1. New Post: Something you should see… Souzou: Outsider Art from Japan


    Something you should see… Souzou: Outsider Art from Japan

    New exhibition Souzou: Outsider Art from Japan at the Wellcome Collection brings together a host of visually stunning works in a wide range of media. Bold, blocky coloured pencil drawings hang beside tightly detailed scratchings in biro; chunky, expressive sculptures sit below elegantly abstract geometric patterns in pen. Souzou is full of works that are carefully executed, aesthetically striking and overall memorable for their originality; by conventional measures and in formal terms, the exhibition could be called a success.

    But this is not a conventional art exhibition as such. You are unlikely to have heard of any of the artists, and they haven’t thought about you as an audience. Neither are they particularly interested in – even aware of – their work’s marketability, or, in some cases, the fact that it is on display at all. All of the works brought together for the Souzou exhibition were created by adults with a range of mental disorders and illnesses, living in social welfare facilities across Honshu, Japan’s largest island.


    Souzou is a Japanese word that can be translated as either creation or imagination. Some of the works convey or communicate a particular idea or experience, others fulfil an essentially private function; in all cases there is little to no engagement with history and theory. In some ways, this exhibition represents a purer form of art-making, unshackled from a debilitating awareness of critical reception and the art market. The works are very personal to the individual’s particular outlook or perception of the world. Toshiko Yamanishi writes love letters to her mother in the form of multicoloured swirls of jagged patterns; Shota Katsube creates brilliant little action figures out of shiny bin-ties; Ryoko Koda reduces his name to one unique character and repeats it again and again in artfully arranged geometric patterns.

    Exhibitions of ‘Outsider Art’ like this one always throw into question what it is that defines the ‘Insiders’ of the (fictional) concept of a singular and cohesive Art World. The Wellcome Collection’s exhibition offers an alternative kind of self expression through the visual arts and is not to be missed. (Words: Florence Ritter) 

    Souzou: Outside Art from Japan, Wellcome Collection, runs until Sunday 30 June 2013. Click here for more info. 


  2. New Post: Something you should see… George Bellows: Modern American Life at the Royal Academy


    Something you should see… George Bellows: Modern American Life at the Royal Academy

    When George Bellows died at the age of 42 from a ruptured appendix, he was acclaimed as one of America’s greatest realist artists. Now British audiences have the chance to see what all the fuss was about this month at the Royal Academy. The exhibition, which is the first UK retrospective of his career, explores the principal themes in Bellows’ work and includes both drawings and paintings, as well as lithographs.


    New York’s urban landscape – its people and places provided the setting for Bellows unflinching portrayal of early 20th century America. From the lawless violence of the boxing ring to gritty scenes of tenement life, to cityscapes and social scenes – he painted them all. Visitors to the Royal Academy can view life in New York and its diversity of inhabitants, as it emerged into the 20th century – from the 71 works on show. Bellows is best known for his boxing paintings and the exhibition includes his most famous work Stag at Sharkey’s (1909). The painting depicts a brutal underground bout at one of New York’s ‘private’ clubs on Broadway. The frenzied energy and raw aggression captured by Bellows in his early fight scenes helped to establish his reputation as a ‘formidable’ painter in New York art circles.


    Thought of as the ‘all-American painter’, the variety of subject matter suggest Bellows was a more complex artist who was attuned to the social and political issues of the day. Lithographs Bellows produced for leftwing publications and paintings showing German atrocities during the First World War – both included in the show, attest to the social conscience for which he is known. Those looking for some light relief from the depressing studies of daily city life should seek out Bellows’ scenic paintings of Manhattan under snow and portraits of summer fetes in Central Park.

    George Bellows left an extensive body of work for what was a short career, so here’s a great opportunity to see some of those works and find out why this American painter was so highly praised. (Words: Eri Otite)

    George Bellows (1882-1925): Modern American Life is on at the Royal Academy from 16 March – 9 June. For more info, visit www.royalacademy.org.uk


  3. New Post: TCé picks: A selection of things to do and places to go – October 2012


    TCé picks: A selection of things to do and places to go – October 2012

    Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like the quality of interesting happenings and stuff to do in London goes up a notch come September, so if you ever wanted to check out Rent, enjoy a free fest on behalf of Bo-Jo, try  fried chicken that aint KFC or play games all weekend around the Southbank, this month might just be for you…

    Special Event

    Photomonth 2012October 1st – November 20th - If you’ve got a camera or even a vague interest in photography, head down to this  annual fest held around East London which not only offers over 150 exhibitions in galleries and venues, but the chance to participate in walks and workshops.



