Those who know me well will tell you that my understanding of modern art encompasses anything post-Van Dyke. I'm not very good with 'installations' and struggle horribly with 'the abstract'. However, a new exhibition promising a mix of art and my beloved history was too tempting to resist.
Echoes is a fantastic art/history/culture happening created by Friction Arts in Birmingham. It isn't an art gallery or installation, it isn't a museum or theatre but a very sweet spot between them all. This sweet spot carries the memories of the people who lived and worked in Birmingham and, best of all, stimulates and gathers new memories from all the visitors.
Echoes has been created as a series of rooms from homes, workplaces and play-spaces, all from Birmingham 1960-1990. The rooms are decorated and filled with all the domestic detritus that our lives accrue; photos, china, ornaments and books.
Visitors are not just allowed to explore and examine all the 'stuff' but are positively encouraged to and rewarded with choccies! Because all the 'stuff' is so seemingly mundane and common, it stimulates memories from everyone. We all had a vase like that. We all had a grandad with one of those.
As the visitors explore and interact with all the 'stuff' they also hear reminiscences collected by Friction Arts. Some are played on speakers, others are played on old telephones - pick up the handset and hear a voice telling their story.
What is most wonderful about Echoes is that visitors are part of, not viewers of, the happening. Their memories and reactions are the real event; the installation is just the trigger.
The last room to explore is a Birmingham pub, faithfully recreated down to the right kind of darts. I was able to emulate Al Murray as The Landlord and remember songs from long ago.
Our journey through our own memories concluded with tea, biscuits and a conversation with the creative team of Friction Arts. Art galleries, museums, theatre and heritage are rarely this much fun or as welcoming.
I entered Echoes as a sceptic, experienced it with joy and departed as an enthusiastic advocate.
Please find out more via the website:
HistoryNeedsYou's October radio show with Stephen Lambert of EGH Media
focussed on Halloween traditions old and new. We were joined by Rhiannon, a Wiccan priestess, and Zayed Zaheer, a British Asian Muslim. Interspersed by readings from Lady Tankerville's Encounters
(an account of ghosts at Northumberland's famously haunted Chillingham Castle), it was a fascinating show.
If you missed it, you can listen using the player below.
Next month's show, to be broadcast on 13 November at 8pm GMT, will be on War and Remembrance.
Our friends at Historic Royal Palaces have an historical Halloween treat for us all this evening, between 8 and 9 pm (GMT). To join in, make sure you follow @HRP_Palaces or: #TowerGhosts at Twitter, and Tower of London at Facebook.
This Halloween, join Beefeater Phil Wilson for a unique after-dark experience of the Tower of London's bloody history ... through the ghost stories told of its ill-fated inhabitants and infamous incidents.
Thursday 31 October 2013, 8-9pm (GMT) - followed by a Q&A with our guide. What will you ask?
- Be guided around the top-ten sites for historic accounts of ghosts, hauntings and inexplicable occurrences - including the Bloody Tower, Queen's House and the Martin Tower
- Stories, photos, videos and Vines will bring the spooky sights and sounds to life
- The cast of creepy characters include the ‘ghosts’ of Anne Boleyn, Guy Fawkes, the Two Princes, Walter Raleigh – and even a ghost bear!
I appeared on @bbcwm
this afternoon, discussing historical food with @dannykellywords
. I explained how #mediæval and #Tudor cooks used to balance sweet and savoury flavours. My expertise in historic cooking came in very useful one Christmas when I was presented with an enormous organic Turkey at 1am on Christmas Day and 'ordered' to cook it for dinner. I hadn't planned to cook that year so I had to improvise with what I had in my cupboards. Ginger Turkey
- Clean and dry the Turkey.
- Chop crystalised ginger and candied orange peel, mix with seasoning and rub through the cavity.
- Chop an orange into quarters and place inside the cavity to add moisture and flavour.
- Mix butter with herbs and a little ground mixed spice, and push under the skin around the Turkey breast.
