Someday All The Adults Will Die! – Punk Graphics 1971-84

Someday All The Adults Will Die! – Punk Graphics 1971-84 – Hayward Gallery London

Even after the thirty five years that have elapsed since that summer of malcontent, and punk’s subsequent elevation to one of the UK’s more written-about cultural phenomena, I still find it a little incongruous that an art house would host an exhibition about this singularly delinquent cult. Yet, the pristine white walls of the Hayward Gallery, set in the brutalist concrete South Bank complex seems the most appropriate place in London to hold this comprehensive collection of punk ephemera.

Stretching back in time further than the year-zero of myth (when the two sevens clash!) to the first use of ‘punk’ as a cultural term in the late 60’s/early 70’s, and taking in far more than just a few favoured fanzines and 7”singles, we are presented with a fascinating, international, superbly documented history of the punk years from its gestation to its late and still-snotty middle age. Original clothing, ranging from the ubiquitous Ramones T-Shirt to the rent-boy camp of Let it Rock, has its own display frame, as befit these works of art, some now priced like rare paintings.

The pivotal importance of the Xerox copying machine to many young fanzine producers is given its rightful tribute, with an impressive collection of small circulation publications and posters that were such an important part of this scene. Some deliberately crude in their execution, with hand written content, some neat and tidy with typed text throughout, all bear witness to the infectious enthusiasm of a young and combative life style that was alternately being ignored or demonised in the conventional media. The size of the fanzine collection is matched by the 7” singles on display, almost every one bearing a picture sleeve, the artwork sometimes highly professional, sometimes deliberately sloppy, but all laying down a manifesto. From bands like The Jam and The Sex Pistols, who would be playing Town Halls up and down the country and would become household names, to those who never made it beyond their fetid bedrooms, these singles are punk’s dark talismans. Someone elected to spend their pennies on them, when the same amount of cash could for example, have bought the latest by some over-hyped guitar god or temporarily famous balladeer. Instead, they chose punk’s angry thunder.

From touchstones to perhaps punk’s true legacy, the Do It Yourself ethic, is illustrated in almost every exhibit here, from the fanzines surreptitiously printed on the works copier, the self-financed singles, and the home copied cassettes of unsigned bands’ music, all gloriously free from the interference of commercial pressures. You cannot fail to be impressed by the sheer tenacity of the bands, putting their music directly into the hands of their potential audience in the pre-digital age of the personal, word of mouth contact.

The music that can be heard emerging from its glory hole has been chosen with care to take in familiar bands as well as some of the hidden gems of the era, all in lo-fi, although I would have preferred to hear them on a typical portable player of the late 70’s, for maximum authenticity.

That punk was an enclosed, incestuous world is not an argument I’d want to waste my time trying to refute. Major record companies found punk, in its early days, difficult to stomach, and their attempts to tame it would result in the ridiculous, never used poster hanging on the wall of this gallery, the Sex Pistols’ name sprayed in candy colour on a squeaky clean tiled wall. It could be the cover image for a disco single, or a particularly louche advertisement for furniture polish.

For all the bluster about anarchy within punk, the political side of the movement was often confused and misdirected, if not downright dubious. One band with a very clear political agenda are covered well here, the overtly anarchist group, Crass. Their age-old dogged determination to promote an anti-system of living is documented with innumerable fanzines and posters, some their own creation, others by those who followed in their wake.

With contributors like Jamie Reid, Liner Sterling and Penny Rimbaud, among others, I would have expected nothing less than a comprehensive history of punk, and in this, the exhibition succeeds completely.

‘Someday All the Adults Will Die!’ runs to 4th November and is FREE!

Scenester 10/10/12


Scenester lives in London and Brighton, as time allows. Enjoys music, film, television, books, design and anything else which won’t leave well alone. Old enough to know better.

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June 5, 2015 By : Category : Art Culture Design Events Exhibitions Front page Icons Reviews Tags:, ,
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God Save The Queen: Kunst, Kraak, Punk – 1977-84

This entry is part 5 of 5 in the series Anarchive

God Save The Queen:
Kunst, Kraak, Punk (Art, Squat, Punk) 1977-1984:
Central Museum of the Netherlands,
Utrecht, Netherlands 3 March to 10 June 2012

Picking my way around the medieval city of Utrecht, eventually coming upon the Centraal Museum in an otherwise anonymous street, I found myself transported back to a distant and dangerous time in the Netherlands’ history.

‘God Save The Queen’ sang John Lydon, before he became an ambassador for British butter, but this roar of discontent from the UK’s youth of the 1970’s thundered just as strongly in another constitutional monarchy, just across the Channel. Over several floors and rooms of this sizeable museum, the Dutch punk experience is meticulously presented, taking in not only the incendiary music of the period, but also its close cousins in graffiti art, fanzine journalism, style, guerrilla media, squatting, rioting and the general mischief that characterised the angst of this period.

Entering through a bleak corridor, one wall of glass painted out white, the other covered in graffiti, we start at the most logical place: the present. In an age when punk is completely familiar to the man on the Sloterdijk tram, it seems hard to believe it began as an incestuous little scene which spread like a particularly virulent disease across the globe. The leather jackets on display here, splashed with paint, bristling with studs and festooned with badges differ from their 1970’s counterparts only in the names of the bands they celebrate. There is no attempt to re-create a slogan-covered wall from 1977; rather, the graffiti is provided by visitors to the exhibition, encouraged even, by providing pens for you to add your own salty comments to this public notice board.

Original film of some very young looking Dutch punks, in a declamatory mood on TV, is alternated with footage of rioting in Amsterdam from 1980. By ‘rioting’, I do not mean shouting slogans at disinterested police. I mean prising up cobblestones for missiles, burning property, hand-to-hand fighting, and tanks in the streets, sort of rioting. Chilling, compelling and thought provoking, all in the space of a short film clip. Sparked off by the parlous state of the Dutch economy, poor employment prospects and the lack of affordable accommodation (sounding familiar?) that Dutch youth felt sufficiently abandoned by their government to take such action, and with such force, is a sad indictment of the country’s rulers. Those of you who have visited Amsterdam will have probably run across the brightly painted, squatted buildings in Spuistraat that bear testament to these heady and iconic times.

Posters, fanzines, film and what not from this volatile period are well represented here, all refreshingly pre-digital of course, with hand-written text seemingly the norm, peppered with highly polemical cartoons that speak of the urgency their makers felt. The ‘Do It Yourself’ ethic of punk was particularly strong here, with demonstrations, gigs and club nights all springing from a culture that had more time and enthusiasm than money to achieve it.

