> 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 Participations 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!

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 - thats tea for the next two nights sorted. In the afternoon we purchase our two event ticket and start with the Giardini. Spectacular art as always...




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


> 9 to 5 THE MUSICAL

Shanklin Theatre, IoW
29th October 2017

The Isle of Wight Savoyards - have done it again! This enthusiastic and highly creative Theatre group did Dolly proud... Their production of 9 to 5 the Musical hit all the right notes and the female leads shone like true stars... Westend quality at Isle of Wight prices - fantastic!

9 TO 5 THE MUSICAL is the hilarious musical comedy based on the hit movie, that centres on three office workers who turn the tables on their sexist boss.

Outrageous, thought provoking and even a little romantic, 9 TO 5 THE MUSICAL is about teaming up and taking care of business. Featuring original numbers from Dolly Parton's Oscar, Tony and Grammy Award nominated score including Backwoods Barbie, Shine Like the Sun and the original hit song 9 TO 5.

We joined in the fun - sang along to 9 to 5 and enjoyed every moment! Great costumes, clever sets and some really nice retro styling too... fabulous!








10 out of 10


> SUMMER IN BERLIN

Berlin, Germany
14th - 17th August 2017


Berlin - we just can't stay away! This time, we discover a floral paradise in the outskirts of east Berlin and culture galore in the beating heart of the City!

Friday 11th August - Red-jet to Southampton then train up to Southampton Airport. Fly to Manchester and hire a car, drive to Rotherham. Fish and chips in evening with John and Jean.

Saturday 12th August - early family breakfast to celebrate Dave's Birthday. Then drive to Brodsworth Hall and enjoy the wonderful gardens, next up a short drive to Wakefield to visit the Hepworth Gallery. We are blown away by the works on show in: Howard Hodgkin: Painting India. We round off the day by driving over to Huddersfield to visit Mark and Chris. In the Eve we taxi out to restaurant, eat delicious Italian nosh then walk home.


Brodsworth Hall and Gardens 

Dave enjoys the Romantic Garden at Brodsworth

Bombay Blues - Howard Hodgkin 

Letters from Bombay - Howard Hodgkin


Sunday 13th August - relatively lazy morning as we breakfast late and get ready to enjoy Gin-fest with Chris's parents. Lovely way to spend a sunny Sunday afternoon.

Monday 14th August - an early start as we drive back to Manchester to return hire car before boarding flight to Berlin. A pleasant hour and 45m mins in the air and we arrive in good time to catch train to Neuköln. Unpack, freshen up and head off out to explore. We end up in central Berlin and enjoy a sunset drink while relaxing in deck chairs.


The cable car at IGA Berlin

The Chinese Garden

The Korean Garden

The Mediterranean Garden


Tuesday 15th August - a fabulously sunny morning as breakfast in the flat. Today we are heading east, an hour out of Berlin, to visit the International Gardens of the World show. An amazing day full of beautiful planting, fabulous gardens and fun times in the sunshine. We round off the day with a couple of beers by the lake before heading back to Neuköln.

Wednesday 16th August - today is a little wetter than yesterday... It's actually pouring with rain. Luckily, today is all about indoor activities. A culture fix is required! First up, the Academy of Art. We enjoy the Käthe Kollwitz award. This year, the prize is scooped by Katherina Sieverding. Her photographic montages, large scale prints and video installation are interesting and memorable, a worthy winner!... Next up, the Hamburger Bahnhof Art Gallery. This contemporary collection, in the renovated train station of the same name, is certainly worth the €14 entry. We enjoy a good three hours exploring and getting to grips with the permanent collection and temporary shows. The Rudolph Belling exhibition gives a fascinating glimpse into this German designers stylish world. In addition, Moving is in every direction, Environments - installation - Narrative Spaces gives a fascinating insight into the world of installation art. We round off the day with a walk through the North Neuköln district before sitting in the sun and relaxing with a beer.

Thursday 17th August - A pleasant day as we rise early to clean the flat and prepare to depart to the Airport. We fly back to London Gatwick near enough on time. Train back to Southampton and catch red-jet to our dear little Isle. Phew!




10 out of 10


> SARI: THE WHOLE 5 YARDS

Tristan Bates Theatre, London
8th August 2017

Sari: The whole 5 yards - A play about a 62-year-old woman who reclaims her life after 40 years of pretending. Warm, funny and full of nods to a very interesting culture.

