Category Archives: exhibitions, artists and good stuff to look at

New Walk Museum, Leicester – Poetry and Art inspired by words

I have to admit some personal interest here, all the poets taking part in this exhibition are colleagues in writing @ Leicester Writers Club and they are all writers whose work I admire, so I was interested to see how their words had inspired artists from the Leicester Society of Artists.
It’s a well put together, easy to follow exhibition, with work from the poets linked to the art pieces they inspired.
Some thought provoking work and within enough genres and styles to provide something that most people will like or perhaps more satisfyingly, take strongly against.

It’s easy to forget about New Walk Museum, particularly if you live in Leicester or to see it just as somewhere to take small children to stare at the dinosaur….but a new hanging of some of their rather good modern art collection, the always pleasing Picasso ceramics and about to be opened new gallery of their Victorian art and often interesting touring shows, means that perhaps we ought to get there more often.

Exhibition details below…

And a few sneaky photos too.







Hearseespeak Art – one woman show in Leicester

Nothing says Christmas quite like a decorated rams head, so rubiesandduels was very happy to be invited to the opening night of a new exhibition by Leicester based artist – Samantha Brown.

Her delicate rams heads are bejeweled, feathered and generally funny, witty and fabulous. They made me smile, want to touch them AND own at least one of them.

The artists’ professional background in fashion styling is apparent, these sculptures are beautiful, covet able items which would sit happily on the perfect body of any of the current crop of top models.

You too can go and admire @

6 Silver walk
St.martins Square
17th of December 2013
to the 4th January 2014
Opening times 10am to 5:30pm

(For seasonal opening times please contact the gallery direct on 07712 717 860)

and happily the exhibition is in the upstairs space in a very lovely shop selling things I didn’t know I needed until I visited… a channce for retail therapy away from the dominant pressure of chain stores selling mass produced ordinariness.

Her work then transfers to

The Brick Lane Gallery

The Annexe
93-95 Sclater Street
E1 6HR
21 January – 3 February 2014
Opening times 12pm to 6pm

t: +44 (0) 207 729 9721

and if you’d like to know more about her and her work, please visit her nicely put together and well presented web site –









Gay Pride- Leicester 2013

So. It’s all been a bit somber here @ rubiesandduels over the last few days.
This blogger needed to find something to celebrate, so headed off to Leicester’s Gay Pride event.
A lovely afternoon with sunshine, music and celebration of diversity and difference.
A reminder that not everything in the world is doom and gloom.
So, no fiction today, just some happy people in a park on a happy day.























Yorkshire Sculpture Park – Summer 2013

It is a tradition @ rubiesandduels that every year in the big summer holidays, we fit in a visit to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, this year, with only 3 days of holiday remaining and with rubiesandduels junior declaring that she was far too adult for family outings, it all looked too close to call, but at the last minute, a friend agreed to be my sculpture buddy and off we set up up the M1.

This years’ summer exhibitions promised much, the copper sulphate bed-sit, Yinka Shonibare MBE and the Ortas’ work in water and water poverty.

I can hardly express how much I like the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, where else can you see cutting edge artists, enjoy a good walk, bask in the formal grounds and drink very good coffee and all for the cost of the car park.

So, the copper sulphate bed-sit, created in a condemned bed sit and then laboriously dismantled and transported to Yorkshire, a cross between a Christmas grotto and a disturbingly David Lynchean interior. The crystals are huge and invest a small, claustrophobic space with an other worldliness.

Yinka Shonibare MBE is a conceptual artist working across photography, painting, film, sculpture and costume and I wanted to love his work, but the more I looked, the more I found that I was admiring the fabrication and the skills of the craftspeople who have brought his concepts to life.
I have no problem with conceptual artists using other people to realise concepts and Shonibare is an artist with specific physical limitations following a disabling illness,so needs to use the skills of others to bring concepts together, but and it is a very personal but, I wanted to see their skills and talents recognized and their names somewhere within the exhibition.
But, the exhibition is beautiful, witty, whimsical and addresses the big issues with an assured and light touch.
I defy anyone to not enjoy a fox wearing a suit made from African batique fabric, carrying a golden gun and a mobile phone.

The Ortras’ husband & wife have a lifetime retrospective in the Long Gallery, so a long walk, a climb up the piece “77 steps” – is it a sculpture or a convenient short cut?
And, as is so often the case @ The Yorkshire Sculpture Park, in the midst of pieces I struggle to connect with, some little gems of line drawing and decorated ceramics.

So, breathing a sigh of relief that tradition has continued into another summer, we headed home.







Aquatopia @ Nottingham Contemporary

I do like to be beside the sea side, oh I do like to be beside the sea…….

And living in the most landlocked county in Britain, instead, we had to make do with a trip to Nottingham Contemporary and their major summer exhibition of work inspired by the sea.

I have a love/hate relationship with Nottingham Contemporary, I am ecstatic that a venue for cutting edge, radical and edgy art, film making and sculpture is on my doorstep, relieved that its free, but often stand, in slight bemusement looking at work that I simply don’t understand, worried that my philistine t-shirt can be seen and judged by everybody else.

