Offprint London

I thought it was the Bloomsbury Ephemera Fair which was happening last Sunday, but I had a hunch that the date may be wrong. ‘Can you go to their website and check the date just in case?’ I yelled at Hubbie from the bathroom. 

Alas, my hunch proved right and it turned out that the fair would be held during the next weekend. ‘Oh no, not again!’ I was disappointed because I would miss another one again by not being around London then. 

‘There is another art book fair at Tate Modern today. Do you wanna go?’ Hubbie asked as he munched on our brunch of vegetarian sausages, baked beans and toasts. His suggestion lightened my heart like a ray of sunshine. Oh yeah!

Wow, the Tate’s new extension project had come a long way…

Last time we stood at the same spot was when we were about to visit the Sonia Delaunay exhibition last August. Then, the concrete walls were still exposed to the elements with lines of the brackets,  which resembled dotted lines and were yet to receive cladding. Now, all the walls were armoured with beautiful brickwork which complemented the existing ex-power station. 

Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall…

I can hardly wait to see humongous artworks, alike of The Weather Project or Marsyas, to be displayed in the Turbine Hall again once all the construction works are over.

The fair was occupying the east end of the Turbine Hall…

Offprint London was a book fair which exhibited and sold publications which featured art, photography, design, experimental music, open culture and activism. 

The venue was so full and busy…

The items on sale were mainly books in new or vintage, posters and artworks…

Amongst them, some oddballs, cassette tapes! Are they still in use?!…

I found them at the booth of Parallax. The girls who were manning the stall told me that cassette tapes as the medium of music were making a quiet comeback. I was so intrigued by the idea and the content of the tapes but I had no cassette player. The machine was no longer in production and therefore, it would have to be sourced from secondhand market if I wanted one. Momentarily, I even contemplated about asking my mum if she still owned the player, thinking she must have had one as she was a bit of a hoarder. In the end, I asked for their name card and left the booth even though I was still very much taken by the idea of owning the tapes.

A performance based art project was happening in the middle of the fair…

People watching was another fun of visiting this kind of events…

We did find a few intriguing books but we went home empty-handed. Since we paid for a new boiler and a refurbishment of the bathroom this month, we were rather cash poor, and therefore, on economy drive. *Sigh*

Still, all is not lost…

Georgia O’Keeffe‘s show is on its way! I am so looking forward to it…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Bits & Pieces…

I am not into FIFA World Cup.
Do you know why? Because I am rather disgusted by all those fake dives performed by “world-class athletes”, which acts are followed by them rolling around on the turf in crocodile tears, clutching their shins like toddlers, wanting attention from their mummies. Especially, the match between French vs Honduras, how often did I notice the blue shirts curling up in a foetal position? Is it morally ok to pretend that the one is hurt in order to milk from the situation? Is lying acceptable if it happens on the football pitch? What kind of example do those dubious behaviours set to impressionable youngsters who are watching the games? Professional footballers are hardly a positive role model nowadays but their “lying & cheating” styles are really over the top. No wonder I prefer ice hockey to football! While NHL players pretend they are not hurt after collisions, those world-famous footballers pretend they are badly hurt. What a bunch of sissies they are! Since FIFA has introduced goal cameras from this competition, they should consider giving refs lie-detectors in the 2018 tournament so the beautiful game will become cleaner.

A cool weather has descended upon London since last Saturday. The sky is covered with grey clouds and the wind is rather chilly. Where has the summer gone? Is it already over?!

By the way, there are a few things I came across while I was out & about recently.
A London Underground logo emerges from under layers of posters at Old Street station…

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A building wall off Oxford Street looks like a wall of cascading surf…

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Undulating iron works on the building by Finsbury Square…

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A bagpiper treating two rather grumpy looking toddlers to a birthday tune in front of the Selfridges…

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A gigantic flea about to leap over a Royal Mail van on Great Eastern Street…

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Tonight, I will be watching NHL GameCenter LIVE on my Mac while Hubbie is glued to TV, watching the footie…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Henri Matisse: The Cut Outs @ Tate Modern

“Never repeat the David Hockney at RA” is Hubbie’s & my mantra we recite to each other when a major art exhibition hits the town. As you have probably guessed it from our mantra, we missed the Hockney’s retrospective show at the Royal Academy in 2012. Every time I expressed my desire for the show, Hubbie kept on putting it off by saying ‘Let’s wait until the show becomes less popular’. A few months passed as such and when we finally agreed to visit, it was already a final week and no ticket was available. Gah!! We learnt our lesson and vowed never to miss another show willy-nilly.

So when Nicholas Serota, director of the Tate galleries, announced that the next major exhibition following their immensely successful Paul Klee retrospective would be featuring Henri Matisse, we were determined not to miss the boat!

