'Chemistry for Beginners' by Anthony Strong

On the brink of fame and fortune, young scientist Dr Steven Fisher, is just one gasp and sigh away from finding the cure for FSD (Female Sexual Dysfunction – or in Layman’s terms, women who can’t get to that special place). In fact, it’s so nearly within his reach, he’s already visioning his fellow peers and science geeks in a standing ovation applauding his discovery. However, when his last test subject – the intelligent and feisty ‘Miss G’ – saunters into his lab, she threatens to destroy his entire career, and most importantly, make him question his understanding of that whimsical idea – love.

Anthony Strong’s fourth novel is a refreshingly original love story and one that will have you gripped and giggling from the start. Whether he’s describing the ins and outs of the chemical reactions that get women all hot and bothered, or sensitively depicting a die-hard chemist unwilling to accept that human feelings cannot always be explained in the vocabulary science demands, Chemistry for Beginners takes you on a whirlwind romance and teaches you something along the way too. Strong clearly has a knack for turning science which can often go straight over our heads (who can remember anything from Chemistry GSCE?) into something that is truly engaging and worth knowing about.

Published April 2011, Touchstone Books.


William Corwin

Artist, sculptor, teacher, writer – William Corwin is a man of many talents. He has been exhibited in a splattering of shows across the world since the 1990s and has strong connections to the ‘underground’ art scene in America. Will is also no stranger to the British art scene (having trained with YMB Richard Patterson). He says the city is like a “catalyst” for his work and inspiration – he also met his girlfriend there.

Here, I asked Will about his hometown New York, his ‘alternative’ career and his attraction to unusual materials.

Can you tell us about what it was like growing up in New York? Has it had an impact on you as an artist?

I think New York is what made me an artist. My dad is a playwright, my Mum was a writer, tons of their friends were artists, writers and actors, and I just remember running around in old Soho lofts when I was a kid, seeing all this funky art and thinking how cool it was to be an artist. I think when your family is in the arts, you often end up doing that yourself – everyone thinks it’s a really rebellious thing to become an artist, but it’s really like a family business a lot of the time.

What influence has your ‘underground’ work and experience had on your work?

It’s very simple – alternative and “underground” art spaces take the pressure off selling your work. That’s key to making sincere and philosophically probing work, not having to worry about the dollar! The spaces are also often funky – in both a good and bad way! – and really challenge you to create something that works within a weird space.

As a sculptor, what is it about the structural aspect of art that interests you?

I like site-specific projects; that’s why the show at George and Jorgen Gallery was so cool [this was the artists most recent exhibition in London, March 2011]. The whole idea was to build something into the space. When the gallery told me to build whatever I wanted, and preferably make it big, it was like a dream come true! I like the process of figuring out how the materials and objects will inhabit the space, and then constructing a framework for the ideas.

What was it that interested you about the Last Judgment mosaic? There is clearly a theme of cataloguing in this work – can you expand on this?

My installation came about through the idea of ranking a lot of the objects and materials I make and produce as bi-products of my work. There’s plaster rubble, little cast plaster objects, and these wooden panels I build with or paint on. I thought it would be cool to apply a sort of moral filter to these objects, displaying them on shelves, and giving them a sort of cosmic hierarchy, which is also a theme in the Last Judgment.

Why do you like to use bi-products of your work in your art?

I don’t particularly like art stores – the materials are pricey and there is way too much selection. There are too many colors of oil paint, acrylic, watercolor and tempera. I think that the magic in art resides in the fact that looking at a Frank Stella Black Painting or in a simple stone piece by Noguchi, or a box full of stuff by Cornell, there is magic and there doesn’t need to be artifice, that’s why I like wood and plaster – it’s basic and yet you can represent the universe with it.

Any ideas or plans for your next project?

July and August I’ll be doing a residency at the Clocktower Gallery. I’m going to keep following this lead with the shelves and hierarchies that I’ve started at George and Jorgen. I think I’ll create an inaccessible library, of layers and layers of shelves that can’t be reached, laden with objects and pieces of things. It’s a residency, so there will be a time aspect. The thing will grow over a few weeks, and I’ll eventually build myself into the space.


Robert Mangold

With over four decades of experience as an artist, and having been exhibited widely across America and Europe, Robert Mangold has always produced original and interesting work. His art is carefully considered, with particular attention paid to composition – including his use of shape, line and colour – to create abstract pieces that are usually informed by his interest in structured art.

His latest project, Ring, is no exception to this tradition. The exhibition, being shown at The Pace Gallery in New York for the rest of this month and most of April (and his 13th at the gallery), showcases a series of paintings on a circular shaped canvas, as well as a selection of related works on paper. This showing is the culmination of three years work on this particular project.

Can you elaborate on why you chose to use a circle shape in this collection?

I’ve been working with the circle and circle parts as an image off and on since the mid 60s, and these Ring paintings are a continuation of that. However, the new paintings, for all the enclosure a circle signifies, the central area is empty, a void.

Why have you used two halves of a circle instead of one whole canvas in a circular shape?

