MariesConnections

A beauty, lifestyle & photography blog.

Something that you may or may not know about me its that adore art of all form such as Renaissance but I especially love contemporary art. When I used to live in London ( I lived there for about 18 years) You would very often find me wondering at the Saatchi  Gallery ( see one of my old post about here) , the Tate Modern or even at the Photographer's Gallery. Very often, my now husband and I , will spend an afternoon on a Saturday exploring galleries all over London or as much as we could fit in a couple of hours.




Back few weeks ago I spend a weekend away in Birmingham with my husband and two things was on the menu : Exploring the Birmingham museum along with the Too Cute! Sweet is About To Get Sinister exhibition by Rachel Maclean and the Ikon Gallery. We did managed to squeeze other things like eating out, a bit of shopping etc. (by the way you can find my Birmingham weekend post here)  but those two places were on our priority list.
Ikon Gallery is an acclaimed small gallery located in Birmingham City. It is also free but welcomed donation. 
The gallery features temporary exhibition over two floors. Ikon Gallery shows work by artist from all around the globe. From media to sound, photography, painting, sculpture etc. What ever rock your boat you are sure to find it there. 
On our visit back few weeks ago, we were absolute stunned by the beauty and the art imagined by all the artists. We were absolutely transported by the exhibition by Hew Locke which you can see below:










Ikon Gallery was purely stunning. I am looking forward to come back to Birmingham in months to come and to rush thee to see their next exhibition. If you live or visit Birmingham soon then I strongly advice you pay a visit and support this small but amazing gallery.

Have you visited Ikon Gallery or wish to? Tell me all by commenting below. 
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Few weeks ago, my husband and I got given one free hotel night in the centre of Birmingham city. This was not planned but one of my friend could not use the room, due to unforeseen event, so she kindly offer it to us.
This was the weekend that my partner and I just wanted. We did not have a weekend together since we got married back in January so you can only imagine how excited we were. This was my first time in Birmingham so I was well excited!
We dropped the kiddo to her grandma, that was delighted to have alone time with her granddaughter, and off we went to Birmingham.
SATURDAY:

MONT FUJI RESTAURANT
on our first day we arrived in Birmingham around 3.30pm, we dumped our weekend bags in the hotel room and we decided to discovered the surrounding area. The hotel (Travelodge) was perfectly located in the heart of the city so pretty much everything was within walking distance. We decided to check out the area and mostly be on the look out for a place to eat later that evening.
Few hours later our diner place choice was made. We decided to go to the Mont Fuji Japanese restaurant a stone away from the iconic Selfridge building and about 5 minutes walks from our hotel. This Japanese restaurant was a yummy discovery that we surely would be back if we ever come back to Birmingham. This restaurant owner is actually originally from a little place near the Mont Fuji in Japan hence the name. Being a big fan to Japan food (and the culture, check out my Japan trip here or even here) I was well excited to tuck in.
I went for the Takoyako Dumpling (octopus Dumpling topped with bonito flakes, and OP mayo) which is one of my favourite Japanese dish and as main meal I chooses a trusty Bento Chicken Katsu box (Chicken filled coated in crispy Japanese breadcrumbs served with Tonkatsu sauce along with steamed rice, pickles , salad etc.) . My husband chooses a Tokyo Ramen Noodle Shoyu (Pork Belly with Gyoza Seasoned boiled egg, beansprouts, Wakame & Spring onion in a traditional soy sauce based soup). 
Let me tell you that Chris and I could definitely taste the authenticity, the food was so good that it remind me of my trip to Japan from many years ago. I strongly suggest you try Mont Fuji on your next visit to Birmingham centre. 




After our meal (full belly along with food coma was going strong) we decided to check out the Chinese quarter which ideally was minutes away from our hotel before we settle in in our hotel room for the night. The place was full of all type of Asiatic restaurants along with Asiatic shops and bakeries etc. we decided to come back the next day to get some Japanese goodies.

SUNDAY:
Quick ,but very yummy, breakfast buffet at the Traveldodge and off we were in town for a day of discovery.



WORLD BIGGEST PRIMARK 
We decided to check the Home session of the new 'world biggest Primark' that literally open to the public the day before. I was not planning to shop but literally we decided to just have a look and see what all the fuss was about! We stayed about 5 minutes as due to the high amount of shoppers my anxiety kick in so we left very quickly after that. But if you do not mind a shop being busy then have do visit that new Primark. It got your usual clothes collections and everything else  in between but what was the more exciting bit it's this giant Primark have a Disney theme coffee shop, restaurant, a non theme coffee / breakfast bar, a blow and dry corner and even a nail salon! I mean you could literally spend the whole day there if you ever wish to!




MUJI -BULLRING

After our quick but very interesting trip to Primark we decided to have a look at Muji which is Chris and I favourite shop.
As usual Muji offered a wide selection of absolutely stunning home wear and everything in between.
We did not buy anything but decided to leave behind all the shops and head to the Birmingham museum. 




BIRMINGHAM MUSEUM

One thing we were really interested on visiting was the Birmingham Museum and especially the Too cute! Sweet is about to get sinister! By Rachel Maclean exhibition. I did a full review on it which you can find here.
Just after that we went straight to see the Egyptian collection and all the Renaissance art that Chris and I just love. 
 One interesting part of our Birmingham museum was the Edwardian Tea room which , in my opinion, deserve a visit. The room as the grandiose atmosphere from the past and the food are just 'on point'. Oh and did I mentioned you can order Champagne at the press of a button?  Well you certainly can and just for this it is worth a visit!




