REPORTING ON ART AND FOOD from Troubled Places

Warning : This is a modern-primitive writing website, of impressionist rather than informative character.

Atteint by longterm artistic poverty LAAF is now accepting DO NATIONS

Today 2 August, LAAF is keeping an eye on the court case for East Jerusalem

While also keeping an eye on the Londonist online London what to do adviser - doubtlessly the best in town.

They have 150 day-trips map! They are adamant that there are lidos all over the capital - they don't tell you that for outdoor swimming you'll have to book yourself at least a week in advance and this obviously through the annoing app, whatwasitsname, but nevermind - and they advertise hundreds of art, food and event miracles of which for this week I pencilled in my agenda : Camden Fringe - going on the whole month. DRUMMOND STREET PARTY from 6.30pm-9.30pm on Wednesday 5 August. CLASSIC CAR BOOT SALE this weekend and many others later to come.

31 July in Paris. Un après-midi normal quoi.

1st of August in No20Art, London. Your average Sunday, Isn't it.

The Manyhood Bound and Loathing  on the 31st of July

The EU Nomenclatura in France bother no more to cover its totalitarian character.

La France that has the old bloodthursty habot to eat her own children at approximately every 50 years since 14 July 1789 - you think a loop is missing? No, it was merely exported to Algeria in the 60s when the old zombie have eaten approximately 1 million Algerians - has managed to delay the phenomenon, the current blood-loop, dragging it from 2005-6 to.... now?

To the Algerians and to the other North and Other Africans and to all the Others I will say: "Don't worry, they are not doing to you anything that they've done to themselves before. Never forget that before coming to eat you alive the old vampiresse has eaten herself first".

Daily, I tell myself the same "Don't worry, the English are not doing to you anything that they haven't done to themselves already. Above and before anybody else they have colonised themselves, calling the phenomenon 'class system'".

A soothing, comforting elevating thought: None of them is free, they might be rich, but none is free, not even the Queen. Actually, she less than all the others. Ask Megan.

Fruit of the day: The definition of the 'class system' as the self-colonisation of a nation.

Manyhood Bound and Loving on 1st of August

In the meantime the manyhood bound and loving at No20 features

Ruben Brulat sculptures and paintings that capture processes in nature and in art; or as the press release states "the relationship between humanity and nature". And I find him interesting for being very enigmatic - what you see is not exactly what it is. Brulat's paintings look like skinned leather and his cardboard and plaster sculptures look like marble and stone. Else to say, Ruben Brulat pieces are not what they seem.

Jonathan Pulido, painting his memories of the marks that the passage of time has left on the walls of rural Colombia where he grew-up and where the inhabitants cover graffiti works made on the facades of their houses with bright colours is the next in line. Despite the vivid colours the work is sober, if not sombre, and mature. Very beautiful.

Keith Roberts, the third corner, of this unexpected triangle is somewhat Asiaticly - or constructivisticly? - minimalistic. But also Supports/Surfaces-ishly exciting...

Ruben Brulat/Jonathan Pulido/Keith Roberts is in No20Arts until.5 September

an van Huysum’s Flowers in a Terracotta Vase (1736–7) Fragment

Playdough creature on the beach, made by an unknown refugee hand

NG PAINTING GOES ON DISPLAY IN THE WALLED GARDEN MENTAL HEALTH AND WELLBEING HUB IN PERTH

A Dutch masterpiece from the National Gallery, Jan van Huysum’s Flowers in a Terracotta Vase (1736–7), will go on display at The Walled Garden beside the Murray Royal Hospital in Perth from tomorrow (31 July) to Sunday 8 August. The venue is part of the Perth & Kinross Association of Voluntary Service (PKAVS).

