Video vault: Telly Savalas in Birmingham

Combing through the archives I came across this little nugget from way back in 1979. It’s only old Kojak himself, Telly Savalas, talking about Birmingham of all places. It’s his kinda town, apparently. Well, if it’s good enough for Tel’ it’s good enough for us. Enjoy!

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Bompas and Parr – It’s all in the wobble

Food architects and jelly mongers Sam Bompas and Harry Parr employ all sorts of tricks to create a range of gastronomic delights.  They’ve created delicious wobbling jellies in the shape of London landmarks, extravagant banquets and potent breathable cocktails…

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5 of the Best Contemporary British Artists

Whether they’re preserving sharks in formaldehyde, painting with elephant dung or extolling the virtues of smoking, Britain’s contemporary artists are rarely strangers to controversy. Here’s five whose work will challenge and inspire you.

David Hockney - The Big Hawthorn

David Hockney
Since his arrival on the contemporary art scene in the 1960s, Hockney has become one of Britain’s most successful and innovative artists. From portraiture to landscapes, his work is vibrant, bold and evocative. His ongoing experimentation with new technology has resulted in a diverse body of work across a range of media.

Hockney’s latest exhibition at the Royal Academy of Art, London, focuses on his ongoing love-affair with the East Yorkshire landscape, showcasing his works from the last seven years, including paintings produced on his iPad and his first foray into film.

Gilbert & George - FEAR

Gilbert & George
Gilbert & George started working together after meeting at St Martins College of Art and their collaborative career now spans over 40 years. Their bold, large-scale photo-graphic pieces use imagery and motifs from London’s East End and explore the themes of religion, patriotism, sex and violence. The duo regard themselves not just as artists, but as living sculptures and their own images feature heavily in their work. One is rarely seen in public without the other and their immaculate, daily uniform of tweed suits has made them iconic British art world figures.

Grayson Perry - Ceramics

Grayson Perry
While Grayson Perry works with a range of media, including print-making, metalwork and tapestry, he is most widely known for his ceramics, using traditional techniques such as coiling to create his classically shaped pots. From a distance, his pottery appears brightly and beautifully decorated, but on closer inspection the detailed imagery, photo transfers and sprigs depict scenes of a darker nature and are often sexually explicit.

In 2011 Perry curated Grayson Perry: The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman at the British Museum with 30 pieces of his own work displayed alongside 170 of the museum’s artefacts, which he hand-selected over two years. The exhibition serves as a memorial, paying tribute to the anonymous artisans and craftsmen of history.

Cornelia Parker - Cold Dark Matter: Exploded

Cornelia Parker
Sculptor and installation artist Cornelia Parker takes everyday objects, ephemera and debris and transforms them into beautiful and captivating pieces. The methodology she uses to create her work is rather non-conventional. With the assistance of the British Army, Parker famously exploded a garden shed and all its contents for her piece Cold, Dark Matter: Exploded. The remains were collected and hung from the ceiling of the Tate Modern, the single moment of the explosion recreated and suspended in time.

The Chapman Brothers

The Chapman Brothers
Jake and Dinos Chapman’s oeuvre is subversive, grotesque and violent. They’ve grafted genitalia onto the faces of mannequin children, created models depicting extreme torture and disfigurement and, much to the ire of the art establishment, purchased a series of Goya’s prints only to deface them. They polarise both critics and audiences, with detractors often dismissing their work as puerile and offensive. But beyond the initial shock value, the deeper themes of brutality and morality that underpin the work become more obvious and intriguing.

David Hockney: A Bigger Picture is now showing until 9 April at the Royal Academy of Arts, London.
Grayson Perry: The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman continues until 26 February at the British Museum, London .

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Dan’s Jukebox: Rizzle Kicks

UK Hip Hop duo Rizzle Kicks

Rizzle Kicks

‘Stereo Typical’, the debut album from rascally Brighton duo Rizzle Kicks, signals a happy diversion from the current wave of mainstream UK hip hop. Reminiscent of early albums from American outfits like De La Soul and a Tribe Called Quest, their rhymes are witty, the beats and samples clever and fresh and there’s not a single synth or auto-tuned vocal to be found on the entire album.

A lo-fi aesthetic features in all of their videos, adding to the throwback feel, and there’s even some brief cameos from UK actor James Corden, musician Ed Sheeran and, in their latest single, their mums. Aw!

Mama Do the Hump

Down with the Trumpets

Rizzle Kicks are currently on tour across the UK and ‘Stereo Typical‘ is available now to purchase. 

 

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Event: Up Helly Aa

After the gut-rupturing feasting and surfeit of sherry that will inevitably be at the heart of our Christmas celebrations, it’ll be time to start planning our New Year’s shenanigans.

For my money, one of the most interesting things you can do is Up Helly Aa on Shetland. Remote, chilly and pretty tough to get to (it’s nearer to Norway than Edinburgh) Shetland isn’t the easy choice but this festival makes it well worth it. Taking place on the last Tuesday in January, it’s the largest fire festival in Europe; a scorching, boozy bonfire topped off with the incineration of a life-sized Viking galley.

Up Helly Aa, Shetland

Just another Tuesday night on Shetland

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Festively themed winter bars

Netil 360 rooftop bar at Netil House

Netil 360 rooftop bar at Netil House

At this time of year it’s all fairy lights, frosty nights and celebrating the festive season with your nearest and dearest. Here are some of the best places to enjoy a hot cocktail and soak up some good cheer.

Netil 360, Hackney London
On a rooftop in the East End of London,  a temporary village of tents has appeared. Every Saturday until the end of December, you can enjoy some of the nicest views of London and live sets from djs and musicians, while sipping on a hot cocktail or 3. If hanging out on a rooftop in the depths of a London winter seems like madness, fear not: (faux) fur coats are available to hire to keep you extra toasty. Follow Netil House on Facebook for news, tickets and guest list information.

The Well’s Swedish Ski Lodge, Clerkenwell London
Go underground at the The Well, Clerkenwell and discover a winter wonderland as the downstairs bar plays host to a pop-up Swedish Ski Lodge. Replete with glittery reindeer, moose antlers and a playlist of the best Swedish pop, there’s no better place in London to enjoy a glass of Aquavit, a smörgåsbord of Swedish delicacies and celebrate Christmas in true Scandi style.

The Polar Bar, Liverpool & The North Pole, Manchester
If you’re looking for a little bit of pop-up chalet chic in the north of England, The Polar Bar in Liverpool and The North Pole in Manchester have got you covered, right up until Christmas. Enjoy comfort food, Christmas cocktails on comfy chesterfields in front of a roaring fire until the wee hours. Check the Facebook pages for the latest news and  events: The Polar Bar, The North Pole.

The Sky Lodge, London Bridge
Under the glint of the ever-growing Shard building in South London, Platterform have transformed an already stunning loft into a ski lodge in the sky. This is Après Ski, with all of the off piste shenanigans and none of the skiing inflicted injuries. With entertainment provided by performance collective, Where the Wild Things Were? and festive cocktails served up by The Firewater Society, The Sky Lodge looks like one of London’s most exciting places to celebrate the silly season.

Ice Bar, Mayfair London
Featuring a freshly designed bar, cut from ice specially sourced from Torne River in northern Sweden, Icebar in Mayfair is a literal slice of the Nordics right in central London. This is the UK’s only permanent bar made of ice and it’s kept to a chilly minus 5 degrees all year round. Tickets are allocated for 40 minute sessions and include thermal gloves and cape to keep you warm. After your session amongst the ice and sculptures, you can keep the festivities going in the belowzero restaurant and lounge.

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Office Party – The show that’s a party

Depending on your point of view and your general level of ill-feeling towards your co-workers, annual work parties are either the highlight of your social calendar or your own personal vision of hell.

Held at the head office of ‘Product Solutions Ltd’, Office Party is an experiential theatre performance where you’re not just an audience member, you’re part of the show. Exactly how involved you become is totally up to you.

