TOAST Magazine

2013: Twenty-Three Good Things

ARTS & CULTURE

A highly personal list

1.

Candy ads: three very short films by Wes Anderson, advertising Prada’s perfume called Candy. The films are pure Anderson - perfectly observed, superbly detailed, delightful and funny. Lea Seydoux stars and is, as always, beguiling.

2.

Peter Doig’s No Foreign Lands exhibition at the Scottish National Gallery. ‘Willingness to take up the challenge still posed by Gauguin, Matisse, Bonnard and Hopper places him in a long line of great colourists, expressive handlers of paint and creators of richly textured worlds’ is what the Gallery wrote - and it’s true.

3.

Dolsot bibimbap: from Korea, the perfect winter food. Served in a sizzling hot stone bowl - healthy, wholesome, delicious, nourishing of body and soul.

4.

Feral, a polemic by George Monbiot that argues for the re-wilding of the land. Monbiot in his columns can sometimes seem strident or self-righteous. Here he (mostly) isn’t - and convinces.

5.

Flower Appreciation Society: wonderful florists, working from a straightforward and exuberant natural love of natural flowers. Created meadowy drifts of colour for the opening of our Marylebone shop in March.

6.

La Grande Bellezza (released here as The Great Beauty): Paolo Sorrentino’s sweeping, poignant, gorgeous, satirical, all encompassing Roman movie. Our film of the year, without doubt.

7.

The Guardian: for great journalists bravely going about producing great journalism.

8.

Keith Francis: bags to last through generations from a third generation leather worker, hand making his wares on a canal boat near Abergavenny.

9.

Kerry Seaton: goldsmith, designing and making quiet and perfect jewellery, each piece a small homage to the world’s existence. See our work with her here, and her own website here. 

10.

Koya Bar: great udon place on Frith Street in Soho. No better way to start a London day than Japanese breakfast here.

11. 

Jennifer Lee’s show at Erskine, Hall and Coe. Lee creates pots of great purity and presence. Edmund de Waal wrote ‘Lee has managed that rare thing: to own a language of form and tone. She now has the freedom to inflect that language with a subtle and distinctive voice.”

12. 

Longbows: the concentrated looking, the draw, the release, the flight! Any symbolism is too obvious to bother with - but something atavistic was left resonating.

13. 

The Luminaries. Almost too obvious to choose a Booker Prize winner - but Eleanor Catton’s book is good! Absorbing (and lengthy) almost in the way of a 19th century novel. And very enjoyable.

14. 

Manufactum: great German supplier of a wide diversity of household (and more) goods, all chosen with a very keen eye for no-nonsense, thorough-going quality of design and make. The German site for some reason seems to carry more product than does the UK one.

15. 

Music At Midnight: John Dury’s biography of George Herbert, the metaphysical poet. Most absorbing read of the year. As Herbert’s verse addresses difficult subjects in lucid and elegant verse, so John Dury reveals the poet’s life, times and poetry with equal clarity and sympathy. Not a fast read but deeply absorbing, elucidating, enjoyable.

16. 

Pizzica: wild Puglian variety of tarantella which, through the dark mornings of November and December has been stirring us to life as we drive to work. Listen to Donna ‘Sabella by NCCP (Nuova Compagnia Di Canto Popolare) and Lu Rusciu te lu Mare by Alla Bua.

17. 

The Rolling Stones in Hyde Park - on a perfect summer's evening. Approached, of course, for all the well-rehearsed, dreary reasons, with some cynicism - all of which dissolved immediately the first great chords of Start It Up rang out across the warm evening air. A great gig!

18. 

Savage and Chong. Romilly Saumarez Smith is a wonderful jeweller working on that boundary where a craft carries so much resonance that it starts to become art. Romilly and her colleague Lucie Gledhill have produced a new line, far more affordably priced than their one-off pieces.

19. 

Edward Snowden: approve of what he did or not, it's a great thing that - as a direct result of his action - an important and necessary debate is now taking place in the public realm.

20. 

Tate Britain’s wonderful new hang of its standing collection, done chronologically. Such a simple idea - and so brilliant. Like a walk, room to room, through history - revealing so much in both its progression and the diversity within the progression.

21. 

The US is talking to Iran! Isn't this absolutely the best thing to happen in 2013 - the prospect of some peaceful accord in the Middle East? Why hasn't it been more highly lauded in our media and by our politicians?

22. 

Wright’s Independent Food Emporium: like a family-run, Carmarthenshire Dean & Deluca - and therefore much better than that venerable New York store. Imaginative and delicious deli food; good coffee and wine; wholesome and well-chosen groceries; warm, welcoming, good-humoured and enthusiastic.

23. 

Toast’s customers & followers: without you we would be nothing.

Thank you! Merry Christmas! And a Happy / Peaceful / Prosperous New Year!

Photo: Toni Servillo as Jep Gambardella in La Grande Bellezza

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