The majestic Houghton Hall & Gardens in Norfolk is one of Britain’s finest Palladian mansions, making it the perfect backdrop for hosting Anish Kapoor's largest outdoor show in the UK. This exhibition showcases his considerable talents with 21 of his large- scale pieces, including his iconic 35-foot-high Sky Mirror.
Built in 1720 for the first prime minister Sir Robert Walpole, Houghton Hall is now owned by the Marquess of Cholmondeley. From now until 12 November, visitors to Houghton Hall will be able to view the exhibition. In addition to the stone sculptures, there are also a selection of drawings and smaller works that Kapoor has created over the past 40 years. Presented together, this series is meant to 'challenge the classical architecture of the house and the idyllic beauty of the grounds, whilst being in continuous dialogue and engagement with Houghton’s history.'
I have been a long-time fan of Anish Kapoor's work, but I must confess, I was less excited to see his stone sculptures. That being said, I was actually pleasantly surprised, and really enjoyed them. Perhaps the grand backdrop of Houghton Hall and the fact it was the first exhibition I'd seen in months since lockdown, also positively influenced my experience.
As I was walking past his series of three large rectangular pieces made from onyx, limestone and granite, I overheard a fellow visitor, who said, “If these (the sculptures) were inside, I’d walk straight past them”. I strongly disagreed with their statement and was fascinated by the simplicity of the sculptures and the obvious skill and dedication that had gone into creating something seemingly so simple.
There was also an impressive array of works located within Houghton Hall. The Stone Hall filled with cherubs, ostentatious chandeliers and grand furniture is reflected back at you with a series of Kapoor’s brilliantly coloured mirrors, which beckoned one to stay and play. Each of the mirrors had a different reflective quality and with a room so full of detail and texture, one can easily spend hours in there. But with queues building up outside and restricted numbers allowed in the rooms, I had to let go of my indulgent self and move on!
For me, the north wing courtyard was my favourite spot. This smallish outdoor space hosted “Grace” (marble) and “Imminence” (Onyx). The romance of the rich historical backdrop brought out a playful, almost sexual element to these anti-form sculptures, with the containment of the sculptures somehow adding to their potency.
To provide the perfect ending to your visit, stop by the walled garden for a lovely respite before your return journey home. If you're interested in travelling further afield, you can also explore the wonderful Norfolk countryside, and visit the sprawling lavender and poppy fields and many fantastic beaches, such as the nearby Hunstanton Beach, which is a personal favourite.
Istanbul Biennial 2019: The Seventh Continent
Istanbul’s art scene is booming and it’s never been more evident than in this year’s 16th Biennial (14 September – 10 November). Running across three sites, and showcasing more than 220 artworks by 56 participating artists, it provides art lovers with a wealth of opportunities to fully immerse themselves in art.
This year’s theme – The Seventh Continent
The Seventh Continent refers to the mass of plastic waste floating in the Pacific, estimated to be five times the size of Turkey. Curator and art historian Nicolas Bourriaud uses this theme to explore the Anthropocene epoch; an era where human activity has been the dominant influence on climate change and the environment.
While the biennial isn’t set on preaching an environmental message, it explores our current period in history and suggests a new ‘approach is needed to make sense of it.
Bourriaud sees the 56 international participating artists as anthropologists of this ‘off-centred world’, a time where, the physical and symbolic limits that formerly separated human beings from their environments have collapsed. He suggests that,’ both anthropology and art are reflecting the erosion of the old mass systems – sociological, ethnical, sexual or political.’
The site locations
Located a stone’s throw from the beautiful Bosphorous and a 30-minute walk from Galata Bridge, the main venue (the new addition to the MSFAU Painting and Sculpture museum), plays host to more than half of the participating artists, so ensure you allow a day to take it all in. It’s also conveniently located for grabbing a coffee or a quick bite to eat, should you want some refreshments after an art-filled day.
The second host venue, the Pera Museum, is more centrally located near Taksim Square. Here, alongside the 14 Biennial artists, is the museum’s permanent collection, which is well worth viewing. Afterwards, head to Solera Winery, a fabulous little wine bar with a good selection of wines.
The third site, which is home to five art works, is located on Buyukada (the largest of the Princes Islands), situated a one-hour boat ride from the main port. All of the works are located within a short walk from the ferry drop-off for ease.
To help inspire your visit to the Biennial, I’ve rounded up a few of my favourite installations / artists’ works.
1. Korakrit Arunanondchai – Thailand
This video piece brings together two historical events – the rise of Donald Trump and the death of the King of Thailand woven together with the artist’s grandmother’s experience with dementia and a drone spirit called Chanti.
Done through a collage of cleverly woven interviews, original footage, imagery and story-telling, there’s a real beauty to Arunanondchai’s work, which has an ethereal and spiritual quality. The content of the video is almost irrelevant; it’s the sum of the parts that makes it stand out. He punctuates the footage with poignant phrases, which encourage reflection such as: ‘how have the strokes of history painted your picture’, ‘for consciousness to exist beyond bodies’, ‘soil is the most valued species on the earth,’ etc.
2. Jonathas de Andrade – BrazilPeixe The Fish– video
This powerful film shows a fisherman holding and stroking a fish with care and love while the fish slowly dies; a ritual performed by fishermen in the Northeast of Brazil. This demonstration of love while the fishermen knowingly kill the fish for food, throws up a complex set of emotions, making for compelling yet difficult viewing. Andrade uses this video to explore human’s relationship to the earth, that we are slowly killing yet depend on for our existence.
3. Hale Tenger – Turkey
Appearance –Installation and audio - Buyukada
This meditative piece is set in the gardens of Sophronius Palace, a now un-inhabited, dilapidated building on Buyukada Island. As you wander around the gardens you are drawn to the black obsidian mirrors that reflect the magic of this wild garden. You are forced to walk slowly in between the mirrors so you can hear the audio that forms part of this installation, a poem written by the artist – the voice of a fruit tree. The inspiration for this installation comes from a botanical technique girdling: the complete removal of a strip of bark which can kill trees or encourage enhanced growth of fruit. The artist asks ‘Can you be by not doing?’ and she creates a wonderful space to reflect on this and indeed how humans manipulate nature for their own gain.
4. Haegue Yang – South Korea
‘Incubation and Exhaustion’- sculpture, sound (Painting and Sculpture Museum)
Yang presents an immersive sensorial environment with scents, sounds and textures. The room is saturated with biomorphic sculptures made up of motifs ranging from chillies and garlic to high-end surgical robots. These striking hyperreal images and sculptures are paired with an audio from a famous interview with Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in, where native bird song and camera clicks was all that was recorded. Yang’s installation explores the breaking down of barriers between technology, politics, art and nature.
Overall, the experience left me feeling reflective. Perhaps human beings are merely a dot on the landscape of the history of this great earth whose time is up. Motivated by human-centric concerns, the climate change debate, which has provoked so much discussion and anxiety, maybe suggests our focus should be on how to leave this earth gracefully.
One of the best known visual arts prizes in the world, The Turner Prize is awarded annually to an artist born, living or working in Britain, for an outstanding exhibition or public presentation of their work anywhere in the world in the previous year.
This year's Turners prize finalists take a look at feminist science fiction, sound as a forensic tool, the role of women in the civil rights movement in Derry in 1964 and collective conscience. This heady mix is explored through painting, sculpture, installation, film and digital imagery. To get you excited or this year's Turner Prize, here’s a snapshot of the four finalists and their work.
LAWRENCE ABU HAMDAN
Lawrence Abu Hamdan is an artist and audio investigator, whose work explores ‘the politics of listening’ and the role of sound and voice within the law and human rights.
His work features a series of three pieces on a loop using audio-video installations, audio archives and speech to text algorithm. He explores the use of sound in a forensic context. Specifically, he was asked by Amnesty International to work with six survivors from Saydnaya a Syrian prison which, since the Syrian revolution of 2011 turned into a Centre for torture and execution and where speaking became punishable by death. Abu Hamdan conducted ‘earwitness’ interviews, using sound to elicit their experiences in the prison and build up an account of what actually happened during this time. His works include, Saydnaya a light box that visually presents how the prisoners voices became after the Syrian Revolution and suggests that a silent whisper can be as telling as a spoken testimony. Walled Unwalled is a video piece lasting 20 minutes which looks at different cases where evidence is heard or experienced through walls. After SFX is 25-minute text to algorithm piece which looks at the role of the Foley artist in creating sounds that can spark a memory or evoke an emotion.
Her 1 hour and 39-minute video ‘The Long Note’, is an eclectic interwoven series of interviews, songs, prose and original footage exploring the role of women in the civil rights movement in Derry, Northern Ireland in 1968. She relates this to the global struggles for equality in the 1960s, in particular the feminist and African American civil rights movements in the United States. Cammock also presents ‘Shouting in Whispers’ a series of simple, evocative text-based prints using quotes from political activist Claudia Jones and Public Enemy. Cammock also provides a sit-down library space to encourage visitors to further research the civil rights movements.
Oscar's installation features a striking scene of 23 human sized papier mache effigies sitting on benches, waiting, looking onto a black canvas. Each effigy has a different gormless expression all dressed for work. This is Murillo’s Collective Conscience work, a reflection on migration, globalization and the political and socio-economic position of our world today. The black canvas the effigies are seemingly looking on to, which blocks out the view of The North Sea, reflects the darkness and the ignorance of this moment. Behind the pews of figures Murillo presents Surge- social cataracts, a series of ethereal abstract paintings representing the desire to be immersed in an idealized world view and ignore the state of the real world. Alongside this, Murillo is running a project for local schools, 'Frequencies', where he has distributed canvases that will be fixed to students’ desks for six months with an open invite for students to write or draw whatever they want.
