Friday, 19 December 2008

Merry Christmas

Well I am still not packed, so that's a late night followed by an early start, can't complain though can I?
A big mwah to anyone reading, I am now away until the 1st but rest assured I will be snapping away for your delight and delectation.
I hope Santa brings you all that you desire and some.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Sartorial challenges

The last one (bag) I promise, well this year anyway. It completes my trilogy, all good things come in three's so I needed a black one and this one is perfect. I use it for weekends and going out as it is so much smaller than the others.

I teamed it with a black merino wool wrap dress for my interview, I decided that the black leather jacket smacked too much of 'rock chick' so amazingly I managed to still fit into a very old Chanelesque tweed boxy jacket that I have had since before Leyla was born. I had originally bought it to wear with jeans, I loved it and wore it a lot, but as with all that we love it started to feel dated, but unusually for me I was reluctant to part with it so I dry cleaned it and put it away. I realised it would look perfect with the dress, and I was right. What cheered me up the most was that it still fitted, I did not even have to squeeze into it, it hung as beautifully as it had all those years ago.

My next sartorial challenge apart from packing, is to put together an outfit for New Year, which will be spent at a very posh dinner dance in Istanbul. This requires a ball gown or at least a proper posh long frock, but I just do not 'do' long, If I had realised earlierI could have borrowed a beautiful tiered Jaegar skirt from my mother, sadly it is too late. So I am going to wear trousers, either a pegged wool pair from Toast or an almost vintage pair of wide legged velvet ones. I have bought this

to wear with it, I have a very light sequined cardie to wear over the top and a beautiful sequined bag, but shoes..... oh God what am I going to put on my bloody feet!

What's in a name?

The concluding part to a more depressing story, read more here

"Is this the most inappropriate – or unfair – naming of children you have heard of? There was, of course, the case in July this year of a nine-year-old girl from New Zealand whose parents called her Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii. A lawyer acting for the girl claimed she was so embarrassed she told friends her name was "K" instead.
She was placed into court guardianship so her name could be changed after judge Rob Murfit ruled it had set her up with a "social disability and handicap".
He went on to signal his concern about other names given to children, including Violence, Midnight Chardonnay and Number 16 Bus Shelter. There was a set of twins named Benson and Hedges."

This made me LOL, I thought I was bad, although my cousin is worse calling his girls India followed by twins Masie and Minnie. (yep even more girls) what is it with us and names.
In stark contrast Emin's family rotate a handful of names over and over again, first and last names are interchangeable and in some case repeated, it is quite possible in Cyprus to have a child called Mehmet Mehmet! Emin recently spent 3 days obtaining his ID card over in Cyprus they refused to allow him to have Hassan insisting it was a corrupted form of Hasan so his name is now different there from here.
To get the card he had to track down his parents birth certificates and marriage certificate, not easy as the first question he was asked was his parents DOB, he did not know his mothers! eventually they tracked her down, she was born in 1928 only 6 years after my Gran, how weird is that? He has skipped a whole generation. Which is more understandable when you know that he was from his fathers second marriage.
His father walked away from his first marriage and refused all contact with them again, leaving some very confused and damaged children behind, he went back to his village and married Emin's mother telling her they were going to England for their Honeymoon, they never went back. Not the foundations for the happiest of relationships, or childhoods I suspect.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

The view from here

My journy home every night.

I appear to have racked up over 800 posts!

This blog is so not what I thought it would be, and yet it has become so much more. I guess initially I thought it would become a kind of ‘Cybersketchbook’ which in many ways it has, but with knobs on. But rather than a repository for works found, it has definitely got me out and about. I have always been gallery obsessed but now I reflect far more on what I have seen and its relationship to my work. I have definitely taken more photographs, I was a bit of a one trick pony before flowers, flowers and oh, more flowers plus a light sprinkling of children. Now I try to see where I go through a lens, and I have become way more appreciative of my environment and the richness it has.
A rather bizarre side effect of reading so many blogs is that I no longer buy magazines, neither do I get that horrible grass is greener lifestyle envy syndrome, because the more you read and write the more you realise that where there is something you desire, it inevitably comes at a price and so my lot has become more content over the last 18 months.
That is not to say I do not want more, the difference is that I now accept that I have to make it happen myself and that sometimes just working and being a mother is enough.
Before I had Daisy I became very green fingered almost to the point of obsession, I visited all the great gardens, including Great Dixter and Beth Chattos place. I would devour gardening journals, buy plants, plan and dig and create my Eden. Then Daisy arrived demanding and difficult, I tried so hard to carry on and get her to fit in with what I wanted do but to no avail. One of the small pleasures I had was to visit peoples gardens under the National Garden Scheme, I remember as if it were yesterday trying to take in the beauty of this women’s garden all the while Daisy ran around like a banshee, whilst Kitty screamed and yelled, finally throwing up all over me. On the way out I obviously must have seemed at the end of my tether and I complained at how hard it was to carry on creating my own Eden whilst raising two small children. She told me that you only get one shot at bringing up children, the garden can wait, enjoy them while you can, they do not stay for children for long, whereas the garden is going nowhere. I took her at her word; I stopped trying to juggle everything and became a mother. It was the best advice I could have. They have now grown older and the garden is still there.
Lets hope I can make it to the 1000 posts mark, now that would be an achievement!

