Tuesday, 20 August 2019

Favourite Paintings: Sketch 3 for 'Composition VII' by Kandinsky

Wassily Kandinsky is one of the great painters of the early 20th Century who went on an astonishing journey from representative painting into the far reaches of abstraction in a very short time. He was one of the founders of Der Blaue Reiter movement in Munich and that was the launchpad for his journey via colour theories, manifestos and intellectual treatises. There was a rationale behind much of what he painted and a lot of sheer joy in the use of colours and dynamic shapes.

One of my favourite paintings is a sketch for 'Composition VII' that hangs in the Lenbachhaus in Munich. Up on the second floor there is a large room full of paintings by Kandinsky and I couldn't help but grin widely when I walked into it for the first time, delighted at being surrounded by so much colour. There are two sketches from 1913 for 'Composition VII' side by side on the wall, Sketch 2 and Sketch 3, similar in some respects but different in others, and the one I've chosen is Sketch 3 (above).

Kandinsky was born in Moscow in 1866 and gave up teaching to study art when he was 30, later moving to Munich where developed his art and began a friendship with Paul Klee. He returned to Russia during the First World War and the early years of soviet Russia but returned to Germany in 1921 to teach at the Bauhaus. The Nazis closed the Bauhaus in 1933 and Kandinsky moved to Paris where he lived until he died in 1944.

The Lenbachhaus has both sketches hung side by side in it's Kandinsky room. This is Sketch 2, very similar to Sketch 3 but with subtle differences. I spent quite a while looking at both, comparing details and looking for differences. There is a bit more detail in Sketch 3 and that means more colours and shapes and that's probably why I like it slightly more. I respond to the painting by being absorbed into the colours and the swirling movement, an emotional response rather than anything else. Just look into it and lose yourself.

My favourite image of Mr Kandinsky is of him in his allotment leaning on a spade, wearing shorts and with a cigarette in his mouth. I saw it a great exhibition about paintings of flowers and gardens at the Royal Academy a few years ago. It's such an unusual image of a very cerebral artist that it really sticks in the memory. Here again is Sketch 3 for 'Composition VII'. Enjoy.

Monday, 19 August 2019

Matthew Bourne's 'Romeo & Juliet' at Sadler's Wells

A new Matthew Bourne production can be a worrying thing - will I like it? Is this the one that goes wrong? Will I love it? You won't know until you see it, so, avoiding reviews and production photos as much as possible we went off to Sadler's Wells to see the Capulet company dance his new version of 'Romeo & Juliet'. There are two sets of dancers named after the quarrelling families from the play, the Montague Company and the Capulet Company and we saw the Capulet's dance.

We all know the story of 'Romeo & Juliet' with it's rival families where the children fall in love, Juliet's big brother Tybalt kills Romeo's friend Mercutio and Romeo must take revenge for the honour of his friend. Romeo and Juliet secretly marry but end up committing suicide. OK? Forget that. Forget the MacMillan ballet. Forget the market place and the Happy Trollops, the sword fencing and the grand costumes. This version is set in an institution for teenagers with security guards patrolling the hallways and acres of creamy white institutional tiles on the walls to make it easy to clean. This is not the Verona we know, this is Verona Institute.

We meet Juliet early on while one of the guards is picking on the girls and she intervenes so they can escape but she's caught and led off the stage to do what? The guard is nasty Tybalt, a giant compared to little Juliet and they reappear going through more doors in different parts of the stage. What is happening? The clear inference is that he intends to abuse Juliet in some way away from prying eyes.  This institute is not a nice place.

Romeo appears, consigned to the institute by his parents and, at a party for the teenagers, he meets Juliet and the inevitable happens. By now, of course, he's met Mercutio and his boyfriend Balthasar and the boys are busy having a dance-off while he sees Juliet and asks her to dance. Their fate is set, the only question is how do we get to the inevitable tragedy at the end? I did wonder a few times whether the ending would be changed as well and it was, but I won't say how. I'll save the surprise so you need to see it for yourself.

I liked the new, feisty Juliet who jumps on Tybalt to pull him off Romeo, a great twist to the character. Romeo was more hesitant than the brash young man we normally see, clearly troubled but delights in his new-found love. Mercutio is still the dashing young man and in the dance scene delighted in wearing a kilt. And Tybalt? He's a nasty piece of work. I liked the set and seeing reflections of the dancers flash across the tiled walls - was that by design or was it a happy accident? I did yearn now and then for one of Lez Brotherston's more elaborate sets to ease the starkness of the institute but, then again, this was perfect for the setting.

Our Juliet was danced by Cordelia Braithwaite and Romeo was Paris Fitzpatrick, with Reece Causton as Mercutio and Dan Walker as Tybalt. There some nice little touches of normalcy like when, after the other kids have seen them kiss, the girls all gather round Juliet to get the details and the boys all clown around Romeo seeing it a bit of fun. The fight with Tybalt was also very well done, with lots of the kids involved and Juliet helping Romeo but the fatal stroke was Romeo's alone. Honour has to be restored.

After it's short residency at Sadler's Wells the production goes on tour and, in each location a half  a dozen or so of the dancers will be local kids, giving them an invaluable chance to dance alongside professionals in a big production. I wouldn't have been able to identify the 'amateurs' from the professionals from what I saw the other evening at Sadler's Wells. Well done all.

So, is this the production that doesn't work and the I don't like? Most certainly not! It took me a while to get into it and understand who was who on the stage but it ticked all the right boxes for me! It doesn't have the immediacy of 'Swan Lake' or 'Sleeping Beauty' but it's a very different show to both of those. The music by Prokofiev was re-arranged and re-ordred and played live, which was great fun. Go and see it if you can - I think the Sadler's Wells run is sold out but it'll be playing around the country. Oh, and Sir Matthew was in the audience as well.

Sunday, 18 August 2019

'Once On This Island' at Southwark Playhouse

The latest show at Southwark Playhouse is 'Once On This Island' by the British Theatre Academy. It's all about young actors starting out and that, in itself, is an interesting thing - will any of them still be working in ten years time? There was a lot of energy and enthusiasm in the show but not always a lot of skill. It's a strange show to put on, not a well known show by any means and a calypso musical is a bit unusual but hey, why not?

It's an odd story that mixes traditional Caribbean island beliefs and gods with modern day French imperialism with the rich white folks on one side of the island and the black "peasants" on the other side, But then there comes a storm to mix it all up. The local gods intervene to save a child who later goes on to save the life of a rich white man and she is then challenged by the god of death to either offer up her life or his? I won't spoil it by revealing what the decision is.

It was interesting enough and quite different and, at only 85 minutes running time there's no time to get bored. I think it's an odd show for an mature/student company to put on. There's no denying the energy of the actors but sometimes it seemed like they were singing simply to be loud without remembering their diction so I couldn't make out the words - all there was was a loud noise. The very energetic dances also seemed to take its toll on a few of the actors who were clearly out of breath and sweating at the end of the later numbers. I only want to see exhausted actors when they're acting exhausted, not when they are exhausted. One who really caught my attention was Chrissie Bhima who played the lead role of Ti Moune and she is definitely worth watching for. At one point her singing voice reminded me of Linda Lewis, not so much Linda's range as the warm tone and quality. I also liked Aviva Tulley as the goddess of love.

There you have it, my first encounter with the British Theatre Academy. The actors all seemed to be having a great time and that's part of it - it they're enjoying what they do then that's half the battle. Well done people!

Friday, 16 August 2019

'Blues in the Night' at the Kiln Theatre, Kilburn

Last week we went to see 'Blues In The Night' at The Kiln theatre in Kilburn (formerly the Tricycle Theatre, a much better name). It's not one of my regular haunts but I wanted to see Sharon D Clarke in her latest role as a blues singer in a boarding hotel back in the day with a score made up of classic blues songs from the canon. It's a sort of review show with songs by different people pulled together and worked on to tell the stories of three women and one man who seems to have something to do with each of them. But what?

The play is set in a boarding hotel and the stage is et with three separate rooms with a bar where the band play. The rooms are on risers around the stage and we meet an old blues singer, a woman of the world down on her luck and a young girl disappointed in love. The four-piece band play in the bar with a compere who visits the women at different times and for different reasons, maybe to seduce one or to deliver heroine to another. They each sing songs that illustrate their position and are surrounded by things in their rooms that show their position - the blues singer is waiting to make it big again, the women surrounded by furs that she gradually sells for drugs and the young lady by her one good frock. And the man? Well, he's the one with the drugs.

I quite like this kind of show since you're not constrained by the book or plot, the songs tell you enough to build your own picture of who these characters are and make up their back stories. I do that anyway. The old blues singer has seen it all over the years and is straight forward and the mother of the place, the young lady has clearly had a failed love affair but what about the worldly women with her furs? She was someone's mistress clearly, but what happened for her to end up in this low rent hotel and selling her furs for the next fix? I think she's the one who's back story I wanted to explore most.

The four main characters all have about the same time to shine and sing but the whole thing was dominated by Sharon D Clarke's presence - which is fine by me. Clive Rowe played the man, Debbie Kurup the lady and Gemma Sutton the young girl and they all shined at different times but it must've been a bit daunting to share the stage with Ms Clarke. She was on blistering form.

It would be good if the show transferred into the West End, that would probably galvanise the rest of the cast to up their game a bit to try to challenge Ms Clarke (and I don't think she'd mind in the slightest). I'd certainly go to see it again.

Tuesday, 13 August 2019

Frank Bowling at Tate Britain

Frank Bowling has a major retrospective at Tate Britain at the moment and you'll be forgiven for asking Frank who? I know, I hadn't heard of him before this exhibition but I'm very pleased to know the name and the works now. The exhibition has been on for a couple of months but was over-shadowed by the Van Gogh exhibition at Tate Britain that has just closed. I immediately warmed to the exhibition when I saw that the wall outside the entrance to the exhibition had been painted pink to match one of his paintings.

Bowling was born in Guyana (then British Guinana) in 1934 and went to the Royal College of Art with David Hockney. I quite like that he came to London to become a poet but joined the RAF and then switched to painting - I don't know if he still writes. He's had studios in London and New York for the last 60 years and he paints big abstract expressionist paintings, mainly in acrylics, and he likes experimenting with the paint and the way it's applied. Most of his paintings are far too big to hang on your living room walls but they look pretty damn fab on the walls of the Tate.

The exhibition is largely chronological, with examples of his early works in the first rooms and his most recent works (including a painting from 2017) in the last room. His early works are semi-figurative and always seem to have had a yearning for abstraction, but it's interesting to see his move from figurative to non-figurative on the walls in front of you. My favourite of his early works was the colourful 'Mirror' painted in oils over 1964-66 with the central spiral staircase. Something I really liked were the tiles on the floor, some painted in 3D and other flat on. It's a very striking painting and is hung in a room with other paintings about his mother and his home, with images of a map of Africa somewhere in the paintings.

I don't know when he moved to mainly work in acrylics but it seems fitting for his style of painting, not the traditional oil paint, but let's try something new and different. On his move to abstraction he still included some figurative elements, such as images of his children peeking through the washes of paint, almost as if they're in one world looking through the painting into another world. It's a bit odd to be looking at a painting, scanning it from top to bottom and then spotting a face in the midst of all that colour, and then another face - you have to really look at these paintings, rather than just the surface colour, to see what's really going on. I wonder what his grown up children thought of seeing themselves when they were really young when they saw these paintings on the walls of the Tate? They'll be my age now with a life behind them.

Bowling seems to just love the medium of acrylic paint and how you can use it. He experimented with it in so many ways, how it's mixed and how it's applied. He apparently built a contraption in his studio so he could tilt his canvases to allow the paint to drip and flow over the canvases in different ways to create new landscapes of colour. He seems to have bene fascinated by paint and what you can achieve with it. Mix it *this* way to achieve this effect and *that* way to achieve that. The message is that you're not limited to what is in the tube or the pot of paint, you can create your own, which he did. Some of the colours he creates are astonishing, adding different things to the paints to create different effects.

Then, not satisfied by that, he started adding things to the canvas to create more textures to paint, all sorts of stuff glued to the canvas, including the collar of one his grandson's shirts. Looking at the labels of some of these later works I loved seeing the list of materials he'd made a painting with, almost always starting with acrylic paint and adding things like acrylic foam, plastic toys, shells and ending with "other materials", ie too many to mention. I think that's when I stopped marvelling at the colours he found to marvelling at the things he created and "got" Frank Bowling in my own way. He's not so much a "painter" as a "creator", he needs to create something new using his favourite medium of acrylic paint, something the world hasn't seen before and so enhance the options we have for seeing things. We cans see things differently if we want to.

One of my favourite paintings was 'Orange Balloon (4 Paul Adams)' from 1996 where you can see a deflated orange balloon bottom left but the rest of the painting is a riot of colour. Bowling was a political painter and the title of this one reflects that it was dedicated to Paul Adams, the first Black player on the South African cricket team after apartheid. I'd love to know what Adams thinks of this and the singular honour he's given. The painting is over six feet tall and covered in splodges of colour, with a bit of everything in there, deliberately.

Staying with politics and freedom, I also loved his painting 'Silver Birch (No Man, No Vote)' from 1985 that shows his support for the African national Congress and Nelso Mandela's call for 'one man, one vote'. The birch trees are made from acrylic foam and other stuff with paint dripped and splurged onto the canvas.


The final room of the exhibition brings us up to date with his works, still experimenting and still creating. I particularly liked 'Remember Thine Eyes' from 2014 with the round 'eyes' created by buckets of paints left on the wet canvas to create the effect of staring eyes. And why not? It's good to be able to see the physical aspects of creating a painting along with the actual finished painting.

At the grand age of 85 he can't physically handle the paint any more so uses a laser pen to show his assistants where he wants particular colours to go on the canvas. I love these old men that keep on creating despite their age and infirmity, like Monet and Matisse, that just keep on creating for as long as they can. I'll add Bowling to that list.

If you get the chance then pop along to Tate Britain to see these astonishing paintings while you can. I'm very pleased that I did!

Sunday, 4 August 2019

'Spartacus' by the Bolshoi Ballet at the Royal Opera House

Every couple of years the Bolshoi Ballet takes over the Royal Opera House stage to perform a short summer season of ballets from its repertoire. This year they're doing 'Spartacus', a ballet that had it's greatest success with its 1968 performances when student demonstrations swept across the world, the government of France was threatened by popular revolt and more serious revolt in places like Czechoslovakia. So what better tale to tell than that of the original Roman rebel?

'Spartacus' is by Aram Khachaturian (music) and Yuri Grigorovich (choreography) and was first performed in 1968 that made it popular and now a standard of Russian ballet. As with all ballets, it takes liberties with the facts of the story but that doesn't really matter since this is about love and war, freedom against slavery and grand gestures and spectacle. The staging is minimal but someone's obviously been playing with the rather spectacular and atmospheric lighting.

The ballet opens with the triumphant return to Rome of Crassus after his successful war against the pagans and there's  greta scene when he, basically, shows off and lauds it over the mere soldiers that won his victory, flashing his staff of authority all over the place and leaping into the air flourishing his sword. Yes, I get it, you won. Then, as an entertainment, he has Phrygia (Spartacus's wife) dance for him and has Spartacus fight and kill his friend. This is too much for our hero who starts a rebellion and the slave escape into the countryside of Italy.

