Sunday, 28 October 2018

Njideka Akunyili Crosby

Artist Njideka Akunyili Crosby has her latest work on display at Brixton tube station.

 © Njideka Akunyili Crosby Courtesy the Artist and Victoria Miro, London

"Remain, Thriving", 2018 was commissioned by Art on the Underground and is on view till March 2019.


Then next month, from 17 November, works from Njideka's series The Beautyful Ones are at the National Portrait Gallery London


  • Monday, 22 October 2018

    May Morris and the Mouse

    Mary Anne Sloane, May Morris correcting proofs. WMG

     Not quite on cue but seasonally close, in October 1910 May Morris described her typical day at autumnal Kelmscott Manor, when editing her edition of William Morris’s Collected Works

    I do most of the house keeping –coming down in the morning with a key-basket, seeing the cook and the gardener and so forth, sometimes making a special dish for Mother (Nature intended me for  a cook and housekeeper and I resent the perversity of things  that have so thwarted that intention). Then I settle to work in the Tapestry-room,  These are my Father’s rooms – in the E wing of the house … very quiet and isolated from the rest of the house.  Mother doesn’t get up till late , and I work through the morning, with a little girl who comes to copy things.   Such a light, gay room, with great mullioned windows – in spite of the Samson tapestry, whose grimness has faded to a  pleasant harmony of blue and golden browns – a very lovely Persian carpet on the floor – I remember our getting it in Venice: the puzzlement of the Italian dealer at my Father’s vehement ways!  He was told by an Italian-speaking friend that he was a “grande poeta” and that soothed the gentleman, tho’ I don’t think it led him to take anything off the account –otherwise!
    Mother and I lunch together, and she goes to rest, and I work on, not going out much beyond the garden – a wander by the river or in the churchyard at sunset sometimes.  We sit in the parlour at tea and for the evening – a delightful room white panelled, airy and roomy; somehow, tho’ not very large.  There are jewels of Persian rugs  about the floor, a painted settle of Red House days on one side; opposite, my Father’s portrait, and his own Iseult picture, D.G.R.’s drawings of “Jenny and May”.  And we are lighted not by globes of electric light, but by modest candles in branches of old Sheffield plate.  I occasionally play Bach and Handel on a little old piano, but generally settle by proof-reading.  After dinner we play a dreadful game called Patience.
    Kelmscott Manor White parlour today
     Then, as she finished her letter
    Do you know what happened then!  I felt something wriggle nearly at my waist, and Good Heavens, there was a huge mouse inside my clothes!  Now a truly sensitive woman would have screamed, but I didn't want to waken the house!

    Friday, 19 October 2018

    Black is the new Black

    Portraits by Simon Frederick

    Portraits by Simon Frederick

    29 September 2018 - 27 January 2019
    National Portrait Gallery London
     Room 33, Floor 1
    Black is the New Black brings together exceptional figures from the world of politics, business, culture, religion and science to celebrate black British achievement today. Artist and director Simon Frederick photographed sitters ranging from Naomi Campbell, Sir Trevor McDonald and Thandie Newton to musician Jazzie B of Soul II Soul and footballer Les Ferdinand, to recognise the profound impact of black individuals on British culture. The portraits were made as part of Frederick’s acclaimed BBC Two documentary series of 2016 on black culture in modern Britain. This display celebrates their acquisition as the largest group of portraits of Afro-Caribbean sitters into the National Portrait Gallery’s Collection.

    Sunday, 14 October 2018

    Black Tudors at NPG

    On 18 October at the National Portrait Gallery in London  Dr. Miranda Kaufmann tells the intriguing tales of three Africans living in Tudor England – a diver employed by Henry VIII to recover guns from the wreck of the Mary Rose, a Moroccan woman baptized in Elizabethan London and a porter who whipped a fellow servant at their master's Gloucestershire manor house. Their stories shed light on key questions: how did they come to England? What were their lives like? How were they treated by the church and the law?
    Tickets from NPG website
    Miranda Kaufmann is author of Black Tudors, published by Oneworld in 2017 and shortlisted for the Wolfson History Prize 2018.  She is also author of the entry for trumpeter John Blanke (fl.1507-1512) in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

    Thursday, 4 October 2018

    Pre-Raphaelite Women re-viewed

    as my book on the Legend of Elizabeth Siddal demonstrates, I've long been a fan of interpretations and re-imaginings of Pre-Raphaelite (hi)stories,
    and here is the latest version with a large cast list of women as you've seldom seen them before.
    PRE-RAPHAELITE GIRL GANG by Kirsty Stonell Walker of the Kissed Mouth BlogSpot contains capsule accounts of 50 individuals,  chronologically from Julia Cameron to Noel Laura Nisbet, alphabetically from Anna Blunden to Maria Zambaco, and arguably (even if Pre-Raphaelite is now an extremely baggy denotation) including Anna Lea Merritt and Lillie Langtry. 
    You can test your knowledge by naming those in the re-visioned thumbnails above by Kingsley Nebechi, although only 30 are included in this sheet, no doubt owing to space issues - all 50 have comparable images within the book, together with 4 pages of text and images.  Graphic reinterpretations like this are a new[ish] departure, to add to the fictions and dramas and historical accounts.
    I miss seeing Cathy Madox Brown and Becky Solomon, and you can probably add further candidates for the next collection.   I will add links to ordering the book as soon as