Perth is the only Scottish venue and the penultimate stop on the Jan van Huysum Visits tour. The Walled Garden Mental Health and Wellbeing Hub is a tranquil haven for people recovering from mental illness and members of the public alike, and has a café, art studio and shop onsite. The location was selected to encourage people to explore their local community and link art with their surroundings, offering a much-needed reprieve from the challenges of living life during a global pandemic.  Press release

HOST. Hundreds of Small Tails in Folkestone

Create a cosy environment and HOST Hundreds of Small Tails sculptured by people who are seeking refuge in the UK. For the duration of the Triennial, we are inviting local people to host mini sculptures on windows that look onto a street. By Art Refuge and KRAN, led by artist Aida Silvestri.

Aida Silvestri is a UK based artist. She creates work that challenges the status quo of stigma, prejudice, and social injustice/inequality by highlighting issues of migration race, class, identity, and health, in the UK and internationally. 

Art Refuge uses art and art therapy to support the mental health and well-being of people displaced due to conflict , persecution and poverty.

22 July - 28 October various locations in Folkestone

Press release

Instagram art forwarded by @ilianrachov designer and fine-artist

Mr Mojo's breakfast at 45 Jermyn Street with Golden Oscietra caviar. Just don't ask me why is he having it with tea....

le déjeuner de la liberté, 26/7

The morning when the Vaccination Passport was introduced in France after a late Sunday night voting at the French national assembly, I had two eggs with red caviar. The breakfast 'Two Eggs : Bird and Fish : Air and Sea' is a baby of my last Lockdown, when only supermarkets and food halls were open and thinking about food became predominant occupation.

It is warm but cloudy this Monday morning and I am drinking Twinings Mango, Pineapple and Ginseng tea.

I am in London and Radio France Culture is playing a translated from English podcast about John le Carré.

Later on, on Times Radio, otherwise know as Silly Radio or The Half-Wise Radio, I listen to a certain Rachel (Conley?) explaining how much she hates anti-vaccers and approves Macron's approach. "Kill them with boredom", she insists driven by a surge of vaccer's altruism "If they don't want to get vaccinated deny them all access". It's always good fun to get a glimpse of the righteous dictator hidden in a random law abiding citizen. Sounding like a little altruistic nazi Rachel makes me think "I bet she votes Labour," vagely . 

A Distracted Brunch or In the Meantime Mr Mojo

I approach 45 Jermyn Street and the immaculate front of house manager is ready for my approach, as he must have been made aware of my wheelchair. He opens his mouth to speak, but I get there first.

I ask if my friend is already inside, and before he has finished nodding I ask him to ask her if she would like to move to an outside table. I'm gambling on London weather, but somehow I feel lucky. He beetles off inside and a moment later my lovely companion emerges. We settle at a table and then the best part of any meal at a restaurant begins - looking at the menu.

My friend is eyeing decadence, looking at caviar. I stay quiet. Am I embarrassed that I have never tried it? Or am I worried that I may not like it? Anyway, the deed is done. The minimum 10 g of Golden Oscietra is on the way, complete with an array of accessories; blinis, potato, two types of toast, and a beautiful serving of scrambled egg.

They bring tea but nobody touches it. I had already started my cappuccino (it was after 11 am, but you are allowed to do things in London that you could never do in Italy), but then we realise that we have something to celebrate so we ask for two glasses of champagne.

We eat, but I am I'm heavily distracted by various delightful sights and barely realise that I am actually enjoying the caviar. The first salty hit, then the complex fishiness, and then a satisfying aftertaste. Immaculate service.

Immaculate food. It was the immaculate beginning to an immaculate day.

More on Mr Mojo and his art under Artists/Antony Buonomo here

New on Saturday, 24 July in the morning is 'The Serrans Towers' by Caroline Fakhri - A lovely few minutes trip in Valencia for those who cannot travel. Under A Teacup In Spain

Dj Ebz - the best in East London - at Hoxton Gallery amidst Yaikel's art at Angamos Group exhibition, as seen on 23 July 2021

For the poor quality of the photo Samsung Galaxy is to blame. If it was a person it would have been called a criminal.

Ooops, She did it again. The nation's favourite aunty opened yet another compartment of its jewellery box, containing five extraordinary gems signed Canaletto... Which are actually a fake, Canaleto, while being at the same time an original... And here starts the story; this Canaletto isn't Canaletto, it is in fact Bellotto known in some parts of the world as Canaletto. But it turns out that this "fake" Canaletto isn't entirely fake. In fact he is real and original....but bare with me. Commençons par le commencement.