This immersive installation presents a bright pink luscious fantastical city, with soft giant forms hanging from the ceiling, reflective spheres, puddles of nature and a huge green hand that sits in the middle. It’s a real feast for the eyes as Shani uses an eclectic mix of materials and forms to create her saturated world. On the floor there are 12 pairs of busy animated miniature hands, which represent the mythical and real female characters which form the basis of the words spoken by the head on a screen. The dialogue, which you listen to on the headphones provided, is sometimes violent and erotic - so adults only – is a reading from Shani’s book ‘Our Fatal Magic,’ which uses the 12 female characters to explore and anticipate a post-patriarchal world.
If you've never been to Margate, there are plenty of other activities in addition to the Turner Prize, to take in, thanks to the Margate Now Festival, a programme of exhibitions, events, educational projects and performances running from now until 12 January 2020.
Fortnum & Mason has continued their annual artistic collaboration Fortnum’s X Frank 2018 (FXF18), with eminent art collector, Frank Cohen, presenting a rich body of work by British landscape artist, John Virtue.
Running from now until 20th October, Fortnum’s X Frank 2018 (FXF18) will see over 60 large-scale monochromatic works by Virtue placed across the floors of the luxury London store, in the heart of Piccadilly. Having trained at the Slade School of Fine Art and now residing in North Norfolk, Virtue’s practice is continually informed by natural environments and his geographical moving from Lancashire to Devon, to London, and now to Norfolk.
The artist’s idiosyncratic black and white canvases, created using a mix of white acrylic paint, black ink and shellac, will provide a provocative juxtaposition among the iconic Fortnum’s colours and gilt. The works chosen include abstract landscapes that challenge the viewer to see beyond the paint to make out landmark sites, such as London’s St Paul’s Cathedral, London Eye and The Gherkin. Fortnum’s X Frank 2018 (FXF18) is curated by Robert Upstone, former Director at the Fine Art Society, which he joined in 2010 from Tate Britain where he was Head of Modern British Art.
This month-long collaboration takes place as the global art world descends on London for the prestigious Frieze Art Fair. Fortnum’s has a long-standing commitment to the arts, supporting generations of artists and designers through its connections with the Royal Academy, the Royal College of Art, the Slade School of Fine Art and the Bloomsbury Group, alongside Fortnum’s own distinguished collection.
Steve McQueen. Photo © John Russo
Turner Prize-winning artist and Oscar-winning filmmaker Steve McQueen, together with Tate Britain, Artangel and A New Direction, today announced one of the world’s most ambitious contemporary art projects: a portrait of an entire age group of Londoners, capturing tens of thousands of Year 3 schoolchildren from across the capital. Over the next nine months, each and every one of London’s 2,410 primary schools with Year 3 pupils is invited to have those classes specially photographed for the project, with the resulting artwork going on display at Tate Britain and around London in autumn 2019.
This month 115,000 seven-year-olds are beginning the new school year in a new class in London. This is a milestone year in a child’s development and sense of identity, when they become more conscious of the world beyond their immediate family. McQueen’s project will capture this moment of excitement, anxiety and hope through the traditional medium of the class photograph, depicting rows of children sitting or standing alongside their teachers and teaching assistants. In bringing together so many of these class photos from a single year, the work will embody the diversity of the city in which the artist grew up, as well as the potential of the next generation who will shape London’s future.
Working with creative learning specialists A New Direction, Tate Britain and Artangel today invite every London primary school to register their school at tateyear3project.org.uk. Here they can choose a date and time for a Tate photographer, briefed by McQueen, to visit their school and take their Year 3 class photo. Specially created learning resources will also allow pupils to further explore the work’s key themes of belonging, identity and citizenship within the curriculum, while a live-streamed lesson will be staged in spring 2019 for primary school classes across the country to watch and engage with the project.
From November 2019 to May 2020, the Duveen Galleries at Tate Britain will be taken over by a vast installation of the photographs, free for all to visit. It will be a celebration of the tens of thousands of young people who will make London their own in years to come, and a meditation on the social forces and personal developments that shape our lives. Artangel, who are renowned for producing extraordinary art in unexpected places, will also create an outdoor exhibition of class photographs across each of London’s 33 boroughs, giving passers-by a glimpse of the future of their city. Tate Modern will then stage a major survey exhibition of McQueen’s work to coincide with the project, open from February to May 2020.
The London Design Biennale showcases some of the world’s most exciting designers, innovators and curators to demonstrate how design impacts every aspect of our lives. This year’s Biennale at Somerset House explores important political, social and environmental issues, with the pavilions providing a place where visitors can engage with these subjects in a fun and interactive way.
The theme ‘Emotional States’ encourages artists to examine the global and political shift towards understanding a country’s overall happiness and well-being. At a time when there is now a Gross National Happiness Index, the United Arab Emirates has a Minister for Happiness, Venezuela elected a Vice Minister of Supreme Social Happiness and Theresa May appointed a Minister for Loneliness, exploring emotion has never been so timely.
Ideally, you need a full day to explore all 37 pavilions at the Biennale. For those with limited time, I’ve highlighted the most exhilarating ‘must-see’ exhibitions.
Set in the forecourt at Somerset House, visitors are invited to walk through the walls of this 17-metre-long kinetic structure. As you take your first step, the floor moves down and the walls expand out like a skeleton breathing. The shock of this makes you either hurry through, relieved to come through the other side, or inspires an excitement and curiosity where viewers would lean into the sides of the wall and look in wonder at the structure. To further bring the structure to life, there will be dance performances that will run throughout the Biennale.
Puerto Rico: ‘Soft Identity Makers’
This dynamic exhibition explored the concepts of nation and identity, which is particularly interesting in Puerto Rico where residents are American citizens but don’t have voting rights. Visitors are invited to select five images of different textures, colours, flavours, sounds and attitudes, which are translated into symbols through a specially designed algorithm to create a unique identity, which gets printed onto a T-shirt that you can keep – brilliant!
Saudi Arabia: ‘Being and Existence’
This beautiful meditative exhibition uses mirrors and slow-moving circular, mandala-like images to create a sense of infinity. As you look closer, you notice the circles are comprised of a complex series of white light symbols. These symbols or ‘codes’ are based on Arabic calligraphy and Islamic geometry and use the Vedic Square – the hidden language of creation – to create the symbols.
As you walk into a darkened room, you become immersed in a techni-colour light show, with light cast onto the walls and loud music playing in the background. In the centre of the exhibition is the ‘avatar’ that lets you control the colours and lights by pressing different buttons. You soon learn that the buttons relate to different emotions with which you can explore and interact with other visitors. This clever piece of design has been developed to help young people explore their emotions when language can be prohibitive.
USA: ‘Face Values’
This interactive exhibition looks at alternative uses of facial recognition technology, typically used for security and behavioural profiling. Visitors are invited to sit in front of a camera and asked to express an emotion and hold it for 30 seconds. The computer then creates a profile detailing your age, ethnic background and how successful you were in creating that emotion. All images taken during the exhibition will be archived throughout the duration of the Biennale.
Israel: ‘Exposed Nerves’
Here visitors will find a live rapid response design studio, with an artist, architect and designer working towards a different design brief each week.
This is just a snap shot of the wonderful exhibitions on offer for all to enjoy. With only two weeks to go, ensure that you make the time to visit this fabulous creative event.
The London Design Biennale is on at Somerset House from now until 23 September 2018.
See an unbeatable lineup at the UK's oldest literary festival
The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival today announces the unmissable line up for 2018, with a raft of the most remarkable writers, thinkers and performers of our time.
From 5-14 October, Regency Cheltenham’s beautiful Montpellier Gardens will welcome tens of thousands of book-lovers to the Festival Village, setting the scene for once-in-a-lifetime conversations to take place over ten days of bookish revelry at the UK’s oldest literary festival.
The spectacular programme with almost 1000 speakers offers something for everyone: from literary legends and dynamic debuts to celebrated chefs, renowned historians and sporting icons, as well as the most incisive commentators, world-class comedians and the glittering stars of stage and screen. For the perfect family day out, the greatest storytellers and illustrators in the land will inspire and entertain toddlers to teens, through events, free activities, workshops and story trails. And as part of the Festival’s Literature for Schools programme over 9,000 school children and their teachers will meet their favourite authors and learn from internationally acclaimed writers.
Surrounding the cosy Bookstand in the Festival Village, bibliophiles can soak up the atmosphere under the picnic canopy, take their pick of global street food on offer and enjoy free pop-up events galore. And, as the sun goes down, the festivities continue with the eclectic Off The Page series of comedy, music, spoken word, quizzes and podcasts, including the Festival Club at Hotel du Vin and the return of the irreverent Lit Crawl taking over the streets of Cheltenham.
Booking opens online to Cheltenham Festivals Members at 1pm on Wednesday 29 August and general booking at 1pm on Wednesday 5 September.
FESTIVAL THEME – EAST MEETS WEST
A host of international writers and experts will join a unique programme inspired by the culture and history of the Far East. In fiction, we celebrate the work of the outstanding cult Japanese author Haruki Murakami with a first look at the highly anticipated Killing Commendatore with friends and fans including David Mitchell. We explore the East Asian canon more widely with authors such as Masatsugu Ono, Madeleine Thien, Sayaka Murata, Min Jin Lee, Xiaolu Guo, and Fujimoto Prize-winner Genki Kawamura(If Cats Disappeared from the World), plus renowned poet Paul Conneally demonstrates the beauty and brevity of the Haiku.
