I thought it was more than about time to end the drought of word and expression from the past six weeks. It may only seem as if I had fallen off the face of the earth, but in actuality I was on an indulgent road (and ferry boat) odyssey through an impossibly serene and scenic New Zealand, bracketed either end by visits to good friends in the rather diametrically opposed urban fray of Los Angeles. A deluded confidence led me to believe that I would have numerous opportunities to send out posts as I travelled, but most evenings would find me in what I can only describe as a sensate stupor, a nicely ravaged state of overstimulation-sleep was the only creative act of which I was capable. I will write a future post about my observations and thoughts of my experiences in both locations-reflection will bring a deeper perspective. In a peculiar way, it is wholly possible to feel absolutely remote and removed-certainly geographically, but also spiritually-from all global conflict and crisis when in New Zealand, a most refreshing, replenishing feeling, as if even the most terrible international catastrophe would hardly register a tremor in the daily narrative of the islands. I leave you with a few of my favourite images from the journey to communicate a sense of why, for a few weeks at least (given the relentlessly stunning vistas), the wonder of the natural world stole the supremacy of words, made them redundant or temporarily not required.
Lest anyone think I’ve gone terminally silent as I haven’t posted for nearly a month, fear not-I can offer a legitimate explanation for the vacuum. I have been on an extensive trip back to the States, visiting family and friends which has unfortunately severely curtailed the availability of time to devote to writing. I will be properly and regularly back on duty in early June. For the moment, I have been fiercely (some may say overzealously) Instagramming images of particular note amidst my travels on the tomoutblog Instagram account. Some may find their way into future posts once I pore through all the material and reflect on what may be of greatest cultural interest. Thanks!
Traditionally perceived as a period of temper following the profligacy and indulgence of the holidays, this January is anything but fallow as far as culture is concerned. Four major events colour the month with brilliant pomp and activity, grabbing 2017 by the collar with untrammelled artistic abandon. Rather than succumb to the chill of the season, London has chosen to embrace a creative conflagration, boldly announcing the start to its cultural year with no time for idleness or inertia. For now, I leave you with a mere listing; more specific entries will follow as I experience works within each programme.
THE INTERNATIONAL MIME FESTIVAL runs from 9 January-4 February, featuring the finest (mostly) European companies specialising in physical theatre (circus, movement, masks), in both narrative and expressionist styles. The festival celebrates its 40th anniversary this year (with a few new anxieties regarding its future in a post-Brexit world, with economic and licensing issues setting new precedents and difficulties), and the schedule is, as usual, full to burst with visual invention and extravaganza, locations spread across the capital from the Barbican to Sadler’s Wells to Highgate.
CONDO, now in its second term after a wildly successful inaugural year, once again brings attention to the breadth and wealth of London’s smaller galleries. Partnering with their fellow independent curators and owners from galleries across Europe and the U.S., wall/shelf/floor space is given over to developing artists not yet contracted with major institutions, or those lacking resources for promotion. As a principle, it holds a solid integrity, and offers great shivers of excitement and opportunity for the adventurous patron to possibly discover a major new figure. So influential was last year’s debut that a few of the more well-known independents are joining the event this year. Condo runs from 16 January-11 February, and is well worth a few days of exploration, easily divided into sections of the city (with the added allure of discovering areas not frequently traversed).
WINTER LIGHTS FESTIVAL at Canary Wharf offers an illuminated trip through the squares and passageways in the concrete and steel financial sector of the city, discovering the softer, more reflective heart of the district, the oases of green amidst the hard hustle. The most impressive (and unexpected) space is the roof garden of the new Crossrail station, a stunning promenade amongst plants, trees, shrubs and flowers from across the world. From a quiet perch on a bench framed by foliage, you may look up into an open sky fixed with soaring skyscrapers-quite a frisson is created by this juxtaposition. Winter Lights runs from 16 January-27 January
The MAGICAL LANTERN FESTIVAL, with this year’s “Exploring the Silk Road” theme, returns to Chiswick House and Gardens, offering a 75-minute journey through the grounds decorated with spectacularly scaled and colourfully lit sculptures representing images from the famed trading route. A new feature in 2017 is a 600 metre ice rink, along with the returning fairgrounds and food stall marketplace. I wrote extensively about my 2016 experience in a post last January. The festival runs from 19 January-26 February
So, there is absolutely no excuse to suffer a dry January (at least culturally) in London. Enjoy!
Due to a family emergency, I may be out of communication for the month of April. I will resume my regular activities and posts in May, so I beg your patience while I’m away, and please join me again in May-I don’t want to feel as if I’m abandoning you all. Thanks!