Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Events: Tate Modern’s Damien Hirst Retrospective, London

Damien Hirst first came to public attention in London in 1988 when he conceived and curated Freeze, an exhibition in a disused warehouse which showed his work and that of his friends and fellow students at Goldsmiths College. In the nearly quarter of a century since that pivotal show, Hirst has become one of the most influential artists of his generation.

Chelsie: I am desperate to visit the 'Damien Hirst Retrospective Exhibition' as this will include all of his works, from his earliest creations to his most controversial over the last two decades. It is Hirst, whom turned the old age notion of being a skint aritist suffering for thier art around, becoming a household name and in turn as wealthy as the actors, rock stars and heirs he parties with. Hirst is truly an heir to the Warholian dream. To create Hirst's works money is needed from the slaughter and shipping of animals, to the creation of tanks that house them. 'For the love of god' his most expensive and flashiest work, throws his wealth in our face as it encapsulates all that he's about death and decay what remains when the flesh is gone. Yet we are removed somewhat by what the true iconography of a skull is; as he turns a garish motif into a symbol of status with natural products that are meant to last forever. 

Beauty within nature is also an evident theme. In Hirst's butterfly works, from his mosaics formed with the wings of the deceased to the butterfly room in which the insects emerge from their cocoons to flutter, fly, get drunk on fruits and then die they are essentially reborn to die. The Calves, cows & sheep suspended in time & space could be remembrance of their existence as is a reminder that we to will be somewhere calm & clear with only a grave stone or urn to celebrate what we was.


Possibly the point of repetition is that Hirst's work is repetitive, ideas that are one long extension and series all around the same themes of death, decay preservation, religion and wealth. The human condition and all we hope for yet also all we fear allowing beauty to be found in the unsettling.

Verdict- Intriguing at best to see one of the worlds most famous artists work from the past two decades rounded up and allow a cohesive insight into his world there is a clear sense of direction within Hirst's ideas, concepts and artworks which shows evidently and allows for a precise conversation. Love or Loathe Damien is clearly a very smart man and has something to say whilst impacting, dividing and changing the contemporary art world in the process.

Damien Hirst at Tate Modern, SE1 (020 7887 8888, tate.org.uk) until September 9. Open Sun-Thurs, 10am-6pm; Fri-Sat, 10am-10pm. Admission £15.50

Monday, 30 July 2012

Swarovski Crystal World, Austria

Swarovski Crystal World in Wattens 
In the small town of Wattens, not far from Innsbruck the capital of Tyrol in Austria you will find the glittering Swarovski Crystal World. The crystal world was first opened in 1995 to celebrate 100 years of the company founded by Daniel Swarovski. The Swarovksi crystal world is unlike any other in the sense that unlike other locations, guests are not given a tour around the factory, or provided with insight into the secrets of the manufacturing behind their beloved products. Instead, the crystal world is an exhibition focused around numerous artists creations inspired by the idea of a crystal. 

The Swarovski crystal world is built underground, and you walk through different chambers of a Cirque de Soleil style wonder world of Crystal. The entrance to Crystal Worlds is shaped like a giant with a huge head. The giant is the guardian of the worlds; and entrance to these worlds are through his mouth. Colored deep blue, the main hall is dominated by a huge wall of crystals made up of 12 tons of glittering stones that almost overshadow a gigantic crystal of 300,000 carats, the largest ever produced. 

In operation since May 1st a special shuttle bus is operating between Innsbruck and the Crystal World in Wattens.


Close to the entrance of the Swarovski Crystal World you will find the “Planet of Crystals”. This is a 3-D projection that relates the metaphors of the history of the world. A special highlight in the Crystal World is the Crystal Theatre with its glistening figures. This is truly a special experience for children and adults. 

Towards the exit, you will find a giant gift shop offering essentially anything you could ever want from Swarovski! From beads to fine jewellery, from the gimmicky to Disney you are guaranteed to find the perfect present to take home.

