And a Hodgkin in a pear tree
An orchestra, the ‘Paris Review’, James Bond’s house – oh, and if Mr Darcy’s not busy . . . Our critics share their Santa lists
What would you like in your Christmas stocking?An Alphabet pendant by Alan Ardiff. His pieces are kinetic, and when the centre of this limited-edition silver and gold pendant moves it reveals a line from the Seamus Heaney poem Alphabets: “The letters of this alphabet were trees”. Ardiff is one of our most talented and creative jewellers, and his work is so beautiful and whimsical it always makes me smile. All profits from the sale of the pendant go to support the work of the Irish Writers’ Centre, so it’s a win-win. It costs €700 from alanardiff.com.
You have €20 to spend on a Kris Kindle gift. What do you buy?A Moleskine notebook, with its beautifully bound blank pages just waiting for ideas, observations, snippets of overheard dialogue and jottings of all kinds. Get the creative juices flowing. A design classic, kept shut by a strip of elastic, with a ribbon bookmark. From, among other places, the Pen Corner, Dame Street, Dublin.
If money was no object, what would you like to get as a fantasy gift?A picture by Martin Gale. Uplifting, gorgeous, vivid, evocative: a modern take on Ireland and of the rhythm of rural life. He’s started to be resold at auction – there have been a few this year – and every time I spot one in a catalogue I daydream about owning one. Cones (2008) sold at Whyte’s in Dublin this week for €4,800, and that was a small piece. As this is a wish list, I want any one of his large canvases.
In your stocking?Mr Darcy. I believe I could tolerate his moods and would be well able to single-handedly maintain the grounds of Pemberley with or without a ride-on lawnmower.
Kris Kindle?A CD of JS Bach’s Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin played by Viktoria Mullova. The greatest composer performed by one of the finest violinists.
Fantasy gift?My very own symphony orchestra to live in the house as guests. All would be well fed and free to enjoy the landscape, but I can’t make promises about the weather.
In your stocking?A subscription to Wax Poetics. The best magazine when it comes to vintage and new-school soul, jazz and funk, with superb design and features. See waxpoetics.com.
Kris Kindle?For anyone looking for the next great TV show and suffering withdrawal symptoms from The Wire, I’d get them the Spiral box set (€20.49 from play.com). It’s a superb gritty French law-and-order drama.
Fantasy gift?A commissioned iPad drawing by David Hockney.
In your stocking?A personal letter from the Eavis family, guaranteeing me a tepee at next year’s Glastonbury, because I’m too high maintenance for tents. Failing that, the American Horror Story box set.
Kris Kindle?Maeve Higgins’s book, We Have a Good Time . . . Don’t We? She is a highly rated comedian, and she’s also a brilliant writer. Her words leap off the page.
Fantasy gift?Pegasus by Jean-Michel Basquiat, but because John McEnroe owns it, and I don’t fancy negotiating with him, I’d settle for Charles the First, which the Aaron Gallery is selling for $50,000 (€40,000).
In your stocking?Bernard Meehan’s The Book of Kells is dazzling, delightful, mesmerising and mysterious. And I can use this hefty tome to thump anyone who says that Ireland has no visual culture.
Kris Kindle?Claddagh Records recently unearthed and released a fabulous recording of the great Jack McGowran reading Samuel Beckett’s poems. I’d give it to someone who’s feeling a little low, just to cheer them up.
Fantasy gift?I’m hoping some admirer will give me a Mark Rothko painting. If anyone is thinking of it, Four Darks in Red would do nicely, thanks.
In your stocking?One of Alice Maher’s gorgeous bronze sculptures, Godchildren, currently on show at Imma at the NCH, on Earlsfort Terrace in Dublin. You’d just about squeeze one into a stocking, and when can you dream if not at Christmas? Maher is represented by the Green on Red Gallery.
Kris Kindle?David Shrigley’s self-help book How Are You Feeling?: At the Centre of the Inside of the Human Brain’s Mind contains lots of the artist’s much-imitated and often hilarious drawings, with insightful texts such as: “Your mind is like a tall building. You enter on the ground floor. You have a look around. You go up in a lift. You think about stealing things. No! This is your mind. These things already belong to you . . .” It makes me feel better already. Available at Urban Outfitters in Dublin, at selected bookshops and online, at €16.
Fantasy gift?A trip to Château La Coste. Paddy McKillen’s Provençal escape from his recession blues is now open to visitors. It’s a vineyard, arts centre and sculpture park, with works by Louise Bourgeois, Liam Gillick, Guggi, Frank Gehry, Richard Serra, Sean Scully and Michael Stipe of REM. Admission from €9. See chateau-la-coste.com/arts-centre.
In your stocking?I’m still an old-fashioned, inky-fingered read-in-the-bath type who resists ereaders. I already have a subscription to the New Yorker, so I’d like one to the Paris Review, please.
Kris Kindle?It’s hard to describe Chris Ware’s stunning graphic novel Building Stories. It’s closer to Lego than literature; it comes in a box, with leaflets and sections. It’s a beautiful, physical thing. Otherwise, the retro book-cover posters (from £9.95) on popartuk.com: To Kill a Mockingbird and The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie are gorgeous.