But this, is Nottingham Contemporary at its best, a huge and thoughtfully curated show, with painting, sculpture, installations and film exploring the sea and our relationship with the deep.

Objects range from the tiny and personal to the huge and famous, decorated whalers art, plans for a dolphin embassy, a well chosen Turner, engraving for the tale of the ancient mariner, sound scapes and much much more.

Enjoy, wear a hankie over your head and roll your trouser legs up for a little paddle.

More details here








Touring Portrait at New Walk Museum – Ayuba Suleiman Diallo

Just past the current madness and joy, that is the touring exhibition on magic, fairy tales and enchantment, there is another touring piece at The New Walk Museum, Leicester.

The first ever portrait of a freed slave, a black man painted with dignity, holding a copy of the Quran, dressed in clothing from his own country and staring directly at the audience.

If you’re passing the museum and have 5 minutes to spare, go and meet him.

Ayuba Suleiman Diallo was an educated man from a family of Muslim clerics in West Africa. In 1731 he was taken into slavery and sent to work on a plantation in America. By his own enterprise, and assisted by a series of spectacular strokes of fortune, Diallo arrived in London in 1733. Recognised as a deeply pious and educated man, in England Diallo mixed with high and intellectual society, was introduced at Court and was bought out of slavery by public subscription. Through the publication of his Memoirs in 1734, Diallo had an important and lasting impact on Britain’s understanding of West African culture, black identity and Islam. In the early years of the nineteenth-century, advocates of the abolition of slavery would cite Diallo as a key figure in asserting the moral rights and humanity of black people.
Now on a five-year loan to the Gallery, William Hoare’s sensitive portrait of Diallo is the earliest known British oil portrait of a freed slave and the first portrait to honour an African subject as an individual and an equal. Painted at the time when there was a new interest in Islamic culture and faith in Britain, it provides a fascinating insight into the eighteenth-century response to other peoples and religions.
‘This is a good example of international cooperation between museums, which will extend the opportunities for people to understand the importance of Ayuba Suleiman Diallo. It is a portrait that sheds new light on cultural and intellectual exchanges in the first half of the eighteenth century. We are extremely grateful to all those people who were so enthusiastic about the appeal, and we will be following up to return funds. I am very pleased that everyone will be able to see this fascinating painting on the walls of the Gallery and on tour’. Sandy Nairne, Director.



Magic Worlds at New Walk Museum, Leicester

So, it’s half term, it’s rained…a lot and I’m at an exhibition of fairies, magic and classic childrens’ literature at the New Walk Museum and I want to wear a tee-shirt that says something like
“I’m a parent…..honest” as hundreds of children tear around us dressed as pixies, wearing rabbit ears to take part in a mad hatters tea party, practise their incantations or watch, slightly bemusedly, Sootie and Sweep in glorious black and white.

It’s actually a carefully put together collection, with some little treasures, a drawing by Albrecht Durer, some fantastic Victorian magicians handbills and film of a young Paul Daniels.

If you want a nostalgia fix, maybe go in term time and relive your first meeting with Narnia, the Golem and the rabbit hole, but if you want to really experience how this exhibition really works, choose at wet Sunday afternoon and watch its real audience enjoy it.

Magic Worlds

Magic Worlds: Fantasy, Illusion and Enchantment
4th May – 29th September 2013
New Walk Museum & Art Gallery

Magic Worlds is a family-friendly exhibition which delves into the spell-binding world of magic and illusion. Created by the V&A Museum of Childhood, Magic Worlds invites visitors to explore the fantastical realms of witches, wizards and fairies and celebrate the conjuring feats of the finest stage magicians.

Designed around the themes of fantasy, illusion and enchantment, the exhibition will feature a huge range of costumes, tricks, vintage toys, paintings, ceramics, illustrations, posters, puppets and games. Visitors will find displays based on their favourite fantasy tales, including Snow White, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan and The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe.

Objects on show will include film replicas of Harry Potter’s broomstick and the One Ring from The Lord of the Rings, as well as vintage Cinderella and Prince Charming mechanical dancing dolls and puppets of characters from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, dating from the 1940s.

A touring exhibition from V&A Museum of Childhood.

Ray Harryhausen

The exhibition also includes a case of objects made by the legendary visual effects artist Ray Harryhausen (1920 – 2013) on a special loan to the museum. He was inspired by the collection of stories in Arabian Nights to use stop-motion model animation to bring the magical world of Sinbad the Sailor to life in the big screen.

The display includes Ray Harryhausen’s own copy of Arabian Nights and objects from all three Ray Harryhausen’s Sinbad films. Objects loaned to the museum by kind permission of the Ray and Diana Harryhausen Foundation:

View the Magic Worlds image gallery to see objects from the exhibition.

Free admission

Opening Times:
Monday – Saturday: 10.00am – 5.00pm
Sunday: 11.00am – 5.00pm