Patrick Caulfield & Gary Hume at the Tate

Having gone to the Tate Britain just to see the Patrick Caulfield exhibition, we were informed upon arrival that our ticket price also included entry to the Gary Hume exhibition. Seeing the two together turned out to be rather interesting:

Patrick Caulfield

Patrick Caulfield 'Portrait of Juan Gris', 1963. Image from Tate website.

Patrick Caulfield ‘Portrait of Juan Gris’, 1963. Image from Tate website.

Caulfield is well known for his use of bold blocks of colour and heavy, black outlines. The exhibition feels both inviting and playful as you walk around a series of large canvases in spacious rooms.

Excellent organisation of the exhibition in chronological order shows the progression of Caulfield’s works from far more simple, stripped-back compositions in the first room, to textured, elaborate canvases in the fifth. My brother even eloquently labelled one painting in the final room a ‘mind f**k’ due to its complex structure and optical illusion.

Patrick Caulfield ‘After Lunch’, 1975. Image from Tate website.

‘After Lunch’ is one of many highlights in the exhibition. I often think that Caulfield painted the idyllic postcard scene just to prove he could paint realistically! The merging of two genres is both striking and impressive and it is this innovation of composition that sets Caulfield’s work apart for me.

Gary Hume

Photo of the doors to the Gary Hume exhibition

Photo of the doors to the Gary Hume exhibition.

The next half of our visit to the Tate took us through doors specially designed by Gary Hume for this showcase of his work. The colourful walls and optical illusions spilled over from Caulfield’s exhibition but in a more abstract way.

Admittedly, a comparison of the artists may not be a fruitful one to make (I have not researched their practices or influences) but it is also unavoidable when viewing the exhibitions in such close succession.

Gary Hume 'Tulips', 2009. Image from Tate website.

Gary Hume ‘Tulips’, 2009. Image from Tate website.

One aspect of Hume’s work that I did particularly enjoy was his use of thick paint to create lines. This technique contrasted Caulfield’s use of black outlines splendidly, as Hume uses the same tone of paint either thickened or dented to create impressions. This subtle means of depiction is very beautiful and effective on large canvases, often encouraging the viewer to walk in closer to inspect the shapes.

Both exhibitions are showing at Tate Britain until 1st September. To find out more information visit the Tate’s website.


Museo Nazionale del Cinema, Turin

Last week was spent in sunny Turin, Italy. But despite the impeccable weather, I couldn’t resist a visit to something cultural, and a team decision was made to visit Museo Nazionale del Cinema (that’s the National Museum of Cinema for those who hadn’t guessed).

Mirrors created optical illusions

Mirrors created optical illusions

The first section of the museum takes the viewer through the history of cinema, covering the rise of shadow theatre and discussing the physics behind light and optical illusions and other such things. Much of this information was in Italian (and physics has never particularly appealed to me) but this section was very interactive and surprisingly fun to explore.

However the real fun started when we arrived in the main room situated under the impressive dome of Mole Antonelliana.

Inside the main room

Inside the main room

Our entrance to the space was further enhanced as we arrived just as one of the regular projection shows of iconic films began around the room. Epic music played out and beautiful projections lit up the space as we entered what we by the end of the day had termed our favourite museum ever.

The 3D room

The 3D room

Museo Nazionale del Cinema is comprised of a series of themed rooms each showing clips of films relating to that genre. These rooms are fantastically executed and add a refreshing, childlike element to visiting a museum.

Western room

The Western room

The door of the Loony Tunes room

The door of the Loony Tunes room

The romantic room even required visitors to cosy up and lie down on a big bed together to watch the film clips.

Mi amore...

Mi amore…

The themed rooms formed a horseshoe shape around the outside of the main space in which two large screens showed a series of short films. Visitors could watch these in extreme comfort and without disturbance on one of the red chaise longues with inbuilt speakers.

The main room

The main room

We were also delighted to discover that our visit coincided with a large Martin Scorsese exhibition that circled the walls of the main room on a spiral platform.


The exhibition was comprised of film clips, letters to and from the director, photographs taken on film sets, costume designs, props and other items spanning Scorsese’s whole career. The collection was so extensive that we were thoroughly exhausted as we got to the end.

