Volume two | Issue TWO | FREE
Welcome to the second issue of Kensington & Chelsea Review. Filled with art, auction, culture and luxury, Kensington & Chelsea Review is the magazine for the rather discerning resident of the Royal Borough.
Our cover image is a detail [shown in full, above] of Gown by Victor Edelstein 1986, photograph (c) David Hughes, courtesy V&A Museum. page. 3
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Publisher Talismanic Media Founder and Managing Director Sid Raghava Editor Coco Khan Art Director Max Wilson of O.W.H. Creative Publishing Director Michelle Bryant Stephen Slocombe
After such a warm reception to the debut issue of the new revamped Kensington and Chelsea Review, the anticipation and excitement around the second instalment has been, if you’ll pardon the pun, olympic. As London and the UK is gripped by the Games, and the nation valiantly spreads the word of Team GB upon walls, sleeves and from rooftops, the Royal Borough itself has been all a-titter, celebrating the once-in-a-lifetime event with its usual creative style and flair. Nothing exemplifies this more than Exhibition Road Show, a week long Cultural Olympiad initiative dedicated to emergent art, and a festival we are proud to be the media partners of. This issue can be seen as our Olympic edition featuring an Exhibition Road Show special, complete with map and our picks of the event. Elsewhere in the magazine you will find an exclusive interview with national treasure Sir Peter Blake and a rare heart to heart with Pulitzer Prize winning author Richard Ford. We’ll also be posting some exclusive content via our social media channels on Facebook and Twitter (@KCReview) and are, as ever, at your disposal. Coco Khan Editor
Books Editor Danny Arter Theatre Editor Alan Fielden Writers William Kherbek, Alan Fielden, Shula Pannick, Annie Vischer, Linda Cooke, Adrian Foster, Stephen Slocombe, Michelle Bryant, Sid Raghava, Ben Osborn, Theodora Wakely All material in Kensington and Chelsea Review is strictly copyright and allrights are reserved. No part of this publication may be reproducedor transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical,including photocopying, recording, or any information storage or retrievalsystem without prior permission of the publishers. Colour transparenciesand photographs submitted for publication are sent at the owners’ risk andwhile every care is taken, neither the publishers nor their agents acceptliability for loss or damage however caused. The publishers can accept noliability whatsoever of nature arising out of nor in connection with thecontents of this publication. Opinions expressed within the articles arenot necessarily those of Kensington and Chelsea Review and any issuearising there from should be taken up directly with the contributor. page. 5
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News News curated from the worlds of art, culture and intrigue
Age of Experience
An interview with Sir Peter Blake at Fine Art Society
Christies, With Insight
The second instalment in Christie’s monthly column with tips for buyers
A rare interview with the Pulitzer Prize winning author on his new book
Edge of Performance
Forced Entertainment and immersive troupe Coney come under the magnifying glass
22 . The
Show Must Go On
Extensive coverage on Exhibition Road Show including a KCReview map
26 . Pretty
Amy Molyneux- one half of design duo PPQ- talks to us about style, the screen and beyond
32 . Shopping A round up of Olympic themed products for the luxury hunter
34 . Sugar
Kensington institute, Notting Hill’s Spice Shop, take us on a global tour in spices
36 . Destination:
The Far East’s hidden dragon unleashes its roar
40 . Purring
like a Kitten
A test drive of the new Jaguar XF
Read All About It A rundown of London news from the worlds of arts, culture and the plain intriguing, all handpicked for the Royal Borough resident ART
8 Rue Valette, Pompertuzat, France, C: Jon Rafman
Nick Payne wins Harold Pinter Playwright Award Chelsea institution Royal Court Theatre has long been regarded as one of our nation’s treasures. Cultivating the new British with their respected Young Writers Programme, the venue acts as more than a stage and has long been an instrument for which greatness is born. Testament to this can be seen with the recent winner of the Harold Pinter playwright award, whose council includes Judy Daish, Stephen Jeffreys and Alan Rickman. Nick Payne can be regarded as a protege of Royal Court having been a proud graduate of the Young Writers Programme whilst also using the space to make his debut at Royal Court in 2010 with Wanderlust. His second play Constellations catapulted him into the spotlight. Starring Rafe Spall it has received huge acclaim and will be transferring to the Duke of York’s as part of the Royal Court’s West End Season. www.royalcourttheatre.com A Table for Two... Thousand, Please If you’re the sort who balks at the idea of hosting a dinner party for a handful of close friends and colleagues, then you might want to look away now. Not content with revamping all the restaurants, bars and concessions at the Royal Albert Hall since becoming their exclusive caterers a couple of years back, bespoke food and drink company rhubarb have taken catering to the next level by serving up fine dining in the main auditorium of this esteemed venue, for a whopping 2,000 guests in one sitting. For anyone wishing to hire the Hall for themselves and 1,999 lucky others, they’re looking to doing it again in future, and you can expect a stunning scene en masse, combined with the highest quality of food – after all rhubarb signed up no other than Heston Blumental recently for technical and creative advice. www.royalalberthall.com page. 8
This month sees the Saatchi art empire embrace all things digital in both its real and virtual incarnations. After being one of the first art institutions to embrace the internet with the launch of Saatchi Online in 2006, the site now receives an estimated 73 million hits a day, and is seen as a key element in the contemporary art landscape. Never content to rest on their laurels, this month the site is launching ‘100 Curators 100 Days’, a rolling online extravaganza whereby one hundred of the world’s most esteemed curators – from the likes of MoMA San Francisco, the Palais de Tokyo, Paris, the Stedelijk Amsterdam, the Andy Warhol Museum and many more – each choose ten artists from over 60,000 that are currently exhibited on the site. The largest exhibit of its kind, the show is intended to both provide the artists with greater visibility and recognition, whilst offering collectors greater confidence in buying online due to the validation of such heavyweight curators. Meanwhile, for the latest Saatchi exhibition in the real world, at the Saatchi Gallery on the Kings Road, the internet – and Google in particular – becomes the source of inspiration for the work. In 2007 Google sent out an army of small hybrid cars, each bearing nine cameras on a single pole, with the express intention of documenting every highway and byway they could access across the globe. The result was that for the first time ever, all you needed was access to a computer to explore the entire world in 360 degree glory, from the comfort of your own home. A year after Google Street View was launched, Montreal-based artist Jon Rafman began collecting screen grabbed images from this new world. Bringing the eye of the trained artist and filmmaker to the supposedly ‘neutral’ gaze of Google’s cameras, he began to gather a portfolio of images that instead are anything but – reflecting the full gamut of human activity, locations and interactions through snatched moments of life, death, love and laughter the world over. 100 Curators 100 Days runs from July 18 at www.saatchi-gallery.co.uk Jon Rafman: The Nine Eyes of Google Street View runs from 26 July to 29 August, at Saatchi Gallery, SW3 4RY
Nick Payne portrait: Helen Murray
The Growing Web of Saatchi
Now from the heart of London to
Via Brussels from 4h40
Opening the way
E X H I B I T I ON ROA D A Question Of Sport This month, to coincide with the Olympics, Chelsea Theatre are offering a rare opportunity for UK audiences to experience the work of Austrian Nobel Prize-winning writer, Elfriede Jelinek. Sports Play – staged by London based performing arts company Just a Must, in partnership with the Austrian Cultural Forum London – is an epic and challenging piece that explores the marketing and sale of the human body and of emotions in sport, and this will be its English language premiere. Little known outside of her native Austria until her Nobel Prize success in 2004, in Sports Play Jelinek considers contemporary society’s obsession with fitness and body image, and rejects the romanticized notion of sport as portrayed in today’s media. She considers sport as a mass phenomenon and as a medium for chauvinism and fanaticism – sport as war. Presented as a piece of ‘post dramatic’ theatre – ie nonlinear, fragmentary – Sports Play, written in 1998, bristles with ideas and feeling, and is full of extended monologues, powerful stories, anger and humour. Sports Play runs at Chelsea Theatre from Monday 30th July to Saturday 4th August before commencing a nationwide tour www.chelseatheatre.org.uk
photo: Ian Hughes
Luxury Pen Maker Mont Blanc take inspiration from Picasso They are the height of indulgence but the craftmanship behind this unique pen could arguably have even drawn a smile to even Pablo's weary lips. Although Pablo Picasso was known as a painter, he was a man of many words and notebooks. Inspired by his spirit and beauty, pen maker Mont Blanc, have released a limited edition collection of Picasso inspired fountain pens. Mirroring the number of paintings of Picasso's muse, Sylvette David, Mont Blanc have limited themselves to 39 of these creations which features a cap made of 750 solid white gold, and a Montblanc diamond set on the cap of the writing instrument. The pen will be available for purchase in boutiques from September. £35,000 www.montblanc.com
The Golden Lining As well as decorating many an old master painting, gold leaf has a venerable history as a culinary ingredient spanning numerous cultures and stretching back centuries. Today, at around £10,000 per pound, it has become the world's most expensive food. Now, leading luxury cruise line Silversea Cruises, renowned for its gastronomic flair, has incorporated this precious ingredient into its menu to create the most decadent dish of risotto served anywhere on the seas. Served at its Relais and Châteaux fine dining restaurant Le Champagne – the only restaurant by Relais & Châteaux at sea – guests are now invited to enjoy this fine dining experience for a reservations fee of £30 per person. www.silversea.com
Offshore Festival Launches Tickets are now on sale for Offshore Festival- a seven day music festival taking place on a luxury cruiseliner from Venice. Sailing around the Mediterranean in September 2013, the festival will do away with the need for wellies, hand sanitiser, or portaloos and will instead allow for sheer sun-soaking decadence. Playing on five intimate stages around the boat, visitors can expect a hotel standard of treatment, and will have more to keep themselves busy onboard a boat that boasts an art gallery, a champagne bar, a casino, a spa, 16 dining options, a gym, running circuit and even a basketball court. Guests will also be able to explore the port towns the cruiseliner docks in which could range from Dubrovnik to Athens. It’s an offering for music lovers and luxury hunters never seen before, and could well change the shape of festivalgoing as we know it. www.offshorefestival.com Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry The artist has always been a mysterious figure, one who has continued to be at the centre of much cultural preoccupation. Recently, screens were hit by The Artist is Present, a documentary movie following the world renowned artist Marina Abramovich during her recent show at MoMa. Now, first-time director Alison Klayman gains unprecedented access to the dissident artist Ai Weiwei and observes him in his battle to blur the boundaries of art and politics in a hostile environment from the Chinese government. Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry is released in cinemas August 10th page. 10
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Sir P e t e r B l a k e
The Age of Experience Sir Peter Blake is one of our nation’s greatest gems. The leading light of British Pop Art, you will know him by the iconic Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover which he created for The Beatles in 1967. Yet, celebrating his 80th birthday this year, Fine Art Society reflect on the brilliance Blake has demonstrated across his entire career and his idiosyncratic style that has marked him a giant. words: William Kherbek photography: Robert Self
Things I Love runs at the Fine Art Society until September 1st and is a collection of works from Fine Art Society’s archive that have inspired Blake over the years. Combined with some of Blake’s own London prints, it is an exhibition that certainly shares the spirit of the times.
always cite is a Ben Shahn, and it’s a man sitting on a grassy bank with a mouth organ, and it’s called Pretty Girl Milking a Cow. So you look for the pretty girl milking a cow, then you suddenly realize that he’s playing a song. It’s that kind of magic realism fascinates me.
