On My Radar: Gareth Pugh’s Cultural Highlights | Culture
DDesigner Gareth Pugh was born in Sunderland in 1981. He studied fashion at Central Saint Martins, where a design from his 2003 graduation collection was chosen for the cover of Dizzy and confused. He debuted at London Fashion Week in 2005. Theatrical glamor is still his trademark: Pugh has designed costumes for Kylie Minogue, Beyoncé and Lady Gaga, as well as dance and opera . He co-hosted a new cultural festival, This Bright Land (Somerset House, August 1-29), with his husband, artist Carson McColl, to showcase the art and creativity of underrepresented groups.
Pina Bausch: The Rite of Spring, School of the Sands
I first saw this work by Pina Bausch years ago, but this version at Sadler’s Wells with a cast of African dancers was staged in June. This cast completely changed the story arc and was amazing to watch. There was a question and answer session afterwards, and there was a trapped bat in the auditorium. Stravinsky’s score is captivating, but this bat added drama. It was visceral – I felt like I had undergone primal scream therapy afterwards. Bausch’s approach has a human yet poetic quality.
I worked a lot with Wayne McGregor, who choreographed the show, and he invited us to the opening night. It was very razzmatazz. People have tried shows with holograms before and they failed, but Baillie Walsh, who made this happen, handled it so well. The custom-built stadium makes all the difference – normally the front stage contains all the action, but here the effects surround you – I’ve never seen it at such a level of excellence. Give me ! Give me ! Give me ! was mad and Chiquitita plays against an eclipsing sun. This show shocked me.
For my travels, podcasts are my friends and I have found Crossing line to be a truly amazing resource. Hosts Ramtin Arablouei and Rund Abdelfatah look to the past to understand what is happening now. For example, they did a great episode about the 1918 pandemic and how that relates to what we’re going through. They draw so many lines through historical events, it’s a bit like the Roman god Janus looking to the past and the future. Plus, the episodes are meaty – most are around an hour long – so it’s a good train ride.
4. Club night
This prom night takes place every Monday at a bar in Brick Lane. The emcee is the amazing Kartel Brown and it’s the most invigorating, beautiful and swearing thing you can go to. The dancers are so charismatic and the energy is intoxicating. The ballroom scene is about the chosen family; they even have stay-at-home moms and dads. I identify with that because my creative family used to get together in clubs in Hoxton. There was Kashpoint on Sunday and I met my husband at BoomBox. I don’t go out much now, but Kartel and his community show that these things still exist.
Turning Earth Pottery Class
I love making things with my hands, so for my 40th birthday, my friends gave me pottery lessons. I have never thrown on a wheel before. At school we weren’t allowed to touch the pottery teacher’s wheel, which was infuriating, so I lived out my childhood dreams at Turning Earth in Hoxton during a weekly evening class. I recently worked extensively on the This Bright Land festival, which is very rewarding, but that connection I get from doing things has faded away in meetings and emails. It was therapeutic.
We Exist is a trans-led arts organization that helps find work and creative spaces for the community. They just worked with the Koppel Project, a charity that took over the old Central Saint Martin campus to provide studio space. After finishing filming The Batman in the Holborn building, all these amazing trans artists rolled up and started working there. We Exist provides a community support network and also manages a healthcare fund. The NHS is unable to meet all trans health needs, so this is a lifesaver.
Elvis (Dir Baz Luhrmann, 2022)
I’m a huge Luhrmann fan and was looking forward to seeing this. It makes so much sense to bring the visual worlds of Elvis and Luhrmann together: they go well together and this one is one to see on the big screen. What surprised me, however, was how touched I was by Elvis’ story. It’s really unbelievable. Austin Butler’s performance is Oscar-winning – even appearing on the soundtrack, which I was straight to Spotify for the next morning.