Tag Archives: RWA

Penguin Parade at the RWA

From 10 March to 22 April 2012, the RWA are hosting the Penguin Parade which is a journey through the history of Penguin Publishing and its public image. This is in celebration of the extensive Penguin Archive held in the University of Bristol Library, Special Collections.

Bristolian Sir Allen Lane, founded Penguin Books in 1935 and now designers Jan Tschichold and Hans Schmoller guide the way through the brand’s well known appearance – orange for fiction, green for crime and blue for biographies.

Events during the exhibition include cookery sessions and children’s make and take workshops. On the weekends you can pick up a penguin by bringing along a Penguin, Pelican or Puffin book and swapping it in a free book exchange.

Admission prices
Adults £5
Concessions £3
Exhibition ticket £8 (unlimited repeat visits to this exhibition)
Friends/Under 16s/UWE & Filton College students FREE

Photograph by Associated Newspapers Ltd, Sydney Image credit: University of Bristol Library, Special Collections

Royal West of England Academy, Queen’s Road, Clifton, Bristol BS8 1PX
0117 973 5129

The crying game of aspirations

Sitting on one of the benches outside near the RWA, while eating my £3.95 chorizo, goat’s cheese and rosary goat’s cheese baguette, from Papadeli cafe, I have the song Crying Game running through my head.

It’s not playing because of the vandalised art work which is one third still standing, wrapped in bubble wrap, and two thirds down on the ground, wrapped in canvas, like a body about to be taken to a morgue. I just misread someone’s tweet about the waiting game.

I had a brief vision of the shocking end to the movie where the person you thought you loved was not in the right body after all. Now, as I watch, the body is covered by blue tarpaulin and then undressed again so Sabet Choudhury can report on it for Points West this evening.

The bronze sculpture ‘Aspiration’ by David Backhouse was worth £40,000 and showed three girls in bronze, one higher than the other. It will now probably be melted down but it was meant to inspire and bring beauty or at least a different filter on reality.

The reality of having aspirations in this day and age, however, is a lot different from any of the other decades in the 70 year old artist’s history.

Tracy Emin may seem like a fool for claiming that the Conservative party, which has cut funding on so many things is the only saviour of arts funding, but she does have a point. Who do you think buys art, she asks? It certainly isn’t the Labour philanthropists.

I question the use of the word philanthropists, which means lover of people, but agree with her contention that it is the ones with a lot of money who can afford to purchase art.

The horror of the cost of some of these works is one more example of the distorted value we place on things. A young pair of siblings have £600,000 to spend between them on a house, footballer’s wages can pay for a school but instead fund private planes, and as Del Amitri sing, Van Gogh paintings sells for the price of a hospital wing.

I am not questioning the value of the arts, indeed I think that without culture, in all its different manifestations, we become isolated and lacking in an understanding of how we all view the world differently.

We need some beauty and art to expand and inspire our lives, don’t we? Outside the RWA was a piece of art that was worth a lot but was available for 22 days for free. It was then torn down.

Next up will be work by artist Damien Hirst whose previous creations have included the diamond encrusted skull For the Love of God which was priced at £50 million. The cuts to the art world this year were worth £19.1 million and taken away from 206 organizations. The price of art like Hirst’s is sublimely ridiculous.

And why was I sitting outside to eat my sandwich instead of inside the cafe? Because I saved 20% by taking my food away with me. At a cost of over £8, my delicious meal was not cheap. I’ll happily treat myself once a month but it does make me wonder which art is for me and which is for the ones who can afford it?

Art became untouchable a long time ago and it was up to art galleries, museums and libraries to keep it safe for a while. Their upkeep has changed to a model which cries out for donations and volunteers and it is the Conservative government’s dream that this is what the Big Society will be.

The mistake here is in the definition of art and of society. Emin is not talking about the kind of art which inspires and builds aspirations, she is talking about the kind that brings in a lot of money for a select few. In the same vein, the coalition government are cutting funds from activities which they as individuals can already afford.

We are moving away from a society where we used to be able to share art and public goods to a place where you need to purchase in order to enjoy anything. Public art becomes private viewings, private care, private schooling and all the things most of us can’t afford.

Maybe it’s more fitting than ironic that it was Aspiration that was knocked down this weekend. Just have to wonder whose aspirations.

Papadeli Cafe at the RWA

Papadeli is one of my favourite places for a coffee, a wander and some delicious food. Today they also set up shop a few hundred metres closer to me at the Royal West of England Academy.

The decaf, double shot, Americano was very nice and there is a selection of cakes, sandwiches and various other foods on the menu. The soup of the day was lentil with cumin while some crusty roll sandwiches had toppings such as prosciutto with tomato and rocket, and chorizo and goat’s cheese with rosemary. The rolls are £3.95 for take away and £4.75 to eat in.

I enjoyed a superb brownie that was on par with the amazing one from Sourdough in St Nicholas Market and a sweet San Pellegrino soft drink.

Accessibility is great with a sloped entrance at the front and plenty of room inside for a pram. The cafe is divided into two areas. The store part is in one narrow room with a long bench that fits all the food and the cash register. There is a separate room with tables and cutlery which has high windows but is mostly closed off from the rest of the world. There are also three tables near the entrance to the art gallery but they don’t have too much of a view either.

It’s a lovely place for great food and coffee which are a bit of a treat at those prices but delicious nevertheless.

Royal West of England Academy, Queen’s Road, Clifton, Bristol, BS8 1PX