Stranded at home

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Plans and life don’t always go hand in hand.

On Friday late afternoon I was heading to London City Airport on the DLR. I left the office early as planned, was on perfect time, ETA 5 pm for a flight taking off at 6, which is plenty of time for City airport, where you feel you are a member of JetNet and everyone looks like they are running an extremely important business. I had a sleek winter wedding outfit in the bag, alongside a shirt for my husband, which he had left behind.

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My planned outfit. Photo credit: dress Hobbs, shoes Christian Louboutin, bag Hugo Boss, fur Canavesi family vintage.

 

And then come the bad surprise, delivered by the DLR’ tannoy: the airport is shut, as the DLR station that leads to it. However Twitter was saying that the airport was open, so I trusted the social media, absolutely adamant of not letting any incident to ruin my plans. I got off at the last suitable station and had prearranged an Uber to make up for the time I was going to lose. Jumped in the car – which I offered to two strangers in my same situation – and after 250 metres we were stuck in traffic. The road leading to the airport was closed as well. Got off, got the notification of the most expensive 250 metres ever done (£7) and walked, alongside many others, towards the airport. There I waited patiently and shared my pain with a couple of “stranded” fellows. Luckily I got a spot on a step and felt lucky for that. The scene in front of me was quite surreal. Usually, the scene of people stranded at airports are of a colourful mix of individuals, dressed in clothes suitable for the place where they are heading, hence often wearing flip flops and shorts, while here everyone was suited and booted, with compact wheelie bags, dark coats, two phones and a laptop. It felt as if Canary Wharf has been evacuated and everyone carried their belongings in their bag.

 

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Waiting to be told what to do

 

No news from the airport on what was happening, which turned out to be a chemical scare or the airline, which couldn’t tell me if my flight was cancelled or not and what my options were. We just kept on seeing fire-fighters and police cars arriving and not leaving. The longer the wait, the darker and colder it was getting, and thinner my hopes to get on a fast flight to Edinburgh, joining the husband – who headed there the day before – and friends. So I did what many people did: read my book, pulled out a warm scarf and socialised with a couple of other people in my same shoes and weighted my options.

At 7.30 I turned my heels and decided to head home, having scheduled a call with BA and asked my family to help to find another flight. Sadly, despite all the efforts, no empty seats were heading to Scotland that would have allowed me to make it on time for a wedding that I was expecting to be pretty special. Sorry, I missed your special day Theo and Rebecca! So what do you do with 48 hours ahead with nothing planned, where a good portion of your friends and your husband are not around? You do what you would not normally do, which turned up to be quite blissful and fulfilling. If life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

Also, our designated cat si(s)tter turned out to be ill, which would have meant that our new member of the family would have been starving.

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BoJack sleeps blissfullySo, what did I do?

So, what did I do? While I was walking along the stretched around Hammersmith Bridge, I visited the William Morris Society, mini museum carved out of William Morris’s house, which is a delight for those, like me, passionate about Pre Raffaellites and stylish prints.

 

 

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Original print by William Morris at the William Morris Society

 

I discovered that a new little Italian deli is about to open this weekend, went to the market to get fresh fruit and vegetables, watched a silly French movie, cooked a lot for the week, so do not have to face for a couple of days the dilemma “what can I cook in 5 minutes” which I often face at 8.30 pm, tired and starved, and started a new brilliant book called ‘Sixty Million Frenchmen can’t be wrong”, which is turning out to be very similar to ‘Watching the English’. I thought I better get prepared, in the light of the latest EU summit. Alongside plenty of warning of a rough road ahead, the French language, and everything around it, is very much in vogue.

Shoe or non-shoe?

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I always thought that no-shoes party – or no shoe policy – would have been the landmark of my early twenties/ party years. Now it turns out they are still very much a common trait of my cappuccino years, as I rebranded my early thirties.

