Sunday, 27 January 2013

Exhibition Review: 'Great British Faces' at Sunderland Museum and Winter Garden

I'm back....again! 

After another lengthy absence I've decided that the New Year is the perfect time to get back into blogging! More importantly, I think its time to get back to blogging about what really inspires me! I started Here We Go Louby Lou as a place that I could give voice to my passionate ramblings about art, but somewhere along the way I was distracted by other things...mainly clothes and make up! So as of now, while there might still be the occasional musing on my latest MAC lipstick or Topshop purchase, Here We Go Louby Lou is definitely going to be more about art!

To kick things off I thought I'd start the New Year and new look Here We Go Louby Lou with a review of the most recent exhibition I visited, 'Great British Faces' at the Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens.
Sir Ian McKellen (1939-) by Clive Smith (1967-) National Portrait Gallery, London
Comprised of works loaned from the National Portrait Gallery, 'Great British Faces' features portraits of some of the country's "cultural and humanitarian icons" including thespians Dame Helen Mirren and Sir Ian McKellen, fashion designer Sir Paul Smith and humanitarian Camila Batmanghelidjh. 
Dame Helen Mirren (1945-) by Ishbel Myerscough (1968-) National Portrait Gallery, London
This a very small exhibition, only nine works in total, all tucked away along one side of a gallery also displaying the city's collection of works by L.S. Lowry, as well as couple of lovely studies by Pre-Raphaelite hero Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Its so well hidden that despite a poster pointing me to the second floor, it took me a minute to find 'Great British Faces' and I have to admit to being a bit disappointed when I did! Only nine works?     
Sir Paul Brierley Smith (1946-) by James Lloyd (1971-) National Portrait Gallery, London
However my disappointment was short-lived. This exhibition might be small but its perfectly formed! The works on display were all commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery as part of the BP Portrait Award and were created by BP Portrait Award winning artists. As such, they're all (with perhaps one exception, in my opinion) wonderful examples of contemporary portraiture.
Camilla Batmanghelidjh (1963-) by Dean Marsh (1968-) National Portrait Gallery, London

The exhibition offers the viewer a fantastic cross-section of portraiture practice over the last twenty years, from the Hyper-Realism of Paul Emsley to the paintely daubings of Catherine Goodman. My personal favourite was Dean Marsh's glorious depiction of Psychotherapist and humanitarian Camila Batmanghelidjh (above). I love the folds of her elaborate silk gown and the delicate depiction of her hands and fingernails. Who said painting was dead?!  

Sunderland Museum and Winter Garden say that "Great British Faces is a snapshot of modern Britain, and represents the diversity, creativity and vision of those people who have shaped the cultural and civil landscape of the world in which we live." I say that while that may be true (it's a very small snapshot) 'Great British Faces' is a gorgeous introduction to contemporary British portraiture and we're lucky to have it here in the North East...even if it does take a while to find it!

'Great British Faces' is showing at Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens until 9th March 2013. Admission free!

On a side note - on Monday 21st January 2013, Sunderland Museums withdrew from Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums (TWAM) and from April this year will be managed by the new Sunderland Museum and Heritage Service. While I don't know the details of the loans agreement between TWAM and the National Portrait Gallery, lets hope that a similar arrangement can be brokered with the new management or 'Great British Faces' could be the last NPG exhibition we see in Sunderland!

Sunday, 18 November 2012

AW12 Trend - The Midi Skirt

Its been around for a few seasons now but this Autumn I have finally discovered The Midi! By The Midi I'm of course talking about to the super-flattering calf-skimming skirts that have pervaded both the catwalk and the High Street! The Midi comes in lots of shapes and styles - floaty and feminine, pleated, A-line or my personal favourite, the pencil skirt!

The Midi is super versatile! Dress it up with heels or down with ballet flats. They're cute with bodies and crop tops and look fantastic with this season's other big trend, The Peplum!
Pull-on dogtooth check pencil skirt, Primark, £11 | Pull-on textured pencil skirt, Topshop £20
Pull-on green flock spot pencil skirt, ASOS, £20

 My favourite way to wear The Midi is with a cropped tee or bralet, bare legs, chunky socks and my lovely Topshop ankle boots! Autumn chic!

I'd love to hear about your favourite seasonal trends!


