Friday, 28 November 2008

The view from here

Is a very wet Southbank Centre, If you are ever near by it has a fabulous coffee shop which sells amongst other delicious goodies, quince & walnut muffins, how luscious does that sound? Sadly I had just eaten breakfast so I was full, but I will be back.
I was here to take the students to see the 2 exhibitions below, Emin had just finished his meeting so we hooked up for a coffee. I love the yellow stripe in the image above.

Andy Warhol

"The Hayward presents a major exhibition that brings a fresh perspective to his work, showing works from the 1950s through to the 1980s"

Although the exhibition has had a very lukewarm press, it hit the spot with the students, as it is displayed with a great deal of flair and imagination.

Robin Rhode

"Berlin-based South African artist Robin Rhode (born 1976) is a major new talent on the international art scene. He has developed a growing reputation for brilliantly inventive performances, photographs and drawings. Rhode combines large-scale charcoal drawings with charming and sharp-witted performances, often acted out on the street. In his video animations"

Of course this was brilliant, even Emin stopped checking his emails to take a look! rare praise indeed. Later the students saw Rhode's giving an interview so they were plucking up courage to go back an get his autograph.
Talking of autographs how random is this? My teenage daughter Daisy went to Bluewater and queued up to get John Barrowmans autograph!! on his new CD. She was over the moon as both her and her friends had their photo taken with him, and even more, bless, they asked him if he would like to see a play they had written, a spoof on Dr Who, he said he may be on holiday which I thought was very sweet of him, since he could have just laughed "do I look like I've got time to spare watching a bunch of adolescents performing?"

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

The view from here

My room at 8am. It took four of us all morning to clear up this carnage. All because the stupid idiot Bursar could not be bothered to pay someone to screw the shelves to the wall. oh and yes I do have rather a large magazine collection..but that is not the point.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

The view from here...

...Is bloody freezing, I had without doubt the most mind numbingly boring weekend, Gym, cook gym, cook..I managed to sleep through Kung Foo Panda (thank God) I did quite enjoy Juno which I finally caught up with on DVD, and I occasionally managed to thread a few beads. The ones above are in true Blue Peter style 'ones I made earlier'.
The middle one is a whopping eight feet long, it is made up of the salvaged fragments of Turquoise I had from my favourite necklace that broke. I bought it in a small shop in Niagara on the Lake of all places. Not somewhere I will ever get back too. It was threaded in such a complex way I could not begin to repair it, so I made one long piece instead. The one on the right is a heady mix of freshwater pearls in various sizes and shapes, mixed with Hill Tribe silver nuggets. Over the years I have tried many versions of the ubiquitous pearl necklace but non satisfied until now, at just under 6 feet long it wraps round 3 times and looks lovely especially when mixed with my Victorian crystal. Finally on my left is a newish one, a mix of Citrine and Smoky Quartz. If you look closely you will see two necklaces as one was originally made for my sisters Birthday but it was too long, so I decided to keep for myself, as you do!
I am up to my ears with work. I did finally bag up my photos it was really very satisfying, and really helped me focus on what I do well and what I feel is mediocre. I was surprised at how much I like my flower photographs, having not taken any for ages, so memo to self will be to take some more. My biggest box was entitled 'views through a window' this is quite a new genre for me and began with this blog. I have really enjoyed recording many images on the hoof, and some of the best are the accidental ones that mix up views with reflections from the window. I will now start putting my files somewhere, but the speed it takes to upload images tends to make this a job to 'put off'
I normally get quite a few ideas for a post from the weekend colour supplements, but even these were almost beyond boring, full of the most ridiculous gift ideas and party dresses you would be luck to wear once, dull dull dull. I should have gone to see the Bacon at the Tate Britain but I just could not cope with the freezing wind.
I am now cyber filing and marking, oh lucky lucky me. Oh wait, I am going to see Ivanov this Friday, restricted view and even less leg room, but who cares it is a beacon of light at the end of my deep dark tunnel.

Friday, 21 November 2008

God give me strength...

I really hope Une femme d'un certain age will forgive me, but I thought her recent post on 'class' would be an interesting point of discussion for my Tutor group, a group of 15-16 year old girls. So I copied and pasted the bullet points and handed them round for discussion. Where to start? I forgot that Americans use the English language in a very different way to girls from 'The Medway towns' so I spent quite a long time translating!