- Coat the Turkey liberally with ginger jam or ginger marmalade. Stud with a few cloves for extra taste and decoration.
- Add seasoning.
- Add a splash of white wine to the bottom of the roasting pan then put in the roasting rack and a few peeled onions rubbed in butter.
- Carefully place your very sticky Turkey into the pan, breast down.
- Cover in a loose tent of foil, shiny side in. This keeps in the moisture.
- Roast sloooooowly.
- Remove the foil in the last half hour to brown the bird.
Serve with a spiced sweet potato soufflé and fat-free roasted potatoes
. Happy (very early) Christmas!Matthew
Horses and armour in the #LineOfKings at The Tower of London
The #LineOfKings is a new and exciting exhibition in the Tower of London telling the story of how the armour of Kings was presented from the C17th to the C18th.
The Line of Kings website
Like a Russian doll, it is an almost infinite succession of stories within stories. The exhibition, rather wonderfully, not only tells the story of the collection but of the visitors too. We see their faces and read their comments.
Faces of visitors to the #LineOfKings
The 'Russian doll' story that intrigued me most in the #LineOfKings was the origin of the wooden horses carved and painted to display the armoured Kings. Their origin is being researched at the moment but most were carved in the later C17th. Each one is individual in look, colour and in many cases, construction too. As soon as I saw them a bell rang in my head but the message it chimed was not clear to me until I returned home.
The majority of the horses are posed in a distinctive Renaissance style with one hoof raised and the muscles in tension. This is an artistic tradition of the Renaissance directly inspired by the glory of Rome and by a very famous Emperor.
The great equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius in Rome c176CE
The statue of Marcus Aurelius is typically Roman in style. Many others have been discovered from the same classical stable, including a marble statue in Herculaneum. Marcus Aurelius is the only equestrian bronze to survive the turmoil of the fall of Rome and mediæval mayhem. Not only that, it was also the only equestrian bronze in Europe for over a thousand years. This has made it uniquely influential and the Adam, as it is a stallion, of the equestrian art that procreated in the Renaissance.
Michelangelo represented the statue in 1538 and sketched it too. The distinctive appearance of this horse then featured in his work and that of da Vinci, Dürer and Donatello. This distinctive Renaissance style symbolises Kingship and power. It is not just a statue of a horse. The wooden horses in the #LineOfKings are part of this tradition and were specifically carved to portray the power of the monarchy.
Gattamelata by Donatello
Andrea del Verrocchio, Equestrian statue of the condottiere Bartolomeo Colleoni, 1488
Statue of King Charles I by Hubert Le Soeur, 1633
Crucifixion by Grinling Gibbons, featuring the same style of horses as the one he may have carved in the #LineOfKings
The C17th horses in #LineOfKings
are clearly part of this artistic tradition. Further research across a range of disciplines will reveal more about their precise ages and the artists who created them. A dendro-date is being obtained from one horse and both endoscopy and x-ray analysis are in progress. The paint is being carefully examined to search for dating evidence. This has already shown the horses were stored between the time they were primed and when they were given their final colours. A farrier has looked at their hooves to study the shoes and nails, and in due course a vet will examine their anatomy.
I would like HRP to invite Patrick Baty to examine the horses as he has the relevant expertise to delve deep into their story. Not only is Patrick the preeminent expert on historical paint, he was also an officer of Lancers and is familiar with war horses. Patrick restored the Tudor sculptures at Hampton Court and has an incredible depth of knowledge about Renaissance painted sculptures.
Please do follow Patrick on Twitter @patrickbaty
and visit his very useful website http://patrickbaty.co.uk/
The #LineOfKings is also a line of art from Rome to the Renaissance.
Most of all, please visit #LineOfKings
at The Tower of London and see the armour, horses and weaponry for yourself.
to learn more.
‘And in Sicily there is a manner of serpent, by the which men assay and prove, whether their children be bastards or no, or of lawful marriage: for if they be born in right marriage, the serpents go about them, and do them no harm, and if they be born in avoutry, the serpents bite them and envenom them. And thus many wedded men prove if the children be their own.’
