Five Good Things: what to do, see, support and read this August
Yes, it may have rained almost every day in July, but that doesn’t mean your summer has to be a *total* wash-out. We take you on a whizz around the hottest cultural highlights this month sure to cheer dampened spirits, whatever the weather
‘THE NEW ANTIQUARIANS: AT HOME WITH YOUNG COLLECTORS’, BY MICHAEL DIAZ-GRIFFITH, PUBLISHED BY MONACELLI
We were particularly impressed when this handsome new book landed on our desk. Published by Phaidon imprint Monacelli and written by the art historian and designer Michael Diaz-Griffith, The New Antiquarians is a rich compendium of some of the finest interiors in the UK and USA, all united by their youthful owners’ passion for living with objects of the past. By turns ebullient, exotic and eccentric, the rooms are also a reminder that the world of antiques is not only the reserve of the haughty, high-minded or staid.
There’s much to admire among its 225 full-colour illustrations by various photographers. We enjoyed our armchair trip to the apartment of Adam Charlap Hyman in Manhattan, with its boisterous array of the unexpected, and gallerist Collier Calandruccio’s 21st-century take on classicism in Brooklyn. But special mention surely has to go to Pablo Bronstein’s extraordinary house in Deal. Recognise it? But of course: it’s currently on the market, meaning you could call this jewel box of a house home yourself, should you wish. All you need do now is release your inner antiquarian.
The book can be purchased through Phaidon’s website.
Photography: Brian W. Ferry (top); Leon Foggitt (bottom)
SUPPORT DENNIS SEVERS’ HOUSE, UNTIL 14 AUGUST
If you’ve ever visited 18 Folgate Street, in east London’s Spitalfields, you’ve borne witness to real magic. To walk through the door here is to step back in history. A living, breathing “still-life drama”, it was designed by its owner – the late artist Dennis Severs – as a “historical imagination” of a house throughout time.
Since Dennis died in 1999, the house has been looked after by the Spitalfields Trust. But even under the charity’s careful auspices, parts of the building – constructed in 1724 – have naturally deteriorated and, after 300 years of roaring fires, the nine original chimneys now all need replacing, at a cost of at least £50,000. Such work is vital – not just to the durability of the structure, but to the integrity of Dennis’ vision for his living museum. There is nowhere quite like 18 Folgate Street in the world, so if you’ve some spare change, we urge you to consider donating in order to help keep the magic ablaze. For details and to pledge, visit the museum’s Crowdfunder page before 14 August.
Photography: Lucinda Douglas-Menzies
‘JEAN COOKE: UNGARDENING’, THE GARDEN MUSEUM, LAMBETH PALACE RD, LONDON SE1, UNTIL 10 SEPTEMBER
Many a reader will find that Jean Cooke’s description of her horticultural husbandry resonates. Listing her hobbies Who’s Who, the late painter wrote “ungardening”, which gives some indication of the tousled wildness of both her city plot in Blackheath and her coastal meadow in Sussex may have looked like.
Pay a visit to the Garden Museum before 10 September, however, and you won’t have to imagine. Taking her word as its title, ‘Ungardening’ looks at the marvellous, myriad ways the Cooke’s gardens inspired and supported her creativity as an artist who, until relatively recently, was obscured by the shadow of her more famous husband, the painter John Bratby.
Cooke sat for Bratby but, unhappy with the way he depicted her (and, indeed, often in her marriage), she took her image of herself and the world around her into her own hands – even though Bratby only “allowed” her to paint for a few hours a day. The result is a body of work that bursts with life, an irrepressible voice and the richness and romance of nature. Intense and unsentimental but also at points ravishingly beautiful, together these paintings stand as much as a symbol of Cooke’s resilience as of her remarkable powers as an artist. For details, visit the Garden Museum’s website.
Shown: Toujours en Fête, 1969 © Estate of Jean Cooke Courtesy of Piano Nobile, London
‘DIVA’ AT V&A SOUTH KENSINGTON, CROMWELL RD, LONDON SW7, UNTIL 7 APRIL 2024
The ubiquity of the word ‘iconic’ has rendered it almost meaningless in today’s vocabulary. Almost. For how else would you describe the black fringed dress worn by Marilyn Monroe in Some Like It Hot? And is there a better word for the Louis XIV look – complete with powdered wig – designed for Elton John to wear at his 50th birthday? We shan’t wait for an answer.
Both these extraordinary artefacts – along with much more besides – are included in ‘Diva’, a fabulous, flashy, rhinestone-encrusted riot of an exhibition running at the V&A until 7 April (fair warning, we know, but we think it’s worth it). Taking the Italian word for goddess as its title, the show looks at all the different ways performers and their fans have embraced, celebrated and subverted the label over the last 150-odd years.
Among the 60 ensembles and 250 objects on display are outfits worn by Tina Turner, Pink and Cher; the jewelled wellies worn by Shirley Bassey to Glastonbury in 2007; and a whole raft of Rihanna’s red-carpet looks, while a video wall celebrating the role of the diva in drag is particularly worth a gander. Come for the sparkles, stay for the soundtrack of Dolly Parton, Madonna, Prince and more. For details and to book, visit the V&A website.
Shown: Image of Grace Jones wearing an Issey Miyake moulded corset, Drury Lane, 1981. Photograph © David Corio
‘SEYMOUR STEIN: THE COLLECTION PART II’, BELLMANS, 7-8 AUGUST
One person who met a fair few divas in his time was the late Seymour Stein. The founder of Sire Records was responsible for launching the careers of, among others, Madonna, Lou Reed and Talking Heads, and also introduced the Cure and the Smiths to the USA. He was also known for having one of the best ears in the biz and, according to Madonna, “impeccable taste”.
It seems he had a good eye too. And you can not only see for yourself, but bid for some of the expressions of this faultless style: on 7-8 August, West Sussex-based auctioneers Bellmans are putting the second half of his London collection under the hammer, having sold the first at the end of June. Highlights include a clutch of Minton and Doulton pottery pieces, some very fine posters – including one designed by László Moholy-Nagy – and an exquisite Art Deco table lamp made of pink glass.
For details, visit the Bellmans website.
- Five Good Things: what to see, read, visit and buy this OctoberPursuits
- A Place Like No Other: Fool’s Delight, the circus that’s a feast for the sensesPursuits
- A Room of One’s Own: ceramicist Jynsym Ong’s studio of elemental explorationsInteriors / Pursuits
- Five Good Things: what to do, visit, admire and enjoy this SeptemberPursuits
- A Maker’s Story: George Bronwin’s wheel of fortunePursuits