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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

The Idol Hours at London Miles Gallery: Exhibition Review

A review of the Idol Hours exhibition at the London Miles Gallery in Westbourne Park.

Written by Gareth David

proud kitchen launch by tasha whittle
Proud Kitchen by Rachel Lewis
Illustration by Rachel Lewis

Proud Kitchen is designed in a New York style, here the invite said, visit but walking up the slope around the back of the Stables Market there’s no doubt we are in Camden. Glasses of Codorníu cava add a touch of Spain as we sip while pottering about the space, which feels determinedly British as it’s filled with photographs of David Bowie taken during his London years. It’s an eclectic mix, what goes on at Proud Camden – preserved features leave no doubt the Grade II-listed building used to be a stable, more specifically it once functioned as a hospital for the horses pulling barges along the nearby Regent’s Canal. The original beams are still visible in the ceilings, while the actual stables now function as VIP-areas.

The old barn beams contribute to the New York loft feel of Proud Kitchen, where guests are seated together along communal, candle-lit tables. Floral wallpaper on one side and crisp white tiles on another ensure an airy feel, as the food is served under crystal lampshades hung from heavy chains in an urban yet intimate setting.

proud kitchen by tasha whittle
Illustration by Tasha Whittle

Thursday’s press launch served up a starter of bresaola of beef, with piccalilli and sourdough toast, mixing ingredients from Italy, Britain and America. Alternatively guests could choose the vegetarian noodle salad or the soup of the day. Delicate flavours were the mark of all the starters, with the bresaola, a dried, salted beef, being much more subtle than comparable meats such as parma or serrano hams. The main dish offered a choice of roast sea bream with fennel, a squash and chestnut risotto, or grilled bavette steak with caramelised onion mash. While some guests found the beef to be too rare, this could presumably be cooked to order on a regular restaurant night. All the dishes were elegantly put together with simple, well-chosen ingredients. ‘They really know how to use herbs,’ my friend observed over the mashed potato. She left most of the haloumi cheese cubes which came with the green beans on her plate, but these were quickly snapped up by her neighbouring diners after they’d cleared their own plates.

Proud Kitchen food by Rachel Lewis
Illustration by Rachel Lewis

Last but not least was dessert – we’d pre-ordered the food the day before so I had no idea the meringue, spiced with star anise, would be bigger than my fist. Served with autumn berry cream, the sourness of the berries offset the sweet meringue as I tried to work out which part I liked best; the crispy shell or the gooey middle. Also available was the tart of the day, or the intriguing-sounding beetroot and chocolate fondant with clotted cream. Again, the chocolate and the cream elements offset each other beautifully, proving chef Finlay Logan knows how to combine flavours for the ‘world cuisine’ menu.

At a set menu price of £19.50, this is a decent price for a meal of this quality, especially considering it also gives you free entry to the club afterwards. Proud Kitchen still has to iron out a few kinks, as there was some confusion over who had ordered what, as well as some waiting as the kitchen struggled to serve 100 people at once. But the waiting staff were friendly and helpful, and owner Alex Proud took it all in his stride as he addressed his guests: ‘It might not be quite right tonight, but give us a couple of months and we’ll get it right.’ Proud Camden is after all a nightclub ‘trying to serve good, honest and inexpensive food’. I’d say Proud Kitchen is already well on its way to do just that.

Proud Kitchen is open every day from midday until late. Find it upstairs at Proud Camden, The Horse Hospital, Camden Stables Market, Chalk Farm Road, London NW1.
Illustration by Darren Fletcher

In celebration of the Ballet Russes’ centenary, buy Diaghilev and his provacative, cure scandalous Modern Ballet are the focus of the V&A’s 2010 Autumn Blockbuster ‘Diaghilev and the Golden Age of the Ballets Russes, 1909-1929′. (Read Amelia Skoda’s review here).

LCF ENB Project by Sean Michael

In October Amelia’s Magazine attended Justine Picardie’s introduction to Chanel at one of the V&A’s wonderful Friday night lectures. During a talk discussing Chanel’s life and development as a designer -alongside the influential people within her life- Picardie discussed the creative and fruitful friendship between Chanel and Diaghilev. This relationship saw Chanel design costumes for the ballet alongside the radically new scores being produced by Stravinsky and Debussy, to name but two composers sought out by Diaghilev.

Illustration by Charlotte Hoyle

To celebrate Diaghilev’s embracement of the artists of modernity (everyone from Picasso and Matisse to experimental composers), on the 19th November the V&A in collaboration with the London School of Fashion will host The Ballet Russes: Design Perspectives. The event will include the outcome of a year’s collaboration between the English National Ballet and students from the London College of Fashion.

To encourage students to explore Diaghilev’s legacy in art, fashion and dance, the English National Ballet – incredibly – opened their Ballet Russes archive, allowing LCF students access to set design, costumes and the development of performances during rehearsals.

Illustration by Running For Crayons

Mirroring the all encompassing nature of Diaghilev’s practice, students from Womenswear, Menswear, Surface Textiles, Illustration, Cordwainers Accessories, Cordwainers, Footware, Fashion Contour, Make Up, Air-Styling and Photography were invited to take part. A singluar aim for the project was to encourage students to learn the complexities of designing costume specifically for dance.

