It’s a balmy Parisian afternoon, and as we lie on the manicured lawns of Place des Vosges, we reflect on the weekend that is drawing to a close. It’s not a clichéd tourist attraction which is remembered most fondly though, nor a permanent fixture of Paris, instead, it is last nights’ show from legendary Los Angeles band Red Hot Chili Peppers.
The Parisian queues would become something of a theme over the course of the weekend, and on this occasion, they had left us stranded at the top of the Eiffel tower as the Stade de France opened its doors to the most eager of attendees. The hold up meant we would miss English indie rockers The Vaccines open the show, what was more unfortunate however, was that by the time we had taken the bustling Metro from central Paris across to Saint-Denis on the outskirts of the city, the somewhat rare opportunity to watch support act Tinariwen was slipping away too, and the Toureg band closed their set as we arrived.
We had made it in time for the main attraction, though, and several extortionately-priced drinks later, we (along with what seemed like the entirety of Paris packed into the vast arena) were most definitely ready for them. The Chili’s took to the stage to the sound of a trumpet, and began with what could be considered the most favourable track from their latest record; Monarchy of Roses. The show would not focus entirely on I’m With You, though, as we discovered when the band continued with Around the World, the first of three hits they would perform from their 1999 record, Californication, the title track of which would have the stadium at its most beautiful, as thousands of lights twinkled throughout the crowd.
Guitarist Josh Klinghoffer, a protege of former guitarist John Frusciante, seemed to inject new life into the band, dancing about the stage with youthful exuberance, although it did feel as though a couple of tracks on which John’s guitar work had previously shone were toned down by Klinghoffer, almost out of respect. Fifteen tracks later, all carefully selected from their extensive arsenal, including Dani California, Under the Bridge and By the Way, the energy and love in the stadium was palpable, and the Chili’s left the stage.
After a brief interlude, and to a raucous reaction from the crowd, the band returned, starting with drummer Chad Smith, who mesmerised with his drumstick trickery, before launching into one of the bands trademark jams, now accompanied by Josh and guest percussionist (and member of Thom Yorke founded supergroup Atoms for Peace) Mauro Refosco. Bassist Flea and frontman Kiedis then finally took the band up to its full compliment, (the former of the pair walking across the stage on his hands) and took the encore into full flow, performing Freaky Styley and a scorching rendition of Suck My Kiss. Give it Away was followed by the final jam, and Flea’s heartwarming parting message to the Parisian crowd, which in short, was to support live music, and if it means more nights like this one, I concur fully.
The live recording of this show, along with all shows of the I’m With You tour is available to download here.
As Damien Hirst’s Retrospective draws to a close (the last chance to see the iconic works at London’s Tate Modern is the 9th September), The Baigent Archives has decided to share a our experience of the exhibition, which features works dating back to 1986 (Hirst’s first spot painting).
While speaking to Noel Fielding for Channel 4’s Damien Hirst: The First Look, Hirst stated that the exhibition “begins with embarrassment, and ends with hope”, and there’s an obvious transition from the works displayed in the first room, many of which were created while Hirst was a student at Goldsmiths College, to the distinguished works of the second. There is also an overwhelming sense of potential to the former, though, even to those unfamiliar with Hirst’s seminal pieces, through the colours, ideas, and themes that Hirst would become renowned for. Perhaps the best example of this is With Dead Head (1991); which shows a teenage Hirst posing next to a severed head, a literal contrast of life and death which would become popular in Hirst’s art.
The walls of the second and third rooms are filled with Hirst’s famed Spot Paintings, (which we studied closely for untidy spots and compass punctures, which Hirst claims are telling of his personal painting method of the pieces, but to no avail, perhaps Hirst was being modest) and Pharmaceutical themed cabinets. It’s not these iconic pieces that the eye is drawn to though, instead, it is the large glass vitrines that house A Thousand Years (1990), and The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living (1991); the former, a gruesome metaphor, in which flies are born from maggots, feed on a severed cow’s head, and eventually meet their end in the form of the Insect Killer suspended from the ceiling. The latter is less gruesome, but still alludes to death, or at least the primal fear of death evoked when confronted with a shark, open-mouthed and suspended in formaldehyde.
The glass vitrines continued in room four, this time cage-like, and filled with a chair, and desk neatly adorned with an ashtray and cigarettes, in the beautifully titled The Acquired Inability to Escape (1991). Cigarette butts are also arranged carefully into shelves in Dead Ends Die Out, Examined (1993) in which Hirst attempts to align the act of smoking to a life cycle.