Rallying his new army, Spartacus leads an assault on Rome and Crassus's estate to free the slave women, including his own wife. Cue an extended pas de deux between them to celebrate their love and reunion. It doesn't all go smoothly, however, and Crassus finds out where they're encamped and attacks, wins and traps Spartacus in a very dramatic scene where he ends up with dozens of spears in his chest lifting him off the ground as his life ebbs away. That image is repeated at the end on his funeral pyre when his followers hands mimic the spears reaching up to him as a hero - that's a very dramatic ending.


Phew! There's dancing and leaping, there's height and speed, romantic interludes and very masculine attacking dancing, it's all in there somewhere and, being the Bolshoi, there's some right old show off segments where the stars get to do their stuff. The last time I saw the Bolshoi I'd have said it was their 'B' team, that is, the dancers weren't fully synchronised and weren't their best, but this time the dancing was far better. This is what you'd expect from the Bolshoi.

The two male leads clearly had their own special skills - Denis Rodkin as Spartacus seemed to specialise in running leaps and Artemy Belyakov as Crassus did lots of spinning round and stopping dead still. We also had Eleanora Sevenard as Phrygia and Yulia Stepanova as Aegina, Crassus's courtesan. They were all technically excellent but strangely cold and not very engaging.

During one of the sword fights I couldn't help but compare them to the Royal Ballet, thinking of the Bolshoi as an early cubist painting by Braque and the Royal Ballet as a warm Titian full of colour and movement. I particularly thought of the sword fencing scenes in MacMillan's 'Romeo & Juliet', that premiered just a few years before this ballet, with the dancers leaping around in a synchronised sword fight with rapiers flashing and slashing at each other.  I don't know if 'Spartacus' is in the Royal Ballet's repertoire but I suspect their version of this ballet would be much more engaging. On the other hand, I'm probably biased in favour of the Royal Ballet whose stage the Bolshoi were dancing on.

So there you have it, the Bolshoi in London again and it's great to see a visiting company put on some of its signature dances, especially one I've never seen before. It was good to see the dancers and the production - and I can only admire Belyakov's ability to spin round and round and stop dead still on a pin. While aspects of the production were technically amazing I missed the warmth and passion I expected (and hoped) to see.

Saturday, 27 July 2019

'The Bridges of Madison County' at the Menier Chocolate Factory

'The Bridges of Madison County' is the latest musical at the Menier Chocolate Factory. I knew nothing about it - I've never read the book or watched the film so I didn't know the story at all, I booked to see it for Jenna Russell in the lead role. I've seen Jenna in lots of things since seeing her in 'Guys and Dolls' in 2005 and then in the Menier's production of 'Sunday In The Park With George' (which I saw with Jenna at Studio 54 on Broadway in New York) back in 2007 and in loads of things since then.

It's the tale of Francesca, a Second World War bride from Naples who marries an American GI and moves to a farm in Iowa when her own love doesn't return from the front. Twenty years later, in the mid-60s, she has two teenage children and a settled life with Bud on his farm. The family goes off to the state fair but Francesca stays at home.

Out of the blue a photographer drives up to the house to ask for directions to one of the covered bridges the area is famous for and she offers to show him. Then, as an Italian lady, she can't send Robert off to a hotel without feeding him and so it begins. Meeting someone new who had recently been to her home town of Napoli opens up yearning and dreams in Francesca. A couple of days later and they are in love, the connections are all there but she has a husband and children. The children win and she bids him farewell. But that's not the end of the play, o no. I won't spoil the surprise for those of you new to the story.

Yes, it's a love story but it's not all that soppy, and there are lots of little moments of joy with our lovers simply enjoying being together, eating out together as lovers in a nearby city and picnicking. There's a lovely tender moment when Robert gives Francesca a copy of the National Geographic with his photos of Napoli that stirs her memories and yearnings at the sight of familiar places and areas rebuilt after the war. We are kept reminded that Francesca has another life by her husband and children calling her on the phone and her nosy neighbours notice Roberts car behind the house.

