Sooo, back from Easter in Nottingham with my mother. It was my first real opportunity to go to Nottingham Contemporary (www.nottinghamcontemporary.org,) which is a brand new gallery for contemporary art. One of the main things that struck me about it was that you could tell you were oop North (although real Northerners consider Nottingham the smooth south) because there was a very friendly atmosphere about the place; nothing intimidating or superior about it at all. Service in the cafe was leisurely, but it was very pleasant and my mother, who is most definitely a senior citizen, said she would be happy to go there with her friends, which is not always the case with contemporary art spaces.
The shows were thought-provoking with lots of good stuff to say about diversity and cross-cultural communication, and the tyranny of context and all of that, but the piece that stood out for me was the film of the Crusades from the Muslim point of view done with vintage puppets by Waed Skawky, Cabaret Crusades: The Horror Show, 2010. Fantastic. I was amazed how moving it was, particularly given the images of the puppets were not manipulated at all, and the historian husband said it was remarkably historically accurate. It was a real shame that there was no version available for educational purposes. Highly recommended should you be passing and on until 26 June.
Also hugely and highly recommended, is The Beetroot Tree (www.thebeetroottree.com). It is a craft centre/gallery/shop and cafe. It is also the antithesis of corporate. Or particularly well-organised, but it was wonderful. The cafe is vegetarian. It has a sun-trap courtyard. The cutlery and crockery are absolutely gorgeous and a joy to handle. The people are lovely. And it deserves to succeed. We waited forever for our coffee and to pay for our lunch and to pay for our purchases in the shop, and the business and management bit of me wanted to gather them round a flipchart and brainstorm ways they could make it easy for people to pay and spend money which is the first rule of retail (after get them through the door). But, part of the massive charm of the place is that it is so boho. And they did get us through the door. When I phoned up to see if the dogs would be welcome there was no hesitation: short lead through the gallery and then sit them in the courtyard. When we arrived water was instantly produced for them. People had to wait a bit longer. But, it was great. And they do fantastic ice cream. And they have really interesting things in the shop. And they do mail order. And they had a great selection of things from John Gillow. (see www.sheer-sumptuosity.co.uk/articles/johngillow.pdf). I loved it and wish them well.
Otherwise, my mother is always a treasure trove of stuff and this trip she gave me a gorgeous sample pack of batiks from a place she knows in Leicester. Here it is with a piece of shot silk velvet I bought in the Beetroot Tree. Just sumptuous:
The chartreuse colour is the back of the midnight blue velvet. Here’s a close-up:
There was something for everyone in this trip, even the historian husband got an expected trip on a restored steam train when we went to Rushcliffe Country Park to walk the dogs on Easter Sunday. (Sadly I can’t find a workable link to it, but it’s called Nottingham Heritage Transport Centre). I had my big coat on from Hampstead Bazaar and indulged my Anna Karenina fantasies. Something for the dogs too, a rally of rescue greyhounds, all looking magnificent and full of life.