Dejavu 2017 and others; the captivating art of Lisa Yuskavage

Yesterday I matched to my favourite hang out spot in London – Mayfair, home to the most affluent of society. I went to go see a gallery exhibition which I had read about earlier in the week on Timeout London. 
I had never heard of Lisa Yuskavage and saw the synopsis of her work was being exhibited at the David Zwirner gallery both in London, Grafton street and in New York. 

Of course, as a lover of art and culture, I decided to jaunt to Mayfair to see her work. 

American Lisa Yuskavage’s work was captivating. There was a private view at the gallery on 6th June and then became open to the public from the 7th June to 28th July. 

There will be a guided tour of the actual exhibition on Mayfair Art Weekend at the end of June. 

With a rather contemporary style,, Lisa has developed her own genre of portraiture in which lavish, erotic, angelic and at times grotesque characters are cast with fantastical landscapes or domestic spaces. 

I interpreted her work as a way of breaking the norm which has conventionally body shamed women in modern generations. Her work was so visually paradoxical, it enabled me to recognise the art of the male and female human anatomy, erotic nuances and nudity. 

There were two floors exhibiting Yuskavage’s work in Zwirner’s gallery, with around 12-15 portraits between them. Very sparsely laid out with access to mental and physical headspace to take in the interpretations of artistic meanings. 

According to the synopsis of the exhibition, it includes several works that continue Yuskavage’s exploration of the dynamics of intertwined couples, while also furthering her interest in using colour as a vehicle for ideational content. 

Begun in the 2000s with dual portraits of female figures, she has in recent years created a series of symbolic depictions of a female and male couple. Their relationship appears determined by carefully selected colour harmonies or contrasts- in some cases, one figure is cast by vibrant hues, while the other is in neutral tones. 

Probably unnoticed by many viewers, the women were depicted to be loudly more dominant on the scene than the men. 

Other paintings in the exhibition depict single women or groups with psychological narratives of tenderness and tension likewise described by formal elements within the compositions. 

Lisa was born in Philadelphia, Pensilvania and I assumed possibly from Eastern European descent. Since 2005, Lisa’s work has been represented by David Zwirner and this particular exhibition has been her first with David in London. So there I was attending her first debut in my beloved city. 

Her work continues to receive positive appraisals and has been the subject of solo exhibitions at institutions worldwide and has lectured on the subject of her own work as well as other artists including Giorgio de Chrico, Philip Guston, Francis Picabia and Edouard Vuillard whose specific work I am familiar with. 

Bur what will make it more memorable is the fact that on a hot summer day in London after sweating like a pig on heat on the Central line and walking 10’mins to Dover Street from Oxford Circus, it was the most welcoming respite to a cool air-conditioned beautiful gallery with shades of light and space. 

The beautiful things are sometimes free. We just need to find them. 

Longleat was everything 

What a beautiful weekend at Longleat with some of the most beautiful animals in the world, a safari of all sorts of cats and birds, a well kept land of conservation, crazy land mass, a taste of exotic English Heritage, mingling with the Aristocrats who own this mind blowing estate, lots of education on 17th C history and the legacies of the Viscounts, food stalls and Nadia, the chef in the building, the sophistication of Lady Emma’s exclusive afternoon tea and that fab vintage china tea set, touring Lord Bath’s castle and more importantly enjoying time with my lovely Carol who was treating me to a belated birthday treat. 
My Carol 😍

I have to mention that one of my highlights was when the beautiful Viscountess, Emma Weymouth whom I absolutely adore and admire stopped to say hey to us and told me after I had obviously complemented her, “you are absolutely beautiful”. 

Awww, bless her. 

Of course I blushed…and thanked her. I told her we were booked for her exclusive tea and she said she would meet us at the Orangery for a meet and greet. What a lovely young lady. 

She actually got married at the Orangery. The modesty though…

A remarkably beautiful soul and even more stunning in real life. 

And to end the weekend was steak night for dinner with my love. 

I am blessed…

I must say it’s always refreshing to have a taste of the country with limited or no access to network.

