By damekor, Aug 8 2014 09:57AM


By OFH, Mar 14 2014 09:55AM Published on Off The Hook Magazine

So, this week I’ve been mooching around the streets of Sloane Square in the Royal Borough of Chelsea. I know, it’s not at the top of the list for urban happenings, and it’s kind of trendy in a traditional sense, but not exactly the most hip hop edgy of exciting places to be hanging. The whole vibe can be perceived as quite poncy, quite snooty and generally populated by the rich and filthy rich toffs. It also attracts a lot of tourists, what, with Harrods a ten min walk round the corner and Buckingham Palace less than a twenty minute walk away. You need a pretty penny to privately rent a one bed ‘apartment’ in Sloane Square, and you’ll be looking in the region of spending in a week what would you would in a month to rent in a less affluent area. However, if you’ve got it, why not. You may have heard of the terms ‘Hooray Henry’ and ‘Sloane Ranger’ well, these are associated with the wealthy upper classes, with ‘plumy accents’ or those who speak in an RP accent, which is the standard pronunciation of British English. These people live and socialise in Sloane Square, High Street Ken and Fulham Roads and generally love a bit of country sports. They are sometimes aristocratic types like Diana Princess of Wales who was one of the most famous of Sloane Rangers of her time before she married Charles. The Kings Road in the swinging 60’s and 70’s was the place to be seen and Bob Marley was there living in a town house off the Kings Road in Oakley Street in ‘77, the era of Jamin’ and One Love.

Chelsea has always attracted famous types to live and work there, including Laurence Olivier, Mick Jagger, Sylvia Pankhurst and of course Sir Hans Sloane himself. Other hugely successful famous artistic types who took up residency in Chelsea were Oscar Wilde, painters Dante Gabriel Rossetti, John Singer Sargent and Whistler. It’s quite hustly and bustly walking down the Kings Road, and although it has this exclusive, glamorous feel, with its boutiques, pricy restaurants and independent stores it also has your typical high street stores and of course Macky D’s. I, myself mainly frequent this area to go to one of my favourite theatres in town, The Royal Court, but on this occasion for the first time I visited the Saatchi Gallery. I have to say some of the work I’ve seen displayed here, to me, is Off The Hook. I was drawn by the title of the current exhibition ‘Body Language’. I really enjoyed it, but it wasn’t wholly what I was expecting from that title, the work on display seems to be more about narrative, depicting little scenes than body language. But listen body language is displayed all around us every second of the day and yes there is an element of this theme in the work, but I wouldn’t necessarily say it was the main focus. 19 artists from around the globe are showing here and one of the things I was struck by most was how big so much of work is, some two metres tall by four metres wide. It’s a big spacious gallery with lots of space so the pieces look great. I love Eddie Martinez’s ‘The Feast’ which is a mixed media piece on canvas. It’s pretty insane. And if it’s not size its quantity. Chantal Joffe has done 81 pieces of oil on gesso board and the series is about the life, loves and friendships of a pre-pubescent girl, and is called ‘untitled’. I also particularly enjoyed the ‘Beer Garden at Night’ by Nicole Eisenman. There is something crazy, vivid, eerie, weird and ugly about the characters in the beer garden in various stages of inebriation. My initial reaction to ‘Vandal Lust’ by Andra Ursuta was wow this is mental and I almost laughed, I thought I know the feeling sometimes when it seems as though you are hitting your head against a brick wall. But this was a whole body, so a completely different take on ‘body language’. Someone, a body, a person crushed and damaged by being catapulted by a powerful machine into a brick wall, the resonances are deeper, humanity crushed by the powers that be. I also visited the ‘New Order II British Art Today’ exhibition; again I’m not sure how accurate a reflection this title is. The body of work includes video, installation, sculpting and painting, it consists of the work of 13 artists who either live or work here in Britain, young artists, including some recent graduates. I really enjoyed the wax figures crafted by French artist Virgile Ittah, she used her father’s mental illness as inspiration for this work.

This exhibition finishes on the 23rd March 2014. However the gallery has 15 gallery spaces and there is a permanent installation, ‘20:50’ by British Artist Richard Wilson in the basement gallery. It is a wonderful oil installation. I found it really fascinating. They say simple can be best and this quite literally is a tank filled with recycled engine oil. That’s it. You’ve got to see it to understand it. I love the way it distorts our idea of the space when you look at the white reflected walls in the black oil. It’s definitely worth a visit and it’s free! Saatchi Gallery, Kings Road, SW3 4RY

Picture 1:Walking with Vito by Henry Taylor.

Picture 2 :Beer Garden at Night by Nicole Eiseman

Written by Dame K

By damekor, Aug 8 2014 09:51AM


By OFH, Mar 20 2014 06:39PM Published on Off The Hook Magazine

Dog Fish Dame K Blog Cambridge
Dog Fish Dame K Blog Cambridge

This week I've been checking out the arts & culture scene of the flat land with its cobbled streets and ancient buildings in the heart of East Anglia. It's home to one of Britain's four round churches The Church of the Holy Sepulcher built by the Knights Templar. The four time Grammy Award winning singer, songwriter and actress, Grease star (one of my favorite films of all time), Olivia Newton John was born there. And it’s home to one of our most prestigious universities,Cambridge.

One of the first things I noticed was...they seem love their cycling here. There are bicycles chained up everywhere and cyclists zooming around ever corner. It's a mix of tourists, academics, students and the people who live and work in the city, and as you can imagine there is a strong creative scene. It has half a dozen theatres including the Corn Exchange an entertainment venue that has a lot of dance, comedy, and music, and also receives a lot of musicals ~ next month they've got Happy Days, don't know about you but I was a big fan, and yeah I will admit it, I was in love with the king of cool, The Fonz. And talking of cool, these guys I really like, the fresh new talent from Zimbabwe with their eclectic mix of pan-African styles and Tonga rhythms that is Mokooba are playing live on 3rd April at the Junction. Also worth knowing because it looks great, outside of the town in a village called Bourn, is the Innovative arts centre Wysing which recently celebrated its 25th year.

I had a little mooch about, the city is busy, and also fairly peaceful. It's quiet and relaxing with none of the argy bargy of London. Although, I'm sure on a weekend when the students hit the tiles to let their hair down it probably gets just as raucous as anywhere. I saw two buskers, one of which was a very typical middle class looking lady with white hair in her sixties and singing along whilst playing her guitar, and the other, a young fella also on his guitar. Then I hit the river and was almost seduced to go punting, I had picked a good day for it, as they say, the sun was out and the river was quite alluring as it glistened away and punting just looks like a relaxing pastime. Instead I continued through the centre and past the colleges of the universities. Feeling parched, I decided I'd have a half a cream tea, the cream half that is with coffee instead of tea, I do love my coffee and clotted cream. I can't get enough of that pasted thick on my scones with a nice dollop of jam oh yeah...well, when in Rome. So fuelled up and ready to move on I made tracks to catch the retrospective exhibition 'A World of Private Mystery: John Craxton' at The Fitzwilliam museum which is on Trumpington Street was founded by the Irishman Richard Fitzwilliam, the 7th Viscount of the Fitzwilliam family. I really enjoyed the exhibition curated by David Scrase and opened by Sir David Attenborough. John Craxton is considered to be one of Britain’s great artists of the 20th century and the last neo-Romantic. I'd never seen his work before and I do really like his style, I am a fan now.

Venturing out of that museum and back down some cobbled streets I stumbled across Cambridge Contemporary Art Gallery, on Trinity Street. They showcase artworks made in the UK, and on display now until 23rd March you will find a lovely exhibition featuring the wired and wonderful world of ‘The Traveling Circus’ by Marie Prett, lots of bold and captivating paintings and figurative sculptures which she specialises in.

Next, I was drawn into the shop Dogfish, mainly because of all the Nike Airs in the window, some time soon I will be treating myself to a new pair, but I was also drawn there because it was the coolest shop I'd come across all day. This is where I met a rather gorgeous and helpful young man who told me about an exhibition around the corner which sounded great. And it was. I loved it. 'Memento Mori' is a Black Rat Project and hosted by Changing Spaces, which is an artist run project that takes over empty commercial or council properties and negotiates with them to showcases work until the property is needed again. I'm all up for Changing Spaces, I think they've got a brilliant thing going on. "The project may best be described as a nomadic, city-wide installation deployed across multiple locations on a pop-up basis". (From their website

So if you are going to Cambridge anytime soon, check these guys out Cambridge is only a hour from London on the train and you can get there and back for about £25. Gotta be worth taking a punt for a nice day out!

Photos :

Dogfish Shop

Marie Prett The Travelling Circus

Changing Spaces pop up gallery

Candice Tripp ~ Memento Mori exhibition, Changing Spaces

Vanitas Skull by Ignacio Alcarez, Memento Mori exhibition, Changing Spaces

External Fitzwilliam Museum ~ John Craxton Exhibition


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