Recalling the Anti-Fascist movement in the UK, and comparing/contrasting it with the Dutch equivalent here chronicled, I felt just a little queasy at the thought that, whilst UK far-righters had only a slim chance of electoral success, the risk in a country like the Netherlands, with proportional representation, was considerably higher. I was also struck by the fact that Dutch punk considered organised religion to be an equally malign force in the world, with the ‘Rock against Religion’ movement’s fiery campaign against a still-powerful institution.

Artwork included selections from the magnificently named Gallerie Anus, Jean-Michel Basquiat and some of Keith Haring’s synapse-frying ‘men and movement’ pieces, equally familiar to many of the hip hop generation as well as that of the punks. Most intriguing were the snippets of videotaped moments from Rabotnik TV, a gloriously messy pirate TV station in Amsterdam in the early 80’s, which together with its predecessor, Radio Rabotnik, carried punk’s ‘Do It Yourself’ ethic to its limits.

Although the walls covered in 7’’ singles and LP’s yielded few surprises, they did provoke nostalgia for an age when music was made by inspired individuals and enthusiastic bands, rather than focus groups and committees employed by vast slick soul-less corporations.

An inspired setting for live footage of the Sex Pistols, on a screen high on the wall, surrounded by crash barriers, and an impressive collection of posters, fanzines, badges and so on, evoke an era far better than any number of talking heads, filled to the gills with complimentary prosecco on a late night TV show, ever will.

Perhaps the last word on this exhibition should belong to someone who was a million miles away from punk, and whose quote mysteriously appears on the graffiti wall;

‘Everybody in this room is wearing a uniform, and don’t kid yourself’.
Frank Zappa R.I.P.

Scenester: 11/3/2012


Scenester lives in London and Brighton, as time allows. Enjoys music, film, television, books, design and anything else which won’t leave well alone. Old enough to know better.

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June 5, 2015 By : Category : Art Cult Culture Exhibitions Front page Punk Satire Tags:, , , , , , ,
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Lloyd Johnson: The Modern Outfitter

Kings Road Chelsea 1967

Lloyd Johnson: The Modern Outfitter Chelsea Space 24/1/12

Scenester is rarely driven to do anything by a sense of pure nostalgia, but this evening, he thought he’d make an exception. With Mme. Scenester at his side, your pal and man about town, took a short tube trip from his vile chambers to Pimlico, to catch a sneak preview of this timely exhibition of the classic work of Lloyd Johnson, The Modern Outfitter.

Curated by Paul Gorman, whose style tome ‘The Look’ is reviewed elsewhere on Scenester’s website, this exhibition celebrates Lloyd’s long career in fashion, from the sixties right through to the nineties. Utilising printed material, a replica shop front, video, but first and foremost, the clothes themselves, your narrator was transported back to several fashion eras he remembers with affection, and several he barely remembers at all, in the space of a few footfalls.

The entrance lobby houses some of the earliest work available, with highly patterned tank tops and wildly printed shirts, all a long way from the often sterotyped fashions that feature in most look- backs to the fertile decades of the sixties and seventies. The ‘Soup Cans’ print shirt is so emblematic of the sixties; it ought to have a preservation order on it.  The stunning ‘Sea Cruise’ jacket, from the ‘Johnson & Johnson’ era, with its multiple palm tree motifs, is a design classic of its own kind. The ’Top Hat’ print suit, covered in images of Fred & Ginger, is pictured worn by none other than Fred Astaire, in a shot from 1973. Such outsize motifs would later become much common in mainstream fashion, and usually on shirts, rather than suits. The shirts of this era threw all caution to the wind, with spaniel-ear collars, and shades and hues that guaranteed they would not be worn by the average fellow, even if he knew where to get them.

In this age of digital business cards and online shopping, it’s easy to forget that business was once a much more word-of-mouth, hands-on affair. The curling business cards for ‘Cockell & Johnson’, ‘Johnson & Johnson’ and’ Johnson’s‘, and the browning press clippings from long-folded newspapers were welcome survivors from an age of letter compositors and offset litho printers.

Elsewhere in the rooms, editions of ‘The Face’, ‘Ms London’, and others, show off Johnson’s increasingly broad range of clothes for the modern gent, and more rarely, lady. The statuesque figure of Siouxsie Sioux models the Japanese-influenced designs of the early 80’s whilst the youthful members of Madness walk low in box jackets and, what else, but baggy trousers.

Johnson’s enthusiasm to revisit classic designs is nowhere better demonstrated than with three stunning examples of Rock ‘n’ Roll revival clothing, set up as if for sale, in the turned wood and red plate glass reproduction shop front that adorns the main room. A T-yoke jacket in leather and hide, as worn by Jerry Lee Lewis, is set aside a riotous gold fringed leather jacket that both Lux Interior and Liza Minelli have sported, with an easy on the eye powder-blue 50’s suit making up the more restrained part of this trio. These striking outfits were displayed on vintage mannequins, with quiffs to match, as were some of the leathers Johnson’s made for the ladies, the figures complete with beehive hairdos.

High on the walls, we see a wide selection of Johnson’s imaginative take on the leather jacket, with layered leather shapes, often in contrasting colours, applied to the jacket’s body, and painted images from war comics and rock ‘n’ roll iconography all contributing to a near-unique garment for the biker with more than a touch of individuality. Many of the jackets had an aged look applied to them, to give the impression that they had been made in an earlier era, and so it was a double delight to see how well they are now ageing, this time for real.

The earthy, fetishistic imagery of Rock ‘n’ Roll pervaded much of the exhibition, with vintage record labels and totemic motorcycle manufacturers logos printed onto the backs of jackets, panels of animal print fun-fur inserted into leathers, bristling with studs and clanking with chain mail, and t-shirts heavy with all-over prints of skulls, guns, knives and grimly fiendish patterns, all paying tribute to the era that inspired them, but with added camp twists that were only for the brave. Some readers may remember that 80’s pop royalty dressed from the store, from the Stray Cats in their peg trousers and short sleeved shirts, to Paul Young in his shiny blue suit to George Michael in that biker jacket. Perhaps you did too?

Lloyd Johnson: The Modern Outfitter runs at the Chelsea Space, 16 John Islip Street London SW1P 4JU until 3rd March 2012.

Scenester – 29/1/12

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Scenester lives in London and Brighton, as time allows. Enjoys music, film, television, books, design and anything else which won’t leave well alone. Old enough to know better.

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June 5, 2015 By : Category : Culture Design Exhibitions Fashion Front page Heroes Icons Reviews Shopping Style Tags:, , , ,
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The Avengers 50th Anniversary Evening:

The Avengers 50th Anniversary Evening: Barbican Cinema 1 Wed 30/11/11

It’s fair comment that if someone organised a screening of any of ‘The Avengers’ TV episodes in a limestone cave in Cheshire, or up the side of a mountain in the far north of Scotland, I’d probably attend. Fortunately, London’s Barbican is much easier to get to, and so I and my two delightful companions hitched a lift on a milk float to Farringdon to be there. On offer were two shows from the glorious monochrome era, ‘Mandrake’ and ‘The Hour That Never Was’.

‘Mandrake’ is surely one of the best of the ‘Cathy Gale’ stories, the plot concerning a firm of corrupt doctors who arrange for the convenient death of their clients’ rich relatives in return for a hefty slice of their estates. In a typically theatrical flourish, all victims are buried in the same Cornish churchyard, where the tin-mined ground’s naturally high arsenic content disguises the presence of poison in their bodies.

John Le Mesurier makes a fine choice as an impeccably-mannered but venal doctor, spurred on by a greedy partner intent on continuing as long as possible in their dangerous path to riches. Grapple fans would raise a cheer at the appearance of 60’s wrestling star Jackie Pallo as a cockney gravedigger, transplanted miles from his City home to this Cornish idyll, still hankering after saveloys in place of the local food he despises. Our favourite pair of sleuths arrives to disturb the corrupt medics’ cosy arrangement.

‘The Hour That Never Was’ is a classic of the ‘Emma Peel’ years, centring on Steed’s invitation to an RAF reunion party at the end of an era for a shortly-to-be decommissioned air base. Perhaps sensing danger ahead, or maybe simply wanting to be seen in sultry female company, Steed invites Mrs Peel to join him, only to find that what should have been a jolly, nostalgic evening turns into another strange job for our duo. The air base has all the trappings of a party about to start, but is without guests. The punch has been poured, the party food laid out, but no RAF pals are here.

For a typically surreal Avengers plot, we get some insight into the generational tension that lurked below the surface of their odd relationship. Steed’s wartime reminisces, all ‘chocks away’ and boozing before and after, clearly bore Mrs Peel, who tartly remarks ‘It’s a wonder you had time to win the war’.

What starts as a mystery, even possibly a ‘rag’ organised by his old pals to amuse Steed, is quickly realised to be a malicious plot to kidnap and brainwash the country’s top RAF staff, for use as ‘sleeper’ agents in various places around the world at some significant moment.

Most of us would have been happy with this celebratory screening, but we also had a Q&A with director Gerry O’Hara and designer David Marshall too.

David Marshall shared his memories of working as a set designer on the show, recalling the fight scene in ‘Mandrake’, where Jackie Pallo fell into the grave, thumping his head on the way down, knocking him out cold. Fearing he may never be asked to work there again, David was relieved at Jackie’s complete recovery. David felt that the set was a personal triumph, constructed in a very small space, raised so as to give depth to the grave, and lit with enormous care so as to exclude any suggestion of studio apparatus shadows in the ‘churchyard’. His memory of the divide between actors and purely technical staff was telling, there being no mixing whatsoever.

Gerry’s time as an Avengers director was restricted to just two episodes, one being ‘The Hour That Never Was’. He recalled his relationship with ITC was somewhat strained when it was discovered that he had had an affair with a lady who later married an executive of the company. Although occurring years before she married, it nevertheless set in motion his estrangement from ITC, he felt. He nevertheless had fond memories of working on ‘The Avengers’

A question from the floor was whether The Avengers created the 60’s, or the 60’s created The Avengers? Neither felt that either statement was true, but they did feel that the show reflected the 60’s, especially the fashions of the era, without being part of the youth culture it was loved by. Another was whether they felt, at the time, that they would still be talking about the show fifty years hence. Neither did, but simply felt that they had helped to create a quality piece of work in what was then a highly competitive field.

An unsurprisingly well-attended show, with some well-known faces from the Mod scene, added up to one of the best evenings I have spent in the Barbican. More, please.

© Scenester 4/12/11


Scenester lives in London and Brighton, as time allows. Enjoys music, film, television, books, design and anything else which won’t leave well alone. Old enough to know better.

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June 16, 2015 By : Category : Cult Events Exhibitions Icons Picks Reviews Vintage Tags:, ,
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Warhol Is Here

Warhol Is Here’ – Bexhill De La Warr Pavilion – Saturday 24/9/11

You might be thinking, as I was, that almost everything that could be said about Andy Warhol, has been said, many times over, leaving us with little need to repeat still further. The fifteen minutes of fame he predicted would be everyone’s lot seems to have been multiplied many times for the saying’s originator.

From his beginnings as a graphic artist, window dresser and advertiser, to his creation of an alt-celebrity club for fellow artists, to his acceptance by the smart set and his tragically early demise, all have been noted, annotated and endlessly repeated, like so many of his silk screen paintings, that we are left wondering what else could possibly be left to discuss. A selective overview of Warhol’s popular works is one answer, and ‘Warhol Is Here’ on display free at Bexhill’s stunning architectural show space, the De La Warr Pavilion, is well worth the visit.

Taking place on three levels of the crotchet-shaped building, the main hall guides us through works by genre, starting with the earliest, where Warhol incorporated rubber-stamp images to create pictures, often getting friends to finish what he had begun. The floral and angelic themes made these composite pictures resemble Victorian ‘scraps’. His shoe and hand fetishes were apparent even then, with the familiar heel-to-toe silhouette of a ladies’ shoe and the caressing hand touching a kitten turning up like advertising images, something that would later earn him a living as an illustrator.

This comforting world of leisure and pleasure quickly gives way to more in/famous images as we see the news-reportage image of the Birmingham, Alabama race riots, a police alsatian biting the trouser of a fleeing man as police officers, billy-clubs at the ready, wait to pounce.

Aside, a stack of white boxes advertising pan-shining pads await unpacking, and ahead, the ‘Marilyn Monroe’ diptych, on loan from the Tate, hangs defiantly staring out at us. These repeated, slightly offset images (colour on the left, black & white on the right) have become even better known than the original photographic image they were based on, and still have the power to fascinate as they seem to suggest a side to the star her studio would never have promoted.

Separate, differently coloured images of Chairman Mao-Tse Tung have his genial grin as the focus, at odds with his administration’s brutal treatment of any degree of dissent from its people. Warhol’s indiscriminate fascination with celebrity, however garnered, is well represented by just these two, even though many more adorn the walls.

