Category Archives: Out And About

British Design 1948-2012 at the V&A: Innovation in the Modern Age

It’s been open since the end of March, but I finally got a chance to finally visit the V&A’s British Design exhibition last week. And, needless to say, it’s fascinating. Continue reading British Design 1948-2012 at the V&A: Innovation in the Modern Age

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Our House @ Shelter


Emma Block on an exciting artistic collaboration – all in the name of charity

A few months ago I was asked by Amelia Gregory to take part in a very exciting project for a very worthwhile cause. Every year the homeless charity Shelter holds an exhibition and auction of artwork to raise money. The previous theme was House of Cards and artists such as Damien Hirst, Antony Gormley and a lot of Amelia’s illustrators supported it.

This year the theme was Up My Street, and I was asked to help illustrate a house along with Lesley Barnes, Thereza Rowe, Natsuki Otani, Yelena Bryksenkova and Antonia Parker.

Our House was on show along with works by Grayson Perry, Tim Walker, Jack Vetriano and Antony Gormley at the Coningsby Gallery from Monday the 6th to Thursday the 8th of March.

Our House

I had the honour of attending the private view with collaborator Antonia Parker and Amelia’s Magazine illustrator Faye West. It was incredible a) to see our work printed so large and so beautifully (thank you to Ripe Digital) and b) to see it exhibited along with some huge names in the art world.

We had a lovely time looking all the artwork, and enjoying the nibbles and wine. Most works were in the silent auction, like ours, but some of them were auctioned live, which was fun. Although I learned that saying ‘If this was Bargain Hunt, that would have made a loss’ shortly after a painting went for under the estimate wasn’t really appropriate.

We got to meet the lady who bought Our House; she says she’s going to hang it in her living room above her fireplace.

Words Words Words @ Selfridges

Words Words Words is the brand new concept currently sweeping Selfridges – a celebration of the written word and all that it stands for (even the Ultralounge has been converted: it is now London’s chicest library, boasting thousands of gorgeous books).

For the next month and a half, a variety of classes, lectures and activities will be taking place throughout the store, every single day. You can learn Latin, discuss Dickens with the Penguin Book Club or find out the secret of the perfect love letter courtesy of a lecture from The Idler Academy. And for the book-shy amongst you who would rather avoid such scholarly pursuits: come on, it’s Selfridges. You know it’s going to be cool.

Yesterday lunchtime, Emma Block and I paid a visit to the Words Words Words concept store, handily situated on the Ground Floor. You can’t miss it – it’s the place which everyone is flocking towards.

Boasting a wall of Tatty Devine jewellery at one end of the store, an amazing hamster-ball structure at the other (overlooking Oxford Street) and mouth-watering confectionery and stationary in between, the concept store is pretty much paradise.

The hamster-ball structure is quiet possibly one of the most original concepts I have ever seen (let alone inside a shop).

30,000 plastic balls – each containing a fortune cookie style message – were rolling around the dizzying heights of various wooden tracks. On pulling a lever, a ball would be selected at random and delivered to you. My fortune cookie read ‘likeable days to come’, and we were both suitably mystified when Emma’s cryptically read ‘gaugable’.

The stationary on offer was beautiful – Vera Wang headed notepaper, anyone? There was also a range of worthy (or perhaps ‘wordy’ would be more fitting…) coffee table books, and, to complete the set, miniature library and post office sets were also on offer. There were also cards, posters and gorgeous pens.

The Tatty Devine display was fabulous, and members of the Tatty team were on-hand (wearing v cool Tatty-sloganned lab coats) to help customers decide on which of their gorgeous earrings, necklaces or rings to choose. There were even necklaces with Reem and WellJel slogans on them – shuuut uppp.

Words Words Words is at Selfridges (Oxford Street, London) until 1 March.

To view the full range of events on offer, and for more information, click here.

OUT & ABOUT: Harry Potter @ Harrods

Laura Reynolds has a truly magical shopping experience – but finds that a visit to Gringotts Bank is essential beforehand…

The pop-up Harry Potter shop in Harrods has not been as talked about as would perhaps be expected, and on visiting it recently, you can see why. It’s doubtful that many would-be visitors have actually found it. So well hidden is it in the depths of the third floor of Harrods, it’s possible that access is by floo powder only.

However, once you finally arrive, you are greeted by a very realistic Diagon Alley-style set-up, allowing you to browse Ollivander’s wand shop amongst others. The staff – in fancy dress naturally – are all very enthusiastic, talking to visitors about the memorabilia on display, and getting into character very well (no Slytherins allowed, naturally).

Closer investigation of the products for sale confirms that this attraction is aimed at devoted collectors rather than children with pocket money to spend; there are very few items available at under £20. One of the best items was the Marauder’s Map, but at upwards of £35 each, most muggles are forced to stick to their TFL tube maps for guidance home.

Even if most items are out of your price range, there’s still plenty to see. Many costumes and artifacts from the films are on display, including robes worn by Daniel Radcliffe, and Hermione’s infamous bottomless bag. You can have your photograph taken against the backdrop of Hogwarts’ Great Hall, and can even take home an ornament from Hogwarts… if you’ve got a spare £400 lying around.

The highlight has to be the Harry Potter-themed Christmas tree. Forget baubles and tinsel, this year it’s all about Gryffindor ties and wizards hats, with the sorting hat taking pride of place at the top of the tree.

Worth a visit for the novelty factor, but don’t expect to come back armed with bewitching goodies, unless you’ve got a very large budget to blow.