    Bicycle Film Festival, October 5th to 7th - Festival founder and dedicated cyclist Brendt Barbur started the BFF in 2001 following an accident in New York City while riding his bike – but 11 years on, it continues to be a positive celebration of the bicycle and its cultural relevance through music, art and film.

    Arts & Culture

    Siobhan Davis Studios Animated Environments Series: Steven PippinOctober 6 – November 24 - Siobhan Davies Studios hosts the final part in their Animated Environments series, this time with acclaimed artist Steven Pippin. Wonder what the last thing a camera sees before it is shot through the lens with a bullet? Best head down to the dance studios to find out where this strange human musing takes the audience.


    Eat & Drink

    Choctails at The Botanist, National Chocolate Week, October 8th to 14th - To mark National Chocolate Week, The Botanist bar on Sloane Square has teamed up with Hotel Chocolat to produce a limited edition range of hot chocolates and cocktails.  Flavours include The Ultimate Hotel Chocolat, Chocolate Orange Melt, Nutty Divine and Naughty but Spice.


    The House of St Barnabas presents The Autumn Culture Series with Gilles Peterson, Andrew Weatherall, Rob da Bank, from October 16th - If you are feeling a bit charitable this autumn but don’t want to encourage those pesky chuggers, then this next recommendation could be right up your street. The Grade one listed House of St Barnabas have enlisted the help of DJ aficionados Giles Peterson, Andrew Weatherall and Rob da Bank to host a series of nights in their amazing premises. Charity plus dancing (to great music) – minus getting a restraining order on a street fundraisers – equals perfect.



    Jonzi D: Lyrical Fearta at Lilian Baylis Studio, October 18th to 27th – The legendary hip-hopper will be reviving some of his best known works and premiering The Letter – his first solo piece in 17 years.  He’ll also be joined by acclaimed musician Soweto Kinch.

     Best bits from last month

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  4. Something you should see… Art of Change: New Directions from China at the Hayward Gallery

    If you managed to catch the recent Ai Weiwei documentary about his art and activism, you will no doubt be interested to see this new exhibition at the Hayward Gallery. Art of Change focuses on work produced by Chinese artists from the 1980s until the present, in particular those who have worked with performance and installation. The exhibition describes itself as ‘living’ and ‘breathing’ and actually, it is. Not that the Hayward has taken to developing inorganic life but rather, in the run up to the opening, they have been recruiting members of the public to carry out performances for the exhibition’s duration.

    Art of Change at Hayward Gallery

    Performance art participants are offered different tasks, including organising a yoga style class for the public or holding a ‘falling’ pose for a period of time. The opportunity is exciting and unusual, offering a chance to truly interact with the artwork.  Voluntary positions are on offer for works by MadeIn Company, Yingmei Duan and Liang Shaoji. Other artists in the exhibition include the late Chen Zhen, a Chinese artist who managed to emigrate to France prior to the cultural oppression that began in 1989. Other interesting artists Sun Yuan and Peng Yu will be making an appearance – but be warned these artists are not for a squeamish audience, often working with human fat tissue or baby cadavers. All the artists live and work in China, so the exhibition should provide insight into the kind of contemporary work this sleeping giant is capable of. Whether any of this will signal a new direction for the freedom offered to an artist, you will probably have to ask Ai Weiwei about that. (Words: Laura Thornley) 

    For more info, visit www.southbankcentre.co.uk


  5. TCé picks: A selection of things to do and places to go - September 2012

    Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like the quality of interesting happenings and stuff to do in London goes up a notch come September, so if you ever wanted to check out Rent, enjoy a free fest on behalf of Bo-Jo, try  fried chicken that aint KFC or play games all weekend around the Southbank, this month might just be for you…


    Rent at Greenwich Theatre, September 5th-16th - The outstanding Tony-nominated musical (and the longest running production on Broadway) comes to the capital for a limited run. Based on Puccini’s La Bohème, it’s tells the story of creatives living in New York’s Lower East Side struggling with life, love and HIV/AIDS.

