KABAKOV

Londoners have many opportunities to learn about Russian art these days. Tate Modern will open its doors tomorrow for art exhibition “Red Star over Russia” but today you can enjoy exhibition of Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, Russian artists, – “Not everyone will be taken into the future”.  You can visit the exhibition until January 28.

The artworks are displayed over 10 halls and the exhibition is carefully guided, so you do not get lost and follow the path naturally.

Some installations were a bit too much for my taste, but I fell in love with some paintings and illustrations. Kabakov is also a famous illustrator for children’s books and I was fascinated by the lightness of strokes and combination of colours in his illustrations.

One section of the exhibition was dedicated to letters of Ilya’s mother. She was writing to her son and telling him about her life story. It was interesting to have a glimpse of someone else’s life, but to be honest, it was a bit tricky to read. In this section curators did a poor job: letters in Russian were positioned low so you need to sit down a bit to read them and British translations were way above your head. So it was a challenge.

All in all I enjoyed the exhibition and it was a first exhibition of such a scale for Ilya and Emilia which made it very special.

 

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Riga International Biennial of Contemporary Art is a new art event in 2018 calendar. This Biennial is developed from the ground by a friend of mine, Agniya, who did an amazing job of bringing together exciting curator, artists and gathering solid art crowd.

During the Frieze Week a creative team of RIBOCA came to London to announce the concept of the Biennial – “Everything was forever, until was no more”. The concept reflects on ever-changing world around us, even things that seem so solid and fundamental.

Many historic buildings will come to live on 2nd of June to house artworks made not only by artists from Baltic states but also international creators. This is an amazing chance to introduce Riga’s cultural, historical and socio-political context and its surrounds.

So clear calendar for June and book your trip!

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Public Art in Ireland

Dublin 

We spent only one day in Dublin and the weather was more suitable for drinking whiskey than walking so we did not come across many art objects. We saw some sculptures here and there, but I left the city under impression that there are not many art decorations in the city.

 

Killarney

Killarney is a luxury tourist area and there are many sculptures and decorations in the area. Different size sculptures, wall sculptures, nice shops and pubs with decorations.

I came across great photography gallery with Irish landscapes, I loved the pictures and the how the canvases are without frames and the images continue on the sides.

Guinness-Storehouse, Dublin

Guinness one of the proudest products of Ireland. The museum of Guinness is located in the centre of Dublin. The museum is grand, it is 7 levels high, it is one of the tallest buildings in Dublin.

The museum is huge, it has many attractions like short films, artworks inspired by Guinness, marketing materials from archives, as my husband said: “it is a Disneyland for beer”. To see everything and enjoy a pint of dark beer you need about 2 hours in the museum. It is greatly guided, you have navigation on the floor so I do not think that guided tour is necessary.

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You start with learning about the process of ale making and then progress onto the second floor to learn about history of the brand. Then you have art floor with sculptures and video of Guinness commercial.

On the top level there is a Gravity Bar which opens a 360 degree view of the city. You get a free pint of guiness with you ticket and you can get it in any bar, but I recommend going to the top floor and enjoying the view with your beer.

I have tried Guinness before, I am a cider number one fan, but can occasionally enjoy ale. But this ale was out of this world fantastic! And it was so much better than any Guinness I’ve tried in the UK, the foam on top was thick and creamy.

The gift shop truly amazed me. It was unbelievably smart and organised. Once can buy everything there, from t-shirts to Christmas tree toys. Variety of products and designs was great, and all complimentary products arranged together and it was impossible to walk away from the gift shop empty handed. Genius.

Irish Whiskey Museum, Dublin

Passing by the Irish Whiskey Museum my travel companions convinced me to take a 1 hour tour. I am very glad they did. It is utterly wrong to visit Ireland and miss whiskey museum.

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The tour was brilliant, it comes down to the guide and he was very funny, he effortlessly narrated history of Irish whiskey and spoke in a very engaging manner. He was joking about England and Scotland in a caring way, much like formerly married couple is teasing each other.