I really liked the set which was basically an empty, open space with wooden floor and walls, like an empty barn, which then opened up to allow a kitchen to appear and swing out onto the stage, or a bedroom or the state fair with its singing and dancing. At one point, we even get part of one of the famous bridges appearing when Robert is waiting for the light to be right for his photographs. Different scenes are projected onto the bare walls at times to open up the stage. I thought it was really clever and the only downside was seeing a couple of stagehands behind the scenes from where I was sitting.

I thought Jenna was excellent as Francesca, playing her with a slight Italian accent that seemed to get stronger when she spoke or sang of her home and family in Naples, lending a more exotic edge to the songs. She brings a nice vulnerability and care to the part, a brave women who travelled alone to Iowa and her husband after the war and made a go of it, raising two children and working on the farm. Jenna seems to be seeing this as her swan song as a romantic lead as she moves more into character acting but I think she's got a while to go yet.

I also liked Edward Baker-Duly as the photographer Robert, played with an openness and honesty of someone ready to fall in love. We see a lot of the couple together on stage, and with others as Francesca recounts tales of family and friends, and they worked well together with some very convincing chemistry. Dale Rapley was great as Bud, Francesca's husband, as a hard working farmer doing his best to keep his family fed and happy even though he can't quite handle the moods of his teenage children. I also really liked Gillian Kirkpatrick as Marge, the nosy neighbour peering across their respective land with her binoculars but who comes to Francesca's aid when the family get back from the state fair. There's an almost hesitant tenderness in her approach because she can see that her friend has found that elusive thing, love.

Full credit to Jason Robert Brown for the songs and Marsha Norman for the book and together they've crafted a really good show. It was directed by Trevor Nunn and the set was designed by Jon Bauson. I loved it and have already booked to go back and see it again, this time in different seats. Well done everyone.

Friday, 26 July 2019

'While The Sun Shines' at the Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond

Terence Rattigan's war-time comedy of manners, 'While The Sun Shines' is on at the Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond, cue problems with the District Line while we're trying to get out to Richmond. It always seems to happen when we visit the Orange Tree. I've seen quite a few Rattigan plays in the last decade or so and, while they're very old fashioned and often dated, I quite like them so this was a good opportunity to add another one to my list of his plays I've seen.

It's the tale of Bobby, a young sailor in the Second World War who's managed to get leave so he can marry his fiancé. Remember, of course, that this is Rattigan so Bobby isn't just any old sailor, he's an earl, the Earl of Harpenden to be precise, worth two million pounds and with three country estates.

Bobby's going to marry Lady Elizabeth who's come down from her WAF posting in Scotland. Bobby has rescued a drunken American soldier, Joe, from the street and offers him his plush apartment for his stay in London and arranges for him to hook up with a lady of Bobby's acquaintance, Mabel Crum. Lady Elizabeth turns up unexpectedly and Joe mistakes her for Mabel which makes Elizabeth wonder whether she's ready for marriage. All sorts of wrangles and mistakes follow which stretches out the day into the small hours of the wedding day, but what on earth can happen?

It's great fun and got laughs in all the right places from the largely older audience who easily got the jokes about spam (people told jokes about spam well before Monty Python). The play is set entirely in Bobby's apartment where everyone seems to end up, including Elizabeth's father (a duke and a general), a French lieutenant who fell for Elizabeth on the train journey form Scotland and, of course, the wonderful Mabel Crum.

Mabel is the best character in the play and gets most of the best lines. She's a secretary at the war ministry but is also man-hungry and delights in going out and enjoying herself, and that is how she's known Bobby for ages. She calls herself a trollop but in the best possible way. She has a heart of gold and a very modern view of love and relationships. She also has her own morals. Everyone should have a best friend in a Mabel Crum for some straight talking over a drink or two. Dorothea Myer-Bennett had the good fortune to be cast in the role and she milked it for all it was worth. Well done!

I must also give Michael Lumsden a mention since as soon as he came on I recognised him without knowing quite who he was. I've seen him at the Orange Tree before but it's his voice I recognised - he plays Alistair in 'The Archers'! That's how I knew the voice especially since he's been having a more high profile time in the series recently. He's got pompous old ass down to perfection in this play who gets deliciously conned by the clever Mabel at the end. Serves you right! I also quite liked Philip Labey as Bobby and John Hudson as Bobby's manservant.