My memories of the little old town that inhabits many retired pensioners, Warminster…

Longleat…


In light of today’s happenings

When the Thai woman at the bar says to us in Chiang Mai…”Sorry we cannot serve any more beers today after 10 because of the Erection tomorrow…”
Silence 
Confused face 
Errrm…
Awkward…
She continues…the erection, we have the erection tomorrow?
Silence…
Oh right…
Duh
Right, you mean election?
Yeah erection…
😂

Manchester x

Last night, I was talking to my ‘babba’ about how I am providing expertise to NICE – National Institute of Clinical Excellence.
I was due to travel to Manchester in the morning of 23rd May. 

He read my little blurb/biography which they had put together together with other experts across the country and he said ‘I am really proud of you honey’.

We went to bed…

I woke at 6.07. Had a 9am train to catch. 

Kissed him good morning. Jumped into the shower. 

As I applied conditioner to my hair, whilst he was having a ‘lie in’, he said ‘darling, there has been an explosion in Manchester, can you switch on the tele’.

He saw the breaking news on his phone.

I switched on the tele and there it was.

19 people dead and just under the hour, 22 confirmed dead, 59 injured. 

I was numb.

‘What is this?’

This is not the sort of news anyone wants to hear soon after you have just woken. 

Shell shocked and standing there like a lemon, I was silent. Quite disconcerting too, I must add. 

‘Are you sure I should go ahead with this trip?’

‘Of course’ he said, ‘until you hear otherwise’. 

Right.

So I jump back into the shower. Get dressed. He made me breakfast and I made my way to Manchester for the very first time. 

Got off at Piccadilly Station, (thankfully, it wasn’t closed) and walk to NICE offices. 

As I strolled there, I whisper in my heart, fear shall never prevail over bravery. Terror will never bring us down. Fear shall never win over acts of kindness and acts of service. 

Today, I have taken annual leave and I am providing an act of service.

I am thinking of all the first responders who continue to serve this country and save lives when these bloody attacks happen. 

But firstly and more importantly, not without holding these innocent lives taken away from the earth in my prayers and my thoughts. Praying that their families who are clearly and utterly devastated by this terror attack are comforted and can muster some strength to go through this horrible phase.

I will never understand the evil happening in this world.

For those children and young people, who never got to live life and see their potential, it has to be the most devastating thing any parent can go through. My heart is broken for them. 

Manchester was evident in the spirit of love, bravery and unity today. People out and about their day to day stuff. 

Hope.

It turned out to be a productive day for me. 

I made my way back to London and left Manchester with a prayer of healing. 

She could have been a 100 

Dancing cheek to cheek, I am dreaming a little dream of you, I get a kick out of you, because I am sailing over a paper moon, because it wouldn’t be make-believe if I believed in you.
Celebrating one my music legends, the Queen of Jazz, my beautiful Ella Fitzgerald who eternally fascinates me with her voice.

12/20

Looking through my Facebook Timeline this evening after a crazy 2nd day at work, I came across this travel piece by the Telegraph. 

|The world’s best countries to visit – Travel

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/galleries/best-countries-to-visit/spain/
Honestly, it has left me feeling very proud, achieved and even more content with my life at the moment. 

The opportunity and honour to see some of the most beautiful countries in the world is the greatest gift I have given myself. 

Travel is a means of investment and wealth in my life. It’s my continuous education process after leaving the world of academia, travel stems from my hunger to know, learn, see the world through other people’s eyes and cultures. Travel is my acquisition of knowledge, a source of my tolerance and acceptance of human beings. Travel helps me form levels of emotional intelligence, with depths of self-awareness which helps me learn a lot about myself. 

Travel is what connects me to the many diverse people in this urban city of London that I do love. Travel helps me make deep meaningful conversations with friends from all over the world, cab drivers, waiters, colleagues, neighbours. It’s what connects me to the souls of other people. 

I am unenthused about the weather and about how my lemon muffins turned out shitty because I put too much butter in the mixture. I shouldn’t be caught dead having conversations as mediocre as a baking disaster. I am not too serious btw. Life is a balance. 

Meaningful conversations is what draws me to engage in a genuine way with humans. I am certainly a sapiosexual. 

There is a Moorish proverb that says something like…

he who doesn’t travel does not know the value of men and the world.

I absolutely am in utter agreement with the list especially of (the 12)  I have visited and I am sure the other 8 will be fabulous as some of the remainder 8 are on my bucket list. 