Fantasy gift?An original Frida Kahlo painting, a first edition of Maeve Brennan’s short-story collections and a monthly trip for life to New York just to visit galleries and museums. Or I’d pay Ralf Hütter of Kraftwerk €1 million to give me a guided tour of the band’s Kling Klang studio, in Düsseldorf.
In your stocking?A couple of comedy box sets to provide light relief: the final series of The Thick of It (€26.99, Tower), to witness the last profane hurrah of Malcolm Tucker, and Alan Partridge: Mid-Morning Matters (€26.99, Tower), to see whether Steve Coogan’s finest creation is still as hilariously cringeworthy as ever.
Kris Kindle?For bookish types with little time who might have missed it, season one of Breaking Bad (€14.99, HMV), so they could start sampling the joys of Bryan Cranston’s crystal-meth-cooking chemistry teacher, Walter White.
Fantasy gift?Just to have all the records presented together in a luxurious package, the mammoth – and expensive – limited-edition sets of The Who: The Complete Studio Albums and The Beatles Stereo Vinyl Box are lovely artefacts for the nostalgic vinyl aficionado, if an extravagant indulgence in a time of easy digital access.
In your stocking?Some sort of indication that I have been bought the entire AC/DC collection on iTunes. The quaintly old-fashioned Australian noise addicts have been holding out against digital downloads for years, but they finally gave in to the inevitable just in time for Christmas.
Kris Kindle?Artificial Eye’s DVD issue of Michael Haneke’s The Castle. Made for Austrian TV in 1997 and starring the late Ulrich Mühe, the master’s take on one of Franz Kafka’s less-read novels is every bit as icily beautiful as his cinema work. Miserable enough for Christmas.
Fantasy gift?Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection on Blu-ray. A selection from the greatest horror sequence of all time, beginning brilliantly in the 1930s before petering out in the 1950s, augmented by a delicious wad of extras. Check out the famous Spanish-language version of Dracula. All for a perfectly reasonable €45 or so.
In your stocking:Photography is often best seen in book form, and the photographic book can be a work of art in itself. So it is with Richard Gilligan’s DIY. While the ostensible subject is the skateboarding subculture of constructing improvised spaces, usually in marginal urban areas, in fact the book consists of an outstanding series of contemporary urban landscape photographs, touching on issues of communal activity, creativity and social space. And it’s a work of art. Published by 19/80 Editions, it costs €44.
Kris Kindle?A Moleskine soft-cover 19x25cm plain notebook. Old technology, you could say, but aesthetically pleasing, superbly functional and endlessly versatile.
Fantasy gift?One of Eithne Jordan’s gouache-on-paper paintings of Dublin, especially one of the snow scenes, such as Winter IV. There’s something peaceful and appealing about the city under snow, despite the practical problems it brings, and Jordan’s matter-of-fact studies capture the atmosphere perfectly without any of the cloying sentiment that can distort images linked in any way to Christmas. From the Rubicon Gallery in Dublin; €2,250.
In your stocking?David Byrne’s How Music Works, which does what it says on the cover.
Kris Kindle ? The first series of Fresh Meat, the very funny comedy about house-sharing students written by Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain. The second series has just finished on Channel 4.
Fantasy gift? The writing team, cast and crew of David Milch’s wonderful Old West drama Deadwood, which I’ve been watching on UPC On Demand. They would take up where they left off after its cancellation, in 2006. Just for me . . . on my space ranch.
In your stocking?The French arm of EMI has been feeding the Christmas market in recent years with big box sets, bringing together all its recordings of pianists such as Georges Cziffra, Aldo Ciccolini, Samson François, Marcelle Meyer, Yves Nat and the conductor Michel Plasson. This year’s gem is a 40-disc offering of one of the greatest poets of the piano, Alfred Cortot, who was one of the teachers of my own teacher, Elizabeth Huban. It costs €57 plus postage on amazon.de.
Kris Kindle? Not knowing who it’s for makes this awkward. I’d probably go for a recording of a musician/comedian, such as Anna Russell or Victor Borge, or perhaps a compilation of the inimitable one-sided conversations of Bob Newhart.
Fantasy gift? A holiday trip to all the great concert halls and opera houses that I haven’t been to should last quite a while.
In your stocking? Combining two of my favourite things, theliterarygiftcompany.comsells books that have been turned into handbags; they cost between €47 and €74.
Kris Kindle? An honest-to-God old-fashioned book token, and I’d buy it in an independent bookshop to support an industry I love.
Fantasy gift? A painting by the famous British abstract painter of mood and colour Howard Hodkgin, represented by the Gagosian Gallery in New York. His work is held in all major modern art galleries. It’s hard to find out exact prices, but £150,000 should get me something pretty good to replace my €12 reproduction poster from the shop at Tate Modern.
In your stocking?Subscriptions to the New Yorker, the Economist, Vanity Fair and any number of other magazines. They’re the kind of luxury most people will never allow themselves but would be delighted to get. The perfect present, then.
Kris Kindle? It might push the budget ever so slightly, but the Postcards from Penguin box set is fantastic. It contains 100 postcards of iconic book jackets: perfect for emergency birthday cards or classy, anonymous hate mail.
Fantasy gift? I’ll take the ultimate literary accessory: James Bond’s gaff. A house for sale at 30 Wellington Square in London, which Ian Fleming’s former assistant identified as being the inspiration for Bond’s home in the classic books, is for sale through Charles McDowell Property Consultants for £6.35 million (€7.8 million).