The last week of my gap year in India I took a night train to the isolated, desert region of Kutch, India near to the Pakistan border has been home to the most beautiful hand crafted creations for centuries; everything from weaving to Bandhani (tie-dye) to embroidery to pottery work. Kala Raksha; a trust dedicated to the preservation of the traditional arts has been working for the last 20 years alongside artisans of the region educating them in design and colour etc; allowing them to collaborate with urban design students and to travel, for the first time in their lives to other areas of India- Mumbai and Delhi to see other exhibitions and to create their own. The Kala Raksha Trust creators and artisans can tell you their stories and all about their art. There small shop is a once in a lifetime opportunity to be surrounded, to touch and to take home the most beautiful, most special, directly from the incredibly skilled villagers hands; pieces from the most beautiful suf and kharek style embroidery table cloths to naturally, root dyed salvar kamizes.
Kala Raksha, Sumrasar Sheikh, a village 25 km north of Bhuj.
The Monsterkabinett is a permanent and evolving exhibition in the cellar galleries beneath Haus Schwarzenberg in Berlin Mitte. The 20 minute guided tour performance presents 20 years of extraordinary work by the artist group Dead Chickens.
“The Bloch”, a 4m high mechanical monster by Hannes Heiner stands in the main courtyard of Haus Schwarzenberg watching over the entrance to the Monsterkabinett. He rolls his eyes, bats his lashes and flaps his wings, extending an invitation to meet his fellow creatures in the subterranean domain of the Monsterkabinett.
Allow a trusted guide to lead you down the narrow winding stair and into the bizarre and labyrinthine world of the Monsterkabinett where monstrous yet loveable creatures- in turn terrifying, tragic and comical- inhabit a world beyond the imagination. Driven by a compelling rhythm, the fantastic mechanical beings of the monsterkabinett dance and sing. Music and machine merge and thrill to the beat. Highlights of the exhibition include a giant spider which fortunately does not bite, my personal favourite, the hilariously poignant “Trampeltier” and the “Spiegelraum”- a room which has to be seen to be believed. A tour through the Monsterkabinett is an unforgettable experience- grotesque and poetic and berlin underground in every sense of the word.
open Thursday 6-10pm, Friday-Saturday 4-10pm
Rosenthaler Str 39, 10178, Berlin
For art-lovers, I truly recommend the Northern Berkshire towns of North Adams and Williamstown. North Adams has the old industrial halls turned into a large gallery space for contemporary art, in a city that looks like a quintessential working-class city in the Appalachian Mountains. The MassMoca, as it is called, has retained much of its rough edges and shows modern cutting edge art, and also hosts concerts, including festivals such as the “Wilco”, which this summer hosted among others Jamie Lidell, Thurson Moore and Wilco. In addition it also hosts different performing arts.
Neighbouring Williamstown has the wonderful Clark Institute. This city has a small-town feel to it, while the gallery includes modern and older masterpieces, like Picasso, Degas and the like. Both the gallery in itself and the works on display are impressive. And be sure not to miss the tracks located in the nearby forest (though watch out for angry oxen strolling around).
The towns are not more than a 10 minute drive from each other, and by car it takes you about three hours to drive from Boston. For lodging, I would recommend Williamstown, being by far the nicer of the two cities and which has plenty of small B&Bs and nice restaurants. The city also houses a top notch liberal-arts college which also has a nice art collection, rendering the city an upper-class, though welcoming and relaxed, appearance.
