The Diary: Kate MccGwire; The King's Speech; Jo Shapcott; Man Booker Prize; London Music Masters

Winging it

Some years ago, Kate MccGwire turned Charles Saatchi's head at her degree show at the Royal College of Art when she used a chicken wishbone as the basis for her installation Brood. The collector snapped it up to display in his Thameside gallery. Now, she has developed the bird theme, collecting bird feathers of all varieties – duck, pigeon, magpie, pheasant, crow – for works of art made from feathers. She receives the material from some 150 pigeon racers, farmers and gamekeepers. "Every time the pigeons moult, the racers send me envelopes filled with feathers," she says. Crow feathers are a different story. "They are killing song birds and damaging crops so farmers and gamekeepers shoot them and I get the feathers." I heard of her recent work (Writhe) when I received an invitation to her latest show, at Pertwee Anderson & Gold in London, which came with a mallard feather attached. The pièce de résistance will be Slick, a blue installation made entirely of magpie feathers: "It's a comment on magpies being regarded as thieves, the deviant species of the bird world," MccGwire says. The work features in a group show opening on 21 February. Hopefully, it won't ruffle any feathers.

Voices from the past

If you discern a fuzziness behind some of the sound effects in the film The King's Speech, starring Colin Firth as King George VI, your ears are not deceiving you: in an attempt at authenticity, five vintage royal microphones were unearthed to record the movie. The equipment, used by the Royal family and dating back to 1923, was retrieved from Abbey Road Studios' vaults and used for the speeches in the film. The score was composed by Alexandre Desplat, and recorded, mixed and mastered at Abbey Road Studios, too. The senior recording engineer, Peter Cobbin, reveals the story behind the recording: "I was thrilled when Alexandre Desplat called to ask if I could record his score for an upcoming film. What I knew, but couldn't let on then, was that many years ago, on a mission to seek out vintage Abbey Road recording equipment, I had noticed some microphones held at the EMI archives which had been used by the British Royal family. These microphones were made by EMI dating back to 1923, and were used by the Royal Family for speeches on significant occasions." Maybe the authenticity will lend weight to the film's Oscar campaign.

A perfect harmony of rhyme and reason

Jo Shapcott, the poet who last week won the Costa prize for her collection Of Mutability, conceived in the aftermath of a breast cancer diagnosis in 2003, says "one good thing" came out of the experience (other than the poetry collection). "I had a nice oncologist who was a great fan of poems," she says. The doctor invited her to be patron of an organisation called Medicine Unboxed, for medics who get together to explore language. She has since been invited to read poetry at their meetings. Reflecting on her diagnosis, the poet says that the statistics she was given helped to ground her while she was ill. "The more statistics and science they gave me, the more I liked it. I know everyone doesn't feel like that but it was those concrete numbers that I found exciting."

Flawed vision

Ion Trewin, the literary director of Man Booker Prizes, says it was his idea to send judges electronic submissions and e-Readers, though he is waiting for feedback. The Kindle and its like suit some tastes and not others, he says, relating a story that marks out the potential flaws in the idea: "I was on a train and I watched a man with an iPad. He was reading or watching his screen until the sun hit it when he had to move seats for a better picture – so it's not perfect yet."

Cash for concertos

The music charity London Music Masters, which provides music education in inner-city primary schools, is launching an innovative fundraising campaign inviting donors to buy a bar of music for a new composition. The composer Martin Suckling has been commissioned to write a violin concerto, and the charity is asking Facebook users to help with the process by offering donations from £5. The aim is to raise £4,250 by the end of March.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pedro Pascal gives a weird look at the camera in the blooper reel

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Public vote: Art Everywhere poster in a bus shelter featuring John Hoyland
art
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Griffin holds forth in The Simpsons Family Guy crossover episode

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Judd Apatow’s make-it-up-as-you-go-along approach is ideal for comedies about stoners and slackers slouching towards adulthood
filmWith comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
Arts and Entertainment
booksForget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Arts and Entertainment
Off set: Bab El Hara
tvTV series are being filmed outside the country, but the influence of the regime is still being felt
Arts and Entertainment
Red Bastard: Where self-realisation is delivered through monstrous clowning and audience interaction
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
O'Shaughnessy pictured at the Unicorn Theatre in London
tvFiona O'Shaughnessy explains where she ends and her strange and wonderful character begins
Arts and Entertainment
The new characters were announced yesterday at San Diego Comic Con

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rhino Doodle by Jim Carter (Downton Abbey)

TV
Arts and Entertainment
No Devotion's Geoff Rickly and Stuart Richardson
musicReview: No Devotion, O2 Academy Islington, London
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film

film
Arts and Entertainment
Comedian 'Weird Al' Yankovic

Is the comedy album making a comeback?

comedy
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey in the first-look Fifty Shades of Grey movie still

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc, centre, are up for Best Female TV Comic for their presenting quips on The Great British Bake Off

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Martin Freeman as Lester Nygaard in the TV adaptation of 'Fargo'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules

film
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

    Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
    Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

    Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

    How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
    Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
    How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

    How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

    Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
    Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

    Pop-up hotels filling a niche

    Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
    Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

    Feather dust-up

    A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
    Boris Johnson's war on diesel

    Boris Johnson's war on diesel

    11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
    5 best waterproof cameras

    Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

    Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
    Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

    Louis van Gaal interview

    Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
    Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

    Will Gore: Outside Edge

    The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
    The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

    The air strikes were tragically real

    The children were playing in the street with toy guns
    Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

    Britain as others see us

    Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
    How did our legends really begin?

    How did our legends really begin?

    Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
    Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

    Lambrusco is back on the menu

    Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz