'I Thought I Was Going To Die From All The Art': Judith Levin And The Art Of The Moors

‘I want to feel lost in it,’ says Judith Levin as we look at the moor scene propped up on the easel. Levin works on landscapes from the Yorkshire Moors in her studio and apartment, located on the outskirts of Leeds; or should that be apartment and studio? Paintings, draped in dust sheets, line the halls and, in the kitchen, a skylight glows blue above her easel as the living and artistic space blur. I’m not lost, but I am…

Pre-Raphaelite Knights: Reinventing The Medieval World At The Bowes Museum

This exhibition is all about colour, beauty achieved through attention to detail, and above all it asks the viewer to imagine what life was like if you had lived in a mythical world full of legends. It features some of the masters of the Pre-Raphaelite art movement: John Everett Millais, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Sir Edward Burne-Jones and William Holman Hunt. These artists and their colleagues were controversial. They prompted a huge debate because they believed art should, first and foremost,…

Review: Birds Of Prey And The Fantabulous Emancipation Of One Harley Quinn

Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn is a project that has been a long time coming for Margot Robbie. After excelling in Suicide Squad as fan favourite DC comics villain/antihero Harley Quinn, Robbie was very much at the forefront of the development of this new adult-aimed all-female ensemble project inspired in part by Jordan B. Garfinkel and Chuck Dixon’s “Birds of Prey” comic books, even pitching it to Warner Brothers. And boy has the effort…

Bill Brandt And Henry Moore: At The Hepworth, Wakefield

This exhibition explores the fascinating parallels of the works of photographer Bill Brandt (1904-1983) and sculptor Henry Moore (1898-1986). Brandt and Moore crossed paths during the Second World War, when they were both creating images of civilians in the London Underground during the Blitz The exhibition opens with the occasion they both met in 1942, when Brandt photographed Moore in his studio for an article in Lilliput magazine. That article put side by side the two artists' shelter pictures, and explored their…

Review: Life In Our Hands at Settle Stories

This living hand, now warm and capable Of earnest grasping, would, if it were cold And in the icy silence of the tomb, So haunt thy days and chill thy dreaming nights That thou would wish thine own heart dry of blood So in my veins red life might stream again, And thou be conscience-calm’d – see here it is – I hold it towards you. John Keats The inherent expressiveness of hands, the power to describe, to dexterously fabricate, to gesticulate wildly, to…

Turner: Northern Exposure At The Mercer Art Gallery, Harrogate

If you have never been to The Mercer Art Gallery, then now is the time to break your duck. For those more familiar with Harrogate's jewel, The Mercer, then you need to schedule another visit to see this outstanding exhibition. The exhibition retraces JMW Turner's northern tour of 1797, and includes rarely seen paintings. We could wax lyrical about Turner's visit being a formative part of Turner's development, but we won't because judging from his output he was already truly accomplished, and…

Zombie Attack In Leeds (Playhouse!)

Nowadays it may seem like a movie that is best left in 1968, but dismiss George Romero’s iconic horror flick – Night of the Living Dead - too quickly, and you ignore a ground-breaking film that was key to shifting the public psyche away from Hammer horror, where something terrifying had to have two bolts through its neck or a pair of blood-sucking fangs! So, I was intrigued, and a little excited, at the prospect of seeing Imitating the Dog’s ‘Remix’…

Review: 1917

Sam Mendes’ strange, magnificent re-imagining of a Great War odyssey holds several moments of real beauty in sharp relief. And counter-intuitive though they may appear in the context of the Flanders charnel house, such moments enhance the viewer impression as magically as birdsong in darkness. Emerging from a broken copse of shattered stumps and silence, the film’s two main protagonists chance upon an enclosed cherry orchard, whose trees are cut down but continue to flower. ‘Will they die?’, asks one…

Review: Cats

Some months back, something rather remarkable happened, for one night, the internet united. This unheard of moment, thought impossible, occurred on the 18th July with the reveal for the first full trailer for Tom Hooper’s Cats. Adapted from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s unusual but successful stage musical of the same name (which first played in 1981), itself based on the poetry collections of T.S. Eliot “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats”, Hooper’s film really looked like something. Unified in their shock,…

Review: The Irishman

If ever there was a Mount Rushmore assembled for film directing, Martin Scorsese would have to be at the forefront of that conversation. The oscar winning filmmaker, responsible for landmark movies like Taxi Driver and Raging Bull, under appreciated master works like The King of Comedy and modern classics like The Departed and The Wolf of Wall Street, has proved time and time again that the passing years have - like a fine wine - only ripened his directorial talents…

Review: Knives Out

After the controversial (but brilliant) Star Wars instalment Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi, writer/director Rian Johnson has certainly faced his fair share of online rage but it has thankfully done little to dampen his creative fires. And after giving Star Wars formulas a shake up, the Looper and Brick director continues his winning ways with Knives Out, a whodunnit bobby-dazzler reliant on confident audiences thinking they're one step ahead of the game, before revealing they're playing a different…

Dora Maar: Tate Modern

"Dora for me, was always a weeping woman..." Pablo Picasso. Dora Maar; muse, catalyst, or genius? She was arguably all of these. Remembered as the lover of Picasso, Tate Modern presents the first UK retrospective of the work of Dora Maar, who was both a photographer, and painter. Her ideology was aligned with the left wing politics of France in 1930's, she was an agitator, and an avowed anti-fascist. She most certainly had a strong social conscience. Born 1907 in Paris,…

Norman Cornish: The Definitive Collection At The Bowes Museum, Co Durham

"He stands as a magnificent Chronicler of one of the most important passages in English history." Melvyn Bragg - Broadcaster and Author. Norman was born 100 years ago on the 18th November 1919, in the small County Durham town of Spennymoor, which was built on mining. In 1933, despite having passed his 11 plus Norman aged 14, commenced work at the Dean and Chapter Colliery, known locally as "The Butchers Shop" due its high accident rate. From childhood, drawing for Norman…

Review: Le Mans ‘66

One of the best things about films is how they can bring to life a story for you, even if you have next to no knowledge about that particular area of expertise. Take films like The Damned United, Straight Outta Compton or Eddie the Eagle for instance. A good story is not bound by your knowledge of the sport or the star or figure that inspired it, but by your feeling, and cinema allows for you to be invested in…

Barbara Hepworth: Musée Rodin, Paris

"I, the sculptor, am the landscape". Barbara Hepworth What do Barbara Hepworth, and Paris have in common? They have both deservedly earned the epithets 'pioneering' and 'revolutionary'. The Musée Rodin is therefore a worthy stage, on which, to celebrate these shared traits with their new exhibition 'Barbara Hepworth'. The Musée Rodin is one of the few museums in France to have previously exhibited Hepworth's work in her own lifetime, but that was over 60 years ago. Dame Barbara Hepworth (1903-1975), born in Wakefield, Yorkshire…

Review: Doctor Sleep

Since “Dies Irae” first rattled over cinematorium speakers in 1980, the sinister shadow of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining has lingered across horror and cinema in general. Whether it is Jack Nicholson terrorising Shelly Duvall with an axe through the door or an icy maze of doom, this movie has imprinted on audiences since first being unleashed upon them. Likewise it has somewhat stuck with author Stephen King who wrote the novel the film was - loosely - based on and…

Making A Masterpiece: Bouts And Beyond (1450-2020)

The Making a Masterpiece Exhibition is all about artistic creation. The centrepiece, and inspiration for the exhibition, is the wonderful 15th century painting St Luke Drawing the Virgin and Child (c. 1440-1475), by the workshop of Dieric Bouts. The Bowes Museum, at Barnard Castle acquired this painting for £2.3M, thanks to funding from the Art Fund, Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), and a number of private donors, after a temporary export ban was placed on the painting. The exhibition has brought together…

Christina Quarles At The Hepworth Wakefield

The Christina Quarles Exhibition runs alongside the companion Alan Davie and David Hockney Exhibition, which explores the convergences of the creative driving forces, which underlie the work of Davie and Hockney. That is a superb exhibition in its own right, and well worth seeing. The theme of convergence, unwittingly, or perhaps deliberately, continues through from that exhibition into the separate, but accompanying exhibition of Christina Quarles. In 1958, when the Wakefield Gallery showcased Davie's work, it was his first retrospective exhibition, and…

Alan Davie And David Hockney: Early Works At The Hepworth, Wakefield

The Early Works At The Hepworth exhibition is all about creative convergences in more ways than one. It explores the early works of Alan Davie (1920 – 2014) and David Hockney (b. 1937) and in particular the years from 1948 to 1965. Endless curatorial energy, and dedication has brought together around 45 paintings, collages, supporting publications and exhibits, which provide a superb showcase for the work of these foremost artists in the world of post-war British painting. This exhibition is comprehensive,…

The Launderette That Will Put You In A Spin

The title of Hanif Kureishi’s screenplay, My Beautiful Launderette, conjures up images of a bygone era when people who couldn’t afford a washing machine – like my mum – trundled off to ‘Bubbles’ to dry off what the old twin tub couldn’t possible make ‘snuff dry’! However, it is also a title that belies the true reality of the original Oscar-nominated film, now adapted for the stage, and, for all its wonderful humour, it is a play that gets to grips…

