> THE APPLE CART

Apollo Theatre, IoW
31st March 2018



The Apple Cart - a satirical comedy which follows the fictional English King Magnus as he spars with, and ultimately outwits, Prime Minister Proteus and her cabinet, who seek to strip the monarchy of its remaining political influence. The team at the Apollo do it again!

"A comedy in which a King defeats an attempt by his popularly elected Prime Minister to deprive him of the right to influence public opinion through the press and the platform: in short, to reduce him to a cipher. The King’s reply is that rather than be a cipher he will abandon his throne and take his obviously very rosy chance of becoming a popularly elected Prime Minister himself." The play was completed in December 1928 and first performed at Warsaw (in Polish) the following June. Its English première was at the first Malvern Drama Festival in August 1929. 

George Bernard Shaw based King Magnus largely on himself, and Amanda Postlethwaite, the ‘Powermistress-General’, is said by the biographers of Beatrice Webb to be modelled on Susan Lawrence, an old colleague of Shaw’s from the Fabian Society."




Another fantastic production from the team at the Apollo. Director, Michael Arnell, peppered the production with subtlety, energy and a good dose of friction. The cast, the costumes, set and attention to detail are what make this teams productions shine, this show was no exception. We are so lucky to have such a wonderful and creative troop on our doorstep.




10 out of 10


> BRIAN BLESSED - LIVE!

Salisbury City Hall, Salisbury
28th March 2018
Brian Blessed - the advertising for this event stated "an evening with this man is not for the faint hearted"... this could not have been further from the truth. We enjoyed the company of a big hearted man who loves his planet, it's animals and the human race!

Larger Than Life? British actor Brian Blessed is known for his hearty, king-sized portrayals on film and television. He is a giant of a man accompanied by an eloquent wit and booming, operatic voice.

 
An evening with Brian Blessed is an experience that nobody should miss. His eloquence and humour will have the audience captured from the moment he walked on stage until the moment he finished he final encore. 
 
Brian talked about his career on stage and screen including anecdotes from Flash Gordon, Black Adder, I Claudius and Z Cars and his many appearances in Shakespearean Productions. He is also an avid climber and has conquered Everest and Kilimanjaro amongst others. It was great to hear about his adventures! Brian is also a massive supporter of animal welfare... It warmed our hearts to hear that all profits from live shows and books go towards keeping his home based shelter alive and kicking.
   



After the show, we had an opportunity to meet with the great man himself. He was gentle, warm and simply lovely... a great human being!




10 out of 10


> LAURIE McVAY LIVE

Ventnor, Isle of Wight
24th March 2018



The Ventnor Arts Club - One of our Island's finest cultural hot spots... this beautiful venue is cool, relaxed and brimming with live Music, Performance and Atmosphere. Laurie McVay kept things town-tempo and very, very chilled.

We never say no to an opportunity to enjoy a bit of Ventnor time! Great to be able to share our favourite Island town with good friends Carl and Annette. We all love our music!, very happy we were able to enjoy the laid-back set from Laurie McVay in the stunning surroundings of the Ventnor arts Club. A perfect chilled eve!




Laurie McVay at the Ventnor Arts Club



10 out of 10


> A TRIP TO BRIGHTON

Brighton, United Kingdom
23-25th February 2018


Brighton - the seaside City that always makes us smile ;-)... It may be chilly, but the sound of the sea and the gull's above make every day feel like summer!

We enjoy a mini-break to the coast with good friends. Our accommodation for two nights is the Chequers Inn, Maresford... just under 20 miles inland from Brighton. A catch up with Darcy on Saturday gives us an opportunity to enjoy the sunshine and take a selfie by the sea.



Dave and Alex. Cheryl, Simon and Darcy do a selfie by the sea


We also had the opportunity on Sunday to explore the local area around our accommodation. We drove to Hartfield and walked in the footsteps of Christopher Robin, Piglet and Pooh. The Pooh Corner tearooms and shop are an essential destination for any fan of the small bear and his band of furry friends. Well worth a visit!
 

8 out of 10


> WINTER GARDENS +

The South, United Kingdom
15-16th February 2018



Winter Gardens - A magical hit of colour and textural interest to lighten even the darkest, coldest days... We take take a look at two great examples and discover which plants offer the most spectacular winter interest.