    London School of Samba

    Special Event

    The Mayor’s Thames Festival, September 8 and 9th- Boris Johnson throws his annual end-of-summer fête for Londoners which features shows, music, a carnival (and costs us absolutely nada!)

    Arts & Culture

    Everything Was Moving: Photography from the 60s and 70s at the Barbican Art Gallery, September 13th to January 13th 2013  - Have a look at over 400 rarely seen photos taken during a revolutionary era, which also coincided with the golden age of photography.  Featured photographers include Bruce Davidson, Malick Sidibé  and Li Zhensheng.


    The Hide & Seek Weekender 2012 at Southbank Centre, September 14th-16th - If you love games as much as we do, you’ll enjoy this unique weekend of playtime and performances.

    Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy


    More London Free Film Festival at The Scoop, September 14th-30th - This year’s bill features Great Expectations, Senna  and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy so weather-permitting, this should be a brilliant opportunity to see some top films outdoors.

    Eat & Drink

    Wishbone fried chicken and beer at Brixton Mark, opens in September - Our mouths are watering at the idea of  this new opening, being brought to us by those guys behind the popular MeatLiquour. (Wonder if the Ludacris LP will be on rotation? Ha!)

     Best bits from last month


  6. Metropolitans: Rowan Newton, Artist

    I am… an artist based in London, and I’m about nothing else but art. Every moment of my day is consumed with art. Whether it’s drawing, painting, researching, looking at art, reading about art, and just generally obsessing over art and how to constantly improve my own.

    Rowan Newton

    The area in London I call home is… I live in Greenwich, but I always think of home as Brixton. It’s where I was raised and made so many crucial memories. But it’s been almost 10 years since I last lived there. I’ve also lived in Wembley for a couple of years. It was different to Brixton, but not so much where I felt out of place. It was still a bit naughty and I liked that. But eventually I had to return to south, as that’s where my heart is.

    I’ve got to have a meal at …  St. John in Smithfield. It’s nose to tail eating, which makes it ethical because they use every part of the animal that usually gets thrown away. If you do pop in, I’d recommend trying the Grouse, it’s very tasty. To drink, I like to visit a secret absinthe bar on Chamberlayne Rod in Kensal Rise (The Broken Down Doll Bar and Boutique). From the outside it looks derelict with a window full of weird deflated green balloons. To get in you need to bring something green.

    I get my threads from… mainly the high street – American Apparel for T-shirts and Uniqlo for jeans. But when I want to treat myself, I head to Comme des Garcon and Yohji Yamamoto for shirts and tailoring and Zadig & Voltaire for knitwear. For men when it comes to style, I feel they should keep it fairly simple and classic.

    To enjoy London’s nightlife, you should… head to east London. It’s full of energy, inspiration and interesting people. There’s so much going on there. You can bar and club hop all night and you’d barely scratch the surface.

    If I were mayor… I would live in the new flats that have recently been built by Tate Modern.

    My favourite spot to check out art is… either Lazarides or Elms Lester.

    I’d kindly tell a tourist to… take the time to look at the top of buildings. This city has a rich history in architecture. The tops of buildings in London, for the majority, are incredible and go unnoticed everyday.

    The things I miss when I leave London are… not one thing in particular but, as a whole, what London represents to me. Its differences, opportunities and options, that’s what I would miss.

    My soundtrack to London would be… I Luv U from Dizzee Rascal’s Boy In Da Corner album and Has it Come To This? from the Original Pirate Material album by The Streets. Growing up as a teenager in London these two albums were the first albums I felt represented our generations London. I felt finally our generation had a voice in music; both hugely important albums to me.

    Visit Rowan’s website at www.rowannewton.co.uk

    Follow him on Twitter: @RowanNewton

    Insightful by Rowan Newton


  7. The highlight of my summer: Secret Garden Party

    It was only a few months ago that revellers across the country were having a ball at the wild and wonderful Secret Garden Party in Cambridgeshire - including writer Ena Miller. With tickets now on sale for next year’s summer jamboree, she takes a moment to reminisce on her 2012 experience…

    When I look at my photos from The Secret Garden Party I can’t help but smile. When I was there I spent a lot of time smiling back at those smiling at me; it’s a festival filled with friendly people.  It’s a place where everyone is up for meeting everyone else and to cram in as much fun as one can have in 4 nights and 5 days.