Born in Venice in 1721, Bernardo Bellotto is an original nephew of Antonio Canal, otherwise known as Canaletto, and studied in his workshop. But while the renowned uncle took his skill West, moving to London, Beak Street in Soho to be precise; Bellotto moved East to Dresden, following the invitation of King August III Elector of Saxondale and King of Poland . And there the locals started calling him Canaletto, probably because of his venetian origin.

Five Köningstein animated landscapes later, what do I think? It is always the younger that wins, this is what I think. I prefer the Eastern Canaletto, pardon Bellotto to the Original one Canaletto that is. Why? As a starter, I never really liked the tiny, childish white bordered waves of the original one; while I very much liked the light and detail of all the bushes, walls, roses, cows and laundry ladies of the Eastern European one. What precocious, equaliterian painter Bellotto turned out to be, simultaneously drawing servants, shepherds, masters and nobility at one. First class witnessing and wordless documenting.

Bellotto rather than Canablleto also probably because right now I would have Central turn Eastern European deep green woods rather than flat Mideteranean whites, yellows and blues.

Bellotto reunited and uncovered is at present at the National Gallery. MultyD and free.

The New Mumbai and Jerusalem

Now when the juicy sausages of fine-dining writing have splashed their relishes in fabulous gardens around the countryside; the little rhododendron that's me can sit and put a few words about the holes where it has nibbled lately.

Eliot's, Borough Market, is my July absolute banger. Especially because of the street works straight at its doors, which give the place the particularly dramatic, disheveled air of an urban bombsite, so typical for summertime London.

Sipping on fresh, cold and zesty, organic orange wine from North-East Italy - Trieste roundabouts I imagine - while gnawing on deep-fried mature Scottish cheddar while looking at mountains of road cover debris and the tools left behind in the abysses beyond gives a surreal like finishing to the pervert pallet experience combining a cool Italy with a hot Scotland. An unexpectedly good combination.

In round two: drinking a taniny, served cold - don't ask about the blends - rich and ringing in the head with high-pitched little copper bell - don't ask about the region, the third on the by glass list - deep red French while chewing on ... first let me say that during the first 24 hours after eating this miracle of the Sicilien kitchen wonders my being was coming back to the concept, the notion and the experience of it for ten minutes once every hour. Which is basically what happens with one when one is in love... this fantastic calzone filled only with three basics that are butter, massive amounts of it, salt and lemon juice. Having in mind that in my personal religion the only thing that good wine needs is good bread, yes preferably with salt and oil, with the lemon being a for-special-piety godsend reward; in Eliot's, last Friday afternoon, I found my personal new Jerusalem already built. And with the Spanish, Greek and Indian feet stumbling around the dark Satanic excavation holes along Stoney Street my standard for cosmopolitan perfection is fulfilled, pinning this New Jerusalem on my personal map. 

With the New Jerusalem on Friday, 16 July, next came the New Mumbai on Saturday evening. This last one is otherwise and commonly known, to those less enlightened in English and World poetry, as Karamel N22 vegan restaurant; where I was taken not merely for the excellent set roti & variety of curries served on charming aluminium multicompound plate-board?, but mainly for the classical Indian music life with Yousuf Ali Khan, Jonathan Mayer and Paul Clarvis. Both of excellent quality and incredible value at £10 p/p each. At New Mumbai they also soak clients with bio wines, cheap and sincere.

Surrounded by warehouses and old factories, the New Mumbai is in a similarly spacious hall theoretically connected to the Chocolate Factory artists studios - both, and this is my guess, supported by Haringey Council - and housed in industrial type buildings. There is no more romantic walk in the July urban dusk than the walk down the new River Walk pathway North of Hornsey Overground Station, through the railways underpassege and straight into Wood Green's quiet and deserted industrial zone; contrasted with the warm, convivial atmosphere created by the smell of curry and the sounds of tabla that slaps you once in.

