Saturday, 26 March 2011

On song

Eager as always to endorse all that that's low-cost, life-enhancing and spirit-lifting, Mr Gnome has relished a full-on day of sensational singing at the annual midlands Community Choirs Festival held in Stratford-upon-Avon today.

Choir festival? Doesn't that mean cut-throat competition, purse-lipped adjudicators, plucky losers and ecstatic victors?

Er, no. Community choirs are based on the conviction that if you can walk you can dance, and if you can talk you can sing. Simple as that. Consequently, the experience of being a member of such a group is non-competitive, totally inclusive, unthreatening, weirdly joyful and surprisingly addictive.

Today's bash brought together some 500 singers from near (Warwick) and far ('Hello Abergavenny!') 

Coached by a glamorous quartet of vocal virtuosos (lower half of picture), we bopped through a Carol King classic, made contact with our inner primitives via some gutsy Australian stomping - and soared skywards with a South African freedom song.

The day closed with each of the 22 choirs performing a pre-prepared song to the assembled company.

Impartial to a fault, Mr Gnome relished every note - but confesses to a particular enthusiasm for Songlines (pictured), the Warwick/Leamingtion-based ensemble led with incomparable panache by Bruce Knight (extreme right).

The wild-west get-ups were chosen to enhance their party piece: Johnny Mercer's 1930s classic 'Old Cowhand from the Rio Grande.'  

Mr G's suggestion for an encore? How about 'Gnome on the Range'?

Friday, 25 March 2011

Seeded player

Millions of sunflower seeds. But they're not sunflower seeds. Each is made of porcelain, and is hand-painted. No two, claims the artist, are identical. 

At first glance, a vision of overwhelming uniformity. Closer acquaintance reveals diversity. Hmm. No wonder Mr Gnome was eager to experience the latest 'installation' sited in the vast Turbine Hall of London's Tate Modern art gallery.

Creator Ai Weiwei's original intention was that visitors should walk about on the 'seeds'. However, the clouds of porcelain dust released by such activity was deemed a health hazard and, days after opening,  the installation was roped off from the public.

No such worries, of course, for Mr Gnome who, as always, relished the opportunity to 'get stuck in'.

By the way, there was absolutely nothing surreptitious about this gnome/art interface. Details on request.

Loads more info at the Tate Modern website.