Arts observations: The still-lifes that simply won't stay still

And a taste of Honey from a debut director

A still life of a bowl of fruit? You must be joking. A new book, Nature Morte by Michael Petry, collects more than 180 contemporary artists who have given the traditional still life a makeover. Sam Taylor-Wood's video A Little Death, 2002, is a remake of the classical still life with dead hare, who now gets eaten by maggots, while Cindy Wright's large painting of a fishbowl, Nature Morte 2, (2010), contains a dead fish set on a doily.

Emerging artist Ged Quinn has rearranged the cubes of a Battenberg spongecake to look like a bunker built by German troops in his painting Myth of the Metals (2012). Mat Collishaw's photograph Martin Vegas (2013) looks like a 17th-century painting of a plate of food, but it is the last meal of an inmate on death row, who ordered steak and shrimps.

Gary Hume builds up the colour on a red rose in Pink Rent (2011), to give it a contemporary twist, while Marc Quinn freezes a sunflower in silicone in Eternal Spring (Sunflower) 11, (1998). “Historically flowers were there to remind viewers of their own mortality,” says Petry. “Now artists are dealing with it in more sophisticated ways. These works offer a new understanding of the current global upheaval and disruption.”

'Nature Morte: Contemporary Artists Reinvigorate the Still Life Tradition' by Michael Petry is published on Monday by Thames and Hudson

A taste of Honey from a debut director

Director Valeria Golino played Tom Cruise's girlfriend in Rain Man Director Valeria Golino played Tom Cruise's girlfriend in Rain Man  

By Charlotte Cripps

The Italian actress Valeria Golino is better known for playing Tom Cruise's girlfriend in Rain Man (1988) than for shooting her own movies. But her feature film Honey (Miele), which had its world premiere at Cannes this year, has been nominated for the Discovery award for best debut feature film at the 2013 European Film Awards. It stars Jasmine Trinca as Irene, aka Honey, who helps terminally ill people end their lives, and it takes “a light-hearted” look at euthanasia. Golino moved from Italy to LA in the late 1980s, and landed roles in movies including Hot Shots! (1991) and Leaving Las Vegas (1995). She says: “When Sean Penn directed me in his first film The Indian Runner (1991), it gave me much insight into directing as an actor. He pushed us to be interesting, not just believable.”

Matt Berry puts ham on Toast

By James Rampton

The actor Matt Berry admits that he didn't have to look too far to find role models for the central character in his new C4 sitcom. In Toast of London, an appealingly off-the-wall and original show co-written by Berry and Arthur Mathews, he plays Stephen Toast, a vainglorious thespian whose passport job description would read “Failed Actor.”

Sporting a badger-like streaked quiff and a luxuriant moustache not seen since the heyday of ITV sports presenter Dickie Davies, the deluded and entirely talentless Toast spends his days consumed by bitterness because virtually every other actor in the country is doing better than him. As he rails against the iniquity of his fate, he could bombast for Britain.

Berry and Mathews are chatting to me over lunch on the set of Toast of London. Thirty-nine-year-old Berry, whose distinctive deep voice has enabled him to pursue a successful sideline as a voiceover artist, explains that, “because of my job, I meet people like Toast all the time. I'm constantly taking mental notes. A while ago, I did a film with a serious actor who was very surprised to be performing in a scene with me, a mere TV comedian. 'Must I?' he asked, barely concealing his disdain. I didn't mind – I thought it was hilarious and was just so pleased that those people still exist!”

The world of the fading-yet-still grandiose thespian is an ideal setting for a sitcom. After all, Toast possesses two of the prerequisites for a successful comedy character: pomposity and self-delusion.

Mathews, 54, who made his name as the co-writer (with Graham Linehan) on the peerless Father Ted, believes that, “It's full of comic potential because Toast is fuelled by jealousy and bitterness. He thinks he should have been in films like The King's Speech. As the lead? Of course!

“He is particularly angry about other people's success and pretends never to have heard of any really popular actors. When somebody says to him, 'You must know Benedict Cumberbatch', Toast just replies, 'Who?'”

For all that, Berry, who has also appeared in The IT Crowd, Garth Marenghi's Darkplace, and The Mighty Boosh, protests that his portrayal of Toast is fundamentally affectionate. “It's done with love. I warm to these actors. Performers like Toast, who have spent years and years in rep acting VERY LOUDLY INDEED, are a dying breed. You can't dislike him because he's always the victim.”

