Nobody was saying it, but it still felt like a big piece of Camden was missing this warm July evening. Could Lang from Shenyang, the only classical performer at this year’s iTunes Festival at the Roundhouse, be the one to bring some solace?
First onstage were rad Croatian duo 2 Cellos. Pop-Classical crossovers necessarily involve pained expressions and excessive swaying, and both reached their terrifying pinnacle during a yearning rendition of With or Without You, the worst song ever penned. By the time they reached Highway to Hell I was seriously considering trying to eat my own head, but looking around I realised that I was in the minority; 2 Cellos had the crowd eating out of the palms of their hands.
Then from behind far too much dry ice came the young maestro proclaiming “We will do a Liszt together!” As his fingers danced over the soapy-white chunklets and their slimmer ebony brothers it was as if a spell had been cast over the room. Anyone who has visited the Liaoning capital will know that the most pressing question is how to get away, and for Lang Lang the vehicle was a grand piano. And as the first bleary eyed teenage fans, apparently overcome by the depth of emotion, began stumbling clumsily from the auditorium at around the song three mark, the sound of discarded plastic beer cups being crunched underfoot mixing with the elegant arrangements of Chopin and Schuman, I for one was glad he found that vehicle.
The 2011 iTunes Festival continues with Magnetic Man on 26 July at the Roundhouse
I just went to see Xu Bing‘s (徐冰) excellent installation at the British Museum.
Xu Bing is a contemporary Chinese artist and has been described as a member of the Chinese avant garde movement. The installation in the British Museum is an innovative “shadow painting” copy of a Wang Shimin 王時敏 piece from 1641.
Wang was one of the “four Wangs”, who make up four of the Six Masters of the early Qing period (清六家) : Yun Shouping, Wu Li and the Four Wangs: Wang Shimin, Wang Jian, Wang Yuanqi and Wang Hui.
In the installation Xu Bing uses discarded leaves (from Kew Gardens), old newspapers and twigs to create a shadow image of a classic Chinese landscape (山水).
Xu Bing is famous for much of his work playing with language, including a book with over 4000 different characters which are entirely original and of his own making.
He has also invented ‘New English Calligraphy’ in which he makes English look like Chinese:
Here he has written the nursery rhyme Jack and Jill: look carefully and you can read it!
Jack and Jill
Went up the hill
To fetch a pail of water
Jack fell down
And broke his crown
And Jill came tumbling after
The installation is on at the British Museum until July 10th
Old news, Beijing artist, dissident and ex-studio owner Ai Weiwei has loaded the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern with 100,000,000 individually handmade porcelain replica sunflower seeds. Though billed as a sensory and immersive installation, you are sadly no longer permitted to walk accross the seeds. I suspect this is becuase people couldn’t resist the temptation to pinch one as a souvenier. I was disappointed, as I had been hoping to pinch one as a souvenier. This decision was made on October 16th last year, making this old news too.
People who timed their visit better than me
Sunflower Seeds is at the Turbine Hall untill 2 May.
Red n Hot at 59 Charing cross road.
At £18 a head (no booze) we had a veritable feast.
Red n Hot is a chain restaurant that has hit the Chinatowns of London, Birmingham and Manchester and represents part of a growing trend towards Sichuanese food in the UK. Although it is not as good as Bar Shan/Bar Shu round the corner, it is a bit cheaper! We went for some classic Sichuanese dishes:
fish fragrant aubergines 鱼香茄条
cumin flavoured lamb 孜然羊肉
gongbao prawns 宫保虾球
dumplings in chilli oil 红油水饺
and my personal favourite – sichuan ‘mouth tingling’ chicken 四川口水鸡
Red n Hot was full of people eating hot pot – which is reasonably priced at £20 a head. I took the challenge of trying to beat that price by ordering a la carte. Red Hot is slightly off the main Chinatown beat (Gerrard St) but it represents a good value and serves up some authentic Sichuanese dishes so is well worth it!
A great place to go for authentic Sichuanese food in the heart of the city of London.
If you are feeling adventurous and want to try jellyfish and garlic or some spicy rabbit, or you just want some real Sichuanese food, this place is a must. Chinese food is best enjoyed by the masses so go in a big group and share everything. We had a feast of a meal for 10 people.
Some of my top dishes were
鱼香茄子 fish flavoured aubergines
a couple of 羊肉串儿 lamb kebabs each
干煸四季豆 4 seasons beans
The Mapo dofu was a bit salty, the wine tastes like apple cider and the staff are not particularly attentive, however the food is great and a bargain at £15 a head.