Archive for women

Meeting Tracey Emin

Posted in Culture with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 2, 2012 by Robin Gosnall

I Kiss You Neon Sign by Tracey Emin

Natasha Garnett for the Wall Street Journal talks to Tracey Emin: Reformed Bad-Girl Artist Tracey Emin

“You know, what I thought was love maybe wasn’t,” Emin says. “I understand that now. Maybe it was something else and I got it really wrong or misunderstood it. This is the kind of stuff I’m drawing, this is what I am thinking about when I am making art. What is love? I judged love against how I received it, and what I should have done is judged it on what I gave. Because that’s what I truly know. I’ve never been that successful with relationships. I have with friendships. So that means I have to put a big question mark over myself.”

In person, Emin is slighter and prettier than photographs suggest. She has a gentle manner that at times borders on vulnerability, and she is incredibly soft-spoken, despite her Estuary accent. When I arrived at her house this afternoon, her first priority was to introduce me to her mother, who was sitting by the fire in an upstairs drawing room. As I leave and make my way out into the cold, I struggle to connect Emin’s past with the woman she is now. I can’t help but think that the kind of girl who makes a point of introducing you to her mother is exactly the kind you would want to introduce to your own.

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Katherine Jenkins: More Idle Thoughts

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , , , on July 31, 2011 by Robin Gosnall

I have never met the woman nor, I suppose, am I ever likely to. I do not know how musically competent she is in practice. She may well be, in person, a very pleasant individual. She is nice enough to look at if you like that kind of thing. However, it is the public persona that does not gel with me, in that she has been manufactured and sold as some sort of classical pop star. With her, or possibly more correctly her backers, it seems to be more a case of product and money ahead of any underlying talent or artistic direction.

She seems to have a nice enough voice. However, there’s a big difference between someone who does one or two excerpts from operas reasonably well, and someone who actually performs in them for years, and makes several recordings of the best of them. She may not have acting ability either – though that might not matter on recordings.

Actually, even if she were not able to cope with large scale opera, there are other routes to a career in classical music – recitals, etc., but they’re not routes to money and I fear that money means a lot to her.

I remember hearing an interview with Julie Andrews who was honest enough to say that she knew she didn’t have the right abilities to be a classical singer.

I think it’d be really interesting if La Jenkins were to tackle something large scale or serious, but if she knows that’s not for her, then perhaps we should let her be the judge of that.

She has been successful at what she’s done, so good luck to her, although I’ll raise my hand and say that she’s not my cup of Earl Grey. If she inspires people who’ve heard her sing a couple of arias from Carmen to hear the full opera, and then maybe something else by Bizet, and then maybe another opera, then that’s great, but does this actually happen?

I’m sure people would have much more respect for Katherine Jenkins if she really did cross over and performed a full opera or gave a recital of Schubert lieder.

Related:

Katherine Jenkins: Idle Thoughts

Brown Bread: Miriam Karlin

Posted in Books, Culture, Obituaries with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 13, 2011 by Robin Gosnall

“The sequinned grande dame of British theatre, a Jewish legend and Equity terrorist.” Anthony Sher

“I can’t imagine being anything but left-wing. I was brought up in a home where justice was the most important quality. I’m part of a race that has survived 2,000 years of persecution. I think, if I’d had any ambition at all, I would like to have been the first female British Prime Minister. I would have been a rather lovely English Golda Meir, a benevolent dictator. I am, shall I say, a Utopian socialist. I have an idealistic dream of a wondrous socialist world where there will be a real brotherhood of man. I know it will never happen, but it doesn’t hurt to have such belief, and it keeps me going.” Miriam Karlin

Miriam Karlin, who has died of cancer aged 85, was a pillar of the British acting establishment who was also a fully paid-up member of the awkward squad. During sixty workaholic years, she acted in every area of the performing arts except ballet and the circus, and is fondly remembered as the truculent, whistle-blowing shop steward Paddy (complete with her catchphrase “Everybody out!”) in the classic TV sitcom The Rag Trade. Parallel to her life as a performer, she was a dedicated political activist, spurred on by her lifelong socialist beliefs and an unerring sense of justice, promoting broadly leftwing causes as a member of the council of the actors’ union Equity, and as a campaigner for the Anti-Nazi League, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and Soviet Jewry.

She had been unwell for a number of years, suffering from peripheral neuropathy for a decade.

Here is the last page of her 2007 autobiography Some Sort of a Life, based on conversations with writer and director Jan Sargent:

I don’t think I’ll last much longer. I have to say that the contemplation of my own death only frightens me if I think it’s going to be painful and if I can’t control how I go. The idea of not being here only frightens me in terms of my vanity: I hope that I die looking good with my teeth in and that people won’t say awful things about me. I hope that the obituaries will be nice. Perhaps what I am writing now is my own; that’s what it feels like, some sort of a life story.

