The Diary: Richard Hamilton; Jimmy Carr; John Constable; Bompas and Parr
Friday 23 April 2010
Second flowering for Richard Hamilton
At the ripe old age of 88, Richard Hamilton is showing his playful side as he curates a show opening at the Alan Cristea Gallery next month. Titled "Shit and Flowers", it will include, deep breath, paintings from the artist's lesser-known scatological phase. Not shown since the 1970s and never as a group, the works consist of romantic, pastoral scenes, worthy of Watteau, into which the godfather of Pop Art has painted Andrex loo rolls and rather less fragrant elements. "Flowery allure is an irrelevant anachronism in the context of cultural ideas in our period", Hamilton explains. "It takes perversity and a touch of irony to make it tolerable."
Bit of Oxonian Posh
Spotted in the stalls this week: Rachel Johnson, sister of Boris, watching Posh at the Royal Court. Big brother was notoriously a Bullingdon Club member, with David Cameron, so what did she think of the play, about an eerily similar dining society? "I thought it was brave and angry – found it excruciating to watch – didn't stay for the trashing", she tells me. Having read the rest at home, the editor of The Lady had a few notes for Laura Wade. "Winced every time they referred to Oxford as 'college' – that would never happen. Also, undergraduates would never say, 'third year', you'd say 'Finalist'. She should have got a pedant Oxonian like me to read the script first." But of course. And what did she make of the fictional Bozzas and Daves? "I think if the entire country was forced to sit through it there would never be a Conservative government again, let alone a Bullingdonian Old Etonian Prime Minister." West End transfer, anyone?
Kreme de la Carr
Well that's one way to win your audience over to new material. Jimmy Carr is doing the rounds of the pubs, testing out material for his Laughter Therapy mega-tour. On Monday night he rocked up at the Hen and Chickens in North London with an overwhelming 100 new jokes to test drive. Those who found themselves flagging after the first 50 were given sustenance for the second half as the comedian handed round boxes of Krispy Kreme doughnuts in the interval.
If you want a god done properly... do it yourself
Last month in Observations I reported on John Constable's hunt for an A-lister to play God in his Mysteries, at Southwark Cathedral this weekend. At the time he was awaiting replies from Gyles Brandreth and Michael Caine among others. So what happened? Constable went off Caine when he came out as a Cameron supporter (a party political God was not required), Brandreth politely declined (though admitted, "I have been rehearsing this role for years") and John Hurt also said no as he's currently in the US, playing Zeus. So who is God? As befits a deity, he will now be played by two mortals, actor David Meyer and, er, Constable himself. "John wasn't keen but the company decided it made sense for him to take on the role", I'm told. Insert own joke about playwrights/god complex here.
Stately garnish with a Commons touch
If the leaders' debates sound like a load of old waffle to you, pop down to the Parliamentary Waffle House, near Carnaby Street which was opened by Ken Livingstone yesterday. The brainchild of Bompas and Parr, who specialise in pop-up installations – they've previously created a tent filled with breathable gin and tonic and a boating lake made of punch - it's a temporary space where people can "eat and talk politics", sitting on House of Commons-style benches. "We noticed that the Parliamentary logo looked a lot like a waffle", says Sam Bompas. "So we made waffle irons to look like the portcullis." Diners will be given red, yellow or blue paper hats and asked to choose their waffle depending on their political allegiance, before throwing their wrappers away in a "rubbish swingometer". "Actually the waffles all taste the same – it's just the garnishes that are different. A little bit like the political parties, if you like."
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