Friday, 30 October 2009

Let the right one in

On the eve of Halloween, my thoughts turn to horror films, especially zombie or vampire ones. There is no finer vampire film than 'Let the right one in', a Swedish film directed by Tomas Alfredson, based on the book (and screenplay) by John Ajvide Lindqvist.

The story is about Oskar, a quiet boy who is bullied at school and Eli, his new neighbour who happens to be a vampire.

It is one of the most beautifully realised adaptations where the essence of the book is transferred to the big screen. I recall reading a quote from the director where he said how it was important to capture the feeling of snow falling, even though it doesn't really make a sound. Don't miss it.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

The Evening Ritual

Just as I have my morning routine, I like the ritual of washing the day away each evening. In the cooler months, it goes something like this:

Cleanser: Boots Rose Cold Cream
Toner: Rosewater
Serum: Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair
Eye Cream: YSL Lisse Expert Advanced
Moisturiser: Olay 3-point treatment cream
Lip balm: Lucas' Papaw ointment
Hand cream: Nivea DNAge

After a spritz of Mitsouko, I'm ready for the nest.

(image source: Getty)

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Fatboy's Diner

Ever since seeing 'Sliding Doors' I had wanted to visit Fatboy's Diner.

Located at Trinity Buoy Wharf, it is only a ten minute walk by the Thames from the East India DLR station.

Fatboy's is a true forties-style American diner experience. The building itself was designed in New Jersey and shipped to London.

Food is authentically American, from classic burgers and dogs to malted shakes. The boy described the BBQ sauce on his hillbilly burger as one of the best he'd ever tasted. The fries were perfect and by far the best I have eaten in this fair city.

After eating (more than) our fill, we strolled back by the river, marvelling at a view I'd never seen before, even after living here for almost a decade.

(image source: Halindromes)

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Pop Life @ Tate Modern

The Tate Modern's Autumn blockbuster show 'Pop Life: Art in a Material World' spans the breadth of Contemporary Art from sixties Warhol to noughties Murakami. For me the exhibition was volume over content, with many of the works having a rather tenuous link to the values of the true 'pop' sensibility. Yes there were Warhols but apart from the less frequently seen 'gem' series, a collection of random drawings and Interview magazine covers curated in a small corridor space seemed like an afterthought.

The first breath of fresh air came with the recreation of Keith Haring's Pop Shop from his original space on New York's Lower East Side. Featuring prints and photographs (including a great one of Haring painting Grace Jones's naked body with his signature squiggles) the room pulsates with life and energy and embodies the spirit of Pop.

I was also intrigued to see works from Jeff Koons' 'Made in Heaven' series, portraying himself and Ilona Staller, his wife at the time, in a range of sexual poses. Despite its controversial content, the craftsmanship of some of the white marble pieces is sublime.

The final room of the exhibition is dedicated to Murakami. After seeing his retrospective at the Brooklyn Museum last year, I had high expectations. A key theme of the room is a new series of works featuring 'Akihabara Majokko Princess', an Anime-style character embodied by a blue-haired Kirsten Dunst. In a promo video she sings 'Turning Japanese' while dancing around the Akihabara district of Tokyo. As an admirer of Miss Dunst's film choices, personal style and un-Hollywood teeth, it is worth the price of entry to see this alone.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Girls @ Pure Groove

One of the benefits of being a 'lady of leisure' is waking to a day with no firm plans. So today, I went to Pure Groove to see a free lunchtime gig by Girls, a new band from San Francisco who released their debut album last month.

The lyrics are pure 60s California pop; the melodies are gorgeously alt-country and vocals are reminiscent of Elvis Costello. Although there were a couple of false starts, they came together to deliver a loud rocking finale. Smiles all round.

R is for...

Redundancy. After managing to avoid it for several months it struck on Friday and knocked the wind out of my sails for a few days. I was confused, sad and angry; but now I feel a real sense of freedom and genuinely excited by new possibilities. I'm going to take some time to figure out what I want to do next and, as my dear friend Catherine says, to find the zen.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

The Turner Prize @ Tate Britain

The Turner Prize is always a mixed bag however there is usually at least one artist whose work resonates; for me this year's picks are Roger Hiorns and Richard Wright.

Both artists reference the impermanent nature of art, from Hiorns' jet engine reduced to fine black dust to Wright's highly-detailed gold-leaf design produced directly on the gallery wall.

I'm looking forward to seeing Hiorns' Seizure installation next week.

Turner and the Masters @ Tate Britain

Last night I attended a Corporate Supporters' Private View of Turner and the Masters at Tate Britain. It was a highly subscribed event and unfortunately the air conditioning was not up to the job. If the room temperature was more comfortable, I would lingered for longer.

That said, the show is a demonstration of the breadth of subject matter Turner depicted and how he was directly influenced by his contemporaries and by earlier painters, such as Rembrandt and Canaletto.