The queues for the next two rooms expanded back almost to the exhibition’s entrance, but after the wait, we entered into In and Out of Love, Hirst’s 1991 installation which again contrasts life and death against one another, yet in a different and less grisly manner, with the first space featuring expired, yet beautiful butterflies attached to coloured canvas, and the second, a humid room, in which Butterflies were hatched from the canvas, and the ashtrays of the previous room are replaced with bowls of fruit and flowers.
On to the seventh room, and an expansion on the medical themes seen before, Pharmacy (1992) appears to be just what its title suggests, a large bright space, with a receptionist desk, and drug-filled medicine cabinets on every wall. The cruel moment of realisation comes right after you spot the Insect Killer hanging suspiciously from the ceiling, reminiscent of A Thousand Years, that you have a place in this art, just as the medicine and apothecary bottles.
From the clinical setting of Pharmacy, to the psychedelic Spin Paintings in room eight. A similar style of painting was recently exhibited on a larger scale in Hirst’s rendition of the Union Jack, which decorated the floor of the closing ceremony of the Olympic Games. The process of creating these pieces involves mechanically rotation the vast round canvasses while pouring paint from above, a method which is something of a departure from the precision and order of the spot paintings. Room nine features more vitrines, and more animals suspended in formaldehyde, this time however, the cow and calf have been sliced in half, giving you the unique experience of walking between the two in Mother and Child Divided (1993). The next piece, Crematorium (1996), forces its presence on the room with an overwhelming scent; a grim reminder of death in the form of a vast ashtray, filled with spent cigarettes and ash, akin to cremated remains.
The eleventh room again makes use of butterflies, on this occasion, composed into vast and complex patterns resembling beautiful stained-glass windows. The religious connotations of I Am Become Death, Shatterer of Worlds, and Symphony in White Major – Absolution II (2006), are supplemented by The Anatomy of An Angel (2008), which again points to both religion and medicine.
Rounding the corner into room twelve, you are greeted with a large round black canvas, which from afar, and combined with another vitrine, Black Sheep (2007) immediately in front, seems quite appealing. Upon closer inspection though, the desire induced by the woolly appearance is hastily replaced by horror, as the truth of Black Sun (2004) is revealed; the vast, clustered surface is a sea of dead flies and resin.
Hirst’s 2008 London auction at Sotheby’s is often described as a piece of art or theatre in itself, and the penultimate space of the retrospective symbolises this opulence and affluence. The room is clad in luxurious golden wallpaper, and features Judgement Day (2009); a vast gold cabinet, filled with thousands of manufactured diamonds. The final room is a far more toned down affair, Remembrance (2008); a single, pale spot painting, edged in gold leaf, hangs behind a final vitrine, containing a single white dove, a symbol of the hope which Hirst intentionally ends on.
We head through the bustling gift shop, which is peddling everything from teacups to skateboards, and out into the cavernous Turbine hall, where at one end, a queue snakes out from a large dark vault. We’re admitted into the pitch black room only in small groups, and inside, several spotlights are focused on a glass case, containing For the Love of God (2007); a Platinum skull, encrusted with over 8,000 diamonds, and human teeth. Hirst is often criticized for displays of opulence like this, and while there may have been a shortage of demand at the £50m asking price, there was certainly no shortage of admirers.
Taylor Pemberton’s Cavalier brand may still be relatively young, but one would struggle to determine this upon first sight. In fact, the range of hand crafted products are set amongst a wisely curated assortment of vintage goods, to create the refined yet rugged aesthetic, initially inspired by the definitive style icon, Steve McQueen. Since the inaugural collection of products deemed essential to the modern man, there have been several variations on the theme, including a classic shaving set (created in partnership with English craftsmen Edwin Jagger), a handsome leather duffle bag (pictured), and a limited edition screen print, illustrated by Kelsey Dake. Cavalier is more than just a name; It’s a way of life, a gallant tenet to which Pemberton clearly subscribes, and which every modern gentleman should pertain to. Available at the Cavalier Store.
In some instances, camera phones can be the bane of modern life; Whether you’re watching your favourite band, or supporting your local team, you’re likely to encounter the asinine hoard, who, instead of appreciating the spectacle, wear vacant expressions as they record blurred, second-rate snapshots, because those professional photographers, with their wealth of experience and equipment don’t quite cut it. In other cases however, camera phones can prove to be a blessing, and for these occasions, we can be glad of apps like Diptic. Where Instagram permits you to select from an array of filters, Diptic affords a much more custom experience, allowing the user to stitch together several images in a variety of further customisable layouts, before adding effects, and exporting the final product to a myriad of Social Networks, including Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Tumblr, or even Instagram, as well as the option to save, or Email your handywork. Diptic is available from the iTunes App Store.
