26 recommends: January 2024

Ryuichi Sakamoto’s ‘Kagami’.

This was a virtual concert via headsets at the Roundhouse. A 100 or so of us seated in a large circle with our headsets saw Sakamoto sit down at a grand piano and play a 50 minute set. We were invited to walk around and see him from different angles. At one point I peeked under my headset and someone was standing right in my line of vision but he was invisible once my headset was back on. Virtual reality was more real than reality!

As Sakamoto played, amazing effects arrived: he was in a field of clouds, or surrounded by fireflies, a tree grew out of the piano, a snow scene appeared as if through a skylight, it rained. It was simply ravishing. And then an extraordinary thing happened. By the second piece I understood something very strongly. I had to play the piano again. I last played it 42 years ago and have frequently said that I will never pick up any instrument again (I also played the violin and accordion). That’s the power of art for you!

– Alastair Creamer


I’ve already enjoyed a couple of great things/people this year:

1) I caught Claudette Johnson’s show at Somerset House just before it closed.

Her portraits in pastel and gouache are so engaging. 

I’d not come across her before and am looking forward to her next show

as part of a collective at the Drawing Room in Bermondsey.

2) I’ve just discovered the memoirs of Julia Blackburn. I’d started her memoir-writing course

at Faber Academy, having read some of her Thin Paths about being in Italy as a young woman.

Now I’m really look forward to reading her super personal memoir The Three of Us about her

mother, father and herself.

– Lynda Relph-Knight


Saltburn. That’s all I have to say. Visually sumptuous, it’s definitely not one to watch with your parents/kids, and is far from perfect, but worth your time for sure. Like in her previous film Promising Young Woman, writer/director Emerald Fennell shows a deft hand at letting the story unfold to a surprise twist while taking the audience well out of their comfort zones. You’ll never hear Murder on the Dancefloor the same way again. 

– Lauren McMenemy


Bridgewater an audio drama. Created by Aaron Mahnke, written by Lauren Shippen, and directed by Lauren Shippen and Brendan Patrick Hughes. It’s a suspenseful thriller with a stellar voice cast and immersive sound design, ranging from foot shuffling to car keys igniting an engine and it leaves listeners questioning reality.  

– Mugabi Byenkya

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