They’re taking the axe to the cherry trees in Regent’s Park

Chester GateIt feels like the end of an era – and it is in a way. The avenue of cherries trees along Chester Road leading to Chester Gate, the glory of the cherry blossom season in Regent’s Park, is going. They’ve cut down half of them, and the rest will go on Monday. Not even the stumps are left – just bare earth. Continue reading

New chamber opera Tokaido Road London Premiere

Photo: greg Trezise

Photo: Greg Trezise

Last night I went to the London premiere of chamber opera Tokaido Road at the new Milton Court Theatre on Silk Street. I say chamber opera but it might more accurately be described as music theatre as it tells its tale through a fascinating mixture of music, poetry, mime, dance and visual imagery.  It’s based on Hiroshige’s series of woodblock prints depicting the fifty-three stopping points of the Tokaido, the ancient Eastern Sea Road that ran from Tokyo to Kyoto. Travelling the Tokaido Road was harsh and dangerous and the opera depicts its perils as well as its pleasures. Continue reading

Snowdrops and Orchids at Kew Gardens

Snowdrops and orchidsIt’s very temping in February, at the first hint of warmth in the air, to start thinking that spring is just around the corner. Even though you know that icy winds and snow can still be lying in wait, you start to crave the colour and life of spring. They know this at Kew Gardens so they’ve made February their orchid month. You can immerse yourself in the exuberant luxury of the orchid house, while outside, under the trees, the first harbingers of spring make their  appearance. Continue reading

Yasuhisa Kohyama ceramic sculpture – the past reinvented

Yasuhisa KohyamaCall me shallow, but I do like it when I go to a gallery that’s as nice as the art they’re showing. I don’t like grubby, badly lit spaces – I want somewhere that’s bright and airy. I hate it when normally pleasant galleries decide to show their paintings in the half dark. If I want to peer at dimly lit objects in the gloom I’ll watch Wolf Hall. Luckily Erskine, Hall and Coe pass the nice gallery test with flying colours, and the art – by acclaimed ceramicist Yasuhisa Kohyama – is great too. Continue reading

Vintage kimonos online shop

kimono detailThere used to be shop in Neal St, a long time ago, called Neal St East. No, not the same as the East chain of shops that now have a branch near Covent Garden market; Neal St East was something else. It took up four floors of a complex emporium where goods from China, Korea, India and Japan were piled up in chaotic profusion, like an Eastern bazaar that had taken it into its head to migrate to what was then a quiet back street. I used to love it, not least for the racks of vintage kimonos on sale. Now vintage is becoming an increasingly acceptable choice, Neal St East is gone, taken over by a shoe shop. But it’s still possible to get your hands on vintage kimonos if you know where to look. Continue reading

Magnificent Obsessions at the Barbican

Magnificent ObsessionsMagnificent Obsessions, the new exhibition at the Barbican Art Gallery, turns our usual idea of the relationship of artist and collector on its head. Normally, artists produce art and collectors collect it. But what do artists themselves collect? A very varied range of things is the answer, as the Barbican sets out to show us. Continue reading

den – Udon evangelists in King’s Cross

Den sesame udonThe first thing you need to know about new udon restaurant den is that it’s located in a converted pub called the Prince Albert, and there’s only a small red curtain with a big ‘d’ on it over the entrance to tell you you’ve come to the right place. The second thing is that den means tradition, and this specialist udon restaurant is committed to making your noodles just the way they’d be in Japan. That’s why they call themselves udon evangelists. Continue reading

Secret treasure – Japanese kiriko cut glass

Edo kirikoThis post came so close to being a blogging fail I go hot and cold just thinking about it. You’d think that, as experienced art bloggers, Yannick and I would be able to navigate our way around an exhibition without missing ninety percent of the exhibits, wouldn’t you? Well, last week, we came perilously close to doing just that.  Continue reading

Mr Potsunen comes to London

Mr PotsunenIt’s always a problem deciding what to do about events that are only on for a very short time. Do I go, and then tell you about it afterwards, adding smugly that it’s too late for you to see it? Or do I tell you about it in advance, when I can’t actually tell you what it’s like, so you have to take a leap in the (semi) dark?  Well. with Mr Potsunen’s Peculiar Slice of Life, I’ve opted for the advance option. Continue reading

A Great Meal at Kintan Japanese Barbecue

Kintan Japanese barbecueIf I told you I ate at a Japanese restaurant last night and asked you to guess what I had, you’d probably say sushi, or ramen. At the very least you’d guess that fish played a prominent role. The last thing you’d go for is barbecued meat – what’s Japanese about that? Well, stick with me while I explain. Continue reading