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Looking back

Edith Maybin
The Tenby Document
"In these photographs Edith Maybin investigates the space between mother and daughter. She takes portraits in a home environment where she and her daughter enact secret stories together whist wearing Marks and Spencer undergarments, a gesture towards Maybin’s own mother and an investigation into female rituals and sentimental inheritance".

"Maybin digitally places her five-year-old daughter’s head on her own body; the photograph resolving the dichotomy of the relationship. In closing the gap between mother and daughter these images,"

"Inspired by Lady Clementina Hawarden’s photographic tableaux of her daughters, Maybin and daughter paradoxically elude the gaze by way of imaginative abstraction into a place, like Vermeer’s women, intangible.

Although not such an obvious comparison with the past Maybin's work forms part of an increasing trend for photographers to look to the past for inspiration. I find her images not only very beautiful but also very unsettling. See many more images at her website

Betsie van der Meer Another brilliant photographer I saw at the NPG, was Betsie van der Meer, her images are more literal but no less complex and beautifully lit and printed visit her website

Emma Critchley and Sophie Lewis

The Fear of Falling

Finally, these photographs are over 8ft high, they are very imposing, standing like those amazing Tudor portraits you see in stately homes across England. At first I was struck by how beautiful and subtle the colours were as well as the traditionally referenced poses. Then when I read this, I looked again and finally realised just how incredible they really are.
"The Fear of Falling is a series of timeless, life-size underwater portraits that invite new ways to consider the profound experience of submergence. Exploring our changing relationship to the present moment whilst immersed, the subject moves away from the ethereal and floaty imagery usually associated with water and offers instead a more grounded and weighted sense of being. With a gentle nod towards the Industrial Revolution and making processes surrounding the period, the portraits pose the question; could the shifts in consciousness whilst immersed be akin to those experienced centuries ago?"

Can you imagine how hard it must be to create such stillness underwater? the only thing that gives a clue to this is the sitters hair and the way the fabric appears to float, but the expressions are so calm, I would be flapping around like a fish out of water if this were me!
The website is a must see as is Emma Critchley's own site

Monday, 15 December 2008

Vanessa Winship

I manged to get to see both the new Photographers Gallery and the Taylor Wessing prize on show at the National Portrait gallery.
The new Photographers Gallery is a fabulous space which creates a far more intergrated unit for seeing the photographs It is very tucked away yet just a stones throw from Oxford Street, well worth a visit, as is the Taylor Wessing prize which was the best it has been for a long time. In common were the images from Vanessa Winship,

"One enduring image that had always struck me wherever I travelled was the schoolgirls in their little blue dresses, the same in every town, city or village.These dresses with their lace collars and sweet messages embroidered on the bodices, were the symbol of the Turkish state, but the girls who wore them were simply little girls".

The images are very beautiful and the bonus of visiting Vanessa Winship's website is this blog
I do think it is important to live with the people you want to photograph, it is what makes these images so intimate rather than the voyeuristic nature of images you sometimes get with Diane Arbus and August Sander.