This Friday (November 19th) the V&A will present their collaboration with the London School of Fashion: “Ballet Russes: Design Perspectives’ as part of V&A Lates. On behalf of the occassional six English National Dancers will perform a specially written piece of choreography by the artist Stina Quagebeur to present the designs of 25 selected students.

Illustration by Charlotte Hoyle

Happy Night
Tiffany Liu, no rx “Happy Night”

Revising an established masterpiece must be a tricky manoeuvre. Wouldn’t you feel a bit like a little fanboy/girl? Wouldn’t a tiny part of your brain take the form of the original artist, heckling you from inside your own head as you paint, and turning in their grave every time you close your eyes? It’s a psychological minefield of taste and comparison fatigue! But the London Miles gallery is hardly risk averse, and that is exactly what they have asked their tribe of international art warriors to have a stab at. The show is called “The Idol Hours”; and there are around 30 artists on show. Let’s have a butcher’s…

Ken Keirns, “Lady With a Cat”

I start with a little crowd-watching to see which artworks have the strongest magnetic fields. I very quickly realise that one of the big draws is Ken Keirns’s reprise of Leonardo’s Lady with an Ermine. I’d seen this on the web already, but that was nothing like seeing it for real. It’s a small, stunningly beautiful painting and the people who are standing around it are literally melting with joy at the lusciousness of the paint-handling. It’s got the slickness and perfectionism of a John Currin, and it feels like Keirns would really like Renaissance Florence to know about what he does. It’s not a massive restyling, recontextualizing satire or anything like that – it’s a genuine attempt to compete with, or get in touch with Leonardo’s world, using his own neo-mannerist grace. So that’s one dead artist in my head who isn’t spinning in his grave. No, he’s stroking his massive beard and really quite digging it. “Bellissimo”, he says!

Another Sunday MorningBob Dob, “Another Sunday Morning”

However, other artists on display are approaching their heroes from less direct perspectives. Poor old Vincent Van Gogh gets the works twice here, and both works are among the shows high points. Bob Dob’s superb Another Sunday Morning brings questions and a tactile putty-world quality to Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear. Is there any dignity to this tragic, bitter outsider? Is there regret? Is this even Vincent? It could be just a hapless loser with a hangover. Meanwhile, Tiffany Liu does radical things to Starry Night. Van Gogh’s angular, scratchy paintwork-from-a-tortured-soul is smoothed out and fanbrushed into a happy happy miniature playground for lovable cutesy consumerist brats. Or possibly the brats are gigantic. Either way, my imaginary Vincent isn’t liking this. He’s too fragile for this playful japery.

And my imaginary Pablo has a pretty rough time of it, too. Guernica is taken up by two artists. Sergio Mora turns the composition over to pop surrealist wet dreaming in Guernica Love Song, which is a lovely big canvas (with much magnetism), while Mesh 137 gives it his soul disco treatment. Right here, right now (admittedly, I’ve had a beer and the music’s good and everything, but…) I suddenly realise that this is better than the original. It just means more to me. Mr. Mesh has broken up the picture plane in his usual way, and Guernica’s disparate elements all seem to mean something more precise than they ever have, plus there’s some big text quoting Edwin Starr: “War, what is is good for?” A deeply weird chunk of Art History has finally been driven home to me in a language I can hear. This is when I have a big falling-out with all my imaginary artists and ditch them by the wine-desk.

Guernica Love SongSergio Mora, “Guernica Love Song”

The thing is, this isn’t about them. Pablo was born too soon to be a funk brother, Klimt was born too soon to get into the Japanime big-eyed Hello Kitty end of culture that Yoko d’Holbachie remoulded his The Kiss into. This art is for us now-people, and London Miles has hit jackpot again. Their artists are obviously very carefully chosen, not just to be diverse between themselves, and not just to tick the (illustrative/lowbrow/pop surreal) boxes that are the rough landscape here, but also to be really earnest about the whole business of making art. I’m never left with the feeling that anyone is bandwagon-jumping, or smugly chuckling about how clever it is that they’re “alternative”.

KissYoko D’holbachie, “Kiss”

Obvious verdict: go and see it. You won’t like it all, but there is so much on show, and the standard is so high, you’ll find your new favourite artist and be very happy together. I can’t cover everyone in the show but I have to mention (with gratuitous weblinkage) things like Plastic God’s ticklingly immediate Help Da Vinci, which casts John, Paul, George and Ringo doing the Help! poses as Leonardo’s famous Vitruvian Man. Also, Scott C makes the Enlightenment a bit more Quentin Blake-cum-Dilbert in Dr. Tulp. And possibly my favourite from the whole show was Travis Lampe’s Regretter, which gives a Nicholas Guerin moody narrative a hint of 1950s US cereal box.

Dr. TulpScott C, “Dr. Tulp”

The Idol Hours runs until December 1st, and can be found in Westbourne Park. Direct your web-terminus to http://www.londonmiles.com/ in order to best equip yourself with relevant info-nuggets.

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