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On my radar: Hew Locke's cultural highlights | Culture


Artist Hew Locke was born in Edinburgh in 1959 and received an MA in sculpture from the Royal College of Art in 1994. His works, which use painting, drawing, photography, sculpture and installation to explore colonialism, have been acquired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Tate Britain, the V&A and the British Museum. In 2000, he won a Paul Hamlyn award. His solo exhibition, The Man Who Would Be King, will open at the Lowry, Salford later this year.

1. Art

Ambulance Call by Jacob Lawrence





Ambulance Call by Jacob Lawrence



Caribbean vibe… Ambulance Call by Jacob Lawrence. Photograph: Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas

I have recently been getting interested in the work of Jacob Lawrence, who was active in the Harlem renaissance. His paintings have a strong Caribbean vibe. This very moving image is only about 2ft high. In the 1940s, Harlem hospital was one of the few places in New York to take black patients. This piece demonstrates that a painting does not have to be 20ft by 20ft to have impact; inspiring in these times when many of us artists are working at home in cramped spaces.





Miguel Street book jacket



Miguel Street: ‘I recognised all the characters’.

2. Fiction

Miguel Street by VS Naipaul

This book has stayed on my shelf my entire life. The short stories were read to me and my brother and sister by my mother at bedtime. Set in nearby Trinidad [Locke grew up in Guyana], I could recognise the characters in these short stories as like the people I met on my own street. Naipaul’s cast includes B Wordsworth, the would-be poet who never progresses beyond his first line; Mr Popo, the carpenter who spends his days crafting “the thing without a name”; and my favourite, Man-Man, the self-proclaimed messiah.

3. Comedy

30 Rock (All 4)





The cast of 30 Rock season 5.



The cast of 30 Rock season 5. Photograph: PictureLux/Alamy Stock Photo

30 Rock should be provided on prescription. It is hilarious, full of quick witty one-liners. It is very sharp on issues of race, sexism in the workplace, gender fluidity, the working environment and career ambition. Filmed on the set of a fictional TV comedy programme in the Rockefeller Center in New York, it ran for seven series. I used to watch one episode daily to set me up before I left for work. Now I’m watching them all again. Laughter is an antidote to fear.

4. Website

Google Arts and Culture





Radha and Krishna in the Boat of Love



Radha and Krishna in the Boat of Love: ‘pure sensuality’. Photograph: National Museum New Delhi

I have been obsessed with Indian miniatures for years, and particularly love the Kishangarh school of miniature paintings from Rajasthan. Miniatures lend themselves to online formats, as you can zoom in to see great detail on the Google arts and culture website. For me, Radha and Krishna in the Boat of Love by Nihâl Chand is an image of pure beauty and sensuality. I came to it by chance a couple of days ago, while taking virtual gallery tours. I have never seen this painting in person – it’s in the National Museum in Delhi – but I’m going to be able to spend time browsing its collection remotely.

5. TV

Tiger King (Netflix)





Joe Exotic, from Tiger King, with Boo, a North American black bear



Joe Exotic, from Tiger King, with Boo, a North American black bear. Photograph: PA Images

In years to come, when people ask what we watched during lockdown, there will be one answer: we watched Tiger King. Although I know many other people have already recommended this, resistance is futile. I can only watch one episode a day, as it’s like eating a very, very rich cake. In these very crazy scary times, it depicts an equally intense, yet different, universe. It so fills my attention that, for an hour a day, the virus is pushedto the back of my mind.

6. Magazine

Smithsonian Magazine

At a moment when my thoughts turned to mortality, I checked out the virtual tour of the ancient Egyptian tomb of Menna on the Smithsonian magazine website. Paradoxically, viewing the vibrant painted images from inside the tomb made me think not of death, but of beauty – farming, fishing, wildlife – things which we are missing and becoming more mindful of. In depicting their imagined afterlife, the artists have succeeded in creating a world in which you think about life and living fully, rather than loss and tragedy.

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