Given that you’re curating the present show at Fine Art Society, and you’ve curated shows in other galleries, notably an exhibition at the Museum of Everything in its old location a few years ago, we were wondering about your approach to curating. Do you conceptualise curating as a form of installation? I think curating fits with collecting. Curating this show at Fine Arts Society is in a way dipping into someone else’s collection and making something with it. So making your selection, rejecting some things, and themes emerge. I think the curating has become a way of creating as well.
You’ve frequently spoken about how you hoped with Pop Art that you you could make artworks that would mean as much as Elvis records did to young girls. We wanted to ask if you feel that since the time of Pop Art’s zenith art has become more or less accessible? Certainly more. I’ve said before that if you take music, you have classical music and you have pop music, and they are in the same language in that they’re made of notes. In art you have classical art, or “real” art, figurative art—whatever—it’s under the same blanket but it’s quite different. I think at the time, the early pop art I was making was breaking barriers that we’ve kind of forgotten about. At that point, for a fine artist to use enamel paints was very unusual; to use the primary colours was very unusual.
Though your work is frequently designated as ‘Pop Art’, in Lawrence Alloway’s formulation, do you think this designation may somewhat obscure your connections to other artists and movements; for example, DaDa, and the work of Kurt Schwitters? Yes absolutely, Schwitters particularly. Though not necessarily DaDaism as such, I’m much more interested in the collage element, therefore Schwitters’ links with (Robert) Rauschenberg. In terms of collage, as a form, it perhaps doesn’t have the aura or mythology accorded to painting and sculpture and more traditional fine art forms. Do you see artists today doing collage works that are worth discussing? Damien (Hirst) did some beautiful collages. When he was a student he found an empty house where a man had died and they closed it off and left it exactly as it was, and, then, he and his young student friends would go there and find stuff, and they made a series of collages from that. He made some very interesting collages, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he went in that direction again. Are there other international art movements that were of interest to your work? The other enormous influence on me that was at the same time as (Jasper) Johns and Rauschenberg, a school of great American painting called Magical Realism. People like Andrew Wyeth and Ben Shahn. They were making a kind of art that was surrealism but wasn’t based on European themes, so there weren’t giraffes on fire. The great one I
To ask a question about your technical background, you studied silversmithing and joinery, are there conceptual parallels? Do works, collages, for example, work as a kind of visual joinery, linking colours and images? Also, do feel the more technical grounding has impacted your artistic approach? Sure it did. I sat the same examination that John Everett Millais would have taken, so I was taught the same stuff. I’m incredibly lucky in that I was old enough to have caught the end of it. We did stone carving wood carving, clay modeling, letter-cutting into stone, costume life drawing, where models arrive with a suitcase full of exotic costumes, and we’d say, “Can you be a Roman? Can you be a Gypsy?” So I caught the end of something extraordinary. As your work has appeared on numerous album covers, we’d like to know what interested you in being involved with doing album cover art in the first instance? Well, the Blue Note Records were using people like Ben Shahn and David Stone Martin, so I wasn’t the first fine artist to be employed. It was a time for it. At that time, I was with the Robert Fraser Gallery, and he was a friend of the Beatles and he proposed that I do the Sgt. Pepper’s cover. That’s how that came about. Things I Love runs at Fine Art Society until September 1st. www.faslondon.com
The other influence on me was called Magical Realism- a kind of surrealism that wasn’t based on European themes. The great one I always cite is a Ben Shahn. It’s a man sitting on a grassy bank with a mouth organ, and it’s called Pretty Girl Milking a Cow. Sir Peter Blake page. 13
Exclusive Peter Blake Prints Kensington & Chelsea Review has teamed up with online gallery Monograph to offer readers the opportunity to buy two Peter Blake limited edition screenprints at a 20% discount. Manhattan Boogie Woogie and Gettin In Over My Head are available exclusively from Monograph at £720 each during the period of the offer. Each print is signed and numbered by Peter Blake. Monograph owner Sean Nicolson explains the origin of the Manhattan Boogie Woogie screenprint. “I was visiting a contact when I saw a collage casually propped up on a bookcase. I have always been a great admirer of Peter’s work and the collage could only have been his. “I discovered that Peter was looking for somebody to work with to produce an edition of the work, Manhattan Boogie Woogie. “It was good to be able to make something that is so redolent of Peter’s style and to have the opportunity to work with one of Britain’s most notable artists.
“That led to another opportunity to publish a limited edition screenprint of the Gettin In Over My Head album cover Peter designed for Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys.” Visit www.monograph-art.com and enter Blake20 at checkout for an exclusive 20% discount on the Manhattan Boogie Woogie and Gettin In Over My Head Peter Blake prints. Offer ends on 29th September 2012. Contact Monograph for full terms of the offer. page. 14
FAR RIGHT: Edward Seago (1910-1974) The Quadriga, Hyde Park Corner signed `Edward Seago' (lower left) oil on canvas 28 x 40 in. (71.1 x 101.6 cm.) Estimate: £80,000-120,000 RIGHT: Nic McElhatton
C u lt u r e w i t h Chri st i e ’s
A View to Remember Chairman of Christie’s South Kensington, Nic McElhatton returns to Kensington and Chelsea Review for Christie’s monthly installment of insight into their world of auction. words: Nic McElhatton It is a little-known fact that Christie’s pre-auction exhibitions are open to the public free of charge, and with no obligation to buy. This summer, coinciding with the Olympics, we are holding several special extended exhibitions that are not to be missed. In London, our St. James’ saleroom will feature highlights from the London Transport Museum, with over 300 vintage underground posters to be offered in October in South Kensington. In South Kensington we have collaborated with the
Royal British Society of Sculptors to stage I 3D, an exhibition to showcase the diversity of contemporary sculptural practice with works by some of the Society’s most exciting early career artists (1-17 August). And throughout the whole Summer (27 July – 2 September) Christie’s patriotic ‘The London Sale’ will be on exhibition on Old Brompton Road, including many antique and contemporary views of London landmarks and the Thames, Olympic medals and an Olympic torch from the London 1948
Portrait of (an) Artist as a Young Man As avid supporters of artistic integrity and emergent faces, we are pleased to say one of our own boys has done us proud. Arts writer Andrew Hancock- whose opinions on Exhibition Road Show you can find on p22- has had his work bought for the Creative Cities Collection, an Olympic initiative organised by The China Society for Promotion of Culture and Art Development running from 1st-8th August at the Barbican. Talk me through the process of conception to actualisation in this piece. Fortunately its an unimaginable process for me. The more I sit and contemplate a work the less likely that the thing I had in my mind will materialise. I have gotten to know the process over the years, and it always takes me by surprise. There is a lot of meditation over problems. questions, the metaphysics, feeling, and reasoning why. But aside, I am grappling with exploring more material considerations. Experiment and honing in on that art as intuition. I like to create problems that were never really there to begin with and then attempt to solve them. In this process I will get half way to creating something new. What do you think are the main issues facing emerging artists today? Everyone has their own fears to face. There are obstacles... I personally have never yet asked for funding, but economics is a primary concern for many who see themselves as artists of the old school. The world just has never taken such romanticisms to heart, it would be fine if everyone was given the freedom to create, but the world just doesnt work that way.
As a young artist working today, who is on your radar as the next big name for our generation? I do know what is happening and I consider it a privellage to live such an active life amongst our artistic communities. Behind the scenes there is a lot going on, but I also see a lot of bad work, the majority infact is bad. But regarding talent and success, we all know the two rarely meet. I have observed how an artist is ‘born’ into the market and there are many who are brought to market half-baked. So you will forgive me if I keep those secrets close to my chest. What's next? I have just sold a major piece to the Chineese government. It was an unexpected move. But I already know that it is a fine achievement. Making money in art is like a chess game, the move next will to mimic the Chinese in their adoption of outward capitalist strategies... I shall most probably endeavour to grow through investment and profit in my own product, so to speak. I will be showing in Moscow, Beijing , Rio as well as London in the immediate future. page. 15
Games, and even an original Routemaster bus from 1966 (bus viewing by appointment only). For further details please visit www.christies.com. The London Sale Christie’s South Kensington Public Exhibition: 27 July 2012 – 2 September 2012 Auction: 3 September 2012
portrait: Robert Jordan
I NTE RV I EW
Richard Ford’s Canada is his first book in six years. The author, perhaps best known for Independence Day and The Sportswriter, is one of America’s most esteemed writers. In a rare UK interview, we find out how his latest book was born and why it is titled after America’s northern neighbours? words: Danny Arter
‘I started writing Canada in 1989’ he says. ‘Then took a 20year detour. I wanted to write a story about an American teenage boy whose parents, for some reason I hadn’t figured out at the time, abandoned him, causing (for still another reason to be imagined) him to be taken into Canada. I made notes for this story over the two decades, and finally decided I could write it about three years ago. By then I’d accumulated quite a lot of material to ‘develop’ into a novel.’ ‘It’s called Canada because that’s what I called the original story, and the title was sort of a guiding image for the novel that ensued. I have very firm and affirmative feelings and experiences about the country that Canada is. I wanted to put those unphrased feelings into play in a novel and see what I could imagine’ Ford says. ‘That’s what I generally do when I write a novel, become attracted to an idea, a word, a place, and try to put it in play and see what good comes of it.’ Readers of Ford’s previous works will be familiar with this style- deliberate, sharp and poetic. While Canada’s protagonist Dell- who looks back upon his eventful life in three triptych chapters- is perhaps not as convoluted, meandering and exact as Frank Bascombe, Independence Day’s pivot, he is nonetheless a compelling character. The narrative is slow and lurching, and Ford’s inimitable style makes Canada an effortless read. How does he do it? ‘I write slowly, with a pen, and I read everything aloud again and again. I read the entire book to my wife, it took weeks . . . When I was a student, my teachers were poets- Donald Hall, Galway Kinnell; and my heroes were Auden, Robert Bly,
Tomas Transtromer, James Wright. I learned to hear good writing by listening to them read their poems.’ What makes Ford’s achievements more admirable is the fact that he is mildly dyslexic, something he insists is advantageous to his craft: ‘the aural aspects of language have always been important to me; they assist me with getting what the words actually mean into my poor brain.’ The Plot Thickens In Canada, Dell’s life is rocked when his parents commit a robbery. Their familial life was nomadic, owing to his father’s military commitments, and there is a sense of rootlessness to Dell and his sister, Berner. In a particularly harrowing passage, Dell is about to cross the border into Canada when he hesitates; is the American psyche instilled in him, perhaps as a result of his father’s profession? ‘I’ve never precisely thought of that before,’ Ford says. ‘With regard to Canada and America being retinally similar, it’s true- especially, of course, at the border. But more importantly, to my novel and its narrator, Canada is almost completely different from America.’ ‘By the novel’s end, Dell has become a Canadian; he has left America behind. So I guess his sense of patriotism detaches profoundly from America- which was my plan for the book,’ the author claims. Does he, therefore, consider himself patriotic, especially given his eminence in the American canon? ‘I’ve always considered myself a patriot . . . as wearing and implausible as that has sometimes become in America.’ The ease with which Dell crosses the border is symptomatic of the era in which the book is set; postpage. 16
war, 1960s America. Ford duly points out that he is, infact, the same age as the older, reflective Dell, so was any period-research necessary? ‘I hate to do research; but sometimes it’s inescapable. I’m the same age as Dell, so I already knew a lot about what was transpiring in America in the late 50s and early 60s. Less so what was transpiring in the Prairie Provinces of Canada; so I had to do some considerable reading. Not really so that I could fig the book out with the right details, but more so that I could persuade myself of the background noises and events of history, in order, finally, to virtually ignore them and get on with what the principals are doing: living their lives. In a novel somewhere George Eliot (I think it was in Felix Holt) says that there is no private life that has not been prefigured by a larger public life. I suppose, to a large extent, I believe this. My interests, however, are almost entirely focused on the private.’ And what of the novel’s opening? Certainly incongruous with the rest of Canada’s decadent, winding prose; the opening two lines of the book are a blunt admission of criminal activity, lines which have the feel of being instantly classic, referenced in anthologies for years to come. ‘I wrote the opening to give away the large plotted events so that I could then write toward what I consider more important: the consequences of those large plot events. That, to me, is where moral matters lie exposed. Also, I thought that blurting these things wasn’t a bad plot device of its own. Knowing these things are on the novel’s horizon produces a fine anticipation, I think. And that’s always useful.’