If ten years ago no shoes seemed like a funny and slightly anticonformist idea, today the no shoe policy is so mainstream that not only guests but even workmen like plumbers, bricklayers and builders offer to take off their shoes when they cross your door, without even being asked.
When you visit people’s houses, the no shoe policy is well documented and explained. The reasons go from we have young children and do not want to expose them to germs, to we just have a new parquet to we do not want to disturb our neighbours, to we have a new carpet. But the latter is not something I have heard in person. I cannot be friend with someone who would choose to carpet the floor. All valid reasons, and I respect them.

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Theresa May and her shoe

 

But I am less than thrilled when I am asked to take off my shoes. The first reason is cultural and it is wired in my brain. I have never seen anyone asking you to do so in Italy. Quite the opposite: when someone is visiting you, you probably are going to put on your shoes, to be more presentable and on the same level. Slipper, flip flops, barefoot is to be seen only amongst intimate and immediate family.

Floors are meant to walk on with or without shoes, and that applied to timber, marble and anything in between.
Ask yourself this question: if the Queen or the Prime Minister would visit your house, would you ask them to take off their shoes? The answer is surely no. Because you want to honour those important people, not make them feel diminished or sartorially castrated.
The second reason is purely selfish and aesthetic. Without shoe I feel short (even if I am not) and deprived of my outfit’s foundation. As per many people, shoes are the base and the pinnacle of my style, or I like to think so. And if I spend a good percentage of my salary on a pair or shoes, I want for as many people as possible to look at them, and for women to admire. Shoe are important and not an optional.

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Of course, I would never refuse, if asked.

Now, this comes the confession. I hosted a no shoe party six years ago. No royals or members of the Cabinet were in attendance. The reason why I deprived my friends of such an important accessories was simple: laziness and selfishness. I hosted a rather large party with about 50 people coming in and out just before Christmas, in a small one bedroom flat.No one likes scrubbing the floor while hangover the day after. I was more interested in making things easier for me. And that is fine too.

 

 

The best Car Boot sale, a Jewellery brand to follow and a month to Photo London

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I haven’t written an original line here for such a long time that I almost had to retrain on using WordPress. I hope the wait is worth it and the next few months are going to be more manageable than the previous ones, leaving me a bit of time and headspace for inspiring things. car

While I wait for spring to sprang, here are three things worth sharing and recommending. A disclaimer: this post has a very high rate of fashion (in the broad sense) content. But it is all for a good cause. Boys, you are warned.

Fashion for a good cause

If I were spending this weekend in London, I would be heading to this Car Boot Sale. Instead, I will be celebrating a very important 90th birthday. Not the Queen, but a patriarch that has welcomed me in his large – and sometimes overwhelming – eclectic family.

Alex Eagle, founder of The Store— boutique for the girl who own everything and wants the next cool thing – has teamed up with Women for Women International in support of the charity’s work on its #SheInspiresMe campaign.

Young Beautiful Women Girlfriends At Flea Market Looking For Bag

The event takes place at Brewer Street Car Park – re launched as a fashion venue during one of the last London Fashion Week. The Gotha of British Fashion world is going to be there, with the promise of emptying their wardrobes for charities. The larger than life Charlotte Tilbury is also on hand for mini makeovers. Seeing her at work is worth a visit.

Car Boot Sale, Saturday April 23, The Store x Brewer Street Car Park, London, W1F 0LA; @thestoresdotcom @womenforwomenuk

From Spain with Love

Last week I had the pleasure to preview the latest collection of Tartesia, a sophisticated and contemporary new jewellery brand. This is the kind of jewellery that girls buy for themselves, for their friends and enjoy wearing everyday. Sophisticated and contemporary, each piece is precious and versatile, adds some light but doesn’t attract too much attention.

 

The lovely founder is Selina Ashdown, a Londoner whose heart was made in Spain. After a successful career in public relations and strategy consulting, she moved to Spain for love. She discovered the exquisite quality of artisan jewellery in southern Spain, where Tartesia’s pieces are manufactured.