> First up, Mottisfont House and gardens near Romsey. This historical priory and country estate is well worth a visit... but it's the winter interest garden that has brought us here today. Since 2010, this 1 acre garden has been pulling in the visitors. The specially curated collection of plants and trees glow brilliantly on the darkest days. Coloured winter bark from dogwood and ornamental bramble pop, while berries and early-flowering perennials provide contrast and detail. Unfortunately, we could not get into the galleries of the house due to overcrowding... we could have enjoyed the ingenious works of Heath Robinson.


 Dave takes shelter at Mottisfont - more views above.
  

After a night in Winchester staying at the Winchester Royal Hotel, we were ready for phase 2 of our adventures! On Friday the 16th we visited the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens. Formerly known as the Hillier Arboretum, this 72 hector site houses a wondrous collection of over 42,000 trees and shrubs. The jewel in the crown has to be the spectacular winter garden. With over 650 specimens, this garden has a variety of plants and trees that exhibit particular winter beauty. The colour, texture and impact are quite overwhelming. Hot fluorescents pop against delicate monotone papery barks and cool green/black grasses... beautiful!


Show-stopping Hellebores at the Hillier Gardens - more views above


On Friday eve we caught up with our chums Dave and Becky in Southampton. We were lucky enough to stumble upon the opening ceremony for the Cities brand new cultural hub. The £30m arts and theatre complex houses the Nuffield Southampton and John Hansard Gallery. We are looking forward to exploring this exciting new hot spot soon!


Lights, Camera. ACTION! - The Nuffield and John Hansard Gallery lift-off


9 out of 10


> DON'T DRESS FOR DINNER

Apollo Theatre, Newport
10 February 2018




Don't dress for dinner - Marc Camoletti’s comedy has all the earmarks of classic French farce: marital infidelity, misunderstandings and mistaken identities. Perfect for a fun night out!

The team at The Apollo did it again...  A marvellous evening of live Theatre on the Isle of Wight. Great production, a very strong cast and perfect comedy timing. We giggled our way through the performance and left with big smiles.
  



The story goes a little like this: Bernard is planning a romantic weekend with his chic Parisian mistress in his charming converted French farmhouse, whilst his wife, Jacqueline, is away. He has arranged for a cordon bleu cook to prepare gourmet delights, and has invited his best friend, Robert, along too to provide the alibi. It’s foolproof; what could possibly go wrong? Well … suppose Robert turns up not realising quite why he has been invited. Suppose Robert and Jacqueline are secret lovers, and consequently determined that Jacqueline will NOT leave for the weekend. Suppose the cook has to pretend to be the mistress and the mistress is unable to cook. Suppose everyone’s alibi gets confused with everyone else’s. An evening of hilarious confusion ensues as Bernard and Robert improvise at breakneck speed. This boulevard comedy was a smash hit in Paris, where it played for over two years, and in London, where it ran for six years at the Apollo and Duchess Theatres. It has since played in theatres all over the USA and the English speaking world and was revived in Chicago and on Broadway at the American Airlines Theatre in 2012.




9 out of 10


> ALISON MOYET LIVE

O2 Guildhall, Southampton
28 November 2017



Alison Moyet - The Lady with the 'big voice' and epic back-catalogue hits Southampton. We enjoy a trip down memory-lane and discover new wonders too.

Geneviève Alison Jane Moyet is a wonderful wordsmith. Dark in places, her songs are all very special, they tell stories.

I have loved Alison's voice for many years. Starting with Yazoo in 1982, the 21 year old was the perfect vocalist and writer to balance the synths of Vince Clark. Her solo career started with the release of 'Alf' in 1984, since then she has created a wonderfully rich body of work. 'Other', her latest album was released in 2017 - the story continues!




This live show was fantastic. A hefty mix of classics stood-up well against more recent compositions. The production and design of the show was minimal - with a very atmospheric edge... dramatic lighting and a beautifully balanced sound system helped. Drama and energy in every song... Simply brilliant! The support for our eve was Hannah Peel. This Northern Irish singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, composer and arranger is a fabulous find... Also, look out for her alta-ego Mary Casio!



10 out of 10


> VENICE ART ESCAPE!

Venice, Italy
3 - 6 November 2017
La Biennale di Venezia - The 57th International Art Exhibition, Viva Arte Viva... THE art event of 2017! We go see what all the fuss is about.

This years Exhibition includes 120 artists in the main section 'Viva Arte Viva', and 86 National Participants in the historic Pavilions at the Giardini, at the Arsenale and in the city centre of Venice.

Vive Arte Viva offers a route that unfolds over the course of nine chapters or families of artists, beginning with two introductory realms in the Central Pavilion in the Giardini, followed by seven more realms to be found in the Arsenale and the Giardino delle Vergini. There are 120 invited artists from 51 countries; 103 of these are participating for the first time.

