-06AUG17: Nine Worlds, Hammersmith
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09-14AUG17: Worldcon, Helsinki
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14AUG17: Recital, Suomenlinnan Kirkossa, Helsinki
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19AUG17: The Hitman's Bodyguard, Odeon, Greenwich
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20AUG17: Queer Art, Tate Britain
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25AUG17: The Iliad (Clare Goodall), The Lion and Unicorn / Camden Fringe
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28AUG17: Logan Lucky, Odeon, Greenwich
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05JUL17: Spiderman: Homecoming, Odeon Leicester Square

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16JUL17: 'The Death of Christopher Marlowe'
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19JUL17: blink-182, O2, Greenwich
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20JUL17: Alma-Tadema: At Home in Antiquity, Leighton House Museum
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21JUL17: Der Freischutz (Weber), Blackheath Community Opera, Blackheath Halls
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22JUL17: Adventures in Moominland, Royal Festival Hall
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27JUL17: Dunkirk, Barbican Cinema
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A quiet month: two lectures, one gallery opening. Read more... )
Queens of Syria, Young Vic, 8th July
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Derek Moss, Open Studios -- Cambridge, 17th July
Artwork made from bog oak, driftwood, bronze, teeth, bone ... all displayed in a hot sunny garden with the sound of bees and the scent of roses. Beautiful work, though some of the descriptions were hard to unravel.
website here

Ghostbusters, Greenwich Picturehouse, 23rd July
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11-MAR - Norma (Bellini) -- English National Opera

Glorious music, sublime indifference to historical fact. Gaul, circa 50BC. Norma is a Druid priestess, who worships Inmirsul [a Saxon deity, here represented quite authentically by a large tree-trunk, albeit not in its erect state] and believes the Romans will be leaving soon. (True, give or take four centuries.) She is in love with a Roman proconsul, Pollione: but he has traded her in for a younger model, Analgesic Adalgisa -- also a priestess. When Pollione is recalled to Rome, guess who he plans to take with him? Norma is not happy. But she does a selfless brave thing.

Very much enjoyed, and thanks to A for taking our spare ticket and bringing us a bottle of wine for the box!

12-MAR - Hail Caesar!

This was immense fun, even for someone like me who has a poor memory for faces. Gosh, that was Christopher Lambert. And Dolph Lundgren. And ... and ... Gosh, Professor Marcuse. I have heard of him.

The plot is basically 'man has to choose between hard-but-fun job or cushy boring job'. George Clooney is brilliantly stupid; Alden Ehrenreich is hilarious as a star of Westerns thrust into a society drama; gosh, Channing Tatum can certainly dance (and what an interesting take).

Yes, it trivialises the anti-Communist witchhunts, and there's a bit of period-typical homophobia (part of it plot-related, e.g. the threatened outing of an actor; part of it not, e.g. the fact that the villain is a homosexual). But it celebrates the myth of the golden age of Hollywood, and has fun recreating thinly-disguised classics such as Ben Hur, On the Town, Shine on Harvest Moon and Million Dollar Mermaid.

13-MAR - Samuel Pepys: Plague, Fire, Revolution -- National Maritime Museum

Using Pepys as a starting point, this exhibition brought together a great many artifacts from the 17th century, and included some audiovisual items: a painting of the execution of Charles I, with areas highlighted as the narrative progressed; a theatrical section with readings from Shakespeare; an animation of the progress of the Great Fire. There wasn't as much about Pepys' own life as I'd have liked, and more about his marriage (happy) than any of his extracurricular affairs. This being the Maritime Museum, they got into their stride with his connections to the Navy. Gosh, a chain link such as would have been used in Pepys' time ... Very nicely done, though. I was accompanied by a friend who asked me about the history of the period: I recommended she read Neal Stephenson's Quicksilver -- and when we reached the gift shop at the end, there it was.

18-MAR - Scriabin, late Poemes (James Kreiling) Peckham Asylum

Well, I went to this concert suspecting that I didn't like late Scriabin, and I came away confirmed in my belief. I could perceive glimmers of structure and sequence, but I didn't understand the music at all. By way of contrast, Kreiling finished with an earlier piece, and I felt I had more of a handle on that. So: still unappreciative of late-period Scriabin, but it was a very impressive performance by a gifted musician. Also, the venue was astounding: lots of peeling and faded paint, stained-glass windows, tealights and bare bulbs, broken masonry. Photo here.
03-FEB - Nightwatchers, Tower of London.
Immersive theatre/experience: we put on headphones, switched on the provided mobile phones, and followed directions around the Tower of London and through a history of espionage, terrorism and dissent. I ended up doing this twice with different friends! An excellent opportunity to soak up the Tower's atmosphere after dark; no interaction with strangers required; some interesting, though occasionally heavy-handed, parallels between C16 Catholics and C21 Islamists.

