What’s great about the Tate (Modern)

Art, Painting, Public spaces

Don’t be mean to the Tate Modern, or it’ll go and sulk in this puddle again (Rev Stan on Flickr)

Pretty big, pretty new and pretty popular, the Tate Modern is often derided by actual-art-fans as somewhere which is too well-known, too much of a tourist attraction, too full of schoolkids thundering around and raucously lol-ing at all the pieces with bums and boobs. Too accessible to the everyday oik who finds themselves on the South bank with half an hour to spare. If private galleries are an exclusive, prosecco-free soiree in the Kensington Roof Gardens (YES, THIS IS THE POSHEST PLACE I KNOW), then the Tate Modern is a can of K Cider in the overgrown, woodsy bit at the back of Hyde Park.

But guys, this is ok! Sometimes stuff that loads of people like is – believe it or not – GOOD! I went there last weekend, for the first time since I was a country-bumph 19-year-old up in London on a kid’s day travelcard and thinking that this was the height of capital city cool. It wasn’t, and still isn’t (the postcode doesn’t begin with the letters EC, go figure), but here are some reasons why it is a nice place to hang about for a bit. You know, even if it’s NOT raining.


Last chance to see: Burnt Breakfast by Su Richardson @ Deptford Town Hall (Pics)

Art, Last chance to see


So I went to see this exhibition about a month ago, but due to extenuating circumstances (in the form of an extremely last-minute dissertation) I’ve only just got around to blogging it. But you’re in luck, because you can still go and see it this week. In fact, I’d go as far as saying you should.

Funny, frilly and fabulously feminist, Burnt Breakfast is a sardonic take on traditional laydeez activities, namely cooking and crochet. As curator Alexandra Kokoli says, the combined ultra-girliness of these two activities means that they “cancel each other out”, making this breakfast into “a mockery of more than one aspect of housewifely duties.” 

Council block culture: Frank Laws @ Orange Dot gallery

Art, Painting


Earlier this week, I rolled on down to the private view of Frank Laws’ show, ‘London Bits’, at the Orange Dot gallery in Bloomsbury. As this is a pretty cosy (to use estate agent speak) space, there were only a handful of pieces on display – but what was there was honestly some of the best contemporary painting I’ve seen in quite a while. Go.

Based on the run down red brick council estates of East London, the subject matter is distinctly unlovely. But Laws, whose day job is surprisingly as an in-house artist for Louis Vuitton, manages to eke out the romance in these everyday urban dwellings through his moody oil colours and sinister, dusky settings. In a time of rapid regeneration and gentrification in what used to be the capital’s poorest areas, perhaps these high-rises – with their union-flag-draped windows, makeshift washing lines and white plastic chairs – will become artefacts; preserving a small piece of the city’s social and architectural past.

Snapped: London 2012 (It’s kind of a big deal)

Events, My photography, Public spaces

Olympic rings over Tower Bridge

This weekend, a bunch of people are coming to London to play some games, so everyone is really excited. There’s no prizes for guessing that I’m not a huge sports fan, but despite my best efforts (and despite the hideousness that they are inflicting upon every single journey I make) I’m actually quite looking forward to the Olympics too. Of course I’m aware of the numerous political clusterfucks, and how shit it’s probably made life for residents of East London,  but it’s happening regardless so I’m just going to treat it like a big sporty party on my doorstep. Albeit an extremely heavily policed one, and one that’s full of Americans. Not that I begrudge our friends from across the pond, though. The other day I listened to three of them debating whether Canada Water tube station had any kind of link with the country Canada for almost ten minutes. Priceless.

I live in South East London, and as such have had the misfortune of having to go to the Olympic park to queue for 2 hours for some tickets that weren’t even mine. As resident ‘girl with a decent camera’, I’ve also been roped in to follow around the torch relay for this TOTES BRILL Olympics blog, which is in no way to do with anyone I know, honest. But on the bright side, I got a few nice pictures, which I have displayed below for your viewing pleasure. 

Snapped: Yoko Ono @ Serpentine Gallery

Art, Installation, Public spaces, Sculpture

Just a few snaps from Yoko Ono’s show “To the Light” at the Serpentine Gallery in Hyde Park. I’ve written a review too, but have entered it for a writing competition and am all shy and modest n’ shit, so I’ll post it later. By which I mean, if I win.

