Thursday, 31 July 2008


Finally watched this last night. Cried a lot for no particular reason.
A fantastic portrayal of Blair, but Cherie not nearly waspish enough. The actor who played the Dukes of Edinburgh may have looked the part, but his accent was woeful, circa Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins.
The star for me however, was the Queens wardrobe, I wanted it all, the knee length Tartan, he plum opaque tights, the flat brogues and her rain coat was divine.
That's my style icon for the winter. I promise to eschew the under the chin knot, oh did I mention the scarves.....

Cy Twombly

Coming soon... Virtual Tour of the Cy Twombly exhibition space
I finally made the journey to see this exhibition. Excellent as expected, very few surprises but as with Brancussi my favourite room was the first one. Very tactile sculptures, wrapped raw wood, on a much smaller scale than his later work. His drawings too, were much sparer and had a very ethereal quality to them. His later work seems almost ham fisted by comparison.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Miyako Ishiuchi

From SEPIA The Alkazi Collection
Miyako Ishiuchi's mother died in 2000. Although they never got along with each other very well, Ishiuchi was deeply affected. She decided to photograph her mother's former possessions in order to better process her death - and life. The things which she documented tell the story of a fashionable, self-confident woman. After her husband was reported missing in World War II, she earned her living as a truck driver. When she became pregnant by another man, her first husband suddenly reappeared. Divorce followed - a week before Ishiuchi was born. With her photo series MOTHER'S 2000-2005 - TRACES OF THE FUTURE Ishiuchi wanted to create 'a contact point between the present and the past'. By her own testimony, thanks to the photographs she has learned to understand her mother better.
This collection of photographs struck a chord. As someone whose relationship with her mother is at best warmly cordial, I do whole heartedly thank her for making me the mother that I am. I feel that by learning from the pain I have manged to right the wrongs.
My Rules of Motherhood
  • Tell your children that they are clever, funny and beautiful everyday.
  • Treat them like you trust them even if you are not sure.
  • Talk to them about their day and enjoy the life they have.
  • Make sure your jokes are funnier.
  • Never use sarcasm or malice.
  • Never bitch about their father.
  • Try to do something together everyday.
So you cry, how come they all love going to their Grans so much? Well we all have to walk on the dark side occasionally to appreciate just how good it is at home!!!

The Painted Photograph, Brunei Gallery

Images from here

The exhibition includes portraits of Indian rulers standing against dramatic and theatrical backdrops; studio and court images organised thematically. Ranging from aspects of kingship to modes of art practice, exploring the period of the British Raj from the 1860’s to the 1930’s.

I do not know why but this exhibition really appeals to me. I love the painterly quality to the photographs that resemble Mughal miniatures.

Monday, 28 July 2008

Susan Collis

The oyster’s our world
81.3 x 38 x 58 cm
Wooden stepladder, mother of pearl, shell, coral, fresh water pearl, cultured pearls, white opal, diamond

100% Cotton
160 x 45 cm
Boiler suit, embroidery thread

Made good (DETAIL)
Length 27 cm
Coral, black onyx, 18 carat white gold (hallmarked), diamond, silver. Edition of 10

Collis' practice involves a subversion of time frame and visual perception through the manipulation of everyday objects. In the piece 'Paint Job', what initially seems like a collection of careless splashes and stains upon the fabric of utilitarian worker's overalls are, on closer inspection, meticulously stitched marks replicating the accidental and spontaneous moment. Further to this, Collis enjoys playfully positioning the works in overlooked areas of an exhibition space, to heighten the potential for an initial misreading. We, the viewer, are then forced to rewire our visual and mental understanding of a particular mark, thus elegantly extending our viewing experience
Photos and text from the Seventeen Gallery

Susan Collis’s work isn’t easy to spot. However, a few moments spent observing the leaning broom, the paint-spattered table, the grubby dust sheet, should have clarified matters. Those specks of paint were painstakingly inlaid mother-of-pearl and black diamonds; the droplets of grot, minutely embroidered silk. Collis’s work takes time, not just for her, for viewers, too. More here

Anyone who knows me, will be aware that I am in love with old school house furniture like this. The fact that such utilitarian pieces have been afforded such exquisite inlay is a bonus.
I am lucky that I have acquired some great pieces over the years such as old step ladders, stools, trellis tables and plan chests. Sadly due to Emin's tyrannical house rules much of it remains at school, but to have it is to love it.

