Skip to main content


Showing posts from September, 2015

Brian Sewell - "A lone wolf, prone to bite."

I am very sad indeed to hear of Brian Sewell's passing today.

During a conversation several weeks ago, Brian had told me - quite matter of factly - that his condition had become terminal. Whilst I struggled to say the correct thing (correctly) Brian said, "oh well, mustn't grumble." It was this stoicism that I found most remarkable about him in recent years, a period when he had a seemingly endless number of health conditions that took so much out of him but, more tragically for him, kept him from writing reviews and visiting exhibitions.

I first encountered Brian almost twenty five years ago when I asked him to review an exhibition at Leighton House. Brian wrote back (he never, ever took to email or even computers) and said "I am a lone wolf, prone to bite", which was his way of saying "be careful what you wish for". It was an invaluable lesson in PR; don't believe your own bullshit and never expect everybody to feel the same way about someth…

Stuck in the middle with you...

In my book Noisy at the wrong times I wrote that 'to this day, I feel Italian.' Ever since, people have asked me what I meant, but to be perfectly honest, I am not entirely sure I have a ready or easy explanation.
How I perceive myself has always been framed by my family and childhood experiences, by the culture and language around me, the places that I spent time and the dramas and angst that seem so uniquely Mediterranean. This perception of myself seemed never to be just incidental or a mere oddity, it was more than that and was something I believed set me apart - I still think it does. 
I identify with Italy, and although I have never made it my home, at home is where I feel whenever I visit there. The determination of others to criticise and upbraid me for feeling this way appears to be endless: "You were born in England and so you are English,' they say.
Really?  If a dog is born in a stable, does it moo?
Well, does it? ***
"Ciucciarella inzuccherata quant'รจ lu…

From the ether to the theatre...

This is an edited version of an address I gave earlier this summer to a conference on digital marketing in the arts. It took place at Hatfield Business School

For a couple of years, and despite my moderately active life on social media, I have had something of a bee in my bonnet about the use of the digital world to promote and represent our art form.  I work in a live art form, one that is absolutely at its best - unequalled, in fact - when confronting the audience head on, in the flesh. So my perspective on the use of digital and social media to engage with our audiences is very much dictated by this concept. 
I know that in the world of the arts, social media is sometimes, and in the right hands, an immensely powerful tool, but it is particularly so when you can consume and/or acquire that art form at the click of a button, or when it is enhanced by the digital world, delivered by it, or indeed, conceived in it or by it. I know, for example that a huge twitter following is enormously…