30th September 2019

Just spent a thoroughly exhausting yet rewarding couple of days in London. Could probably write a thousand words on each of the things I did, but I’m very tired so instead I’ll just spurt it out in a bulleted list.

  • Foragers of the Foreshore, a wonderful exhibition on mudlarking. Particular highlights were the messages in bottles, a chance to see the Doves Type in the flesh/metal, Johnny Mudlark’s stunning sketchbooks, and the venue itself. The industrial innards of Bargehouse have barely been touched, so there’s lots of bare brickwork and ramshackle staircases that lead to vast, scary spaces that you’re not meant to wander into. Really must get my boots on and have a sift through the Thames myself one day. In the meantime, will be adding Lara Maiklem’s new book, Mudlarking, to the reading pile.

  • Olafur Eliasson at Tate Modern. I’d only ever seen Eliasson’s work on screen before, but experiencing it in person is something else entirely. I loved all of it, but Foggy Tunnel (Screaming Child) was an entirely new sensation, both terrifying and beautiful. This show combined with his episode of the new season of Abstract … I have a new art crush.

  • Talking of art crushes, it was a pleasant surprise to find a few rooms dedicated to Ed Ruscha. I adore that man.

  • The Big Book Look. This is what I was down for – the annual book cover talk at St Bride Foundation. I rarely get to spend any time with other book designers in person, so it’s always a joy attending these things. Lots of speakers this year, all talking about the dreaded brief “it has to look like a big book” brief, whatever the heck that means. Particular highlight: Jack Noel’s mathematic approach to defining genre.

  • A slightly hungover morning at the V&A. How has it taken me so long to discover this place?! It’s absolutely magical. I aimed for the photography and architecture rooms, but kept getting distracted en route. What a fantastic place to get lost in. I was wearing particularly clacky brogues, so each room had its own particular sound – a whole aspect of the museum experience I’d never even considered before.

  • I found a comfy bench in one of the rooms, and hunkered down for a couple of hours to put this month’s Creative Review column together. So much nicer than my desk – I’m tempted to always write it there.

  • Orc’s Nest. Okay so it’ isn’t exactly a world-renowned gallery or anything, but I remember seeing adverts for this little wargame shop in White Dwarf some thirty years ago, so finally stepping foot inside felt kind of important to me. Now regret not buying a t-shirt.

  • National Portrait Gallery. Always great, always a bit oo crowded for my liking. The pieces in this year’s BP Portrait Award exhibition were incredible, but I couldn’t elbow my way to any of the captions, so no idea who painted who.

  • And finally I departed from Kings Cross. Shout out to the chap in WHS who picked up Creative Review, flicked to the back page, sighed and then put it back on the shelf. Thanks for that.