This and the excited chirup of the young and older children of the poshish, hippyish - both moderately - trendyish in a parallel N22 universe young and older couples. Très peculiar, très out of space, out of time hence terribly irresistible.

And then just as we were going from high to high of ginger and thrilled; while the art director rapping her in the endless charm of her deep dark eyes and the curls of her rich curly hair while telling us about all the gems in their program and in the artist studios behind; when I did my usual party trick, spoiling the party by asking a simple question: "What's this?" I asked the young woman bringing to the table the stuff we were eating and drinking - calling her a waitress somewhat doesn't fit as much as the New Mumbai is not really a restaurant, but feels and looks somewhere between canteen and Food Bank hall - fork-pointing at a delicious round and green vegetable verymuch looking like a lime, but tasting like...like something I don't know. "I don't know", said the young woman. "What do you mean "You don't know". Don't you taste the food that you are serving?". "No" said she she and that's that.

And off I went wandering at loud "If the place is so very communal and council backed, and if the food is precooked and you have two not twenty, people working, what, just what the hell may prevent you from giving them a taster of what they are serving, as if you were any random corporative caterer?". And I took the question to the lovely art manager, that in a very English way asked the girl whether she got fed before her shift with a lovely... - the name of something I don't know - which the girl confirmed, but this obviously wasn't enough to settle me down; and my brain went on on a wild ride on its favourite mad horse called Comparative Cultural Generalisations, the ride with which I lately so much try to avoid; thinking things like English and Indians they go so well together in their love of class and caste system; which is why Brexit is a good thing as neither have any place in theoretically, at least, egalitarian Europe. And also thinking that's why I rarely write about food for by default restauration, regardless of how much I love restaurants, is a criminal activity*. And that's why I like Café Bohême because the waiters know their menu, or at least give the illusion well enough. Eventually asking myself how on earth was I able to find a dark grain in such a marvelous fruit. But hey, isn't that what karamel is? The bitter finishing of burned sugar??

So welcome back to London - which after Lockdown feels like an open-air soul asylum, walking through which feels like a safari but populated with sweet, boundaries-freed and completely nut people. And to make it even more interesting instead of treated most of the inhabitants of Open-Air London Mental Town are drunk; which is not surprising having in mind that even the Queen sells ale and gin! - Yes, welcome back you juicy sausages, old, vicious London is waiting to wrap you in its furnace-hot crumbling crust.

*And also because food-porn - taking pictures of food - is as boring as porn porn.

Liu Way "Pegasus" as seen through 'Dimention' at White Cube Bermondsey.

The Unexpected Encounter and Other Anatomies

" Anyone who devotes their life to fight society in order to be free must be pretty sincere about suffering." Sayaka Murata, 'Convenience Store Girl'

So far, all my encounters with Caitlin Moran has been a pure joy. Take for example today, it is nerely ten o'clock, I am nursing a gentle hangover after yesterday's England football victory, still not even dresses I am merely ready to get into the shower; when a lively voice speededly informs me from Silly Radio that they are nursing a massive hangover after having had ...14! Pina coladas. Which immediately puts my suffering into perspective - only few fiz-coups and half a bottle of white; why am I even thinking of it as a hangover? And I don't have to talk to the nation from the waves of a Radio. I only have to go to Liu Wei exhibition at the White Cube.

On my way to Bermondsey in the tube, I ponder on the question whether to buy Caitlin Moran's paperback book. With my main worry being that I may not like it - Lately, I only like books written from autistic or sociopaths perspective. Like the Incident With the Dog or Sayaka Murata's 'Convenience Store Girl'. And one thing is certain about Our Lady of Joy and Laughter Caitlin Moran - she is neither autist nor a sociopath. Reading a normal person in small doses that's one thing, but a whole normal person's book... And that might break my most constant pleasure in this country - reading CW.

Or maybe I will like it too much and gorge myself on How to be a Woman, as I did with three of Amélie Nothomb's books leading to an Amelie Nothomb cloying, and then never reading another one. Not unlike the cloying I got with Haruki Murakami after reading one after the other Kafka on the Shoreditch and Norwegian Wood...

"At times, true reality doesn't feel real, and this is the gap I focus on" -Liu Wai.

Et me voila at the White Cube where a Monumentalesque Liu Wai reminds us of the sufferings of Nature by juxtaposing a concrete-grey hawk next to a concrete-grey pigeon on a concrete-grey roof. And and a concrete-grey owl on a concrete-grey rubbish bin cover. After which he exposes us to smoe 'The East' sunsets and sunrises on canvas. All spectacular.

But what I loved loved the most is a Liu Wai's Pegasus (called by me) otherwise known as Speculation sculpture, which I think should be immediately bought by an antoninus buyer and given as a present to the Queen for her anniversary next year, because of the horse-derriers featured and also the egg-shaped wing. Then The Queen could put is somewhere in Buckingham Palace to make it look more contemporary. More in connection with present time and reality.

It seems that having Wai in your name is a guarantee for good monumental art. And White Cube Bermondsey has a taste for monumentalism.

In addition, the White Cube exhibition through light on Eames Fine Art Gallery's choice of subject for their latest opening - Malcolm Franklin's Vantage Point sculptures, preparation paintings and offprints - not in the sens of "A printed copy of an article that originally appeared as part of a larger publication." Oxford dictionary, but rather in the sense of prints made from segments of his work used as seals.

Bermondsey Street is the place to go by and buy this weekend and as well as the two books mentioned. This evening though, the places is Gallery 46.

"The normal world has no room for exceptions and always quietly eliminates foreign objects. " Sayaka Murata, 'Convenience Store Girl'

Fortunately none of the mentioned above falls into this category.

Thinking about Caitlin Moran's "How to be a Woman while reading Sayaka Murata's 'Convenience Store Girl'

Walid Siti, (دهوك Iraq 1956), Untitled or a Devastated Landscape in Mesopotamia, Reflections at the British Museum

BM's Room 90

Plenty is going on these days in London art wise. Last weekend it was London’s Gallery Weekend and I sat early Saturday morning to describe all the galleries and shows I've been to the evening before; including a ridiculous anecdote of how Annette Holzwarth, my favourite abstract painter based in London, and I got locked - amidst big amounts of rubbish art - in a brand new gallery in NW1 by a control-freak of banker turned gallerist; and then quoting all the Mayfair galleries one can visit unthreatened by neither kidnap nor bad art; but fell overwhelmed by the shere emotional and cognitive volume of this experience and the size of the text it generated, so I just let it go. It suffise to say that all galleries are now open and exhibiting mainly extraordinarily good art. The pandemic had an expected effect on the art world : increasing both artists' poverty and creativity. So big volume of hyper good art all around.

One exhibition though merits a particular attention and this is the British Museum's 'Reflections : Contemporary Art from the Middle East and North Africa' exhibition. Doing my usual favourite thing - turning somewhere unprepared, not reading even the shortest announcement or description of the event and singing "Hit me hit me hit me" on my way there; I showed up at my viewing slot only to be effectively smashed in the face by an extraordinary collection of a world class work on paper taking the visitor on a a la Ibn Battutesc♡ temporal length and geo-political width journey through the last volcano in a typhon sort of hundred years in the Middle East and North Africa - the Arab World plus Iran and Turkey as a bonus.

The more you know about the Arabo-Otomano- shall we call it? - Persiano-African world? the more you'll get lost in the endless pleads and folds of the exhibition's rich timespace fabric taking the viewer "From the Gulf to the Ocean"*, as went the Old Ba'athist slogan with the double cream extra of Persia turned Iran and the Knickerbocker glory of the Ottoman Empire turned Turkey and from the end of the First World War through the 20th devil of a century to nowadyas. The compact comprehension bullets of compressed human experienced and knowledge that " Reflectuon" provides fills holes no data, no written word - history book, novel or journal - or featured of documentary film for the matter, can fill in, while opening a view towards an endless cascade of correlating events. Thus turning BM's Room 90 into an endless rabbit hole of struggle experience, life wisdom and art beauty.

Because of its vast Persia**/Iran section this exhibition is also an absolute must see as a sequel of V&A's epic Epic Iran exhibition that ends up with a small gam-box of Persian/Iranian modern and contemporary art. The revelatory power of these two exhibitions combimed is mighty.

I can't start to list all the masterpieces of this collection in which no piece is here unnecessarily and their resonance in me. But I will only mention my personal discovery of four 80's-old works by Rachid Koraïchi, whom I discovered only lately thanks to the October Gallery, in collaboration with Mahmoud Darwish, whom I saw at one of his last live performances in France, shortly before his death in either 2007 or 2008. These unexpected works, fruit of a collaboration of which I knew nothing about, was only one of the endless Guy Fox size fireworks illuminations that took place in my mind in the course of this exhibition.

Entry is free, but pre-booking needed. Until 15 August

Ibn Battuta was a Muslim Moroccan scholar and explorer who travelled extensively in Afro-Eurasia, largely in the lands of Dar al-Islam, travelling more than any other explorer in pre-modern history, totalling around 117,000 km, surpassing Zheng He with about 50,000 km and Marco Polo with 24,000 km. Over a period of thirty years, Ibn Battuta visited most of southern Eurasia, including Central Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, China and the Iberian Peninsula. Near the end of his life, he dictated an account of his journeys, titled A Gift to Those Who Contemplate the Wonders of Cities and the Marvels of Travelling, but commonly known as The Rihla. Wiki

*من الخليج الى المحيط "From the Gulf to the Ocean" was a punch Ba'athist - Arab Nationalistic slogan aiming to describe the countries between the natural borders of the Arab Gulf and the Atlantic Ocean as "One Arabic nation with an eternal message"; mostly based on the unifying factors of the Arabic language and the resulting culture. The Arabic Language Factor has always been much envied and therefore lately ferociously targeted by the "Civilised Christian World" (CChW) - in which, obviously, there is nothing neither civilised nor Christian."Elementary, my dear Watson, Indo-Europeans, pagan in nature, can never be as Christians as Semits, both Arabs and Jews, are naturally" - and which relentlessly try to persuade the Arabs that they don't speak Arabic, but Syrian, Egyptian or Iraqi etc. And try to disunite them by convincing them that they are not Arabs, but Palestinians, Syrians, Iraqis etc - It had worked only with the Egyptians who perceive themselves not as Arabs but as Pharaos. In this regard some month ago I sat and concocted an Umma Arabia Wahid Hip-Hop Hit list including ten tunes of ten Arab speaking countries all of which I understand be them in "Sudanese", "Kuwaiti", "Palestinian" and etc. Watch this space

** Some Iranian decidents slef-identify as Persians in order to distinguish themselves from the Ayatollahs. Thus, googling English Farsi Translation leads to English Persian Translation. Mysterious are the ways of self-identification.

8 June 2021

Epic Iran, V&A

V&A's Epic Epic Iran Exhibition

V&A is a treasure box... of a gigantic size. Like a treasure box having sipped on a reverse “Drink Me” Potion of a Rabbit-Hole bottle. And still I didn't expected it to contain a whole multi - 5 more precisely - millennial culture with all its countless, unseen treasures* of heartaching beauty.

Entering V&A's Epic Iran exhibition is as close as it gets to opening a wardrobe and stepping into Narnia. Stepping into Narnia of seas of mountain chains and waterfalls, and oceans of dust and rocks plateaux.

And I will dare say: it's the more magical of the two current V&A exhibitions and certainly the more mystical and mesmerising one. The more Alicey one, but also the more “grown up” one.

It develops chronologically starting in ancient times passing through epochs, kingdoms and dynasties** and ends up most graciously with some excellent modern and contemporary art pieces***.

Chapeau! Chapeau aux co-curators John Curtis and Tim Stanley and associate curator Ina Sarikhani Sandmann. I can think of only one other exhibition where I have thought with such gratitude about the curator, for the whole experience of the exhibition was one of mysterious a la sufi dynamic revelation with high “educational” - for lack of a better word - value.