Viewing such a large number of works made me realise that Turner was not a master of representing the human figure. Faces and bodies appear swiftly drawn - unfinished even - against the backdrop of a carefully rendered background. My favourite works are the ones where the sense of light and weather is palpable, from a cool moonlight evening to a stormy day where boats appear through fog and mist, tossed by an angry sea.


I really like the ethos of Canteen. Serving Brit classics like pies, fish & chips, stews and a daily roast dinner, it is comfort food done well. Last night at the Royal Festival Hall branch, I had the steak and mushroom pie with smooth mash and spinach. With most mains around the £10 mark, it is also excellent value.

Service is friendly and efficient but not overbearing and the atmosphere is warm and welcoming. It speaks volumes that on a Monday night, we waited 20 minutes for a table. The Spitalfields branch is worth visiting for a big breakfast before hitting the market.

Thomas Heatherwick @ Haunch of Venison

Thomas Heatherwick's new exhibition Extrusions, includes six extruded, mirror-polished, aluminium benches made without fittings or fixtures. Heatherwick commissioned a die through which single 'plugs' of aluminium were 'squeezed', resulting in a series of graceful pieces with dramatic curves. The shape and high metallic shine, achieved by hundreds of hours of polishing, is reminiscent of the Cadillac icon.

(image source: Haunch of Venison.)

Dan Flavin @ Haunch of Venison

Running until the end of October at the Haunch of Venison is a showcase of works by Dan Flavin. Located in Burlington Gardens, the high ceilings and large gallery rooms lend themselves to displaying Flavin's work beautifully.

I like being able to peer behind the works to see the how the different light sources are strategically placed to create the finished works of warm, glorious light.

(image source: Haunch of Venison)

Sunday, 4 October 2009


The in handy book form

I have been a keen reader of Scott Schuman's blog, The Sartorialist, for about four years now. It is a constant source of inspiration which has changed the way I put together my own outfits each morning. Now there is a book celebrating Schuman's work. At more than 500 pages, I find myself dipping into it on a daily basis. I even had to rewind (thanks Sky+) a key scene from the season 1 finale of 'True Blood' because I was distracted by some of the Paris photos. That's about the highest recommendation I can make.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Stricken City @ Pure Groove

Like Rough Trade East, Pure Groove in Clerkenwell does a fine job in hosting free instore gigs. I've seen some fun shows here from Kill it Kid, Kitty Daisy and Lewis, Au Revoir Simone and Nouvelle Vague. Last night saw Stricken City take the stage for a 30-minute set. Although they didn't play Tak o Tak it was an energetic show with singer Rebekah Raa rocking out in a fab zebra halter jumpsuit. Girlcrush alert.

The Bathhouse

The Bathhouse. A descent of tiled-lined stairs leads to a candlelit room. Blue Velvet is projected on the vintage wallpaper. The caped DJ spins from within a golden birdcage. Bladerunner girls with 40s hair and black nails drink cocktails. A decoupage of Victorian nude postcards span the bathroom ceiling. The best late night venue in this town.

Anish Kapoor @ The Royal Academy

Yesterday I attended the late night opening of the Anish Kapoor exhibition at the Royal Academy. It is one of my favourite exhibitions of recent years. I love the way Kapoor experiments with spaces, transforming the very established Academy galleries into his very own playground.

The first gallery was filled with his undulating Hive sculpture, reminiscent of when he filled the Tate Modern's Turbine Hall with Marsyas.

The exhibition feels alive; especially as the scents from each medium permeate the space - from the cool cement of Greyman Cries, Shaman Dies, Billowing Smoke, Beauty Evoked, to the melted wax and smoking cannon of Shooting in the Corner.

(image source: Royal Academy)


Last night, I decided to try my luck for a seat at the newly-opened Polpo in Beak Street. It is already generating quite a buzz with its Venetian-style small dishes in an intimate Soho space. As a solo diner on this occasion, I knew that I wanted to sit at the bar and I was offered the last seat.

I ate a selection of beautifully prepared plates: grilled courgette with fresh rocket; mackerel tartare with a side of horseradish; and slow roast roast duck with tomatoes and olives. Washed down with a small carafe of Bianco Castellani, it was the perfect way to mark the end of a stressful week at the office. Service was friendly, relaxed and attentive. I'll definitely be back.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

+J by Jil Sander @ Uniqlo

After scoring a free ticket to the earlybird launch of +J, the Jil Sander range at Uniqlo, I queued up for a quick look. The usual organised calm of the store was lost for the morning at least while hordes of customers cherry-picked their way through the stock. The shop assistants could not fill the rails fast enough. I saw many baskets filled with multiple versions of the same jacket or coat in each colourway. It was a bit too much stress for my liking, especially when most items are available here. For me the biggest surprise was seeing the familiar faces from Grazia getting stuck in and helping out. I heart Paula Reed.
(image source: Uniqlo)

I love it in the mountains