The view from here

I was surprised to see this Dragonfly so still for so long, and then I realised it had just hatched, beautiful.

So what did you do at the weekend?

Well since you asked, I started of with a very lazy Friday. All my good intentions were blown out the water and I stayed at home. I had to go and get Kitty by bus to teach her the way home from her cousins house. 30mins there, 1 hour back! Then mother arrived and off we went back on the same bus to my baby sisters 40th birthday bash. After very many glasses of delicious Presseco and Rose later off we went home. I finally met her Spanish teacher and his boyfriend who is Italian living in Lewisham, (do not ever say this city is not cosmopolitan) He ingratiated himself with me by asking if I was Lucy's mother! So that's the end of that entente cordial.

Saturday mother was very, very worse for wear so I made her take Leyla out for brunch. Oh, (revenge is sweet) whilst lucky, lucky me got to cut up the carpet in Leyla's bedroom, bag it and bin it. Yes we finally found the moths. According to mothers moth man ( all Oxford colleges have a moth man) you have either carpet moths or clothes moths, finally having cleared out the wardrobes and sprinkled them with copious amounts of lavender water I realise I was looking in the wrong place. So every night I am picking off the baby's as they hatch with the hoover, cruel, but necessary to win the war.

Saturday afternoon I had forgotten I was going with Lucy to the Ben and Jerry's festival on Clapham Common to see the Charlatans. The last time I saw them, was 16 years ago how I could forget I do not know, So back on that bloody bus to Lucy's and of we went. She was in a very fragile state so I made the lazy fat arse walk up the hill from the station. Not until we neared the top did she realise we could have caught a bus and that she had been duped!!!! again revenge is sweet. She ate one ice cream (they were free) and then slumped comatose on the ground until the Charlatans came on. She was looking forward to a band called the Delays but they were disappointing. However not on the advertised bill was a surprise visit from the Guillemots, I have never rated them before, but they were excellent. Playing a set as tight as a ..well Guillemots arse really. I gorged on a Hog Roast sandwich. These festivals are worth it for the food alone these days.

I LOVED the Charlatans, grouchy Lucy proclaimed them half hearted and said they played better at the Shepherds Bush Empire, well who wouldn't? But I wasn't there as she took my other sister, so I enjoyed what I saw. Home by 'that 'bus and next morning bright and early we went to see Batman, that's a long one. Lovely cinematography and the usual excellent Hans Zimmer score, but scissors please someone. The joker is very scary, well for me anyway, I hate knives.

Back to base after the ubiquitous shop and then I took Leyla swimming, which was purgatory on all levels and will not be repeated. Kitty? well she couldn't wait to see the back of me, she came home packed her bags and went to Oxford with my Mum. So all is quiet....for now.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Best laid plans

I have had to surmount one obstacle after another this week. The obstacle has a name, and her name is Leyla.
Before I go on I will digress. Many years ago when Daisy was still at primary school I decided to play hooky from school with her and take her to the Hampton Court flower show. The year previously she had been to Chelsea and loved it, but I knew that Hampton Court was more child friendly and hands on. I booked tickets at great expense. The day came and guess what? I was so sick I could not move or walk. I phoned my mother who dutifully got on bus from Oxford. Got a train to my house and then took Daisy across London to the show. They both loved it, but it illustrates the point that whenever I decide to throw a sicky, (and it VERY rare) I am ALWAYS sick..Karma I know but still.
I have always wished that teachers could have 5 days they could legitimately take off and work 5 days during the holiday but that would be just too logical. But back to this week.
On Friday Leyla bounced home and announced she had broken up ...early. Kitty and I were still at school, so once again we were playing our favourite pass time 'who looks after the brat'*
I announced that I was at school all week, knowing we broke up Wednesday. I thought I could go in for two days and clear my paper work. I took Leyla to work with me Monday where she exhausted everyone. Duty done, I rubbed my hands with glee at the prospect of a productive week. Tuesday and Wednesday were good, Emin was working from home, then Thursday he had meetings, so guess who I got to play with? So best laid plans.. I barely scratched the surface of what needed to be done. I was so totally cheesed off I gave up and came home. I will cave in tomorrow and confess to the scam, I cannot do another day with her at work, and this house needs some TLC.
Back home I put into play scam number two. I 'volunteered' to take Leyla to her Tai Kwando lesson, which is a euphemism for going to the pub for an hour. Emin comes home and offers to take her instead, so here I am nursing the dregs of a bottle of Shiraz. Yes all teachers are lushes it goes with the territory.
I am currently without Kitty as well as Daisy. She hightailed it to her cousins as soon as school was out. She will be a rare sight this holiday, everyones house is more welcome than her own.
I realise I am feeling a touch maudlin, but I am looking forward to some reading, necklace making, photography and having full and frank appraisals of my wardrobe oh and 2 weeks in Croatia, yeah.