Bhanu is getting ready to go to her 40th “surprise” wedding anniversary party. She has the most seemingly perfect life (six-bedroom detached house, two en suite bathrooms, great kids, granddaughter, generous husband…) that is until, the truth slips out. She begins to unravel. When the truth is out, there is nowhere to hide... Written by Preethi Nair




Thank you to Martin for taking me along to this thoroughly enjoyable hour of live storytelling! I have walked past this performance space many times. Just off 7 dials in Covent Garden, this Theatre is casual, cool and filled to the brim with an intoxicating mix of the performing arts.

Unfortunately, due to work commitments, we also had to miss another piece of Theatre on the Isle of Wight. At Quay Arts, Busu and the damask drum promised to be an intriguing evening of reinterpreted Japanese Theatre. 9th August 2017.


Busu and the damask drum. Quay Arts




9 out of 10


> MALAGA

Malaga, Spain
10th - 17th July 2017


Malaga - the maritime City in southern Spain is evolving, it's becoming a fantastic and vibrant holiday destination. New cultural hot spots, plenty of wonderful experiences and guaranteed sunshine... what more could you ask for?

This is our second visit to Malaga, our last stay was in October 2009. It's amazing to see how much the City has changed since our last visit... our experience went a little like this: 

Sunday the 9th July - Up to London and staying in Deptford. Had a drink in sunshine by the river at the Trafalgar pub before meal at Bianco43 in Greenwich.

Monday 10th July - Up early to enjoy a walk in Greenwich Park before heading to Gatwick for our noon flight to Malaga. It would be foolish not to take advantage of a couple of hours to look around and purchase two Swatch watches before our slightly delayed Easy Jet departure. A leisurely 2 hour 20 flight. We are soon on our way into Malaga Central on the train from the airport. A quick walk up through the City and we arrive at our apartment, Calle Ollerías 16 Cuarta planta. We are met by a friend of our Airbnb host and instantly feel very welcome. A swift unpack and we are soon exploring the streets, and grabbing a few essentials to see us through. Our sunny terrace is the perfect place to watch the sunset, enjoy snacks, and to ease ourselves into the relaxed holiday state of mind.


 The beautiful Playa de la Caleta

 Invader does Carmen

 Invader does Picasso 


Tuesday 11th July - A sunny day unfolds as we take it easy and find our bearings. A trip to El Corte Ingles is essential and we pick up a few treats, including the all important Ibiza Mix 2017! We can’t delay a dip in the Med and longer, the beach is our next stop… and very relaxing it is too. In the eve we cook up sword fish and veg, washed down with a couple of glasses of Rioja! Perfect. 


 Pejac spotted in Soho district


Wednesday 12th July - Another warm and sunny day as we breakfast outside. Today we take a stroll down through the cool ‘Soho’ district of Malaga, the streets are full of very creative street art, cool bars and interesting restaurants. Great to spot the work of Invader, the French artist has produced a fab collection of ceramic mosaic works that are dotted around the City, this is his 71st invasion! We hang a right and walk further southwards until we reach our first culture stop, the Collection del Museo Ruso. This interesting collection of art is from the St. Petersburg State Museum in Russia. The show is divided into nine thematic areas: the old Russian art, the XVIII century, Romanticism in Russia, Realism, Realism with Russian topics, the movement of “World of Art” and Neoprimitivism, the Avant-garde, Socialist Realism and art in the Melting Era that was experienced after the death of Stalin… A fascinating temporary collection of works by Kandinsky tells the intriguing story of his creative development and never-ending love for his mother land. A short bus ride brings us back into the City, we return to our apartment and prepare for a much needed trip to the beach. We eat out in the eve and enjoy delicious tapas from La Bocacalle. 


 The cooling green of Jardin Botanico Historico


Thursday 13th July - Slightly foggy this morning, a mist is rolling in from the Med, we breakfast early and catch a local bus up to the Jardin Botanico Historico. This beautiful garden is top of our must do list, it does not disappoint. Set on a hillside, this spectacular site is home to a fabulous collection of native and world plants and trees… it’s a must for any visitor who wants to experience lush and arid planting in a pleasing location. The lunch stop was also beautiful, gorgeous food made from fresh local ingredients. We stay for a few hours then head back into town and down to the beach to cool off. In the eve, our neighbours, a couple from Austria share their leftover food with us. Such a kind gesture, they said it was a ‘peace offering’ after Brexit. We enjoy an eve on our terrace as the sun sets and the stars start to shine. 