The name TARTESIA is derived from the Bronze Age kingdom of Tartessos, a rich and splendid culture from southern Spain, admired for their early advancements in metallurgy to craft exquisite jewellery and treasures.

www.tartesia.com

Somerset House Delight

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Somerset House in The Strand

I love photography. It is easy, immediate and a medium we are accustomed to. Collectors, museums and auction houses have realized that it is having a moment. Hence Photo London. Launched a year ago, it was an astonishing success. The next edition is in less than a month, and I have already registered my ticket. With 90 exhibitors, 480 artists, 33 talks, 4 exhibitions and 2 installations, PhotoLondon at Somerset House definitely has a lot to offer. Probably a bit too much, as the Somerset house can be quite tortuous and a bit claustrophobic, but worth paying a visit. Apparently this year the fair will take over a pavilion built for the occasion in the Fountian Court. There a lot too see, to buy and aspire to. Top of my list: Erwin Blumenfeld’s Vogue cover images, and more recent work by Patrick Demarchelier, Bob Carlos Clarke and Thomas Struth.

19 – 22 MAY 2016, SOMERSET HOUSE, THE STRAND, WC2R 1LA

BUY TICKETS HERE

Non sopporto i finti poveri

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Da LaRassegna

Si è conclusa di recente la prima London Fashion Week del 2016. Se dovessi scegliere una parola per riassumere quello che ho visto, sceglierei frugale. Ho visto scendere dalle auto sponsorizzate e lucidate donne e uomini vestiti come se fossero dei senzatetto. In questo periodo dell’anno tutto è enfatizzato, ma non serve essere parte di questa selettiva tribù per abbracciare questo stile. Basta camminare su una strada qualunque, da Castione a Barletta, e accorgersi che jeans strappati con buchi enormi in zona ginocchia, orli sbrindellati, magliette con il buco, giacche con le toppe attaccate, sono la norma. In Giappone vendono jeans che sono prima stati dati in pasto alle tigri, e poi rivenduti a caro prezzo. No, non si tratta di uno scherzo. Adidas vende scarpe con delle finte macchie di fango, Diesel propone jeans spuzzati di vernice e pittura, come se fossero stati usati per tinteggiare casa. Chi ha un budget limitato può trovare nella rete istruzioni dettagliate e suggerimenti per invecchiare, sgualcire, e direi rovinare, un paio di pantaloni nuovi e perfetti, usando lamette da barba, carta vetrata e candeggina.
Lo stile “usato e martoriato” non si ferma agli abiti. Ho perso il conto di quanti amici hanno in cucina una credenza strappata alla discarica e ritinteggiata, o le cassette della frutta del mercato smaltate e trasformate in porta oggetti. Nessuno sceglie il marmo per il bagno o i pavimenti. Si preferiscono le assi di legno vissute, i rubinetti di metallo opaco e i mattoni a vista, come se non ci si potesse permettere di rifinire i muri.

Per la maggior parte della storia, abiti vecchi e consumati erano l’unica opzione, e chi si poteva permettere bei vestiti li indossava con orgoglio. Il fenomeno di apparire dimessi è relativamente recente e portatore di rottura e contestazione delle regole. Pensiamo al look libero e trasandato degli hippy, i tagli e le spille da balia dei punk, i grunge degli anni ’90. Il denominatore in comune è il momento storico in cui sono nati, segnato da pace e prosperità, in un’era che si può permettere il lusso di scegliere. Se per i nostri nonni abiti dimessi erano un segno di tempi di guerra, fame e ristrettezze, il look stressato e dimesso tanto di moda adesso può rappresentare diverse cose: lo stato d’inquietudine e afflizione nella quale si trova la nostra società, la risposta ad un contesto che ci bombarda di nuove tendenze ogni tre mesi, istigando una fame insaziabile al consumo, abiti prodotti a costo bassissimo, di altrettanto bassa qualità, spesso in condizioni di lavoro disumane. Se una maglietta costa quanto un gelato, il motivo lo sappiamo bene. Un altro motivo è invece la “sindrome di Maria Antonietta”, dove chi ha troppo di tutto, si diverte a travestirsi da povero solo per il gusto di apparire diverso e interessante, o perché ha già indossato velluti, pizzi e sete e desidera qualcosa di diverso. Basta pensare ai guru della Silicon Valley, tutti in felpa sgualcita e maglietta, cercano di apparire modesti quando hanno un conto in banca a sette zeri e l’aereo privato. Oppure non c’è nessun significato sociologico ma è solo e semplicemente moda.