If you’re struggling for an environmentally friendly alternative to the paper cup, you may be interested in the Eco Cup. Rhode Island based Decor Craft Inc.’s Eco Cup is ceramic, and features a silicone lid and sleeve, as well as being available in an abundance of colours and patterns. Even if environmentalism isn’t your thing, the ‘I am Not a Paper Cup’ range (Pictured in Silver Edition) is double walled to ensure your drink stays hot (and your hands cool) while you’re on the move. Available at Urban Outfitters.
While London’s underground is the most efficient way to get around the capital, finding which of the many transport arteries to descend upon, and in which direction to head can be daunting, for tourists and novices alike, and even the most seasoned of tube users can be caught out by changes to services. The Embark team, which consists of craftsmen Tom Hauburger, Taylor Malloy, and David Hodge (who is also the CEO), and designer Ian Leighton, have created an App which provides transport users with instructions on getting from their point of origin to destination, as well as live service updates, and the tube map itself. The Journey planner can find your nearest station, before devising your route by either departure or arrival time, as well as tweeting, texting, or emailing instructions to friends directly from the App. It’s not just London, either, Embark has been busy developing the tool for 12 different transit systems, including New York, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Boston, and Chicago, with more on the way! All of the Embark Apps are available for iPhone at the App Store, while selected versions are available from the Android Market.
It’s all good and well to head out and buy all your dinnerware from a certain swedish retailer, and sure, you’ll pick up some bargains, but they might fall short when trying to impress at a dinner party, and equally, if you’ve employed your culinary prowess for a member of the fairer sex, or worse, the parents, you don’t want to be let down by poor tools. While these cutlery pieces from London based Culinary Concepts certainly don’t come cheap, the charming polished knot finish sets them apart, and the stainless steel they are made from ensures they’ll stand up to everyday life. Available with both a Polished (Pictured) and Hammered finish, and in a 4 Piece place setting, a Canteen, or as Individual pieces from the Culinary Concepts store.
You may recall that Swedish bag and accessories brand Sandqvist have been the subject of our affections before, and the Stockholm-based craftsmen have now added the ‘Steve’ leather iPhone pouch to their impressive catalogue. Available in both Brown and Black, the case features a metal button closure, and an adjustable strap, and can be worn around the neck, or over the shoulder. While the pocket is designed specifically for the iPhone, it will suffice for most mobile phones, or even a compact camera. Available at the Sandqvist Store.
After launching their first collection in ‘04, London based Rapha have established themselves as one of the finest cycling clothing and accessory makers in the world, and have even collaborated with Paul Smith. Rapha supply high quality clothes, such as jackets, shirts and tees, and trousers and shorts, all tailored with the cyclist in mind. Some of our favourite picks are the Gingham Shirt, which features a buttoned rear pocket, and is available in Rapha’s trademark pink, or a more understated navy, and the more casual (pictured) Rapha Condor Sharp team shirt (one of the United Kingdom’s most successful road racing teams). Among their extensive range of accessories are Silk Scarves, which feature a subtle cycle themed paisley print, and a range of cycling-specific grooming products. Available at the Rapha store.
The iPad’s sleek glass screen uses multi-touch technology to provide intuitive navigation; gestures such as pinching and sweeping make for a suprisingly satisfying experience, the downside, however, is that all of this is achieved using a capacitive screen (which capitalises on the body’s ability to conduct electricity) which won’t bode well for those who occasionally want to use something other than a finger (Note-taking, Sketching, etc). Luckily, Wacom (renowned for their graphics tablets) have created the Wacom Bamboo Stylus; specifically designed for the iPad and accompanied by the free (although the in-app upgrade is £1.49) Bamboo Paper app, and Bamboo Dock for Mac and PC, it is now available in a variety of colours, including Blue, Green, Orange, Pink, White, and the original Black. The Bamboo is available from the Wacom store, and the Bamboo Paper from the App Store.
When it comes to brands with a heritage, there aren’t many better examples than English shoemakers, Grenson. The company began in 1866 as William Green & Son, but while the name may have changed, the quality of the products and traditional Goodyear welt construction method have not. Since 2010, the Northamptonshire company has been owned by Tim Little (who launched his own shoe brand in ‘97). The Stanley Wingtip Brogue (pictured) is available to purchase from their store.