I haven’t explored Asia very much and will be my focus over the next couple of years especially as I am going into my mid-30s and approaching 40. 

I am hoping to have covered most of South/Far East Asia by the time I am 40. 6 years from now! No pressure!

However, I must add that I do know more beautiful countries in the world that aren’t listed on the article. No one has talked about countries in the Indian Ocean, the Caribbean Islands or South America. 

A lot of these ratings tend to be vey subjective in most instances if we are being honest. 

Anyway, ultimately, I am pleased that France, my favourite country in the world is listed (spot on!) and of course the U.K.country of my birth and home. 

Here is a quote I love…

“To move, to breathe, to fly, to float; to gain all while you give; to roam the roads of lands remote; to travel is to live.” ― Hans Christian Andersen

Praha – My start to 2017

If I ever go away in winter, it’s me seeking some winter sun, like when I visited Olhao in the Algarve in Jan 2015 or Florida in 2014. You wouldn’t argue it makes sense to be in the sun when it’s cold in Britain. 
I thought of being brave and decided to try winter tourism this year. I say brave, because I am challenging myself to do things I have been unable to do for whatever reasons I feel limited to do. I have a health condition called sickle cell anemia which on a normal day doesn’t sit well with me being in contact with any extreme cold weather. It can be dire. However, I did it – strength, practicality and faith! 

It was biting chilly, crazy misty and finger and feet numbingly-cold! Minus averages of 10-12! Go figure! I was anxious. 

Adequate and appropriate clothing and an overkill of layering was the trick! It was all fur and attic gear all round!  

Prague was the perfect destination to explore this bravery. Listed as one of the most beautiful and romantic cities in the world, with very extreme temperate weather conditions (i.e cold winters and warm summers) seeing that Prague lies between both the oceanic climate and humid continental climate, there was all the justification in the world to visit. Moreover, I haven’t really covered East of Europe. 

Prague, this almost fantasy-like- fairy tale city filled with the most stunning levels of colorful baroque history, gothics, art deco buildings, bohemian modern architecture, art, frescoes, literature, history and generally all hippy-chic picturesque levels of beauty was all mind blowing. I just wondered how Prague was restored from ruin after the 2nd World War to ‘magic’

In 3 nights in January, I managed to fit in quite a bit into our tight schedules to see everything and study this almost repressed city in Czech. 

The wanderlust-er wandered in two days – from the hotel to the main town to see the famous and much talked about Astronomical Clock, Charles Bridge, the Padlock Bridge, The Jewish Quarters, Prague Castle, St Vitus Cathedral, The Old Town Square, the amazing Kampa Island overseeing the Vtlava River. I thought I was in LaLa land at this point. 

In my (a)typical sophisticated girl mode, I indulged into the precious creation of stones, by spending an afternoon at the Diamond museum, fitting beautiful diamond rings and making friends with the local staff, learning more about the Czech culture. 

With lots of museums and galleries in this city, I could see a genuine representation of art with the people of Prague. 

It is in this representation, that the concept of history is persevered in the Communist Museum. 

We visited the Communism Museum. However not without a little bit of sweat. We struggled to locate the building as google maps couldn’t just pick up the location. Every time G-maps said we had arrived, we still couldn’t locate the actual building. We then resorted to asking locals who then explained that it was located next to a Casino, above a McDonald’s. Little wonder we spent nearly half an hour wandering. 

Such a bizarre location to situate a museum of this sort, I pondered. 

I found the experience somewhat dark and a little unsettling. Nonetheless, it was an (re)education of the old Soviet Communist history which will sit with my core for a very long time. For everything the people of Prague had been through either through the sufferings from the Nazis or just a run down and prolonged repression of its own people by the communist government was all preserved in this museum. It was extraordinary. The history behind the Jewish Quarters and the synagogue was one I was familiar with but seeing and experiencing first hand, those countless stack of headstones crammed in the cemetery was quite dark and morbid. 

We just couldn’t really understand the evils committed by ‘men’ in this world, the hate, the intolerance of human beings to commit such horrid atrocities against mankind. 

Anyway, I later discovered that the communism museum was found by an American Businessman, Glenn Spicker who originally collected most of the artifacts that make up the galleries. I thought he was a genius. 

