The art of the ménage à trois

Published in BBC Culture on November 7, 2018

Brangelina, Kimye, Hiddleswift… you could be forgiven for thinking the celebrity portmanteau name was an invention of the 21st Century. But today’s creative couples surely have nothing on the delightful ‘PaJaMa’: an amalgam of Paul Cadmas, Jared French and Margaret French, to reflect the interdependence of their relationship and artistic practice. From 1937 on, they lived as a polyamorous trio for 20 years. Continue reading “The art of the ménage à trois”

George Butler: ‘Because people are watching as I draw, it’s by permission and honest’

Published in The Observer on October 27, 2018

A reportage illustrator specialising in travel and current affairs, George Butler, 33, has worked in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2014 he helped establish the Hands Up Foundation to fund health and education services in Syria. A new exhibition of his work, Anima Mundi: Drawn Stories of Migration, will be at Bankside Gallery, London, 20-25 November. Butler grew up in Oxforshire and is now based in south London. Continue reading “George Butler: ‘Because people are watching as I draw, it’s by permission and honest’”

How LSD influenced Western culture

Published in BBC Culture on October 17, 2018

When you think of LSD, a very specific aesthetic probably leaps to mind: the psychedelic pink-and-orange swirls of the 60s; naked people with flowers in their hair; the shimmer of a sitar. After its psychedelic properties were accidentally discovered in the lab by Albert Hofmann in 1943, the drug was banned in the UK in 1966. LSD is still most strongly associated with hippies who embraced its mind-expanding properties. Continue reading “How LSD influenced Western culture”

The artist who triumphed over her shocking rape and torture

Published in BBC Culture on August 27, 2018

“The works shall speak for themselves.” So wrote Artemisia Gentileschi in 1649, in a letter to a patron acknowledging her rare position in the art world at that time: a painter, and a woman. Although all too aware that she had a harder job being taken seriously, she had faith in her talent, her work. Continue reading “The artist who triumphed over her shocking rape and torture”

Frida Kahlo at the V&A: Forget the £245 flower crowns and lipsticks and look at the work

Published in The i on June 13, 2018

Could there be a better time for a show about Frida Kahlo? The vision presented at the V&A is a female icon who documented her self, and her suffering. A third of her paintings were self-portraits; she posed for her father’s camera from a young age. An art star for the selfie age. Continue reading “Frida Kahlo at the V&A: Forget the £245 flower crowns and lipsticks and look at the work”

Review: The Lost Words, The Foundling Museum

Published in Time Out on January 16, 2018

The heart can’t help but sink when you learn that this show was inspired by research revealing that British schoolkids are better at identifying Pokémon than our native wildlife. Adults aren’t much better: only a quarter of us can spot an ash tree. I’m surprised it’s that high. Continue reading “Review: The Lost Words, The Foundling Museum”

Dali and Duchamp: these mischievous mavericks shaped the 21st century

Published in BBC Culture on November 20, 2017

Marcel Duchamp and Salvador Dalí: two titans of modern art who might appear to have little in common. One is the father of conceptual art, who turned his back on the commercialisation of that world in favour of playing chess; the other is famous as a painter – and just as famous for embracing fame, a dandyish personality who knew how to sell himself. Continue reading “Dali and Duchamp: these mischievous mavericks shaped the 21st century”

The ‘most painted woman in the world’

Published in BBC Culture on November 13, 2017

She is known as ‘the most painted woman in the world’: around 225 artists have captured the captivating likeness of Suzy Solidor, including Tamara de Lempicka, Jean Cocteau, Francis Bacon, Man Ray and Francis Picabia. A French cabaret star, she was a major mainstream recording artist in the 1930s – even though she sang really rather explicit songs of lesbian desire. Today, however, the chanteuse is hardly a familiar face. Continue reading “The ‘most painted woman in the world’”

Review: Martin Creed’s Words and Music, EIF

Published in Fest on August 7, 2017

Artist Martin Creed’s show defies easy categorisation. He shares some thoughts, from the problem with trousers to the inadequacies of language to explanations of his sculptures. He plays some songs: some illustrate his musings, some are aural non-sequiturs. Continue reading “Review: Martin Creed’s Words and Music, EIF”