Latino vs greco, la spuntiamo sempre noi

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Da LaRassegna

Mi sarebbe piaciuto essere parte del pubblico in sala ad un dibattito che si è tenuto alla fine dello scorso anno sul tema “Grecia contro Roma”. Organizzato da Intelligent Squared, un’organizzazione culturale che mette insieme temi di attualità e opinionisti di spicco, a volte in forma di dibattito, altre volte in stile tavola rotonda. Questa volta si è trattato di un dibattito, di quelli che piacciono tanto agli americani e che vedremo presto in preparazione alle loro elezioni. Il tema era: chi ha portato maggior contributo alla società moderna occidentale, i romani o i greci? Letto da noi, potrebbe sembrare una domanda che viene posta agli studenti dell’ultimo anno di liceo classico o che potrebbe fare da sfondo ad una discussione semi-intellettuale da circolo letterario di provincia. Invece ha attratto grandi numeri, e lasciato molti interessati a bocca asciutta.

Partiti con mille posti a sedere, gli organizzatori, alla luce dell’interesse da evento sportivo, hanno spostato l’appuntamento in un teatro da 2.200 posti, venduti in poche ore, nonostante i biglietti fossero alla cifra non proprio abbordabile di 50 pound (circa 60 euro). Mi sono quindi aggiunta alla lista d’attesa, ma ancora senza successo. A dibattere non erano due sconosciuti o accademici noti solo agli addetti ai lavori, ma il sindaco di Londra, Boris Johnson, classicista laureato a Oxford, e Mary Beard, professoressa di cultura classica a Cambrdige e divulgatrice, che con i suoi programmi di successo su questa materia per la BBC, e un paio di best seller, ha risvegliato l’interesse del grande pubblico su Roma e l’impero romano. Altri autori hanno pubblicato libri di grande successo sempre su questi temi, negli ultimi mesi, a cui si sono aggiunti spettacoli teatrali, altri show televisivi e un vero e proprio festival della classicità in un teatro un po’ d’avanguardia.

Insomma, tutti gli indizi per stabilire che è davvero il momento dei classici. Ma perché proprio adesso?  La risposta non può essere soltanto che una manciata di nomi noti abbia deciso di cavalcare il tema dell’antichità e abbia divulgato il proprio sapere al grande pubblico, fuori da università e circoli di latinisti e grecisti. Quello che stupisce è l’interesse per questi temi, lingue e civiltà in un paese dove il nostro caro, e spesso considerato anacronistico, liceo classico non esiste e dove queste lingue morte sono insegnate, quasi esclusivamente, nelle scuole private, con una connotazione elitaria molto accentuata. E dove l’istruzione media, o universitaria, non include lo studio del latino. Non è infatti un caso che gli organizzatori di Intelligent Squared, con una bella manovra di pubbliche relazioni, abbiano stabilito di devolvere il ricavato dei biglietti all’associazione Classics for All, che si occupa di introdurre Latino e Greco nelle scuole statali.

Il dibattito tra Roma e Atene ci ha ricordato come i greci amavano assimilare e assorbire le idee dei popoli vicini, che i romani stabilirono per primi l’idea di garantire asilo ai rifugiati e dare lo stato di cittadini dell’impero ai popoli che colonizzavano. Sarà forse per questo, per la magnanimità degli antichi romani, che il pubblico ha deciso di assegnare la palma della vittoria a Roma, con un 56 per cento di preferenze a fine dibattito. Probabilmente senza rendercene conto, migliaia di anni dopo che Roma e Atene resero il mondo un luogo più piccolo e dai confini ben definiti, noi spettatori stiamo facendo qualcosa per ripagarli del nostro debito nei confronti del loro contributo alla nostra civiltà. Come so come è finito il dibattito? Sono riuscita a guardarlo in streaming.