We met up with this fella earlier in the day

We met up with this fella earlier in the day

As has already been mentioned, this may now be my favourite museum ever. And I’ve barely scratched the surface of its content in this post! It is so interactive and the Scorsese exhibition was so informative that my head felt ready to burst as we left. It is definitely worth a visit if you happen to find yourself in Turin!

You can find out more information about the Museo Nazionale del Cinema here.

Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’ at The Globe

Having been to a few productions at The Globe before, I was expecting a fantastic performance of Shakespeare’s romantic comedy. Thankfully The Tempest did not disappoint.

On a beautifully sunny Sunday evening the crowd was raucous and fully immersed in the action, ensuring the performance was played out just as The Globe intended.

Caliban got particularly involved with the crowd as one audience member had her drink thrown over those standing nearby and another lucky theatre-goer got spat on by the monstrous character.

Clever costumes, puppetry, simple pyrotechnics and eerie music enabled the play’s supernatural elements to be fully understood while The Globe’s usual high standards of acting brought Shakespeare’s script to life.

Unfortunately the actor usually playing Ariel was ill so another actor stepped in last minute, script in hand. But even this disruption could not distract the captivated audience from the brilliant story and truly wonderful production.

The crowd ultimately said it all as The Globe exploded with a roar of appreciation as the play drew to a close. Yet another fantastic evening at Shakespeare’s Globe. I challenge anyone to see a production there and not enjoy it… Go on!

More information about The Globe

Mini Internet Roundup

A few things of interest this sunny Thursday evening.

BBFC gets Railway Children complaint

Health and safety gone mad! This article made me chuckle.

Art Everywhere: A very very big art show

An exciting initiative that aims to see tens of thousands of billboards across the country transformed into British masterpieces.

Why the humanities? Professor of history discusses the value found in humanities courses

Martin Jay makes a compelling argument for the humanities:

‘the humanities can compel us to reflect on the premises we take too quickly for granted and the values we uncritically accept.’

A recent graduate in English Literature and History of Art, this topic is very close to my heart. Here’s hoping future employers are reading this…

Hiatus Kaiyote

I’m currently on my way to see this band in London. The link takes you to a YouTube clip of Nakamarra.

Glastonbury 2013: Unexpected Highlights

The huge hubbub around Worthy Farm at this time of year means that writing something interesting about Glastonbury becomes increasingly difficult. Rather than write about everything I enjoyed and the headline acts that you’re probably bored of hearing about, I have decided to just include the acts that took me by surprise over the weekend. In a good way…

Acts are listed according to order of appearance, not preference.


The lead singer of this band has such a beautiful voice. Mesmerising is a suitable word to describe it. Kodaline grabbed my attention even from the very edge of the John Peel stage on Friday afternoon.


It can’t be easy being Beyoncé’s younger sister but Solange’s pop voice backed up by a seriously funky band made her chilled-out set really special. The crowd even came up with their own dance routine.

The 1975

A seriously fun set. Highlights were their more pop-like numbers, Chocolate and The City.

First Aid Kit

Beautiful harmonies and a lovely set from the sister duo. Check out The Lion’s Roar.

Tom Odell

I didn’t expect Tom Odell to make this list. Winner of the 2013 BRITs Critics’ Choice Award and with so much talk about him at the moment I had already expected him to be great. But backed up by a really great band Odell blew my already high expectations out of the water with a fantastic set on the John Peel stage. His humility and astonishment at such a great reception from the crowd was also very lovely to see. Beautiful voice, beautiful piano, great artist.

James Blake

I spent an entire hour staring open mouthed at this 24 year old musician and his amazing band (just a guitarist and a drummer, if you can still call them that with all their gadgets and gizmos). The three of them blew my mind with their incredible musicality and songs like Retrograde. Definitely one to see live if you ever have the chance.

So there we have it. This list by no means covers the acts that I enjoyed over the weekend, just those whose brilliance I had not quite anticipated. I think you should research them all. Enjoy!

Defining Faces: 20th Century Portrait Drawings at the Barber Institute of Fine Arts

The Barber Institute of Fine Arts is situated in the University of Birmingham’s Edgbaston campus and has collaborated with the National Portrait Gallery in London to create their new exhibition, Defining Faces: 20th Century Portrait Drawings which runs until the 26th August.
The exhibition is co-curated by postgraduate University of Birmingham History of Art students and is comprised of a series of preliminary drawings and sketches of prominent British figures.
I personally enjoy the aesthetics of ink and pencil so the exhibition is a refreshing break from the more traditional paintings exhibited elsewhere in the Barber. It is also fascinating to see the ways in which drawings can progress and to see the working mindset of the artist through these initial sketches. Big names include Oscar Kokoschka and Hans Schwarz, a personal favourite.
Percy Wyndham Lewis' portrait, 'Froanna', 1940. Photograph taken from the Barber website.