Monday, 5 November 2012

Review - New Boots Botanics

A few weeks ago I had some time to kill while waiting to meet my lovely friend Ciara and so decided on an aimless browse around Boots, something I frequently find myself doing! On my amble around the enormous Newcastle store (I think I burned at least a 100 calories on my mooch!) I stumbled across the recently revamped Botanics range.
Botanics has been around since 1995 and to be honest its never really been on my radar, but when I heard that the range had had a makeover, with a little help from leading plant scientists at the famous Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew I thought it was worth a little investigation!
On first glance the new Botanics range doesn't look like anything to shout about. The packaging is pretty average (although it is sustainably produced) however the products inside have definite least for  me! Botanics ethos is to "combine natural ingredients with scientific formulations to create effective skin care products" - many of the products in the new range are 100% Organic and all formulations are now SLS, SLES and paraben-free! And after all, who wants to put nasty chemicals on their skin! Not only that, those clever scientists at The Royal Botanic Gardens make sure that each formulation contains enough of each active plant extract to actually work!!
 I bought two products from the range to trial, the All Bright Refreshing Eye Roll-On with Hibiscus and the Shine Away Ionic Clay Mask with Willowbark. 
Like lots of people I have dark, shadowy under-eye pigmentation and while I love my Liz Earle Daily Eye Repair, at £14.25 for a 10ml tube, it is a little on the pricey side. So I've been on the hunt for a new eye product for a while now! After the ladies at recommended Clinque's latest eye roll-on I must admit I was tempted but again, its not cheap. So when I spotted this product from the Botanics range I thought it was worth a try. Like lots of eye products on the market, including Clinque's latest innovation, this little baby has a cooling roller-ball which massages the refreshing gel into the delicate under-eye area (that's the theory anyway) however I must admit to some gentle patting to help things along! The gel formulation is definitely cooling and refreshing and, importantly (for me at least) doesn't impact on the application of make up! However, I'm sad to say I didn't see a noticeable reduction in my dark circles, despite using the product in the morning and before bed! If you're after something light and refreshing this could be for you but if you need a little more help in the under-eye department then look elsewhere! For me, its back to the Liz Earle!
I'm glad to say that my second purchase, the Shine Away Ionic Clay Mask was far more successful! There are hundreds of clay-based masks on the market, ranging from the super-cheap to the insanely expensive and pretty much all of them promise to rid us of those pesky blocked pores and blackheads. I've been suffering from blackheads since I was in my teens, so I've tried and tested lots of masks and only one has ever come close to actually working - Origins Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask! Unfortunately at £20 for 100ml, its a bit on the pricey side! Thankfully, this Botanics mask shares a lot of the qualities I loved in the Orgins product - to start with, it works! Like most clay masks, this product is a pretty unattractive grey sludge, its very liquid and needs a good shake before use. Despite being very runny, the mask is super easy to apply, is fragrance free and even a thick layer dries in about ten minutes. Its equally easy to wash off and doesn't leave my skin feeling tight or dry, just clean, fresh and de-congested! At only £4.99 for 100ml this is a bargain product but it still manages to feel pampering and luxurious! Definitely one to re-purchase!
Overall I'm pretty impressed with the re-vamped Botanics range! I love their ethos, the use of organic ingredients and the price tag! Admittedly the All Bright Eye Roll-On was a little disappointing but the Shine Away Ionic Clay Mask more than made up for it! Next on my list to try, this 100% Organic Facial Oil with Rosehip! Watch this space!

Boots Botanics range is available in all Boots stores and online at


Saturday, 3 November 2012

Things that go bump in the night: American Horror Story

Happy (slightly belated) Halloween! I hope everyone has had a spooktacular week...sorry, I couldn't resist that one! Not only did this week see the joyous annual Halloween fancy-dress-fest, my favourite TV show of the moment (sorry Homeland) was also back with a second series. American Horror Story: Asylum is the follow up to last year's American Horror Story, created and produced by the brains behind Glee, Ryan Murphy. However if you're after a little tooth-achingly sweet highschool musical drama then AHS is definitely not the show for you...buuut...if you're a fan of a good old-fashioned ghost story or a little Gothic Horror then read on!
Season One of AHS is set in present day and follows the Harmon Family: Psychiatrist Ben, his wife Vivien and their teenage daughter Violet who move into a restored LA mansion only to find that, horror of horrors, their new home holds some bloody secrets and worse, is haunted by the ghosts of its former inhabitants. While not for the faint-hearted, American Horror Story is full of unexpected twists, turns and terrors!
Season two, otherwise known as American Horror Story: Asylum is a complete departure from season one, at least in terms of storyline and location! Scares still abound as the terror is transported to, you guessed it, an asylum for the criminally insane. The drama swings between 1964, when Briarcliff Mental Institution is home to, amongst others, serial killer Bloody Face and is governed by some seriously creepy nuns, and present day, when the asylum is least by the living! If episode one is anything to go by, American Horror Story: Asylum promises to be just as fantastically spooky as the original series!

