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Giovanni Battista Moroni, Royal Academy

We seem to need reminding that we are part of a continuing humanity   Hilary Mantel warns us that Tudor times were “not a warm up act for ourselves.”  Another excellent lesson on the subject is Giovanni Battista Moroni’s portraits at the National Gallery.  This smallish exhibition contains several large compositions and numerous religious works, but it is the portraits of Moroni’s 16th century contemporaries,…

Understanding Charlie Hebdo

Satire has huge cultural significance and influence in France which the English-speaking world is only just beginning to appreciate. Charlie Hebdo though, is probably impenetrable to most people not just because we lack the language but because we don’t get the cultural references either. A new website has popped up to fill the gap, complete with English translations and background context. You might not agree with their take on some of Hebdo’s more outrageous images, for instance Charb (amongst those murdered last week) depicted the black French Minister of Justice as a monkey, but it’s worth checking out anyway. Take a look at

Mambo: 30 Years of shelf-indulgence

An insightful and offbeat retrospective of artwork from iconic Aussie surfwear brand ‘Mambo’, featuring branded merchandise: surfboards, sculptures, t-shirts, boardshorts, mugs(?), watches and posters. And a timeline charting Mambo's progress since its inception in 1984, and original artwork previously displayed at the Art Gallery of NSW and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney. Mambo have reinvented surfwear with their loud, colourful designs often informed by Australian history and reflecting on Aussie socio/political subject matter, avoiding surfie stereotypes. Based on a brash and irreverent philosophy and infused with a distinctly Australian sense of humour. But contributing artist Reg Mombassa reveals that he doesn’t like to surf and hates the beach! Astute satirism on a t-shirt. National Gallery of Victoria Studio, Ground Level, Melbourne until Feb 22 2015

TV review: Mapp and Lucia (BBC)

E F Benson’s acid doyennes of polite 1930s Sussex society are brought sharply to life in the BBC’s new adaptation of Mapp and Lucia. Thrillingly mad and surrounded by a coterie of eccentric hangers on the two so-called ladies slug it out to be queen bee of Tilling (the ridiculously pretty real-life town of Rye). Fiendish acts of sabotage, mayhem and tart one-liners are carried out under the guise of polite conversation, tea parties and fetes. Anna Chancellor plays newcomer to Tilling Emmeline Lucas, and Miranda Richardson sinks her teeth into Elizabeth Mapp.

Restaurant review: Lalibela, Fortess Road NW5

‘What! You’ve never had Ethiopian food before? This is great!’ Our waiter grinned with delight ‘You are going to love this’. And he was right. Four people; a mixture of meat eaters and not-so meat eaters, we ended up sharing a meal based on a sponge-like bread called injera topped with small piles of spiced chicken, lentils and lamb. No knives and forks were needed, only a good appetite and a willingness to try something different. We spent little over £12 per head including wine. We will be back for more. Nearest tube: Tufnell Park