Sunday 28 February 2010

Vasiliki Gkotsi / Painter

This week’s TT Test is taken by the wonderful Greek born artist Vasiliki Gkotsi who has lived and worked in London for twelve years graduating in 1999 from the Royal College of Art with a Masters degree in painting. A collector has said of her work, "It’s powerful, big, both in complexity and size; I love the challenge, even in her portraits, and the eyes are incredible." She has exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery, at the BP portrait award in 2002 where she was commended and again, in 2003. Her work has also been shown with major artists internationally and is in private collections all over the world. Her answers are interesting & honest. And Vasiliki certainly knows how to answer a question with a question! Important note: in the photo of Vasiliki we see her in her unheated studio on a very cold Winter’s day hence the many layers of clothing :) What is your wake up song at the moment? At the moment and every moment the human voice and specially chanting from the monks of Mount Athos. It is the only sound I can hear during my work. It compliments the process. It affirms the moments. Which work of art or single event has most influenced you in your chosen profession? Chosen profession? Did "I" choose it? I don’t know. I always have a feeling that I don’t have a choice but to do it, that’s why I am doing it with such persistence. Otherwise the "failing" moments would have made me give up. What influenced me? It’s the painting itself. I always felt that is the most challenging matter… the most difficult thing to do and somehow if I manage to "do" it, I will "be". About an artwork or event I would say I have influences from many artists through history and today. If you want me to tell you something more tangible, happening at the beginning, it is when I started as a student in painting at the Athens School of Fine Art, I read Van Gogh’s biography and I was crying all the way through, I deeply related. If you could travel back in time, which period would you most like to visit and why? Why back in time and not front as well? I wouldn’t like to ignore the future as the "who I would be" lies there. I would like to visit all and none. So I prefer none. I like being in real time, being in now. At the end of the day does it really matter? The "question" of life is always the same for every person, in all periods. But if I have to answer at some level, I would say I would like to experience as a "spirit" the period of the 3 years teaching of Christ right through his passion. Realizing my spiritual "poverty" and my need to deepen the mystery of sacrifice, I feel I would manage to "follow" even if the pain would be excruciating. I love eating out and discovering new restaurants, can you please recommend one to me? A friend once took me to 222 Veggie Vegan, 222 North End Rd, London [link] It has the most "clean" tasteful, delicious food I have ever eaten and… & I am not a vegan. What is the best advice you ever been given relating to your professional/ creative life? I listen to all the comments or advice from people seriously, all of them have a meaning, one of the good ones is "Work hard but don’t try hard" by Chris Ofili, when I was a student at the Royal College of Art. BONUS QUESTION: You have a strong religious faith. How has this affected the way you choose to be an artist and does it influence your choice of subject matter? Shall we replace the religious faith with the faith on the revelation of the spirit as the word religious refers more to spiritual systems and it can be a projection of the human being. Again here we have the word choice, choose to be an artist and choice of subject matter. If I can choose to be an artist then I am not there yet and on the subject matter… if I have a choice then it is not art. I don’t want to have choices. I want to be dizzy by the inspiration and work beyond. My best paintings "happened" because I had no choice but to do them. That inspired me for my commissions to treat them, as I have no choice but to make a masterpiece. It is like love, you don’t have a choice but to love the others. And this is one with spirituality and the full body is there functioning without fragmentation. Whether we talk on Spirituality or Art, what it is all about is experiencing new ways of loving the others. Every moment always, love is at stake.

Monday 22 February 2010

Legally Blonde

Great Sunday afternoon in spite of the rain ! Saw the matinee performance of the musical "Legally Blonde" - which must be one of the happiest shows in london. The singing and dancing is funny and great and Sheridan Smith as Elle Woods is amazing !! Highly recommended ! Love tt

Thursday 18 February 2010

Johnny Daye : Stay Baby Stay

My wake up song this week is "Stay Baby Stay" sung by Johnny Daye. Johnny Daye was mentored by & brought to Stax Records by Otis Redding, in spite of this, Stax Records never really promoted this gorgeous soul ballad & it is not as widely known as it deserves to be. It is a classic production (I think by Steve Cropper) with the most beautiful string arrangement, slow groove and a perfectly judged vocal performance from Daye. Hope you enjoy it ,lots of love tt

Sunday 14 February 2010

Podast 11 Happy Valentine's Day !!