    The weeks of torrential rain before SGP worried me. But at the gates, it started well. A handsome man carried our bags in the dark and through the mud.  Our camping neighbours to the right offered their gazebo and a merry drink.  They knew before we did that there was no way we (with no instructions) could put up our tent in the drizzle without creating a terrible drama.

Our neighbours to our left became our dancing partners; they offered us friendship and laughter and  told us about places we hadn’t had time to read about.

    Secret Garden Party The Cultural Exposé

    We stood on the hill as the Alabama Shakes played in the distance.  Too far away to appreciate the music, we were still entertained by the people walking by. The colourful costume of the American Indian, the cool tiger face that grinned perfectly up close against my camera lens and the kids with no tears being pulled along by their parents in special homemade vehicles.

    The Dance Off area was packed.  A massive boxing ring was the space people had earlier taken turns to show who was “the daddy” of the dancing floor.  Surrounded by piles of haystacks - the brave climbed to the top.  Everywhere - below and above - bodies moved enthusiastically to show their appreciation of the music. 

Those wanting something a little more hard-core waited for the boat to take them to the rave in the middle of the lake.

    Secret Garden Party The Cultural Exposé

    We discovered the Coliseum. During the day people mud wrestled naked.  The prize was simply the triumph of winning.  

On the way to the party in the woods we stopped by At Where the Wild Things Are bar for a cocktail. 

By the time we reached The Artful Badger it was always way too busy to like.  But I loved the novelty entrance to the Alice in Wonderland disco.  As the doors got smaller and smaller, they never got too small for me to fit through.  They took us to a place that kept us going when the thought of sleep in a muddy tent began to feel more welcoming.

    I spent most of my weekend in fancy dress.  Sequence, wigs, silk, taffeta, netting, homemade wedding dresses, cute white leather corsets, love hearts, butterflies and bubble blowing filled my days. 

Where there was a party, there was also a place to rest.  I spent a little time in my bikini at Lost Horizons.   We chilled out on the grass.  Glided through the air in the tree swing. Had a shower (even though it’s cold, it feels great to wash) and emptied our alcohol-filled pores in a Swedish sauna where the temperature inside was insane.  

That’s where I met naked Stephen – the playwright.   Through the heated mist we talked documentaries, Russian models and always doing the job you love. We later exchanged phone numbers and arranged to meet again. I like to think we’ll be friends.

    Secret Garden Party The Cultural Exposé

    And when all that was done I went off to find the clay tent.  My friend created a five-legged turtle and I moulded Mr Caterpillar that sadly never made it back to home with me. 

The secret festival is set in the fields of Huntingdon, seventy miles outside London. Wild peaceful countryside mingles perfectly with respectful mud crunching happy fun seekers.

Even though thousands go ever year, I do feel it’s a special experience not many know about.  It was my first ever festival and if I didn’t have so many other things I’d like to do before I die, I’d definitely be a secret gardener again next year.

So instead, I feel it is my duty to tell you. 

Everything I was worried about.  I shouldn’t have. 

 Would I have fun? Yes.  
Did I need to know millions about music?  No  
. Would the toilets be so gross I’d be sick? No way. They were completely fine.
  Would I spend millions of money when I was there? No.  I didn’t have to. Would there be decent food? Yes, it was yummy and reasonable.
 Would I be wet and miserable? I was damp and for brief moments miserable.

    But then there was always a Secret Gardener around to make me smile. 

(Words: Ena Miller) 

    Secret Garden Party The Cultural Exposé

    Do you have a lovely holiday experience you’d like to recommend and share with The Cultural Exposé? Email info@theculturalexpose.co.uk - we’d love to hear about it! 


  8. Somewhere you should eat… Reform Social & Grill, Marylebone

    About three or four years ago, restaurants offering robust, butch British fare in clubby surroundings (gentlemen’s rather than night) were the height of fashion, Dean Street Townhouse being the first and I would still argue the best of the bunch. It was a fashion I was very happy with, this being exactly the kind of food I like to eat and the kind of place I like to eat it in.

