On my radar: Edmund de Waal’s cultural highlights | Edmond de Waal

Bborn in Nottingham in 1964, Edmund de Waal is an artist, master potter and author of The hare with the amber eyes, who won the Costa Biography Prize in 2010. He took an early interest in ceramics and his second book, The white road, follows his journey through the history of porcelain, to its origins in China. De Waal’s latest book, Letters to Camondo, is a series of letters imagined to a Parisian collector of beautiful objects. This is the basis of his new show, Letters to Camondo, at the Musée Nissim de Camondo, Paris, until May 15, 2022.

1. Art

Theaster Gates: A Clay Sermon, Whitechapel Gallery, London

A Clay Sermon by Theaster Gates at the Whitechapel Gallery. Photograph: Guy Bell / Rex / Shutterstock

Theaster Gates is a formidable American artist, potter and activist. He is the great radical voice of international ceramics, who has reclaimed overlooked pieces of culture, especially African-American culture, and brought it back fully, polyphonically, into the consciousness of the people. Its largest London exhibition to date has just opened at the Whitechapel Gallery. It’s a sort of autobiography told through some of his favorite ceramic objects, including, most powerfully, a large pot that was made by a enslaved African-American potter in the mid-19th century, alongside the very own work of Gates. As the title suggests, this is great preaching. A revivalist encounter for ceramics.

2. Poetry

Poems 1962-2020 by Louise Glück

American poet Louise Glück.
American poet Louise Glück. Photograph: Daniel Ebersole / Reuters

I have been waiting for this book for a very long time. Louise Glück is such a remarkable poet. She won the Nobel Prize last year which was great, as she is a beloved voice in American poetry, but oddly, she is not known elsewhere in the world as much as she should have been. to be. The great thing about his work is that it sounds idiomatic, it doesn’t sound valuable. These are his poems put together and it gives you almost 60 years of poetry – a lifetime. You feel the growth of that person in the world and in the language. It is also the most beautifully produced book of poems that I have seen in decades.

3. Music

Max Richter to Festival facing south

Max Richter performing at South Facing Fest.
Max Richter performing at South Facing Fest. Photograph: @SouthFacingFest / twitter

My wife, daughter and I went to our first outdoor concert a few weeks ago at Crystal Palace to hear Max Richter’s new work, Voice, which is an extraordinary play written around the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is both spoken and sung and the statement is read in many languages ​​throughout the performance. It’s very powerful, very moving and the evening itself was beautiful. There were hundreds of people there and that feeling of finally being, once again, part of something much bigger than us. And the stars came out. It was a truly perfect evening.

4. Place

V&A Cast Courts

The V&A Cast Courts.
The Cast Courts at the V&A. Photograph: Leon Neal / Getty Images

The V&A Cast Courts are one of London’s most extraordinary hidden gems. It’s free, you can walk in these vast spaces, the largest of the V&A. They were created at the end of the 19th century to house plaster casts of Trajan’s Column, Romanesque churches, fragments of a Greek temple and Syrian mosques. It’s sort of a cultural pandemonium, but it’s glorious. And incredibly prescient, because these are replicas of items that are elsewhere and over the past 20 years we’ve all been trying to find a way to rebuild broken and destroyed pieces of culture. It also contains the most romantic place in London: two people can enter Trajan’s Column. So if you want to meet someone, meet them there.

Give away the journal of an artist Anne Truitt, Alexandra Truitt, Rachel Kushner
Photography: Yale University Press

5. Nofiction

Performance: An Artist’s Diary by Anne Truitt

Anne Truitt was an American artist who died in 2004. Throughout her life she has kept journals that record what it is like to be an artist trying to raise a family, unrecognized, struggling to find l money for materials, anxious to know how to present herself to the world, completely stunned by the need to do something else. These are some of the most powerful personal testimonies of what it is to be an artist in the 20th century. Three of the volumes have already been published and the last posthumous volume, Yield, is published next February. I have seen proof of this and it is extraordinary.

6. Advocacy

English PEN

Left to right: Adjoa Andoh, Burhan Sonmez, Elif Shafak and Philippe Sands at the English PEN centenary event at the Southbank Center in September.
Left to right: Adjoa Andoh, Burhan Sonmez, Elif Shafak and Philippe Sands at the English PEN centenary event at the Southbank Center in September. Photograph: Sabrina Merolle / Zuma / Rex / Shutterstock

English PEN is 100 years old this year. He is the large advocacy group to support writers in appalling situations and campaign for human rights and freedom of expression around the world. His website is a great resource for translation materials, telling people about writers in exile, and how you can read and search for particular works. There was a big weekend at the Southbank Center last month, which brought together many writers including Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Tsitsi Dangarembga and Elif Shafak. PEN needs us; we need PEN.


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