Warhol’s love of Americana is unavoidable and central to his work, both its positive, all-inclusive side (brand-name canned soup, a single can, rather than one repeated on an industrial scale) and its dark side (electric chair, the variously coloured images chilling in their intensity).

His more human side is apparent in the nudes, among them a beautiful Venus rising from her shell, slim bodied and demure, and the highly charged homoeroticism of the male nudes. Warhol’s self portraits in conventional clothes and a series of blond wigs raise questions which he usually answered, if at all, in dull monosyllables.

Warhol’s tendency to ‘direct ‘ paintings, at least as often as painting them himself, throws up the question of authenticity, probably none more so than the films his name was applied to. There is no doubt about the publicity this name generated for them though, and some beautifully preserved examples of the posters are here, largely in German language format. They are possibly the most telling of exhibits, as the films tend to follow popular themes of the 60’s & 70’s, Chelsea Girls (basically a portmanteau film) Blue Movie (anything but) and Blood for Dracula (horror, in 3-D, another gimmick) but with the art house twists that major studios were shy of. The posters advertising shows at the Fillmore Ballroom and the Scene offer a rare glimpse into the world of the much talked about but rarely seen Velvet Underground, Warhol protégés and Factory house band who would slowly acquire a cult following and later still, worldwide fame.

The smaller, first floor room is made suitably claustrophobic with ‘Cow’ wallpaper, paranoid maps of Cold War-era USSR and its reputed missile stations, huge dollar signs and double-take faces, a nightmare in silk screen, reflecting the darkest recesses of Warhol’s psyche.

Perhaps in tribute to the multi media shows the Velvet Underground played, the second floor has a round table of cassette tapes, loaded with interviews with various people who knew Warhol, among them Brigid Polk/Brigid Berlin, one of the Factory’s long-term habitués. Apart from winning this writer’s personal seal of approval for classic technology (you know, the sort that has four buttons which do what they say on them), they open a window on as many opinions as there are speakers, sometimes more than one.

This exhibition is free and those of you who are new to either Warhol or Bexhill’s magnificent De La Warr Pavilion have until 26th February 2012 to see it.


Andy Warhol, Mao (1972), from a portfolio of ten screenprints, private collection

Andy Warhol, Marilyn Diptych (1962), Tate © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / DACS, London 2011

Andy Warhol, Self-Portrait with Fright Wig (1986) © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / DACS, London 2009

All images kindly supplied by De La Warr Pavilion


Scenester lives in London and Brighton, as time allows. Enjoys music, film, television, books, design and anything else which won’t leave well alone. Old enough to know better.

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June 16, 2015 By : Category : Art Articles Exhibitions Tags:, ,
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Neil Innes Night – NFT

Neil Innes Night – NFT 8/9/11

Admit it, you haven’t laughed at much on television for years. It’s not just you; it’s millions of us. What passes for comedy now is little more than narrowcasts designed for niche audiences, or the endlessly repeated prejudices of unimaginative idiots. It wasn’t always so.

Many of you may already be familiar with Neil Innes, probably through his work with those legendary eccentrics, The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band. Some of you may even recall the Innes Book Of Records, a criminally underrated TV comedy of the 1970’s. Tonight’s offering from the Flipside crew was a celebration of the work of this survivor, attended by the man himself.

Personal favourites like the surreal ‘Equestrian Statue’ and the inventive ‘Head Ballet’ were included showing the Bonzo’s extraordinary imagination and ability to conjure hilarity out of virtually nothing, and to never, ever, leave well alone.

The evening’s first clip, ‘The Exploding Sausage’ was recalled with fondness by Neil, as having been made on the usual shoestring budget, utilising the children of the camera crew as cast members, an available stately home, and producing a sort of Lewis Carroll meets the Marx Brothers revue, their unique music providing the soundtrack. It showed the Bonzo’s had a firmer grasp on psychedelia than many of the more fashionable, and perhaps better placed contemporaries.

The clip that had me in fits was the spot-on take of the Old Grey Whistle Test, part of the Rutland Weekend Television comedy show, hosted by Eric Idle and with contributions by Neil Innes. Idle’s impression of a bearded, docile, all-accepting presenter provided the perfect host to such luminaries of the progressive rock world as Toad the Wet Sprocket, Outrageous Admiral Sphincter and others who could easily have walked off the set of the real ‘OGWT’ and straight onto this parody of it. The sound of Toad the Wet Sprocket’s tuneless, wittering hippy meanderings, enlivened by fuzzy, over-treated guitar, and the bleached-out lighting effects mercilessly lampooned Bob Harris’ fondly remembered show, and Neil reported, was a big hit with the real Bob Harris, who found it hilarious.

I recall seeing the ‘OGWT’ sketch for the first time back in the 70’s,m and fell out of my ‘egg’ chair laughing at it. I have no memory at all, however, of seeing the ‘Top of the Pops’ clip from 1977, where Neil sings a pro-Queen’s Jubilee song. Perhaps I was listening to the Sex Pistols decidedly anti-Jubilee ‘God Save The Queen’.

The surreal, and rather disturbing ‘3-2-1’ clip defied all attempts at classification, or even comprehension. This inexplicably popular game show from the early 80‘s, hosted by Ted Rogers, set crazy riddles and cryptic clues as questions for the hapless members of the public to answer. The contestants were vying to win such high tech goodies as the then-new Video Cassette Recorders, Television sets (‘Colour!’ said Ted Rogers, as I some miracle had occurred) and Micro-Stereos (still the size of a hospital). Complete confusion reigned, Ted did his mysterious ‘3-2-1’ hand signal and Neil performed his best-known song, ‘I’m the Urban Spaceman’.

For many, the real treat of the evening were the very welcome clips of ‘The Innes Book of Records’, a magazine style comedy show, which used a man with a travelling gramophone as a linking device.

The Q&A, which followed, was made especially enjoyable by Neil’s enthusiasm, even when recalling the Bonzo’s gruelling work schedule, which would eventually break up the band. Their early days, scouring London’s flea markets for old 78 rpm records whose songs they would often incorporate into their stage act, was fondly recalled. ‘We stopped arguing’ was Neil’s account of the reason for the split. The questions from the floor were as diverse as the clips, and Neil would have been happy to talk all night to us, but time pressed. Your pal Scenester begged for more on Rutland Weekend Television, and Neil did not disappoint, agreeing that the show would probably not be made nowadays, given that almost all local TV stations, which RTV was poking gentle fun at, have been swallowed by the big corporations, and who have little interest in maverick fare like RTV.