There is a wonderful poetry room; where one can hear and read verses such as Sa’adi’s : “I remember that one night when I lay awake I overheard a moth in conversation with the candle, ‘I’m love-struck’, he said. ‘So it’s right and proper I should burn. But you, why these tears? Why burn yourself up?’"

There is also a screening dome that represents the two domes of a mosque in Isfahan as seen in the light of different times of the day - another moving experience.

And while every single - of the hundreds of pieces - piece is worth mentioning for being of the exceptional beauty of an object narrating a thousand and one night story - from the lion-headed rhytons through the triple backed lazurite tiles to the mini-skirt with what looks like Quranic scripts embroidered on the belt to the fantastic ending peace All the White Horses; I particularly want to mention a video installation that resonates with one of my deepest worries in regards to Iran - Iranian women's singing deprivation, which I find particularly cruel and which is imposed by the current Ayatollahs regime. Thinking about it I am not sure which is worse: Sunna's image interdiction, or Shiait singing - for women - interdiction? The video installation in question is called Turbulent, by Shirin Neshat. It represents two facing each other screens. On one of them a man sings a 13th-century love poem in front of a male-only audience. On the other screen a woman stands in silence in an empty chamber. When the white-shirted man ends his singing, the black-dressed woman begins an atonal, wordless cry, desperate yet defiant. Don’t pass by the small black room of Shirin Neshat’s installation.

When going to Epic Iran equip yourself with a tiny torch like the ones used by the ushers in the Opera... you will find out why.

V&A’s Epic Epic Iran is on until 12th of September.

Get tickets here https://www.vam.ac.uk/exhibitions/epic-iran

Once you’ve seen it you’ll know why I call Iran “A nation of poets kidnapped by a clique of strange bearded men”.

*John Curtis, co-curator of Epic Iran said: “Visitors will be astonished by the quality and variety of objects from Ancient Iran, showing that it had a civilisation every bit as advanced and prosperous as those in neighbouring Mesopotamia and Egypt. It is clear that the Persian Empire, founded in 550 BC, inherited a very rich legacy from earlier periods of Iranian history.”

**Tim Stanley, co-curator of Epic Iran said: “This exhibition offers a rare opportunity to look at Iran as a single civilisation over 5,000 years. Objects and expertise have come together to tell one of the world’s great stories in art, design and culture. In the Islamic period, political power in Iran was re-cast in many different forms, but an overarching sense of history and a deep devotion to Persian literature survived the turmoil of events. In 1501 the Imami form of Shi’ism became Iran’s official religion, giving the population a unifying set of beliefs that set them apart from their neighbours. Shared beliefs, memories of a glorious past and a joy in Persian poetry are still a vital part of life in Iran today.”

***Ina Sarikhani Sandmann, Associate Curator of Epic Iran said: “Contemporary Iranian art is dynamic and exciting, critically self-examining and engaged in the global world, and both intellectual and playful. The rich variety and quality, often radical and experimental and unapologetic in playing with themes such as gender, politics and religion, may surprise visitors – and helps explain why Iran’s long legacy of culture continues to be so relevant to the world today.”

Epic Iran has many generous sponsor, but the one that intrigues me most is Darioush Winery here www.darioush.com

Eileen Agar, Whitechapel Gallery

Having fallen through the hole to Wonderland and entered the Loocking-Glass at the V&A, Alice later on strolled down Museum Street; drank a coup of fresh mint tea with rose water a la Moroccan at Le Comptoir Libanais; took the District Line from South Kensington; alighted at Aldgate East and showed up at Eileen Agar's fabulously surreal exhibition 'Angel of Anarchy' at Whitechapel Gallery. 

The strangest thing is that despite the menacing, revolutionary sounding name of the exhibition named after one of Agar's works, Agar herself and respectively her work strick with sublime, infantile innocence - not unlike Alice's. 

Exhibition Eileen Agar: Angel of Anarchy 19 May – 29 August 2021

www.whitechapelgallery.org