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Moscow’s New Art Centres

FT Magazine, 15 March 2013

A tour of the hotspots of a creative renaissance that could lift Moscow’s profile as a cutting-edge destination

Despite its weighty historical reputation and the sheer fact of its scale as the second-largest city in Europe, Moscow does a poor job of wooing visitors.

It is expensive, traffic-choked, and can be pitilessly cold, but Russia’s capital is also in the midst of a creative renaissance. In the two decades since the end of communist rule, runaway commerce has been the city’s galvanising force. Now its contemporary art, design and architecture are starting to make the running too, with new arts centres and creative hubs helping to raise the city’s ambitions.

Around 4.5m foreign tourists travel to the Russian capital annually. That’s about the same as Prague, but is a long way behind London’s 15m international visitors or Paris’s 8.5m. Moscow’s city authorities are determined to change that situation and have set a goal of 10m annual visitors by the end of this decade. Reaching that target would catapult Moscow into tourism’s premier league and establish the city as one of the top 10 travel destinations in the world.

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The Art of Flight

Financial Times, 16 December 2011

A taste of high-altitude snowboarding three miles up in the Himalayas, with nothing in sight but snow and rock

On my last morning snowboarding in the Himalayas, the Bell 407 helicopter set us down on a narrow mountain ledge at 4,800m. As it departed, huge gusts of snow stirring at its ascent, I was struck by how very far we were from any sign of civilisation. Even on remote off-piste slopes in the Alps you’re never too far away from an abandoned ski pole or chocolate wrappers borne aloft in the wind. But here, at roughly three miles up in the sky – the same height as the summit of Mont Blanc – there was nothing in sight other than snow and rock. Row after row of ­jagged mountain peaks stretched into the distance, the world below invisible beneath layers of cloud. more

The Diary: Ekow Eshun

Financial Times, August 14 2010

I’ve noticed a steady contraction in my weekend leisure options since becoming a father for the first time three years ago. Where once I’d spend Saturdays shopping, browsing East End galleries or just having a drink on the roof of Shoreditch House, now I’m limited to the parks and open spaces of north London. On clement days, a hike across Hampstead Heath or a stroll through Highgate Wood beckons, my three-year-old son beside me teetering along fallen trees and searching the undergrowth for badgers. Often, though, we just settle for the proximity of the local playgrounds at Highbury Fields or Clissold Park.

As a consequence of these outings, rather than any deliberate effort on my part, I have become a member of what I’ve taken to calling the Clissold Park Fathers’ Club. We are an informal – and occasionally reluctant – network of dads, thrust from our homes on weekend mornings by the twin imperatives of spending more time with our children and giving our partners a lie-in. Entry requirements are not stringent. Just turn up with a kid of your own and you’re in. Dress code is informal. Hair is worn tousled. Clothes rumpled. Chins bestubbled. You will find similar gatherings at parks all over London.

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How my future caught up with the past

Financial Times, 7 June 2007

Art has the power to disrupt our relationship with the everyday. So does having your first child – I now live in a permanent state of immanence

I’ve been thinking a lot about the future recently. Four weeks ago, my partner Jenny and I had our first child – a boy called Milo. I am elated, of course, but also conscious that the horizon of my world has contracted to match his – Jenny and I now live in a permanent state of immanence dominated by the prospect of the next feed or nappy change. more