Percy Wyndham Lewis’ portrait, ‘Froanna’, 1940. Photograph taken from the Barber website.

An aspect of the exhibition that I was disappointed with was the information accompanying each drawing. Alongside useful biographical information about the depicted figures was rather a lot of art speak that reminded me of a humorous article in the guardian that I read a few months ago.
The captions in Defining Faces included sentences such as this: ‘the artist suggests something of the sitter’s inner world using apparently random lines and shading’. I have two problems with captions like this. The first is that they don’t really say anything, making the captions long-winded and taking important viewing time away from the pictures themselves.
Secondly they tell the viewer what to think. When visiting a gallery a visitor may respect the authority of such captions but I personally think that, save for a few factual details, no extra information, or in fact opinions, should be put alongside an image.
Tom Phillips' portrait of Richard Edward Morphet, 1972/3. Photo taken from the Barber website

Tom Phillips’ portrait of Richard Edward Morphet, 1972/3. Photo taken from the Barber website

To sum, I really enjoyed the concept of the exhibition and it was a nice change to see some drawings and rough workings that are usually hidden away. If you are going to see this exhibition (which I do think you should!) my advice would be to not pay too much attention to the captions. I know that I had more fun once I had tired of reading and instead spent the other half of the exhibition looking at the drawings themselves in detail.

You can find out more information about the exhibition here.

Wychwood Festival


Big Top

I made a fleeting visit to this ‘family friendly summer festival’ for a sunny Friday afternoon and not really knowing what to expect, I had a good look around. Set in the Cheltenham Racecourse surrounded by idyllic rolling hills, the festival offers three live music stages and a host of small arts and crafts tents, food outlets and more.


Bubbles at Wychwood

The festival really lived up to its family-friendly reputation as parents danced alongside their children and even their teenagers. Here are some of my personal highlights.

John O’Connor


Artists and Makers tent with John O’Connor Sculpture

Making my way to the Big Top I was stopped in my tracks by the large figurative sculptures for sale by John O’Connor. Some of them were simple figures standing still which reminded me of Antony Gormley’s ‘Another Place’ (which is perhaps why I liked them – see my earlier post on Antony Gormley). However O’Connor’s sculptures are not as human as Gormley’s figures and carry an air of intrigue. See more of O’Connor’s work here:

Victoria England

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Upcycled Bunnies by Victoria England

Inside the Artists and Makers tent was a stall of unique items made by Victoria England. Mostly producing handbags, all of England’s stock is made from 100% recycled retro and vintage materials. I particularly liked these bunnies!

Not A Full Shilling


Recycled Penny Pendant by Not A Full Shilling

Stuart Andrews calls himself a ‘recycler of old coins and silver cutlery’ and creates these striking pieces. His tent was full of cufflinks, wind chimes, necklaces and more all made from recycled coins and cutlery.


Half Crown Pendant by Not A Full Shilling

 I really enjoyed looking at all the different designs on display and you can even design your own piece. Have a look at their website for more information and unique pieces:

Emily and the Woods

The main reason I went to Wychwood was to see these guys play in the Big Top. Emily and the Woods are a four-piece band headed up by gorgeous vocals from Emily. I should say upfront that I may be a bit biased having grown up through school with the three boys in the band. However, hear me out: they are no average-kind-of-alright-and-I’ll-just-like-them-because-I-know-them kind of band. If you want proof then check out Emily’s beautiful voice here:


Emily and the Woods (sorry for the awful quality)

The crowd loved their set at Wychwood and shouted for another song when the band ran out of time (which the sound man thankfully allowed). We were treated to their brand new song ‘Helios’ which had a more dancey feel and the whole set was just lovely!


But don’t just take my word for it, go and see them for yourself – they’re going on tour later this month!

All in all Wychwood Festival was a great day out. The sun was shining, there was a friendly atmosphere and lots going on. I loved all the little stalls showcasing some beautiful arts and crafts and innovative recycling ideas. Find out more information about the festival here: