A spiderman manequin sits on a floating shelf next to another manequin in traditional indian dress

What I’ve been loving lately: September 2021

Those of you who have been reading my blog for long enough will remember that I used to write regular posts that detailed the things that had been inspiring and delighting me over the previous month.

My Monthly Muses posts were always fairly popular (I’m not talking thousands of views, just more than average!) – but when we went into lockdown, we had very little to do, nowhere to go, and I found it hard to find things to get really excited about.

Let’s just say there wasn’t much to share. Of course, I found shows to lose myself in, online workshops I loved, and booked I enjoyed, but I just didn’t feel like shouting about it the way I used to. So, aside from a couple of resurrections around a year ago, my Monthly Muses fell silent.

Now that things are moving at a faster pace and events are kicking off again, I’m keen to bring back these semi-regular summaries of things that make me happy and keep me creative. I’m not promising monthly updates, but I do want to continue having a space to share what I’ve loved lately with you, in the hope you’ll love it, too!

And what better time of year than now, latching onto that ‘fresh start’ feeling that comes with autumn?

I’m switching it up a little – no more Monthly Muses. Just ‘What I’ve been loving lately’, with zero pressure and zero rules.

On that note, here are some things I loved during September 2021 (yes, this post is a little late, but life is busy like that!)

(Cover Image: Hetain Patel at John Hansard Gallery)

Tokyo Rose, MAST Mayflower Studios

I was very lucky to see Toyko Rose at MAST Mayflower Studios in September; a brand new, award-winning musical by Maryhee Yoon and Cara Baldwin. This production shares the astounding story of Iva Toguri, who leaves her Japanese parents in America to discover her roots in Japan, before becoming trapped there when the Second World War breaks out. It’s tale of trickery, supposed treason, and ultimately tenacity, and finally gives unspoken female voices in history a platform.

While it was, I felt, a little longer than it needed to be, it was brimming with a talented, all-female cast, and some stunningly simple staging that really put the story and songs at the heart of the show. If you like Six, you’re sure to love this.

It’s showing over the next few months in London, Oxford, Leicester, Newbury and Birmingham, so grab a ticket!

GHT Late Night Takeover

If you follow me on social media, you’ll know by now that God’s House Tower is one of my favourite spaces in Southampton. Early in September, they opened their doors for an evening celebrating young up-and-coming talent, with exhibitions, poetry, music and comedy.

I spoke with so many friends and fellow creatives, many of whom I haven’t seen since times BC (Before Covid) and I left feeling absolutely alive with ideas and inspiration and enthusiasm for my own work and for the culture in the city.

Thank you GHT – I can’t wait for more nights like this!

AD | Beats and Eats Southampton

I was invited along to Hoglands Park one Sunday for some live music and good food in the early September sunshine. I had a great time – you can read my review of the event if you want to find out more!

Hetain Patel’s Trinity at John Hansard Gallery

John Hansard Gallery is another of my favourite places in the city. The art always offers something unusual and thought provoking, and its latest exhibition, by Hetain Patel, is no different. Fusing the epic cinema and storylines of superhero movies with movement, language and his Indian heritage, Trinity is really something special.

Trinity is on until 30 October, and I highly recommend you stop by. After all, it’s free too – which makes it an absolute bargain.

AD | Amy Harwood’s workshops

I’ve enjoyed many of Amy Harwood’s online workshops over the last year, so was delighted when she asked me along to one of her first in-person sessions. Again, this has it’s own blog post, so read my review to find out what you can expect from her art workshops, and how you can get involved.

Small Pleasures by Clare Chambers

I sped through Small Pleasures – it’s delightfully written, rich in imagery, and set in post-war Kent (and having grown up in the county, I recognised so many locations referenced!). The story focuses on a curious event that has doctors baffled and its leading lady and local journalist, Jean, swept up in mystery and the complexities of another family’s secrets. Definitely one of my favourite books of the year so far.

‘Complete Portrait of Arthur Jeffress’ at Southampton City Art Gallery

We were lucky enough to grab a space at Southampton City Art Gallery’s first exhibition launch since the pandemic hit, and thoroughly enjoyed exploring the new displays.

One of these new exhibitions, focusing on a collection by Arthur Jeffress, was incredibly special; not simply because of the wonderful works on display, but because Jeffress was a terribly intriguing man, with local connections, a fondness for excess, and a truly unique way of living his life before his tragic death. Complete Portrait of Arthur Jeffress is on until 22 January 2022 – another free exhibition that I highly recommend.

Re:Claim Festival

You might have spotted my posts on social media about being involved in a project with The Big Issue and Go! Southampton, creating a special magazine to promote the city, and its latest event, Re:Claim Festival.

Taking the city by storm on 25 September, the event celebrated street culture, with live graffiti and street art creations, skateboarding, BMXing, music and more.

It was absolutely what we needed as a city now that we can come together again; the sense of community and celebration was wonderful and there was some serious talent being showcased. I can’t wait to see what comes next!

AD | Heavenly Desserts

There’s always room for dessert, so I was delighted to be invited to Heavenly Desserts’ VIP launch ahead of its Southampton opening. Waffles, cake, ice cream, milkshakes – whatever sweet treat you love the most, you’ll find it here, served with a bit of decadence! I ordered the rose and lychee latte – divine – and the I’ll Have What He’s Having waffle, with coconut ice cream, strawberries and chocolate sauce – delicious.

It’s a little more luxurious and a little less about ‘family fun’ than other dessert destinations in the city, so if you fancy something fancy after your main meal, you’re likely to find it here!

Concerts in the cafe at MAST Mayflower Studios with Opera Up Close

I’ve been to a couple of operas now – each one has surprised me with its wit and humour (and drama, since some are tragedies after all!). I love how relatable they are for an art form seen as something so elite. So having opera performed in a cafe – in such a low-key, relaxed way – is a great idea!

Opera Up Close performed in MAST’s cafe last week in Concerts in the cafe, and it was a great way to enjoy their talent and music stripped back. They sat in among the audience – which was a lovely surprise! – and we were wowed by their talent. I particularly enjoyed a spoken word piece about Shakespeare’s women, which was beautiful and brilliantly funny.

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