Review: Abominable

At this time of year, it is quite common to find a bunch of films making their way to cinemas that you were unaware of, outside of the big, hyped or acclaimed releases. Sometimes they are fillers attempting to grab a slice of box office pie not currently being devoured by the likes of Joker, others are big studio backed movies that somewhere along the line have been a victim of lost executive faith or they are sometimes films that…

Review: Ad Astra

As we edge closer to the year’s end, the early frontrunners for early 2020 awards season are making themselves noticed and, hot off an enthusiastic performance at the Venice Film Festival among others, director James Gray’s (The Lost City of Z) space odyssey Ad Astra has floated to cinemas. Starring Brad Pitt as Major Roy McBride, son of famed astronaut H. Clifford McBride (Tommy Lee Jones), Ad Astra tells the story of a man following in his father’s footsteps. One day…

Abstract & Figurative Paintings At Settle

David Thomas, Maureen Grealy and Katharine Holmes are just some of the Yorkshire and Lancastrian artists at a newly opened Autumn exhibition at Gavagan Art in Settle. A special feature of this exhibition is a spotlight display in the larger gallery room of works by the Malham painter Katharine Holmes. Katharine a well respected landscape painter has been invited to exhibit a selection of her paintings alongside the work of the British artist J. M W. Turner at the Mercer Art…

The Sound’s Bond…..James Bond

You know you are in esteemed company when the man to your right is in his white tux and has all the look of Sean Connery at the height of his Bond career…..only we are in Bradford and the gent in question has long hair and an emerging beer belly! But, without doubt, the Bond movies have an army of followers in the same way that Captain James T Kirk of the Starship Enterprise, has thousands of diehard ‘Trekkies’ who would…

Review: Crawl

One misses the days when nature attacks horror films like Luis Llosa’s Anaconda and Lewis Teague’s Alligator made their way to cinema screens. In the last decade or so, a genre built on the mighty shoulders of Hitchcock’s The Birds, Spielberg’s Jaws and the fun of ‘50s creature features like Gordon Douglas’ Them! has been unforgivably reduced to little more than SyFy Channel schedule filler and bargain bin DVD fodder. Well, not if director Alexandre Aja has anything to say…

Review: Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

As the remembrance of the Tate killings recently was in the headlines on the 50th anniversary of the murders, the timing could not be any more impactful for director Quentin Tarantino’s ninth, and supposedly penultimate, motion picture. Sparking controversy and fears when first announced a couple of years back, Once Upon A Time in Hollywood harks back to a moment in history that quite literally changed the film industry, American culture and in some ways the world ever since. Some…

The Hepworth Wakefield Garden Promotes Sustainability And Ecological Diversity

The first phase of the much anticipated The Hepworth Wakefield Garden is now open. This is a garden for all seasons and has been designed by landscape designer Tom Stuart-Smith. Stuart-Smith has designed eight Gold Medal winning gardens at the Chelsea Flower Show, of which, three were awarded best in show. This is an ambitious and far-reaching project costing £1.8 million, which is designed to transform the area between the main Hepworth Gallery and the adjacent Victoria Mills into a 4,000 square metre…

Review: Midsommar

As this summer has scorched us with heat, it is only appropriate that the horror of the summer and even the year, is a sun-bleached and nightmarish stroll through fields and settlements...in Sweden. Apparently spurred on by a messy break up, this latest effort from writer/director Ari Aster (the distressingly genius mind behind last year’s Hereditary - for my money one of the most effective horrors ever made) has been described by the phenomenal filmmaker as “The Wizard of Oz…

Review: The Lion King

In a year that has already brought us Dumbo and Aladdin, audiences have certainly gotten used to seeing Disney animated classics remade in live-action form. Now it is the turn of Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff’s classic, as Iron Man director Jon Favreau brings The Lion King back to the big screen. After a quarter of a century, The Lion King has become one of the best loved Disney classics, inspiring a string of home video sequels and a broadway show.…

Giuliana Lazzerini: Solo Exhibition

This exhibition is explores colour and celebrates the beauty of the landscapes both here in Yorkshire, and Tuscany. Guiliana Lazzerini has fine tuned her skills over many years, and her spontaneity leaps from the canvas to delight her audiences. She has a strong following, and this latest series of paintings are truly wonderful, the sheer energy never ceases to challenge the viewers senses. The impact of Giuliana's work is perhaps best summed up in her own words: "The translucency of mosaic…