Saturday, 11 December 2010


I don't go out in my local hood that often but god knows when I do, not even a broken ankles gonna stop the shenanigans...first stop (well actually there was only two) was a pretty Russian restaurant we'd been meaning to check out for ages...Nikita's. Name checking Elton John as a favourite customer on their website, the restaurant featured a veritable cacophony of beautiful, distinctive interior murals inspired by ornate  Russian houses and originally designed to brighten the long winter nights.

Nikita's food was heartily divine (see dumplings above), the vodka flowed freely, the waitresses eminated that idiosyncratic charm only Russian ladies can and when we least expected it, the crazy accordion player (below) started busting out traditional balalaika tunes...turned up to 11. According to the website he was Bibs Ekkel 'one of the top masters of the balalaika outside Russia', however he seemed to be favouring Abba tunes at our table that night in tribute to my two stunning Swedish (almost) identical twin sister dining compadres.

After Nikita's we hobbled along to my favourite London cafe - The Troubadour. I first discovered this magical place at the age of 17 and spent months trying to locate its wonderful selection of rickety teapots in the window again years later when I finally came to reside in the city.

With a chequered, bohemian history dating from its inception in the 1950s, the cafe includes a subterranean live music bar - keeping alive a tradition of folk and jazz which reputedly saw the likes of Bob Dylan play at the venue.

What I love most though are the curious interiors (below) - traditional and European in style, featuring all kinds of hanging saucepans, iron work, enormous keys and locks, wooden puppets, musical instruments and statues. The cafe also has a fertile, fairy-lit beergarden out the back, a really beautiful atmosphere in which to spend a midsumummer night's dream... 

Friday, 3 December 2010


Josephine King's October Riflemaker show entitled 'Life So Far' proved to be another intriguing hit for the Soho gallery. Regularly receiving over 200 visitors daily (respectable numbers for such a small space) with over 400 on the show's best day, King's work reportedly left some emotional punters in tears.

The vibrant ink paintings on paper present a series of reflections on the artist's own bi-polar condition - musings often frightening in their intensity and honesty - decoratively framing each image (below). King's utilisation of bold, occasionally contrasting block colour and two-dimensional, naive style of portraiture establishes an unexpected dichotomy with the dark, often disturbing content of the text. 

This series of paintings clearly reference Frida Kahlo primarily through the themes of illness, hospitalisation and medication, within a style of confessional self portraiture. King herself acknowledged the similarity and confessed a love of the Mexican artist in a lively discussion with Riflemaker's director (below). Framing (Kahlo's curtains to King's words) and animal motifs again create parallels between the two artists, as well as the idiosyncratic sartorial style both women adopted within their respective imagery and real lives. 

King also brought along some beautiful examples of 400 sketchbooks produced over her prolific artistic life. Much of this output documents her time spent travelling in exotic locations such as the evocative images made in India below. These paintings very successfully infuse King's unique, flat, two-dimensional style with a sense of the fluid forms, rich colours and traditional aesthetic of the subjects and atmosphere surrounding her in these inspiring far away lands.   

The artist herself was remarkably open and forthcoming about her work, happily posing for photographs and offering to email groupies hungry for further discussion of her output. She was also quite forthright about her discomfort with London's Frieze art fair being 'too conceptual', an opinion to be applauded, along with the suggestions of too commercial/corporate/mainstream/wanky etc etc. There goes my invitation to next years event. Wotevs.

Thursday, 2 December 2010


Such a beautiful novelty being woken up at 2am by a stark, pure white glow reflecting off the snow through my venetian blinds...this is the first fall of the season - much heavier and earlier than usual...

Views like these make my shyster slum landlords' outrageous rent increases almost tolerable...almost.