In Travel and Lifestyle, Ian Buruma and Asa Yoneda transport the audience to the metropolis of intoxicating capital Tokyo, spirits expert Dave Broom (The Way of Whisky) takes a tasting tour of Japan, and we enjoy the powerhouse of Japanese animation and Studio Ghibli with Mark Kermode. In our History collection, Guest Curator Peter Frankopan will introduce The New Silk Road and Edward Burman gives an intriguing account of the legendary Terracotta Army. In Art and Design we join Guest Curator and V&A Director Tristram Hunt to marvel at the fabulous treasures in the East Asian Galleries, and in Current Affairs, we interrogate the possibility of peace on the Korean peninsula with Jieun Baek (North Korea’s Hidden Revolution) and Robin Niblett, plus Rania Abouzeid (No Turning Back) and Channel 4’s International Editor Lindsey Hilsum (In Extremis) examine the dynamics of war in Syriawith BBC Chief International Correspondent Lyse Doucet.
Fiction-lovers are spoilt for choice with the biggest names in the business, including Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, alongside the extraordinary new voices igniting imaginations. Discussing their hotly anticipated autumn releases are Pat Barker (The Silence of the Girls), Sarah Perry (Melmouth), Kate Atkinson (Transcription), Guest Curator Sebastian Faulks (Paris Echo), plus the remarkableSally Rooney on her second novel (Normal People). There will be further new reads from William Boyd, Lionel Shriver, Kate Mosse, Kit de Waal, Emma Healey, Elif Shafak, Caitlin Moran as well as the Man Booker nominated Esi Edugyan and last year’s Guest Curator Sarah Moss (Ghost Wall).
Dynamic debut talent on the line-up includes Gail Honeyman, Imogen Hermes Gower, Sharlene Teo, Nikesh Shukla plus broadcaster Simon Mayo with his debut adult novel Mad Blood Stirring. We hear from Jojo Moyes and Liane Moriaty on seeing their work transform from page to screen, raise a glass with Joanna Trollope to her latest novel An Unsuitable Match and, for crime aficionados, Anthony Horowitz will introduce his new James Bond outing (Forever and a Day).
In Muriel Spark’s centenary year, we look beyond The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie with Rebus author Ian Rankin and Spark’s friend and biographer, Alan Taylor; 80 years of Rebecca, Du Maurier’s gothic tale of love, secrets and jealousy, will be marked by Sarah Dunant, Sarah Perry and thriller writer Sabine Durrant; and on the 200th anniversary of Frankenstein, Mary Shelley biographers Fiona Sampson and Miranda Seymour celebrate a woman whose dark and brilliant imagination created this vivid monster. Sophie Hannah explores the enduring appeal of the Queen of Crime, Agatha Christie, Sebastian Faulks is joined by Philip Hensher and Dolly Alderton for a literary tussle over Darcy and Heathcliff, and New Zealand authors Kirsty Gunn and Sarah Laing discuss the literary legacy of Katherine Mansfield.
STAGE & SCREEN
The incomparable David Attenborough will discuss his completely new edition of Life on Earth, and is joined on the bill by stage and screen legends Roger Daltrey, Eric Idle, Sally Field, Gary Barlow, Michael Parkinson, Jennifer Saunders and comedians Lenny Henry, Marcus Brigstocke, Romesh Ranganathan, Jo Brand, Susan Calman and Richard Herring. Former ballerina and BBC Strictly Come Dancing judge Darcey Bussell will spill the beans on her life, career and new book (Darcey Bussell: Evolved); writer, director and founder of Comic Relief, Richard Curtis, is in conversation with his daughter and Guest Curator Scarlett Curtis; David Sproxtonand Peter Lord look back on the remarkable rise of the Aardman Studios, and Gavin and Stacey star Ruth Jones will reflect on turning her hand to novel writing with Never Greener.
World famous conductor Jane Glover draws on her profound understanding of Handel’s music to tell the extraordinary story ofHandel in London. Further stars of the stage include Nicholas Hytner on 12 years at the helm of the National Theatre; acclaimed RSC actor Antony Sher reveals the challenges on playing King Lear (Year of the Mad King); and the Olivier award-winning Giles Terera tells all about one of musical theatre’s biggest successes of our time, Hamilton.
POETRY, SPOKEN WORD & OFF THE PAGE
Superstar of the spoken word scene Hollie McNish returns for a rare UK appearance joined by the phenomenal debut talent Hera Lindsay Bird; while Salena Godden and Peter Coyte combine poetry, fiction and music through the life affirming diaries of ‘Mrs Death’. One of Britain’s most beloved poets, Wendy Cope, presents her new collection (Anecdotal Evidence), the charming Pam Ayres reads from her latest book The Last Hedgehog, and poet, critic and close friend of Phillip Larkin, Anthony Thwaite, contemplates a remarkable poetic legacy in Larkin’s Letters.
After dark, Festival goers can enjoy boisterous evenings from Pundemonium!, Bang Said The Gun, Tongue Fu and an Outspoken Showcase featuring the astonishingly talented Anthony Anaxagorou, Harry Giles and Ollie O’Neal. Award-winning comedian Marcus Brigstocke returns with his new stand-up show Devil May Care, with further laughs from Fringe favourites Rob Auton, Tessa Coates and a special live edition of The Guilty Feminist podcast with Deborah Frances-White.
HISTORY, HISTORICAL FICTION & ANCIENT WORLD
Master storyteller Bernard Cornwell will entertain the Cheltenham crowd with the latest instalment in his much-loved The Last Kingdom series, now a major TV drama, whilst historical heavyweights Antony Beevor (Arnham) and Max Hastings (Vietnam) look into the very heart of war. Guest Curator Peter Frankopan takes the audience on a tour of the New Silk Road, Sebastian Faulkstraces the music and words of the Great War, and novelist Sarah Dunant unpicks the truth behind history’s most notorious family, The Borgias. Festival favourite Mary Beard reflects on Women and Power, Diarmaid MacCulloch delves deep into the life of the ruthless, powerful Tudor fixer Thomas Cromwell, and the mysterious world of espionage is explored by Ben Macintyre (The Spy and The Traitor), intelligence historian Christopher Andrew and former MI5 Officer Annie Machon.
FOOD & DRINK
There is a feast of culinary delights on offer with celebrity chefs and leading restaurateurs taking festival goers on a global food adventure from the street food of Asia with John Torode (Sydney to Seoul) and Morocco’s scintillating flavours with Nargisse Benkabbou (Casablanca) to Middle Eastern soul food with Honey & Co founders Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich. Food writer Diana Henry explores how influences from New York to Mexico have shaped her cooking, Nadiya Hussain celebrates the very best UK home cooking, and spirits expert Dave Broom (The Way of Whisky) uncovers distilleries lost amid ancient forests in a tasting tour of Japan.
And if that’s not enough, the new grande dame of the Bake Off tent, Prue Leith shares her first cookbook in 20 years (Prue), leading restaurateurs Russell Norman, Gizzi Erskine and Yotam Ottolenghi reveal their culinary inspirations and to quench our thirst, Oz Clarke will pop the cork on his life-long love affair with wine (Red & White) and East Asian expert Bruce Ginsbergexamines the relationship between tea and Zen.
Inspiration for the house and home is on hand from gardening guru Monty Don on the delights of Islamic paradise gardens,Gardeners’ World presenter Nick Bailey and designer Jo Thompson offer tips on how to make the most of the space you have, architectural historian Jeremy Musson on the most beguiling castles, estates and manor houses in the Cotswolds, Le Manoir consultant Robert Ketchell unlocks the secrets of the Japanese garden, and Vanessa Bell’s granddaughter Virginia Nicholson delves inside the Bloomsbury Group homes with Nino Strachey.
Tom Daley brings life hacks for healthy livings (Tom’s Daily Goals), and Sali Hughes talks to Nadia Shireen about the beauty products that changed the world. Life and career inspiration will be on hand from Mishal Husain, Emma Gannon (The Multi-Hyphen Method), Otegha Uwagba (Little Black Book) and Yomi Adegoke, (Slay in Your Lane).
ART & DESIGN
Responding to the Festival theme ‘East Meets West’, Guest Curator Tristram Hunt shares the Eastern treasures within the V&A, including the significance of the iconic kimono with Anna Jackson; artist and writer Edmund de Waal offers an intimate history of porcelain; artists Chie Kutsuwada and Fumio Obata give an insight into the world of Manga; and Martin Bailey and Monika Hinkelexplore the enduring influence of the East on van Gogh. Marina Warner asks what role art plays in shaping values; Gavin Plumleyreveals the Vienna years of modernist icons Klimt and Schiele; Agnès Poirier presents a captivating portrait of art in post-war Paris; and much-loved art historian Andrew Graham-Dixon gives his definitive guide to the paintings to see before you die.
NATURE, TRAVEL & ADVENTURE
Providing a breath of fresh air are Everest conquerors Ben Fogle, Kenton Cool and the first British woman to summit, Bonita Norris, as they explain the dangerous lure of the mountain, with Guy Stagg, Leon McCarron and Kate Humble (Thinking on My Feet), recommending the transformative power of walking. Record-breaking endurance cyclist Mark Beaumont tells the story of his astonishing journey around the world in 80 days, Anna McNuff and Phoebe Smith celebrate the inspiring women in the wilderness, and Britain's wildest adventurer Sean Conway talks about how he became the fastest person to cycle 4,000 miles across Europe solo and unsupported. Cheltenham will also celebrate anniversaries with the much-loved John Craven and Anita Rani raising a glass to 30 years of Countryfile, and Peter Moore (Endeavour: The Ship and Attitude That Changed the World) marks250 years since the Endeavour set sail from Plymouth.