After being recruited to company department, it’s time to join the party. The show itself is made up of roving set-pieces, which set up the relationships and politics amongst the ‘staff’, some audience participation and some so-bad-it’s-good corporate entertainment. In between the action there’s plenty of time to hit the bar, interact with the performers and dance away to the obligatory ABBA mega-mix, as requested by the CEO.

Office Party is a fun and entertaining night out, best enjoyed with a group of friends and a steady flow of refreshments from the bar.

Now showing at the Pleasance Theatre, Islington London until January 21.

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50 years of James Bond, 50 awesome cars

Everybody has their favourite James Bond. I always say mine is Roger Moore. Partly because this infuriates the ‘Sean Connery is the greatest’ majority, but partly because he’s the only one who seemed to appreciate that saving the world with a wristwatch was a bit silly.

Not that I would ever pour scorn on JB. The first time I saw the white Lotus Esprit S1 from The Spy who Loved Me, I went mental. An impossibly cool car that was also a submarine? Who could ask for more? And now there’s a chance to see 50 of Bond’s coolest vehicles – including the floating Lotus – at the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu in the New Forest.

Bond in Motion will run for the whole of 2012 in celebration of 50 years of James Bond movies and is set to be the largest exhibit of its kind. The Lotus is called ‘Wet Nellie’. Go figure.

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The Wicker Man: essential Halloween viewing

Crazy pagan dancing, a smattering of nudity, a great folky soundtrack and Christopher Lee in drag combine to make this 1973 chiller a cult classic. It’s essential Halloween viewing and makes the abysmal 2006 remake look about as scary as a salad.

When Sergeant Howie, a devoutly Christian policeman (Edward Woodward), travels to a small Scottish island to trace a missing schoolgirl, he uncovers ungodly rituals, loony locals and a beach-side barbecue that he’d rather not attend. The sizzling finale remains one of the most disturbing sequences on film.

You can follow in Howie’s timorous footsteps on a tour of these top Wicker Man locations:

Plockton, Wester Ross, Scotland
Sergeant Howie’s seaplane is shown touching down in the harbour at Plockton, a picturesque village in the North West Highlands of Scotland. It’s a beautiful spot with sea lochs, wild scenery and a colony of seals.

Plockton

Kirkcudbright, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland
Pronounced kirr-koo-bree, this artists’ enclave in Dumfries and Galloway provided several exterior locations for the Wicker Man which you can easily recognise today. The High Street Gallery, High Street, became May Morrison’s (Irene Sunter) post office and sweetshop, where Sergeant Howie begins his search for the elusive Rowan (Geraldine Cowper). The bakery is the Harbour Cottage Gallery, Castlebank, off Harbour Square.

Culzean Castle, Ayrshire, Scotland
Culzean Castle, a fairy-tale Robert Adam mansion, southwest of Ayr, is the exterior of Lord Summerisle’s (Christopher Lee) mansion. It’s open to the public from the end of March to the end of October.

Culzean Castle

St Ninian’s Cave, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland
Howie discovers Rowan alive and well at St Ninian’s Cave just before the film’s grisly climax. Christians believe St Ninian, the cleric who first converted the Scots to Christianity, landed here in the eighth century. Ancient crosses carved into the rock bear witness to the site’s holy pedigree.

Burrowhead, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland
The eponymous Wicker Man was built on the cliffs at Burrowhead. Over the years souvenir hunters dismembered the remains of the prop (one of two made for the shoot) leaving only its legs. Sadly, even these were removed by vandals in 2006. Now all you’ll see are two sad looking stumps.

Wicker Man's legs

Images via: Alexandre Dulaunoy, gordontour, I like

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Illuminating York: festival of digital arts and lighting

York’s annual festival of digital arts and light will set this beautiful city ablaze from 26-29 October. Rediscover some of York’s most famous buildings as large-scale lighting displays are projected in hypnotic patterns around the city. There’ll also be smaller lighting installations and special exhibitions to enjoy. For more information check out the Illuminating York website.

Illuminating York

Illuminating York

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