Cindy Sherman’s major show at the National Portrait Gallery looks back at her long career at the peak of world photography. She is most well known for taking pictures of herself but this is not a world of selfies as she creates a wide range of personas using herself as the model, many of which are unrecognisable as the same person. This show covers her 40 year career with examples from each of her major series of work. Continue reading
Martin Parr is one of our great British photographers with a career spanning over 40 years. So I was excited to be invited to the preview of his new show, Only Human, at the National Portrait Gallery, especially as I knew Martin would be there himself. It’s a brilliant display of his observations of Britishness in all its eccentricities and variety with particular reference to a country after Brexit referendum. Continue reading
Painted portraits or photographic portraits – is one medium better than the other for capturing a person, is there more skill in the painting or the photograph? I was pondering these questions as I approached the National Portrait Gallery to view the annual Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize. Earlier in the year I had enjoyed their exhibition of painted portraits and here’s my blog about it so you can compare the two: BP Portrait Award. I had really enjoyed many of those pieces still remembered them so was slightly apprehensive that I would not be as impressed, a little unfair I know, but there it is! Continue reading
Each year the judges sift through the thousands of entries from all round the world for the BP Portrait Award and somehow decide on the 48 that will make the show at the National Portrait Gallery. I don’t envy them this incredibly hard task but the outcome is a wonderful display and a stunning range of portraits for us to enjoy and marvel at.
I’m really familiar with the National Portrait Gallery, London, or so I thought until I was invited to preview their Rebel Women Trail. Much to my shame and amusement I found a section of the gallery which had escaped me so I am very pleased to highlight it in this blog post. Continue reading
The big event in London this week was really big – the London Marathon! But keep reading to the bottom to find out the star spotting….
The London Marathon claims to be the largest in the world with about 36,000 runners pounding the streets of London to conquer the 26.2 miles of agony. The elite man runner got round in just over 2 hours beating the course record but for the mere mortals it was 4 hours plus of pain and ecstasy on finishing. I found a great viewing spot on a bridge over the course to cheer them on and snap some of the fun sights. How people can run wearing the mad outfits is quite beyond me but it raises extra money for charity and that’s what drives most of the brave runners on. You could see the pain on their faces but many were cheery and smiling as they had one more mile to go to the finish outside of Buckingham Palace. Have a look at a small selection of photos: the runners flooding along the Embankment by Charing Cross; the rhino and lion; a tiger; Kate Middleton (!); a WaterAid toilet; pantomime dame (lots of men in dresses – any excuse!); the clown; the runaway bride; the chicken; and, the man with artificial legs who was an hour ahead of anyone else in these photos!
The Tate Modern has been showing the wonderful Sunflower Seeds installation by the artist Ai Weiwei but last week he was detained in his homeland by the Chinese authorities so I started the Twitter hashtag #releaseAiWeiwei and was really pleased to see that the Tate have taken it up on their building – or we just came up with the same slogan! Either way I hope it works..
One show worth seeing was E.O. Hoppe’s photographs at the National Portrait Gallery which was really interesting. From his studio portraits of the famous faces of his day to his realistic street photos of the poorer citizens, we saw a wonderful range of work in the 150 photos on display. The photo of the very small boy in a pearlie king outfit over his stripey jumper and worn out shoes was funny and very sad at the same time as his poverty was clear to see. In contrast celebrity and royal faces also graced the walls from a very young Margot Fonteyn to the future King George V and Queen Elizabeth
And finally, the star spotting which took place in the green room at recording of the Graham Norton TV show where I got to have my photo taken with one of my absolute favourites- David Tennant – and the rather lovely Josh Grobin who moved right up the favourite list. They were both completely charming and very handsome. Still recovering….
This week started in a big toilet queue – the world’s longest queue in fact! No, there’s not a sudden horrific shortage of toilets in London but an event for WaterAid to highlight the appalling number of people in this world who do not have access to a safe toilet. We queued outside Parliament in Gordon Brown masks to make this point and queues formed all across the world to lobby their own governments – altogether we were making a Guiness Record attempt on the length of the queue. A very important cause so have a look at their website http://www.wateraid.org/.org and there’s a photo here from the queue.
The National Portrait Gallery has a couple of special exhibitions on at the moment. One is the glorious portraits of Irving Penn who had access to an amazing range of famous faces, from Wallis Simpson to Greta Garbo and Rudolf Nureyev. The exhibition follows the development of his work over the decades and you can see some people photographed twice. His early device of photographing people in the corner of rooms moved on to photos of subject somewhat hidden – by clothing or by the closing one or both eyes. Also there is a small show of photos by Jane Brown who worked in black and white and only using available light which I really admire. Here’s the poster shot of Irving Penn and a sneaky shot of Jane Brown’s Mick Jagger I took some while ago at a foyer exhibition at the Guardian. A second Jane Brown was the irresistible shot of Henri Cartier Bresson taking a photo of Jane taking a photo….
We had a bit of rain this week but there was a warm welcome at St Martins-in-the-Field church who had a Vivaldi concert including his ‘Summer’ concerto. Wonderful music in a fabulous setting. 2 photos to give you the idea – one inside the church and one exterior view on a sunny day to show it at its best.
We were looking forward to seeing ‘Little Dog Laughed’ but it was not all we’d hoped although Tamsin Grieg was brilliant and worth the trip. The play just didn’t add up to enough, perhaps it was the anticipation? Looking to go next week to see a matinee so am on the look out for some bargain tickets.
I’ve been to a couple of great public exhibitions this week. One was a photographic delight – Beatles to Bowie: The 60s Exposed. This traces the course of the 60s and its pop stars through brilliant photography and magazine and album covers. It’s great fun to see all these icons in their earlier seemingly innocent times when we know what is in store for them. Each caption mentioned a key song from that artist at that time so there was shameless singing along from many visitors, including us at one point I must admit!