HRH The Duchess of Cambridge


Kate has her first official painting on display in the National Portrait Gallery.  It is a frightfully modern take on royalty. The painting shows the unofficial side of Kate, with hair down and no red/fur/tiaras to be seen. Quite remarkably the painting has also managed to age her ten years – Dorian Grey anyone?

After seeing the image online, I thought this was one of those paintings that would be better in person. Nope. Somehow in real life the image is even more misty and hard to view. Or as the octogenarian next to me put it “it looks like she’s dead”.


There is a new Louvre in town and I can’t wait to visit. They have built a satellite Louvre in Lens, a town in northern France – and this baby is one punk ass little brother.

The architecture could not be more different from Louvre Paris. Where Paris is based in the frighteningly ornate Palais du Louvre, Lens is a shiny cow shed. It is one long room with reflective aluminium walls – walls that you are not allowed to hang any art from. I can just imagine that concept meeting, where the architect enthusiastically talked about this sardine tin. At some point the gallery manager must have quietly asked “but where will we put the art”.

Well, the art sits on plinths scattered across the room. They are arranged along the length by time and across the width by geography. Obviously a lot of thought has gone into this baby, but I just don’t know how I would respond to it.

Although it does give you great access, I have the sneaking suspicion that I would get tired of walking in constant circles while trying to admire the art. But then again, since I would be making a special trip to Lens just to see it I would have all the time in the world to wander.

Take a look at the gallery here.

I finally went to the Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Avant-Garde exhibition at Tate Britain (half price with my National Art Pass whoop!). It is a fantastic collection, with paintings, books, sculptures, carpets and even a bed on display.

Never just a pretty face, the Tate Britain gave us a history lesson as well:

“They believed that art had become decadent, and rejected their teachers’ belief that the Italian artist Raphael (1483–1520) represented the pinnacle of aesthetic achievement. They looked to earlier art whose bright colours, flat surfaces and truth to nature they admired.

But rather than imitate the early masters, they espoused a rule-breaking originality. Whether painting subjects from Shakespeare, the Bible, landscapes of the Alps or the view from a window, the Pre-Raphaelites brought a new beauty and intensity of vision to British art.”

You have to love the Victorian era – women wore bustles and rebels used paintbrushes.

What I found remarkable was how standard the paintings were. I don’t mean that in a negative way, it just that for me they are the the first style that comes to mind when I think of the word ‘painting’.

If you asked a kid what they were actually trying to draw with their crayons – I think the pre-raphaelite  bright colours the realism and the drama is what they were imagining.

The other thing I noticed? The artists had a soft spot for a flame haired lady…