    Reform Social
    Fashions change however, with each new restaurant opening now seemingly contending to be more niche and novel than the last, so just as I was thinking we’d all moved on to places serving only hot dogs and champagne or authentic pork-bone ramen, it came as a not-unpleasant surprise to hear about somewhere as resolutely - one might say wilfully - old-school as Reform Social & Grill.

    Located in the Mandeville Hotel in Marylebone, Reform consists of a bar area (the Social) serving some pretty spot-on cocktails - they got my vodka Martini exactly right - and the Grill, a large room which with its bare-wood floors, dark Edwardian colour palette and studded leather banquettes and booths is attractive but almost oppressively masculine. On the night Alyn and I visited we were the only diners for almost the entire evening, word having clearly not yet spread that Marylebone, an area well-served for high-end eating establishments but less so for good everyday options, now has exactly that…

    To read the rest, click here to visit Hugh Wright’s blog twelvepointfivepercent.com


  9. Somewhere you should go… BLISTERS - The Directors Cut at the MC Motors Warehouse, Dalston

    Film fanatics will agree that movie posters are arguably as significant as the flicks themselves, as their long history has given them - the good ones at least - the credibility to be considered contemporary art. So when 40 established artists and emerging illustrators were tasked with producing prints inspired by some of the most notable movies on the planet, they not only paid homage to the early approach of creating artistic interpretations of film scenes and themes for posters, but collectively produced an attractive show worth checking out when it drops into Dalston this weekend.

    Back To The Future by RYCA

    Back to the Future by RYCA

    Presented by Print Club LondonBLISTERS - The Director’s Cut is the studio’s fourth annual show and features clever revamps of posters for the likes of Star WarsThe Godfather and Metropolis amongst others.  The open evening on August 31st will feature film screenings, themed cocktails, and  hot dogs and popcorn for film buffs and art lovers alike, followed by an open day on September 1st - and the prints themselves will be available to buy for just £40, signed exclusively by the artists.

    You can check out a couple more of our favourite prints from the show just below, but click here for more info and e-mail rsvp@printclublondon.com if you’d like to attend on Friday, August 31st.

    Star Wars by Conception Studios

    Star Wars by Conception Studios

    Metropolis by Raid 71

    Metropolis by Raid 71


  10. Somewhere you should go…Back in 5 Minutes at Disappearing Dining Club

    Up Brick Lane, through a clothes shop, down some stairs and tucked away in a snug back room is the Disappearing Dining Club -  purveyor of good food, friendly service and a memorable sharing experience.  Decked out in fun vintage decor, the pop-up style restaurant fits perfectly with the Brick Lane crowd - and with a Grey Goose Fizz placed in my hand on arrival, what’s not to like about this place?

    Disappearing Dining Club

    Tonight’s starters are a selection of potted treats from salmon and creme fraiche, salted beef and a beetroot and  a curd mix for the veggies, which is delicious with their homemade sour dough bread. Mains of roast pork come sliced and heaped on a wooden board for the meat eaters to devour (with plenty of crackling), whilst veggies get their own portion of risotto cake - just enough of a twist on the tired veggie staple for me to enjoy. A side of seasonal jersey royal salad with asparagus reminded me of the very English picnic-in-the-park style grub, with extra class. Desserts look equally the part: panna cotta set in a old fashioned glass jar with a rhubarb topping.

    Disappearing Dining Club

    DDC has been around for a while but Back In 5 Minutes is its first restaurant in a semi-permanent location. The plan is to be in the premises for two years and serve dinners on Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and a Sunday lunch for up to 30 people. Plus the team have a wealth of experience having cut their teeth on the cocktail bars and private members clubs of west London. The menu changes regularly, keeping up with the seasons and maintaining visitors interest - so even if risotto cake is a becomes a bit boring for a vegetarian option, next time they are sure to have something new for guests to try. Finally, prices are around £30 for three courses, so I am hoping this dining club doesn’t do a disappearing act for a while! (Words: Laura Thornley)

    For more info, visit www.disappearingdiningclub.co.uk

    Disappearing Dining Club