The Harry Potter pop-up shop is open in Harrods until January.

The Cosmo Blog Awards, 2011

Last Wednesday evening, TYC brushed off our dancing shoes and made our way to 24 Kingly Street (just behind Carnaby Street and Hamleys) for the 2011 Cosmopolitan Blog Awards.

Held inside a nightclub, the party was very quickly in full-swing, and short-listed bloggers mingled. Cocktails were served (Cosmopolitans, naturally) were served, tasty snacks were offered (on silver platters) and stacks of impeccably iced cupcakes decorated each table.

After about an hour of networking, the awards ceremony began, and Cosmo web editor Pat McNulty read out both the winner and a highly-commended from each category. Unfortunately TYC didn’t win in our category (Student) but I was so ecstatic just to have the blog shortlisted that it didn’t really matter!

On the way home, I spent the journey reading some of the shortlisted blogs. They are all so amazing – seriously, check them out. What impressed me most about the sites (apart from their witty, insightful and achingly spot-on content) was their layouts. They make TYC look seriously amateur, and so I am now in the process of updating TYC into a glossy, properly laid-out website that we can all be proud of. Watch this space…

OUT & ABOUT M&M’s World, Leicester Square

M&M’s World is a sweet candyland – but if high prices and big crowds aren’t your thing, perhaps give it a miss, says Laura Reynolds

If you’ve taken a stroll through Leicester Square in the last couple of months, chances are you’ve seen hoards of people clutching yellow bags, blinking into the sunlight as if emerging from underground darkness. They are not heading out from one of the many cinemas in the area, but the new M&M’s World.

With four floors of colourful madness, the store seems to be attracting tourists and Londoners alike. It’s easy to see why; the outside of the building is covered in colour changing lights, and catchy pop music blasts out, making it hard for even the most po-faced of people to walk by.

Inside, a lively atmosphere abounds. All staff are friendly and only to willing to help, but it becomes a bit wearing when four or five different staff are telling you the same things. As for the products available, think of any item you use in your daily life and chances are they will have it; as well as the usual mugs, magnets and cuddly toys, they have more obscure merchandise such as M&Ms bedding sets, umbrellas and even spatulas.  Fido and Moggy don’t need to be left out – they have cat toys and rubber bones. Well, they have to fill four floors with something! There is also a Christmas section, in case having your whole house decked out in M&Ms gear for the rest of the year isn’t quite enough.

Not to be overlooked is the impressive wall of M&Ms, where the sweets are organised by colour, and also in mixes (Halloween mix, for instance, is orange and black, and Firework mix is predominantly black with a few odd colours mixed in). However, at £21 a kilo, you are better off looking than buying!

Despite being a shop, the brand are clearly trying hard to turn this into one of London’s hottest tourist attractions, and to some extent, it’s working. You could easily spend a couple of hours, if not more, in here.  As well as the endless merchandise to look at, there are models of M&Ms which you can have your photo taken, a feature which ‘analyses’ you and tells you which colour M&M you are, and even the holy grail of all tourist attractions, penny press machines.

It is, however, a very juxtaposed atmosphere. The glaring theme of the shop (M&Ms aside…) is Britishness – the Union Jack is everywhere, a lifesize London bus is parked in the entrance, and portraits of M&Ms parading as British icons, such as Shakespeare, line the walls. Despite this, the shop has a very Stateside feel to it, with bright colours, loud music, and American inspired phrases such as ‘apparel’ titling the sections. Hardly surprising considering that their other locations are New York, Orlando and Las Vegas.

Overall, this shop is worth a visit, even if only to see what the hype is about. If you’re planning to buy anything, make sure you save up because, as expected, nothing is cheap! However, if bright colours, loud music, bustling crowds and screaming kids are not your thing, it’s probably best avoided. Other than the merchandise, much of which is available online, you won’t be missing too much.

M&M World, 1 Swiss Court, Leicester Square, London WC2H 7DG For opening times, click here

OUT & ABOUT: Watercolours @ the Tate Britain

John Dunstall

Emma Block visits the Tate Britain to see their latest exhibition – a bold look at the uniquely versatile world of watercolours

The Tate Britain’s Watercolour exhibition is a bold show that encompasses the entire history of watercolour painting, from the 12th century maps to contemporary works. The exhibition charts how this uniquely versatile material has been used over the centuries to capture both atmospheric qualities and incredible scientific detail.

The first use of watercolour dates back to the 1100s where maps were painted on velum. Some over early painting such as this one from the 1600s feels surprisingly modern.

The botanical painting room was one of my favourites. These beautiful and

Turner

astoundingly accurate paintings were created with up to twenty or thirty translucent washes of colour, and sometimes a little gouache and pencil. In a time before camera, the watercolour artist was a vital way to record new discoveries in the natural world.

Due to it’s portable nature watercolours were also the medium of choice to capture the world around on a larger scale. Turner was the luminary of this practice. Light and mood were as important as the geography.

The room dedicated to the relationship of watercolour and the war was a particularly powerful one. the knowledge that these works were painted during the midst of the first and second world war, not retrospectively, makes them all more moving.

Mark Catesby

The next rooms explore the physical limitation of watercolour, dripped, splashed and pooled onto paper, and the seemingly limitless

human imagination. Artist’s such as Edmund Dulac, Aubrey Beardsley, Gabriel Dante Rossetti and William Blake all use the medium of watercolour to convey other-worldliness and flights of fancy.

The exhibition is on until August 21. For more information, visit the gallery’s website.

All images © the respective artists. To view the images in clearer detail, click on them.