“La Biennale must present itself as a place whose method—and almost raison d’être—is dedicated to an open dialogue between artists, and between artists and the public.”

“This year, direct encounters with the artists have assumed a strategic role, to the point of becoming one of the pillars of La Biennale, whose program is of unprecedented size and commitment. Our curator’s main Exhibition is surrounded by the 86 pavilions of participating countries, each with its own curator, which will once more bring to life the pluralism of voices which is a hallmark of La Biennale di Venezia.” Paolo Baratta

Our adventure started on the morning of Friday the 3rd... we drove to Stansted Airport with Carl and Annette to catch our midday flight. 1 hour and 45mins later we arrive at Treviso. A 1 hour bus trip to piazza Roma and we are ready to board a water taxi to Celestia, the closest stop to our Airbnb rental on the north of the Island. Linda and Fabio, our hosts, walked with us to our wonderful apartment - home for the next 3 nights. The house across two levels is fab, very comfortable and it also boasts a garden! We unpack quick to maximise exploring time. Soon, we are enjoying the narrow back streets and quiet canals. Heading west, we soon find a small bar where snacks and a few drinks are enjoyed. We continue west and soon arrive at Piazza San Marco. The moonlight lifts the damp cobbles, this City is always beautiful. Time to sleep, we have a huge amount of art to enjoy over the next two days!


Installation view - The Arsenale 

Neon wonder - Cody Choi for the Korea Pavilion 

Horse Problem by Claudia Fontes for the Argentinian Pavilion 


Saturday the 4th - Up early, it's a pleasant enough day. We enjoy a hearty breakfast after a trip to the local supermarket to purchase a few essentials. After breakfast we explore a bit more of central Venice before purchasing some fish from the market that is close to Rialto - that's tea for the next two nights sorted. In the afternoon we purchase our two event ticket and start with the Giardino delle Vergini. The art is epic, imaginative and spectacular as always. We spend a good 4 hours exploring, dipping in and out of the various pavilion's. It's thirsty work, we make the most of the on-site cafe and rest, conversation is sparked by the pieces we have seen - some good, some bad - but all worthy of discussion. In the eve we enjoy a drink out and return to our apartment to cook up a feast. The end to a perfect day!

Sunday the 5th - Breakfast is very welcome after the late night before - perhaps we over did the limoncello?! Today is all about the Arsenale. This undercover maze of re-loved buildings is wonderful to explore - the rough, industrial feel of the spaces balances perfectly with the art on show. 4 to 5 hours vanish quickly as we experience the massive amount of creativity on show. We round off the afternoon with a quick drink and make our way back to the apartment to cook up another feast.


 Faust by Anne Imhof for the German pavilion

Folly by Phyllida Barlow for the British Pavilion

Imitazione di Cristo by Roberto Cuoghi for the Italian Pavilion

Stand quiet and look out over the Mediterranean sea by Erwin Wrum 

The most beautiful Book shop in the world - Venice 

Lorenzo Quinn - Support 

Damian Hirst - Treasures from the wreck of the Unbelievable 

 
Monday the 6th - Our last day in Venice. We take a leisurely breakfast before a quick tidy up in preparation or our hosts. We take one more walk around the atmospheric back streets and waterways of this unique City, we stumble upon 'The most beautiful book shop in the world', a book lovers dream... It's been a fabulous few days, cant wait for 2019! 

The one that got away:
Damian Hirst's colossal exhibition - Treasures from the wreck of the unbelievable - spread across 54,000 sq ft of gallery space at not one but two museums; Palazzo Grassi on the Grand Canal, and the city’s old customs house at the Punta della Dogana. This show is based around the premise that the works on display are ancient artifacts that were “discovered” in 2008 in a shipwreck off the coast of East Africa. According to the exhibition’s introductory film, the ship and its priceless cargo were originally owned by a wealthy collector named Cif Amotan II, who lived around 2000 years ago.  While transporting the treasures as an offering to a faraway sun-temple, the ship foundered and sunk, leaving the collection submerged at the bottom of the Indian Ocean for two millennia – before being salvaged at Hirst’s personal expense and brought together for this historic show.




10 out of 10


> ART TSUNAMI IN LONDON

London Town
3rd November 2017

Pre Venice Biennale, we hit the Mega-Galleries of London Town. Tate Modern and the Royal Academy get our full attention... Art overload, here we come!