Linked to this, by sheer observation of culture and quite a bit of American multinational corporations in Prague, I personally seemed to think the Czech culture had quite a bit of American influence and inferences embedded in its day to day culture. However, the locals seem to think their cultures are more influenced by the Irish. Let’s go with what the locals say…

The museum also helped me make the connection with history of the Austro-Hungarian rule in 1918 which formed Czechoslovakia, with Prague (Czech) against the rule of Austrians and Slovaks against the Hungarians. The fight and divide against all of their rulers, specifically, the Germans came to life in this education of history. But even moreso when I linked the pieces of Austrian history together reminiscing to when I visited Vienna last year. It’s interesting how the world and history starts to form the pieces of puzzle of world events when you travel and explore. 

In our wanderlust, we discovered one of the city’s plushest modern decorated hotels (from marble floors, to hand-made crafted Moroccan carpets, rich mahogany wood, a library of luxurious designer books), – the luxurious Four Seasons Hotel. 

Hidden away in the corner, off the buzz of the city, a couple of metres away from the Jewish Quarters was a plush hidden gem. My type of a hang-out zone. 

Of course, Carol and I stopped at the bar/cafe (CottoCrudo) to have some afternoon tea and biscuits. The customer service was amazing! Beautiful jazz tunes playing in subtle tones with the likes of Ella Fitzgerald on. 

One highlight of my afternoon tea experiences to date, I must say! Not even Claridges comes close. 

Prague, a city with lots of parks and gardens. A fine balance of a vibrant magical city and nature (with beautiful classical music always playing somewhere in the background).

This ‘Mother of Cities’ where super hot Vietnamese food, local dishes such as goulash, local soups and lots of warm drinks in cafes kept me warm in an extreme cold January. 

You must try the ‘Remember’ Vietnamese restaurant. I certainly will remember it all my life. 

Also known as one of the cities in the world to sell some of the best quality beers ever made. Ha! As I do not drink beers, I got my man 3 bottles of the finest ones at the duty-free store in the Praha Aeroport!

The experience of the Astronomical Clock when it clocked 3:00p.m, the stop overs in some of the chicest bohemian cafes, a wander into galleries and some stunning home decor stores even the likes of Hermes, a walk into the beautiful island of Kampa, the people of Prague, the weather, everything, were all highlights of a beautiful start into the year 2017! 

As we checked out of Czech and said goodbye to our amazing hotel butler, Vlasta, I knew I would love to come back to this amazing city, one summer. 

So I have procrastinated writing about my Czech experience until now. But co-incidentally, on Friday, my friend Dami and I took an Uber into Shoreditch for a night out and found that upon striking conversation with our Uber driver, we soon discovered that Martina is Czech. She was beautiful and just drove like a ‘Jane Bond’ girl. It was sexy to watch. Dami and I giggled in whispers about it. 

I told her I had visited her country a couple of months ago and she was excited to make conversations about places in her country I had visited. It was refreshing. She asked me to keep in touch as we live across from each other. Perhaps have coffee soon? I said, “sure”. 

It made realize how fucking diverse London is. What a great city to reside in. 

The world is a beautiful place. We just need to keep discovering. 

PRAHA- ‘Mother of Cities’


The Maltese Window

This week, I was at work when my ex brought to my attention, news that the famous Azure Window otherwise known as Tieqa tad- Dwerjra in Malta collapsed after heavy storms.
We visited Malta together. It must have been our first jaunt as a couple. 

There were no digital phones then so the quality of pictures that created memories for me in Malta was taken on a Nokia phone as we didn’t have these caliber of iPhones of modern times. 

The limestone arch near Dwejra Bay on Gozo, an island in the Maltese archipelago, is one of the most recognisable locations in Europe and the world. 

Popularly known to have featured in the HBO television series Games of Thrones and been notorious as a cliff-jumping location.

I was genuinely sad to hear this monumental natural creation was no more. However, there was nostalgia as I was feeling relatively content that I was able to experience it before the collapse.

When I said, how could they let this happen?

My ex’s response was…

“Sadly it’s inevitable. The same geological processes that made it were always going to be the processes to destroy it.Damn shame though”.

So later that evening, after watching the news first hand and learning of the collapse, it made me reminisce about my travels to Malta. Malta was the first country in Southern Europe I visited many years ago. 