I spent 4 consecutive summer holidays in the village of Avtepe in Northern Cyprus and whilst I became very involved in the landscape, I was never accepted by the villagers.
Yet with the increasing acceptance of Northern Cyprus as a country the villagers and their homes are in danger of disappearing unrecorded. Whilst Cuba and many other countries have their poverty romanticised by countless photographers, Northern Cyprus has never been on the radar. The beach we used to visit now has two large hotel complexes, rather than the two local beach shacks. The steady march of tourism brings wealth and infrastructure ( they now have their first ambulance!) but also takes away the soul of this amazing part of the island.
I would love to try and record it and may try to go with Emin sometime in 2010 to photograph the area where he lives.
The history of Northern Cyprus is long and complex and not without blame on the British who's' game of divide and conquer ruined the country. A superb book to read is Bitter Lemons of Cyprus by Lawrence Durrell written just before it all went wrong.
One of the stories that attracted me to Emin was that of his flight from the war in 1974 as a boy of 6, he has continued to remain attached to his mother house that she built just before she died and it was this house that he recently stayed at. On my recommendation he is planting a garden so that when he retires he will have a large shady paradise to stay in, he has just relined the incredibly deep well, which will now provide all the water he needs to realise his vision.

The view from here

All the same, she seems to have little interest in how she appears to other people. She never watches her own shows, switches off the radio if she hears her voice, doesn't even look in the little viewer on digital cameras to see what the photographer sees. "I am not a mirror person," she says. She only ever looks at herself a small section at a time, and then only if she has to, as when doing make-up. "Why would you want to look in the mirror? If you feel good about yourself, go on that, because you're never going to look as good as you feel. And when you feel bad about yourself, you don't really want to have any evidence."

"She describes herself as cynical; she knows what people really think and what they are - whatever they say"

"She says she doesn't actually like people, but "I'm interested in them. And I'm nosy, very nosy. I want to know everything about everyone. When I was a waitress, what was so fantastic was hearing snippets of people's conversations."

These are quotes from an interview with Nigella Lawson I read at the weekend, it was like reading some thing I would have written, I would not have guessed anyone else was like this, but we appear to share common ground in our rather frosty childhood.
My mother rather shockingly confessed to me some time ago that she could not recall giving me a cuddle after the age of 5, which is when my sisters arrived back to back in less than 2 years.
I think this goes a long way in explaining why I hate the physical touch of people including my family. I will only let Emin and my Daughters close enough cuddle, anyone else makes me reel. I too also shun the mirror, my reflection never lives up to expectation. I am not at all maudlin about any of this It has given me a waspish sense of humour and an ability to be almost pathologically self contained. I have however made sure that each one of my girls has had a very cuddly childhood with not a day going by without them being told how beautiful, bright and clever they are. Such things build our self esteem , it has taken me 40 years to find mine, so the girls should now have a head start.

This weekend I watched the last Wallander and the last Little Dorrit both were very sad but visually stunning in every which way. I am officially bereft!

Wasting time

"While sitting at your desk, lift your right foot off the floor and make clockwise circles. Now while doing this draw the number '6' in the air with your right hand. Your foot will change directions and there is nothing you can do about it"
I tried this and LOL, it was apparently taken from Jeff Bridges blog!
If you are in the mood for more time wasting look at this blog for some childish humour.

Friday, 12 December 2008

Festive windows

Some random Christmas windows.
More from Selfridges.
With any luck I will eat, sleep and generally vegetate this weekend. Plus I may start to think about packing....

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Selfridges Windows

I do love a Christmas window, and these were very bright and very simple, but fabulous fun.
I once made the mistake of leaving my window gazing until Christmas Eve by which time all the windows were stuffed with Sale signs and little else, it was quite a shock to someone who has always harboured quite romantic notions of the shopping experience at Christmas.
Now I make sure I hit the town the first week in December, and better still I have done it without the need to shop, Christmas is more fun looking than spending, though I was very tempted by a lovely tweed coat in Banana Republic, but it is snowing in Germany and this was just not warm enough and so with a heavy heart I put it back.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Penguin Blog

Picture from here

A new blog for me and maybe some of you, the Penguin blog
The most recent post is very pertinent, as a mother of a mixed race child, I too was struck by how Obama has been firmly compartmentalised as Black. More surreal for me was that when I was in Hawaii in 2001 it was rumoured that Clinton was looking to give the islands greater autonomy, the resulting cutting loose of the 50th state could have prevented Obama ever running for office! of course Bush soon put a stop to that. The rest is history.