DID YOU KNOW? Commissioned by the Austrian firm of Swarovski, the renowned artist Andre Heller created an illusory world of glitter. This 'world' is divided into nine chambers of wonder inside an artistically created water-spitting giant. Since the opening, the Swarovski Crystal World has developed into one of the greatest tourist attractions in the whole of Austria.

London: The Capital Hotel, Sporting Afternoon Tea

Chelsie: The Capital hotel is located in the heart of fabulous Knightsbridge, and is one of London's original boutique hotels. To put into perspective just how good the hotels location is, from the Capital's front doors you can see the iconic department store Harrods. For those guests looking to explore London, it could not be any easier with a host of attractions incredibly nearby, including links to public transport. My favourite attractions in the immediate proximity are the impressive Harvey Nichols, Sloane Street which is widely regarded as 'a shoppers paradise' boasting an array of designer stores and the famous Hyde Park.

Personally; I think the Capital Hotel stands out because of the heartwarming story that stands behind the very foundations of this charismatic hotel. David Levin first opened the hotel 40 years ago; and is still running the hotel with the help of his daughter Kate. From the moment you step into the hotel; staff loyality and enjoyment at working at this hotel is evident. This loyalty is combined with a truly British design, creating an ambience that is rarely found in London today and is truly a credit to the Capital hotel.

Kate: The Capital hotel is known for designing innovative afternoon tea's inline with current social events around the city. In celebration of the London 2012: Olympic Games a special sporting afternoon tea has been designed to perfectly capture the very essence of the games! Taking into consideration that the Capital Hotel has recently been awarded the prestigious 2012 UK Tea Guild's award in recognition of their outstanding quality and consistently high stands in tea service; this was one afternoon tea we could not afford to miss out on! 

Afternoon tea is served daily in the sitting room which is a combination of quintessentially English elegance and soothing intimacy. We were welcomed by Cesar the bar manager, and shown to our perfectly made up table. The afternoon tea menu available at the Capital is extensive with four different champagne options; Champagne-Jacquart, Bellini, Jacquart Rose and N.V Bollinger. Alongside the champagne options, a vegetarian and gluten free option is also available to ensure every pallet is pleased. Chelsie and I decided that in light of the worldwide celebrations of the games; we would celebrate too with the Champagne-Jacquart afternoon tea! 

Chelsie: On making our selection, we were then offered a glass of either chilled still or sparkling water as we waited for our champagne. Our afternoon tea arrived on a three tier stand; and I could not resist smiling as I saw Kate's eyes light up when we realised the stand had two tiers of delicious looking pastries and cakes. On the stands arrival we were talked through the afternoon tea format. The bottom tier contained the following crustless sandwiches on different breads: smoked Scottish salmon with cucumber and lime creme fraiche, free range egg with mustard, roast chicken with lettuce and tuna mayonnaise with spring onion. The middle tier and top tier contained two of the following highly imaginative mini masterpieces; dumbbells made with passion fruit ganache in a Valhrona chocolate shell; a Winners’ podium made from glazed lemon sponge; Valhrona chocolate buttons on poppy seed and ginger sable biscuit sporting Medals; a Flame made from banana cream rippled through with a raspberry coulis and adorned with a white chocolate flame decoration; and a Basket Ball glazed carrot cake. 

I can honestly say the food was incredible, each tier was truly faultless. The sandwiches were the best I have ever tasted, being incredibly delicate and fresh but also so very flavoursome. My favourite sandwich was the smoked salmon with lime creme fraiche, although I was a little dubious initially the lime creme fraiche really boosted the salmons flavour.  Kate and I agreed, although a very close call our favourite cake was the banana cream flame. Trust me, when you try it for yourself your see exactly why!

Kate: On completion of our sandwiches, we were then presented with freshly baked scones which were still warm from the oven. The scones smelt heavenly, and I was instantly reminded of my childhood when I would bake with my mother. I must say the taste of the scone is truly maximised when warm, and then accompanied with the raspberry preserve, clotted cream and fresh strawberries your guaranteed to enjoy every bite.

