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Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Float like a butterfly... Sting like a bee...

Pearl and Ivy (Carly Beischer and Samantha Neary) are a dynamic duo who create the prettiest of hair accessories. I first spotted them at Portobello Market a few months ago, back when their feather headbands were one of a kind. Strongly influenced by the fashions of the 1920's and '30's their hair ornaments are ethereal and yet have a fierce bold quality. They definitely make you stand out from the crowd.

Sadly as Pearl and Ivy's ideas flourished others began noticing their inventive products and started creating cheap copies, and now brightly coloured feathered creations appear round every corner of the West London market.

The products from Pearl & Ivy show real artistic flair, and a beautiful attention to detail. The feathers are selected and arranged with the upmost care, so that each headband has its own individual charm. They seem delicate, but are in fact quite sturdy and mine has lasted well through many dancing nights out! They are also incredibly versatile and can be worn in a huge variety of ways, some of which are demonstrated on the website -

I wear my headband with every and any outfit, it adds spice to my look but above all makes me feel regal and glamorous, which is how every girl should feel.

Monday, 26 April 2010

The Noise Next Door

The Noise Next Door are a five piece improvised comedy group (Tom Houghton, Charlie Granville, Matt Grant, Tom Livingstone and Sam Pacelli), who have been performing together since 2005. They use audience suggestions to create sharp witted brilliant improvised performances, that show great intelligence and a real understanding of their genre of theatre. On Saturday night I was lucky enough to see them perform at The King's Head Theatre in Islington.

Usually I find stand-up comedy difficult to enjoy, and feel as an audience member a real pressure to be at ease with the act in order to find their material amusing. And so went into The King's Head prepared to be cynical. The theatre is a cosy space and worked well with boy's interaction style of performance.

I really loved every second of it. All five guys were hilarious and seemed to have their own strengths. Tom Houghton would sometimes pick up the guitar to provide the accompaniment for short improvised songs that were genius in their creation and projection. A particularly hilarious song of the night was the umpa-lumpa dance song that used the theme of murder mystery.

With The Noise Next Door the audience are crucial, anything goes, and it is that uncertainty and element of surprise that made their show so exciting to watch. The onstage dialogue between the five guys indicated the obvious chemistry, and their ability to laugh at themselves made their humour even more infectious.

Check out The Noise Next Door's website

or find them on Facebook.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Splish Splash!

Last night I ventured to the Riverside Studios in Hammersmith to see 'Soap - The Show'. We were warned that during the performance we may get wet but aside from that information I had no idea what to expect. We opted to sit a few rows back ( I was wearing my favourite PPQ silk shirt - and was not keen on getting it soaked!)

The show was half cabaret, half circus, but on a smaller more eccentric scale than most, with the theme of bathtubs and water joining all the acts and ideas together. The style of production felt similar to cirque du soleil, but primarily advertises itself as a Cabaret show. The superb direction came from Markus Pabst, who directed La Clique, a similar extravaganza that won critical acclaim at Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2006. The cast of eight took it in turns to display their talents, sometimes working together, sometimes as soloists.

Patricia Holtzmann took centre stage for regular musical interludes, adapting some of the great classics (Mozart, Handel and even Rimsky-Korsakov) to the words of Bobby Darin's 'Splish Splash' - a song that cropped up throughout the show. I found some of her singing slightly unnerving and occasionally flat, possibly because her talent seemed unimpressive next to the acrobatics. There were six acrobatic acts - each performer has a different skill, the most exciting performances for me came from Francois Gravel with Dance Trapeze and Michael Lanphear with Straps. Both men drew audible gasps from the audience as they swung and threw themselves across the stage, often performing in water, always acting around the white bathtubs positioned on the stage. The theatre space is pretty snug at Riverside, and unfortunately I was sitting next to a very enthusiastic clapper, who felt the need to clap (very loudly), every 5-10 seconds, it was mildly distracting.

Nata Galkina (an antipode - foot juggler) also gave an awe-inspiring performance. Her astonishing talent is a rare art, and was definitely something I had never seen before. Her legs emerged from a bathtub, but her body was entirely hidden, and as she juggled and balanced more and more objects the experience became increasingly surreal. Like any circus, there was, of course the comedy factor. Marie-Andree Lemaire was a lovable clown figure. Usually I find the clowns quite irritating but I allowed myself to enjoy some of Lemaire's material.

Much of 'Soap' was non-sensical, but in the best way. It was quite unlike anything I have ever encountered before and was a unique and exciting production. The show caters for all ages and all interests. It is on until April 25th, tickets £20/£25.


Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Moore please...

The eagerly awaited Henry Moore exhibition did not disappoint. And if you can't quite face battling your way into the Van Gogh, Tate Britain provides a calm and equally beautiful alternative.

Henry Moore (1898-1986) was Britain's leading sculptor in the last century. His work and vision earned him respect internationally, his radical approach shocked and inspired many. This show presents his earlier work (1920s to early 1960s); a selection that must surely be considered his best work. There are several obvious recurring themes that run throughout his art - nature, mother and child, the primitive and he embraces these subjects fully. The exaggerated curves and sensual
representation of the figure shows the female as strong and elegant, the organic embraces between mother and child illustrate this further in a surprisingly reassuring way. Moore believed in honouring a material's natural qualities, and this can be seen in all his sculpture. The natural blemishes and grains of wood and stone were always celebrated rather than disguised - a particularly endearing and beautiful aspect of his work.

"Trunks of trees are very human... to me they have a connection with human life." H. Moore

My favourite works were the smaller delicate little figures, all so carefully carved. The tiny hands perfectly indented, so simple and yet so full of feeling and purpose. Also beautiful were the sculptures using threads - a technique that I spent too long trying to understand. Dark sombre shapes of stone stand with brilliant coloured thread stretched taught across the open space between the surfaces. They seemed comical but serious. The abstraction of these works relates to the work of other artists from the time such as Joan Miro and Paule Vezelay (an artist whose works were recently on display at England & Co Gallery in "Lines in Space").

If you are interested in something a bit more upbeat I would recommend the Chris Ofili exhibition, also in Tate Britain. As soon as I walked through the door I was captured by the grand, energetic and colourful paintings. And the whole collection provokes much consideration and thought. Although contrasting radically in immediate aesthetic properties to the Moore , Ofili's viewpoint and expression draws certain fundamental parallels with the work of the sculptor . Both depict women as a celebration of 'the female', with accentuated curves, and a mystical power. Both artists also reject accepted standards of sophistication and instead rely on primitive inclinations to add impact to their work. Just as Moore broke away from traditional values in sculpture, Ofili has often been the subject of much controversy and debate with his radical representations of black culture. He combines a high art form (beautiful ornate paintings) with pornographic collage, hip hop and gangsta rap imagery and, of course, elephant dung.

He says : 'I was drawn to Blake's image first as a watercolour... At the same time I was interested in how Snoop Dogg could sing quite vulgar lyrics with a sweet, smooth West Coast voice, in the coming together of the rough and the smooth. I was curious about trying to make older ideas contemporary and new, and somehow have a relationship to hip hop culture.' C. Ofili (referring to his work 7 Bitches Tossing their Pussies Before the Divine Dung, 1995.)

Often the Tate Britain is forgotten in our minds, for the new and trendier Tate Modern (and soon Tate Modern 2) but with exhibitions like these it is well worth the visit.

Check out the Henry Moore foundation here: