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indigo 28.02.13


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indigo

inside this issue Page 3 STAGE: indigo interviews the Durham Revue, our home grown comedy sketch group with the power to slap a smile on everyone’s faces. Pages 4&5 FEATURES: Attempting

to settle the classic dining hall debate once and for all, indigo investigates what it’s really like on the other side.

Page 6 BOOKS: Dive out of Durham life

and into the world of David Eggers’ latest release A Hologram for the King. Page 7 FASHION: Juggling a

growing clothing business alongside her studies, we ask Durham most stylish multitasker Georgie Moule just how she does it.

Pages 8&9 VISUAL ARTS: De-

cide for yourself on current art world controversies: does gender determine the quality of your painting? Can you ever draw too well?

Pages 10&11 FILM & TV: And the winner is

... we assess the goss behind the gloss at last Sunday’s 85th Academy Awards.

Page 12 MUSIC: indigo suggests just what ex-

actly should be buzzing through your earphones - and what shouldn’t - as we review the latest album releases. Page 13 TRAVEL: Wave goodbye to

wellies and wintery weather, as the Middle Eastern state of Qatar is waiting to be explored. Pages 14&15 FOOD & DRINK: Look-

ing beyond Spags, we source Durham’s infest pizza and pasta - buon appetito!

More articles on palatinate.org.uk. Cover photograph: Getty/ABC.

Thursday 28th February 2013 | INDIGO

Indigo Editors: Justina Crabtree & Robin Marshall indigo@palatinate.org.uk

editors’ letter As we find ourselves tucked away in the depths of the Bill Bryson Library, pouring every last drop of brain juice into our dissertation or just-remembered summative, we may find our daydreams drifting towards a slightly different scenario for the more glamorous of our species across the pond. Last Sunday, the red carpet was unrolled for everyone’s favourite faces from the film industry (yes, Bradley Cooper was in attendance). Whilst we experience our fair share of glitter and gloss at Durham, thanks to formals and balls aplenty, there is no denying it – mid Epiphany Term the only thing we find ourselves wanting to pull on when we roll out of bed each morning is holey Superdry joggers, enabling maximum mobility as we hotfoot it to the library for opening time. On a Sunday. When our eyes are firmly glued to the cobbled streets as we muse on that paragraph or diagram, it’s all too easy to forget what Durham has to be proud of. Merely glancing upwards to our beautiful castle and cathedral is a simple way of appreciating something award winning, with this view described by so many as one of the most impressive in Europe. Our beloved Spags offers the best budget pizza and pasta you’ll ever need, and whilst a runner up in FHM’s dubious ‘Worst Nightclubs in Europe’ poll, we’re sure many of you will vouch for Klute as the epicentre of some of your best nights out. So if the rich, famous and perfectly manicured are allowed their own ceremony for the public celebration of, ahem, themselves, we at indigo thought we’d nominate some of the many aspects of Durham life that deserve a smiling nod of recognition, at the very least. Turn to our Music page to discover what may well become Most Played on iPods Everywhere, as our editors compile reviews of this year’s latest releases. Meanwhile, indigo’s Visual Arts section considers a new photography exhibition at the Oriental Museum an appropriate candidate for Best Visual Effects. So what about the award for Costume Design? Our Fashion team nominate student dressmaker extraodinaire Georgie Moule – the girl with the power to make YOU win Best Dressed. And for the laughs we all need when our degrees just seem impossible, indigo’s Stage section promote the Durham Revue to win your award for Best Stress Reliever. So, if you’ll kindly follow our thinking, there are many sources of infinite joy in Durham, and many unique to our university experience here. The only positive we can’t guarantee is a Bailey-stashed Bradley Cooper doppelgänger by your usual spot in the library. JC & RM


Thursday 28th February 2013 | INDIGO

stage

Stage Editor: Victoria Ferguson Deputy: Gabriel Samuels stage@palatinate.org.uk

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Durham’s best at the Comedyfest Durham University’s comedy sketch troupe of seven, the Durham Revue, has already enjoyed a successful 2013 with a well-received January show, but the real challenge came with the responsibility of representing Durham in the age-old rivalry with our Oxbridge peers. Kate Wilkinson spoke to the Durham Revue President Stef Jones about their performance alongside the Cambridge Footlights and the Oxford Revue on Sunday, the future of improvised comedy in Durham and how you can get involved if you think you’ve got what it takes. What is so special about Comedyfest?

We perform at many venues all over Durham but it’s a real treat to be able to perform at the Gala. It’s a wonderful, large space and it feels a lot more professional than the Assembly Rooms (although the Assembly Rooms is still my favourite venue!). The sense of professionalism is largely down to it being a necessarily more expensive show and the fact that the Gala seats 500 people as opposed to the Assembly Rooms’ 200. Durham doesn’t have the biggest comedy scene but events like this are very beneficial. It would be fair to say that this is the comedy highlight of the year. What is it like performing alongside the Cambridge Footlights and The Oxford Revue?

It is definitely a source of motivation. The Comedyfest is not technically a competition but of course there will always be a healthy sense of rivalry between the groups. Standing in the wings in past Comedyfests, I can’t help feeling nervous when Cambridge executes a particularly successful sketch! People will always compare us against each other so we want to make sure that we do ourselves proud.

There will always be a healthy sense of rivalry between the groups Do you communicate much with the other comedy groups?

We don’t collaborate on material but it’s nice to see them at the Edinburgh Fringe each year. It does create a sense of unity, despite the rivalry!

What are the Durham Revue’s plans for the future? Next term I want to lead a comedy workshop to help newcomers onto the scene. It’s hard to know where to start and I think that other students who are interested would find it helpful to gain insight into the work we do. I would go through exactly how to generate and develop ideas. After a few years of experience I can pass on the skills I have acquired in that time.

Want to get involved?

How can I join the group?

The group is selected annually through auditions which take place at the beginning of each year. This year we admitted one new girl and three new boys. There is opportunity to be involved without performing as we now have the more fixed system of having a producer. How does the audition process work?

There are three rounds of auditions. In the first, we ask everyone to read an old Durham Revue sketch. Everyone performs on their own with other parts filled in by existing members. Here we look at the individual’s acting skills and how they interact with others.

Experience isn’t the deciding factor

Photographs: Emma Werner

In the second round we ask to see a performance of a sketch that the candidate has written themselves and everyone fills in the parts for each other. Here we are very much interested in the

candidate’s ability to come up with interesting ideas. We then cull the group down to a smaller size and the third round is a repeat of the second. How do you decide who to select?

It’s often very tricky selecting new group members, especially when so many talented people have applied. We’d prefer not to have two of the same kind of performer as it’s important to make sure that there is variety in the group. There have been cases of incredible people that we’ve just had to say no to simply because we already had someone like them. It’s tough. Does it matter whether you have had experience or not?

Not at all! When I joined, I hadn’t written anything before and I didn’t have any experience in comedy. The same applies to other members. Whilst some may have a whole portfolio of sketches they have written, ultimately experience isn’t the deciding factor.

To discover more about the Durham Revue and their upcoming shows e-mail durhamrevue@gmail.com


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Thursday 28th February 2013 | INDIGO

features

The other half indigo looks at how Science and Art view each other’s degrees

A day in the life of a scientist

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very science student will tell you that their day starts before nine o’clock. They must be up early to start the long trek to the Science Site in order to arrive in time for a day of demanding lectures. It is a little-known fact that this nine o’clock start is in fact a myth perpetuated by science students in order to gain sympathy from anyone they can. Nine o’clock lectures do exist, just as they do for all students, and science students always claim that they intend to go to these lectures. Unfortunately, it is sometimes actually necessary to make an appearance at such lectures, if only to hand a piece of work in.

However, anyone who knows a science student well will know that most of these early mornings will be accompanied with a claim of: “I slept terribly last night,” “I’m definitely getting ill,” “I’m so hungover” or “It’s alright, I’ll be able to borrow someone else’s notes.” The student in question will then go back to bed until it is time to go to their next lecture. At some point in the morning, science students will have probably made the journey to their second or third lecture of the day. As they reach the Science Site they will pass a large, admittedly very ugly, building which very few of them will be able to identify. This is the main

library. Science students rarely venture inside the library but when they do they are very easy to recognise.

They can be seen walking aimlessly round the library

They are the students who have clearly not picked up the knack of entering the library,

Illustration: James Crosland-Mills and stand at the entrance endlessly trying to swipe their campus cards in the hope that they might eventually be able to get in. They can then be seen walking aimlessly round the library, completely unable to locate the book they’re looking for, or clumsily trying to work the selfservice machine if they eventually do. It is true that science students have significantly more lectures than other students. Although these lectures can be viewed as ‘optional’ they do provide a more concrete answer to the incessant inquiries from parents of “What does this £9000 a year go on?” and “So what do you actually do while you’re at university?” than artists get. They also escape the jibes that

arts students receive about doing a ‘proper’ subject for their degree. In the morning science students will probably spend a couple of hours sitting in lectures, although these are probably broken up with some ‘welldeserved naps’ after such an early start. The afternoon of a science student will also involve going to some lectures. These lectures, however, are the perfect setting for getting out the way any homework which might have been set in the morning. Sitting at the back of the lecture theatre, a science student can get much of their work for the day done unnoticed, while paying some attention to what might be going on in the lecture, and have the added benefit


INDIGO | Thursday 28th February 2013

Features Editor: Sophia Chan Deputy: Emily Woodhouse

of having their fellow students around them in case they need any advice. Collaboration is a key part of getting homework done with the minimal amount of hassle possible. Once all of the work that has been set that day has been completed, time spent in any remaining lectures can be spent on Facebook. Most science students seem to have acquired tablets or iPads over the Christmas holidays; these have become essen-

tial tools in getting through lectures without actually having to listen to the lecturer. The day of a science student might end as late as six o’clock on a bad day, although as with the myth of the nine o’clock lecture, this happens less than science students would have the rest of us believe. They then get to go home. Not, however, to the pile of library books and long list of mounting essay deadlines that arts students currently face.

Summative season is one worry that science students do manage to escape from. Instead they have a chance to relax after a long hard day of lectures and tutorials, and enjoy their evening in peace.

I get up when I want, except on Tuesdays, when I am rudely awakened by the cleaners approaching my room at the unsociable hour of eleven thirty in the morning. Sheepishly making my way down to lunch in my pyjamas, I try to work out which of my friends I need to thank this time for carrying me along the tow path and back to college last night. A quick meal, then back to the room for a short nap before the day begins. Dressing is sometimes difficult, fraught with fashion choices. I find my thick framed glasses, check the mirror, then, wearing the obligatory fancy scarf of an English student, I leave the room. My one lecture today should be easy; I finished all of the pre-reading over the weekend, I think. Or wait, perhaps that was for poetry? All of the books that I read seem to blend into one in my mind, becoming a giant manuscript that towers over me, devouring my work ethic and replacing it with exhaustion and uncountable essay deadlines. I reach my lecture, and dash through the door before those thoughts can guilttrip me into missing Fishtank tonight. Most of the people around me seem to be only half awake, and there is a guy over there shamelessly sleeping, curled up on one of those strange double seats that they have at Elvet riverside. I become painfully aware that I didn’t actually finish the book for this lecture, but no one expects me to miss going to Klute for bit of reading, right? I aimlessly wonder whether my tutor will be able to tell that I only got about a third of the way through the book when it comes to the essay. Well, maybe a third of the way through is being a little optimistic... Now the lecturer is telling us what happens at the end of the book, which swiftly solves the issue. Excellent, I’ll write that

down and no one will ever have to know. That kind of third degree plot ruination used to destroy my day, but the sad truth is that I no longer read for pleasure. Life has sucked the fun from reading; I feel like a marathon runner, I don’t read the words, I count down the pages, numbers lining up and falling down in rhythmic time. If I was a science student, I imagine I’d calculate the average time it took me to read a page and then multiply it up to idly work out how many hours it will still take to finish it.

procrastination is always a feasible distraction back at college and on second thoughts I can’t really face starting another essay. Weighing up the options, I resolve to work back in my room today. After stopping for another coffee and chatting to some friends out on the corridor, I throw open some books, and try to write my essay from the first three quotations that I see. I end up spending more time recording all of the references than actually working, but that’s okay because I didn’t really want to write my essay anyway. Scrawling over sheets and sheets of notes in densely packed handwriting will surely prepare me for exams, right? But then, how am I supposed to order these? Do I do it chronologically by publishing date, or by book, but then what about pages of notes that refer to more than one book? This all seems like too much work, so I heap them up in one pile and tip them into a drawer on top of a collection of bits of old stationary and a dog-eared copy of that book I was supposed to read for the lecture earlier. I’m getting a little sleepy by this point, so I make my excuses and take another nap. I fall out of bed and drag a comb across my head before dinner, followed quickly by predrinking and another voyage out into town. We’ll all plan to avoid it, but after a couple of drinks our priorities will change and we’ll invariably end up in Klute anyway, struggling to see and probably wearing an atrocious hat of some sort. Of course, I only have lectures for three days a week, so on Wednesdays and Fridays I don’t wake up until dinner time. Some days I don’t even bother to get up at all.

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Mrs Elvet sorts you out

Sophie Cox

A day in the life of an artist

The sad truth is that I no longer read for pleasure

I wistfully wish that I could do the maths, so I could pursue the above activity as an exercise in procrastination. Nevertheless, I secretly try to work out how much of the book I have completed as I go along. I never tell anyone though, because I’m a little nervous about my fractions and I don’t want my friends to think I like numbers. After the lecture, I take my book and stop off at my favourite coffee shop for a little light reading. Unfortunately, I spill my Cappuccino over the cover page, so I pack it back away and nap quietly instead. Then, to the library. On the other hand, it’s a long walk away and there are too many scientists there. They insist on taking about algebra and other mysterious things, which I suspect is actually some sort of secret code that they learn for the sole purpose of mocking arts students. Also, it would mean that I’d have to do work, whereas

Jack Humphries

indigo’s very own Agony Aunt solves all your problems Dear Mrs Elvet, My friends say I talk too much about rowing. It isn’t my fault if I do talk about it a lot, I spend half my life rowing (and the other half in the gym) so my conversation topics are fairly limited. What should I do? Distressed Rower – Mildert I once went on a date with a rower. Never again. I cannot endure hearing every topic I introduced being linked back to rowing which I find to be an absolute bore. Your friends clearly feel the same way. Have mercy on them and try to give them one rowing anecdote per day. Instead of being so self-involved, look to the world outside you and attempt to find other conversation topics. For instance, I always found my handbag collection to be of great interest to my friends. Dear Mrs Elvet,

Ever since Elvet Riverside flooded I have been panicking that it will happen again. Last time I was forced to trek to Grey College in the snow and I lost my rather expensive Tiffany bracelet! I need an emergency plan. Do you have any suggestions? Desperate Lady – Castle I can see why the potential prospect of walking that distance again is throwing you into a tizzy. The solution to your prob-

lem is so easy, dear: drive there. I commiserate with your great loss, though you only have yourself to blame; Tiffany’s and snow certainly do not mix. On the other hand, a bit of fresh air and a jolly walk may actually do you some good. Dear Mrs Elvet,

I am currently living out and wish to grow all my own vegetables. However before I begin I wish to enquire whether Durham actually has enough sunlight to grow anything at all? I have not noticed many plants around and the sky is always gloomy. Potential Home Grower - Grey Darling, do I seem remotely like a woman who would know the smallest detail about vegetables? However I can comment on the sunshine: the sky in Durham is perpetually dismal and I suffered terribly due to it. Indeed, when I was your age I felt obliged to visit the Bahamas for my health every fortnight. Simply don’t bother with the vegetable patch. Emma Dawson


Thursday 28th February 2013 | INDIGO

6 books

Books Editor: Stephanie Stafford books@palatinate.org.uk

Photograph: dtelegraph , Flickr

A Hologram for the King Selected as one of The New York Times 10 best novels of 2012 and finalist for the National Book Award USA: Christian Kriticos reviews Dave Eggers’ hotly anticipated most recent release

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here is an oft-repeated joke among the expatriate population of Saudi Arabia, comparing the country to The Eagles’ ‘Hotel California’: “You can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave.” Fittingly, the joke rings true for Alan Clay, the protagonist of Dave Eggers’ new novel A Hologram for the King, as he enters the country believing himself to be on a short business trip, only to find his stay extending to weeks beyond his control. Clay is a character in the tradition of the modern American hero: divorced, bankrupt, failing as a parent, and broken by the American Dream. The novel opens with his arrival in Saudi Arabia, where Clay has one last shot at redemption. He is promised an audience with King Abdullah, where he will present a new sort of hologram technology. If the King is impressed, Clay will secure an IT deal for his company in the

germinating King Abdullah Economic City and win himself a six-figure pay cheque. But, of course, in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia nothing is quite so straightforward, and as the King fails to arrive at the appointed time day after day the reader soon finds themselves drawn into a story of Beckettian minimalism. Clay floats through the world with no control over his own destiny, living off small fragments of promises about the King’s arrival. Along the way Clay befriends an eccentric driver, a Danish embassy worker and a doctor, who later operates on him. But none of them are a constant presence. Instead they, along with all the other minor characters, seem to drift in and out of Clay’s life almost at random. In Eggers’ world of capitalism and consumerism everyone is a ghost, floating aimlessly, wanting to leave, but finding they can’t.

Yousef, Clay’s driver, expresses a desire to emigrate, but cannot muster the courage, stating unconvincingly “it would be better to stay here”. Zahra, the doctor, acknowledges that the country makes her “very, very sad”, but finds herself caught in its web.

In Eggers’ world of capitalism and consumerism everyone is a ghost, floating aimlessly But Eggers’ novel is not an attack on Saudi Arabia. Rather, it seems to be a parable of our times. In a world of seven billion no one is important and everyone is powerless, except those at the very top. The

King could solve all of Clay’s problems with the click of his fingers, but he doesn’t. Mobile phones, tablet computers and holograms all serve to enrich our lives, but ultimately make us all more disconnected. So does Eggers’ vision of our brave new world work? Yes and no. His prose is refreshingly unpretentious, but it rarely amazes. He is able to captivate and engage the reader, but there are frustrating moments in which the novel deviates without explanation or purpose. However, the novel is overall a success. Although it may not seem to have any lofty ambitions, there is enough here to justify multiple readings. Clay’s memories, for example, are a source of constant intrigue: from the sociopathic ex-wife, to the enigmatic neighbour who commits suicide by strolling calmly into a freezing lake, Clay’s mind seems to house a wealth of maddening characters and experiences. And yet, by the end, all we know is that, in the world of exponential technological progress, he is sympathetically nostalgic: he finds himself wondering if it means anything that, in his youth, an old woman once called him elegant. Clay spends most of the

novel searching for the right words, almost as if he is still searching for himself after over half a decade of existence. He writes a series of letters to his daughter, none of which he sends. And yet, he seems to stumble upon the answer fairly early on: “Think too much and you know you are nothing. Think just enough and you know you are small, but important to some. That’s the best you can do.” A Hologram for the King McSweeney’s Books

««««« SIMILAR WORKS Seize the Day, Saul Bellow The Unconsoled, Kazuo Ishiguro Waiting for Godot, Samuel Beckett Everything is Illuminated, Jonathan Safran Foer Disgrace, JM Coetzee Heart of Darkness, Joesph Conrad Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, HS Thompson


INDIGO | Thursday 28th February 2013

fashion

Fashion Editors: Lois Bryson-Edmett & Cordelia Yeung Deputy: Jess McGahan fashion@palatinate.org.uk

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Bringing bespoke fashion to your doorstep Lois Bryson-Edmett talks to Durham’s newest fashion designer about her tailor-made service

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n between a busy lecture timetable, a hectic social life and sports matches, it’s rare that Durham students can find the time to get enough sleep, let alone run their own fashion company. So it was with some admiration that I met Georgie Moule, a second year theology and education student at Durham who manages to do just that. After being taught the essentials of sewing by her grandmother, Georgie retained a passion for clothes making throughout her childhood, often drafting out designs of outfits she hoped to one day make. Now, after permanently installing her sewing machine in her Durham student house, Georgie has been able to render her dream a reality and begin to design and make the clothes she once envisaged. Since establishing her Facebook page ‘Moule Clothing’, Georgie has been inundated with requests for outfits for a variety of events taking place in Durham. Using fabrics from Durham suppliers or online outlets, Georgie is able to price

her dresses within the student budget- offering her customers the chance to wear something made bespoke for them, priced at just less than your average ASOS purchase. After the initial success of her dresses, she has since branched out into experimenting with maxi skirts, t-shirts and even menswear such as shirts and trousers.