Scenester – 24/9/11



Scenester lives in London and Brighton, as time allows. Enjoys music, film, television, books, design and anything else which won’t leave well alone. Old enough to know better.

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June 16, 2015 By : Category : Classic Exhibitions Heroes Picks Tags:, ,
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The Final Programme (1973) – National Film Theatre 10/8/10

I last saw this bizarre artefact from the 1970’s on TV in the early 80’s, late at night, having wanted to see it since its release. Sadly, I couldn’t pass for 18 in 1973, and I despaired of ever seeing it. My memory of it from that long distant TV screening is perhaps understandably shaky, but my overall impression is the same as today, that of an undisciplined, sprawling chaotic ‘end of days’ picture which may be going nowhere, but has one hell of a time getting lost.

Based on the Michael Moorcock book, the action opens in a country like ours, a dystopian future familiar to cinemagoers of that long, and – some would say – deservedly forgotten decade, the 1970’s. Humanity has been largely wiped out, leaving only a few scientists and a cast of decadents to pick up the pieces. Our ‘hero’ (if we can use that term in such an unconventional story) Jerry Cornelius, played by Jon Finch, is a louche aristocrat, resplendent in a velvet suit and frilly shirt, driving his Rolls-Royce around aimlessly, under the influence of generous measures of whisky, scoffing chocolate biscuits and looking for all the world like a particularly dissolute Laurence Llewellyn-Bowen. Cornelius’ Byronic tastes carry further to his enthusiastic consumption of all manner of exotic pharmaceuticals, and his general love of luxury and home comforts that would make today’s Better Homes subscribers look like lightweights by comparison.

Cornelius drifts through a cast of off-the-wall characters, all keen to sell him whatever the current ‘in thing’ is. Whether they be the corrupt army officer, played with gusto by Sterling Hayden, acquiring armaments by illegal means, or Ronald Lacey’s creepy, pinball-addicted gangster, offering top-up supplies of strange drugs. We see a much-changed Trafalgar Square, with crashed cars taking up the fourth plinth, something Westminster Council might want to consider for a temporary exhibit. The café/night club scene is one of the film’s best, the place resembling a gigantic pinball machine, populated by dancing girls, clowns, gloriously depraved customers, all wasting what little time they have left in this palace of cheap thrills. Figures wrestle in white, chalky mud for the entertainment of the patrons, recalling the ‘Hungry Angry Show’ in the TV play of The Year of the Sex Olympics It is in this scene that the film gives away its 1970’s origins most easily, with an obvious resemblance to other films of the time; Tommy and A Clockwork Orange.

The Art Deco inspired sets and pop art references make this film a delight for the eyes, even if it’s tempered with a pain in the Gulliver … sorry, head, from the constantly shifting storyline. Armed battles are fought with ‘needle guns’, delivering a charge of psychedelics rather than deadly bullets, and three Magritte-like suited men appear, shadowing Cornelius to heaven knows what purpose.

The character of Miss Brunner is introduced, being played with considerable panache by Jenny Runacre, whom some of you may remember as the Queen in Derek Jarman’s Jubilee. Covered from head to foot in the pelts of innumerable dead cats, Fran freezes the air of any room she walks into, and it is at this point that I begin to feel that some filmmakers may have had more than a peek into this country’s future than they wanted. Fran’s resemblance to a certain former Prime Minister make uncomfortable viewing, and it is a sobering thought that her character’s model was, at that time, already gearing up for a stab at high office, from her role as Education Secretary. Fran’s appetites are no less voracious than Jerry’s, and somewhat more inventive, preferring the sexual favours of a stunning redheaded girl, to the dubious delights of designer drugs.

We learn that the characteristically inward-looking scientists have come up with a plan to replace and even improve upon the large section of the human race who are no longer with us, by utilising the knowledge in the preserved brains of former scientists in conjunction with their own, and designing a computer that will help in the creation of an androgynous being. Self fertilising, self reproducing, with no need for pairing up the sexes, as both are combined within one individual. The lucky couple to combine forces to create this homunculus will be Jerry Cornelius and Miss Brunner, assisted by some light and sound wizardry under the control of the inevitable misguided computer. If this is all beginning to sound like The Avengers on acid and aphrodisiacs, then your observation will prove well-founded as our intrepid lovers prepare for the ultimate sexual experience that is The Final Programme, and it suddenly morphs into some technological version of I Am Curious Yellow. I won’t spoil the ending by telling you the results of their labours.

With a talented cast, some stunning sets, and costumes by such luminaries of the fashion world as John Bates, Ossie Clark and Tommy Nutter, it’s hard to see how The Final Programme could have garnered so little media attention and been forgotten so completely by the fickle public. Was it the distinctly non-science fiction references, like Bonfire of the Vanities, or the confusing mass of storylines all going on at once? Was it the refusal to take the subject of the global apocalypse seriously, or the sheer silliness of the plan to produce an androgyne to repopulate the earth? Perhaps it was the changing nature of science fiction itself, soon to be given an almighty seeing-to by George Lucas and his ‘Star Wars’ phenomenon. Whatever it was that propelled The Final Programme into cinema oblivion, I can report that it didn’t deserve its place. Perhaps now, in an age when we are becoming more conscious of the effects our consumer society is having on our fragile planet, and with a world-wide recession still not beaten, the film’s chaotic message deserves a listen.

What made this Flipside screening so special, was the appearance of the author of the original story, the wildly successful Michael Moorcock, to comment upon the film. Confessing that the reservations he had on first seeing the press screening all those years ago have proved justified and have grown more numerous since then, Michael proved a likeable and good-humoured guest for Will and Vic Flipside to quiz. His low opinion of director Robert Fuest, (‘A bum director who wanted to be an auteur’ and ‘Couldn’t direct a number 14 bus’ were among his comments), then fresh from his success at directing the Dr. Phibes films, endure. Not meant maliciously, I am sure, Michael simply voiced his concerns about Robert, in particular, that he was not used to directing crowd scenes, tending to stick to two-character exchanges, and thus delivering an ending that omitted Michael’s powerful scene of humanity being led into the sea by a new Messiah. He went on to explain that his own script for The Final Programme was not used, just bowdlerised, and even star Jon Finch, a friend of Moorcock’s, told Michael at the time that he felt the script was directionless.