#1 Honouring your obligations. (showing up on time, following through with what you've promised.) most of the girls decided it was not their fault if they were late, things just 'happen' #2 Taking responsibility for your actions and mistakes. most did agree with this although one modest soul declared she never did any thing wrong and so should not ever need to say sorry!
#3 Keeping your cool under pressure. very few could see what was wrong with with exploding with anger every 5 min, better out than in, was their reasoning.. I gave them a few scenarios, including how they would feel if I let off steam as and when I felt like it, and very, very slowly they began to see my point of view, if not heed it.
#4 Graciously accepting a compliment without a qualifying statement after "thank you." This caused a huge outcry first they found they whole idea just plain wrong, a complement to these girls has to be debated ad infinitum, and often they believe a complement has to be laced with sarcasm, so they refuse to believe it anyway.
#5 Giving honest and heartfelt compliments. if we do this they cried, people will think we've lost the plot, they think were taking the piss!!
#6 Being conscious of the people around you. (Holding doors for those behind you, offering to help someone struggling with packages, not cutting right across another's path.) Universally accepted as a given, although many said it was too stressful to be so vigilant, sometimes they just might not think, one girl said she was happy to let an old lady sit down "cos they're sweet" but few felt pregnant women deserved any sympathy!

This was as far as we got, interestingly one girl crossed out all references to God, she announced that "she does not believe in God", that she was God and I quote " You don't have to wait for a miracle, you have to make a miracle with your own hands" "Believe and try harder rather than praying for your God" Wow, wise words indeed.

Many girls when asked to write anything they felt had been missed wrote "Don't be racist" or "rasics" as one girl spelt it, and quite a few thought not eating smelly food in public and keeping MP3 players quiet was important too. I am now looking forward to part 2 especially the discussion on how short is too short for a skirt....

#7Treating clerks, cashiers, janitors, bus drivers, waitresses, postal workers, the people on the other end of the 800# customer service line, and your annoying co-workers with courtesy and respect, and remembering that they're people too, not just robots serving your needs. (Also, not talking on your cell phone while conducting a transaction!)
#8 Dressing in a way that shows respect for yourself and those around you.
#7 Neither hiding your intelligence nor wielding it as a club.
#8 Standing up for yourself without resorting to abuse.
#9 Delighting in others' joys, not in their misfortunes.
#10 Being mindful that "there for the grace of God go I." While I believe in personal responsibility and that choices have consequences, it helps to remember that the playing field isn't level and that life throws curve balls at all of us; even those who make all of the "right" decisions can fall on hard times.
#11 Rather than complaining endlessly about circumstances, looking for solutions.
#12 Helping when you can: volunteer, donate.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Icons of Glamour & Style

Cecil Beaton

George S Zimber

Ben Ross

Milton H Greene (my favourite)

Henri Cartier Bresson

Bert Stern

Roy Schatt

Bert Stern

Eve Arnold

Richard Avedon
16 - 17 December 2008 New York, Rockefeller Plaza
A positive cornucopia of images, on sale at Christies next month. I could have done an amazing post on images taken by Irving Penn as well as my favourite Sally Mann.
However what struck me the most, was just how many images there are of Marilyn Monroe from so many different photographers. Not one Dud in the whole pile, has anyone ever been more photogenic?
If you can't afford the real thing the catalogue has to be a bargain.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

The view from here

The weather is getting progressively colder and so I have decided to retire my beautiful green suede gloves they look like two rather bruised and battered frogs. I may not have found a pair of red shoes yet, but instead these beautiful gloves stepped up to take the red baton and run.

Last year wandering round some random Berlin department store I happened across a whole wall of the most beautiful leather gloves. Normally I would not have been that interested In England I have never been able to fit inside ladies gloves and so I always end up with a pair of knitted ones stretched beyond their endurance. Even my green ones were ill fitting but were as near as I would get to a pair that I could squeeze on. I refuse to wear men's gloves which only enhance the gorillas paw effect, I have a hand span of 8 and 1/2 inches. My fingers are really long making most gloves very uncomfortable. On a whim I went into T.K.Maxx and they had a wonderful selection of gloves from? you guessed it Germany. I did not avail myself in Berlin last year, because despite the beauty of fit and suppleness of leather they were £70! so I reluctantly did not indulge, because as you know I do a have an irritating propensity to loose things. Now these beautiful red gloves are all mine.

And what of this years travel fest I hear you say, well I do have one niggle with this blog and that is I sometimes feel it is just one long bragathon, but hey if the cap fits....

This years itinerary is as follows;

  • Eurostar to Brussels, 2 nights
  • Train to Cologne, 2 nights
  • Train to Berlin, 4 nights
  • Flight to Istanbul, 4 nights

I must admit I am getting quite excited now, especially when Emin had the foresight to book us in to see the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra on Christmas Day.

Istanbul will definitely fullfill a dream wish, and after Emin stumbled over last years stinging criticism that I found him unadventurous it is the one place where we will be staying in a boutique hotel rather than the usual Marriott, Hilton & Raddisson Hotels, not that I am complaining, I am one very lucky girl.

We did struggle this year to come up with an itinerary I wanted to go to Norway by train but in the end as Emin has project managed it, this was a pretty good compromise. Plus we will be able to go apartment hunting in Potsdam. Yes Despite the big problems with the Euro and the recession Emin has decided to buy an apartment in Potsdam.

I will of course take thousands of photos not least from this amazing hotel and send you a postcard.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Michael Porter

Michael Porter at Purdy Hicks, I love the textured, abstract nature of these photographs. It is a small world because tomorrow an exhibition of Helsinki photography opens at Purdy Hicks, so as I tick one box another appears...