As an opera virgin, I leapt at the opportunity to attend the performance of Verdi’s La Traviata by The English National Opera. Opera aficionados often say that La Traviata is one of their favourite operas, so I was very excited to see it first-hand – especially given its location at the gorgeous London Coliseum, a beautiful traditional theatre set in the heart of the West End.
This year marks the 50th year that the English National Opera has been in residence at the London Coliseum. Unlike most operas which are performed in Italian, performances at The English National Opera are in English to ensure they are accessible to everyone.
Behind-the-scenes tour at the London Coliseum
Our evening began with a behind-the-scenes tour of the London Coliseum, which provided us with a glimpse of what happens backstage to bring the magic of the performances to life on stage. Being both in the orchestra pit and behind the stage gave me a newfound sense of appreciation for the wealth of people it takes to create a seamless production.
Indulging in the new spring menu at the American Bar at the London Coliseum
After the tour was complete, we headed to the dining room at the American Bar to try the new spring menu. The petite dining room reminded me a bit of Swiss chalet thanks to its abundance of wooden panelling. Diners can choose from either two courses (£20) or three courses (£25). Starters included: spiced parsnip, coconut and apple soup and toasted pine nuts; baked candied beetroot and heritage carrots with a mango chutney dressing; smoked salmon and Cornish crab parcel, crème fraiche, caviar, orange reduction; seared scallops, butternut squash puree and chorizo, parmesan and rocket oil.
Mains included: Roast chicken breast, raz el hanout couscous, aubergine caviar, smoked yoghurt, pistachio and pomegranate dressing; seared hake fillet, shrimp and mussels, pickled shallots, purple sprouting broccoli; miso roasted sea bream, bok choy, mange tout and enoki mushroom broth; fillet of beef, celeriac puree, cavalo nero, king oyster, red wine and truffle jus; cannellini bean stew, roasted courgette and butternut squash, parsley oil.
All the dishes we tried (the parsnip soup, crab parcels, seared hake and the roast chicken) were delicious and beautifully presented.
La Traviata is a tragic love story about a fallen woman, Violetta, a high-class Parisian prostitute (played by Irish soprano Claudia Boyle), who falls in love a young man named Alfredo (played by tenor Lukhanyo Moyake) who attended one of her lavish parties.
After a whirlwind romance, Violetta and Alfredo leave the chaos of the city for a peaceful life together in the French countryside but alas their happiness was short-lived thanks to Violetta’s ill health (she had tuberculosis) coupled with a forced breakup instructed by Alfredo’s father who feared that her sinful past would prevent Alfredo’s younger sister from marrying into a respectable family.
The entire cast gave a strong performance, although it was Violetta who really drew the audience in thanks to her beauty and emotion-laden vocals. The costumes were also gorgeous - I adored Violetta's elegant satin gowns and the fabulous statement hats she donned!
It's easy to see why this classic opera has been loved for many years. We liked that the performance was in English, which makes it easier to follow - especially for those who are not familiar with the story.
St Martin’s Lane
For a full list of upcoming performances at the English National Opera, visit https://www.eno.org.
*With the exception of the images from Catherine Ashmore all other images copyright of Ashley Miln
Forget Barnum and Bailey; this is the greatest show on Earth if you want to be transported to a bygone era of classic cars, style and glamour.
This unique annual motor racing event is held in the spectacular grounds of Lord March’s 12,000-acre Goodwood House estate in West Sussex. In the words of F1 racing legend Jackie Stewart, “There’s nothing close to this in the world. It has the biggest selection of cars and the biggest crowds of spectators too.” Each year crowds come out in droves to witness the action with celebrities such as David Gandy, Rowan Atkinson, Zara Tindall, David Coultard, and Stirling Moss, amongst others mingling with the masses.
Even if you’re not into cars and motorcycles, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Attendees are encouraged to get into the spirit of things by dressing in vintage attire to herald the golden days of motoring, which often featured a leisurely picnic with fine champagne - all while taking in the countryside views.
Arrive in Style
To ensure a grand entrance, many attendees arrive in their prized automobiles. For those who really want to make an impression, there’s even the option to arrive by helicopter, thanks to Goodwood’s private airfield.
Upon arrival, the first thing guests will notice is the car park, which is usually an experience in itself given the wide variety of jaw-dropping wheels that are typically on display such as a Ferrari Dino, a vintage Rolls Royce or a James Bond style Aston Martin.