Iâ€™ve always considered myself a patriot - as wearing and implausible as that has sometimes become in America. Richard Ford
portrait: Laura Wilson page. 17
B o o k r e vi e w s
“I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.” Borges The New Republic Lionel Shriver Out Now Fiction
To describe Lionel Shriver’s latest, a light-hearted but ultimately poignant satire on terrorism, as a ‘new novel’, is not quite fraudulent but certainly misleading. Go a few pages in and you discover in the Author’s Note that this ‘new novel’ was actually completed nearly 15 years ago. Due to circumstances beyond Shriver’s control however (first an American disinterest in the ‘Boring Problem’ of ‘Foreigners’, then 9/11), publishers twice refused to get behind such a political minefield of a manuscript. Whether now is the perfect emotional climate for publication (Shriver writes that she hopes her novel ‘can now see print without giving offense’) is not the problem. For if it were, after reading The New York Times’ entirely offended and disgusted review (almost as if they were trying to mirror the characterisation of their war correspondent as uptight, sexually frustrated and annoyingly conformist), one would hazard a guess that treating terrorism in a light-hearted manner is just unacceptable. So Shriver would be doomed from the start anyway. But the problem is whether a book that was written, and rejected, over a decade ago can magically become relevant; can be suddenly considered sellable today. The New Republic certainly has much to be commended, not least that Shriver, as she herself notes, has dared to write ‘a boy-book’, steeped in a world of macho politics, corporate law, war correspondence and AK-47-toting wannabe terrorists. Her protagonist, New Yorker Edgar Kellog, is bored of being a financially comfortable lawyer and throws it all in for the more unpredictable and, what he reckons, more satisfying and rewarding world of journalism. On his first assignment he is dispatched by a stereotypically short-tempered editor to the terrorist conclave of Barba, the beard of Portugal (literally, thanks to Shriver’s cartographical addition), a region with unmistakeable overtones of the Spanish Basque as the terrorist organisation SOB, unofficially backed by their political counterparts O Creme de Barbear, have been bombing and planehijacking the wider world in order to achieve their aim of independence. Once there, he discovers his fellow hacks are still obsessing over his predecessor, the dandyish Barrington Saddler, who has mysteriously disappeared and thus deprived Barba-characterised by ferocious wind and its only import, stinking hairy pears- of the little fun it had. Coincidentally the SOB’s terror campaign also appears to have come to a standstill, meaning the journalists are in danger of losing their jobs. On one hand this is a standard detective thriller, as Edgar must solve the Saddler puzzle, and on the other a moral narrative on the ethics of separatist terrorism. However Shriver is more concerned with the insecurities of her protagonist, a former overweight child who has always felt second-best, first to his athletic, blond highschool best friend,, and now to Saddler, who may have bedded the beautiful and opinionated Nicola, which is a huge shame. I didn’t care much for the whining, calorie-conscious Edgar or, for that matter, the other shrieking, arguing journalists. The narrative is at its best when it considers the role of terrorism in the world, not just pondering the usual question of morality, but also how the media can make or break a campaign. There is bad-taste in abundance (a toy aeroplane that breaks
apart and scatters its passengers is a tourist bestseller), but rather than condemning Shriver for it, she needs to be congratulated for making her (presumably) Western reader, for whom terrorism is just words on a page, uncomfortable. I cannot help feeling, however, that the SOB appears oddly retro; its terror campaign is distinctly 90s, from when the novel was written, echoing ETA and the IRA. While, of course, both groups still pose viable threats today, they are by no means as prominent and Shriver’s attempts to bring her gathering-dust manuscript up to date to a post-9/11 world fail. The reason The New Republic is now seeing the light of day must primarily be because of Shriver’s bestseller status, but it is definitely not of such quality as her later work, as one would expect from the natural laws of writerly development. Shriver’s resourcefulness is to be applauded - how wonderful to be able to use your reputation to get a manuscript you worked hours on in an earlier less-successful life finally published. But it may be a little misleading to her many fans (who mostly came on board from Kevin) to label this previous cast-off ‘new’. Theodora Wakeley The Road not Taken: How Britain Narrowly Missed a Revolution Frank McLynn Bodley Head Out Now Non-fiction
In his introduction to Dickens’s Hard Times, G. K. Chesterton claimed that ‘there are no new ideas.’ George Orwell - who praised Chesterton’s introductions to Dickens as ‘the best thing he ever wrote’ - was uncompromising in his attack on this statement. ‘The claim that “there is nothing new under the sun”’, he wrote in 1944, ‘is one of the stock arguments of intelligent reactionaries [...] Even if Chesterton’s dictum were true, it would only be true in the sense that a statue is contained in every block of stone. Ideas may not change, but emphasis shifts constantly. It could be claimed, for example, that the most important part of Marx’s theory is contained in the saying: “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” But before Marx developed it, what force had that saying had?’ A casual reader of Frank McLynn’s study of Britain’s various almost-revolutions would be forgiven for taking Orwell’s stance. McLynn’s use of words like ‘communism,’ ‘revolutionary’ and ‘radical’ often seem anachronistic, particularly when used to describe the theological thought behind figures such as John Ball, the ‘hell-fire preacher and rabble-rouser’, who was prominent in the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381 - one of many colourful and fascinating characters that McLynn ably describes and documents. An infuriating preface and introduction, in which he describes himself as ‘not a Marxist nor even a socialist’ and says that revolutions are doomed to failure because of ‘basic, stubborn and irreducible human nature’ (surely a phrase that no historian could use while keeping a straight face?), adds to the notion that McLynn is one of the ‘intelligent reactionaries’ that Orwell would’ve attacked. But, as his book shows, McLynn’s work easily contradicts any negative first impressions. Despite the humility of his tone throughout, this is an ambitious study, showcasing the author’s skills as a biographical, military and socioeconomic historian, and contains some moments of brilliant analysis. McLynn does not relate page. 18
instances of rebellion indiscriminately, focusing instead on moments when actual revolution could have been achieved, analysing why it did not, and tracing influence on future revolts. He identifies seven key historical events: the 1381 Peasants’ Revolt, the 1450 Jack Cade rebellion, the 1536 Pilgrimage of Grace, the leftist elements of the English Civil War, the Jacobite Rising of 1745, the Chartist Movement of 1838-50 and the General Strike of 1926. Each is described with a compelling narrative style, characterized by comprehensively researched accounts of the ideals, individuals and movements involved. While each account is fascinating on its own merits, the key moments of insightful analysis are what really make up for the frustrating tone that McLynn sometimes employs. The chapter ‘Evolutionary Jacobitism’ stands out in particular. The Jacobite Rebellion was an attempt to reinstate the Stuart monarchy, and as such is often dismissed as a reactionary movement. McLynn makes a compelling argument that Charles Edward Stuart was a revolutionary figure, who threatened the new hegemony of financial capitalism, and that ‘the Jacobite threat was of a genuinely revolutionary variety’, influenced by radical ideas which could genuinely have provided economic freedom for the poor and dispossessed of Eighteenth-Century Britain. Here we see that McLynn’s use of terms that really gained their ideological momentum in later historical moments is literal rather than anachronistic. And while his conclusion, an overarching analysis of why Britain has never experienced a true revolution, does leave some questions purposefully unanswered, it also successfully attacks the assumptions that characterize lazier thinkers. Ben Osborn | benosborn.blogspot.com
One for the Road Exhibition Road Show, a week long festival dedicated to emergent art, have released their own collection of specially commissioned short stories. Called Road Stories, the book features tales from Ali Smith, Deborah Levy, Ian Sinclair and six others, inspired by the road itself and its various institutions. Pick up a copy at festival itself or online at exhibitionroadshow.co.uk
Our Man In... Our book industry insider on the latest trends, news and views. It’s been a busy few months in the publishing orb. Waterstones has teamed up with the ‘devil’ (not my words, the words of their m.d. James Daunt) that is Amazon to retail the Kindle. Some see it as a shrewd move—scraping commission from every e-book purchased in-store—while others have bemoaned the move as a further nail in the coffin of high-street booksellers. Either way, Waterstones’ future is sharpening into focus: expect Kindles, cards and, err, cakes in-store in the nottoo-distant future. Madeleine Miller scooped the Orange Prize for Fiction at a glitzy ceremony on 30th June. A boon in sales will surely ensue but the future of the women’s writing prize is perhaps under threat following Orange’s failure to renew their sponsorship. In an increasingly digitized, self-published market, these awards serve a key function: drawing the public’s eye to texts which may have been overlooked. A quick glance at former literary prizewinners highlights the breadth of talented authors we possess: it would be shameful for such prizes, which do such stellar work, to fall by the wayside.
Pleased to Tweet You
The Card Graham Rawle Atlantic Books Out Now Fiction
Graham Rawle is a writer and visual artist who likes to blur the boundaries between mediums. Books Editor Danny Arter conducted a Twitterview (that’s Twitter and interview, of course) via @KCReview How did you get into writing; it’s not the typical route for an artist? I’ve always been interested in the play between image and text. Telling stories has become an increasingly important part in that mix. Can you tell us what is the card about? A man finds cards on the street - playing cards, bubble-gum, cigarette cards - each one apparently holding a clue to a secret coded message. How much research into card-collecting and card series’ did you do? I’ve collected cards since I was a boy. Those I designed for The Card are fabrications inspired by the various series in my collection. Which did you enjoy more - designing the cards, or writing the book? Built on a complex web of ‘meaningful’ coincidences; the plot took ages to get right. Creating the cards was comparatively straightforward. Riley is obsessively meticulous - how much fun was it writing his character? Riley sees things differently. Food on his dinner plate must always share the same
initial. Pork, peas and potatoes is OK, but not gravy. Riley’s article slips into semiautobiography; is there any of yourself in Riley? Like Riley, I see connections that others might overlook. Who would notice that Barry Manilow is an anagram of Library Woman? What is the purpose of the changes of typography within the text? The typeface changes and the graphic symbols in the margins are Riley’s visual notation to mark the connections he sees. F+8=fate. Do you feel the book is in any way a reaction to the digitisation of books? The digital version affects some of the design decisions; it’s a slightly different read, but as long as the story still works, that’s fine. Do you have any further books in the pipeline? I have just started one that’s set in 1952 London. I have another project that will take me to 1940s California. It’s a form of time-travel.