*Disclaimer, I LOVE each and every one of my girls, they truly are totally gorgeous in every way, but Leyla is without doubt, bloody hard work on her own, even my assistant said so and she is in line for a sainthood

P.S Yes we do have an Au Pair, but she is at college all day, and out with her 'boyfriend' all night. Something has gone wrong there. my mother says we are the only family she knows that has an Au pair, and yet still struggles with child care!

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Edge of Heaven

This is a really beautiful film, The story intertwines Germany and Turkey. two of Emin's favourite countries. It took a while to understand the politics, which centers around the tension between Kurds and the Turkish authorities. We have had two Kurdish Au Pairs who were lovely, far more grounded and less spoilt than the current girl from Istanbul. We did not at first realise they were Kurdish, but further discussions revealed that they felt the tension was often over played and neither had felt they had ever been discriminated against.
I digress, the cinematography is stunning and the various places inspire the usual dose of life style envy.
This is an intriguing, complex, beautifully acted and directed piece of work, partly a realist drama of elaborate coincidences, near-misses and near-hits, further tangled with shifts in the timeline - and partly an almost dreamlike meditation with visual symmetries and narrative rhymes. More here

Dominic Shannon

Cab driver turned social documentor. Domminic Shannon was interviewed on BBC news and his is an inspirational story.
“I see everything from my seat, so I just kept snapping. I love this city, there's loads going on and I'm never short of a photograph. Every cabbie has got a story, but I'm the only one who has photos to prove mine,” he told The Times.
And what brilliant photos they are, currently on show at Kodak Express in Camden High Street. They give a unique viewpoint of London. I particularly like the ones that include reflections of his cab interior.
This where digital photography works, because it opens up doors of creativity to people who would not normally have time to indulge. That the photos are so good is a bonus.

Credit Crunch Icon

Just how fantastic must it be to reach into the deep recesses of your wardrobe for something to wear after 27 years, and finding out it still fits. In fact, it looks better.
I would struggle to confidently reach in after 1 year.

Friday, 18 July 2008

Takashi Iwasaki

The new issue of Selvedge is out. This continues to be a beautifully put together magazine.
This month I particularly like the work of this artist. Quirky and beautifully sewn. I have just received 30 new embroidery hoops to get the girls sewing again. Stuff I.T, this is where good education starts.

For the love of God...

Yesterday morning will rank along side some of the worst. I dithered about what to wear, I could easily put on what has become a uniform for me, which is wide leg linen trousers, a long thin tunic and a long cardie. All very Katerine Hepburnish.. But for some reason I threw a mental wobbly.
I wanted something edgier, something black and grey for a change rather than shades of a bakery. So of course we are looking for 'those' black trousers the ones buried between black skirts, so we can't see them, then we find a different pair of black trousers, wrong length. Find the one we were originally looking for, change undies for clear straps and bingo the top is too small ( shrank in the wash, please God let it have shrunk and that I have not grown) so stick on another black top, find a cardie with big enough arm holes to fit over the puff bloody sleeves ( there a post all of its own) and I have less than 2 minutes to put make up on.
Grab foundation, squeeze and an ark 2 feet long squirts across the bedroom onto his new shirt and favourite rain coat. The clock stops ticking my heart sinks, I grab the shirt and run to wash off the makeup. I might as well have tipped a pot of bicycle enamel over it. This stuff STICKS. How the bloody hell do I get it off? I tried make up remover, Vanish, Biological soap powder, nothing. So I put it on a hot wash and pray.
Meanwhile the jacket looks very sorry for itself but having missed one train I gave up and went to work. I phoned him up to confess, he starts ranting about travel card, pockets, why don't I check them etc etc etc, and I realise I did not check, so I rant back that I was trying to help.... and so, such is the stuff of relationships.
The card was not in the pocket, the make up had only hit the underside of the collar, and so now I just have to brave the jacket.
Again this morning I realise that very few cardies are cut to wear over tops with sleeves. All the fashion papers shriek "Layer" but how do you layer when your arms feel like a squashed sausage? luckily for me a cardie I bought in some obscure boutique in Narberth has saved the summer. It is a Scandinavian make, Fransa, lovely cut and detail, with arm holes big enough to fit over another top.
Today I got it right, tomorrow I am bloody sorting out my wardrobe again..
Oh, did I mention the effing moth are back. Those dinning room curtains have got to go.