BECOMING: Cindy Crawford at the V&A

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Beauty will save the world.
No wonder it is what allegedly caused a war between Sparta and Athens.

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It is only when you meet a genuine beauty, that you fully understand those statements.
I met one last week, at the V&A. Not in the plaster court, but in the lecture theatre.
The coolest museum in the world was the location for the launch of Cindy Crawford’s book BECOMING. And she was there. The photography-led book is the chronicle of the American icon and supermodel, where she shares stories of her professional and personal evolution, accompanied by her most iconic images, as well as never-before-published photographs from her personal archive. One of the best coffee-table books that uber cool publisher Rizzoli has released in the last few years. Since I bought the book, I browse few pages a day, like a good drink to sip slowly. The selection is stunning.

Cindy descending stairs in a black maillot and sheer veil © Helmut Newton

I was a child in the 90s and whenever I was going through fashion magazines I was thinking that the women featured on those pages were some sort of godess. These days they look a lot like clotheshorses.

My fashion-eureka moment was a Versace campaign, shot by Richard Avedon. The picture was displayed in the shop window of a boutique few doors from home, in a big poster. They were selling Versace. Now those walls host a cafeteria. All I know is that I wanted the clothes those girls were wearing. Those candy coloured clothes, those beautiful women with tanned legs who probably echoed Barbie very vividly, were the pivotal moment when I fell in love with clothes. And probably with beauty tout court.

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Versace campaign Richard Avedon, sometime in the 90’s

Cindy was always my favourite. Today we would call it a girl crush.
On my birthday I discovered she was launching her book, and presenting in London. I had to be there. And I did. I sat in the front row, spoke to her, she signed my book, and we exchanged few words. I am not normally quite like this; I am not usually fascinated by famous people.

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Cindy with son, Presley ©Gilles Bensimon

During the talk, hosted by Claudia Croft of Style of the Sunday Times, she offered a genuine and sincere look back over her career and life; clearly filled with joy, love but also the devastating early loss of her brother, Jeff, and her parents’ subsequent divorce only a few years later. When asked what beauty is for her, she said something simple and truthful: “Beauty is someone who is passionate about something and is confident”. I will take it with me.

Once at home I felt the urge to watch the video of Freedom by George Michael and Girl Panic of Duran Duran. The 90’s weren’t bad at all.

BECOMING

By Cindy Crawford

With Katherine O’Leary

Hardcover / 8.5” x 11” / 224 pages / 150 colour and B&W illustrations

£35.00 U.K. Rizzoli New York / ISBN: 978-0-8478-4619-1 Release date: Sept 2015

Ai Weiwei shows his brave, provocative and visionary works.

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Photograph + Harry PearcePentagram 2015_
Photograph + Harry PearcePentagram 2015_

The exceptional and monumental installation of trees in the Royal Academy’s historic courtyard sets the scene for a very exciting autumn in London. These are the weeks when the city shows its best clothes – if the sun is out: Frieze Art Fair is around the corner, auction houses are busy getting ready for the hottest weeks of the year, Kickstarter becomes the Uber of the art world, replacing patrons and sponsors, making new projects possible. The scene is vibrant. Boundaries will be crossed.

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The artwork of Ai Weiwei was made possible thanks to the museum’s first ever Kickstarter campaign, showing how disruptive products can change the rules of the game, even when it comes to sponsorship.

Launched in order to raise the £100,000 – necessary to transport and install the old trees, which began their life in the mountains of southern China – the campaign was a huge success raising more funds than was ever anticipated. Not a big surprise, considering the attention the media paid to Ai Weiwei.

Much has happened in the life of the renowned Chinese artist since his breath-taking Sunflower Seeds – an installation of 100 million hand-crafted porcelain seeds – covered the floors of the Turbine Hall in the Tate Modern in 2010. One of the most memorable and poetic installations of the last ten years, in my opinion.

