Sunday 18 November 2018

My Cultural life... Sarah Thomas

Actress Sarah Thomas
Actress Sarah Thomas
Studland Beach
Lucy Barton

Sarah Thomas is an actress who was in Last of the Summer Wine for 24 years, playing Thora Hird's daughter, Glenda. Her career has encompassed theatre, TV, film and radio. She has worked in theatres in London, Leeds, Bristol, Bath and Guildford, and her television appearances include Blackadder, Rumpole of the Bailey and Worzel Gummidge.

She was born in London to a father from North Wales and a mother from South Wales and now lives in London with her husband. At present she is touring in A Murder is Announced by Agatha Christie and which will be at the Gaiety Theatre from September 4-9. Sarah is interested in bird watching, and is especially drawn to birds of prey. She travels most years, work permitting, to observe the fantastic sight of their mass migration from Spain to Africa across the Straits of Gibraltar.

Design: Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao


I recently spent a few days in Bilbao and visited the Guggenheim museum (above), a place I had long wanted to see. It's a stunning design by Frank Gehry, a wonderful example of 20th century architecture with its gleaming titanium panels. The space inside is vast and filled with light. One of the exhibitions was a room of gigantic metal mazes which I found rather terrifying but it delighted the parties of schoolchildren there.

Artwork: Studland Beach

Studland Beach

It has to be Studland Beach (above) by Vanessa Bell. I'm a devotee of the Bloomsbury Group and am lucky enough to have a small painting by Vanessa Bell. The recent major retrospective at the Dulwich Picture Gallery was a small but exquisite selection of portraits, still life, landscapes and photographs focusing attention on a period of experimentation in the 1910s. It showed a moving and intimate journey through her work. It was only a few rooms - but one felt her presence and one was happily removed to her world and invited to share it.

Book: My Name Is Lucy Barton

Lucy Barton

Dame Hilary Mantel, in the recent Reith Lectures, lauded this book by Elizabeth Stroud and quite by chance it was on the bookshelf at a guest house I stayed in while touring. It is a well-crafted and unsentimental story of a woman growing up in cultural deprivation. It is incredibly heartbreaking but is a powerful story and ultimately about love barely expressed between a daughter and her mother.

Book: Elgar's Cello Concerto

It has to be the Elgar - so powerful, so emotional. For me, Jacqueline du Pre's interpretation has never been surpassed. I played the piano and cello to Grade 7 as a teenager and the concerto never fails to stir me and remind me of my youth. I was never capable of attempting the Elgar but could manage a reasonable rendering of Saint Saens' The Swan - a perfect short piece for cello.

Play: Young Chekhov

This is three early plays of Chekhov; Platonov, Ivanov and The Seagull, memorably performed as a trilogy at the Chichester Festival Theatre recently. I love all his plays and had played Nina in The Seagull as a young actress, so it was special to see them all played through one Saturday. The whole experience was a triumph. I thought the plays were beautifully cast and directed, and left the theatre exhilarated and deeply moved.


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