87 Marshall Street, North Adams, MA 01247
+1 413 662 2111
Google map: bit.ly/oTHjcl
225 South Street, Williamstown, MA, United States
+1 413 458 2303
Google map: bit.ly/q93pnf
The Harbourfront Centre is a non-profit cultural organization that hosts over 4,000 events each year relating to literature, music, film, craft fairs, theatre and dance performances for adults and children. The 10-acre site houses galleries, performance spaces, craft studios, gardens, and a long stretch of boardwalk along the water’s edge where you can watch busker performances or shop at their International Market place. Free outdoor concerts are held every weekend throughout the summer and in winter there is a free open-air ice rink. Harbourfront Centre is located in the heart of Toronto's downtown waterfront. All events and programs are offered at reasonable prices and most are completely free of charge. A series of large, cultural festivals are held every weekend in the summer; some of them are the Fortune Cooking Food Festival, August 12 – 14, the Hot & Spicy Food Festival, September 2 – 5, the Vegetarian Food Fair, September 10 – 11, and the Caribbean Tales Film Festival, September 1 – 17.
Seasonal events include the Ice Canoe Race in late January, Celebrating Black History Month in February, a jazz festival in June, Canada Day celebrations in July, the Authors' Festival and Harvest Festival in October, and Mexican Day of the Dead in November.
The Toronto Music Garden, designed in association with Yo-Yo Ma, offers free concerts most Thursdays at 7pm and Sundays at 4pm. The Garden design was inspired by the first suite of Johan Sebastian Bach's Suites for Unaccompanied Cello, and each movement corresponds to a different section of the Garden.
New this year, Harbourfront hosts an all-ages dance party with live bands, social dance clubs, DJs and instructors, where every Thursday night you can learn about dance trends from around the world.
Istaba (the Room) is an art gallery, shop and restaurant. The small gallery shop will make you wonder – you can find there things from greeting cards to tableware, jewelery, matches, souvenirs, home design objects etc, all created by local artists. Monthly exhibitions to highlight different types of art work are organized here, so what will you see when you come depends on the exhibition which is currently on. If you are searching for original gifts or souvenirs, this place is just perfect – no trite nonsense or rubbish, but pure art even in small practical things!
If the shop already takes you into a little dream world where everything around you is a piece of art then the restaurant Istabas Bufete on the first floor allows you to dwell longer in this little La Boheme world. I think the best thing to order here is a glass of wine, although the food here is prepared by one of Latvia’s most popular local chefs Mārtiņš Sirmais. Here is just a small daily menu and if you want to eat something the chef himself will come and consult you what to order. That’s also the reason why it’s not possible to know how much money you have to take with you. You can get soup, fish, meat and vegetables for around 3 – 8Ls (£4-10) not the cheapest place, but the food there is always fresh, ecological and high quality – these are the values of the chef.
People admire or hate this place. Some of them go away from there totally unsatisfied with the service – no menu, no big choice, just what the chef offers, but mainly people leave with smiling faces and always return there to enjoy its atmosphere and celebrate life with a glass of wine and intellectual talks for hours.
This airy former textile warehouse designed by Victor Horta was saved from sad decline and converted into an exhibition space and research centre. Adult enthusiasts of the bande dessinée will enjoy a couple of hours studying the various displays, showcasing different illustration techniques derived from etching, photography and pastel and acrylic painting. Pick up a folder at the ticket desk with information in English on the artists and exhibits.
There’s a series of pictureboards from the museum archives and a study library, reading room, brasserie and well-stocked bookshop. The centre organises themed guided tours, workshops and temporary exhibitions; but if, like me, you didn't grow up with bande dessinée on your shelves, you could probably do with some more interactive illustrator demonstrations or Tintins to clamber over. Currently it’s not really a place for young children or those of us with limited attention spans!
20 rue des Sables (Zandstraat), 1000 Brussels
+ 32 (0)2 219 19 80
Google map: bit.ly/qsUJSN
Rebecca is our Been there local for Brussels. You can read her page and tips here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/articles/brussels-local-rebecca.jsp.
She has her own blog at: www.becinbrussels.blogspot.com
I went to the MoMA (pronounced Moe-ma) website to try to figure out how to describe its latest exhibition, "Talk to Me," and I can't really figure it out. It's about design and where utility meets personal interaction and communication. It features 194 pieces. Uh, it looks cool? It really does. The museum's open every day in the summer and late on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. You can check out "Tall to Me" until November 7, and if you go to MoMA on a Friday from 4-8:30 you get in free. MoMA's located at 11 West 53rd Street between 5th and 6th Avenues.
