A major retrospective of the photography of Robert Mapplethorpe drawn from the Getty collection. The curators are proposing Mapplethorpe as an artist: his photographs are presented in an art gallery. By featuring his commercial portraiture as much as his more well-known (notorious) leather subculture photography, the curators are rebalancing his oeuvre and particular reputation as well as advancing the general cause of the photographer as artist. This exhibition was originally mounted in New York, then Los Angeles, followed by Montreal.
This is light touch curating, it would have been useful to have commentary remarking on the various visual references Mapplethorpe employs, from David Bowie to Andy Warhol. Equally the way in which Mapplethorpe’s work has influenced and inspired a generation, from Grace Jones’ cover for “Portfolio” through to the adoption of leather fetish imagery by mainstream fashion image makers.
Vincent van Gogh’s story is, on the face of it, straightforward: young man leaves rural Dutch religious family home to become an artist in Paris, moves to Arles in Provence, falls in to bad ways but creates exceptional art; is rescued by his brother but commits suicide. Van Gogh’s story is unusual because he produced such memorable work in the short productive period between finding himself and loosing himself through “madness”. I always enjoy visiting the town of Arles, but recognise for myself that the heady allure of its old stonework and streets, strong light and position at the head of the Camargue are best visited rather than made home.
Just 162 m. altitude and a ten to fifteen minute walk from Keswick town centre, Castlehead offers a famous panorama of Derwent Water, Bassenthwaite Lake and the surrounding fells, which today were clouded with numerous shades of grey. The geological evidence is that this was once a glacial valley and even earlier was the lower slopes of the Borrowdale volcano.
My garden tree fern (Dicksonia antarctica) rolling out its new fronds for 2017
Good Friday hike on the South Downs between Kingston near Lewes and Rottingdean. We enjoyed a picnic of Hot Cross Buns still warm from Hot Cross Buns queue at the bakery at Fiveways, Preston Park. This year’s lambs enjoying the sunshine in the South Downs National Park.
Lots of sporty bikers, some very sporty-aggressive indeed, riding up on Sunday to the Grand Canyon of the Verdon, practicing and perfecting their moves on the freshly improved road. Too early for motorcaravans and even no groups of cyclists either, so fantastic riding opportunities, not to mention chain stretching and high rev gear changes as the road is neither level nor straight. Note: I don’t do late braking when there’s a solid wall of rock or a 500m vertical drop ahead.
The Corniche de l’Estérel, “The most beautiful road in France” according to the Touring Club of France, is a 40km coastal route from Fréjus-St Raphaël to the Bay of Cannes around and over the red volcanic rock of the Estérel Massif. Also known as the Corniche d’Or, the road is never straight and level for long. It’s always close to the sea with dazzling views of the turquoise water contrasting with the red volcanic rock. The Corniche d’Or was built for views not speed though of course it’s fun push it a bit where you can.
Saint-Julien clarets are reckoned to be amongst the finest available because of the well-drained soil and their many generations of experience since the growers were listed back in 1855. My Father first bought bottles of Château Léoville-Barton in honour of our neighbours in Cambridge, the Bartons. This bottle of 1989 vintage was one of the last bottles of Léoville-Barton he laid down for drinking much later. The same year, 1989, he also inscribed and presented to me a copy of Féret’s classic guide Bordeaux and its wines.
Low tide on the estuary of the River Adur at Shoreham-by-Sea in Sussex. The parish church of St Mary de Haura was founded around 1103 AD by Philip de Braose on his return from the First Crusade (1096–99) in Jerusalem. There’s a new footbridge over the harbour to Shoreham Beach, almost an island, with a nature reserve and beach-houses separated from the mainland by a freshwater lagoon.
Curtain up in daylight on a brand new production of Wagner’s Die Meistersinger, a radical reimagining at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden of this much-loved opera. It took a moment or two to adjust to the setting in a modern era club, modern enough for smoking and plastic framed spectacles but still the era of notebooks, and Beckmesser’s blackboard and chalk.
The shock of the new is what Die Meistersinger is about and that also means us, the audience, confronted full-on with a revelatory new translation on the surtitles which highlights contemporary values (feminism and populism etc), a modern stage setting and even a more fluid, responsive musical interpretation than many recordings.