These are of “Play it by Trust” an all-white chess set outside the building. The idea behind it is a bit peace n’ love for my liking, but at least it looks cool. Just don’t read the description. The show is a bit half and half between annoying hippy cliches (read: a wishing tree) and proper, decent art, but if you have time you should go down and check out “Cut Piece,” a film from 1964 (re-shot in 2003) where Ono sits on a stage and has her clothes cut off by members of the audience. Lazy shits can also watch it on Youtube here.

Below that is the new pavilion designed by Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei, which has a little lake type thing on top. When I was there it was packed with people, but that’s probably because it was pissing it down with rain.

Gaming as seen by an art critic: guest post for Aaronlee.co.uk

Guest posts, Technology

This is an article I wrote for the website of my journalism bro Aaron Lee. The introduction and editing are his handiwork. See the original post in all its glory here: http://aaronlee.co.uk/2012/07/gaming-as-seen-by-an-art-critic/

Mention the words ‘game development’ to anyone who doesn’t love or make games and watch their eyes glaze over, obscured by visions of complicated bleeps and bloops.

This is the reaction I (almost) always find when speaking to those oblivious to the joys of gaming. Yes, while my attempts to get friends to take the genius of Portal seriously still fall on deaf ears, more people might appreciate games if they understood at least some of the creative and artistic feats behind them.

In an effort to prove that game development can be just as critically entertaining as fine art, I asked Helen Crane, art journalist and self-confessed gaming sceptic, to cast her eyes over a selection of gaming artwork to see whether it changed her opinion of the creative process behind game making.

Here’s what she had to say:

Marcela Ferri: “Registering memories, telling stories and stealing souls”

Art, Interviews, Outside London, Photography

I had a chat with Marcela Ferri, up-and-coming photographer and self-confessed voyeur who likes nothing more than taking a sneaky snap on the tube.

Marcela likes to keep her identity obscured, lest people start avoiding her on the Northern Line…

Hi Marcela. Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?

I was born at 3:30am on March 3rd 1981 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. As a kid, all I wanted was to be a witch, and everyone always laughed at me because I’m not ugly and don’t have a big nose. I was raised by my dogs, because my parents were too busy doing other things: I learnt about the most basic feelings from them.


Art, Last chance to see, Outside London

Le Salon (2011)

I visited RIFFS, the Yto Barrada exhibition at the Ikon in Birmingham over the weekend. It finishes this Sunday, but if you’re some kind of dirty Midlander like me (well, I’m a begrudging ex-Midlander now) it’s definitely worth a trip.

If you haven’t been to Birmingham before, by the way, it’s not shit. 

Joao Coppa: “Art has no age”

Art, Interviews, Sculpture

This week is your last chance to catch the Roots & Rifts show at the Espacio Gallery. I caught up with one of the artists, Joao Coppa, who is 82 years old and still going strong. He’s even learnt to use Photoshop.


Joao; you’ve been a practicing artist for a bloody impressive amount of time. Where did it all start?

Since I was a child, growing up in a family of Italian immigrants in 1930’s Sao Paulo, I have been in love with cartoons. The Brazilian and Italian cartoonists in local newspapers were responsible for my first experiments with pencil and paper. I was also curious about the golden age of American animation, which was in its heyday at the time.

When I was 16, somebody gave to me the book “Black Point” by the Spanish writer Eduardo Zamacois. The main character in that book is a famous painter, and ever since that I was sure that I had to be an artist. I fell in love with books, even though to read books in those days was a “upper class” activity and not expected of a working class boy like me. It made such an impression that I still have the same book to this day.

Interview: Pedro Palomino

Art, Interviews, New artists

The Goldsmiths Undergraduate Degree Show opens to the public today. I chewed the fat with one of the exhibiting artists, Pedro Palomino. He once camped out in his garden for a whole year. My nine-year-old self was in awe. 


Pedro on his travels: Photograph courtesy of the artist

Hi Pedro. Can you tell me a bit about the type of work you do? Your flava, if you will…

“I’m interested in alternative forms of living. It’s taken me five years to complete my degree, because my inspiration for the work comes from long periods of living nomadically in Latin America, Europe, North Africa and Asia. I’ve driven from London to Eastern Turkey, London to Omsk and Sao Paulo to Arcata – taking breaks in between to return to London and study.

“I’m really interested in sustainability, and making work that is organic. I think the concept of a fixed studio is outdated; my studio is everywhere.

“I’m not going to be at my exhibition tonight as I am in Japan. Art speaks for itself, in this case, literally.”