Riley Richardson (nee Pincus) is Barry Manilow’s cousin; a fact he regularly regales. He is also a hoarder of collectable cards, eternally seeking ‘Card 19’ from the Mission: Impossible series. So transfixed is he upon the quest for the card that he offers to pen an article for Card Collector Monthly fictionalizing the ancestry of the elusive Card 19. Riley is many things; compulsive, intelligent, fastidious- one thing he certainly is not is a writer. The same cannot be said for Graham Rawle, who crafted The Card (not only its contents, but its cover and the mocked-up cards which periodically surface in the book’s pages). His tale is masterfully steered; Riley’s article, differentiated from his ‘real’ life by a different typeface- many of which appear throughout the novel to emphasise certain characters and clues- suffers a seepage of sorts, an osmosis which blurs the boundaries of his existence. Riley’s article, which comes in significantly over his assigned word-count, becomes a semi-autobiographical lament for his departed father and, equally significantly, his departed Card 19. Riley’s lifelong quest to regain the card gains momentum when a strange, greyhaired character ostentatiously drops a
playing card in the street; the queen of hearts. It is the first in a series of cards Riley discovers that, he deciphers, is a call-toarms from MI5. Princess Diana (who Riley had earlier met, and handed a pork pie) is in grave danger, so the accumulated cards would have him believe. With the help of his militia-obsessed neighbour Steve, Riley is propelled onto a journey which encompasses love, death, and bubblegum cards. Rawle’s narrative races, jettisoned by his concise prose. Riley, who displays characteristics bordering on autism, is a constant source of humour, either through his love of anagrams (Barry Manilow/Library Woman), his defensiveness of his own property (an incident in which Steve pins a note to his door is particularly comic) or his refusal to eat foods which are not alliterative (Pork Pie; Beef, Broccoli and Borlotti Beans; and, most extravagantly, Coronation Chicken with Cucumber Chutney, Charred Celery, a Cream Cheese and Chopped Chestnut Crepe, Cranberry Coulis and a Chiffonade of Cabbage, Chicory and Chard). Perhaps more importantly, the book coheres as a piece of art. The changes of typeface are not merely signposting Riley’s mission; they are comic emphases dispersing the narrative. Each clue is earmarked with a symbol in the margin- at every step, the reader feels as involved as the protagonist. This is notwithstanding the cards, fabricated by Rawle himself, which appear as full-colour illustrations in the book, beautifully aiding the quest. It’s a perfect complement to an expertly executed novel. Danny Arter
The Coming Storm
Th e at r e
For those unfamiliar with Britain’s most controversial experimental theatre company, Forced Entertainment, words cannot do justice. As their name might suggest, they are known for their ‘abuse’ of the audience, putting the viewer’s ethics and patience to the test systematically and unrelentlessly with complete disregard of theatrical convention. It has propelled the mastermind behind the company, Tim Etchells, to ‘Antichrist Superstar’ fame, but does their latest piece The Coming Storm meet expectations? words: Diana Damian photography: Hugo Glendinning
Tim Etchells; The Coming Storm [right]
It feels as if Forced Entertainment have managed to foreshadow far more than a nomadic shape-shifting story in their new show, The Coming Storm. In the momentum gathered both within and around the performance, there’s a strong sense of waiting in dire anticipation for something disastrous; and even after seeing the show, we’re still drowning in the calm before the storm. The wave never arrives, but we’re terrified of its proximity. It creeps behind the winded narratives that collide onstage, in pianos that fall apart with the show, in branches that stand in as forests and performers who display their nostalgia in barenaked lies. We’re climbing the company’s own emotional scaffolding in search for a precipice, yet we end up lost in a maze, questioning how on earth we got there in the first place. Take that for a roaming image of how contemporary life feels like; politics on the verge, culture on the verge, public space under threat, invaded only by ripples, no epic tumult in sight. Perhaps this is why The Coming Storm functions with such a strong tinge of nostalgia and urgency, and a bit of candid anxiety too. Because in Forced Entertainment’s work, fact and fiction are not competing, they are there in fixed belligerence. It’s a game that’s pulled at the edges, long-winded in its aimless journeys yet at the same time, disarmingly precise. In the search for form, The Coming Storm becomes an anarchic parable; a conglomeration of games which the company have been playing in their quarter century history. There’s a search for engagement that’s always been central to the company’s work, and in this piece, it takes the form of a simile that can only be completed by us, the witness. The Coming Storm is thus paved with a mosaic of incomplete narratives, all competing for centrality whilst the cast- Robin Arthur, Phil Hayes, Richard Lowdon, Claire Marshall, Cathy Naden and Terry O’Connor- subvert our expectations of endings, beginnings, turns and twists. The show begins with the cast wandering on a bare, brightly lit stage, somewhat confused as to their purpose there. Whilst waiting, Terry decides to tell us what makes a good story- perhaps to pass the time, or perhaps because she wants to play with our expectations, or mimic the ways in which Forced Entertainment shows always begin-
with a promise that needs to be broken. In her durational monologue she promises character, climax, dynamism, and whilst she’s speaking, the line begins to fragment. Richard moves next to Claire, who backs up from Cathy, who moves next to Robin. In a confusing game of association, we take the bait; we examine the stage as this space for stories to emerge, for worlds to be conjured; we read actors, not performers. We listen to stories about shipwrecks waiting for a resolution, yet what we receive are literary anecdotes lost between the personal and the fictitious. As the group begins to drift apart, so does the showstories are conjured, props begin to intervene, conflict emerges and dissipates like the storm that never arrives. Music begins to enter this space, first as a companion, then as a subversive presence; melancholia seeps through the candid piano tunes whilst someone runs around the stage wearing a mask. The mood is anticipatory, manipulative yet so self-aware we keep trying to guess the game, which keeps trying to die in a bittersweet ending. Memories emerge, teasing anecdotes. Despite this apparent anarchy, it’s not the stories that stick, although thoughts tend to linger, sat on empty chairs or by musical instruments that remain unused. Text and action never synchronize, instead there’s a constant push for the counter-textual, and we, as witnesses, refuse to give in. It’s not about the stories- it’s about the company, and about the world. Every image conjures this place where melodies guide us to night-time and dreams fade out into the torrid day, dry bushes on the warm sand, our feet kneedeep and sinking. It’s a somewhat tragic atmosphere that’s never directly addressed, but cleverly conjured- and there’s no resolution, but a landscape which, for two hours, we cohabit silently, diligently. Blending abstract formality, live art politics and rigorous dramatic incisions, The Coming Storm holds its form up its sleeve- it’s playful and nuanced, and provokes this sense of incompleteness, of constant shape-shifting, of abstract stories about Somali pirates and IT managers that can be both nonsensical and parabolic. There’s a beautifully poetic quality to this kitschy aesthetic-old costumes, worn-out masks and wigs waiting to take up function- and never fulfilling their role. This is perhaps page. 21
one of the most powerful undertones of the show, and something Forced Entertainment have been teasing for years- failure as a regenerative process of discovery. Woven into this tapestry, peeking through the strongly divergent atmospheres, there’s something surprisingly technical- an aestheticisation of narrative structures, a skill which the company has perfected over the years. You stop hearing the stories; instead, you begin to see their structures, to watch characters from one narrative stick to another, knocking on doors to enter a different story, eloping through the performer, trying to find reason. Forced Entertainment under the Artistic Direction of artist and writer Tim Etchells, might have subverted the textual onstage, flirted with minimalism and embraced duration in their long career, but at their essence, their work engages with storytelling as a mode of fragmentation, with the performance of questions- sometimes formal, at others political at the core. The Coming Storm feels transgressive in that sense; it’s highly referential to their previous contemporary fable Void Story (2009), a journey through the remains of contemporary culture in which a narrative was visualized on an empty stage through live dialogue, footage of text and recorded sound, as well as winking to more epic works such as The Thrill of It All (2010), a vaudeville parade of characters set against Japanese music and Bloody Mess (2004), packed with trash, anarchy, Pop Art and horror. It’s less smooth in its formal deprecation, and for that, it emanates something that feels, despite the mess, very real, a little bit sad, and unflinchingly honest. After twenty-eight years of making experimental work that defies narrative and challenges form, Forced Entertainment’s show doesn’t feel like an epilogue, but it comes with the wisdom of experience and the naughtiness of an ageless rebel. In its cumulative hopes and its visionary excess, it shows just how close experimental theatre can get to capturing a zeitgeist- because The Coming Storm paints an alarmingly accurate landscape of contemporary life. The Coming Storm is now on tour but retires to the Battersea Arts Centre in November. www.forcedentertainment.com
Th e at r e
A Coney Island in Kensington Palace Coney, are an experiential theatre company who can be considered the posterboys of a new generation of performance. Their work communicates out of unconventional spaces, relies on audience participation and is branded by their own kooky and kitsch, heartwarming narratives. Theatre Editor Alan Fielden interviews. words: Alan Fielden
Whilst pacing the halls of Kensington Palace one thing is becoming clearer; I cannot find Coney. Amongst the steady stream of faces my marks are absent. I pause in the tearoom and consider Coney’s reputation - game makers, play enthusiasts, tailors of unique, immersive experiences, “Coney mixes live and digital art forms to create immersive stories and play for diverse audiences. These can happen anywhere at any time.” Suddenly I feel watched and very suspecting of the Palace staff. Above me, spanning the full length of the King’s Apartments, runs their Kensington Palace commission House of Cards. At this moment audience members are engaged in the centre of a dynamic game of court politics, playing cards, petitioning the King, or simply swooning at the view. Elsewhere, for those of an enquiring disposition, secrets are being discovered by those with the nobility to stand them. Here in the foyer, I consider whether Coney are making me work for my interview. Will I have to discover them in some secret cupboard, having negotiated for the key with an eerie wizard? How about that woman with the mustard yellow hat, there’s something quite peculiar about her, why does she have so many dogs... Just as I’m about to defame the reputation of the Kensington & Chelsea Review, Tom Bowtell and Annette Mees arrive. They say their trains were delayed, which is boring as hell. My story is that they were a little late back from training wizards in Paraguay, and I’m sticking to it. How would you compare working with games to working with theatre? Annette Mees: We bring playfulness into a room, and sometimes that translates literally into a game - I think game structures are really useful. A director and actor in a rehearsal room use theatrical games to explore how to stage something, in a way we do the same thing but with a much larger community. Tom Bowtell: There can be a tension between imposing game style rules into a situation - in Small Town Anywhere (an actor-less Coney show in which the audience play the part of townsfolk) you have a town and there’s a number of different fates for this town based on different factors - we quite strongly resisted, you know; if they do this, this
and this, they get this many points and therefore this happens, because that makes it feel less like an organic piece of art Right, so game rules prevent spontaneity. TB: At some point someone will suddenly do something, an act of unspeakable poetry can be performed by an audience member out of the blue that can change everything - a moment of absolute magic can change everything. Allowing us to respond without being tied to tight game rules gives us some freedoms. AM: For us it’s a really helpful tool in building but not an end result. It’s helpful to think in game; Early Days of a Better Nation (currently in development) is about, in a way, political systems - the revolution is just over and it’s the early days, what do we do next. So we’re looking at, how do things like Occupy self-organise and what’s the game of politics. House of Cards clearly benefits from a game structure, how did that come about? AM: When we started working here we made the ‘Game of Court’ because we identified that the King’s Apartments worked a little bit like a game of Snakes and Ladders. If you got in, you’d make it to the stairs, and you’d wait to see if you’d be invited to see the King in the first room, and you could plead your case to get your inheritance back because your brother stole it or whatever. Most people never got past that room unless you were part of really high level aristocracy, the Privy Council, you ruled Northumberland...most people of that level never got past the next room unless you became part of the chosen few and were invited into the King’s Drawing Room where the elite of the elite made it and none of them made it further unless... and so looking at that social space as a literal game board helped us. If they could see how people nowadays move through that space they would be flabbergasted. TB: We did consider if certain audience members come in having guards hurl them out of the palace gates, and throw things at them. We talked that through but there were some health and safety issues, which was a shame. AM: So there were a couple of things we couldn’t do...