Further juicy snippets included the revelation that Mick Jagger was considered for the role of Jerry Cornelius, but he turned it down because it was ‘too freaky’. The book, written in 1965 but not published until 1967, was initially shelved for a similar reason. The ‘rock n roll’ connection to The Final Programme doesn’t end there, for, as some of you may know, Michael Moorcock was a great fan of the sci-fi obsessed 70’s underground rock band, Hawkwind, and for the eagle-eyed among you, they, and Moorcock, can be glimpsed briefly in the pinball arcade section of the film. We can only guess at what the film would have turned out like, if it had stuck close to Michael’s original book, as the pinball arcade/nightclub rejoices in the name of ‘The Friendly Bum’ and the character of Jerry Cornelius is even more sexually ambiguous than Jon Finch’s light-touch evocation. On initial cinema release, The Final Programme was paired with Confessions of a Chinese Courtesan actually a kung-fu picture, as support, but their positions were reversed half way through the run. Faced with a highly pertinent question from the floor about the inspiration behind Jerry Cornelius, which the audience member felt might have been David Bowie in ‘Ziggy Stardust’ guise, Michael was intrigued, but answered that he was in his Notting Hill neighbourhood one day, when he saw a man coming toward him, down Portobello Road. A rare instance of someone fitting the bill perfectly, perhaps?

I was hugely impressed with the Flipside for tracking down a print (however faded and scratchy) of this true 70’s oddity, but what made the evening irresistible was the appearance of Michael Moorcock, surely one of the most engaging and amusing guests to visit the NFT in recent years.



Scenester lives in London and Brighton, as time allows. Enjoys music, film, television, books, design and anything else which won’t leave well alone. Old enough to know better.

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June 5, 2015 By : Category : Cinema Exhibitions Icons Reviews Tags:, ,
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Exhibitions Newsfeed

  • 8 June: Flat caps and bowler hats: Neil Libbert's bygone Britain – in pictures - Exhibitions | The Guardian

    For six decades, the celebrated Guardian photojournalist has chronicled everyday British life. Here, he trains his lens on postwar austerity – and flying cats

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  • 7 June: Olivia Parker's best photograph: an early warning of Alzheimer's - Exhibitions | The Guardian

    ‘It was only after John died that I realised these were an early sign of his illness’

    They say Alzheimer’s starts way before you notice it. But there are little things. Although my husband John died last year, it wasn’t until quite recently that I noticed this photograph – and realised what it meant. It was taken in 2004, seven years before I actually recognised John was ill. At the time, I would notice things, but he’d explain them away. He had stopped reading novels, but told me he had too much reading to do for work. Later, I realised he wasn’t doing that either. His condition was very obvious by 2011, but I thought it was just him getting older, until someone said: “You’re finishing all of his sentences.”

    John wasn’t someone who got angry, but when we were renovating our house he wanted to control everything. When things weren’t going his way, he’d write all these notes on yellow paper. After each meeting with the architect and builder, and sometimes during the meeting, he would squash his notes up into a tight ball. I had never seen him do anything like that. I now know it was the beginning of an anger that wasn’t part of his personality.

    The doctor spelled out the word Alzheimer's and asked him to write it down

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  • 7 June: Party on the helipad! My day sipping champagne with the superyacht set - Exhibitions | The Guardian

    Basketball courts, recording studios, deep-sea submarines, helipad party decks … our writer gets a taste of the latest must-have accessories in superyacht design

    A £30,000 bottle of limited-edition Hennessy cognac stands in a corner of the Saatchi Gallery, guarded by a pair of burly bouncers, while guests admire leather-clad bicycles, models of personal submarines, and undulating “wall features” carved from gigantic blocks of marble, according to the designs of Zaha Hadid.

    At times, it was hard to tell if the SuperYacht Gallery – a jamboree of fancy boats and luxury lifestyle paraphernalia, with tickets starting at £50 – was actually an elaborate piece of performance art. It felt as if Charles Saatchi might be hiding inside the faceted shell of one of the mirrored sculptures on show, cackling at his latest ruse.

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  • 7 June: Barbara Hepworth's new London exhibition – archive, 7 June 1961 - Exhibitions | The Guardian

    7 June 1961: The artist’s work has not been received with the critical acclaim it would seem to merit

    In her book “Carvings and Drawings,” Barbara Hepworth wrote: “I have never understood why the word feminine is considered to be a compliment to one’s sex if one is a woman, but has a derogatory meaning when applied to anything else.” And so it is, illogical. Perhaps it would be better to think of the “female” dimension in her forms. She has explained very well that there is a whole range of form experience belonging only to the woman, that the sensation of being a woman is not a matter of observation but of feeling, and that the logic of the growth of form, for a woman, is something distinct and valuable. This acceptance of the inevitable as a point of departure is one of the strengths of her sculpture. So much is this so that the issue of femininity, in any derogatory sense, just does not arise.

    Her new exhibition at Gimpel Fils (50 South Molton Street, London W1) is her first here since 1958. Partly because her general style has remained relatively constant for several decades, her work has not been received with the critical acclaim it would seem to merit. It is a little ironical that, as with so many British artists of the first rank, her reputation abroad continues to soar at the very moment that her compatriots begin to hear a buzz of hesitation.

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  • 6 June: Monet's London views to go on show in National Gallery exhibition - Exhibitions | The Guardian

    Show will examine French artist’s relationship with architecture; other upcoming shows focus on Thomas Cole and the Renaissance

    “Without fog, London would not be beautiful,” said Claude Monet when visiting the city in the late 1800s. So taken was the founder of impressionism with the city’s weather that he painted its bridges, parliament and river shrouded in mist, works which will be displayed next year as part of the first major UK Monet exhibition in almost two decades, at the National Gallery.

    While Monet is most famous for his nature scenes, such as his series of waterlilies, the National Gallery show will be the first devoted to his relationship with architecture.

    Related: Monet's obsession with London fog

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  • 5 June: Warriors in weaponised kilts: where Outlander creator Diana Gabaldon gets her ideas from - Exhibitions | The Guardian

    The author of the cult Highland time travel series transports our writer back to the era of tartan onesies and exploding sporrans

    I am standing in an ostentatiously nondescript modern building in Granton, a suburb of Edinburgh, next to a former marine biologist whose novels have sold in excess of 30m copies. We are looking at the backside of what resembles a large tartan onesie. The author is Diana Gabaldon, who is eagerly taking photographs on her mobile and gleefully saying she will be sending these to the person who does the costumes for Outlander, the TV series based on her cult sequence of novels that launched in 2014.

