The Diary: Jane Birkin; Luke Jerram's Virology; Pop Life: Art in a Material World; Jackie Collins; Zahi Hawass

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The Independent Culture

Sixties screen siren digs her heels in

The legendary singer/actress Jane Birkin, who was talking at the Cine Lumiere at the Institut Francais in London this week, and promoting the French movie channel Cinemoi, received a booty of shoes and bags from London's designers for the event. Sadly, the fashionista and muse of the Hermès Birkin bag thought the shoes weren't up to the mark and had three assistants, her make-up artist, and a hotel concierge running around London in search of a pair of high-heeled stilettos! Birkin was due on stage to talk about her life and experiences. She told the audience that her father had not been very supportive during her childhood, that she took her mother for granted and didn't have the chance to say goodbye to her when she died. Jane stopped in mid-sentence and began to cry in front of an audience of over 200 people, but later pulled herself together to talk about the "great films" that will be shown on channel Cinemoi.

Art in good health

A curious exhibition at The Smithfield Gallery by Luke Jerram called 'Virology' – which contained photos, sculptures and paintings of viruses including the Swine Flu bug – was a big draw for the National Health Service. Much of the work was bought up by NHS executives looking to furnish their walls with relevant material. The opening party had the added danger of exhibits on plinths with no protective casting, which had attendants running from pillar to pillar to ensure that none were knocked over by revellers.

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It is now the stuff of art world folklore that the Tate Modern's show 'Pop Life: Art in a Material World' featuring work by the YBAs and New York artists was alternatively called 'Sold-Out' (vetoed by some artists who didn't want the public to get the wrong idea), 'The Andy Warhol Effect' and one other working title before it reached its final conclusion. But market research showed that 'Sold-Out' was not a goer because people would mistake the title for an instruction that they could no longer buy tickets.

A new portrait from the Dame of Dirt

So, Jackie Collins is not even stopping for breath as she delivers yet another steamy bonk-buster on 6 October, 'Poor Little Bitch Girl' (get it? Both the pun on the obvious, and her 1979 masterpiece, 'The Bitch'), about three 20-something women and "one hot rich guy", according to the publisher's PR puff. The storyline – revolving around the ultra "hot" Denver Jones, an LA attorney, the daughter of two movie stars who is now a New York Madam and a PA who falls into bed with her boss – may come as no surprise to fans of her countless books (all of which have been bestsellers), but what is also a fixture is Collins' ultra-glamorous photograph that covers the entire back cover of the novel in hardback. No matter how old she gets, the Dame of Dirt always manages to look the same.

Obama visit goes against the grain

Zahi Hawass, the flamboyant director of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities and Indiana Jones-style Egyptologist, is more famous than the most famous man in the universe, it would appear. When the American president, Barack Obama, dropped in on him at the Pyramids on an impromptu visit recently, an excited passer-by, according to 'The Art Newspaper', pointed to the two stately figures and said, "It's Dr Zahi", before glancing at the tall stranger standing beside him and saying to the interpreter: "...and that's a friend of Dr Zahi!"

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