The Sunday during Easter Bank Holiday was a wet one…

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Turbine Hall was filled with a ripple of excited chats by visitors who were free from umbrellas and macs…

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Matisse’s The Cut Outs was our primary objective, however, we had an even more urgent desire to fulfil… LUNCH!
A queue in front of the ground floor cafe was too long for my empty stomach which was nearly keeling over. Therefore we made a beeline for the lift and climbed up to a top floor restaurant.

A view of St.Paul’s from the window of the restaurant heaving with lunchtime diners…

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We were literally the last people to have lunch there for the day! A couple queuing right behind us was told by a receptionist that the kitchen was closed for lunch and therefore they could offer afternoon tea menu only. I hope we weren’t looking too smug then.

Yayoi Kusama’s art graced the wall of the dining room…

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Yippee, my fish & chips!!

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I highly recommend the fish & chips at the Tate. Either at their ground floor cafe or top floor restaurant, it is seriously good. The batter is crispy outside and fluffy inside but non-greasy while the fish was moist and succulent.
Since knowing this fish & chips was the last one out of the kitchen, it tasted even better.

With our stomachs comfortably lined, we headed to the gallery on the second floor…

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The exhibition was not as packed as we feared. Most of the works on display were large and therefore they were even better to be viewed from the distance. We hired audio guides and sauntered around the galleries, feasting our eyes on Matisse’s colourful creations.

After Matisse, we also viewed Richard Hamilton’s retrospective show too…

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I could see how a certain YBA artist inspired by his work. However, it was a little too similar and I found it rather disturbing.

We also admired works by Dan Flavin…

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I saw his collection when I visited Chinati Foundation in Marfa, Texas. One of his installations was displayed in the town, utilising an unoccupied shop space. It was a strangely alluring sight that coloured fluorescent tubes in pink, blue, green and yellow were shimmering and the light was bleeding out from the window and onto ordinary everyday surroundings of the American suburb.

We were a little tired so moved on to the members room for tea & cake….

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I had a raspberry macaroon and a pot of Darjeeling….

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Tate Modern’s new extension under construction…

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Hubbie and I speculated how this Herzog de Meuron’s addition would turn out to be in 2016. Hubbie was a little concerned about the slanted walls, reasoning it wouldn’t be great for hanging arts. I am sure there must be a plenty more of vertical walls in this massive extension.

Broken lines on their concrete structure…

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Are they for hanging wall claddings?
I love ogling buildings especially the one under construction. How each element is put together three-dimensionally, it is so clever and fascinating. Oh, I can hardly wait to see the result…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Saturday Night @ Tate Modern, Bankside

Last Saturday, we visited Tate Modern for dinner and the Paul Klee‘s exhibition. I was nearly shaking off my cold and itching to go out. Therefore, Hubbie booked the tickets on internet and off we went.

Tate Modern has been my most favourite art gallery ever since it opened its door to the public in 2000. I especially love the architecture. The old Bankside power station was remodelled and refitted by a talented architectural duo, Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron in order to accommodate a vast collection of modern art which was stored in the Tate’s warehouse because of the lack of suitable space…

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A mass of brickwork with an equally imposing chimney looms above the Thames. A volume of its brickwork and colossal weight is unarguable. It appears impregnable and impervious to any external assault. Yet, its footing, where the building meets the ground, is punctuated with narrow glazed slits here and there. These juxtapositions of heavy vs light, density vs weightlessness and opaque vs transparent, fuel my fascination and imagination every time I visit the gallery. For me, the charm of Tate Modern is all about this thought-provoking paradox which is dotted around all over the complex, including their art collection.
Another famous architectural face of Bankside is the Millennium Bridge by Sir Norman Foster, which connects the foreground of the galley with City of London. Approaching Tate Modern via the footbridge must be the most spectacular and rewarding way for many visitors. However, the bridge itself doesn’t excite me as much as the gallery does. Do you know why? Yes, the bridge looks great. However, it doesn’t inspire nor intrigue me. It’s a marvel of British engineering but not a piece of art which initiates any philosophical debate. The bridge could have won my praise if the design of the bridge, especially the Bankside end, was integrated to Tate Modern’s forecourt seamlessly. Instead of a cumbersome footing with zigzagging lamps, why the bridge could not morph into a part of the landscape? The effect would have been so much more elegant and magical. Well, the landscaping between the bridge and the gallery was somehow awkward from the beginning anyway. Maybe there was some artistic disagreement between three great architects?

Our entry to the Paul Klee exhibition was from 19:30, therefore, we decided to have dinner first…

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Tate Cafe on the ground floor was fairly busy but their service was brisk and efficient.
I pondered between a burger or fish & chips, but in the end, fish & chips won me over…

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The battering encasing the fish was so crisp and moreish. And the potato was fried to its perfection. Their mushy peas was minty and refreshing.

