Saturday 2 March 2013

13 Reasons to see ART13

1. Set in the iconic Olympia exhibition centre the event couldn't look more spectacular. Also the scale of the building has given the organisers plenty of space to set up so although the exhibition is proving popular there are no worries about not being able to have an unobstructed view of the pieces.

2. Getting mathsie 70% of the galleries present haven't exhibited in London before so it is a chance to discover some incredible galleries.

3. You can walk through the awe inspiring 'Boat' by Zhu Jinshi. This is an incredibly installation piece made from bamboo, cotton and 8000 sheets of rice paper brought to Art13 by Pearl Lam Galleries. Walking through it the buzz of noise from the exhibition centre is dulled and it has an almost timeless and otherworldly feeling.

Taking a stroll through the 'Boat'

4. Take a friend and it is a truly lovely day out.

5. It is incredibly easy to get to, just a hop skip and a jump away from Kensington Olympia station and at the weekend you can even get there via the district line.

6. It includes a truly diverse range of art from across the world. It was particularly interesting to see so many Asian and Middle Eastern artist being represented.

7. If your strength is waning then Champagne and afternoon tea at Fortnum and Mason's champagne bar is always a very pleasant option. It was the final cherry on the top of my truly fantastic day. A little bit of luxury never hurt anyone and our lovely waitress Fiona was very welcoming.

8. If you head to the publications section you can sign up for the art newsletter free trial. You get the current issue on the spot and the next one sent to your home. Considering they are usually £8. 50 a pop this more then covers the very reasonable £11 ticket price.

9. With a price range of £100- £500 000 it would be a great opportunity to invest in some of the worlds up and coming artists. Of course there is no pressure to buy anything so if this isn't your intention then just enjoy looking around and taking note of some names.

10. Not only can you take a look at the work of some of the artists of today you can look at some of the Young galleries. A section of the exhibition has been dedicated to 18 galleries which have only been around for six years.

11. I would recommend taking a notebook and a pen as it is nice to be able to look up a couple of your favourite exhibitors once you are home and it would be a shame to forget the names. A couple that really stood out for me were Lee Jaehyo, Jonathan Yeo, the spine tingling (literally) sculptures of Alessandro Brighetti exhibited by the Scaramouche gallery

Alessandro Brighetti

Halim al Karim's haunting eyes and Eternal Love pieces, Hadieh Shafie's striking and poetic pieces which include repeated rolls of paper all printed or hand-written with the Farsi text Eshege "Love" exhibited by the Galerie Kashya Hilebrand, 

Yi Hwan-Kwon's incredible sculptures that play with our perception of dimensions and Chris Andrew Jones' The Visible Index with its dolls house like construction which you could look at for hours. 

Detail Chris Andrew Jones The Visible Index

Frankly this is just the tip of the enormous iceberg.

12. There are a couple of performance pieces going on throughout the day in the performance booth. When we went there was a mock seance with two ladies seated at a table pushing something backwards and forth. There was a pencil or pen attached to the item they were both moving around so a mark was being left on the paper draped over the table.

13. There is the lovely Saatchi book shop and a £5 catalogue if you are looking for a memento of your day.

For more information and to book tickets for this weekend click here.

Friday 1 March 2013

A cultural evening at La bohème

One of my favourite things to do of an evening is to take a little trip to the Royal Opera House and sit captivated for a couple of hours watching some incredible performances.

This year I have already been lucky enough to see the ballet adaptation of Pushkin's verse-novel Eugene Ongin. Even though the ballet itself was not as strong as others I have seen at the Opera House the atmosphere there is always unbeatable and the music was fantastic.

So when a friend had a spare ticket to La Bohème I jumped at the opportunity. 

Being a little short of cash these days we are constantly keeping an eye on the website where it is possible to get incredibly good value tickets. The ones for this were only £5. Admittedly they were firmly in the nose-bleed seats but even from such great heights you can still see almost half of the action and of course you can hear the singers and have a fantastic view of the orchestra.

La bohème is a four act opera in Italian written by Puccini and based upon the popular novel of Henri Muger. But don't panic if your Italian isn't fluent everything is clearly subtitled. As I am currently teaching myself Italian (slowly I might add) I enjoyed trying to catch words and sentences here and there.

The plot revolves around  4 bohemian men and their loves Mimi and Muretta. There is a strong note of humour in the first two act although this morphs to tragedy in the final two. The final act had tears welling in my eyes, despite the fact that I could not see the main focus of the action. 

The set design was beautiful and was carefully researched by Julia Trevelyan Oman who based it upon Parisian life from the mid 19th century. The second act shows the characters meeting to enjoy an evening at Café Momus. The Café set which included two storeys is shown on the right of the stage while we have a view into the bustling Parisian streets on the left. It sets up the atmospheric conditions wonderfully with the cafe bathed in a warm orange light while the cold blue lighting of the outdoors scene creates a  impression of a frosty winters day.

The singer who played Musetta was outstanding she had an incredible voice and hit exactly the right tone of amusing and serious depending upon the situation.

I think that my favorite line had to be 'E come vivo? Vivo!' or 'How do I live. I Live!' and I hope to take this thought forwards into march with me.

For more information about the plot which I didn't want to give away in too much detail click here.
And get scanning the Royal Opera House website for some cheap tickets to this or any other Opera or Ballet.