Racing at Goodwood
The overall site is huge and it’s easy to get distracted and miss the racing. For those interested in watching the racing in all its glory, there are information points at various locations with staff on hand to provide advice.
The car racing takes place on a 2.5 mile track, which has viewing areas around its complete circumference. Apart from car racing, there is also vintage motorcycle racing with bikes such as Manx Nortons, Dominators, Triumphs and German BMW’s, which were being serviced by mechanics in lederhosen - a sight worth seeing! The track side atmosphere is sensational as spectators can get close to the participating vehicles in the race preparation areas.
Another highlight for many people is the Settrington Cup, a children’s race featuring vintage pedal cars. With a bit of luck, one of the participating children might become the next Lewis Hamilton!
What to see and do at Goodwood
Obviously, the vintage vehicles are the main attraction at Goodwood Revival, but there are also plenty of other vintage installations and activities taking place throughout the site to celebrate the era.
Flight displays at Goodwood
Goodwood is renowned for its flight displays, which feature WW2 era Spitfires being put through their acrobatic paces. Flight enthusiasts will also love the Mustang on display - one of the most iconic American airplanes used during WW2. For those who want to get up close to the participating vintage planes, there is a viewing area, which provides ample photo opportunities.
Music at Goodwood
For a non-music event there is a lot of great live music on offer. There are stages scattered around the site including a traditional ballroom with dancing, a band stand, and a fabulous converted 1950s airstream trailer stage. Gasoline Alley, which was designed as an homage to the American surf era, was one of my favourite areas and was definitely the most ‘kicking’ place all day. It featured diner-style catering, rockabilly tunes from the Ding Dong Daddios, and a bevy of spinning dancers in drape suits and big skirts jiving to the infectious beats.
Shopping at Goodwood
Located near the car park, Over the Road is an area that features multiple clothing and accessories shops and, of course, everything for the car enthusiast.
The Fairground at Goodwood
Families will love the impressive fairground that will keep the kids happy as they experience the various attractions and rides.
Dining at Goodwood
When it comes to good food, you’re spoilt for choice. There are many premium food vendors on site as well as fine dining options. Alternatively, you can pre-book a Goodwood picnic (complete with a bottle of cold bubbly) for collection.
What to wear
Nearly everyone dresses in period costume; it’s one of those places where you’ll actually look more ridiculous if you don’t make an effort. Think woollen waistcoats and tweed flat caps for the men, and slinky Sixties shifts for the women. For guests who’ve really made an effort with their attire, there is a daily ‘best dressed’ catwalk show.
Top tips for visiting Goodwood
Buy Goodwood 2018 tickets
Although the festival doesn’t take place until September (7-9), the event always sells out, so now’s the time to start making your enquiries for 2018!
To book tickets, visit www.goodwood.com.
What better way to explore Venice than being on the hunt for thought provoking, enlightening world class art and exhibitions? I recently made the pilgrimage to see the work of Khadija Saye, an artist who sadly died in the Grenfell Tower disaster, an unexpected and poignant moment during my visit.
While this trip was my first time visiting Venice, I had to remain focused and not be distracted by the sheer beauty of the city, to ensure I had ample time to take everything in during my weekend jaunt. For those who wish to see all that the Biennale has on offer, I’d recommend a five or six-day visit, however, a weekend visit will give you a good flavour of what’s on show.
Now is the perfect time to visit – the throng of summer tourists have packed up and left and the Biennale buffs have been and gone – leaving a wonderful space to wander round the exhibitions bathed in the dazzling Autumn glow. In addition to experiencing the artworks themselves, you can attend ‘Open Table’ sessions with the artists and check out the music festival.
This year’s curator is Parisian Christine Macel, best known for her curatorial role at the Pompidou Centre. Macel’s working title for this year’s Biennale ‘Viva Arte Viva’, translates to ‘a celebration of the artist and of art for its own sake’, a move away from one central theme most Biennales have, while removing it from a political agenda where many Biennales have sat in the past.
Throughout the Biennale there are 120 invited artists from 51 countries; 103 of whom are participating for the first time. While most of the artwork is concentrated in the two main sites, The Biennale spreads throughout the city with more than 20 collateral events and exhibitions taking place.
The main exhibition sites are the Giardini and the Arsenale; two immense permanent buildings that sit within a 10-minute walk of each other and lie along one of the main waterways of Venice. The participating artists are grouped together into nine ‘chapters’ including The Pavilion of Joys and Fears, which explores the relationship between the individual and his own existence, and The Dionysian Pavilion, which celebrates the female body and its sexuality. These groupings help the viewer navigate their way around an eclectic mix of art forms, scale and meaning.
So, if you haven't had the chance to attend, now's the time to go! To wrap up the celebrations in style, the grand finale on 26 November promises an exciting programme of events and closing parties, ensuring an electric atmosphere for all to enjoy.
Arts, Culture & Entertainment