11 West 53 Street, New York, NY 10019-5497
+1 (212) 708-9400
Google map: bit.ly/p0S27z
Amanda is our Been there local for New York. You can check out her page here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/articles/new-york-local-amanda-green.jsp and her own NYC blog here: www.noisiestpassenger.com/
Cross the river Daugava, take a walk on the Stone Bridge - the view to Riga from there is wide and beautiful. On the other side of the river this summer until September is a creative sand sculpture park. It's not big, but worth seeing it.
"Magic Sand" is an international festival. In Riga you will see artwork by 12 professional world class sand masters. Sand sculpture park also offers to make your own sand sculpture (for additional fee), "Game Station" for children, workshops, early morning yoga classes and more. The view to Riga from there is wonderful – water, towers of the Old Town, bridges; and the atmosphere - meditative and peaceful. Artists working, and kids playing in a big sandbox. I also enjoyed playing with the sand!
The place: AB dam, right in front of the Old Town – the other side of the river, next to the Stone Bridge and Radisson Blu Daugava Hotel (Kuģu street)
Google map: bit.ly/pXq9yj
Entrance fee - 2Ls.
Working hours: every day till September 10AM - 9PM.
You can see pictures of the sand park in Kristine's blog: friendinriga.blogspot.com/2011/07/creative-sand-sculpture-park-magic-sand.html
The Water of Leith is Edinburgh's secret river, winding a 12 mile path from the outer suburb of Balerno right through the heart of the City until it emerges near the docked Royal Yacht Britannia. If you pick up the trail behind the National Gallery of Modern Art then the last few miles are enlivened by spotting five life-sized Anthony Gormley figures who stand in the river bed.
Well signposted nearby, easiest found behind the National Gallery of Modern Art
24 Lanark Road, Edinburgh, Midlothian EH14 1TQ
+44(0)131 455 7367
Google map: bit.ly/p2NMgS
A walk along a relatively unknown and unloved part of Hackney, inner London mainly known for flyovers and geezers. You go past a lot of derelict, delapidated industrial plants. This is coupled with an artistic quarter where urban artists are living cheek by jowl with new build nouveau rich apartment blocks. With the Olympic Site and Westfield development to one side. There is an awful lot to see.
The artistic area, all around the factories and estates, offer galleries and bars and cafes. And the natives are friendly having been priced out of Shoreditch/Hoxton.
Hackney Wicked is an open weekend of the residents' work on display.
Also see Folly for a Flyover - an arts centre built inbetween two flyovers of wooden bricks - offering cinema, children's art sessions and a cafe.
Caledonian Road which has a number of sophisticated eateries. If you’re just after a pick-me up visit the fun and friendly Drink, Shop, Do a bright open space with knick-knacks to look at and admire and a great selection of cakes.
King’s Cross is one of the most rapidly and drastically changing places in London. St. Pancras station has been beautifully restored but this was just the beginning of a two billion pound development of the area which now includes a new St Martins campus, housing, offices, gardens, shops, art centres all of which make it worthy of its very own postcode. What’s more the development appears tasteful and ambitious; perhaps a sign of how cities will be developed in the future.
All in all it’s a good time to visit the area and make up your own mind about the dramatic developments. Visit the German Gymnasium, the development’s marketing suit, which not only provides images and models of what the area will look like but also has a great exhibition space invariably showcasing work of value (it’s currently showing the first UK exhibition of recently discovered street photographer Vivian Maier). It also overlooks the site and you can see progress in action.