08-FEB - Dixit Dominus (Handel) -- The Sixteen, Cadogan Hall
Thrilling music beautifully performed. I'm still tending Haydn-wards but this was lovely.

10-FEB - Deadpool, Leicester Square
Fun, hyperviolent, fourth-wall-destroying, surprisingly feminist (or, rather, less mysogynist than a lot of superhero movies). It absolutely does tie into the MCU: look at where the climactic battle takes place ...

13-FEB - St Matthew Passion (J S Bach) St Albans Cathedral
A dramatised performance in the round, with James Gilchrist as the Evangelist: I was initially a little dubious, but the minimalist staging and glorious sound worked very well together. Side note: not sure why St Albans feels so far away. But it does.

20-FEB - Common Property -- Jerwood Space, London
Art about copyright, reuse, mashups and fanworks. Could have done with more explanatory info in the gallery itself, rather than in the official programme. Some interesting ideas and some impenetrable executions. Thought-provoking.

27-FEB - Historical Fictions Research Network Conference, ARU, Cambridge
The first HFRN conference (to which I probably shouldn't have gone, given werk overload and February fatigue). Some really interesting items-- highlights for me included papers on Naomi Mitchison, Doctor Who, creative anachronism in genre painting; Debbie Challis on working with the ENO on Akhenaten; Greer Gilman interviewed by Nick Lowe.
02-JAN - Eugene Onegin (Tchaikovsky), Royal Opera House -- a Christmas present from [ profile] ladymoonray. Like any good production, this made me notice aspects of the opera that I hadn't spotted before: the melodramatic music of Onegin's first appearance (a visitor is such an event!); the Offenbach vibe of the Frenchman's song; Tatiana's friends talking about Samuel Richardson. And this production is gorgeous: shades of blue-grey-aqua for everyone except Tatiana, who's in crimson and white. Having a younger version of Onegin, dancing, didn't work for me, but I can see how it illuminated the story.

07-JAN - As You Like It (Shakespeare), National Theatre -- a friend had a spare ticket. I loved the transformation of techie office space into forest: truly arresting. The sheep were fun, too, and Rosalind (Rosalie Craig) was excellent.

14-JAN - Celts: Art and Identity, British Museum. Celtic art is a broad category, extending from decorations on shields and swords to Mackintosh and 'Ossian'. I was taken by The Druids: Bringing in the Mistletoe (George Henry, 1890) until I got closer and realised that the Druids had Native American features. Also, could really have done without the dreamy tinkly New Age music playing throughout.

28-JAN - Sibelius/Martinsson/Sibelius: Philharmonia cond. Rouvali, Royal Festival Hall Rouvali clearly loves Sibelius -- he was a joy to watch, and brought so much energy (and sharp exhalations of breath) to 'Night Ride and Sunrise' and the Second Symphony. Exuberant! Kudos to the Philharmonia -- as usual -- but especially for the perfect union of bass pizzicato at the beginning of the second movement of Second Symphony. ... There was also a Trumpet Concerto, which I did not care for though it was very well executed. More of an argument between orchestra and instrument than a conversation ...

30-JAN - Libertines, O2 -- a.k.a. 'my friend's cousin's band'. Attended with 2 teenagers, who were excellent company. I find I like earlier Libertines best, and have little patience for the celebrity-hungry afterpartiers. Bass was waaaaaay too high on Sleaford Mods (support); Libertines good, energetic and engaged; crowd-watching fun.

Originally uploaded by tamaranth
... THEN Art ...
Yesterday, via horrid traffic, to Milton Keynes International Festival, mostly for Le Manège Carré Sénart -- big square steampunk carousel by the people who did the Sultan's Elephant. The carousel was amazing -- incredible attention to detail, inventiveness, variety. And I loved the soundtrack -- French operetta, 60s TV themes, plenty of marches and overtures and carnival soundz. We probably enjoyed it more than most of the children riding ...

