Andrew Miller appointed Arts and Culture Sector Champion

Andrew Miller has been announced by the Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work as the first Arts and Culture Sector Champion. The role of the ‘sector champions’ is to help tackle the issues disabled people face as consumers across a range of industries, from retail to music and gaming to advertising.

Andrew Miller, Arts and Culture Sector Champion, said: “Attitudes to disability are being transformed across the cultural sector, but my appointment to this role signifies more needs to be done. I am looking forward to working with the Minister, artists, cultural organisations, umbrella bodies, funders and HE institutions to address outstanding access issues, improve training, increase levels of employment and disabled leadership, and to ensure there is no place left for discrimination to hide in this sector.”

Sarah Newton, Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work, said: “We know that disabled people are often under-represented in arts and culture, both as customers and as employees. By showing businesses the importance of making disabled customers a priority, our new arts and culture champion will help to ensure disabled people can enjoy activities that many others take for granted.”

Andrew Miller’s experience spans the UK’s cultural industries. He began his career in broadcasting in the 1980s as one of the first disabled presenters of mainstream British television and went on to become a producer and director of arts and music documentaries. He then joined Arts Council England, becoming Head of Performing Arts in the Midlands region. Later, as the first Head of Creative Programming at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, he established a new and highly successful city centre arts complex in Cardiff promoting classical music, opera and theatre. Uniquely, Andrew is a National Council Member of both Arts Council England and The Arts Council of Wales. He is also a non-executive director of UK digital arts agency, The Space, and has written extensively about disability in the arts.


Mark Dion at the Whitechapel Gallery

I recently saw American artist Mark Dion’s (b.1961) new show at London’s Whitechapel Gallery. Dion uses natural and manmade ‘specimens’ to create installations which are uncanny simulacra of real environments. In his often witty drawings, sculptures, photographs and displays he frequently draws on the techniques and classification systems of scientific enquiry, whilst punning on the iconographies of museum display.

The highlight of the show is arguably The Library for the Birds of London (2018), a new commission continuing a series of aviaries Dion has created since 1993. The installation is a temporary home to 22 live zebra finches, hired from an animal acting agency. Visitors are invited inside the aviary, which has an apple tree at its centre, referencing the tree of life. Over 600 books devoted to ornithology, environmentalism, literature, theory and the natural sciences surround the birds, alongside items of material culture relating to ornithology and hunting. It is the perfect centrepiece to this compelling exhibition which prompts us to reflect on our relationship to the natural world. And what better medium to use in examining ‘nature’ than the idiosyncrasies of ‘science’ and the pure artifice of ‘art’? Give me this over Blue Planet II anyday.

‘Mark Dion: Theatre of the Natural World’ is at the Whitechapel Gallery, London until 13 May 2018.

Read a selection of my writing on art here.

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GOAT – Restaurant review

I recently checked out this smart neighbourhood Italian in Chelsea for VADA Magazine. It was absolutely rammed with Fulham types devouring calamari, quinoa and steak on a Wednesday night. And having tried the food I can see why…

Check out the review in full over on the VADA site here.

Read more of my writing on food and drink here.

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It’s Time to Change…

This week (4 to 8 September 2017) Time to Change are celebrating the contribution that Time to Change Champions make towards ending mental health discrimination.

I became a champion way back before Time to Change even formally existed; I remember giving feedback about potential names and logos for the campaign. Since then I’ve been involved in a number of ways.

Last year, I shared my own experience of mental ill health at a large local construction firm as part of an employee mental health awareness day with Time to Change. It was a mainly male audience and the place had a decidedly ‘macho’ vibe. So it was a daunting experience talking about the world of emotions to a group that you don’t necessarily expect to be particularly psychologically minded. But I hope that if just one person in that audience afterwards felt able to speak out about their problems and seek help then I may have changed, or even saved, a life that day.

So, this week, what could you do to challenge mental health discrimination?


Top Floor at SMITHS of Smithfiled – Restaurant review

I took a step back in time recently to revisit John Torode’s famous London steakhouse SMITHS of Smithfield. My final word? “A classic rooftop dining destination where the steaks are as special as the view.”

Find out how I got on jostling with the suits and read my full review over on VADA Magazine here.

Read more of my writing on food and drink here.

The Jam Tree – Restaurant review


It’s the season of the roast. But who can be doing with all that slaving over a hot stove? Not to mention the washing up. The smart move is to venture out and make someone else do the work for you! I recently checked out the Sunday Roast at The Jam Tree, on the King’s Road in Chelsea. Despite rumours, not a Made in Chelsea ‘star’ in sight!

Find out how I got on over at VADA Magazine here.

Read more of my writing on food and drink here.

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Pretty in Pink


Fear not, it’s not another dubious ‘pinkwashing’ project…

Artist Stuart Semple has today released his own brand of pink paint, ‘PINK’, which he claims is the world’s pinkest pigment. It’s a highly reflective and rich powdered paint pigment, which repels light to effect a powerful fluorescence.

It’s not the first time a British artist has called ‘dibbs’ on a particular pigment. Semple’s project recalls Anish Kapoor’s famous acquisition of exclusive rights to use the world’s ‘blackest black’ in his art earlier this year. Developed by NanoSystems, ‘Vantablack’ is composed of a series of microscopic vertical tubes. When light strikes Vantablack, it is continually deflected between the tubes, becoming trapped. The pigment is currently the blackest substance known – so dark that it absorbs 99.96 per cent of light. Although originally developed for military and astronomic purposes, NanoSystems subsequently confirmed that Kapoor alone had been authorised to use the pigment for artistic purposes.

However, Semple (as always) takes a more democratic approach and intends to make his paint available to as many artists as possible – except Anish Kapoor. Semple remarked: “It’s not really very fair! We all remember kids at school who wouldn’t share their colouring pencils, but then they ended up on their own with no friends. It’s cool, Anish can have his black. But the rest of us will be playing with the rainbow!”

Purchasers of PINK will be required to make a legal declaration during the online checkout process, confirming that: “you are not Anish Kapoor, you are in no way affiliated to Anish Kapoor, you are not purchasing this item on behalf of Anish Kapoor or an associate of Anish Kapoor. To the best of your knowledge, information and belief this paint will not make its way into that hands of Anish Kapoor.”

PINK is available to artists everywhere (except Anish Kapoor) for £3.99 from

Read more of my writing on visual art here.