The night of Thursday 13th October saw the launch of issue no. 3 of The White Review, a new quarterly dedicated to art and literature. Foyles hosted the event in the Gallery at their Charing Cross Road shop, a calm white space with wooden beams in the ceiling that remind one of a Grand Designs-type barn conversion; but much smaller. The room is pretty much the perfect size for this kind of event (a bit formal, a bit casual, free wine, intellectuals), as it is big enough to hold a sizeable crowd and feel like a party, but small enough that a few minutes of mingling familiarises you with the faces of most of the attendees.
Hannah and I arrived just in time to share the lift (though we didn’t realise at the time!) with one of the evening’s speakers – sculptor Richard Wentworth. In we went. We got our free wine (thanks Foyles) and positioned ourselves for the talk. Drinks lasted almost an hour, after which The White Review’s editors Benjamin Eastham and Jacques Testard welcomed us and introduced the ‘entertainment’ – a lively chat about current art and literature with writer and critic Marina Warner and sculptor (and our lift-buddy) Richard Wentworth. Seated and jovial, the pair had a rather general and brilliant discussion about various issues in art and literature that were at least vaguely relevant to the new issue of The White Review. The looseness of the discussion proved to be a good thing as these two greatly intellectual and intelligent, as well as experienced and wise, people were able to both entertain and teach their audience.
Marina Warner mentioned, in her complimenting of The White Review as a whole, on the fact of the care put into the creation of the quarterly. This lead to an exchange on the concept of care on art and literature – the act of the artist or indeed editor considering every aspect of the work as it is put together. Warner’s chief point in relation to The White Review is that the care that is put into a piece of work, whatever it may be, makes the work highly aesthetic but not without depth. The intellectual content is given just as much attention, as both it and the aestheticism of the work are given equal importance. In the case of The White Review this results in a beautiful quarterly that feels almost more like a book than a magazine, in which great attention and dedication has been given to every aspect. Richard Wentworth commented that the care put into the issue was such that it did not become neurotic and therefore grotesque – it was just the right amount it seems.
The ‘after party’ took place across the way at members’ club The Phoenix (attached to the Phoenix Theatre, lots of signed headshots on the walls) where we were packed in with our fellow attendees for a couple more drinks. The evening ended with us both – separately – looking through issue no. 3 on our trains home. Warner and Wentworth were right – the amount of care put into the Review is evident and enviable. It is a beautiful object, to look at and to hold, and the words and pictures contained within its pages are beautiful also.
The White Review No. 3 is available to buy online at http://www.thewhitereview.org/ as well as the previous two issues.
Lizzi Thomasson, October 2011.