There are any number of reasons to take the ten minute detour off the roaring M1 to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, and art is only part of it. Feast your eyes on monumental Moores, Hepworths and Paolozzis, at the same time filling your belly with interesting grub, all the while perched above it all on a glass and steel balcony. Stroll through 500 acres of carefully kept parkland, bumping into Gormleys and Goldsworthys before settling in the impressively modernist cafe, located above the posh shop selling Jaume Plensa fridge magnets and James Turrell torches. I might have made the last one up. Dishes of the Day are chalked up on a huge board, and might include local asparagus with poached eggs, rocket and a dill and mustard dressing, or fishcakes with minted peas, home made tartare sauce and chips. But the cakes are the thing. Scones the size of elephant’s feet, fat slabs of Bakewell tart or a nicely dusted lemon pie hit the spot, particularly since the coffee is so good. Yep, you heard it right. The barrista working the Gaggia last week turned a macchiato into an art form. Frink, Caro, Borofsky and Creed; culture and cuisine pleasingly wed.
The café has all manner of taste treats to tempt art lovers inside its bright white walls. The café is at the front, with a massive shop window facing the street. The cakes are homemade and the snacks and sandwiches are prepared from fresh, healthy ingredients. The menu changes regularly. The gallery behind supports local artists and emerging talents. There are often private views and anybody can pop in.
70 Camberwell Church Street, London SE5 8QZ
+44 207 358 4475
Open Mon—Sat 09.00—18.00
Buses 12, 36, 436, 345, 171, 68, 468 to Camberwell Green
Google map: bit.ly/qa7iD4
During summer afternoons, four circuits of churches and chapels in central Brittany in which contemporary artists have installed their work. Visit by car. Free. Triple pleasure of lovely countryside, quaint chapels and astonishing art. The red circuit is particularly charming. Look out for acephalic Breton saints such as the cleavered St Bieuzy and the spring located near each chapel. The signposting of the circuits is a bit minimal, so keep a sharp eye open.
Last night I finally made it up to the 10th floor of Peckham's multi-storey carpark, after several failed attempts, to discover another world ... hundreds of art students milling around, drinking pale ale and cocktails, munching on scrummy nibbles, flirting, discussing the art installations, but most of all, gazing in wonder at the magnificent view: all of London laid out in 360-degree spleandor, shimmering in the sunset, from the O2 arena, past the Shard, St Pauls, the London Eye, the Post Office Tower, before spinning around to catch the Crystal Palace tower in the corner of the eye. Frank's Bar is part of the Bold Tendencies art project and 15 artists have been commissioned to produce and show work in 2011. The bar stays open throughout the summer.
Frank's Cafe and Campari Bar
10th floor, Peckham Multi-storey carpark,
95a Rye Lane, London SE15 4ST
+44 758 288 4574
Open July 1 to Sept 30, Tues-Sun 11.00-22.00
Food served 12.00-14.30 & 18.00-22.00
Bus 12 to Rye Lane
Google map: bit.ly/n7IQZY
Saturday and Sunday near the Recoleta cemetery about 100 stands set up and create an open air market of artisan goods. Silver, leather, clothing, pottery, art- nice quality for better pricing than the stores they sell to.
Forget the Sydney Opera bar, Scubar and the party buses driving you around Darling Harbor.
I’m taking you for a day out to the alternative and indie kids paradise, Newtown. Although only one station from Central, backpackers and tourists tend to miss this lively area.
Here is my guide to a place often forgotten for the Bondi sunshine and lifeguards. So put away you boardies and pick your favorite pair of skinny jeans.
Newtown is amazing for food. Every time I went to Oz, I ended up piling on the pounds because I lived so close to so many delicious places. I am actually slightly drooling when I think of it. Get me there now.
To start the day right, one of my favorite places for breakfast is Café Sophia on Erskenville Road. You have to try their banana raspberry melon smoothie with salmon and eggs benedict or their French toasts. Actually try everything. Just go every morning for four months like I did.
For lunch, I would generally go for one of the many Thai restaurants on King’s Street, Newtown's main road. Most of the places are vegan/vegetarian and although I'm neither, I did get a little bit addicted to the fake duck, pak choi and rice $6 lunch boxes.