Chelsie and I had previously ordered our tea to arrive with our food. The Capital prides itself on being quintessentially British, so understandbly tea is integral. The tea selection is vast and detailed, but thankfully Cesar is incredibly knowledgable and full of advice when you are making your selection. I choose the 'Bohea' tea which has a deep taste and aroma of Scotch and Chelsie selected 'Silver Needle'  white tea which is made from the finest spring buds of the Da Bai Plant. As we sipped on our tea, and enjoyed our food we were given a respectful air of privacy yet a watchful eye was maintained in case we needed assistance. 

Chelsie: Kate and I really enjoyed our afternoon tea experience at The Capital Hotel; the whole experience was faultless. The creativity behind the food, alongside its heavenly taste, attentive service, beauty of the setting and fabulous location really created a timeless experience for us to enjoy. If you are in London for the games, and looking for an Olympic themed afternoon tea; look no further as this has been our favourite to date. 

The menu at The Capital Hotel regulary changes; helping to ensure that your experience will always be different. In light of this The Capital Hotel afternoon tea is perfect all year round, and not just during the games. Kate and I would also recommened afternoon tea at The Capital for baby showers, hen nights (to get the celebrations going) and Birthday celebrations. We promise it will be an unforgettable experience! 

Afternoon Tea is served daily in The Sitting Room of The Capital Hotel between 2.30pm and 5.30pm.  £25.00 per person or with a glass of Jacquart Champagne at £37.50 per person

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Luxury: Have You Heard? Ladurée Celebrates 150 Years

The history of Parisian tea salons is intimately tied to the history of the Ladurée family. It all began in 1862, when Louis Ernest Ladurée, a miller from France’s southwest, created a bakery at 16 rue Royale in Paris. The area was rapidly developing into one of the capital’s most important and elegant business districts. The most prestigious names in French luxury goods had already taken up residence in this neighborhood. In 1871, while Baron Haussmann was giving Paris a ‘‘new face’’, a fire made access to the transformation of the bakery to a pastry shop. The decoration of the pastry shop was entrusted to Jules Cheret, a famous turn-of-the-century painter and poster artist. M Cheret sought inspiration from the painting techniques used for the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and the Garnier Opera. By incorporating them in his work, he added depth and relief to the ceilings ornamented with cherubic children and thus Laduree's iconic look was born and now 150 years on Laduree is celebrating in style!

Bon anniversaire, Ladurée!

Included in the 150th anniversary celebrations

Ladurée Seasonal Macaroons:
With the summer time now fully underway Ladurée has released the following delicious macaroons to celebrate this lovely time of year.

Iced Mint,Green Apple, Lime Basil,Strawberry Poppy,Orange Blossom,Ghana Chocolate

Ladurée has released limited edition boxes for their critically acclaimed macaroons.
Ladurée 150th Anniversary Candle

The latest addition to Ladurée list of celebratory goodies is this limited edition elegant white birthday candle. The candle smells delicious enough to eat, with a soft aroma inspired by French whipped cream, packaged in a green and gold Ladurée box. The candle is priced at €50/£42 for a limited time only.

Ladurée Limited Edition Summery Pastry Creations
For each month of 2012 inline with Ladurée celebrations, a different limited edition will be released each month. 

On the left hand side for July- Le Butterfly. This is a poppy cream mousse with a yuzu and wild mara heart sandwiched between a pair of strawberry macaroon shells.
Le Butterfly is priced at is 7,50 Euro
On the right hand side upcoming for August- Le Cake A La Rose. This is a little rose-flavoured cake decorated with fresh rose petals.
La Cake A La Rose is priced at 7,20 Euro

Kate and Chelsie's Experience
After hearing about Ladurée limited edition pastries Kate and I could not resist a trip to Harrods (Knightbridge, London) to try one. We were fortunate enough to try the last two Le Butterflies left in the store! The taste was breathtaking; from the first bite we took the intense flavours perfectly complimented each other making this pastry one of the best we have tried. I am already counting down the days until Le Cake A La Rose is released!