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Not only was he detained for 81 days without charge by the Chinese authorities over a contested tax bill, but he has also been unable to travel for the last four years. In July this year, he was finally handed back his passport, enabling him to come to London for the opening of his show. His exceptional work is on show at the RAA until 13 December.

Old habits, new habits, no no habits

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So much has happened in the last ten (gulp) years since I moved to London. I have learned to move around town like a cabbie, cycle to work and ask people to take off their shoes when they enter my flat. Most crucially, as I have recorded several times in this blog, I got to observe, and of course, make some fun of my fellow Londoners. Inspired by a recent article of the glorious Garance Dore’ about New York, here is my list of best (and worst) habits, shared, acquired and fought.

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Things Londoners do that I do:
Go to the trendy restaurant/ brunch place. Not getting a table and wait for it while sipping a £10 quid drink at the bar. Get that damn table, which I will need to give back in 75 minutes, and pay £ 25 quid for eggs Benedict, realising that the cost of that drink has inflated the bill significantly.

Saying “we need to get together and have a coffee” and never get in touch.

Plan a very ambitious social week, and cancelling all plans because you have underestimated your workload for that week.

15529963333_e76b40bbfcSimilar to the above, meet a friend by chance, agree to meet up, then look at your diary and the only slot available is in three weeks. Put the get together in the diary and then get an epic cold/ headache on the day, cancelling at the last minute.

Drink coffee in a paper cup, and feeling like I mean business just because of that.

Catching a syndrome that I call londonite. The symptoms are guilt for not fitting in your week a new exhibition, a concert, a newly released movie, Pilates and some development courses, such as coding, pottery or Portuguese. The guilt is immense if you spend your weekend watching several episodes of your favourite series or if you find yourself napping during the afternoon during the weekend.
Talk about the newest doctor on the scene specialised in food intolerances and diets, the magician who enabled so and so to loose tons of weight. The conversation usually happens while you are grabbing salted peanuts and have a glass of wine in your hands. 15565763807_0637857b60
Feeling like people from other countries are superior creatures, who can play a sport on a regular basis before work and have a level of stamina that you never had, even when you were 12.

Feel like you are never doing enough. Socialising Enough, creative work, self development, work.

Keep my shoes at work. Walk in flats and get into power shoes at work, keeping a selection of several pairs in the locker or under the desk.
Things Londoners do that I cannot get myself to do:
Queue. The queue at the bus stop. Queue because it is Open House week, London Design Festival, the opening of a new shop, the launch of the Marni collection for H & M. Life is too short, and my calves get stiffed very quickly.

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Be excited about a picnic. I do not get the appeal of eating cold finger food sitting on the ground in precarious hygienic conditions, getting stuffed on crisps and olives. Bring on table cloths and real food, with my legs under a table. And metal cutlery please.
The tube. It is a wonderful mode of transport and overall it does a pretty good job for such a large city. But do not get me on the tube at peak time. I can just tolerate the Circle and District line. My idea of hell is a journey from Heathrow to Canary Wharf, trying to get there before 9 am on a Tuesday.

Work crazy hours. Life is too short and no one, on their death bed, ever said “I wish I worked longer hours”.

Change my shoes in the middle of the street, just before entering an event, heading into an office for a meeting, walking in a bar for a date.

Do my make up or eat on public transport or at my desk. What would you say if your male colleague was using his electric razor at the desk?

Woman making up on her workplace

Woman making up on her workplace

A new wave of cutting edge performance art – Block Universe

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Over the last few months I spent my Tuesday evenings at the Sofitel hotel in Pall Mall. I wasn’t meeting my lover – as my husband was insinuating. Instead I was meeting an amazing group of people, predominantly young women, working towards the launch of the city’s first-ever performance art festival.