I felt an immediate type of peace when I arrived Gozo. It was quiet. Not many tourists. Malta had a very high elderly population who had left Britain mainly because of the warm climate most of the year round,  to retire there. This meant the housing industry thrived because of British pensioners settling and buying out there. There were many expats as well working in Malta. 

When we arrived our resort, the aura suddenly put me from rat race/ robot girl mode into relaxation mode. Walking the beautiful beaches, feeling the sunlight on my face, experiencing the Roman ruins, some 2nd world war derelicts, typical European style cathedrals and temples seeing the Calypso cave, horse ridding, going on the Gozo ferry to the other side of the island, having a bus tour of Valletta city, eating lots of tapas and sea food, eating Maltese cake and tea at the local’s favorite patisserie – a magical place called Fontanella, visited the natural museum of history, saw the Knights of Malta, and generally just wanderlusting, were all of the beautiful engraved memories I took with me from this beautiful island. 

Malta was dreamy! 

I will miss the window and will visit Malta 🇲🇹 again soon. 

Nature is a beautiful thing, it creates and destroys. 

Experiences are what forms memories when reality has ceased to exist…

World Rare Disease Day

It was exactly a year ago, today that I was in Pfizer’s headquarters in Tadworth with the big wigs (of the pharmaceutical industry, my young student friend, Clara whom I mentor, lives with sickle cell and absolutely adore and John, CEO SCS) educating and representing the sickle community in the recognition of World Rare Disease Day! There are over 6,000 rare diseases in the world and quite a bit of rare diseases are still formally or clinically undiagnosed. 

Each year the World Health Organisation and other global health agencies celebrate rare disease day to raise awareness of some of these conditions. 

Sickle cell is still classified as a rare disease in the U.K. simply because it is known to be affecting 15,000 people across the U.K. Internationally and nationally, the numbers are relatively low compared to conditions such as cancers and diabetes. It may arguably be the reason why sickle patients are known to be receiving inequalities in the health and social care system because of the (in)significance of the numbers affected nationally. 

The numbers are what classifies a condition as a rare disease. However, records of people identified to be living with the traits in the U.K. is almost 600,000 and counting each year. The question is at what point does the most inherited genetic condition in the U.K become ‘less rare’.

I think after Germany and France, the U.K. is the next highest country in mainland Europe to have patients living with sickle cell.

Nigeria latterly remains the highest numbers of people living with sickle cell globally – with a breaking number of around 5 million people with the condition and 115.000 sickle babies continue to be born each year. 20% of the entire population have the trait. These numbers are frightening and the mortality rates are terribly poor compared to mortality rates in the U.K and the U.S. 

Yet the awareness is almost non existent in Africa and remains largely so globally

Being from Nigeria originally, I marvel at the shocking figures and wonder when I can get the strength to start some work at ‘home’. 

Today, I reached out to my friends with other rare diseases such as thalassemia, chronic pain, blue diaper syndrome and others who suffered rare cancers to tell them they are not alone in this. We all are together and hugely remain some of the toughest cookies in the world!

Here is to everyone with a rare disease like myself most especially my sickle cell warriors. Happy Rare Disease Day!

Hope you also got to have some pancakes? Why not?


Colour Photographs: 1977-1988

Yesterday, I matched to Mayfair to see an exhibition which popped up in my inbox a few weeks ago.
I was in need for a wee bit of art. So we went to the Beetles and Huxley art gallery in Mayfair to see ‘Colour Photographs’ .

Ah, may I add that some of the finest places and things in London are free. It was free! 

From Virginia, to Oregon, to Washington, Vermont, Texas, Connecticut, this is a look at the American photographer Joel Sternfeld’s works ‘Colour Photographs: 1977-1988’ when Sternfeld jumped in a VW camper with his 8×10 inch camera and hit the road, aiming to capture a complex vision of America.

Some vintage dye transfer and chromogenic prints which combine excellent composition and beauty with an ironic, humorous and sometimes sinister portrayal of society. Sternfeld says “The reason that I’m showing this work now is that I remember feeling similar fears back then as I do now. If anything, there is an even stronger sense of apocalypse in the air today.”

It was brilliant…

We discovered Ralph Bar by Ralph Lauren and finished off the American culture with some fine cocktails before heading to the Ivy Brasserie in Kensington for dinner to become British again.