Cava Ispica

The doorway in the rock face opened into a honeycomb of catacombs, hand-carved rock tombs and tunnels, cubicles and niches, an underground depository for the dead. All now dissolved, evacuated, long gone and undead, a dormitory of empty beds, a newfangled airbnb ghost town opportunity. Read more

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Jolie Holland

I’m away now for a few days, meanwhile here’s Jolie Holland and an anonymous string band with three songs, caught in the woods at Happy Valley Pickathon in 2014. Read more

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Ben Nicholson

Hare Hill, 1928

There’s a lovely little exhibition of pictures by Ben Nicholson at the Crane Kalman Gallery until the 11th of May, a roomful of his paintings and drawings and collages, and downstairs works by some of his close contemporaries, including Winifred Nicholson, Barbara Hepworth, Alfred Wallis, Joan Miró, Christopher Wood and Alexander Calder. Here are just a few of my favourite Ben Nicholsons. Read more

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The Colour Of Memory

The entrance to the Pierre Bonnard exhibition at Tate Modern is a portal through a giant detail reproduction taken from his painting The Garden of 1936. It’s perhaps his best painting. It’s the one that most draws me in, most like a garden itself with it’s abstract disposition of marks and colours, it reminds me of paintings by Patrick Heron and Gillian Ayres. And there are other paintings here that bring to mind Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse, Howard Hodgkin, David Hockney. But before all of that, we’re straightaway into a red gallery with ‘hot’ paintings of Bonnard’s mistress, full-frontal nudes and a post-coital bedroom scene. The gardening comes later. Read more

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Devour

A few mementoes of Jelly Green’s magnificent but all too brief exhibition, Devour, at the Oxo Tower Gallery on London’s South Bank for just four days in early April. At the opening I was running around excitedly with my camera pointing and shooting wildly, trying in vain to absorb it all. The resulting photos are of varying degrees of clarity, but hopefully you’ll get the gist. Read more

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Lepidopterae

We’ve got a windowful of butterflies to cut out and keep, captivating moments gilded and framed, an April shower of lepidoptera, caught in a dream of waking and sleeping and waking again.

I dreamed I was a butterfly, but then I awoke. Now I do not know whether I was a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am a butterfly dreaming I am a man – Chuang-tzu. Read more

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Helmet Heads

A short walk from Annely Juda’s in Dering Street, north across Oxford Street to Cavendish Square, west along Wigmore Street to Manchester Square, and to Hertford House, home of the Wallace Collection – a national museum which displays the art collections brought together by the first four Marquesses of Hertford and Sir Richard Wallace, thought to be the illegitimate son of the 4th Marquess. It was bequeathed to the British nation by Lady Wallace, Sir Richard’s widow, in 1897. Read more

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A Small Retrospective

I love the Annely Juda Gallery very much. I’ve been visiting as long as I’ve lived in London and it always feels like I’m coming home. I first knew it as a small warehouse space in Tottenham Mews, next-door to the Angela Flowers Gallery. It was all scrubbed floorboards and whitewashed walls hung with jewel-like fragments of Bauhaus, De Stijl and Russian Constructivist art. Most exhibitions seemed to be called The Non-Objective World and they were always a great education in abstraction. In 1990 she moved to Dering Street where I first discovered the work of Eduardo Chillida, and saw an exhibition of minimal white reliefs by Alan Reynolds. It was a revelation. Read more

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The Chestnut Of A Hundred Horses

Some call it the Hundred Horse Chestnut, but that confuses me because it’s a sweet chestnut (Castanea sativa) not a horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum). Maybe it should be the Sweet Chestnut of a Hundred Horses. In Italian it is called Il Castagno dei Cento Cavalli. It stands on the eastern slope of Mount Etna and has survived the volcano’s eruptions for 4,000 years. According to legend, Giovanna of Aragon, Queen of Naples, was visiting Mount Etna when a severe thunderstorm caused her and her entourage of one hundred knights on horseback to take shelter beneath the tree. Read more

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Newton St George

It sounds like it might be the name of a village, somewhere in Devon perhaps, deep in the countryside; but no, it’s a display of paintings by Robert Newton and ceramics by Florence St George. Neither artist is from Devon but both make work that looks like it was extracted from the countryside, evidence of the land, pieces of earth. They’re together in The Rowley Gallery window throughout March. Read more

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