Would you say games help you nurture narratives? AM: For us it was about simplifying. Looking at it as a game, and then bringing that narrative of Why and How - that then becomes a really rich multi-layered thing that’s historically correct, that illuminates something about the space, the people who lived here, but also is very recognisable now - it’s about networking essentially. It’s about looking good, being good, keeping secrets and making trades: how to get to the boardroom, how to get to the King. That narrative became a guide. The game itself has very little rules because we’re interested in creating a mirror of this narrative, not about creating a game that happens to have some narrative in it. TB: It’s about the emphasis. AM: I think that’s what makes Coney relatively unique, because a lot of companies who work with games make games, and I always think that we use games to create experiences. TB: We’re quite happy to let the rules of the game break because that’s when something quite exciting bursts through that membrane. We like it when that happens...that’s the space that excites us more than the structured game environment. AM: We’re more interested in play in the end. We try not to create worlds in which things are not allowed. Cheating is encouraged because that’s life, people cheat in life and if you’re imaginative that will help you in different ways than if you play it straight. How does a Coney show begin? TB: Historically there’s been two ways; commissions - people approaching us, a lot of our larger projects have been a result of this, or we’ve seen an opportunity or a pitch. AM: All projects, no matter where they come from, start with research really. We’re keen to engage with the world, that’s a characteristic of Coney. We’re a curious company. [With] Kensington Palace we started researching the space, the communities, the audiences but also the Palace’s staff, its stories, the history, and take that as a starting point, and only when we are immersed in what the show is about, we start making. TB: We try to walk in open to whatever we find.
AM: We let the piece emerge from the stories and the space, what’s already there. TB: At the heart of that is responsiveness. Playfulness is a really key thing. While it’s meaningful and there’s depth to the work, there has to be a sense of play and a sense of adventure. That’s always one of our internal checks. What are your favourite games? TB: I’d stick with good old Werewolf, do you know Werewolf (otherwise known as Mafia)? Cricket obviously, that’s a given. But if we’re going into other sorts of games...basically there’s a town or a village and you go to sleep and people die in the night and you then have to cross-examine other people. AM: Figure out who is the werewolf. I think why both our minds went immediately to it; it’s a social game. It’s about being together as a group and figuring out what the dangers are and how you’re going to deal with that together. There’s no right way of playing it, and you can lose but win because you have been the upstanding one, yet you died. And you can win but lose because you’ve lost all your friends despite being the last one standing. TB: And it’s theatrical so if you die you can still watch it and enjoy it. When you’ve lost it’s still quite compelling to see how it pans out. AM: It’s a game, it has rules, but it is very different each time and depends on who’s playing it. In that it reflects our work. TB: It’s great for mad tactics, and trying out stuff. I actually remember once there being a clash of cultures at a gaming event where Coney were playing Werewolf and we were throwing in new rules, and there were some hard-core gamers, semi-professionals, AM: “Those are not the rules!” TB: ‘You cannot mess with the game’, and that was quite a formative moment for me. Everyone was having a lot of fun doing ridiculous things, which sometimes destroyed the game, ‘this game will clearly go on forever’, but it was quite interesting. You kill the game, but you might find something new. www.youhavefoundconey.net
E X H I B I T I ON ROA D
On the Road The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea presents to us what is looking to be an extravaganza of cultural festivities for our edification in coincidence with the Olympics, a little known ceremony that you might have caught wind of. From 28th July - 5th August, the ‘Road Show’, in partnership with Kensington and Chelsea Review, will be providing a circus of events that demonstrate a real celebratory festival of culture to mirror the sporting celebrations, and whether or not Team GB brings back the gold, we’re positive Kensington will be leaving the Olympic victorious. Andrew Hancock digs deep. words: Andrew Hancock
Inspired by the prestigious institutions flanking Exhibition Road, from the awe-inspiring laboratories of the Science Museum to the enlightening collection at the V&A, new commissions, live events, scientific experiments and discussions will all converge to populate, what organisers are billing as a ‘landscape of wonder’. The Cultural Olympiad, is not an insignificant sideshow to the main event, with all its impressive leaping and sweating. Its various manifestations have already proven to be a hit across the nation. And what better place to celebrate and provide a truly international display of totally contemporary, dynamic arts than the cultural heartland of West London, on Exhibition Road.
Visitors can expect music, dancing, art, science, literature and acrobatics, broadcasting, bees and games, not to mention the already world class venues to visit, making Exhibition Road a timeless draw. As we all have the opportunity to engage and gain from this summer’s events, there will be no better place to experience the benefits of this outstanding undertaking, as we welcome the triumphant return of the Great British Summer! And don’t forget there will be plenty for the road weary foodies to enjoy throughout the events, with food offered by Eat St, the association of street food traders who take their culinary page. 24
pleasures seriously. For those looking for a harder fix, visitors can enjoy any one of the curated bars specially designed for the event, including the molecular mixology bar, based outside the Science Museum. In keeping with the scientific and intellectual heritage of the surroundings, there will be a series of panel discussions and workshops exploring some of the ideas within the Road Show programme. If all this excitement isn’t enough for you, then prepare for the unique opportunity to see a handmade particle accelerator in operation and talk to its maker, Patrick Stevenson-Keating to see science busking in action.
DANCERS & ACROBATS Dancers, acrobats and circus performers will form The Exhibitionists, who are working under the direction of internationally acclaimed circus and theatre director Sue Broadway, and a world class team of aerialists including Simon Fee and Lindsay Butcher. As preparation were underway I watched the installation of the harness for the acrobatics we will be favoured with. It is rather an awe inspiring sight to behold in anticipation of such a feat amongst the built up streets and crowds of tourists. The performance will be breathtakingly close to the spectators that will gather over the several days events, and atmosphere is building to be carnivalesque. Emerging UK choreographer Ella Guilfoyle and Place Prize nominee Tony Adigun are creating new choreographies for the group and throughout the nine days The Exhibitionists will deliver a series of dance works, and extraordinary acrobatic and circus feats. The newly, diamond-paved concourse of Exhibition Road seems to have transformed the entire neighbourhood. It feels like it can be the place of new adventures. Exhibition road, is a place with which many of us have a longstanding relationship, but I must admit, I have often treated my almost obligatory outings there, as one might the cordial journeys to visit a decaying relative, some Victorian Aunt, as dusty as she is sturdy. But the celebration and exposition brought to us this Summer, is exactly why such a place is forgiven for lying dormant for so long.
ART COMMISSIONS Several days before the show was to start, I took a stroll down there to see the preparations underway. I found the artist Tomàš Libertiny at work installing new work The Agreement, helped by the apiarist from the Chelsea Physic Garden. Libertiny, who creates sculptures inhabited by living bees, aims to form a new architectural relationship between nature and the man made environment. Certainly there was an air of buzziness about his swift and industrious efforts as he, and his team, shrouded behind security screens, carried out the intricate construction high up on step ladders, hammering away with rubber mallets. The Agreement is one of the three new pieces commissioned by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea for the Road Show. Other commissioned pieces are Campo del Cielo by Katie Paterson, one of the UK’s leading, emerging young artists who works in the fields of art and science to explore their convergence. A very appropriate choice for the locale, as she has chosen to re-cast a meteorite that is several billion years old. Artist, theatre maker and composer Graeme Miller’s work, On Air, will create the third work, which will consist in a continuous, live broadcast radio commentary on the everyday life of Exhibition Road during the first nine days of
the Olympics. The work, featuring guest commentators will be situated high above Exhibition Road on the balcony of the V&A. This playful work will have the broadcasters, one can imagine, in a manner most common to sports commentators, responding to the passing action below in the street, in the sky and on what they can see across London from their advantageous vantage point. Passers-by will be able to listen in to the ‘action’ live as it happens, through special in-ear radios.
E X H I B I T I ON ROA D
KCReview Walking Tours A selection of our do-not-miss, must-see picks in the jam packed programme of emergent art in the heart of the Royal Borough at Exhibition Road Show outside the Science Museum
Molecular Mixology Bar It’s tough having this much fun. It takes a lot of athleticism. In between the dancers, the acrobats, the musicians and the scientists demonstrating what appears to be alchemy, you might feel the need to sit down, and if you are resting those weary feet then there is no better companion than a mind-boggling and mouth-watering cocktail from the Molecular Mixology Bar. Situated outside the Science Museum, the mixology bar utilises particle theory to create thrillingly delicious cocktails. The pop-up bar is part and parcel of a growing trend within the food communities to approach the ritual of eating with a bit of science. Don’t be alarmed to see the same kind of equipment you might see in Heston’s garage, but sit back and watch the universe in your glass. page. 26
on Exhibition Road
Games for the Games Tap into your inner child this Olympics and let him or her have a little run around with these period childhood games. Specially selected from the extraordinary collection of vintage board games housed in the V&A Museum of Childhood, Road Show presents six games to try your hand at. Games for the Games will enable players to question Victorian morality or challenge companions to a classic game of strategy. The selection includes the original Patchesi by Great British Games company Jaques of London who won gold medal at the Great Exhibition of 1851. Games for the Games is free to play and tables will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.
on Exhibition Road
Bishi The face of seminal underground club night Kashpoint back in 2005, whilst being trained in classical Indian music at the Ravi Shankar school, Bishi is one of the few to be admired in equal measures by the alternative and the established, youth and mature. She plays at Exhibition Road, Friday 3rd on the road itself in her quintessential modern Anglo-Indian style. Fusing electronica with exotica, this is a show not to be missed.
on Exhibition Road
AT THE V&A
Choreographed by the internationally renowned circus director Sue Broadway (who you might know from her outstanding work at the Sydney Olympics), this troupe of young acrobats and dancers put on an aerial show to make one question the laws of gravity.
The high heels, the high lives, the glitz, the glamour, the shapes, the cuts, nobody quite understands fashion like the V&A and at this special late night showing, design lovers and fashionistas can participate with some of the most elegant shapes and styles. Later take a twirl at the Royal Gala Ball, and prove yourself to be utterly elegant.
E X H I B I T I ON ROA D
GAMES FOR THE GAMES Unleashing your inner child at Exhibition Road Show is all part of the parcel as the festival teams up with the Museum of Childhood to present six vintage board games from the extraordinary archive collection. The playful selection includes the original Patchesi by Great British Games company Jaques of London who, in the spirit of going for gold, won a gold medal at the Great Exhibition of 1851. Games for the Games is free to play and tables will be allocated on a first come, first served basis, up and down Exhibition Road.
Exhibition Road Show has enough clout, enough curation, enough cleverness that residents of the Royal Borough can be proud they are privy to perhaps the greatest local arts festival in the UK this year Coco Khan, Editor
MUSIC The itinerary of the musical performance for the Road Show is going to be crammed with such a diversity of taste and such a wealth of performers, it might be worthwhile just renting a spot on the sidewalk and taking a week’s holiday- we can imagine it will be certainly less muddy than your average UK music festival so far in 2012. Much of the live action will take place from pop-up stages, in the form of customised trailers, which will be moving in and out of Exhibition Road over the course of the afternoons and evenings. Beginning on Saturday 28 July the show opens with Mercury Prize nominated, Eliza Carthy (above) dubbed ‘the saviour of British folk’ (The Independent). The trailers will also host a house ‘orchestra’ for a nightly ballroom of tango, waltzes, jives, Scottish reels and jigs, so I for one will be taking along someone special to take a twirl while we have the chance. Throughout the entire nine days, there will be a musical selection from around the world, featuring live performers, from the sublime lyricism of Patrick Wolf, to the exotic hybridity of Bishi (above right), the music programme of the Road Show will be offering a dazzling showcase of contemporary sounds. The renowned pianist and avid cyclist The Olympianist, who is cycling the length of Britain this summer with his ‘BeethoVan’ in tow, will conclude his journey at the Road Show. And not to be missed, the Exhibition Road Show’s house band, The Royal College of Music Brass Quintet, who will be performing throughout the festival.
right: Grace Woodward as part of Utterly Elegant, courtesy of V&A UTTERLY ELEGANT AND BALLROOM It’s so beautiful we devoted our cover to it, Friday night’s entertainment is championed by the V&A’s celebration of quintessential British elegance, utilising their idiosyncratic and enviable eye for greatness in design. From the classic to the quirky, Utterly Elegant is the museum’s late night fashion opening offering visitors the chance to primp and preen before taking a twirl on Exhibition Road Show’s one-off outdoor ballroom floor and to show off your fancy footwork at the Royal Gala Ball. It’s all part of a series of Ballroom events popping up along Exhibition Road during the festival. Each night will feature a different style of dance music from around the world, from the traditional Celidh, Samba and Viennese Waltzing to a bit of Dance Hall, and even a silent disco edition, there will be plenty of reasons to don your dancing shoes. page. 29
FA S H I ON
Some Pretty Personal Questions Ahead of London Fashion Week, Shula Pannick caught up with one half of Mayfair design-duo PPQ to talk fame, style and the silver screen. words: Shula Pannick
It seems like summer has only just arrived. And yet, before we know it, September will be upon us; bringing with it the bounty of London Fashion Week. With the eyes of our capital firmly fixed on the Olympics, I caught up with designer Amy Molyneaux of PPQ who is making the most of the lull in the sartorial schedule to get her collection ready. Although those-in-the-know know their PPQ, there remains something enigmatic about design duo Amy Molyneaux and Percy Parker. And for good reason. Amy explains, ‘When we decided on a brand name we didn’t want to end up in a position where we might have to sell our business one day and have our names go too’. So, they chose PPQ or ‘Pretty Personal Question’, and placed the focus on the clothes rather than themselves. When I spoke with Amy, she had just arrived in Portugal. ‘This is my very last attempt at finishing off the collection somewhere other than London’ she explained. ‘I find it’s good to be in a different location from time to time so I can find inspiration and get things done.’ And Amy and Percy have got plenty done in the twenty years since the label launched in 1992. But, as with the best of fashion fairytales, it all began with a good night out. PPQ are famed for their industry bashes but, before store launches and after-parties, there was Happiness Stan’s in Smithfields at which Percy was DJing. Amy laughs, ‘we had a mutual friend who was a bit of a wheeler dealer type and he was the one to introduce us to each other. It all started from that night out. Funnily enough we never saw the guy again. It turns out he had to do a bit of a runner because he owed one of the other DJs money.’
From that less than illustrious intro has come a famed fashion line that has spawned countless trends; from staple smocks to drainpipe skinny jeans. A PPQ show always guarantees a packed front row, quirky touches and covetable clothing. Add to that a fanbase boasting the likes of Pixie Geldof, Lily Allen and Rihanna and successful collaborations with everyone from Topshop to Office and you’ve completed the checklist every designer’s dreams are made of. And yet, in a celebrity-obsessed world, PPQ’s many links to the famous folk are organically fostered. Amy’s frank that at the start of her career, ‘we were beyond naïve and had no clue a brand might pay people to wear its designs. With our links to the music world we were just lucky we had girls wandering in to our studio with rockstar boyfriends, and leaving wearing our stuff’!’ Amy had to learn fast. As she was a good few years younger than Percy she was still at university when the business launched and found everything a tad surreal. ‘I was balancing the demands of showing a collection at grad fashion week with selling collections in japan. It was like a double life for a while as my friends were going clubbing whilst I was jetting off on business flights.’ Perhaps it was that initial reconciliation of two distinct spheres, but Amy still keeps her design perspective close to the music scene she and Percy relish. And so, Amy is adamant that nothing has really changed. ‘We tend to go along with the general attitude to fashion of the day. It used to be the case that people would wear T-shirts to go out in but now people have a different approach and we want to embrace that. Londoners are quite prepared to go straight page. 31
from work to a night out and we want to give our designs that adaptability to evolve and change with mood’. Indeed, PPQ pride themselves on staying connected with consumers. Whilst a reputation for parties precedes them, Amy insists there’s more to the fun and games than meets the eye. ‘People who understand us understand that events are how we progress and grow. Some think we just want to rave but parties are a forum for people to talk to us about our work, introduce themselves, and show us their portfolios. Many of the people we work with now are those we’ve met at events and connected with’ PPQ recently debuted Blackout a campaign film directed by Liam S Gleeson, and a brand new way of connecting. And there were no jitters about making a first foray into film. ‘Percy and I felt ‘Blackout’ would give our work another dimension – we didn’t want it just to be a moving lookbook. We wanted it to tell a story, to show our girl before she goes to the party and the anticipation and thought that goes into her styling’. Amy suggests that PPQ now have a new story to tell and point to make. ‘The agenda isn’t known’ but, with a sense of humour that keeps cool customers on board and an exciting new collection on the way, PPQ remain the ones to watch. Amy hints the September Fashion Week will ‘remind people of what we do, but is also set to clear the decks!’ As PPQ’s show looks set to remain the hottest ticket in town, I wouldn’t be surprised if the wheeler dealer who introduced them picked now to come a-knocking! www.ppqclothing.com
Anti-Ageing A roundup of the latest products to reawaken your youthful appearance. Biodroga Institut's Caviar and Radiance Collection; Daily Care Cream (£66) The new Caviar and Radiance collection comes from German brand Biodroga who take inspiration from spa town Baden Baden. The secret to this range is the blend of caviar and dragonfruit extracts- caviar is known to stimulate the skin's metabolism and microcirculation to reduce fine lines, while the dragonfruit contains dormins, natural inhibitors to slow the ageing process. Products are available exclusively at The Mayfair Spa or www.bcidirect.com Barefoot's Rosa Fina Intensive Eye Serum (15ml £25.95) This intensive eye cream offers a natural solution for tackling expression lines and wrinkles around the eye area. Contains natural botox ingredients which rapidly blurs 'crows feet' for 4-6 hours. www.barefoot-botanicals.com/ First Aid Beauty’s Uplifting Serum (£35) First Aid Beauty's upliflting serum uses the same rollerball technology used for many contemporary eye creams- yet its oversized format delivers a potent cocktail of skin firming and sculpting ingredients to the face and neck, stimulating skin in a 'no touch' method. With bio-marine extracts for instant visible firming, sculpting and smoothing results and Polyacrylamide to tighten the skin, this is a simple but brilliant product. www.firstaidbeauty.com Bakel's Efa Body (£75) This intensive body balm from Bakel uses 100% active ingredients to deeply nourish the skin, ensuring that skin tone is tightened and the main mechanisms behind cellular aging are combated. This body balm should be massaged all over the body in circular motions for better skin tone, improved elasticity and a soft and youthful appearance. www.bakel.it Repêchage Vita Cura Triple Firming Cream (60ml RRP £99.95) Packed with Aosa seaweed to stimulate collagen production and block elastin destroying enzymes, and red clover to provide a hormonal trigger to younger skin and peptides, this firming cream increases the production on collagen and results in a more youthful appearance to face and neck. www.repechage.com/ Nephria Jade Activating Cream (£45) This moisturiser's main ingredient is Jade and is mined from a single location in South Korea, which is renowned for its unique healing properties. The Jade is combined with Nephria Jade Mineral Water which, with its high silica content, strengthens the spongy cells in between collagen and elastin fibres. Applied morning and evening, this plumps the skin and slows the formation of wrinkles resulting in a younger, bouncier you. www.nephria.co.uk
From Russia, With Love When a treatment comes not only recommended, but created by ex Storm model and recent Miss USSR Julia Lemigova, you know it is worth a try. Annie Vischer heads down to Kensington’s K Spa, dissuaded from heading from an early morning gym session to partake in a heavenly full body massage from the Russie Blanche range. Russie Blanche treatments take inspiration from the Russian Baniya Body Ritual that is known for its healing and nourishing of both physical and mental health. Ingredients that have been used for centuries in Russian medicine form part of the various oils and exfoliators in the Russie Blanche range that are used to therapeutic effect in their treatments. Truth be told, I was slightly apprehensive about the idea of a traditional Russian massage experience. Visions of a gymnast trainer-esque masseur, twisting my limbs this and that, abounded and I was more than a little relieved when my therapist appeared, reassuringly softly spoken and feminine. Massages in the treatment range include the Banïya Hydrarose and the Banïya Detox, but after a particularly trying time at the gym, including a spinning class with a rather over-zealous instructor in time to an 80s disco sound track, I decided to opt for the Banïya De-Stress Massage. The Banïya De-stress Massage uses Siberian Golden Root, essential oils of ginger, lavender, bergamot and vetiver, together with specific massage techniques to induce relaxation and relieve the aches and pains of everyday exertion. Time goes far too quickly when you are lying on page. 32
blissfully fluffy towels and slowly but surely being teased out of tension by the expert hands of a K Spa therapist. She coaxed me out of my dazed half slumber to let me know the treatment had come to an end and I had to resist the urge to stretch out and yawn like a spoilt cat and purr my way out of the room. I smiled lazily as I stepped out from K Spa into the sun that afternoon feeling refreshed, bright and perky, and dangerously ready for the golden mile of Kings Road. The replenishing ingredients of the Russie Blanche range including Siberian Ginseng and Siberian Golden Root are known to increase the body’s resistance to stress, illness and tension. Russian Olympic athletes and astronauts have long been taking them to increase energy and boost performance. Well it turns out they are just as effective on a pre-shopping trip Chelsea girl! Prices for massages using products from the Russie Blanche range start at £90.00 and are available at K West Hotel & Spa, Richmond Way, London W14 0AX, for reservations, please call: 020 8008 6610 or visit www.k-west.co.uk.
s h o ppi n g
Going for Gold With the Olympics upon us, Britain is gripped by Anglomania- yet getting caught up with the Games doesn’t mean forsaking the lap of luxury. We look at some of the classiest items available, inspired by or created for London 2012. 2.