Georgie is able to price her dresses within the student budget

Drawing inspiration from sources as varied as high street shops to favourite artists and even the sea, Georgie has become known for her distinctly

‘simple’ style that relishes understated, clean cut design. The result is a collection of flattering, feminine outfits that are earning her well-deserved attention around Durham. Because of this, through word of mouth alone she has earned herself 265 fans on Facebook, and is constantly managing a stream of outfit requests. Georgie explains that being at Durham provides her with a unique opportunity to pursue her passion without any of the usual constraints that could hold back another aspiring entrepreneur. While she loves her degree course, it’s clear from talking to Georgie that her real driving force is fashion, and since she has been able to install her sewing equipment permanently in Durham, she has relished the opportunity to indulge her hobby whenever possible - grabbing opportunities between lectures to get some stitching done. She is modest about her impressive success, but attributes her notable achievements to a kind and supportive family who

Photographs: Georgie Moule have always encouraged her to pursue her interest, joking “My dad wants me to be the next Stella McCartney!” Her grandmother also played a key role in sparking her passion for design, encouraging Georgie to learn to use a sewing machine and experiment with her ideas. Sadly, she has since passed away, but she continues to provide a source of inspiration for Georgie, who after recently discovering old samples of her appliqué and beading, has begun to experiment with embellishment in her designs. Georgie is also positive about the Durham fashion scene - immersing herself fully in events such as college fashion shows, and praising Durham students for taking an interest in the clothes they wear. Far from subscribing to the stereotype of the Durham student kitted out head to toe in Jack Wills and topped with a popped collar, Georgie insists that plenty of her peers are experimenting with their clothes and providing her with inspira-

tion every day - the key is just to keep an eye out for them! Following the expanding success of her online enterprise, Georgie is now hoping to continue to grow her brand and cater for more customers. Her immediate ambition is simply to purchase a proper tailor’s dummy that will make her fittings easier. However, looking further in the future, Georgie holds aspirations for working for an ethical fashion company such as People Tree, designing and making for a wider market. I look forward to watching Georgie’s business expand and her aspirations become a reality. In the meantime, I’ll be supporting Georgie’s ambitions in the best way I can - I’ve already placed an order for my June Ball dress. I suggest you do the same! For more information or to place an order, visit Georgie’s Facebook page: www. facebook.com/pages/MouleClothing


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Thursday 28th February 2013 | INDIGO

visual arts

Review: Disappearing heritage of Sudan Natalie Taylor visits the Durham Oriental Museum’s current photographic exhibition

Breathtaking ariel views of the Sudanese landscape. Photograph: by permission of Durham University Library, Crown Copyright

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n entering the Durham Oriental Museum’s current exhibition, I was unfamiliar with Sudan’s rich history and the way in which it has been shaped by the British Empire. I was immediately surprised by the architectural diversity of the country’s capital, Khartoum. The exhibition captures the wide roads and ambiance of a modern industrial city, yet simultaneously the sense of a distinctively backward nation, struggling to progress economically since independence from the British in 1956. ‘Khartoum’ in Arabic literally translates as the ‘end of the elephant trunk’, which supposedly resembles the capital’s outline on the map. However, I was more taken aback by the aerial view of the city. Its parallel, planned roads create a rigid layout bordering the breath-taking ’Al-Mogran’ , meaning the joining of the two River Niles. This architectural layout reminded me more of New York

than a third-world city. Some even suggest that Khartoum’s layout was purposefully designed in a union jack pattern to symbolise British dominance. Such architecture really made me realise the severity of Britain’s impact on Sudan and its culture.

A nation so influenced by external cultures and so rich in architectural diversity The collision of two contrasting cultures makes the photographs increasingly alluring and communicates an element of almost unearthly wonder.

Other juxtapositions within the architecture of Sudan continued to fascinate me; on one hand the concrete slab apartment blocks, and on the other, the elaborate arches and mosques. The arches and light patterns are primarily inspired by Egyptian architecture and these are visible in all kinds of different buildings, from the Al Farouq mosque to the ‘Grand Hotel Palace’, from shopping arcades to University Colleges. This made further sense when I read that Ibrahim Pasha, the founder of Khartoum in 1821, was the son of an Egyptian ruler. I found it fascinating that this nation was influenced by yet another external culture and how it was so rich in architectural diversity. However, the exhibition also revealed that western influences were not always well received. Following Sudan’s independence, vandalism of British memorials and sculptures was rife. Despite this desire to have their own national identity, it

surprised me how many amusing British traditions have remained popular up to the present day, such as drinking tea and playing polo and tennis. The exhibition’s photographs depicted local people still using the open-air cinemas built by the British during colonial rule.

The jaw-dropping aerial view demonstrated the juxtaposition of the city and desert This caused me to wonder: is Sudan still stuck in its past? It seems to have struggled to progress in the last fifty years, and the British and Egyptian

cultures have clearly left their mark. Another part of the exhibition that caught my attention were the photos of the Suakin port on the Red Sea coast; particularly the isolated Island Gezira Ia that lies in a lagoon off the mainland. The jaw-dropping aerial view immediately demonstrated the juxtaposition of the built up city and the vast areas of desert. It was a sight I found difficult to compare to anything I’d ever seen before. Overall, I would thoroughly recommend this exhibition: stunning monochrome and colour photographs, a fascinating history, an explicit insight into the Sudanese way of life, and all this only a short walk away. The exhibition is touring from London and soon heading on to Sudan, so visit before its too late! Whether you are interested in photography and architecture or the history and culture of the orient, this is certainly a trip worth making.


INDIGO |Thursday 28th February 2013

Needs 9

Visual Arts Editor: Lucy Edwardes Jones visual.arts@palatinate.org.uk

Gender discrimination in the art world

In a recent interview with German magazine Der Spiegel, one of today’s most prominent artists Georg Baselitz controversially claimed that “women don’t paint very well. It’s a fact.” He insisted that the market is always right, and that women do not pass the market value test because they can not paint as well as men. In a following backhanded compliment Baselitz conceded that of course there are exceptions like Agnes Martin or Paula Modersohn-Becker, but maintained that they are “no Picasso, no Modigliani and no Gauguin.” The German postmodern artist’s success lies in his controversial style. His career advanced when the police seized some of his work in the 1960s and he soon became famous for his upside-down images. Art historian Griselda Pollock has struck back at Baselitz, saying “it’s self-evidently nonsense.” She reasons that it is not their masculinity that makes acclaimed male painters great; it is their individuality. You can not attribute artistic genius to gender. In a single sentence, Baselitz’s contentious re-

mark disregards scores of highly talented female painters: Jenny Saville, Frieda Kahlo, Georgia O’Keeffe, Helen Frankenwahler, Mary Cassat, Paula Rego, Bridget Riley, Cecily Brown and Maggie Hambling to name but a few. Some are more appreciated than others but all demonstrate brilliance in their diverse painting styles. If you haven’t heard of them, look them up. The New York Magazine art critic Jerry Saltz attacked the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 2009 announcing that the gallery practices a “form of gender based apartheid.” She pointed to the statistic that only four per cent of the works installed in MoMA’s permanent collection are by women. The solution is not to introduce exclusively female exhibitions which define women’s art as feminine. Instead our galleries should display women’s art alongside men’s, disregarding the gender of the artist in order to actually concentrate on the work itself. Art should be displayed on merit, and there are plenty of merit-worthy women artists who are simply not represented in galleries today.