The paintings are constructed in two pieces with a split or vertical seam, which has both an aesthetic as well as practical purpose. I work alone in my studio and the way the pieces for this series are made, with a large amount of plywood, it makes them very heavy. If they were in one piece, I wouldn’t have been able to handle them alone.

What role does colour play in your art?

Often a series of works or individual paintings demand certain colour or tonal restrictions, because of the nature of the piece. For instance in the Ring series, if I only used dark colours, all you would see is the ring. An intense colour might also be too much for them.

Any ideas or plans for your next project?

I don’t really know what route my next works will take, if they will be an offshoot of the current paintings or move in a different direction. I feel lucky that there are still some ideas floating around in my head that I want to pursue though!


'Basilicata: Coast to Coast', Time Out, March 3rd-9th 2011

Following four musicians on their emotionally enlightening journey across the Southern Italian region of Basilicata, this low-budget directorial debut by Italian actor Rocco Papaleo, while aesthetically pleasing, packs little punch. The film is sadly spoilt by classic school boy errors – drama at times verges on the ridiculous (pseudo bandits, incestuous threesomes, a mute that finds his voice), characters are poorly developed and, most irritatingly, the crew can often be seen in the reflection of the actor’s sunglasses. Give this one a wide birth.

'Animal Kingdom' 2010

Winner of the World Cinema Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, Animal Kingdom always promised to be epic.

Australian director David Michôd’s debut feature is a haunting tragedy exposing a world of base survival and fierce family loyalty. Gritty and disturbing, Animal Kingdom tells the story of an estranged grandchild of the Cody family, Joshua or ‘J’, played by newcomer James Frecheville. J is just your average 17-year-old boy: awkward, alienated and confused. After witnessing his mother silently slip away due to a heroin overdose, he is taken in by his grandmother and it’s from this point on that he gets sucked unwillingly into a world of drugs, violence and uncompromising obligation to do things the ‘Cody’ way.

The loud, sombre, classical music that accompanies some of the film’s darkest moments makes the mood ever more intense and electrifying and the camera work provides us with long, unsettling looks from the films chilling characters. Michôd’s direction shows a real determination to force the audience between the bonds that fragment the family. The movie isn’t recommended for the faint hearted, but for anyone else who is interested in seeing Australian cinema at its best and most gripping, ‘Animal Kingdom’ is a must see.

'Flaming Bodies', Rosemary Branch Theatre

In a time that is hitting young people hard, Roar Theatre – a graduate-led production company – is producing shows that are not only ambitious, but are also executed to a high standard. And true to their name, their latest venture is sure to make a big impact in their bright-looking future.

Snoo Wilson’s Flaming Bodies, written in 1979 and ironically also at a time when young people found themselves particularly hard up, delves into the subconscious of Mercedes Mordecai, a sexually confused and recently fired American woman. In her dreams, she battles demons that she is unable to face in her everyday life, most prominently, the troubled relationship she has with her mother.

While the playwright’s narrative is complicated (and unfortunately sometimes unclear) the acting talent – all alumni of Guildhall’s acting school – showcased throughout is of a high calibre. Most strikingly so is Paloma Oakenfold, the play’s lead. Her intense and powerful monologues keep audiences interested and gripped throughout.

An impressive crew also supports the cast; credit must be given to those behind the lights as the production flowed with energy, clarity and confidence. They’ve certainly set the bar high for their next production.



'The Fighter'

'The Fighter', which opened in the UK this weekend, demonstrates how an exceptional cast can transform what could have been a disappointing 115 minutes.

Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale and Amy Adams star in the gritty true-story of boxing brothers - Mickey Wark and Dickie Eklund - who come head-to-head with each other when trying to prepare for the former's final attempt at a major boxing title. Issues such as loyalty, the painful process of realising and accepting change, and the power of love make this film's emotional punch so powerful.

The Fighter has already done the rounds in many of the awards ceremonies so far. Bale picked up Best Supporting Actor at the Golden Globes, as did his on-screen over protective mother, actress Melissa Leo, who won the same award but in the actress category. And both of them are deserved of their awards - the honesty and believability each convey throughout are outstanding. Unfortunately, playing the solid and 'rock' character, Wahlberg has been overlooked this awards season, which is a true disappointment. He is what holds the film together; without Wahlberg the film would lack an element of charm that none of the other characters can bring.

That being said, although the acting in The Fighter is none short of a master class, the film is let down in other departments. Direction is inconsistent and fails to find its own style; switching between heavy handed camera work to wide shots of Ward's apartment. Throughout it feels like director, David O. Russell (I Heart Huckerbees, Thee Kings), wants to show every way in which a movie can be shot, which at times sadly distracts the audience from the real selling point - the story. The music falls short also as it misses an opportunity to add drama to many of the most important scenes.

Nonetheless, this film gives us a fantastic insight into family disfunction and the lonely world of chasing glory. It's definitely worth a see if you're a fan of these actors too, as The Fighter showcases them at their best.


I've just set up a Twitter account (downward slope from here...)!


If you say Twitter over and over again it sounds really weird.