 Atardecer sobre la costa de Malaga, 1918 Guillermo Gómez Gil

Center Pompidou Malaga 

Muelle Uno at sunset 


Friday 14th July - The fog is back as we slowly come back to life after last night. It seems we had quite a bit of local vino! Poached eggs on toast certainly help. Today we do more culture. First up, the Museo Carmen Thyssen, this fine museum houses a wonderful collection of traditional Spanish art, Romantic Landscapes and hot headed brawls. Three seascapes stop us in our tracks… the work of Guillermo Gómez Gil is stunning. A temporary exhibition, The appearance of the real. Fifty years of realist art in Spain (1960-2010), is excellent and contains some beautiful works. A quick snack break in the museum cafe and we are ready for our next culture stop… The Centre Pompidou, Malaga. This is ‘the’ big new MUST SEE attraction in the City. Set in the spectacular new port-side redevelopment, this culture hot spot is sure to ruffle feathers. An interesting, and in places challenging collection of works from the Paris based Mother ship that manages to excite and baffle in equal measure. The Muelle Uno development has brought a vibrant and elegant air to this once run down quarter. In the eve we chill on our terrace and take a sunset walk to enjoy the local crowds promenading in the cooler climes. 


 Rando 2011


Triptych August 1972 Francis Bacon


Saturday 15th July - more fog as we breakfast. Today we are up early to make the most of our last few days in this great City. Firstly, a short walk up the road to the Museum Jorge Rando, a haven of expressionist masterpieces by this charismatic living Spanish artist. Next, a stroll through the ‘Soho’ quarter to take in the Street art... then over to the Centro de Arte Contemporaneous de Malaga. This excellent Gallery houses a body of work that comprises a journey through the different artistic movements and trends that characterise the 20th century, with a particular focus on the final decades. Regularly-changing exhibitions illustrate the eclectic landscape of contemporary art today. This visit we enjoy the striking paintings, sculptures and drawings of Santiago Ydanez. We also enjoy the fantastic video piece called ‘the way things go’ by Swiss artists Fischli & Weiss. Created in 1987, this work always makes us chuckle! later we chill back at the apartment and wait for the sun to break through the cloud… eventually it does and we simply must get to the beach for a dip! After a very refreshing splash around we head back to the apartment, this time to freshen up and prepare for a visit to The Picasso Museum. We did visit this gallery back in 2009,  now we are curious to see how it has developed. The temporary show on 'Bacon, Freud and the school of London' also grabs our attention! Our turbo visit to the gallery does not disappoint… the guy on the ticket desk suggested that perhaps we should reconsider doing the two shows with such a short amount of time left before closing… We whizzed around the Picasso to allow more time for the temporary show… Wow! we are both blown away! Iconic pieces from Lucian Freud and Francis Bacon leave us speechless (Triptych August 1972 by Francis Bacon knocks me sideways). We end our day watching the sunset on the quay with a beer before heading back to the apartment for snacks.


The Alcazaba

Dave waits for the sunset at the port

Alex also waits for the sunset


Sunday 16th July - A muggy morning as we breakfast early to maximise our final full day in Malaga. Today we off to the Museum of Glass and Crystal which is located just a few streets away from the apartment. We spend 2 hours enjoying the superb collection. The owner of the museum was our guide. Entertaining and passionate, Don Gonzalo fernández-Prieto has so much love for the collection, he was a complete joy! Simply can’t recommend this attraction enough. It’s getting hot and we enjoy the shade back at the apartment, we also take a moment to start the cleaning in readiness for our departure tomorrow. A swim later in the pm helps to cool us before we pay a return visit to the Alcazaba. Love this beautiful attraction and it’s a great place to enjoy the cooling sea breeze and take in the views out over the harbour and City. Later, snacks and vino on the terrace of our apartment help to bring a perfect ending to another wonderful day.

Monday 17th July - Up early today as we fly back home at 10:20am. A quick tidy up, breakfast and check out with our host and we are off on train to the Airport. We fly on time and arrive in Gatwick ahead of schedule. Then a train to Clapham before boarding train to Southampton where we get our Red Jet to the Island. Home again and 110% relaxed and refreshed.




10 out of 10


> GHOST TRAIN

Apollo Theatre, Newport IOW
7th July 2017

Apollo Theatre - is THE Isle of Wight Theatre that consistently produces brilliant theatrical experiences. This classic ghost story kept us on the edge of our seats... a chilling way to spend a hot Summer night!

Arnold Ridley's classic spooky drama was first produced in 1925 and filmed no less than three times. Better known as Private Godfrey in BBC's long-running Dad's Army, Ridley conceived the idea for this thriller horror on a deserted platform waiting for a train. The story begins when a young man accidentally strands six passengers at a small Cornish wayside station. Despite the stationmaster's weird stories of a ghost train, they decide to stay the night in the waiting room. Soon they regret this decision as a ghostly apparition terrorises the group. A detective hiding his true identity from the passengers soon discovers the real truth, but is it too late?




A strong cast of regular faces, a simple set and great period costumes helped to make this a totally absorbing night of live, (spooooky) local theatre.




10 out of 10