First up, The Royal Academy. This is one of our favourite UK Galleries. The curation is always amazing. Slick and professional - every show tells a great story, and the team always manage to get their hands on the most unique pieces of work. Today we enjoy three shows in this wonderful venue.

> Dali / Duchamp An opportunity to take another look at two artistic giants: father of conceptual art Marcel Duchamp, and larger-than-life Surrealist Salvador Dalí. This is the first exhibition to throw light on their surprising relationship and its influence on the work of both artists.

A great show with amazing work from both artists. Really enjoyed standing in front of a few Dalí’s that we had never seen in the flesh before. On the surface, these two great 20th-century artists could hardly be more dissimilar, but Dalí and Duchamp maintained a lasting bond of friendship and mutual admiration throughout their careers. This theme shone brightly!

The exhibition brought together around 80 works, including some of Dalí’s most inspired and technically accomplished paintings and sculptures (including Aphrodisiac Telephone) , and Duchamp’s groundbreaking assemblages and readymades. It also showcasde the less familiar: photographs by Dalí, paintings by Duchamp, correspondence and collaborations between the two artists.


Marcel Duchamp with Gala and Salvador Dali in 1958

> Jasper Johns: ‘Something Resembling Truth’- This is the first comprehensive survey of the artist’s work to be held in the UK in 40 years. Comprising over 150 paintings, sculptures, drawings and prints, this show revealed the continuities and changes that have occurred over the past six decades and the curiosity and experimentation that Johns continues to apply to his current practise.

Widely known for his iconic images of flags, targets, numbers, maps and light bulbs, Jasper Johns has occupied a central position in American art since his first solo exhibition in New York in 1958. His treatment of iconography and appropriation of objects, symbols and words makes the familiar unfamiliar, achieving this through the distinctive, complex textures of his works. Through his ground-breaking paintings and sculptures, Johns established a decisive new direction in an art world that had previously been dominated by Abstract Expressionism.

This show was a complete education for us, a fascinating insight into the life work of a highly creative artist. Great show, every room was jam packed with a different pahse of creative output... epic!


 Jasper Johns, Target, 1961

Jasper Johns, Racing Thoughts, 1983


> Matisse in the studio - A sumptuous exhibition that offered a rare glimpse into the artist’s personal collection, as well as the paintings, sculptures and drawings it inspired. Seen together, they reveal how Matisse’s masterful vision of rich and masterful energy first stemmed from the collage of patterns and rhythms which he found in the world of objects. 

Really interesting to see how the studio space and its carefully curated collection of objects inspired this artists most vivid and enjoyable work... Matise drew his collection from the far corners of the world: Buddhist statuary from Thailand, Bamana figures from Mali, furniture and textiles from North Africa. Rarely of material value, these objects were nonetheless precious. Offering points of departure to which he could return again and again, they appear in his work in different guises and across spans of decades, reinvented afresh in each new setting.


Henri Matisse, Yellow Odalisque, 1937

Small painted table (guéridon), Algeria, 19th-early 20th century


Phew! As if that wasn't enough!... It's now time to move south of the river. Tate modern never disappoints. We re-energise with a quick snack break before experiencing more wonderful art.

> Ilya and Emilia Kabakov - Not everyone will be taken into the future - We enter the fantastical world of the Kabakovs in the first major UK museum exhibition dedicated to these pioneers of installation art. We LOVED this deep dive into the wonderful world of these two highly creative artists. Funny, tragic and very moving in places, this show kept us talking way beyond leaving the Tate.

The Kabakovs are amongst the most celebrated artists of their generation, widely known for their large-scale installations and use of fictional personas. Critiquing the conventions of art history and drawing upon the visual culture of the former Soviet Union – from dreary communal apartments to propaganda art and its highly optimistic depictions of Soviet life – their work addresses universal ideas of utopia and fantasy; hope and fear. Three major and rarely exhibited ‘total’ installations are presented together for the first time: The Man Who Flew into Space from His Apartment 1985, Labyrinth (My Mother’s Album) 1990 and Not Everyone Will Be Taken Into the Future 2001. Appearing as if they have been recently vacated, these uncanny environments draw spectators into the absurd and moving stories of these often fictional characters.

Coinciding with the centenary of the 1917 Russian Revolution, the exhibition Not Everyone Will Be Taken Into the Future explores the role of the artist in society in uncertain times.


Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, The Man Who Flew Into Space From His Apartment

Ilya and Emilia Kabakov: Not Everyone Will be Taken Into the Future






10 out of 10