The Travels of Sir John Mandeville
I have just invented and cooked this rather left-field recipe and it was well received.
Trout - cleaned, scaled and gutted but with their heads and tails.
Onions sliced in circles and some finely chopped.
Herbs and seasoning.
Make a strong herbal tisane with two teaspoons in half a cup of boiling water. Allow it to brew. I used a rather nice apple and lemon tisane.
Line a large flat oven-proof dish with foil and oil it. Cover the base of the dish with circles of onion and place the trout on top. Place the finely chopped onion inside the fish with seasoning and herbs. Pour the tisane over the fish including the leaves and fruit. Sprinkle herbs and seasoning over the fish. 'Tent' the foil over the trout and place in a pre-warmed oven at 180•C for 30 minutes. Open the tent and drizzle olive oil on the fish and return to the oven for another ten minutes.
Serve with potatoes and vegetables.. Enjoy!
Blanc Mang, from the Forme of Cury, 1390, combined chicken, nuts, rice and spices. It was inspired by the Arabic and Persian inspired foods that were brought back to England by Crusaders. The recipe has obvious parallels with Korma.
Here's the original recipe from 1390 with my modern reinterpretation below.
Take Capouns and seeþ hem, þenne take hem up. take Almandes blaunched. grynd hem and alay hem up with the same broth. cast the mylk in a pot. waisshe rys and do þerto and lat it seeþ. þanne take brawn of Capouns teere it small and do þerto. take white grece sugur and salt and cast þerinne. lat it seeþ. þenne messe it forth and florissh it with aneys in confyt rede oþer whyt. and with Almaundes fryed in oyle. and serue it forth.
In modern English:
Take capons and seethe (boil) them, then take them up. Take blanched almonds. Grind them and chop them up with the same broth. Put milk in a pot. Wash rice and add thereto and let it seethe (boil). Then take the flesh of the capon, chop it small and add thereto. Take white grease (lard), sugar and salt and put them in. Let it seethe. Then mix it up and garnish it with any sweetmeat red or white, and with almonds fried in oil. And serve it forth.
Many different mediæval versions of this recipe exist, often incorporating ginger and saffron. Blanc Mang eventually evolved into blancmange, which was a staple of school dinners when I was a child.
Blanc Mang - my modern version
Stir-fry chopped onions and garlic, add chopped chicken breast and nutmeg and cook through. Cover and take off the heat.
Cook rice with chopped ginger, stock and ground almonds. Once all the liquid has been taken up and the rice cooked, combine with the cooked chicken. Top with chopped coriander, fried flaked almonds and crystallised ginger.
Dine like Richard II and enjoy!
This evening, between 6.00 and 7.00 pm, make sure you are following @HistoryNeedsYou's
official Twittercast for Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznik's Q&A on their new book and tv series, Untold History
"The Untold History of the United States" re-examines America’s financial, diplomatic and military influence on the long twentieth century to produce a polemical account of the rise and fall of the American Empire..."
Oliver Stone has an illustrious and controversial career as a film maker and television producer/director.
Oliver Stone has been credited with writing and or directing over 20 full-length feature films, earning him a well-respected place in cinematic history for some of the most influential and iconic films of the last two decades.
Throughout his long career, which began at a young age writing short plays for his family, Oliver Stone has served as director, writer and producer on a variety of films, documentaries and television movies. He is widely recognized for his controversial versions of recent American history, some of them at deep odds with conventional myth -- films such as 1986's “Platoon,” the first of his Vietnam trilogy, or 1991’s “JFK” and 1994’s “Natural Born Killers” and “Nixon,” his 1995 take on the finer points and parables of the Nixon administration, as well as on George W. Bush in “W.” (2008) Stone says his films are "first and foremost dramas about individuals in personal struggles," and considers himself a dramatist rather than a political filmmaker.
The Oliver Stone Experience
Join us this evening and expect the unexpected from the man who says on his own website: Either you're born crazy or you're born boring.