Thursday, 17 July 2008


Margaret Mellis
I have seen her work before and really liked it she had an exhibition at kettles Yard recently. It is always heartening to see it in a Major collection too.

Robyn Denny
Some of my favourite pieces from the Tate Britain, Sadly I did not get to see Martin Creed's runners as they did not start until after we left, which was disappointing.

John Frederick Lewis

I went to see this exhibition on Saturday, The watercolours by John Frederick Lewis really stood out for the beautiful, rich colours, and highly complex compositions. Although it represents a slightly idealised version of the near east, they looked to me, to be the most sensitive to their subject matter, managing to celebrate the richness of their culture without patronising it.
This programme was absolutely brilliant at not only demystifying the Qur'an, (it should be compulsory viewing in all schools) but also highlighting the importance and influence of the Ottoman empire.
As a child I was always drawn to the culture of the East, especially The Bedouin. The idea of sleeping in the desert under the stars always seemed so appealing, as were the pictures I saw of Camels, Date Palms, and best of all an Oasis. I was never phased by the idea of heat and dreamed that I would one day make the journey East.
To an extent I have, all be it a sanitised one. Dubai and Egypt twice, Turkey once, and Northern Cyprus at least four times. I have travelled to St Catherine's Monastery and walked at the base of Mount Sinai. I have found my Oasis in the desert and seen camels roaming wild. So whilst I enjoyed the visit, nothing and I mean nothing prepares you for the heat, the relentless baking heat. So no matter how wet and chilly it gets here, as I approach the dreaded menopause, I do thank my lucky Northern stars, that I will have my hot flushes in a cooler climate.

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Happy Birthday Daisy
After 16 long and occasionally torturous years, Daisy is now a funny wise and intelligent companion. It was not always so, she cried solidly for her first 2 years, women would line up convinced they knew how to stop her wailing and struggling, but to no avail.
Daisy was always a Daddy's girl and would run away from me, she was always happier elsewhere. Slowly she has grown to appreciate my 'helicopter' ways. Over the years, because we journeyed to school together we have grown very close. I do not see her as my best friend, she will always be my daughter, but that bond is now very strong and I know whatever the problem I will always be her first port of call.
Daisy is not celebrating at home but I think my mother will spoil her rotten and her Father threw her a brilliant party at the weekend.
She has surprised everyone but me at how hard she is working but she has got today off to relax and she will be celebrating some more with friends at the weekend. Children no longer have Birthdays, but Birthweeks.
Tonight I will celebrate too, for doing such a brilliant job, any excuse for a glass of Rose!

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Rennies Seaside Modern

Fabulous scarves from Rennies.

Henry Moore Fabric

Although Henry Moore is a very recognisable figure in modern sculpture, few people realise that at the close of the Second World War he also made a large number of textile designs and fabrics. In the early 1940’s at the instigation of Zika Ascher, a Czech manufacturer who came to Britain as an exile in 1939, he filled four sketchbooks with ideas for this purpose. Between 1944 and 1947, Ascher commissioned several leading artists including Moore, Henri Matisse, Ivon Hitchens and Jean Cocteau, to produce designs for silk squares which were intended to liven up the post-war wardrobe. In line with his socialist approach to integrating art with daily life, Moore used bold, bright colours to create ideas for the squares, as well as for dress and upholstery fabrics. More than twenty of his designs were eventually used by Ascher and printed on a variety of fabrics including silk, parachute nylon, cotton and rayon, sometimes in as many as twenty different colourways.

