In 1948 a young Andy Warhol read Truman Capote’s first novel, Other Voices, Other Rooms, and became obsessed with the writer. On moving to New York a few years later, he started sending fan letters to Capote, hanging around outside his house until they got talking, and after that phoned him every day. His first show in the city was called Fifteen Drawings Based on the Writings of Truman Capote.
It’s a tale as old as time – two lovers unjustly torn apart. But while the story of King Pedro I and his queen Inês De Castro has shades of Romeo and Juliet in its set up, it ends up somewhere altogether more macabre – imagine if Shakespeare’s tale swerved into horror movie territory in the final act.Continue reading “Inês De Castro: The macabre tale of the ‘skeleton queen’”
Published in BBC Culture January 17, 2022
Look up the term “collage”, and the Tate’s website will inform you that this cut-and-paste method for making new work was “first used as an artists’ technique in the early 20th Century.” Generally, Picasso and Braque get credited with inventing collage, with Picasso’s decision to paste oilcloth into his painting Still Life with Chair Caning in 1912 considered a firing shot for an explosion of avant-garde art.Continue reading “The surprising ways that Victorians flirted”
Published in Elephant August 17, 2021
I was small enough to be picked up to see the painting, held comfortably in my father’s arms. It was a good print, in a good frame, hanging on the wall in my grandmother’s dining room. It is the first artwork I can remember really being aware of, and I loved it.
Published in BBC Culture July 20, 2021
You know Frida Kahlo – of course you do. She is the most famous female artist of all time, and her image is instantly recognisable, and unavoidable. Kahlo can be found everywhere, on T-shirts and notebooks and mugs.
Exciting news: I am delighted to have been shortlisted for Freelance art and design writer of the year in 20201’s Freelance Writing Awards, for two piece I wrote for BBC Culture.Continue reading “A Freelance Writing Awards nomination”
Published in BBC Culture May 12, 2021
For books that are all about surprising transformations, it should perhaps be no real surprise that Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass are among the most frequently adapted and reinterpreted stories ever written.Continue reading “Why Alice is the ultimate icon of children’s books”
Published in BBC Culture March 19, 2021
“Love, lust, pleasure, desire, beauty, anatomical study, self-expression, egotism… The impulses behind sending nudes are many. Creating nudes and sharing them seems to be part of human nature.” So begins Karla Linn Merrifield, in the first contribution to a new anthology entitled Sending Nudes. A collection of poems, stories and memoir on the subject, it takes a long hard look at the contemporary – and seemingly timeless – habit of sharing images of the naked human form.Continue reading “A cultural history of the nude selfie”
Published in BBC Culture February 3, 2020
If we hear at all about Britain’s involvement in slavery, there’s often a slight whiff of self-congratulation – for abolishing it in 1833, 32 years ahead of the US, where the legacy of slavery is still more of an open wound. Less well known, however, is the enormous cost of this decision for the taxpayer – the British government spent £20 million, a staggering 40% of its budget in 1833, to buy freedom for slaves.Continue reading “How Britain is facing up to its hidden slavery history”
Published in BBC Culture November 14, 2019
In 2017, Florence Schechter discovered that Iceland had a penis museum, but that nowhere in the world could its female equivalent be found. And so, the science communicator decided to do something about it. This month, in London, the Vagina Museum will be born.Continue reading “How vaginas are finally losing their stigma”