Photographs: kelvinokaforart.blogspot.co.uk

Baselitz’s statement characterises a society-wide problem where female artists are not as recognised as their male counterparts. The art world is not a level playing-field when it comes to gender. Obstacles are placed directly in the way of women receiving the formal training that was available to their male counterparts at the academies, especially before 1900. Lee Krasner has not received the same acclaim as her husband, Jackson Pollock, despite being first-rate in her similar abstract expressionist style. Christie’s auction house has just announced that the impressionist painter Berthe Morisot has topped the record for the most expensive piece of art by a woman artist. However this sale illustrates the inequality between male and female artists. Morisot’s ‘After Lunch’ sold for $10.9 million whilst work by her impressionist contemporary and brohter-in-law, Manet, has fetched a record price of $33.2 million. Yet Manet’s work is of no higher calibre than Morisot’s. It is not that women are any less talented than men when it comes to painting. As Pollock explains, there are many factors

Georg Baselitz recently dismissed female artists. Photograph: FlickrID: piwiyan holding women back in the art world but it is chiefly the “myth of the painter. The image in the West of a lonely, tortured white man.” Since the 1980s the Guerilla Girls, an anonymous group of artists fighting discrimination, have applied a sardonic use of language to create hard-hitting statements about sexual and racial discrimination in the art world. Under the heading, ‘Advantages of being a Woman Artist’, Guerrilla Girls list “working without the pres-

sure of success,” “being reassured that whatever kind of art you make it will be labeled feminine” and “being included in revised versions of art history.” There is no doubt that Baselitz’s statement is tendentious, but everyone is entitled to an opinion. What is more worrying is the sexism that has existed throughout art history and is still present today.

favour for video, performance and conceptual art. Okafor’s inhuman level of skill is undeniable however its accuracy verges on unoriginality as they become simply reproductions. As Picasso famously said “It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a life time to paint like a child.” Okafor’s celebrity drawings tell us no more about the subject than the original compositions do. His more intimate drawings of family and friends such as his nephew from Nigeria show Okafor’s true talent as he is free to structure the composition and become engaged in a subject which is more personal to him. Chuck Close, another photorealist artist, makes paintings of faces which are huge in scale almost covering walls. The experience for the viewer is mesmerizing as you enter into the details of the face as they confront you. Moreover, although Chuck Close’s work is highly accurate, it also conveys boldness in its readiness to experiment

with many techniques in trying to portray the human face. There are currently indications that the art world’s infatuation with conceptual art is declining. The price of Damien Hirst’s work is currently down 30 per cent since peaking in 2008, and one in three of his pieces have failed to sell at all. Meanwhile great works from Picasso and Matisse are increasing in price. Last year David Hockney’s beautiful paintings of Yorkshire were exhibited attracting 700,000 visitors compared to Hirst’s 463,000 at the Tate Modern. These are all signs that there is a place for Okafor’s craftsmanship in the current climate. However if he fails to experiment with technique, composition and subject he risks becoming a forgotten name in the art world, one who enjoyed his five minutes of fame but was inevitably replaced by others who could draw equally as well.

By Frances Marsh

Kelvin Okafor: accuracy beyond the point of art?

Kelvin Okafor’s hyper-realist drawings can be easily mistaken for black and white photography, however his work has sparked much debate into whether it should be considered art. The 27-year-old, former Middlesex University art student from London spends up to 100 hours painstakingly drawing from photographs of celebrities from Mother Teresa, to Tinie Tempah and Amy Winehouse. He recently exhibited at the Science Museum and his work sells for up to £10,000. His portrait of King Hussein of Jordan is to be presented to the late monarch’s widow, Queen Noor. It is evidently a labour of love for Okafor, who had commented “from the pore, from the scars, from the tissues, to the hairs, I feel a very great connection to the subject.” His work has been met with huge support. Art critic Jonathon Jones recently compared Okafor’s work to that of Leonardo da Vinci and lauded his craftsmanship in a culture which overlooks such talent in

by Iona Thompson


Thursday 28th February 2013 | INDIGO

10 film & tv

Hello game changer? House of Cards networks then there is little threat to the existence of the established elite.

For the likes of Netflix it is a way to draw in subscriptions and separate themselves from their competitors

Benjamin Lee assesses whether the new online series heralds a major shift in the way we consume television on sites like Netflix

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ubscribers to the American online provider of streamed digital media Netflix will have noticed a recent shift in the company’s focus. The fight for exclusive rights to films has seen them pick up Disney but lose out on the rights to Sony Pictures which includes hits such as Zero Dark Thirty and Men In Black 3. This continual struggle has led Netflix to take a different approach, one that treads on the toes of the entire television industry. They plan to not only rival but surpass HBO, who are the current kings of original US TV. Series such as Boardwalk Empire, Game of Thrones, The Sopranos and The

Wire have earned HBO that status and Netflix seeks not only to create original series of that ilk but they also want to beat HBO to the online audience.

Netflix is little threat to the established elite House of Cards is the first of what is likely to be a number of original series created by Netflix with a unique selling point; all

the best of online reviews

13 episodes of the first series are available to watch in one go. This is a daring approach because it offers the consumer exactly what they want, when they want it which is becoming ever more prevalent with the rise of catch-up TV. On the other hand the tactic could backfire; if the audience is able to flick through each episode at will then they are not left waiting. There would be no conversations in the workplace over this week’s episodes and no anticipation over next week’s. It is all there in one go. People are comparing these ways of releasing the series to the release of the iPad, and how that

changed the way people use their personal computers. That may be true, however laptops have not ceased to exist because they are still a useful medium. The same can be said of television and Netflix. It is more than possible for online streaming sites such as Netflix to release original series in their entirety in one go and for the likes of HBO and the BBC to release series episode by episode on TV. I think both can coexist. For the likes of Netflix it is a way to draw in subscriptions and separate themselves from their online competitors, But until they start competing for the rights to popular series released on other

In the case of House of Cards, it is a superb series. Kevin Spacey is at his imperious best as Congressman Frank Underwood. His performance makes you wonder why he spends time doing American Airlines adverts instead of more of this. It is like he has walked from the set of The Usual Suspects onto the set of this and is still in that zone which makes him one of the best actors in the world. A number of episodes are directed by David Fincher and the series has that cinematic quality, the title sequence is superb and it is beautifully shot. The format of release by Netflix works because it is the traditional format for the provider; it uses the same format for all other TV series it has the rights to and therefore House of Cards does not feel out of place. However it does feel like a setup that would only work on a provider such as Netflix or Lovefilm, and I do not think the traditional method for TV companies in the form of weekly releases is under threat. House of Cards is availble to stream on Netflix now.

Black Mirror Channel 4

««««« Jonathan Peters

Photograph: Channel 4

A superb start to the second series of Charlie Brooker’s twisted sci-fi


INDIGO | Thursday 28th February 2013

Film & TV Editor: Alex Leadbeater film@palatinate.org.uk

11

Argo f**k yourself, Academy The 85th Academy Awards were a perfect celebration of the past year and, despite their predictability, the best man won says Alex Leadbeater

The snubbed Affleck wins out (main); Seth MacFarlane proves an inspired choice for host Photograph: Getty/ABC

Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror burst onto our screens last year. A dark dystopian satire that attempted to act as a Twilight Zone for the 21st Century, playing on our fears about the omnipresence of technology in modern life. Whilst the first series’ premiere was a tense thriller that featured the Prime Minister engaging in a carnal act with a pig, here we were treated to a more understated domestic drama, although it was no less enthralling or thought provoking. ‘Be Right Back’ centres around Martha, whose partner Ash dies in an unspecified accident. After a period of mourning she is signed

up for a service that allows her to instant message a simulation of Ash that trawls through previous Facebook conversations before replying with his most realistic response. The technology evolves in each segment of the programme – soon she is able to listen to his voice on the phone, and finally his personality is reanimated inside a mail-order foetus. This premise is used to take an interesting look at the difference between virtual relationships and real-life ones – Martha finds solace in being able to talk to Ash’s reconstructed personality on a computer, but when his online self