'Toast of London' begins on Channel 4 on Sunday

The men who tinkered with Bell

By Miranda Kiek

In the 109 years since Tinker Bell fluttered into the literary landscape, she has undergone a near magical make over – from silent circle of reflected lamplight in JM Barrie's original play, to an all-singing, all-dancing lead character in her own Disney Fairy franchise. Now Tink's long history is told in a newly released book written by Mindy Johnson.

JM Barrie's Tink was temperamental, more than a little murderous, and prone to calling people “You Silly Ass”. When Walt Disney took her on in 1953, he gave her the curves of Jessica Rabbit and a knicker-flashing outfit which makes even the Little Mermaid look demure. She went on to be crowned a “Disney Princess”, and in 2008 was given her first on-screen speaking role as the anodyne star of a series of straight-to-DVD releases.

Ariel may have given up her voice in return for feet; Tinker Bell, on the other hand, seems to have gained a voice at the expense of a personality. Silly Ass!

'Tinker Bell: An Evolution' by Mindy Johnson is published by Disney Editions

One to watch: Carly Paradis, pianist/composer, 33

One to watch: Carly Paradis, pianist/composer, 33 One to watch: Carly Paradis, pianist/composer, 33  

If you don't ask, you don't get. This is what the Canadian musician Carly Paradis discovered when she MySpaced the composer Clint Mansell (Requiem For a Dream, Black Swan), who hired her after listening to her music. She played piano on his world tour and his soundtrack to Duncan Jones's Moon. Now living in London, she has funded her debut album, Hearts to Symphony, out next month, after composing the music for the BBC's Line of Duty.

Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Oliver
filmTV chef Jamie Oliver turned down role in The Hobbit
News
The official police photograph of Dustin Diamond taken after he was arrested in Wisconsin
TVDownfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Arts and Entertainment
Clueless? Locked-door mysteries are the ultimate manifestation of the cerebral detective story
booksAs a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Arts and Entertainment
Tracy Emin's 1998 piece 'My Bed' on display at Christie's
artOne expert claims she did not
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says

film George RR Martin owns a cinema in Santa Fe

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Clued up: John Lynch and Gillian Anderson in ‘The Fall’

TV review

Arts and Entertainment
The Baker (James Corden) struggles with Lilla Crawford’s Little Red Riding Hood

film...all the better to bamboozle us
Arts and Entertainment
English: Romantic Landscape

art
Arts and Entertainment
Laugh a minute: Steph Parker with Nigel Farage

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Comic Ivor Dembina has staged his ‘Traditional Jewish Xmas Eve Show’ for the past 20 years; the JNF UK charity is linked to the Jewish National Fund, set up to fund Jewish people buying land in Palestinian territories
comedy

Arts and Entertainment
Transformers: Age of Extinction was the most searched for movie in the UK in 2014

film
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Ronson has had two UK number two singles but never a number one...yet

music
Arts and Entertainment
Clara Amfo will take over from Jameela Jamil on 25 January

radio
Arts and Entertainment
This is New England: Ken Cheeseman, Ann Dowd, Frances McDormand and Richard Jenkins in Olive Kitteridge

The most magnificently miserable show on television in a long timeTV
Arts and Entertainment
Andrea Faustini looks triumphant after hearing he has not made it through to Sunday's live final

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rhys says: 'I'm not playing it for laughs, but I have learnt that if you fall over on stage, people can enjoy that as much as an amazing guitar solo'
musicGruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence
Arts and Entertainment
Krysia and Daniel (Hand out press photograph provided by Sally Richardson)
How do today's composers answer the challenge of the classical giant?
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.

    A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

    A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

    Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
    Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

    Scarred by the bell

    The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
    Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

    Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

    Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
    Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

    Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

    Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
    The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

    The Locked Room Mysteries

    As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
    Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

    How I made myself Keane

    Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
    Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

    Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

    Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
    A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

    Wear in review

    A look back at fashion in 2014
    Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

    Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

    Might just one of them happen?
    War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

    The West needs more than a White Knight

    Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
    Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

    'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

    Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
    Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

    Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

    Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
    The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

    The stories that defined 2014

    From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
    Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

    Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

    Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?