1. Elemis Best of British Face and Body Collection £83 www.elemis.com 2. Lladro Porcelain Swimmer Black £720 www.lladro.com 3. Edgerton Pink Dry Gin £35 www.selfridges.com 4. Catchpole & Rye Oyster Mirror in Champagne with Silver Finish £1816 www.crye.co.uk 5. Milly Swire Bespoke Olympia Ring £4530 www.millyswire.com 6. PacaPod Firenze Baby Organisation Event Bag £265 www.pacapod.com 7. Tateossian Vintage Hockey Cufflinks £120 www.tateossian.com moltonbrown.co.uk 8. Riedel 2012 Wine Decanter £450 www.riedel.com 9. Molton Brown and The Goring Bath Butler Menu: Limited Edition Global Heroes Collection £36 10. Luxury Edition of London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games The Official Commemorative Book £120 www.amazon.com
A bed made just for you, naturally.
Handcrafted with the finest natural materials, every Marshall & Stewart bed is a testament of our dedication to excellence, ensuring you experience the best nightâ€™s sleep, every night.
www.marshallandstewart.com | 0800 228 9241 Kings Road, London | Crawford Street, London | Walton-on-Thames, Surrey page. 35
F OO D
Spice. And all things nice The Spice Shop on Portobello Road Market is an Aladdin’s cave of earthly treasures and without it London’s mealtimes would be much less rich and diverse. Started by Birgit Erath in 1990 to supplement her student income, the shop has become a favourite of many day to day cooks and celebrity chefs alike. Today the shop is run by Birgit’s son Phillip who takes us through the world of spices words: Linda Cooke
Phillip Erath himself used to be a chef but felt stifled. He was unable to create as much as he wanted to and his passion for cooking was beginning to wane. The cure for this was, of course, a trip around the world. Phillip’s mother Birgit left Germany to study and arriving in London had found she could not find the spices she wanted for cooking, anywhere. It was Birgit who first set up the stall that grew into a shop with it‘s popularity. It was also Birgit who moved into blending after humble beginnings with just five or six spices. The business just grew and grew, just like the client base. I met Phillip at the small shop on Blenheim Crescent where he often sits among his wares (when he is not out running errands or meeting customers) just like a wise spice trader of yore. I asked him to be my guide and introduce me to the wall to wall flavours on offer in this magnificent cave. Phillip advised firstly that none of the blends stocked in the shop contain any salt, which is a great jumping off point, especially for us health conscious cooks.
Ras-el-hanout Meaning ‘best of the shop’ or ‘top of the shelf’ this is traditionally a blend of the most expensive spices in a spice shop. History tells us that the mix first originated when spice sellers trading all day at market with their camels in tow would take a pinch from each sack of the spices to add to their own evening meal. It is well known as a traditional Moroccan spice blend and is often used in tagines, a Northern African clay cooking pot that traditionally sits on a barbecue or open flame. Phillip tells me there are around 40-48 spices in the current blend – pretty much every spice they have – but some blends claim to have up to one hundred ingredients. He tells me it gives a complex but ultimately simple flavour which is not, as you might think, over-powering. It is also a very versatile blend which can be used in salads, grills and even ice creams, chocolate and coffee with the notes of rose petals, cinnamon, all-spice, cumin and cardamom being accentuated sweet foodstuffs or beverages. Phillip page. 36
is convinced that you can use it with anything imaginable; he was 14 years old when he first went to Morocco where he cooked tagine after tagine which in turn developed his tasting palate. He says it is also perfect for roasting sweet vegetables as adds an extra depth.
Panang The spice shop’s little bag of Panang is as Phillip likes to call it the ‘lazy man’ blend – he says using this will help to create one of the quickest, easiest and tastiest dishes known to humankind . Fry some shallots and spices, cook off whichever meat or fish you are using, and add some fresh vegetables finishing with a can of coconut milk into the pan. This is a very popular Malaysian curry incorporating the wonderful flavours of lime leaves, cinnamon, coriander, fresh galangal and fresh turmeric. Toasted coriander seeds give a nutty taste to round it all off. It is as close to authentic as you can get it; it makes things easier for busy people and it tastes just as fantastic. Dukka This is an Egyptian spice blend which is nutty and oily and often served as a condiment. According to Phillip, dukka works well on a nice fatty bit of pork belly; he recommends adding it to yoghurt for a marinade. It is also delicious mixed with salt then served as a condiment to sprinkle on food or to dip bread that has first been dipped in olive oil. BBQ with Hickory smoked flavour This blend of thyme, bay, juniper, onions, garlic, smoked paprika, hickory, mustard seeds and pepper is excellent mixed with mustard, sunflower oil, soy, honey and tamarind concentrate and rubbed onto game, lamb and pork. Phillip also recommends mixing the blend with orange juice to make a marinade for beef steak or chicken. The marinade tenderises the beef perfectly and actually cooks chicken. The meat just needs to be seared on the barbecue for a stunning feast.
Mesquite This is a mix of garlic, smoked paprika, peppercorns and a bit of thyme and is the secret ingredient for Phillip’s own barbecue rib sauce. Years ago, Birgit used to work for Tony Roma’s who are well known for some of the best ribs in town so Philip can boast a teaching from the best. Having prepared the sauce since the age of six years old, Birgit requests Phillip make the condiment for every affair. Jamaican Jerk The Spice Shop is most famous for its fiery Jerk seasoning. Amongst London restaurants , the mix is legendary, but the story behind it? Perhaps not. The truth is that our Lady Master of Spice Birgit was actually told the recipe by her Carribean housemates when she lived on All Saints Road. It resulted in an authentic and home-made masterpiece bursting with hot pepper, ginger, thyme and sweet all spice berry flavour. To the spice mix, add pineapple and blend well, add oil and salt. Put onto pieces of pork, chicken or fish and put into the oven or whack onto the barbecue. Another way to prepare your jerk is to make a marinade by adding rum, oil, honey and lime juice. Traditionally, jerk would be cooked in an old oil drum. Oil or Vinegar Infusion mix Add this aromatic blend of pink, green, black and white pepper, mustard seeds, bay, garlic, chillies and coriander to your choice of olive oil or vinegar and let it infuse for a few weeks. Once ready, your oil or vinegar can then be drizzled to pizza, grills, stir-fry, salads or simply use it as a dip for your favourite bread. An excellent spice mix for making personalised Christmas presents to give away to friends and family as presents. page. 37
Creole mix Here you will find a distillation of the ‘Holy Trinity’ flavours of green peppers, celery and cayenne pepper mixed with other spices and File powder ready to be added to your Jambalaya or Gumbo pan for the perfect Southern-style meal. Phillip recommends frying off some onions, with garlic, celery, bell peppers and one teaspoon per person of the Creole mix in a pan with butter. Next, you add uncooked rice and stir the mix; add tomatoes, diced meat (chicken works perfectly), stock, wine and spicy sausage (such as Chorizo). Bring the pot to the boil stirring well all the time. Towards the end of the cooking time, throw in some cleaned and prepared prawns and fish and leave to cook for a further seven minutes. Delicious and seriously authentic! With a rub of the lamp and the time pressures of London life, I am back in the normal world but with a changed perception of the spices we have come to take for granted. These are spices which were treasured so highly and traded (for serious money) by our ancestors, peppercorns were once currency and in Roman times, workers were paid in salt. I leave The Spice Shop feeling inspired to undertake a spice odyssey of my own by Phillip’s rich knowledge and recommendations. He showed me that there are so many different variations to try and that suppertime need never be boring again with a little store cupboard imagination. Despite the gentrification of the Notting Hill and Portobello area, the shop still survives due to its regular custom, foodie followers and curious tourists but most importantly because it is the Mecca of spice and spice knowledge in this City. If you are in the area, pop in and see Phillip for a chat and perhaps you too may be inspired to follow his lead and start playing with some unusual flavours and blends. Trust me, you won’t regret it. www.thespiceshop.co.uk
Donostia words: Linda Cooke In the week leading up to the London 2012 Olympic Games, the atmosphere in the Capital was simply brimming with positive energy. In the midst of all the excitement I was invited to try Donostia, a restaurant created in homage to the Cocina Vasca (Basque Kitchen), a concept thought up by Melody Adams and Nemanja Borjanovic of Merchant Valley Wines. The layout is similar to that of Soho tapas stalwart, Barrafina, insomuch as there is a long marble bar inside with plentiful seating and the pyrotechnics of the kitchen are in plain view of the clientele. That’s pretty useful then seeing as former Barrafina head chef, Tomas Baranski, leads the team. Interestingly, the team were all sent to train in San Sebastian kitchens during preparations for opening. Decor is simple, unfussy and clean with reclaimed mushroom wood panels gracing the otherwise white walls and cured
meats hang from the ceiling. The service is knowledgeable and not at all intrusive. Our hosts proactively offered advice as to the quantity of dishes we should order, the evening’s specials and the wines to pair with our food. My companion and I chose six dishes from the menu which is divided into Picoteo (Appetisers), Pinxtos, Cold Plates and Tapas (Fish, Meat, Vegetables and Salad). Lightly salted olive oil and bread was first to arrive and enticed any recalcitrant taste buds to join the party. Next, came Octopus in Basque marinade and Salmorejo, the Basque take on Gazpacho, one of the specials. The meaty betentacled octopus came in slithers of creamy white and purple, doused in a tangy marinade which was unusual to our palates and moreish. The impressive Salmorejo – a tomato-based, chilled Córdoban soup - was a first for us. The addition of red wine vinegar enlivens this
soup made from simple ingredients (garlic, bread and Serrano jamon) and takes it to a different dimension. Classic Tortilla followed simply bursting with fine slices of potato and oozy, eggy almost caramelised liquor for the ultimate in comfort food. Traditional Basque speciality Pil Pil (Cod cheeks cooked with olive oil, garlic and peppers) was succulent and gelatinous; the accompanying emulsion ever so gently spiced. Last but absolutely not least, was the wood pigeon served with peas and pancetta and a shoulder of Pork with Romanesco sauce. The wood pigeon was cooked well and the gaminess of the bird cut through by the freshness of the peas and the fatty pancetta. The light broth it was served with was lick-your-lips fantastic. Crowning glory was the pork, cooked to melt in the mouth perfection, with just the right amount of crispy fat on the exterior adding texture
and flavour. The Romanesco made me want to rush home and try to recreate the recipe; simply delicious. Desserts were tasty (lemon tart was cleansing and figs served with hazelnuts transported me to Northern Spain in one mouthful) but they’re not the speciality of this house. This restaurant’s winning combination is its authentic el Pais Vasco cuisine matched with wines specially selected by Nemanja and Melody. We tried the Castrocelta Albarino 2011, Rias Balxas and the Alba de Miros 2011, Rueda which were suited to our meal. This establishment located on an unassuming street a few yards from Marble Arch is about to give other big names in Spanish cuisine in the Capital a run for their money; not least because this time it is a question of Basque pride. Let the games commence. Arriba!