The Oscars are the Super Bowl of cinema. Just as sports fans of all disciplines will sit up long in to the night to watch the most expensive sporting event in the world, enduring endless advertising (and blackouts) to see some sport (or is that the other way round), cinephilles will happily sit through the arduous red carpet to be the first to discover who will win a golden baldie. It’s not easy staying up; there are constant asides, minor technical awards with arduous acceptance speeches, and that looming lecture at ten (I didn’t make it). But there’s also an unerring sense of it all being worth it. This year the nominees were a mixed bag. While the quality of film in 2012 had been much higher than the year before and there wasn’t the embarrassment of Hugo being a serious contender, there were some serious snubs. In this paper alone we’ve had more than one article mournful at the complete neglect of The Dark Knight Rises and the lack of Skyfall in the Best Picture nominees, and that sentiment was spread across the media. But as the date got closer, all eyes were on Ben Affleck. His tense spy caper Argo was favourite to take home Best Picture and yet Affleck

himself hadn’t got a Best Director nomination. The last time a film won Picture without Director was in 2005 (the in-your-face racismis-bad story Crash beat Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain), but without a nomination in the latter category at all had only happened three times before, most recently in 1989 with Driving Miss Daisy. The show itself was a pleasant surprise. In an effort to appeal to the widest audience possible, Academy bigwigs enlisted Ted/ any non-Simpsons animated show with a family unit maestro Seth MacFarlane to host and allegedly gave him extreme creative control. The show played on this brilliantly, the opening segment musing on a selection of the offensive things he could have done (and then showing them), but the highlight has to be a Sound of Music spoof to introduce Christopher Plummer. Sure some of his jokes were risqué, but despite the audience’s sharp inhales, nothing crossed a line. It was an entertaining watch and seeing the biggest stars of Hollywood all playing together is fun to watch, but it’s not hard to get sick of the constant asides and just want them to keep going with the awards. So what won? There was little in the way of surprises; all the acting

awards went to the expected recipients, except for Supporting Actor, with Christoph Waltz winning for Django Unchained, making this his second ever and in a collaboration with Tarantino (who also won for the film’s screenplay). And in Best Sound Editing we had a surprising tie, which would have been an exciting talking point if it hadn’t been in the category for Best Sound Editing. The standout shock win was Ang Lee as Best Director, an Award likely already being engraved with ‘Spielberg’. Lee was certainly humble, but sat watching it I couldn’t escape my discomfort; Life of Pi may be well made (hence it’s numerous technical awards), but as an emotional journey it fell flat. Were the stars aligning and was this film forceful with meaning going to claim the big prize? Surely the Academy wouldn’t pull the same trick on the same director twice? Turns out they did. In a big ‘Argo f**k yourself’ to the Academy, Argo won and, being also producer of the film, Affleck got his moment of pure emotional glory. He was ecstatic; maybe because he’d got recognition, or maybe because people had something else to talk about than his questionable acting choices. Nevertheless, he got what he deserved. And I got to go to sleep.

is manifested in seemingly human form she becomes increasingly dissatisfied with their relationship. Their conversations lack the emotional intensity that she craves, and the superficiality of the ‘Facebook personality’ is laid bare when he behaves odd and distant in his human shell. Brooker also examines the way we present ourselves online – the new Ash is a perfect, airbrushed version of the real thing, but someone who represents a mere walking profile page and therefore comes across as utterly inhuman. The technology used in the episode is futuristic but seems re-

alistic. Brooker prophesises the dangers of disrupting the natural grieving process – Martha receives temporary comfort from Ash’s voice, but soon requires a flesh version of him to maintain the illusion that he is still there with her. Charlie Brooker has done a great job of not just crafting some pertinent satire but also layered and sympathetic characters. Hayley Atwell is excellent as Martha, delivering a tragic, realistic portrayal of a woman struggling to cope with loss. We maintain our distance from her, but simultaneously feel her pain and loneliness as the camera follows her around her empty house.

There are some problems with the episode that lose it a star. We only witness Ash alive for the first fleeting minutes of the episode, and it would have been nice to see his character developed a little more before his sudden death. After this, the pacing almost grinds to a halt, and although the issues the episode raises are intriguing, it takes a while to get to the point, and at times the drama sags. Overall however this is a solid start to the new series of what is considered one of the best science fiction shows on TV. Black Mirror is available on 4OD now.

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Check out palatinate.org.uk for more on the Oscars


Thursday 28th February 2012 | INDIGO

12

Music Editors: Patrick Bernard and Alex Denby Deputy: Sophia Smith Galer

Off the beaten tracks

Edris Nikjooy examines two of this month’s significant releases

Drake / Started

From the Bottom

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riginally set to be released on Grammys night (February 10th), Drake decided instead, to quietly release this directly to his fans a week earlier. ‘Started From the Bottom’ is the first single from Drake’s next upcoming album entitled Nothing Was the Same. On Grammys night Drake won best rap album for his 2011 release of Take Care, giving himself some big shoes to fill. Unlike many of Drake’s songs which have been criticised for their crooning R&B feel, this new single, with its monotonous hi-hat and 808 drum beat, cements itself strongly within

Stornoway / Tales From Terra Firma

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In Tales From Terra Firma Stornoway channel real intellectualism, courtesy of Brian Briggs’ poetry and John Ouin’s complex arrangements, into something just as resoundingly accessible as their whimsical debut release.

Drake’s repertoire of dark hiphop tracks. It is certainly interesting that with a Grammy winning mixtape followed by two hugely successful albums, Drake has decided to look back and evaluate his beginnings. This release stands as a blunt opposition to those who have accused Drake of having an easy entrance into the industry. The effect however is rather heavy-handed. The incessant drone of the hook “Started from the bottom now we’re here” teamed with the leaden verses isn’t at all a comfortable listen. Considering his previous singles to introduce his previous two albums, Over then Headlines, this track is very much restrained in its production. ‘Started From the Bottom’ continues however to follow

Lyrically the album takes similar themes from its predecessor, yet relating them with a new-found voice of experience. With an impressive range of instruments (including a mbira, spoons and ‘crunchy autumn leaves’) each song is unique while maintaining something essentially Stornoway throughout. Tales From Terra Firma is an ambitious artwork, drawing the listener through a full range of human experience with relentless forward-motion and a weather-worn optimism befitting the retrospective sense of adventure offered by the album’s title. For all its intricacies, the album remains downto-earth and personal, and I’ve a feeling it’s only a matter of time before I know these songs by heart. Alicia Anne Lewis

the same vein of self confidence and bravado as Drake raps “I wear every single chain, even when I’m in the house”. To his credit however, just as Drake has brought listeners back to his beginnings, he has in doing so, stripped the beat back to an un-ostentatious simple thumping sound. Drake’s intentions are clear, “I feel sometimes that people don’t have enough information about my beginnings” he writes on his blog. Yet in much of Drake’s work it is characteristic of him to recount his struggles entering the industry and his family life. Therefore with this new single does Drake tell his fans or even the casual listener anything that is different? For example even on the track ‘Fear’ from his mixtape So Far Gone, he’s rapping about how his “uncle ain’t even messaging me/ and him missing in my life is kinda messing with me” which is mirrored in ‘Started From the Bottom’ where he describes “living at my mama’s house/we’d argue every month”. All the same Drake presents his characteristicly cutting candidness that tells of his personal family stories, something that can’t be said of many rappers out there. All we can hope for on his upcoming album is that he brings more depth to the table.

