I’m back in the UK for my next brand, the amazing:
Sstutter is one of the most unique acrylic jewellery brands out there. It is the brand of Phil Wykes, who designs and makes each piece. Each design is usually produced in one or more limited-edition colourways.
This beautiful Monarch Butterfly necklace in the Magenta Jewel colourway is definitely going to be my first purchase.
For something a bit more delicate, the Hummingbird, available as either a pendant or a brooch, is ideal. This is the Flowers colourway.
The Owl necklace is available in a number of colourways; this Onyx version reminds me of the owl in Labyrinth.
The animal heads are really popular: I like this Snow White version of the cat necklace.
Finally, this statement Crocodile Necklace is an utter masterpiece. It is available in pink and this Gold Jewel colourway.
It’s been several years since I’ve seen the Lord of the Rings trilogy, so I thought it would be a good time to refresh my memory. The Prince Charles Cinema holds all-night marathons every December, and I went along armed with snacks and energy drinks.
The marathon featured all three films, in extended editions, over a period of more than twelve hours with minimal breaks. It was less of an endurance test than I’d expected (the energy drinks helped), because the movies are so good, and still hold up well twenty years after they were first made. Boromir’s “One does not simply walk into Mordor” line got a particular laugh.
When the final credits rolled I went for a Wetherspoon’s breakfast and went back home, where I spent the whole day sleeping.
My second Ramin Karimloo gig in a year – truly, I have been spoiled. This gig rounded off 2019 nicely, in the intimate surroundings of The Other Palace.
Ramin sang lots of Broadgrass-style songs as well as songs from his latest album, From Now On, and other musical hits. No matter how many times I see him live, I am always left wanting more.
Throughout the show, Ramin kept hinting about an exciting forthcoming announcement. It turns out that he will be starring in a concert production of the musical The Secret Garden at the Palladium next spring. That is definitely going on my list!
George IV: Art & Spectacle is the latest exhibition to take place at the Queen’s Gallery, London. This king, who spent many years as Prince Regent (giving the Regency period its name) before taking the throne in his own right, is portrayed here as a keen art collector whose legacy can still be seen today.
Growing up, George was not allowed to leave the country owing to the orders of his father, George III, so instead he collected works of art from all over Europe and the east, as well as paintings of subjects closer to home – his family, and earlier monarchs. His energies were first directed at Carlton House, his London residence, which he filled with art, sculpture and furniture, but his vision eventually outgrew this comparatively small living space. Famously, he established the Royal Pavilion in Brighton, and on becoming king he instigated work at Windsor Castle and Buckingham House, transforming the latter, under the care of architect Thomas Nash, into Buckingham Palace.
It seems that George did have a keen eye: he collected works by the likes of Rembrandt, as well as commissioning works of his own. He enjoyed literature too, keeping a collection of Jane Austen’s works in each of his residences, and inviting Sir Walter Scott to dine.
One thing I found interesting about the exhibition was that George, spending money lavishly at a time of economic hardship for many of his subjects, was widely disliked, and this image of him has coloured our perception. I’m not really surprised, and it makes me wonder if having this exhibition now was really a good choice, as poverty levels in the UK reach crisis point. Not long ago, there was criticism over a plan to refurbish Buckingham Palace during this time of austerity, and however much George IV embraced the arts, I feel similarly about his own spending, fascinating as this exhibition was.
The auction house Spink held an exhibition entitled 200 Years of Polar Exploration recently, featuring artefacts that have never been on display before, including photographs, equipment, medals and other memorabilia, from the expeditions of Scott and Shackleton, to 21st century explorations led by figures such as Sir Ranulph Fiennes and the late Henry Worsley.
The exhibition was staged in aid of The Endeavour Fund, which aims to help wounded, injured and sick service personnel and veterans use outdoor challenges and sport as part of their recovery and rehabilitation. This was the charity promoted by Worsley, who took part in several Antarctic expeditions before tragically dying of peritonitis during his 2016 attempt to make the world’s first unaided Antarctic crossing. One of the items on display was his pair of skis, decorated before their use by his children – a moving and poignant sight.
Other items included medals, and photographs from the Heroic Age and later. As always, I loved the opportunity to explore artefacts re;ated to Antarctic exploration and its history.
I’ve been a fan of Christina Aguilera since I was at school, so I was excited to finally see her live at Wembley Arena. The X Tour featured plenty of songs from Christina’s massive back catalogue. My only issue was that there were so many songs, some of them were shortened: I’d rather she picked fewer songs and sang the full versions, but maybe that’s just me!
Overall I loved the concert, Christina sounded amazing and it was brilliant to hear iconic tracks like ‘Fighter’ and ‘Dirrty’ live.
After loving Marina’s spring 2019 concert, I bought a ticket to her November gig at the Hammersmith Apollo, part of Part 2 of her Love + Fear tour. It was good to be able to see her at a more traditional gig venue.
Some of the songs she performed were the same as last time, but there were a few new ones added, such as ‘I’m Not Hungry Anymore’, a track I’d never heard before, and my fave ‘Teen Idle’.
I managed to catch the Secret Rivers exhibition at the Museum of London Docklands on its very last day. The exhibition looks at the history of several of London’s hidden rivers, many of which have been covered over, re-routed or used for other purposes.
First to be examined was the Walbrook, which flowed through the heart of the City of London. This river was often used for ritual (the Temple of Mithras, which I’ve previously visited, was nearby), and the items found in it bear witness to its role at the centre of life in Roman times.
Secondly, the most famous lost river, the Fleet, was explored. This river was located outside of the City, and as such originally played a role at the heart of rural life, before an increasingly dense population helped to pollute the river (during the fourteenth century, people used to build houses with toilets extending out over the river, so that waste would drop directly into it – one of the items recovered from the river was a three-seat medieval toilet). Eventually it was covered and used as a sewer, though you can still swim in the Fleet up at Hampstead, where the outdoor pools are filled with water from this river.
From here, the exhibition explored the contrasting ways in which rivers were used. The Neckinger in Bermondsey, for instance, was heavily polluted and had several mills along its banks, while the Westbourne in west London was used to create the ponds in Hyde Park. The Tyburn, now covered over, has been the subject of a campaign to restore it and use it for fishing, while the Wandle has been uncovered at several points, making it a haven for wildlife. There is also the Lea, still used for recreational activities and transformed towards central London by the construction of the Olympic Park.
Finally, the exhibition looked at the works of art that have been inspired by the hidden rivers. Of particular interest to me were the various books, which I plan to seek out in the future.