If that hasn't got you hiding behind the sofa already these little sneaky peaks definitely will...

American Horror Story Season One is available to buy and download.

American Horror Story: Asylum airs in the UK on Tuesday at 10pm on FX.


Sunday, 28 October 2012

Creepy Costumes and Crazy Pumpkins: Halloween Party

Last night my lovely friend Amy-Lea through a fantastic Halloween party! As the pennies are always a little tight on the run up to Christmas, the theme was 'budget', but that didn't stop everyone going all out with their costumes, or Miss Amy and her flatmates getting into the creepy swing of things with some spooky decorations!
 Amy-Lea and I as a Dia de los Muertos Sugar Skull and the Black Dahlia...
 Tom and Ben as Luigi and Die Hard's John McClane...

Hope everyone who's celebrating All Hallow's Eve this year has an amazing time!


Thursday, 25 October 2012

North East - Krispy Kreme, Sunderland

Krispy Kreme opened its doors in Sunderland this Tuesday and today I gave in to my sweet tooth and went to check it out! The store is pretty compact and bijou, with only a few tables inside, there are a few extra seating on The Bridges concourse opposite the store.  Most of the space in the American-dinner style store is taken up by a counter jam packed with yummy, if calorific doughnuts! There were around ten varieties available on my visit, ranging from an Original Glazed to the more gourmet White Chocolate and Pistachio Noughat, price at around £1.75 each. Doughnuts can be bought individually or by the dozen. After much deliberation I opted for a Lemon Meringue Pie for Mama C, a Salted Caramel for my Pa and on the recommendation of my very sweet-toothed friend Ol,  a Chocolate Fudge Praline pour moi. Delicious!

Monday, 15 October 2012

Brocade Shorts, Beautiful Lipsticks and Blakes Coffee House, Newcastle.

Do you ever have those days when you have nothing much to do but doing nothing seems like waste? I do and on such days I invariably end up shopping, its sort of my default activity. Yesterday was just such a day and so I decided on a trip to Newcastle for a little cheeky shopping with my lovely friend Amy-Lea. Here are a few of the things I treated myself to,one day I'll learn just to browse...
I'm in love with this seasons trend for all things Gothic and glam and so when I spotted these gorgeous high-waisted brocade shorts in Topshop I couldn't resist! The party season is very nearly upon us after all! Brocade Shorts, £30, Topshop.
I've had my eye on MAC's lipstick in Rebel for a while now, ever since I saw the lovely YouTube Beauty Guru Tanya Burr sporting it in one of her Monthly Favourites videos (did I mention I love her!) Although not for the faint hearted, Rebel is the perfect grown-up, berry-red Autumn/Winter colour! Rebel Satin Finish Lipstick, £14, MAC Cosmetics.
Spending money really take it out of you and so Miss Amy and I headed to Blakes Coffee House on Grey Street for a little post-shopping Afternoon tea. Although Amy had been before, this was my first visit to Blakes. This little coffee house with its miss-matched chairs and tables has bags of rustic charm, although in my opinion a few squashy sofas or armchairs would add to the cosy factor! Blakes has a lovely selection of what looked like home-made sandwiches, quiches and cakes and an extensive breakfast menu served till 2pm, I've been reliably informed by Amy-Lea that the American Pancakes, Bacon and Maple Syrup is out of this world! They also have a great range of coffee and loose-leaf teas, always a winner in my book! I opted for a pot of Earl Grey and a Toasted Teacake, which came to just less than £5. Definitely one to add to my list of Newcastle haunts! Find Blakes Coffee House at 53 Grey Street,  Newcastle upon Tyne, Tyne and Wear, NE1 6EE.