This exhibition was on in the barn, I managed to sneak some Guerrilla shots.

What a fantastic exhibition, the fabrics still look modern all be it retro style. I also enjoyed not only the sketchbooks but the juxtaposition of small maquettes with his work in the display cases.

Monday, 14 July 2008

Henry Moore's sculpture garden

On Friday morning I bundled my fragile, rather hungover body into the back of my mothers friend's VW Polo. I do not travel well, least of all in the back of cars. Add to this nauseous mix, a spot of map reading, a Bi-Polar driver and I really though I might have to stop the car and walk. Once there however our guide was incredibly enthusiastic, he said when looking at the sculptures in the garden, on no two days did they look the same. The light and shadows always create different moods and reveal different textures. We had amazing sunshine for an hour before the heavens opened, it is a very beautiful place.
And bonus points for surviving the journey home, which involved 3 emergency stops and navigating a way past the car park that is the M25 on a Friday afternoon.

Henry Moore's Garden

After his wife Irina met and married Moore she gave up her own artistic endeavours to support Moore and bring up their daughter. Instead, she found an outlet in gardening, and what a beautiful garden it was. Sadly they will not allow photographs of the house which has only been open for a few months, after extensive renovation. It really pained me not to take photographs there were hundreds of amazing viewpoints. Not least was his amazing collection of Pre-Colombian art which fuelled his love of form. The house was recreated exactly as it was before his death. It was very beautiful, there is an amazing book called Hoglands if you want to view some lifestyle envy.

The view last Thursday

I had such a crap journey to Oxford, I was late and had no time to change. I realised with utter horror that in order to dress for the occasion I had morphed into my mother. So I will NEVER wear that outfit again. I did take some lovely photographs but as always, I feel very edgey putting people on this blog without their permission. So this is the view later that evening when everyone went home and we went back for a coffee.
The drinks 'do' was a roaring success. I am so glad I went, I felt like an extra from Inspector Morse, talking to various Fellows and other sundry employees of the Oxford colleges. The room is the S.C.R which caused Daisy and I much mirth as do all the various names that Oxford uses. Why call a spade a spade when you can give it some other obscure title. For example;
Lecturers = Fellows
The bloke on the gate = Porter
Cleaner = Scouts
Domestic Bursar = Steward
A square of green grass = Quod (No that was not me running all over it last Thursday)
I could go on, in a way it will be sad to not see or hear about these places again. It is the end of an era. My mother came to Oxford over 10 years ago after the restaurant collapsed. She picked herself up and got another job. I am a Cambridge girl at heart, I was born there, my parents met there, my father went to college there, and my Gran lived up the road from there. Plus Cambridge blue is a far superior blue. So I was rather surprised when Mother took a job in the rival City. But it has grown on me and I have taken the privilege of wandering around various colleges for granted.
After drinks, a very disparate group of us went for supper round the corner. It was like being in an Alan Ayckbourn trilogy, an absolute hoot from start to end. Best of all I got to hook up with Daisy she is doing really well waitressing although she has lost the feeling in her thumb. She has already manged to talk to the Senior Fellow of pathology, which has really fired her up and I hope has given her the carrot she needs to succeed next year.

