London Shows

A show all marketers should see is Martin Parr’s photos at the National Portrait Gallery

If only to see the original artwork for the excellent “Oneness” idents for BBC 1, a  fine example of that classic thing – a great creative idea executed in a fresh way.

The idea – like the best ideas – is uplifting and inspiring. “Oneness” is about the joy of  getting together with like minded souls who share the same passions,  and how this dissolves differences between people through shared experiences and common humanity. It is also an timely idea- a big spirited riposte to the narrow mindedness engendered by Brexit

But there is another lesson. It is difficult to create something fresh and distinctive by sitting in your London office and just doing data analytics.  Martin Parr travels all round Britain looking, really looking hard, and capturing the sheer diversity and quirkiness of people.

We used to call this “insight”. A vital stimulus to ideas that I fear might not come from staring at a screen.

Don’t get me wrong. I used to work at Google and I know how rich data analytics can be. But if everyone is using the same data to “optimise their message” then all the work will start to look similar.

Parr’s work for BBC 1 is a reminder of what you have to do to be fresh and different.

Get out of the office and look really hard at people and how they live

 

London is full of free art shows. The artist rooms at The Tate dedicated to Louise Bourgeois are a great way to spent a free hour. You can also see where the likes of Sarah Lucas and Tracey Emin got their ideas from. Her work is visceral, and sensual – unmistakably the work of a troubled and highly creative woman. About being a mother and a daughter.  And she had many more ideas than Emin and Lucas in her long life

 

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Occasionally you go to a show that gets you to see the world differently: Paul Nash’s show at the Tate is one such. Landscapes, from his perspective, have distinct auras, – as though they contain spirits and evoke a supernatural world. His first paintings were dreamlike night scenes. And through out his life he was able to bring out the spirit of a place (or of inanimate “found” objects) in his work.

His pictures are once real- and of real places- but also mystical as though tapping into a ancient spirit invested in the place

This is why his ww1 landscapes are so powerful. They picture not just devastated landscapes but a brutalised and damaged spirits, as though the earth itself was wounded.

I think too his was a universal insight- we all have places that are imbued with special meaning

I shall be going back for a second viewing images-2.jpgimages-1.jpgimages.jpgimgres-1.jpg

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The photographers gallery continues to be great value-For £3-00 you can see two great shows

  1. Make you look: Dandyism and black masculinity 

Joyful,liberating and gloriously subversive. People inventing and projecting their own style.Often if you have got less materially then you often end up wearing your wealth and projecting your own style.  Your art is your life- something that Oscar Wilde also understood. It is also by the way true of going out in Newcastle (rather than  London)- people dress up to the nines for a night out. Some of my favourite images

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2) Terence Donovan – speed of light 

TD described what he did as “organised visual lying”. He was a great image maker. The people who sat for him enjoyed his company and relaxed. This shines through in many of the iconic image he created.

It is a nostalgic show – it reminded me of the 80s ad’ scene when consumerism boomed. TD got rich by providing images for both the ads and editorial during the golden age of glossy magazines-those vehicles of aspiration and desire- many of them no longer with us. Like Man about town- that became Town and then  disappeared IMG_7704.JPGan a

The RA’s new blockbuster show Painting the modern garden  is a sure fire hit. You can be guaranteed at least two hours of calm and visual joy contemplating all the paintings of flowers and gardens, and Monet’s  Waterlilies in particular.

You would not think that they were created at a time of dramatic growth in inhumane factories and grimy cities or that the ghastly products of the armaments industry was shattering mens bodies on an industrial scale in the trenches of The Great War. That is (part of) the point: the British fell in love with their gardens as a places of sanctuary and retreat from the modern world. These paintings are as calming and satisfying as a session of meditation.

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What has this to do with Kittens?

Each day we watch endlessly depressing news broadcasts and each hour we dance attendance on email, twitter and linked in. So we too need a place of sanctuary. Google researchers (when i worked there) found that a big reason why we can’t resist kitten videos is they make us feel relaxed. That is the insight behind this short film called Kitten Therapy.  I am sure that you won’t be able to resist it. 8 million others have found it irresistible too

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If you like RA show you are sure like Delacroix and the rise of modern art  at the National Gallery, a 15 minute walk away .He is the missing link from classical art to the likes of Cezanne , Monet and Renoir. He invented colour theory- the way that certain colours in combination create a particular effect. Take a geeky pleasure in seeing how his love for vivid turquoise and green crop up all the time among his successors, as at the show, you can see his works displayed alongside his disciples.