Tuesday, 27 August 2013

La Rochelle

I was lucky enough to have spent last week with The Portraits and Rosie Sleightholme in La Rochelle (hence the silence on the blog...).

Jeremy and Lorraine of The Portraits kindly put us up at their lovely home just outside the town centre. Between performances at three gigs, Rosie and I had a fabulous time eating delicious food, drinking fine wine and meeting lovely people. 

I particularly enjoyed hopping over to the nearby Île-d-Aix (I am a sucker for an inter-island boat ride) and cycling around the small picturesque island on the Friday. Another highlight was a visit to Meschers for a gig with The Portraits. I really loved getting to know their music – beautiful homegrown folk, which incorporates musical theatre and classical influences – and hearing firsthand anecdotes from the music industry.

Here is what it looked like through the Pentax...

The little airport at La Rochelle | Photo: Rosie Pentreath
La Rochelle | Photo: Rosie Pentreath  
The old carousel, La Rochelle | Photo: Rosie Pentreath 
The harbour towers, La Rochelle | Photo: Rosie Pentreath 

The harbour, La Rochelle | Photo: Rosie Pentreath 

The old port, La Rochelle | Photo: Rosie Pentreath

La Rochelle architecture | Photo: Rosie Pentreath
I must have had five Oranginas a day... ('et sa pulpe!) | Photo: Rosie Pentreath 
A beautiful window of the Chapelle Notre-Dame de l'espérance, La Rochelle | Photo: Rosie Pentreath

Jeremy and Lorraine of The Portraits decorated their patio for an evening performance |  Photo: Rosie Pentreath

The Portraits play at their home in La Rochelle |  Photo: Rosie Pentreath

Walking to lunch |  Photo: Rosie Pentreath

La Rochelle architecture |  Photo: Rosie Pentreath 
The old port, La Rochelle |  Photo: Rosie Pentreath

The harbour towers, La Rochelle |  Photo: Rosie Pentreath

We couldn't resist a couple of scoops from the famous Ernest Glacier most days. The salted caramel is divine.. |  Photo: Rosie Pentreath

Finding the right cappuccino can be tricky – best to look for a place with a resident Italian barista! |  Photo: Rosie Pentreath
Church Saint Sauveur, La Rochelle | Photo: Rosie Pentreath
La Rochelle architecture | Photo: Rosie Pentreath

Rosie admires the architecture | Photo: Rosie Pentreath

Photo: Rosie Pentreath 
A street artist tries his hand at a Renoir | Photo: Rosie Pentreath

Rosie finds the fruit + veg market in Meschers | Photo: Rosie Pentreath 
Setting up for our gig with The Portraits | Photo: Rosie Pentreath

The Portraits' discography | Photo: Rosie Pentreath 
Rosie Sleightholme sings to an attentive crowd in Meschers | Photo: Rosie Pentreath

Rosie Sleightholme performs in Meschers, France | Photo: Rosie Pentreath

The church at Meschers | Photo: Rosie Pentreath

Fish 'al fresco' on the  Île d'aix |  Photo: Rosie Pentreath

We enjoyed cycling all around the Île d'aix on our final day | Photo: Rosie Pentreath

Watch this space for my interview with The Portraits.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Edinburgh Festival 2013

On Saturday I flew to Edinburgh with a work colleague to attend a concert and reader's event that the magazine had sponsored. We had landed and found the city centre by 9am, and soon got to the lovely hotel that would be our base for the weekend. The early morning arrival made it feel like a deserted Sunday, but the beautiful city soon came to life with a buzz of excitement around Fringe events and venues.

After shocking myself with a cash withdrawal (the twenty pound note that came out was nothing like any I had ever seen before, but claimed to be sterling so I eventually breathed out again – "I really am in Scotland!") I managed to tuck myself away in a lovely little cafe to gather my thoughts and plan how best to see Edinburgh in a day.

I couldn't resist a trip to the City Art Centre to see 'Coming Into Fashion', an exhibition of fashion photography at Condé Nast from over the past one hundred years, which I have reviewed HERE. After that I wondered over to The Hub, the port-of-call for all things Edinburgh Festival. When I arrived, classical guitarist Tom Ward was busking near by. He was phenomenally good. The shattered body of his guitar perfectly suited the intensity and atmosphere of the music he played – it was simply stunning to watch. The sound was amplified through a speaker as well so a large crowd soon gathered.

After a nice lunch at The Hub, I attended a lecture there – the first in the festival's 'Interfaces' series – given by Jon Oberlander on the effect of technology on language and privacy. A thought-provoking one...

Everywhere I walked, the strain of bagpipes reached my ears and crowds circled the latest pop-up act to state their piece on Edinburgh's streets. 

A couple of hours of down time and catching up with writing later, I headed over to the beautiful Usher Hall for the BBC Music Magazine reader's event and '20th Century Classics'. The BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Under Ilan Volkov, gave an unforgettable performance of some of my favourite works by Varèse and Berio. (Read my review of the concert on the BBC Music Magazine blog HERE.) The evening was a brilliant end to my first taste of Edinburgh Festival. I vow to return next year!

So many churches in Edinburgh have been converted into venues. What used to be The Assembly Hall and Talbooth Church on Castle Hill is now The Hub of Edinburgh Festival | Photo: Rosie Pentreath
Old City, Edinburgh | Photo: Rosie Pentreath

Looking towards City Art Centre, Edinburgh | Photo: Rosie Pentreath
Tom Ward performs classical guitar | Photo: Rosie Pentreath

Tom Ward and his beat old guitar | Photo: Rosie Pentreath

I attended an 'Interfaces' event at The Hub, part of Edinburgh International Festival 2013 | Photo: Rosie Pentreath 

Old City, Edinburgh | Photo: Rosie Pentreath

The hotel: Residence Inn, Marriott | Photo: Rosie Pentreath

The Marriott Residence Inn, Edinburgh | Photo: Rosie Pentreath

In the evening, I took some time out to write at the desk in my room | Photo: Rosie Pentreath

Old City, Edinburgh | Photo: Rosie Pentreath

Old City, Edinburgh | Photo: Rosie Pentreath

Visit: edinburghfestivals.co.uk

Sunday, 11 August 2013

PHOTOGRAPHY Coming Into Fashion: A Century of Photography at Condé Nast, City Art Centre Edinburgh

With its emphasis on fashion photography as growing into an art form in its own right, City Art Centre's current Condé Nast expo offers a brilliantly detailed background to the world of fashion publishing through the prism of page art. That is, through the original photographs of the worlds most influential fashion photographers from the past one hundred years. 

Coming Into Fashion: A Century of Photography at Condé Nast explores the collaboration between the photographer, model, stylist, art director, retoucher and editor-in-chief in Condé Nast's titles (there are some lovely examples of spreads from back issues, and wonderful vintage covers on display), but also steps back and looks at the photographs in their original form.

It is wonderful to see works from the likes of Lee Miller, Mario Testino, Clifford Coffin, Helmut Newton, Tim Walker, Man Ray, Sølve Sundsbø, David Bailey and Patrick Demarchelier exhibited in the same space. I learnt new things: Harper's Bazaar was the first fashion magazine ever made (the first ever issue was published in 1867) and the son of the man who acquired Condé Nast directly from the nast himself, Samuel Irving Newhouse Jr., remains the chairman of the company today. What a legacy. And I just so enjoyed the beauty and depth of photographic expression on display. I am a sucker for all things high fashion, especially when viewed through the auspices of art.

Also on show were several short films displaying iconic shots with a soundtrack and/or narrative stream. Sølve Sundsbø's The Everchanging Face of Beauty is ethereal and effectively realised with accompanying music by James Lavelle. I love the atmosphere of Tim Walker's grainy shots in An Awfully Big Adventure (from a 2011 shoot for Vogue) and Chiara Skura, directed by Antoine Asseraf and René Habermacher and featuring Marios Schwab's spring-summer 2012 collection (brought to life beautifully by Amy Bailey), is utterly brilliant.

If you are in Edinburgh over the summer for the festival, do take some time out for this exhibition. It is wonderful.

René Habermacher | Greek Vogue, March 2005

Peter Lindbergh | Italian Vogue, March 1989

Lee Miller (self portrait) | American Vogue, March 1933

Clifford Coffin | American Vogue, June 1949

Herb Ritts | Lei, December 1984
Deborah Turbeville | American Vogue, May 1975
John Rawlings | British Vogue, September 1943
Corrine Day | British Vogue, 1993
Erwin Blumenfeld | French Vogue, December 1948
Antony Armstrong-Jones | British Vogue, November 1959

Coming Into Fashion: A Century of Photography at Condé Nast runs at City Art Centre, Edinburgh until 8th September 2013. Visit: edinburghmuseums.org.uk/Venues/City-Art-Centre