    The suit in question is part of the National Museum of Scotland’s forthcoming exhibition about the Jacobites, a sequel to its successful Mary Queen of Scots show. Since Gabaldon’s novels, in a romance-meets-time-travel-meets-historical-fiction way, have dealt with the attempt by Charles Edward Stuart (AKA Bonnie Prince Charlie) to seize the British crown, they have invited her for a sneak preview.

    Related: Outlander's Caitriona Balfe: 'Sex should be awkward'

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  • 5 June: Guaranteed to raise a smile! Our pop critic's verdict on Liverpool's Sgt Pepper celebrations - Exhibitions | The Guardian

    Lucy in the Sky fireworks, A Day in the Life of the living dead, Lovely Rita’s parking meter parade … Beatlemania is gripping Liverpool. Our writer dives in

    Among the selection of vast advertising hoardings lining Liverpool’s Erskine Street, one currently stands out. If you’re driving into the city, it suddenly confronts you with an immense black and white image of the Beatles’ manager, Brian Epstein, in profile, his hand resting on his chin, as if listening intently to someone. The other side of the hoarding bears a message: “Brian Epstein died for you.”

    The same two images keep cropping up around the city centre: on an electronic billboard at Lime Street Station, flyposted on the windows of empty shops, alongside adverts for new albums and forthcoming gigs. This is artist Jeremy Deller’s contribution to Sgt Pepper at 50: “Sixteen days of performances, installations, spectacular outdoor shows, music, theatre and dance” celebrating the golden anniversary of the classic Beatles album’s release.

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  • 4 June: 'Blackness can be empowering' … meet the American artist adjusting to Somerset life - Exhibitions | The Guardian

    Rashid Johnson uses tribal masks, houseplants and Shea butter to explore issues of roots, race and identity in black America. What’s he doing in rural England?

    For the duration of his artistic residency in the small town of Bruton in Somerset, Rashid Johnson will be sending his five-year-old son to the local school. “We did have some concerns,” says the artist. “You know, sending him to a school where there were likely to be no children of colour. I hope it’s OK. I hope he doesn’t feel alone, out of place.”

    There may be a degree of projection in this paternal anxiety. We’re speaking just a couple of days into Johnson’s visit to the West Country, where he will be in residence at the Hauser & Wirth gallery in Bruton, but he’s already given his show a title. He’s calling it Stranger, in a nod to James Baldwin’s essay Stranger in the Village, the influential African American author’s account of his visit to Leukerbad in 1951. “From all available evidence,” Baldwin writes, “no black man had ever set foot in this tiny Swiss village before I came.” He goes on to describe being followed in the streets by groups of giggling children who shout “Neger! Neger!” and women who want to touch his hair.

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  • 4 June: Wayne Thiebaud: 1962 to 2017; Milton Avery review – Americana with a cherry on top - Exhibitions | The Guardian

    White Cube Mason’s Yard; Victoria Miro Mayfair, London
    The precise, joyous cakes and landscapes of Wayne Thiebaud, 96, are a quiet revelation in this rare UK show

    It would be hard to think of an American painter more stinted over here than the Californian master Wayne Thiebaud, poet of the milkshake, ice-cream cone and cherried sundae, of the still life with pie and damn fine cup of coffee. Thiebaud, born in 1920, has been making these radiant paintings for almost seven decades. But in this century at least, Britain has never enjoyed a full-scale retrospective of his luscious Americana, and Tate Modern has no more than a couple of monochrome cakes. So White Cube’s present show is a vital and glorious opportunity.

    It is a chance to see Thiebaud’s tiered wedding cakes, twin towers of luminous frosting rising into cool ambient air; and his quintet of cupcakes in their pleated cases, receding into midnight-blue darkness like a row of tiny pavilions. A lone pie slice turns your way, its point sharp as a bird’s beak; a roundel of cheese, one chunk removed, comes in 10 yellows, altered by the ever-changing light. Transfixed by the pristine transparency of the chiller cabinet, the artist paints the interior as a kind of crystalline paradise.

    Sweet as pie though they first appear, these paintings are a more pensive form of praise

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  • 2 June: Dust on a Duchamp, Grayson's pots and radical painting – the week in art - Exhibitions | The Guardian

    Richard Wright beguiles Glasgow, modern art takes London, and a dog urinates in New York – all in your weekly dispatch

    A Handful of Dust

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  • 2 June: The oblong and winding road: Mondrian's tortured journey to gridlock genius - Exhibitions | The Guardian

    Visitors to the Hague’s blockbuster show should not be put off by his early flowers and windmills. They are the key to understanding this geometric master who found rectangles in everything

    Is it a skull or a flower? The rounded white shape that sags on a listless stem in the painting is the dying bloom of a chrysanthemum, yet it eerily resembles a human head stripped to the bone. A ghostly eye socket seems to peer out of it. What can Piet Mondrian have been thinking when he painted this morbid image called Metamorphosis in 1908?

    It is a decadent bloom of late Romanticism, passionate and inward-looking and completely out of time. When Mondrian completed it, Matisse was the talk of Paris and Picasso had blown up artistic tradition with his 1907 masterpiece Les Demoiselles d’Avignon. In Amsterdam, however, the aesthetic ideals of the 19th century were alive and well. The 36-year-old Mondrian was painting what the conservative local art market wanted – flowers and windmills, sunsets and farmhouses. No one could have predicted he would die an avant-garde hero in New York in 1944 and be remembered in the 21st century as one of the greatest of all modern artists.

    His Paris studio was a visionary work of art in itself … its floorplan carefully mapped into working and thinking areas

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  • 2 June: The 10 best things to do this week, from Field Day to Grayson Perry's art - Exhibitions | The Guardian

    Aphex Twin brings skittish electro par excellence to the UK festival, while the artist unveils a new, cheekily titled exhibition

    Field Day and Mighty Hoopla
    Two festivals, one weekend, same location: first up it’s Field Day, with must-see acts including Aphex Twin, Moderat and R&B star Abra; Sunday welcomes LGBTQ friendly fest Mighty Hoopla for big-name pop and camp frivolity.
    Field Day and Mighty Hoopla at at Victoria Park on 3 and 4 June

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  • 2 June: Sheep bones, glitter and shaving cream: the bold, divergent art of the under-40s - Exhibitions | The Guardian

    Finalists in Ramsay art prize, which awards $100,000 to a young artist, show the future of Australian art is far more than paintings by white men

    Celeste Chandler’s Heroic Painting, a series of self-portraits in which the artist has painted herself with facial hair crafted from shaving foam, emulates our understanding of the form. Her 15 faces are serious and thoughtful, the image of the intelligent and respected artist, the male signature of facial hair sitting slightly oddly against her feminine features. In the work, she asks the viewer to consider whose art has typically been afforded space in our state galleries and in the art world: paintings by white men.