Leyla too falls into this no mans land, we have decided to focus on her Turkish roots so that she can have a balance of where she lives with where she is from. She has been raised a Muslim, which slightly jars on me as both my other girls are Christened, but these were decisions I made when committing to Mr Muslim, and when she is old enough she can decide for herself.
Just to make this post totally random, my father went through a phase of collecting first edition penguin books, he started with numbers 1-100 and soon moved on to numbers 1-10 of the various esoteric editions they did including Pelicans etc. He was an addictive collector, in the first instance it was stamps, but when my mother found out that he had nearly bankrupted us chasing bits of sticky paper he was made to sell the collection and think of something cheaper. And what larks we had, we were as keen as he was. I have the bulk of what he collected languishing in the loft of my previous home. God knows what state they were in, but sometimes the fun is in the hunt rather than the kill.

Gerhard Mantz

I love the luminosity in these images. His website is great too

My Huger Foote book arrived last week it is fantastic, a real inspiration.

Bill Beckley

Wonderful ethereal images from Bill Beckley, I have found the recent posting on the Miami Basel fair by The Year in Pictures a rich seam to mine

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

The view from here....York

Views of York, they are a little dark because I went for a walk as the sun rose.

Top left is a lovely tea room on Stonegate, It was originally called Taylor's but is now called Little Betty's after the sister ship at the end of the road. It is much nicer than the main tea shop, it is a jumble of higgeldy piggeldy rooms with open fires and uneven floors. It has a fabulous array of cream cakes and cafetieres of all the coffee it sells down stairs The pots of tea are made with loose teas and come with a tea strainer. All in all a delight, My youngest sister worked here for a few years before deciding to move to London, she tripped up the stairs more than once and she still has the scars to show for it. When I suggested we went to Betty's for breakfast she said she would rather chew her own arm off, so I guess she does not have good memories of the place!

Top right is part of the amazing Scott's the butcher which has unbelievably closed down.

Bottom left is the church where I was married! opposite Betty's

Bottom right, a beautiful little place with such a sad story, it was the house of Margaret Clitherow, read more here. It is now a place of quiet contemplation

York is an unusual city, in that it has grown around the Minster rather than the river. If you look from the bridges the city appears to turn its back on the river which makes riverside walks very difficult, if not impossible in some places. This I suspect is because the river floods A LOT! even so it is a shame because early in the morning it looks lovely

Above are some of the historic buildings, the top left is a detail of the place that housed my parents restaurant for over eight years.

Above are views of Stonegate and The Shambles. All the streets are called Gates, my absolute favourite is Whip-Ma-Whop-Ma-Gate a tiny little thoroughfare just off the Shambles

Museum gardens as the sun rose.


Betty's windows

York Minster, can be seen from almost everywhere in York, it is an amazingly imposing building, yet manages to look very beautiful from all angles I have been lucky enough to go to midnight mass here more than once, it has it's own choir school so the music is Divine.

The idea was that we would drive up Saturday morning, have a leisurely walk around and then have an early pub meal and a few pints before bed time.
The reality was that mother had suggested we meet up with some relatives from the other side of the Pennines, she then stressed for TWO effing hours because she thought we would be late, just because we stopped for breakfast. Sister 1 took this to mean that she had to drive extra quick and in the end we got to York before they did. Of course now we had to have lunch, not easy on the biggest shopping day of the year. We settled down in a rather impersonal bar and had a long and animated chat. We checked into the hideously expensive hotel. The rooms were tiny and over heated. We then exchanged presents before waving them goodbye. Sister 2 lives in a village just outside York, sadly she lives in such utter squalor she refuses to let anyone visit let alone stay. This means that when we visit we end up paying a fortune, as hotels are obviously expensive in York, but this cuts little ice with her. Because of this I asked if we could just have a bar meal for dinner, but God only knows what went through my mothers head but she decided we should eat here,
My mother does this all the bloody time, she then martyrs herself by insisting she will pay, but when we got the bill I could have wept. It was so bad we had to divide it into four, the food tried too hard, the service was ad hoc, but what I resented the most was the complete lack of ambiance. To cap it all sister 2's daughter was her usual teenage moody self, she sat texting her boyfriend (psycho gun toting teenager from Finland, as found via some dodgy Internet chat room) She then said the food was rubbish and went home before the meal was over, it transpired an hour before we ate, she bought a bag of 12 donuts and ate 11 of them giving one to Daisy and Kitty to share. I was so angry I could not sleep, well that and the heat and the noise in the hotel.
Sunday morning I had an hour to myself and wandered around taking photographs. Daisy and Kitty then took it upon themselves to fleece me for every penny they could before blaming me for all the ills of their upbringing. The cherry on top of my utterly crap weekend was sister 2 sulking because I did not buy her anything for Christmas. In fact I bought her vile daughter vouchers, but because we were tied up for lunch I could not collect them until Sunday, and since she had asked for a present I decided she could go without. how rude..
Tey next time I want to fritter away £300 I am going to Selfridges! at least I get to enjoy it.