This Month’s Picks
Best for Décor Blue Elephant This inimitable Thai restaurant has recently enjoyed a relocation to the beautiful Imperial Wharf. With its riverside views, in the rare moments of blistering sun in London (and even without) one can squint and be transported to the tropical palaces of sunny Bangkok, so lavishly is the restaurant kitted out. Water fountains, huge golden dragons lining the walls with jewelled eyes and sparkling forked tongue, and even the lotus flower garnish umbrellas on the cocktail- the level of detail and attention demonstrated in the venue is truly spectacular. Of course it helps that the food is nothing short of superb, and with branches all over the world, we can understand how the versatile menu served in these surroundings has been a success for the brand who is now branching out into cooking schools and recipe books. It really is learning from the best. The Boulevard, SW6, www.blueelephant.com
Best for Steak Marco Marco Pierre White fans: do not go to this restaurant if you are expecting the handiwork of the great chef, for this is not the raison d’etre of the restaurant. What exactly the raison d’etre of the restaurant is we are yet to decipher- but judging by his more than sizeable interest in the great English pub as of late, we imagine a somewhat cold and may we daresay, almost vulgar looking restaurant within the grounds of Chelsea FC’s Stamford Bridge, might not be at the centre of his attentions. That said, MPW has always been a man who takes great pride in his ingredients, particularly his meats, and the steak collection at Marco’s is entirely reminiscent of the great chef. The magic is in the sauces, sauces that ache of French sophistication (I cannot recommend the au poivre noir raisin sec à l’Armagnac enough) and can readily rival any of the best steak restaurants in the area. Stamford Bridge, SW6, www.marcorestaurant.org page. 38
BEST FOR GATZ Angel and Crown A somewhat niche title to win we’ll admit but seeing as Gatz, at a devastating eight hours long, has proven to be one of the most successful theatre productions for years, the ingenuity to extend the theatre menu hours to include the interval of Gatz deserves a doffing of cap. It’s precisely this kind of thoughtfulness that distinguishes the Angel and Crown from other soulless Covent Garden/ Soho eateries whose white tablecloth approach falls down at the first whiff of quality food, whilst simultaneously elevating it above your average gastropub where menus can look terribly similar. Norfolk Asparagus, Kiln roast salmon, Angel and Crown is a welcome addition to the Great British Summer. 3 Saint Martin’s Street, WC2H, www.theangelandcrown.com words: Coco Khan
Imbibe and Dine in Impeccable Style Spend a memorable evening in the stylish surroundings of Aubrey Bar & Restaurant. Sip cocktails from our award winning mixologist Alessandro Pizzoli, and experience fine dining from Chef Byron.
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T R AV EL
The Orient Express There’s a hidden dragon amongst the holiday destinations of the Far East, and that dragon is about to spread it’s wings. Breathing fire onto the coals of convention, Taiwan delivers far more than it’s reputation would suggest words: Sid Raghava photography: Karin Rus
The transcendental mesh of bells, gongs and drums was still reverberating in the ears and the ethereal mix of chimes and variegated chants had seemingly etched their divinity onto the soul. The mind and body had been rendered one. Spirituality had been touched and emancipation peeked at. The vast room glowed ever-mystically and a sated smile rested on most faces attesting to the extraordinary culmination of a special morning. The Buddhas, all three giant statues in the centre and the thousand miniature ones adorning the enclosing walls, seemed to have overlooked the entire ceremony and felt even prettier and calmer to look at. Welcome to the Fo Guang Shan Monastery. Now that the morning prayers are done with, a silent breakfast with Buddhist monks and nuns awaits. The contemplative nature of this simple exercise is something we desperately miss in our all too busy lives. Silence abounds and thoughts
have just about escaped the consciousness. It is one of the single most touching instances of my insignificant life and only one of the panoply of experiences waiting to captivate visitors to the island christened Il Formosa or ‘beautiful isle’ by Portuguese traders in the 17th century. Taiwan calls itself the heart of Asia and it has a good case to justify the superlative moniker. Now a modern republic with a recent history of a remarkably meteoric rise in economic fortunes, Taiwan now seeks to assert itself as a major touristic destination in the East Asia. As anyone can imagine, that will always be an uphill task for an island country situated East of China, South of Japan and South Korea and North of the Philippines. For now it seems up that the only people who do regularly visit Taiwan are foreign workers mainly in the ‘ever-exciting’ IT industry for companies like ASUS and HTC have made Taiwan a major exporter of high page. 40
technology goods to the rest of the world. However, the good thing is that the Taiwanese have emerged with something of their own distinct identity. There is the obvious retention of Chinese Han roots shared by about 98% of the population but that is counterbalanced by their capitalist push of late interspersed with the influence of being ruled by Japan till the 2nd World War and even earlier by the Dutch and the Spanish settlers in the 17th century. Also, Pacific Islanders such as Ami, Atayal and Bunun have added to the culture albeit in a much more understated and subdued fashion – mostly Disneyland style Theme Parks. Finally, Taiwanese people are effusively hospitable, can be quite quirky and inhabit a beautiful island teeming with breathtaking hills and other bucolic wonders interspersed with the most modern of buildings. We went to celebrate the annual Lantern Festival in the town of Lugang in this the present Year of the Dragon.
Fo Guang Shan Monastery A must-visit for experiencing the spiritual and mystical basis of Taiwan and its deep-rooted Budddhist identity. Giant Buddha statues peek out over trees and huge temple complexes. Tainan The former capital is teeming with life and is well known for its night markets which are omnipresent all throughout the island nation. Typically, these markets sell exotic yumminess of the tofu kind and kitsch classics like 80’s underwear. Dragon Festival in Lugang 2012 (last day of celebrations) Giant figurines of cartoon characters and of course some very impressive dragons which come alive in the night amidst a sonic soundtrack of drums, violins and powerful singing. This was to celebrate the Year of the Dragon and the celebrations were particularly grand. Sun Moon Lake A wonderful lake valley surrounded by the most scenic of hills. Get a taste of aborigine culture with a song and dance show with a roller coaster in the background. Yes, you read that right. Also, there’s a cable car ride which keeps you exhilarated for up to 10 mins bouncing up to 2000 feet above the hills. Taipei 101 Tallest building in Taiwan. Used to be the tallest in the world at some point. Do we care? Someone might…. Din Tai Fung – Food is everywhere in Taiwan and always of good quality. For a special experience, try Din Fai Tung’s branch in Taipei. It is a Taiwanese brand which has a Michelin starred restaurant in Hong Kong http://www.dintaifung.com.tw/ Yes, Taiwan is wonderful. High Speed trains get you around the country quick and fast. The night markets serve some of the most impressive street food and enchant you with their kitschy, geeky charm. Also, there are about 10000 temples in this modern country interspersed with Disney themes. Just ask yourself, why not?
flights EVA Air flies daily from London Heathrow to Taipei, with prices starting from £667 per person including taxes. For more information visit www.evaair.com.
Rooms at the Tayih Landis Hotel, Tainan start at around £175 per night - http://tainan.landishotelsresorts.com/ Rooms at the Hotel Del Lago at Sun Moon Lake start at around £150 per night - www.dellago.com.tw
Accommodation Rooms at the Howard Plaza Hotel Taipei start at around £120 per night - http://taipei.howard-hotels.com/
Rooms at the Sherwood Taipei Hotel start at around £170 per night - http://www.sherwood.com.tw/en/
Foguangshan Monaster http://www.fgs.org.tw/english/
Tourism Information For more information visit http://eng.taiwan.net.tw
m oto ri n g
Purring Like a Kitten The XF 3.0L Diesel S might purr like a kitten, but it is most certainly a big cat in the motor jungle- it can only be a Jaguar. Adrian Foster takes it for a test drive. words: Adrian Foster
The Jaguar XF probably needs no introduction at this point. Since its arrival in 2008, the XF has sold strongly - becoming a common sight on our roads - and successfully began the process of totally revamping Jaguar’s image away from the ‘blazer brigade’ to city centre nightclubs. Since then, Jaguar has been restricted to a series of straight-six power units V6s and V8s – and, magnificent though the latest generation of supercharged V8 is, there’s been nothing to match the effortless, near-silent majesty of the old 12-cylinder Jaguars. Until last year, that is, when Jaguar introduced the third generation of its twin-turbodiesel V6 to the XF, creating the XF Diesel S. Jaguar’s AJV6 diesel has always been refined, but the latest incarnation is also genuinely whisper-quiet and velvet-smooth. Adaptive Dynamics System The updated XF Diesel S 3-litre V6 turbo diesel is good for 271bhp and a thumping 600 NM of torque, while covering a very creditable 42 miles for every gallon of the oily stuff. The Aerodynamic Pack costs £1500 and for this you get the side sills from the sporty XFR and black mesh grilles. For another £500 you can add the LED running lights, but it’s the Dynamics Pack that intrigues most. It costs £1250 and includes menacing looking smoked 20-inch ‘Volans’ five-spoke wheels and the Adaptive Dynamics system. The
software of which analyses the chassis and driver inputs 500 times a second and uses the resultant information to improve handling without apparently sacrificing any comfort. ‘Surprise and Delight’ You’ll find the cabin area packed with ‘surprise and delight’ features - from the pop-up rotary ‘gear knob’ to the facia air vents, which swivel gently upwards to reveal themselves at the press of the gently pulsating starter button. Those great first impressions are there to impress you and your passengers, which they undoubtedly did when this car was in use over the holiday period ferrying friends to and from dinner engagements. Tellingly, none of them realised at first that they were travelling in a Jaguar, lacking the sense of occasion and opulence of ‘traditional’ Jaguars of old. Our top of the range Portfolio car also benefited from Alcantara headlining and a leather dash to add more glamour, which contrasts well with the contemporary chromium and piano black trim. All models in the range get the new interior and this is a definite bonus. Despite all the available seat adjustment options, finding a nice, low-slung position isn’t complicated. Smoothness And what about the driving experience? Well, the engine purrs gently into life and sounds almost tame when you page. 42
reflect on how much power this cat can unleash. Handling is assured by the DSC (Dynamic Stability Control) package, which works hard when you unleash all that torque under the bonnet, but there is a small reduction in driver comfort as the suspension firms up to keep everything under control. However, with this system the XF is more positive on the way into a corner, particularly the front end, but you also feel ridges and bumps a little more. It could be argued that the XF has so much built-in comfort that the sacrifice is small enough to be insignificant. The Verdict Years of criticism for being too ‘traditional’ combined with flagging sales prompted Jaguar to take a radical step when it replaced the retro styled S-Type. And not a moment too soon, in our opinion. The XF has hints of previous Jaguars in details of its design, but looks and feels every inch a modern, upmarket saloon. The interior is wonderfully stylish, if somewhat clinical, and despite actually containing more wood than any previous Jaguar, it’s combined with aluminium to give it a contemporary appearance. It’s amazingly comfortable too but also good to drive with very little body roll and responsive steering. The XF proves that Jaguar is back to its best when it comes to building sporting saloons.
The second instalment in the new revamped Kensington and Chelsea Review- the only dedicated arts, culture and luxury magazine servicing the...
Published on Jul 31, 2012
The second instalment in the new revamped Kensington and Chelsea Review- the only dedicated arts, culture and luxury magazine servicing the...