My Bloody Valentine / mbv

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Whatever the content of mbv, it was unavoidable that it would to be analysed in relation to the work that preceded it; and, although it isn’t as consistently brilliant as Loveless, mbv, at its best, reaches the same peaks. What’s more, it initially satisfies

James Blake /

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Retrograde

early two years prior to his release of his first self-titled album James Blake, the singer song-writer, and producer has now released a new single, ‘Retrograde’. This will be the first single of the upcoming album Overgrown set to be out on April 8th. For such an artist bringing out often very polemic and alternative tracks such as ‘Unluck’ or ‘Wilhelm Scream’, his new release is, by Blake’s standards, rather middle of the road. ‘Retrograde’, unlike songs like ‘Footnote’ or ‘Look What Happened Here’ has a welcomed traditional progression. Blake draws us in with his characteristic high pitched vocals, which begin distantly and build to a thickly textured electronic crescendo, falling back again in to the calm atmosphere at the beginning. This is definitely an

those that would happily have the band release another Loveless, before then gently slipping into new territory; all without sacrificing what it is that makes their sound so appealing and inimitable. The album doesn’t seem to signify a reboot of the band’s identity, as the eponymous acronymic title suggests, yet neither have they sought to simply rehash old material. Most interestingly of all will be where the band goes from here. If you’re familiar with My Bloody Valentine you’ll definitely find something to connect with, and, if you’re not, this is as good a place to start as any. At its worst, mbv remains streets ahead of the competition; at its best it is exceptional. Gary Johnson

easier listen than Unluck which is so uncompromising in its monotony. ‘Retrograde’ remains however, far from simply a dumming down of his abstract alternative style. The reverberating synths pulsing throughout and the heavy base beat contrasted with wistful humming give this track an unsettling feel. Blake immerses his listeners into a sombre and dark atmosphere, a mood that harmonizes with an earlier song, ‘Blue (Not Long Now)’. The few haunting lyrics that are, like many of the cogs to this song, repeated incessantly mirror the sinisterism of the production, “it’s the starkness of the dawn/And you’re friends are gone/And you’re friends won’t come”. Songs like ‘Limit to Your Love’ and the Joni Mitchell cover, ‘Case of You’ demonstrated James Blake’s fantastic and unique vocal ability. He was projected into the public eye as a singer-songwriter, even if he didn’t want to be categorised- both within this group of musicians and on a general scale. Blake doesn’t do much in terms of changing his vocals on ‘Retrograde’, they continue to jump around in pitch, similar to tracks like ‘Wilhelm Scream’ and maintain their same intensity as ‘Limit to Your Love’. ‘Retrograde’ however, forgoes the classic piano accompliament in ‘Case of You’, for a classic James Blake production; an understated, and quietly brilliant electronic sound.

Biffy Clyro / Opposites

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Scotland heaves a proud sigh of relief as giant-killing stadium rockers Biffy Clyro return from a three year hiatus, brandishing one of rock’s most celebrated clichés - the double-sided concept album. Opposites powers along with surprising stamina for an album that has little need for its latter half, and is a pleasingly predictable effort. Cliché, cool and ten songs too long, Opposites embodies a satisfactory album for a newcomer to the genre and a masterpiece for a Biffy Clyro obsessive. There is still a lot more to come from the Scots - even after six attempts at similarity. Stadiums are already shivering in anticipation. Roy Manuell


INDIGO | Thursday 28th February 2013

travel 13

Travel Editor: Dan Hunt travel@palatinate.org.uk

A Celebration of Qatar

Emma Wind explores Doha by night, the capital of the jewel on the Arabian Peninsular

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s the richest country in the world, headquarters for Al Jazeera, owner of most of Central London, host of the 2022 football world cup, financier of Egypt’s new government and sitting on a precious and handsome treasury of natural gas, Qatar has a pretty impressive resume. It’s not only impressive on paper. Qatar has spent the last years turning Doha into a shining new super-state in the desert, with no expense spared. The malls are pristine and air-conditioned to the temperature of a spring day, the skyline has shot up to rival that of New York and everyone seems to own the new Land Rover with Prada leather seating. Everything is new, synthetic, fake and dripping in money. The one thing I noticed during my visit was how you never tended to really meet any Qatari people. With a population of fewer than 250,000 Qatari citizens, they are simultaneously small in number and big in wealth, with

much of the privileged lifestyle occurring behind closed doors, in newly designed mansions or in expansive communities dotted amongst the desert. Similarly, the Expat communities I encountered were equally segmented; Americans go the American school and work for the increasingly prevalent American utilties firms, such as Conoco Phillips and Exxon Mobil, whilst Koreans go to national language schools and their industries dominate the telecom and internet infrastructure, whole Pakistani enclaves. Put simply, it became clear that Qatar is a country powered by natural gas and created by money. There is always one day that brings back my confidence in the country; National Day. The 18th of December sees Doha come to life. Qataris come flooding in both from the city and from the lesser know rural areas. Cars are covered in images of the Sheikh,

Qatari citizens celebrate National Day Photograph: Emma Wind

silly string is squirted by children and adults alike. Qatar National Day sees the country turn upside down. Qataris drive into the centre of town in the biggest and most ridiculous 4-wheel drives lavishly decorated with the Emir’s face and the burgundy flag. While elsewhere, official military parades and speeches go on, most citizens take to the streets in a public outpour of pride. The Central Business District grinds to a halt as Qataris and foreigners alike sit on car roofs, honk their horns, bang Darbukah and squirt silly string at each other.

The energy in the air is tangible

To me it always feels like a massive release of tension. Sitting in a crowd surrounded by skyscrapers, groups of Bedu’s set up camp in bus stations and dance the Al Ardha, the traditional sword dance. In a more surreal turn, I watched men scribbling their phone numbers all over their cars, in the hope that women might take note. Boys get out of cars and run through the streets squirting fake snow anyone they can aim at. The energy is the air is tangible. Any inhibitions of a Qatari nation driven by capital and commodity have gone. On National Day all bets are off. To a tourist, it appears that on National Day the country which is usually so structured and bounded by sharia law feels as if it can break the rules a little. I gained a strong sense of Qatari identity during my stay from a ritual outpouring of national pride. I can only highly recommend a trip to Qatar. If anyone is planning a visit, travel coinciding with the 18th of December serves as an encapsulation of Qatar’s story, whilst this little country offers both a decadence in capital and culture that really is unmissable.

From top: Tel Aviv shoreline, Yafo museum and one of Tel Aviv’s many eateries Photographs: Benjamin Kasstan

Doha by Night and Day Photographs: Emma Wind, Jema Smith on Flickr

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For more exotic adventures in Travel, take a look at palatinate.org.uk, or follow us on Twitter @palatiTRAVEL.


14

food & drink

Thursday 28th February 2013 | INDIGO

Surely this beats a greasy Dominos? Photograph: Ewan Munro

A guide to Durham’s ‘Little Italy’ Hannah Davis searches for the best places to have pizza, pasta and more, whether you’re looking for a main chain, or maybe something a little more off-piste

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f you’re heading out for a romantic meal, chances are you’ll be frequenting one of Durham’s many Italian restaurants. In fact, Italian is the go-to option for the majority of students. They offer a sophisticated but affordable choice, whilst the extensive menus mean there is something for all but the fussiest of eaters. Yet the abundance of Italian restaurants in Durham can mean it’s difficult to choose where to go. Whilst I haven’t managed to visit every option during my time in Durham (though by the time I graduate, I hope this is no longer the case!), here I offer a few tips on the best destinations. The three most famous chain restaurants in Durham provide a safe, albeit somewhat uninspired, option. Ask and Pizza Express offer some great money-saving deals. Students can receive up to 25% discount on food, although I recommend

checking the websites before you go. There are numerous exclusions, such as the discount only being valid Sunday to Thursday.