IKON GALERY

To end our Birmingham adventure we decided to walk alongside the canal and mostly pay a visit to the Ikon Gallery. A small but beautiful gallery that have everything for contemporary art lovers like my husband and I . If that is your thing then do not visit Birmingham without a visit. As I am planning to do a review on the IKON Gallery I 'll leave my introduction to this gallery here but do not miss my future post that is coming your way very soon.



The visit of the Ikon gallery was our final visit of our little Birmingham weekend, time was flying by very fast and it was indeed time to go back home and pick up on the way our daughter.
I have to say that Birmingham delighted and surprised me. I was not sure on what to expect but this city, that is changing very fast for the better, has everything to offer from:  shops, night life, culinary experiences to art cultures. We will certainly come back. Birmingham you've been great and your people too! See you soon!


Do you know Birmingham city ? Or wish to visit it one day ? Tell me all by commenting below!


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Too Cute! is about to get sinister. With this simple line the exhibition at the Birmingham Museum got me very interested indeed. Cuteness is everywhere, we are sharing it everyday through our messaging, or experiencing it through every social medias regardless if the experiences is for a positive or a negative view. Its everywhere we cannot escape it!

The exhibition started with Rachel Maclean , the artist behind the exhibition, dressed as Dr Cute. A blue bear character with big hears, bright colour outfit, bright yellow hair & sharp teeth. Dr Cute welcomes you and lecture you on "the effect of cuteness".




I suggest you watch the below video trailer: 


Following the video interaction of Dr Cute (where she is largely distracted by the appearance of a 'cute' guinea pig, or text messages bombarding with emojis from her upset child, wondering where her mum is? and her landlord reminding her about the rent.) 
You are ask to go through a door armed with giant teeth that lead you to large room that could only be describe as an unicorn that just throw up a rainbow which is the perfect aesthetic of what is to come. 
Colours are bright, the carpeted floor is a rainbow of colour, emojis stickers are plastered everywhere on walls , ribbons and bows abound & walls are painted in a bright pink. Its bright , its colourful, its playful yet it as creep as hell. 
The art exposed could all be described as cute, but when you look deeper some make you feel uneasy, creap you out  by the whole experience


Here below the quote taken from The Birmingham web site which describe it better than I do :
"The Artist & Filmmaker Rachel Maclean examines the world of cuteness by curating works from the Arts Council Collection and Birmingham's collection to reveal how objects and images can have the unique ability to be simultaneously sweet and yet sinister. 

Contemporary life is saturated by cuteness, from adult onesies to social media photo-filters, playground like office spaces to wide eyed emoticons, we can't move for all things sweet and cuddly. However, despite its pervasiveness in advertising, internet and commodity culture, cuteness often seems too frivolous to be deserving of proper analysis. 

In Too Cute! Rachel Maclean has made an exhibition where cuteness is taken seriously. She fascinated by its ability to captivate and placard us and through her investigations into the collections she has explored both what it has meant to us historically and why contemporary society is so fixed on the sharing and reproduction of cute objects and images."

Too Cute ! Sweet is about to get sinister! Is a free exhibition from Rachel Maclean open until the 12th May 2019. If you are from Birmingham or visiting this vibrant city soon, then I strongly suggest you pay a visit to The Birmingham Museum for the above exhibition above but also all the other amazing collection the museum offer from Egyptian, Baroque and Renaissance art to the Pre-Raphaelites.
Also let not mention the amazing Edwardian Tea Room on the 1st floor ( A must see too) !



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Chris and I are big fan of ruins and especially ruins that are as beautiful as the Corfe Castle in Dorset. During our little Holiday trip, on the Jurassic coast from few weeks ago, we had to go and spend hours imagining what life in this ruin castle would have been like. Trying to understand and feel old stones telling you a story that started not less than 900 years ago. What a story those ruins had to tell. From dungeon ghosts, to murderer, betrayal, love, to war...all you can hope and imagine was there to captive your imagination. 

The Corfe Castle is very easily accessible from the Corfe village itself which is at the base of the Castle hill. The ruin are managed by National Trust  you would have to go through their office before accessing the castle but as a member of the National Trust I can tell that you would be ,as usual, the volunteers staff of National Trust are always very welcome, and would inform you of all the access points, activities or any question you may have prior your visit.  
 


My highlight of the Corfe Castle visit was definitely the many views points located at different locations on the castle. The castle is on a hill which give you an amazing view of all the whole valley. Unfortunately, on the day of our visit, the weather was very foggy but , having said that, it gave a very ghostly effect on the ruins which add even more to the all the castle legends and ghostly adventures. I can only imagine what beauty the Corfe Castle view must offer on a very bright day! A must see. 

Also one of an other interesting highlight was seeing arches that, with time, fell onto the ground below, adding an even more surrealism of the place. At many point I actually felt I was in one of the Tolkien famous 3 books: Lord Of The rings. I was hoping at every turn to see the glimpse of an Elf from Lotlorien or other Tolkien magical creatures.

Be aware of young kids, the castle is on a hill and due to his condition some areas have sheer drops even so they are secure with barriers. Very young child, not supervise, could put their safety at risk. 
As a precaution we had our young 2 year old daughter on the child leash at all time. But don't be alarm the place still do feel very secure and it's a beautiful ruin to visit with your whole family from all age. 

My other highlight is the Corfe village that is very charming and offer very cute tea rooms for a well deserve afternoon tea and don't forget to visit the National Trust souvenir shop to buy all the local delicateness or just souvenir of your visit. 








The Corfe Castle is under the care of the National Trust and you can find all the information you need to know by following  this link.
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