    Related: National Photographic Portrait Prize 2017 – in pictures

    Related: Marvel's costumes create their own blockbuster at Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art

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  • 1 June: British Library explores changing attitudes to gay love in exhibition - Exhibitions | The Guardian

    Manuscripts, posters and objects tell story of society’s transformation in show to mark 50th anniversary of decriminalisation

    The history of gay culture in the UK, from its repression to its celebration in the past 100 years, is to be displayed for the first time in an exhibition at the British Library, which marks the 50th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality.

    Original literary manuscripts and rare prints of newspapers and novels are to go on show at the London venue to mark the “transformation in society’s attitudes towards gay love and expression”, curators at the library said.

    Related: You think we’ve had 50 years of gay liberation? In the UK it’s barely four | Peter Tatchell

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  • 31 May: Silent witness: the outsider art of Susan Te Kahurangi King - Exhibitions | The Guardian

    She stopped speaking aged four, and has since communicated only through her acutely detailed drawings. As her first UK exhibition opens, her sister and curator reveal an extraordinary life – and talent

    Upstairs at the Marlborough Contemporary, a woman bows over a pad of headed notepaper. She doesn’t look up when the door opens. She picks a fluorescent highlighter from a heap in her lap and with the broad side of the nib blocks out a quad of blue or green – close, companionable colours. Then she picks up another pen and moves on to a new quad. She fills the page methodically, a thin white rim around each swatch. She doesn’t look up, and she doesn’t stop until the paper is complete.

    Susan Te Kahurangi King is 66 and she has been drawing since she was a young child. For decades the marks that streamed out of her pen have been her prime means of expression, because at around the age of four, King stopped speaking. By the age of nine she had stripped her verbal communication down to an occasional word. At 10, her grandparents were discussing a funeral they had been to, and Susan broke her silence to say: “Dead. Dead. Dead.” It is the last thing anyone remembers her saying.

    It's almost like she's transcribing. Even though her line is very direct and consistent, there's no in-between steps

    Related: Louder than words: the drawings of mute artist Susan Te Kahurangi King

    The family kept everything because it was like, 'If a doctor were to see it, maybe that would help explain things

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  • 31 May: Louder than words: the drawings of mute artist Susan Te Kahurangi King - Exhibitions | The Guardian

    From Fantaman to Donald Duck and the Queen, the New Zealand artist has spent the last 60 years drawing her own world in detailed and sometimes luridly disturbing works

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  • 31 May: David Hockney retrospective becomes Tate Britain's most popular show - Exhibitions | The Guardian

    Exhibition receives 478,082 visitors, with demand pushing the gallery to open until midnight over its final weekend

    Tate Britain’s David Hockney retrospective has become the gallery’s most popular exhibition, seen by nearly half a million visitors.

    The show closed on bank holiday Monday this week after a 16-week run which was characterised by long queues and busy gallery spaces.

    Related: Tate Britain to open till midnight to cope with Hockney show demand

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  • 30 May: Raphael: The Drawings review – a magnificent, mind-opening exhibition - Exhibitions | The Guardian

    Ashmolean Museum, Oxford
    The Renaissance star has always been held up as a model of formal perfection but this outstanding show reveals the artist’s warmth and tenderness too

    A woman is running towards us, mouth open in a scream, a baby cradled in her arms. The violence around her seems to part and give safe passage through the slaughter. What the open pathway through the heart of the horror really gives, however, is a heartbreaking visual connection between our eyes and her pain. To look into that terrified face is to feel the full pity of her plight. It is impossible not to be gripped by compassion.

    There are three drawings of this harrowing New Testament scene, The Massacre of the Innocents, in the Ashmolean Museum’s outstanding exhibition of Raphael’s drawings. They were done in Rome in about 1509-10, when the artist was in his mid-20s. In each – from rough sketch to finished design – the same woman rushes through the crowd. Yet the details vary: the expression on her face, the pose of the baby. In the most poignant, the baby’s eyes are little dots and it lolls as if dead in her arms. Her eyes are hollow dark pits of despair.

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  • 29 May: Marvel's costumes create their own blockbuster at Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art - Exhibitions | The Guardian

    A thoughtfully curated exhibition recognises the commercial stature of the franchises but focuses keenly on the work of designers and artists

    Since 2008 – over the course of 15 movies and with a packed slate of sequels and new films confirmed through until 2021 – the Marvel Cinematic Universe (that is, the films produced by Marvel Studios through Disney) has become a cultural juggernaut.

    If the MCU brand of action screenwriting leaves a little to be desired, however, the films have provided viewers with an increasingly daring palette of production and costume design, the likes of which have not been seen since Hollywood’s golden age of screen fantasy (and which makes hapless competitor DC’s dreary movies look like they’ve been created by a photocopier in dire need of a toner top-up).

    Related: Superhero outfits more fashionable than frock coats at funerals

    Related: Taika Waititi on shaking up Thor and being a Hollywood outsider: 'They take this stuff so seriously'

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  • 28 May: Hokusai: Beyond the Great Wave review – the mastery simply amazes - Exhibitions | The Guardian

    British Museum, London
    It wasn’t until his later years that the Japanese artist did his greatest work – the focus of this mesmerising show

    The Great Wave – that stupendous blue breaker flexing its claws over a tiny Mount Fuji – is the most famous image in Japanese art. It deserves its universal popularity. Three little boats struggle against the roiling tide in a brilliant game of pictorial hide-and-seek that threatens to conceal the white-capped mountain as the wave freezes in its ever-rising moment, scattering foam that doubles as snowfall. A humble print, first sold for the price of a double helping of noodles, has become a mass-market icon (even an emoji) a billion times over.

    The woodcut was made at the beginning of the artist’s “final years”, as this magnificent exhibition defines them. Hokusai (1760-1849) was 70 when he began the Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji, which stars The Great Wave. He already had a long career in ukiyo-e – the art of the floating world – with exquisite prints of scuttling pedlars, kimonoed courtesans and pilgrims spellbound by the moon over his home city of Edo (modern-day Tokyo). But the last three decades of Hokusai’s life go far beyond The Great Wave. This show reveals a restless genius, constantly inventing new kinds of image – an origin for impressionism and art nouveau, for action figures and graphic narrative, but also a late painter of startling Rembrandtian depth.

    Every morning he drew a Chinese lion then threw it out of the window to ward off evil

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June 5, 2015 By : Category : Exhibitions Tags:, ,
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