The three most famous chain restaurants in Durham provide a safe, albeit somewhat uninspired, option

Alternatively, there are few occasions on which a quick Google search won’t provide you with printable vouchers. Watch drink prices though, as this is where you can get caught out! I defy anyone visiting Pizza Express not to have the dough balls for starters. Perfect for sharing

if (unlike me) you’re willing to do so; they are the stand-out option. Pizzas are, unsurprisingly, the standard fare here, with a fairly limited range of pastas and salads. The cannelloni is, in my opinion, a little sloppy, however the lasagne is good, with a delicious sizzling cheese topping. If you are still repenting for over-indulgence over the festive period, the Leggera pizzas are low-calorie options, since the centre of the pizza has been replaced by salad. You really don’t feel like you’re missing out, though, as the toppings are more inventive than the standard choices. Gorgonzola, pancetta and leek is particularly appetizing. Puddings here can be disappointing; there is little imagination, whilst at £4.95 each the portions are rather ungenerous. Nonetheless, I have never experienced a ‘bad’ meal at Pizza Express; service is consistently efficient, even at busy times, sur-

roundings are clean and the food is well cooked. The ability to witness the pizzas being prepared perpetuates the popularity of this chain as a reliable choice for

Pasta: the perfect date food Photograph: Beau Maes an affordable treat. Ask and Zizzi offer more ex-

tensive and imaginative menus, particularly if you’re not a pizza lover, although experiences can be a little less predictable. I’ve enjoyed wonderful meals at Ask; the desserts are worth a special mention, with the honeycomb cheesecake elevated well above usual Italian desserts, which are, in my opinion, the cuisine’s neglected course. On the other hand, I’ve also suffered slow service and burnt pizza. Zizzi perhaps offers the most sophisticated menu: choices range from ravioli with goats cheese, pesto and pine nuts, to squid ink linguini, to slow-roasted pork belly. The ‘cichetti’ menu offers a variety of small dishes, like Italian tapas, which are ideal for exploring new tastes or if you have trouble deciding! Yet I’ve always found that the tantalizing-sounding menu offers somewhat more than it delivers; dishes can be a little bland. However, Zizzi is the


INDIGO | Thursday 28th February 2013

ideal venue for coeliacs; all pasta dishes can be ordered as glutenfree options! The comparatively small size of Zizzi and its historic bailey location also serve to give it a superior atmosphere to the comparatively soulless Ask and Pizza Express. If you fancy something a little less standardised, you should try out one of the many independent Italians in Durham. The friendly service and quaint atmosphere more than compensate for the admitted lack of finesse! A savvy customer can utilise the popular ‘happy hour’ deals offered by many restaurants, with pizza and pasta on offer for as little as £4.90. Student favourites include La Spaghettata and Ristorante San Marco. Both offer generous portions of traditional Italian food, as well as boasting very charismatic owners. The fact that they are happy to accommodate almost any request, and the ‘hilarious’ quips which may punctuate your meal, offer a real advantage over impersonal chain restaurant service. ‘Spags’ is a particularly lively joint, handily located below Fabio’s bar so you can stagger up for post-meal drinks without having to venture into the cold. The free salad bar, whilst strangely reminiscent of Harvester pubs and rather limited in scope and sophistication, is useful for filling up without having to spend on a starter. One warning, however: the restaurant can become pretty cramped at busy times. Food-wise, I’d recommend Spags if you’re fancying pizza, whereas San Marco offers superior pasta and meat options, both in terms of taste and variety; my recent sampling of tortellini dishes in both restaurants regarded San Marco the clear victor. The chicken and mushroom pancakes are another good option here. As you can see, there are numerous options for an Italian experience in Durham, serving a variety of tastes regarding food and atmosphere. With a little research, it’s easy to enjoy a night out that doesn’t cost the earth. Don’t take my word for it; try them yourself. And remember, Italian does have a reputation as the food of love.

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Food & Drink Editor: Prudence Wade food@palatinate.org.uk

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Dinner for two(fifty) Bored of beans? Fed up of fancy recipes costing a small fortune? Amy Batley does the job on your behalf, hunting around town and cooking recipes which equate to £2.50 or less per head Don’t be fooled, recipes that cost as little as £2.50 per head are not to be standard student fare. Expect recipes to make your friends and parents desperate to visit, without having to slave away in your cramped kitchen all afternoon.

Tired of the pages of the Jamie Oliver cookbook that your worried mum bought you? Your saviour is here!

Bacon, gruyere and red pepper frittata, served with crusty bread and salad Ingredients Frittata: - 8 large eggs: £2 (Durham Indoor Market)

- 100g Gruyere Cheese, chopped into squares: £1.58 (Durham Indoor Market) - 1 small tub cress: 27p ( D u r ham City Fruiterers at Durham Indoor Market) - 130g pancetta/bacon lardons: £1.50 (Tesco) - 95g mushrooms: 22p (Durham Indoor Market) - 1 small box of cherry toma-

toes: 90p (Durham Market)

- 1 red pepper, diced: 72p (Durham Indoor Market) Served with:

- 1 Wholegrain baguette: 40p (Tesco) - 1 packet lettuce: £1 (Tesco)

- 1 carrot: 15p (Durham Indoor Market) - 1 red onion, sliced: 32p (Durham Indoor Market)

- ½ cucumber: 40p (Durham Indoor Market) Total Cost: £9.46 Cost per head: £2.37 Method

1. Pre-heat the oven to 200˚C, line a baking tin with grease-

proof paper, and prepare the ingredients. 2. Beat the eggs together with a fork and add the cheese and half the cress to the mixture. Pour into the prepared tin. 3. Fry the lardons in a frying pan until golden, briefly add the mushrooms, pepper and tomatoes for 2 minutes. Add to the egg mixture in the tin. 4. Bake for 35 minutes until golden and set. 5. Sprinkle over the remaining cress and cut into quarters. Serve with salad and crusty bread. It’s really simple to add the toppings to each quarter of the frittata according to your diners’ preferences, so you needn’t worry if they dislike any of the ingredients! Make a day ahead, cover and chill. When ready to serve, heat at 180˚C for 10-15 minutes.

For more Food and Drink articles, go to palatinate.org.uk

Who would have thought that this could come out of a student kitchen, and for so little? Photograph: Amy Batley


Thursday 28th February 2013 | INDIGO

the last word

LAST ISSUE’S ANSWERS

CROSSWORD

ACROSS 1 Scheme 4 Granite 8 Resits 9 Alfresco 10 Instrumentally 12 Elaborates 13 Trio 15 Tide 17 Fingertips 20 Insideoperator 22 Altruist 23 Pirate 24 Empathy 25 Ascend DOWN 1 Sore 2 Hosanna 3 Mutation 4 Goldeneagle 5 Aerate 6 Insular 7 Eponymous 11 Unanimously 12 Extricate 14 Friaries 16 Desktop 18 Isolate 19 Adjust 21 Feud

‘Samurai’ sudoku: www.sudoku-puzzles.net

Photograph: Natalia Inacio


Indigo 749