To quote the host:

“Jameson’s is the third biggest seller in the world,  Jack Daniels – isn’t the best US whiskey, Johnnie Walker isn’t a drink it’s a challenge, Jameson’s not great, but surely better than the other two” and I have to agree

During tasting it was explained how to drink whiskey properly: ice kills the flavour and water is a better choice. But one should not add a lot of water, just 2 drops and it will open up the flavours. We tasted without water and with just two drops, it is amazing how much difference only two drops can make: it enhances the flavours and opens up smells. However, not every whiskey needs water, some sorts are much better neat.

Great decorations, very atmospheric, tour is definitely worth the money (17€ for three whiskey tasting and 20€ for 4 and a small souvenir glass with logo). On a rainy day, whiskey degustation was all we need to happily continue with our day.

SEARCYS

SEARCYS is a restaurant on the top floor of The Gherkin skyscraper. The restaurant occupies 39th floor with 180 degree view of London, and there is also a bar on the 40th floor with all round view.  While on the subject the view from bar is more impressive than from the restaurant, not only because it is 360 degrade but the top of the glass building looks awesome. So if you are only dining at the restaurant I would strongly recommend to arrive 30 minutes before your reservation and have some drinks there or to finish your lunch/dinner with a coffee on the top floor.

On special occasions we visited most of London top floor restaurants and SEARCYS was on our to go list for a long time. Usually the restaurant and bar are open for tenants and members, but there are special events when it is open for general public. Before Easter, two weeks before, the restaurant released tables for booking. We booked a table for 4 for such on Easter Monday Bank Holiday. The restaurant was busy during lunch and people were enjoying food, drinks and joyful atmosphere. This is not the place where you eat fast and go, you are here for the experience. The staff was friendly and helpful, menu well composed. We tried each different dishes and everyone was pleased.

The menu costs £45 for lunch and £55 for dinner, and it is a three courses menu. Barry Tonks is a renowned executive chef, who worked in many restaurant that have been awarded Michelin stars. All dishes have many components on them and even a tiny elements complements the dish. Fox example, greasy Foie Gras was complimented with acidic Granny Smith Apple and it was a perfect combination.

Main courses were all excellent, meat was melting in the mouth and fish was flaky and delicious. Even my meat-loving husband decided to go for pea and parmesan risotto and was delighted with his choice.

Desserts were good, although there were only four options, they can satisfy every taste. My personal favourite was Banana Parfait with honeycombs and salted caramel ice-cream. Dinner menu and lunch menu are different. Presentation of food was also beautiful, I personally like black plates better, food stand out more on a dark plate and colour appear more vibrant.

This is a great restaurant for business lunch, if you want to dazzle your dinner party, it is also great for special occasions, great view and great food.

Farmacy

Farmacy is a vegetarian restaurant in the heart of Notting Hill at 74 Westbourne Grove. I have been there twice once for dinner and once for brunch. After first visit I was intrigued by the menu and wanted to come back to taste more. The restaurant promotes healthy, organic and fresh ingredients.

The decor is very trendy, a lot of wooden elements and plenty of green plants. The restaurant was busy both times. Menus are diverse and you have large choice of meals, there are plenty of vegan options as well.

I am not a vegetarian, however, occasionally I enjoy a break from meat and dairy. And this is the ideal place for a proper vegetarian meal. Some people think that vegetarian dish is simple boiled/roasted vegetables with grains, but in Farmacy it is much more than that. Dishes are complex, well structured and are complemented with delicious dairy free sauces.

I preferred brunch to dinner and pancakes were my favourite! Light, with berry compote and a touch of coconut cream. The plating is also bright and vibrant.

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Other dishes were also good, simple, but delicious. We were quite full after main courses, but we listened the recommendation of a lovely waitress and decided  to go for cookies for dessert. This is no doubt the best cookie I have tried! I could not believe that cookie without dairy could be so delicious. We are it all, every single crumble.

Overall it is a great place to eat for vegetarians and non-vegetarians. Pancakes and cookies come highly recommended!