P.S Did not get the job, feeling even more pissed off.

Friday, 5 December 2008

The view from here

photo from here
I am snowed under, Two weeks ago I was twiddling my thumbs and so thought I might paint. I opened my box of watercolours only to see they were rather depleted. I ordered some more which arrived last week at about the same time as 150 folders of students work needed assessing. At the same time 45 students sat their mock exam. Now just to add the cherry to my iced cup cake of a work load I have an interview. Which normally would not trouble me, I have folios of my work and students work. I can rustle up a power point in a couple of hours, but no oh lucky, lucky me I have to teach a lesson to 17 year 9 students. Simple topic? No, I was told that the students had studied cubist portraits and they were now about to move towards a sculpture project looking at the work of Naum Gabo.
Oh easy peasy lemon squeezy then. I love the work of Naum Gabo especially his mono prints, I recently saw a lovely sculpture of his at Kettles Yard. But no, I will have to take a walk out of my comfort zone and try to get the students to make small card maquette's. This very moment I have 20 students doing a trial run at the project, it is being slowly butchered and I hold out little hope for a successful outcome but we shall see.
Why do I humiliate myself like this?
To make matters worse the interview is on a Monday so it will ruin my weekend which I am spending in York. The sprinkles on top of my cherry, on top of my iced cup cake!
Oh and I have nothing to wear, seriously no suit, nothing.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Huger Foote

Huger Foote has always had a big influence on my photography, I can only find examples of his work on The Hamiltons Gallery website
The image top right is a particular favourite, I love the saturation of colour, and the rather surreal view point. I found one of his images whilst sorting the files that fell off the shelves last week. This has been one of the benefits of last weeks trauma, raking through piles of old resources and having a really good clear out.

So finally I have ordered the book from Amazon.
If you have a spare hour and a half watch this on BBCi player, the cinematography is just stunning, particularly the parts filmed through glass. And as for lifestyle envy, have you ever seen such an amazing police station, almost worth getting arrested just to look at the artwork!
I also watched Waitress on DVD at the weekend, what a depressing film, I know it is like a fairy tale but it left me with a very heavy heart.

Monday, 1 December 2008

The view from here

Ivanov was brilliant, I thought it would be a bit 'dry' but Tom Stoppard has worked a miracle, plus the cast were so good. We were very high up which I love as I am so long sighted, but the draw back is you tend not to see the expressions on their faces. Our seats were not seats more doll sized upholstered benches. They were in opposite corners of the balcony so although we were not sat together, we both loved sitting in rather splendid isolation!
We will be back,
I have not been to the theatre for years, funnily enough it was at tThe Wyndhams to see a performance of Art. Emin is not a big fan, but as Daisy got a taste for it during her GCSE and now she is studying it at A Level I have decided to go and see more. I had mistakenly assumed tickets would be prohibitively expensive and for many theatres they are but The Donmar Wyndhams as well as The National Theater all have cheap seats for around £10, which if Fridays experience is to go by is a bargain.
The draw back is unlike the cinema, you cannot wait for the reviews as most seats have sold by then, instead you have to take pot luck and hope it is good. So I have now bought tickets for The Dolls House in May! which does not sit easily with my rather impulsive nature but it makes for a more varied social life.
I am currently totally in love with the BBC production of Little Dorrit which you can see in bite sized chunks on You Tube or via BBCi player. In particular the sound track is the best I have heard since The Piano.

Butter would not melt

So it is 7am Sunday morning, Emin has already woken me up, I am obsessive about my sleep as I have to get up so early in the week, a couple of extra hours in bed at the weekend is all I ask but I never ever get it.
So I tried to go back to sleep, only for spawn of the devil to reek havoc, in the end I give up and get up. Unbeknownst to me she has been snapping away with my camera.

As I load up the images today I find this little self portrait. Do not be deceived she was WIDE AWAKE when she took this, both she and Kitty just love nothing better than to snap away at themselves for hours on end, both of them are quite the little actresses as this just proves.