I don’t want another 20 years in pain; I can’t contemplate very much more of it. I want to say that’s enough, thank you, been there, done that, got all the T-shirts, let’s now finish it in a dignified fashion. I don’t want to die throwing up everywhere; I would just like to die nice and quietly. If only I hadn’t given that damn “Do It Yourself” book to somebody who never gave it back …

I love conversations and talking on the phone, but it’s probably because I have always lived alone. I’d miss gossip, not being here. I’d miss going to wonderful concerts listening to beautiful music. I don’t believe any longer in heaven; I don’t think I am going to hear beautiful harps in a mystical place. I think this is all there is. I’d miss music and my friends. I’ve got some wonderful friends that I’ve had for a very long time, and of course I’d miss my brother, my sister-in-law and my niece Vivien. I can’t really say “I’d miss” because I’d be dead, so I wouldn’t know how to; but if one could, those are the things I’d miss.

R.I.P. Miriam Karlin (Miriam Samuels) 1925-2011

Tracey Emin: “Art in Britain has never been better”

Posted in Culture with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 16, 2011 by Robin Gosnall

The artist opened her first major London retrospective today, and called it the “defining moment of her career”.

(Source: Telegraph)

Renowned for her controversial and often explicit work, she has spent a large part of her artistic career defending herself to the public. Yet today, as she opened her new show at London’s Hayward Gallery, Tracey Emin appeared markedly mellowed and presented her work with subdued confidence:

“This is the biggest defining moment of my art career. I am really proud of the exhibition. I don’t feel I have to defend it, I’m comfortable in it,” she said.

Talking about contemporary British art, she said that she was heartened that she and her fellow YBAs were “now finally getting recognition” – and added that art in Britain has never been better.

The exhibition is said to introduce the public to Emin’s lesser-known works – and self. Spanning the course of her career, the exhibition includes a series of photographs of the artist running naked down an East London street, as well as personal documents: love letters, the ashes from a shop she co-owned in 1993, archived paraphernalia and diary entries from the time of her abortion, and a blown-up photograph of her family at a village wrestling tournament on holiday in Turkey.

Her seminal work, The Tent (also called Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1963–1995) in which she famously embroidered the names of all her lovers on the inside walls is not in the show. Today Emin expressed some remorse for the work, saying that she no longer uses names in any work:

“I know the repercussions of these works … I’m still very open but I now keep a little bit to myself.”

Tracey Emin: Love Is What You Want is at the Hayward Gallery until 29 August

Tracey Emin retrospective: in pictures

Tracey Emin: “What you see is what I am”

Posted in Culture with tags , , , , , , , , on May 8, 2011 by Robin Gosnall

Tracey Emin’s raw unpretentiousness – and the use she’s made of her life in her work – has captured the nation’s attention for 20 years. But its brilliance lies in its use of words.

This unpretentiousness has made Emin a national symbol. Her uncodedness, her frankness, her direct use of her own life in her work, have made her a repository, in the media and to some extent in the general public’s eye, for all that’s contentious in contemporary art. It’s easy to dismiss, simplistically, her complex and redolent use of self-portraiture as ego-posturing. But the thing is, there’s no pinning her down. There’s no reducing Emin. No matter how – or how much – the media strings her up (one minute lunatic, the next the new William Blake), her work engages the nation, and has engaged it now for more than 20 years, in a dialogue about art and life and the crossovers between both. It does this at what might be called a language-sensitive place. She is multitalented, multifaceted; aesthetically endlessly versatile; there’s no form she won’t try. Somehow nothing circumscribes her.

Tracey Emin: Love Is What You Want is at the Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre, London SE1 (0844 875 0073), from 18 May to 29 August 2011.

(Source: Grauniad)

Brown Bread: Elisabeth Sladen

Posted in Culture, Obituaries with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 20, 2011 by Robin Gosnall

Elisabeth Sladen has died of cancer aged 63.

This stark sentence is perhaps the saddest thing I’ve read this year. She was the reason many dads watched Doctor Who in the 1970s, and The Sarah Jane Adventures in more recent years.

As a 12-year-old boy, I suppose I had a crush on Elisabeth Sladen, who played Sarah Jane Smith in the TV series Doctor Who. My daughter loves The Sarah Jane Adventures. So Elisabeth Sladen’s a big part of my telly childhood and hers.

Oddly enough, the only other actor of whom I can say this is Tom Baker (my own favourite Doctor Who, who had a great rapport with his companion/sidekick/assistant Sarah Jane Smith – as he points out (read his tribute below), it helped that they both came from Liverpool); my children watch Little Britain and quote his random voiceovers for that show.

R.I.P. Elisabeth Sladen 1948-2011

Related:

Tom Baker’s personal tribute to Elisabeth Sladen

Search terms for 7 days ending 2011-04-07

Posted in Blog Stats, Culture, Food, Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 7, 2011 by Robin Gosnall

Not done this for a while. Just to show what an excellent blog this is, here are the results of a quick look through my blog stats:

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what did the music of alban berg add to the development of western music in the 20th century (good luck with that one … not really a search term)

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why was it traditional to eat porridge standing up (again, more of a question than a search term, yielding results for every website that contains any of those words)

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