What an arty week I’ve had: I’m loving the fact that since going freelance I have been able to go to far more arts events in south Wales – and there is so very much to enjoy. This week saw Molly Parkin’s exhibition open at Galerie Simpson on Swansea’s High Street. Naturally Molly arrived in her full peacock splendour, wearing a gargantuan Frida Kahlo dress and one of her amazing hats. Her show was not dubbed as a retrospective, but it barrelled through the decades with everything from a gorgeously retro flower painting in 1970s colours to the timeless and scintillating Tree of Life painting that dominated one wall. Tucked into corners were little jewel-like watercolours, and as you’d expect from Molly’s dress sense, most of the paintings were vibrating with colour – although the show also revealed an unexpected subtlety in her more sombre pieces.
Meanwhile at Oriel Canfas in Cardiff, a deeply touching exhibition opened. Titled The Gifts, it brings together paintings gifted to friends and family by the late Roger Cecil. I mentioned him in a previous post, so won’t go over the same ground now, but if you’d like to know more, take a look at this Western Mail article on the show. Cecil tragically died from hypothermia earlier this year after getting lost on the way home from a hospital appointment. He suffered from dementia, but this show is a timely reminder of the brilliant artistic mind that made him one of Wales’ most respected – if slightly offbeat and uncommercial – painters. The show, at Oriel Canfas this month, is very special, and I urge you to go and see it.
I’m planning another trip to Cardiff soon, and I’m going to squeeze in a visit to The Grazing Shed – my favourite place in the city for a simple, satisfying meal. The juiciest, most flavoursome home-made burgers, interesting toppings and embellishments, rustic chips, craft ales – it’s an example of how a restaurant can shine all the more brightly when stripped of fuss and pomp.
At The Grazing Shed you sit at long wooden benches, order at the counter and help yourself to your soft drinks. Service is snappy, the burgers are the best you’ll find in the area, and the bill is gratifyingly small. One can’t help but wonder if they are planning to roll out the concept. I hope they do; it’s a solid, satisfying and consistent experience and one that would translate well into multiple sites… including one in Swansea, I hope.
On the subject of food, I went to the launch party for the new Rasoi Waterfront restaurant at the end of last week. Sited in the J-Shed in SA1, it has an airy, post-industrial interior with plenty of booth seating and lovely warm, glowing lights setting off the austerity of iron pillars and exposed brickwork. Food-wise, we had canapé-style tasters so I can’t comment on the full meal experience, but I must say I was blown away by the vivid flavours and by several imaginative twists on your typical Indian restaurant options. I’m planning to have a proper meal there soon, and will let you know how I get on.
Back to art: before Molly’s show I popped into the old R&Z Fashions shop on High Street, where Rose Davies, AKA Rosie Scribbler, was at work creating some fantastic large-scale drawings on the newspaper-clad walls. A pop-up artists’ studio in a condemned building that will soon be demolished, it has an air of freedom, experimentation and playful anarchy befitting its butterfly existence. The studio itself isn’t open to the public; the building is a bit of a health and safety nightmare; but you can call by to see the ever-changing display of artwork in the shop window, which has been dubbed The Bagpuss Window.
The arty escapades continued on Friday with Pascal-Michel Dubois’ new bachelor-pad themed installation at elysiumgallery. An entertaining exploration of the claustrophobia and loneliness – but also the appealing simplicity – of life in a garçonnière (the French word for bachelor flat), it is probably the first show in history to include a tennis racket covered in spaghetti as an exhibit (I pity the gallery staff who have to cook it fresh every day). To understand the reasoning behind this, pay the show a visit – it runs until October 3.
The week finished with a rather frazzled me drinking too much wine on Friday night and having one of those awful “oh God, I’m sure I must have offended someone” hangovers the next day. I took things much more steadily on Saturday while watching my husband Jamie play trumpet in The Tav with the Soul Skunks. It was a great gig, as always: classic songs, and an enthusiastic audience response. We rounded it off with a meal in the Anarkali – one of my all-time favourite Swansea Indian restaurants, which I especially love for its long and interesting list of vegetarian options.
In between all the food and art fun it was an intense week work-wise, with lots of deadlines all coming at once. My biggest coup was getting all my interviews lined up for the bumper annual edition of Healthcare Risk Management Review, which has to be completed by the end of the month. With that task high on my list, this week promises to be a busy one too, and I’m squeezing a course on Wednesday to learn how to use social media better. Heaven knows what the experts would make of this blog!