We also saw immersed ourselves in experienced Asleep at the Wheel, an installation by Janek Schaefer that involved abandoned cars (stereos each playing something different) in a disused Sainsbury's supermarket. Unsettling, weird, and switched on my critical faculties so that I enjoyed my second carousel ride considerably more than my first.

Photos and more appreciation over at Flickr.
Stuff I've done and have been meaning to write up for a while ...

Some of these events were part of See Further: the festival of science + arts, at the South Bank Centre, celebrating 250 years of the Royal Society. There were furry pterosaurs! There were aerial jellyfish! There were a great many people ...

Beautiful Noise
RFH, 30th June
Panel discussion on the evolution and science of music: speakers were Dr Ian Cross (Faculty of Music, Cambridge), Prof Emily Doolittle, (Cornish College of the Arts), Prof Steven Mithen (Archaeology, Reading) and Prof Vincent Walsh (Cognitive Neuroscience, UCL).
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Icarus at the Edge of Time
RFH, 3rd July
event page
New work by Philip Glass, much more dynamic than many of his pieces. Read more... )

Ernesto Neto - The Edges of the World: The New Decor
Hayward Gallery, 4th July
Ernesto Neto
The New Decor
On the Sunday [ profile] ladymoonray and I went to the Hayward to do some Art, which involved a large paddling pool on one of the balconiesRead more... )

When It Changed
RFH, 4th July
When it Changed - ed. Ryman
Geoff Ryman, Sara Maitland, Michael Arditti, Dr Vinod Dhanak, Dr Matthew Cobb: panel discussion rooted in Mr Ryman's new anthology, which pairs scientists and writers in collaboration. Read more... )

The Railway Children
Waterloo Station, 7th July
event page
With real steam train! Yay! The play's staged in the old Eurostar terminal at WaterlooRead more... )

Beethoven choral stuff
Cadogan Hall, 8th July
event page
London Concert Choir and Counterpoint Players, cond. Mark Forkgen: Claire Seaton (sop), Arlene Rolph (mezzo), Adrian Thompson (tenor) & Giles Underwood (baritone).
Mass in C, A Calm Sea & A Prosperous Voyage, Leonore No. 3, Fidelio finale.
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I am not going to London again for a while ...
Yesterday I went to London and did Culture with [ profile] ladymoonray (and later [ profile] swisstone).

River Sounding at Somerset House. This is an excellent son et lumiere installation -- very much dependent on the site for its effect. Also, a fabulous opportunity to mooch around under Somerset House and peer at 17th-century memorial stones. And to check out the vibrations in the coal-holes.

Then we went on a boat to Exposed: Voyeurism, Surveillance and the Camera at Tate Modern. As this has just opened it was rather crowded: I may have to go back when it's quieter, there was some stuff I didn't get to see.
thoughts )
A rather good illustrated review here.

Then we had some Drink in preparation for Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. A film that is either about freerunning or about Weapons of Mass Destruction: tosh, but enjoyable tosh, and ever so pretty. Alfred Molina especially fab as kohl-limned bandit chief. Gemma Arterton does Sassy Heroine better than Keira Knightley. Jake Gyllenhaal a surprisingly convincing action hero. "Wrong sort of Persians," said [ profile] swisstone, though I do not know what he was expecting from a movie based on a video game. (Anyway, it is set in The PastTM and not in any recognisable bit of History.)

Then we had pizza and more drink and then I took the slow (uncrowded) train home.
Endless Forms -- Fitzwilliam, 11.09.09 (closed 4.10.09)
Exhibition site

Highlights included:

  • William Dyce's Pegwell Bay, Kent - a Recollection of October 5th 1858: geologising middle-class families. Donati's comet is in the sky overhead, visible by day, but nobody looks up.

  • Patrick Syme's edition of Werner's Nomenclature of Colours
  • Arranged so as to Render it Highly Useful to the Arts and Sciences, Particularly Zoology, Botany, Chemistry, Mineralogy and Morbid Anatomy: Annexed to which are Examples Selected from Well-Known Objects in the Animal, Vegetable and Mineral Kingdoms. Darwin used this for his descriptions of specimens. The Google version omits the Examples, which is a shame:
    Greens ...
  • Landseer's The Cat's Paw, which is a nasty and deeply disturbing depiction of animal 'cruelty'.

I did enjoy the exhibition but it really needed a second visit for me to pull it together in my head: and that first visit was just after my interview with the employment agency that landed me full-time employment ...