Thursday, 10 July 2008

The challenge goes on

Well, I tried on a number of outfits last night, the main factor for me is weather, I do not move around in a hermetically sealed environment so my clothes have to survive the elements. So of course the biggest problem is shoes, at work I can get a way with Havaianas or Birkenstocks. When it’s a little cooler I have a pair of plain black ballet flats, but black does not cut it with a blue wrap linen dress, or many other summery linen outfits I have.
What I need but do not have is a comfortable pair of slightly dressier shoes, but of course there is the problem of ‘the foot’ For any new readers this is my swollen left foot. Swollen because the tendons are so knotted they have formed a hard bridge across the toes. My body then works hard to maintain a constant bubble of water to protect the swelling so that if you were to drop a pebble onto the foot, ripples would gently float across the surface. I would like to say that this is my only flaw; after all we can’t all be perfect. However I have, uneven teeth, pigmented skin on my face, and eyes that rarely focus or work as a team resulting in big fat streaming tears. Add to this an inability to eschew all things sweet and sugary and we have a body that need substantial propping.
So, because it is wet and I do not have said dressy shoes, I will need to wear something to match the black flats.
I did come up with an ideaas yesterday I received a pair of black wool Capri trousers I ‘won’ on eBay. The description failed to illuminate the buyer that they were in fact the trousers of a matador, the waist sitting two inches below my arm pit. Luckily for me my shape is apple so I got them on and secondly because they are Toast I was able to zip them up. Breathing was optional. For some unknown reason I had left them at school, but realised that coupled with a balloon sleeved blouse I had at home they could be just the ticket. And a bonus point, they go with the shoes.
But what if it looked wrong? I would have to wear to work, my ‘back up’ outfit. Initially this was a high waisted double front flared skirt with a runched silk cardie. But then as the sun was out (I do struggle with black in the sun) I went for a long flared heavy buttermilk cream linen skirt a navy sleeveless Tee and a fitted slate grey linen cardie. This works with the flats. So Bingo it’s all good.
Because my mother does ‘BIG’ necklaces I will not compete, so either outfit will be worn with an antique crystal necklace. I have had this necklace for over 20 years; it is very beautiful, probably Edwardian. When it went out of fashion I split it and hung it in a window Feng Shui style! But it is now back as a much loved necklace. But oh for a pair of neat size 4 feet.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Sartorial Challenge

Well tomorrow lunchtime I will leave school early to get the coach to Oxford. It is my mothers leaving 'do' and I offered to take photos, since I, like hundreds of others see myself as the next Sartorialist! what I thought was an evening event is actually 5pm-7pm pre dinner drinks. Hence the lunchtime exit from school. I had hoped it would be nice weather so everyone would be out on the lawn but hey best laid planes...
But what to wear? This is when you want to grab a low key Rei Kawakubo piece, quirky but understated. If it rains I cannot wear trousers, I really hate wet fabric flapping around my ankles so that leave a skirt and maybe, dare I mention it, the black leather jacket.... we shall see.
My mother is 66 having had to work longer than most because of my fathers errant and profligate ways ( A whole blog let alone post in its self) She finally thinks she has enough of a pension to live in a degree comfort, whether she stays in Oxford or moves back to York is something she can now decide at her leisure. So farewell it is.
Daisy is currently working at the college and she is doing so well, a split shift waitress with no one put Polish girls for company. It will be the making of her as she will now see a less pampered side of life. Or that is what I had hoped, until I found out my mother had sent a cab to bring her home because it was so late! I soon put a stop to that.
What Daisy is really enjoying is the food, as they get to eat the same food as the people over for the conferences. The latest a group of wafer thin American girls has left Daisy speechless, they eat so little. I said they probably go back to their rooms and eat junk food on the quiet. It is so sad when you see young girls in particular, pick at their food for fear of seeming to enjoy it. Absolutely no chance of that with Daisy, thank God.
So after drinks I am sure we will go out for a bite to eat.
By the most amazing stroke of luck my mothers friend had booked a tour of Henry Moores house at Much Hadham. I have been to the gardens and studios but the house at the time was being renovated so it was closed, so on Friday Daisy and I will gate crash the the visit. Then on Saturday we all come back to London. Daisy will celebrate her birthday with friends, whilst Lucy, Leyla and I entertain mother on her birthday.... So I had better remember to charge the battery! The camera not mine.

The Hot One Hundred

Image from here

Image from here

I have had this on my wall for ages without knowing who had painted it. I now know it is by Peter Davies. The first photo was a revelation, I had no idea how big the painting was. I love the colours, I am always a sucker for stripes and the idea of sitting down and deciding a list of my favourite one hundred artists is very appealing.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Separated at birth

Georges Braque

Patrick Heron
This post is not a criticism, more a celebration of how artists can feed into each other.
I love both these artists and will be using them with the students next year.

Monday, 7 July 2008

Sketchbook love

Too much of a muchness, originally uploaded by cjanebuy.

This is a wonderful site. I do love looking at other peoples sketchbooks.