To walk off all this food, shop around! Newtown has lot to offer when it comes to retail therapy, whether it’s one the many vintage stores or young designers’ outlets, you will find everything you need to look like the Sydney hipster crowd.
Then head to the art gallery “Oh really?” on Enmore Road. Oh really? is a collective/magazine/gallery presenting the latest street artists around. They regularly organize openings and you could find yourself having a beer with artist Ears while nodding to some breakbeat. Check out what’s going on at ww.ohreallymagazine.com
Then it’s time to wind down. Head down for a cold long neck at The Court House (“The Courtie”) on Australia Street. Cheap drinks, a lovely beer garden decorated with fairy lights, a lively atmosphere and very important, a pool table.
Then move on for some cocktails on the Zanzibar Roof. You will find a cosy terrace and the staff there are always lovely (and not too shabby looking either).
If the schooners have gone straight to your head, then it’s time to go and pull some shapes on the dance floor. I have to say this is not in Newtown. On a Friday I’ll head to Mum at World Bar in Kings Cross to watch live music and listen to the latest indie-electro. Check the coming up MUM nights on MusicFeeds. On any other night check out Sydney promoters and all around cool kids UPTOOUR HIPS for the best nights in town (seriously).
And there you go, I can assure you this will be hell of a good day.
Now there is a lot more to discover by yourself in Newtown and around. But it would take way too long to tell you all about it and I have still things left to see myself. It’s alright; I’ll be back very soon. I’ll see you at The Courtie.
PS: If you were still to be hungry on your way home, stop by Saray’s on Enmore Road for a pite (also called Laknore) ,a filled bread from Kosovo with lemon juice on it. Delicious.
Cafe Sofia: 7 Swanson St Erskineville NSW 2043, +61(0)2 9519 1565
Oh Really? Gallery: 55 Enmore Rd Newtown, +61(0)401 919 624, www.ohreallymagazine.com
The Court House: 202 Australia Street Newtown, 2042, +61(0)29519 8273
World Bar: 24 Bayswater Road, Kings Cross, +61(0)2 9357 7700 www.theworldbar.com
Saray: 18 Enmore Rd, Newtown, 2042, +61 (0)2 9557 5310
Look out for the beautifully restored Art Deco facade and the white on black lettering reading 'Electrical Engineers' as you head up Peckham Rye for a stroll around the park.
Visitors are tempted inside this former electrical and hardware store by the beautiful furnishings, comfortable sofas, giant sanded dresser behind the bar and the collection of paintings by local artists adorning the walls. This cafe and art gallery hosts different exhibitions and private views every month. The cakes are all home-made and the menu includes some mouth-watering items such as smoked haddock, baby spinach and lemon fishcakes. The cafe/gallery opened in November 2010 and French manager Julie plans to incorporate a large deli, with meats, cheeses, home-baked bread and a vast range of tempting treats and there's an arts and crafts fair every Saturday morning on the leafy terrace, over the road from the Common. It's a wonderfully sophisticated, cultured yet friendly place to hang out in south Peckham.
184 Peckham Rye, London SE22 9AQ
+44 (0)203 490 3039
Open Mon-Sat 09.00-17.00, Sun 10.00-17.00
Evening openings and website coming soon
Bus No. 12 to Peckham Rye
Google map: bit.ly/p6WAxc
All Fired Up is a really lovely little cafe where visitors can choose a piece of ceramic art, a teapot, a plate or a cup and saucer and then paint it themselves to create a unique, individual work of art and an unusual gift for a friend. At the same time, sustenance is available to aid the creative process, with all manner of home-made cakes, sandwiches, Italian coffees and teas on offer. The shop/cafe stocks wrapping paper and cards and is a great destination for birthday parties and nursery visits.
All Fired Up Ceramics Cafe
34 East Dulwich Road, London SE22 9AX
+44 (0)207 732 6688
Mon-Sat 09.30-18.00 (late opening to 22.00 on Thur), Sun 11.00-17.00
Bus 12 to Peckham Rye
Google map: bit.ly/nmVYDY
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