Sadly, I left it late in the run to get tickets and the play ends tomorrow so I can't see it again. I think there are still a few tickets left for Saturday so if you haven't seen it and you fancy a laugh in Richmond, head on down to the Orange Tree.


Monday, 22 July 2019

'Olafur Eliasson: In Real Life' at Tate Modern

Ever since I saw 'The Weather Project' (aka The Big Sun) at the Tate Modern in 2003 I've been interested in Olafur Eliasson. The Big Sun was an astonishing installation in the Turbine Hall of Tate Modern and I still recall walking into the building on a cold winters day and immediately feeling hot from the intensity of the sun. I saw his fountain installation 'Model for a Timeless Garden' at the Hayward Gallery in 2013 and his 'Ice Watch' in the Place du Pantheon in Paris in 2014. More recently, I saw his collaboration with Wayne McGregor's ballet 'Tree of Codes' at Sadler's Wells and his 'Room for One Colour' at the National Gallery's 'Monochrome' exhibition in 2017. Eliasson is worth watching out for and now he has a full retrospective at Tate Modern called 'In Real Life'.

Part of the joy of Eliasson's work is the fun element alongside the serious message so I'll try not to spoil the fun for anyone going to the exhibition. I've already been to see it three times in the last 12 days and I've found something new to look at and experience on each visit. I don't recall seeing so many people actively enjoying an art exhibition in a long time, possibly ever, and that's a good thing - those people are more likely to try out another exhibition of art in future.

Something that saddened me a bit was that Mr Eliasson doesn't quite understand his role as alchemist and wizard and doesn't really know the names of his own creations. Clearly, the installation called 'Beauty' should really be called 'The Magical Moving Rainbow Room', 'Your Blind Passenger' should be called 'The Mystical Room of Shifting Mists' and 'In Real Life' is actually the 'Goth Glitter Ball' and covers the walls and ceiling of the gallery room in colours. I'd be more than happy to offer my services to Mr Eliasson for naming future projects.

Of course, there is a serious side to Eliasson's work, with 'Your Blind Passenger' really being about the migrant crisis and those brave people risking their lives for an unknown future is reflected in us walking through a room where our vision is clouded by coloured mists. Enjoy the exhibition (and I did) but don't forget the serious messages underneath many of the works.



It's an astonishing exhibition that takes up virtually the whole of the second floor of the new building at Tate Modern. Even the lift hallway is covered in a series of orange lights to make it plain to everyone that something special is happening on that floor.  Something very special indeed.

You get a leaflet on entering the exhibition that shows a suggested route for wandering round the weird and the wonderful exhibits. Whether it's a water pipe dripping water onto a long window or a single lit candle standing on the floor on it's own, there's something to wonder at all over the place. A wall of Norwegian moss? Why yes, why not? A massive kaleidoscope to walk through and see yourself in a million directions at the same time? Yes, bring it on. A small fountain in a blacked out room with a strobe light above it? Why not?

It started me thinking and wondering, not so much about how some of the installations worked, but how and why Eliasson wanted to create them in the first place. Why would you want to create a rainbow in water mist in a dark room in a gallery? What was the thought process behind it? Or did he simply wake up one morning and thought, 'I want an indoor rainbow' and set about creating one? I think I need to sit down with Mr Eliasson with a cup of tea and cake to grill him on some of these questions. I'm happy to pay for refreshments if that helps.

In the final room you can contribute to a larger creation but slotting together a form of Lego, lots of sticks in different sizes and colours, the kind of thing that mad scientists use to demonstrate the form of germs or other tiny things. It'll be interesting to see how large this becomes.


 If you get the chance, go and see this exhibition - it is great fun but with some serious messages. It was a delight to see other visitors to the exhibition wide eyed and laughing with wonder as they experienced this exhibits. I'll be going back again!