Titled ‘Block Universe’, the event will be a return to midcentury performance values with a contemporary spin. A bunch of artists will be speaking, wriggling and dancing from the ICA to Somerset House, from RADA to the courtyard of the Royal Academy of Arts. 04-Block 05-Block 08-Block

 

‘We’re seeing an increasing interest in it, despite the way it’s being programmed in London,’ says Louise O’Kelly, the festival’s director and a Goldsmiths grad, ‘but a lot of artists working in performance find they don’t have a home.’

A devotee of the artform, O’Kelly was roused when Tate Tanks opened in 2012 with a 15-week festival heavy in performance art. Then… nothing. It is remarkable that the creative capital of the world has kept for so long performance art in the margins, at a time when Marina Abramovic enjoys rock star status and is escorted by bodyguards whenever she performs or attends the preview of Frieze.

 

On the other side of the pond, New York has a dedicated performance art space called the Kitchen and a biennial called Performa.

The intersection with contemporary art is what gives Block Universe contemporary freshness. We will see Jenny Moore performing a feminist manifesto at the Art Worker’s Guild, surrounded by portraits of the Guild’s forefathers. Conrad Shawcross’s installation ‘The Dappled Light of the Sun’ in the courtyard of the Royal Academy will provide the background for Nicola Conibere’s performance, when she will wrap two bodies in swathes of fabric and send them rolling around the courtyard.
‘Performance art in the Sixties was very much about moving away from an object-space practice to something more intangible,’ says O’Kelly. ‘Now there’s a lot of crossover between dance, painting and sculpture. Those conversations are opening again.’

 
Find out about the festival at www.blockuniverse.co.uk and help with the
Kickstarter campaign

 

 

 

 

Palazzo or Post office

It’s Friday afternoon, me and the Lord are in Rome for a long weekend. Walking through the narrow back streets he suggests sending a postcard to his grandfather and his great aunt. Finding the postcards is easy. We get a beautiful Fountain of Trevi, looking a lot better than the actual one, currently under restoration, and one featuring the Roman Forum, both classic images of the Eternal City. Postcard, checked. I then head straight to a Tobacconist shop, to buy some stamps. They tell they no longer sell stamps. According to the new regulation, the only place to buy stamps is the post office. The irony is that the tobacconist in Italy is called “Sali e Tabacchi”, which means “Salts and tobaccos”. They no longer sell salts, they still sell cigarettes, now they have been stripped off a significant role, and footfall. How many times I bought stamps and I suddenly feel the urge to buy gums? Many.  They eye you, you cannot miss them, so you want to buy them. Easiest strategy in the world. IMG_2888
I confess my bewilderment at the tobacconist – but she reassures me: the post office is twenty meters away. Still, one single image appears in my mind: interminable line, endless waiting time, boredom. Do I really need to do that? Yes, it is the only way. My gut reaction is to let it go. Then I think of the typical day of two ultra octogenarians, one at home and one in a nursing home. Not much happens in their days and receiving mail is an event.
IMG_2932We have to send these postcards.
We reach the entrance. The space is grand, with frescoed ceilings, marble, ancient fragments beautifully displayed.  The Lord cannot believe this is an actual post office. A museum, a palazzo, yes, but this place looks the furthest away from our local post office, which is a room with poor lighting, linoleum floors and five counters squeezed in. The comparison is surreal.
Getting the ticket with the queue number is also surreal. There is no option for stamps. I am in doubt, so I ask a man who is sitting nearby and seems friendly. I shared my concern – and incredulity with him, and he sympathises. He thinks this is completely absurd. I do not understand why I haven’t read about this change in the press, so far. He then explains that the building is the former British church of Rome, which explains the frescoes, the marble and the beautiful building. We didn’t end up here by chance, I think.
My prediction was also right: we have to queue for 20 minutes before being served. Once I finally get served, there are no stamps available at the counter! It takes the post officer five more minutes to dig them out. He needs to go to the other side of the building. The whole experience sounds like a nonsense, and it is.
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The only thing I realise is that the post office has introduced this easy trick to increase their footfall exponentially and sell mobile phones, financial products, prepaid debit cards, stationery, and more. I would not be surprised if, on my next visit, I discover they are selling furniture.