For dessert, we shared a slice of coconut meringue Swiss roll with red berry compote…

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Our first two choices, trifle and cheese cake, were sold out, therefore, we didn’t expect much from our third choice. But oh my! We were betrayed in a good way. The cake was moist, fluffy and divine. And the berry compote added perfect zinginess to otherwise delicate texture of the cake.

After dinner, we browsed around a bookshop on the lower ground floor…

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There were more than a few coffee table books I want to add to my Christmas wish list…

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Then, we headed to the exhibition on the second floor via escalator…

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For me, the escalator ride from the lower ground level to the second floor gallery level is one of the best Tate Modern experiences.

Paul Klee, here we come…

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The exhibition was wonderful.
And I shall definitely review it properly in a few days time.

We left the gallery, thoroughly satisfied and excited…

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The new extension of the gallery will be completed by 2015. I can hardly contain a huge expectation I have towards this exciting project…

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Will it be as awe-inspiring as the existing Turbine Hall? We will have to wait and see for another 2 years. I shall keep on reporting any progress at the site in future…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Richard Rogers @ Royal Academy of Art

Richard Rogers RA Inside Out“, I meant to visit this exhibition ages ago.
I was thinking about visiting it when Hubbie was away in Italy. Why I didn’t? I can’t remember.
Anyway, the urge was quietly nagging inside me. So, the injury stopped me from knitting, I thought ‘What could be any better excuse to see the exhibition?’

The summer was still lingering in London.
The sun had long lost the intensity of the last heat wave.
Still, Central London basked in a golden tint of the afternoon sun under the cloudless sky…

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In the courtyard at Royal Academy of Art, a 1:1 scale model of Sir Rogers’s prefabricated structure was exhibited…

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Comparing with traditional constuction methods, Sir Rogers’s system takes less time and money to erect. Definitely, it is one of the solutions for the permanent shortage of affordable housings. I would love to see this joyfully coloured houses start to sprout all over Britain.

The actual exhibition was housed in Burlington Gardens which used to be Museum of Mankind until 1997.

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In the first room, a calm voice of Sir Rogers greets the visitors…

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I saw him once at Victoria & Albert Museum.
He was sitting in the garden, reading a newspaper.  I remembered how he appeared striking in his trademark fuchsia pink shirt. With his deeply tanned face and silvery hair, he looked just wonderful.

I paid homage to Sir Rogers in my own way…

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By wearing a pair of Monkee Genes in fuchsia pink.

The second & third rooms were comprised with his past projects both at home and abroad…

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It may sound inappropriate but his buildings are FUN.
The colours and forms, they are uplifting and elating. It’s certainly unconventional yet it acts like vitamins which inject energy into its surrounding area.

Some traditionalists harbour hostility towards modern architecture.
Most famously, Prince Charles and Sir Rogers were at loggerheads over the modern buildings in London in the mid 80’s. And in their arguments, they both scored a valid point.
London’s cityscape reflects the richness of the history which both the Londoners and tourists admire and enjoy everyday. At the same time, the change of modern lifestyle demands a new kind of environment – a large open plan office space with ‘floor to ceiling’ glazing is a typical example.
As long as aesthetically pleasing, I think they can live side by side without morphing into each other. The contrast between the old and new architecture will be stimulating and even beneficial if it is done sympathetically to each other.

Beautifully inked line-drawings on the wall brought back the memory of my student days…

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It was a pre-CAD time. And all of the drawings were drawn with draft pens in various sizes. The thickness of the line represented the distance from the viewer. I loved the subtlety if not the delicacy of the method.

Another thing I enjoyed was the models on display…

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Lowering myself and peeping into it through the ground level helped me to imagine how dramatic it would be if I were there in person.

The fourth room was filled with LEGOs…

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Don’t they look great?
Along the Thames, colourful skyscrapers thrusting towards the sky…

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A full of imagination & unhindered creativity. That’s what we need.

The last time I touched LEGO was a light year ago…

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Playing shouldn’t be a self-conscious thing.
However, I found myself being hesitant. How was I like when I was young and playing with LEGO?
Being spontaneous didn’t come very easy.
How boring being a grown-up is!

The last exhibit I saw was a model of Centre Georges Pompidou

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I took my mom and aunt there in 1995.
My mom asked me innocently if the building was still under construction. Oh, bless her…

The exhibition wasn’t just showing architectural artefacts…

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The newspaper clippings as well as the correspondence Sir Rogers exchanged with the past governments & opposition politicians were accompanying the exhibits which helped the visitors to examine the projects broadly and deepen the understanding.

After the exhibition, I sat at the cafe outside…

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A slice of praline cake & decaf latte to refuel my depleted brain cells…

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About the issue of modernist vs traditionalist, I am still ambivalent.
I hope this exhibition will be a catalyst to start a frank discussion about this rather thorny topic.
After all, we want a happy city in which EVERY ONE can thrive and live in harmony…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

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