Playing the Building
Originally uploaded by tamaranth
Went to the Roundhouse last week with [ profile] major_clanger to see experience the David Byrne installation, Playing the Building.

It was weird.

Basically, each key of an old-fashioned pump organ is attached to a tube, a hammer or a motor: pressing the key makes Noise, somewhere in the space around one.

But the noises were pretty much random -- a key always produced the same note, but there was none of this low-to-high left-to-right pitch, no octaves, no scales. Deconstructing the Western musical tradition! It was ... disconcerting.

Given a lot longer I'd probably have experimented a lot more, but even on a Wednesday there was a queue (though not a long one) and quite a few children, who I think enjoyed the experience more than the adults -- perhaps because of having fewer expectations of what happens when you hit keys on a keyboard.

Great for people-watching, but not precisely musical except in the most random and ephemeral sense.

[ profile] major_clanger's write-up is more detailed.
Yesterday, [ profile] ladymoonray and [ profile] swisstone encouraged me to visit the J W Waterhouse exhibition at the Royal Academy. Too many people, as usual, but it was fantastic: seeing (and having the audio guide explain) the brushwork close up, spotting themes and imagery in a way that I just don't when I'm flicking through a book, laughing at the pigeons. (Really: Waterhouse seems to've had a thing about pigeons, though later in his career he transferred his affections to panthers: the panthers look glossy and well-fed -- and in one case, rather simian -- so one presumes they've feasted on any stray birds or bird-women left over from earlier paintings.)

Not entirely convinced I agree with some of the factoids presented (for one thing, I fear there's a more Freudian explanation of all those pearls explained as 'tears of drowned sailors') but I was impressed with the social context, discussion of technique and contemporary commentary presented in the audio guide. I would have liked more about the models and about Waterhouse's life as it intersected with his art -- I blame Desperate Romantics, at least in part -- but apparently little is known about the models and Waterhouse liked to keep his private life private.

Waterhouse is good at painting male figures in lifelike, vulnerable, human attitudes: but I prefer his women, who are often iconic but are strong and powerful and dangerous. Check out The Magic Circle: never mind the mish-mash of paraphernalia (Druidic sickle, Greek warriors, Egyptian landscape, seven ravens) she is doing real magic. Or any of the depictions of Circe. Or the predatory water-nymphs enticing Hylas. Or Penelope and the Suitors, in which it seems evident that -- far from being 'patient' and 'forbearing' -- she is about to turn round and tell them exactly where to go.

Also, just for [ profile] ladymoonray: a commentary on 'I am half-sick of shadows' )</>

Venus and DNA
Originally uploaded by tamaranth
Off to Arch&Anth this afternoon for their new exhibition, Assembling Bodies -- about ways in which the human body is depicted, turned into art, transformed, interpreted, augmented. It's absolutely fascinating and I suspect I shall be spending quite a few afternoons there.
highlights with links )

Hayward, boating!
Originally uploaded by tamaranth
Met [ profile] ladymoonray at the Hayward and did Culture:
Psycho Buildings at the Hayward. (Good review here, Times.) blow by blow review )Off to Feng Sushi for lunch (sea bass sashimi and x-ray salad: pomegranate seeds and chopsticks do not mix well). Then next door to Le Pain Quotidien for dessert: espresso chocolate tart and coffee. (K had raspberry tart, debased with dairy).

Poked heads into the Oxo Gallery for exhibition of new prints of Pink Floyd album covers etc. Uninspiring.

The plan was to head for the Design Museum and see the Tim Walker exhibition, but we failed to pass Zakudia -- where it was happy hour, all cocktails £5, and we could stare out at the increasingly vile weather, whitecaps on the Thames, onset of torrential rain. Raspberry royale fab, blackberry caipirinha even more so. By the time we'd finished, the sun had come out. And so home.

In other news, I bought a smelly light-up thing in the Hayward shop and am getting grief from Shiva for bringing it home. Bwa ha ha.
Yesterday I accompanied [ profile] major_clanger to the Design Museum at Butlers Wharf, one of those places I've often been near but never been into.

By happy coincidence there was an exhibition of photography by Tim Walker, whose work I hadn't been aware of. He seems to do a lot of shoots for Vogue, but they're not typically fashion shoots: I didn't get a sense of the clothes being the focus. And the models are components of the pictures, elements, rather than there for the sake of who they are. more: illustrated )