Hello, I can't resist posting this early even though it means the podcasts are now slightly out of sequence. It's a special song for Valentine's day, I wonder if you can guess which song it is ;) If you haven't already just sign up to the mailing list to gain access to the Attic to listen to the podcast. Lots of love tt

Monday 8 February 2010

Podcast 9

Podcast 9 has been added !! If you haven't already just sign up to the mailing list to gain access to the Attic to listen to the podcast. This is one of my favourites, because it's the sort of song that could be drifting through a brownstone apartment window... at least I hope that's what it sounds like !! lotsoflove tt

Johnny Dankworth

Sir John Dankworth, the great British jazz musician and composer has just passed away. When I was a kid my brother borrowed a Johnny Dankworth and Cleo Laine record from the local library which if I remember rightly were versions of Shakespeare’s sonnets put to music (it sounds so unlikely that I wonder if I have just dreamed this record) and we really loved it. He also seemed to be credited as a composer on every cool British movie of the late 50s and 60s that we were also in love with. As a teenager I wanted that jazz to be the soundtrack to my earnest teenage rebellion too ! He will be greatly missed , lots of love tt

Friday 5 February 2010

Daniel Barenboim & the Staatskapelle Berlin

Perhaps, one of the reasons I love classical music is because I love stories and classical music is full of them: the story of the composers, the historical and social changes that shape the story of Western music and the stories within every individual composition. However, I did not expect when Daniel Barenboim returned to the stage on Tuesday’s concert at the Royal Festival Hall, after having played and conducted a sublime Beethoven’s piano concerto No.3, that he was about to spend a good deal of the second half of the concert telling us the story of Schoenberg’s Variations, Op 31. What a wonderful, life enhancing evening - Barenboim is such a great communicator, like a favourite teacher, funny & wise & generously making you feel as if he is discovering new things as well. He made Schoenberg’s Variations seem as natural as a Strauss waltz (actually, Strauss’ "Thunder & Lightening Polka" was the killer encore) and not scary at all ! I’m sure many people in the audience felt the evening was as magical as I had because by the end we were all on our feet cheering. Truly, an evening to treasure. Lots of love tt

Tuesday 2 February 2010

Lubna Azabal / Actress

This week’s TT test is taken by the very gifted Lubna Azabal, an actress who often portrays people on the edge of society or facing extreme situations. Lubna was born in Brussels to parents of Moroccan origin and trained at the Conservatoire Royal de Bruxelles. Her acting career began in theatre in Belgium where she was soon noticed by the film world winning leading roles with many auteur directors including Tony Gatlif, Denis Villeneuve and Andre Techine. To an English audience she is probably best known for the highly acclaimed BBC drama "Occupation". She brings a rare intensity and truthfulness to her work. I’m very happy she has found the time to answer the TT test ! What is your wake up song at the moment? "Ça m'énerve" Helmut Fritz , because everything upsets me at the moment and especially what has been happening in Haïti. Which work of art or single event has most influenced you in your chosen profession ? My nervous breakdown when I was 21 years old and my passion for traveling!! If you could travel back in time, which period would you most like to visit and why ? To when I was a teenager, just to have the possibility to reset my life and become a great reporter or a dancer or a painter… I love eating out and discovering new restaurants, can you please recommend one to me ? My mother’s place, the best restaurant in the world!!! Otherwise "La Gloria" Lima - Péru (the best food, I've ever had!!!) What is the best advice you ever been given relating to your professional/creative life ? Follow your instinct and go, just do whatever happens, just do it and life will do the rest. BONUS QUESTION : Do you think your ethnic background has led to you being type cast ? For example, I would love to see you in a comedy, you are naturally funny & a great mimic, but I'm sure you are not offered many roles in comedy. Of course! A lot of people don't have imagination, especially in my work (director, casting director, agent...) and it's so easy for them to put people in a box. But it's our work as artists, to change that very old fashion mentality.