Italian Fashion Brand: Max Mara Art Prize For Women

The biannual Max Mara Art Prize for Women makes me wish I was talented artistically. Not only does the winner get to spend time in Reggio Emilia, Catania and Rome, researching classical mythology, but also explore textile craftsmanship, permaculture and the myriad historic sites and institutions. Having minored in Classical Studies at University, six months spent in this way sounds to me like the quintessential gift from the gods.

Emma Talbot is the winner of the 8th Max Mara Prize which began in 2005 and supports UK-based female artists, and specifically those who have not previously had a major solo show. The award presents the opportunity for a fully-funded, bespoke Italian residency, followed by a solo exhibition of a new body of work, both in the UK and Italy.

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A visit to an Extraordinary Doll’s House

Motifs in Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen’s three-act play, A Doll’s House (premiered 1879), include appearances, the power of money, and women’s place in a patriarchal society. A work of its time, there is a clear divide between those who lived upstairs and the servants living below. Actual doll’s houses, those little microcosms of everyday life, dating back to the 16th century and reflecting similar societal values, were created not as toys but often as a teaching aid, to instruct a future lady of a grand house on the running of the establishment. Think Downton Abbey with its defined rules of behaviour both below and above stairs.

The Uppark doll’s house is one of only a handful that have survived from the 18th-century in amazingly good condition. The little four-poster beds alone are around 300 years old.

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Review. Extraordinary Everyday: The Art & Design of Eric Ravilious and Turn and Return by Dierdre Wood

Maybe it’s the non-stop disturbing news from around the world, or the long dark winter and the recent wild storms (including Storm Eunice which carried a Red Alert warning) but I just haven’t been feeling the love. The year has felt slow in getting started.

This week I visited a new exhibition at The Arc in the historic city of Winchester, to explore the work of Eric Ravilious. It is the first time I have experienced Ravilious’ work up close. A display of stunning woven textiles by weaver, Deirdre Wood outside The Gallery was an added bonus. The intensity of colourful art proved inspirational and I’m back at my laptop with the first blog in a few weeks.

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Paul Joyce exhibition

Review. Paul Joyce: A Life Behind The Lens

What did Paul Joyce, filmmaker, writer, photographer and painter, make of Jane Fonda? Why did Joyce and David Hockney fall out? And which of his photographs did Sophia Loren choose as a personal gift?

Paul Joyce (credits include director and producer of four series of Dr Who, 1981) spent his childhood in Winchester so it seems entirely fitting that a city gallery is hosting an exhibition celebrating his life and work, now in his 80th year. Paul Joyce: A Life Behind the Lens features a selection of well-known faces, as well as photographic landscape works and paintings from the past five decades. Many images are accompanied by some blunt commentary from Joyce.

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Review. Frans Hals: The Male Portrait at the Wallace Museum

A stunning new display of over 12 works by Frans Hals, one of the greatest masters of the Dutch Golden Age, offers a unique perspective on 17th century masculinity and sense of style. In a breakaway from the male gaze upon the female form, Hals fixes his painterly eye upon his male contemporaries. The portraits are displayed against a dark background, with subtle gallery lighting except for spotlights on each painting. It is a sexy, elegant and theatrical setting, and I fell in love with every single one.

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This week… pizza, photography and life on Mars

A glorious spring week with longer days of sunshine as everything starts slowly warming up, including me. As I write this I have Abba blasting in the background and I have to keep stopping to dance around the living room. The news remains up and down but I’m definitely feeling upbeat. It’s been awhile. Hello optimism.

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