Crystalline art

Last weekend I went to see Josiah McElheny’s ‘The Crystal Land’ exhibition at Bermondsey’s White Cube. Among the items in this collection were his series of ‘paintings’ consisting of glass domes and pillars set inside gem-shaped, mirrored window boxes (not shown): Looking inside these structures, I was reminded of what it’s like to stare down a cathedral nave – ad infinitum – or of the Wizard … Continue reading Crystalline art

Performing monkeys 🐵 🙊

aspiration and objectification in Black Mirror, Old Masters and social media I hadn’t heard of art critic John Berger before news of his death broke a few days ago. Today I happened upon this interesting article about his critical legacy in the field of the artistic treatment of women. What hooked me in was the initial quotation: A woman is always accompanied, except when quite … Continue reading Performing monkeys 🐵 🙊

Playing at virtue in Mansfield Park

One of the first events of interest in Mansfield Park is the attempted production of the play Lovers’ Vows, put on by the Bertram youngsters, Crawford siblings, and their friend Mr Yates. The play is a shocker by Regency standards, featuring as it does an illegitimate love-child, and improper declarations of feeling from ladies. The idea that gentlefolk should have to utter the compromising lines of the … Continue reading Playing at virtue in Mansfield Park

Aristotle & The Princess Diaries

Mia Thermopolis (or, to cite her full name, Amelia Mignonette Grimaldi Thermopolis Renaldo) is the reluctant princess and narrator of The Princess Diaries (all 11 of them), the first few of which I read as a teenager. Like any teenager, Mia had many ambitions and hopes for the future. A frequent feature on her to-do lists was the phrase ‘Achieve self-actualization’ – along with things like ‘Go … Continue reading Aristotle & The Princess Diaries

Sylvanian decadence @ National Gallery

This post is about art and therefore requires a poncy title. George Shaw is the National Gallery’s current painter-in-residence, and we wandered into his exhibition the other day while trying to find some Klimt. The Telegraph was lukewarm (even though the guy was nominated for the Turner Prize), but I really liked it! In a short video played on loop in one of the exhibition … Continue reading Sylvanian decadence @ National Gallery

Social justice in Harry Potter

Under the hood of this fantasy series, this Christian allegory, this festival of fun in seven volumes, lies a certain concern for social justice. Besides the ‘strong female leads’ – sporty Ginny handy with a Bat-Bogey Hex, cleverest in her year Hermione, stay-at-home mother and serious destroyer of Dark Witches Mrs Weasley, etc etc – the dispelling of the stigma around blood-transmitted werewolf condition claimed … Continue reading Social justice in Harry Potter

Midsummer jollity at the Globe

I first encountered A Midsummer Night’s Dream while reading Ballet Shoes as a child. The three Fossil sisters are enrolled at stage school, where reluctant actress Petrova is nearly fired from her role as the fairy Mustard-Seed in the play, after repeatedly struggling to intone correctly the very simple line ‘And I’. Yesterday I saw a hilarious and mad production of the play at the Globe. It … Continue reading Midsummer jollity at the Globe

Bad taste & good art

“I just don’t get why you want to keep me away from her, though?!” “Alright, I’ll tell ya! I slept with her, din’t I?” Dum, dum, dum dum dum dum-dum-dum-dum – And the Eastenders credits roll down on yet another cliff-hanger. There’s something in the overly dramatic ending that causes a little cringe. It’s the same, sometimes, in books: At the sudden knock on the … Continue reading Bad taste & good art

Thoughts on D’Annunzio (hint: he’s really annoying)

I recently finished an irritating book called L’Innocente (The Victim/The Intruder in English) by Gabriele D’Annunzio. I wouldn’t recommend it to you, so I don’t feel bad telling you what happens, with no spoiler alert: A man (Tullio) is repeatedly unfaithful to his wife (Giuliana). Since she’s so lovely and forgiving of that fact, they almost reconcile, until he discovers she too was unfaithful and … Continue reading Thoughts on D’Annunzio (hint: he’s really annoying)