Monday, 17 November 2008

Beautiful Finnish photography


Of the series, Vuokola writes: 'The Seventh Wave consists of pairs of images with precisely the same cropping and angle of view...Two seconds or six hours can pass between the moments of taking the pictures. In some of the pairs, the difference can be seen easily, while in others it is less obvious. Even the blink of an eye is time enough for many atoms to revolve, grasshoppers to leap and glimmers of light to change places.' (Artist statement, 2007)

Of her series The New Landscapes, Hänninen states: 'The urban landscapes are basically drawings of my body movements that can be seen on photographic material as rhythmical light lines where subject and the scenery melt into a single image. Pictorial motifs divide into different surfaces -- the abstract and the actual. The human presence (breathing, heartbeat, laughter, talking, and walking during the exposure time) merge into the medium of photography, resulting in a process akin to painting. The subject is still strongly presented, whereas the object -- the scenery -- is estranged and thus becomes easier to deal with -- even safer than the actual place.' (Artist statement, 2007)


'My project Museum of Nature,' Halso says, 'is based on a pessimistic vision of what is happening on earth. I am looking into the future and I am not very happy about it. I am considering these pictures more as visual pamphlets than aesthetical images.' (Artist statement, 2004) Combining analogue and digital processes, Halso painstakingly constructs powerful fictional tableaux that question the state of our relationship with nature.
All of these works are for sale this week at Christies. I have not seen any of this work before, but it seems that Finnish photography is thriving, as the ethereal beauty of these images testifies.

Friday, 14 November 2008

The view from here

Sarah Moon at The Michael Hoppen Gallery was fantastic, this one was my favourite, which at a cool 12 grand was a little out of my price range.
Wonderful stripes in a gallery window on Dover Street.

Bill Woodrow on at The Waddington Gallery, I really like his very quirky esoteric sculpture. He has been painting on very large maps which remind me a lot of the work of Tom Phillips

A beautiful new shoe shop called Lodger making highly delectable shoes.
I am always amazed at how buildings can be gutted and rebuilt, this one is on the corner of Bond Street.

Diesel always has very innovative windows I am a huge fan of lettraset, I have hoarded a stockpile over the years, I love the interplay here between image and text.

Fenwicks had their Christmas window up already, I would love one of these for Christmas, would that I celebrated it

Moi, still loving my red bag, which conspired with my skirt to humiliate me every 5 minutes by riding up the side of my leg exposing my modesty to all who cared to look. This was kindly pointed out to me by a passing builder, oh Joy.

I did make it to Paul Smith, a small sparse collection of photos by Norman Parkinson, but the water lily one was worth the journey alone.

Then late in the afternoon, more out of curiosity than design, I went to H&M. The much hyped collaboration was more Rei Kawakubo than H&M. Very good quality fabrics beautifully cut. Sadly they were designed for someone shorter and younger than me, I tried on the trench coat which was gorgeous but the belt even on the size bigger was under my arm pit. I the nearly bought the spotty cardie but her clothes have a tendency to wear you, rather than the other way round, so reluctantly I walked away with nothing. I considered this a triumph of dignity over desire, a lesson I should have learnt when I was sixteen. If I was 10 years younger and 4 inches shorter I would have bought a lot. There was plenty left to go round even late afternoon so H&M have learnt a lesson on quantity.

And so I have achieved little in the way of picture filing this week. The lack of Emin also means that I have had no exercise, as no one can control the Leyla-monster I have had to stay in . He returns today and I feel not a little sad that my quiet routine and peaceful life will once again degenerate into pointless squabbling and bickering.

One ray of sunshine this last week has been the BBC production of Little Dorrit, one of the few Dickens storiesI have not read. The adaptation has been just fantastic, we are 6 episodes in and already tears have been shed. If I ever had to write a thesis on an author I would choose Dickens, I love his stories, I know little about him as a person but I have often thought he must have had very positive relationships with women, as he writes the female characters so well, and gives them so much personal strength. I just wish it was on every night.

Have a wonderful weekend, think of me back in the gym....

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Norman Parkinson

My favourite too, I love the colours.

– and says he doesn’t have a favourite because it changes according to how he feels (though he admits to loving the shot of the model in the lily pond).

Sublime images by Norman Parkinson

If all goes according to plan I may see these after work. They are currently on show at Paul Smith. He says...
Yet while embracing digital technology himself, Smith can’t help feeling that there was a romanticism to film that has been lost. “It was about confidence and knowing your job properly, whereas now, frankly, you can go straight to a computer screen – click-click – there’s the image and you can check the lighting and everything. Parkinson just took two rolls of 35mm and crossed his fingers.” more from the Times article here
I feel the same. There is just so much more depth of colour when you see prints taken on film. Sadly the immediacy of digital is just so addictive.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008


On Saturday as we were walking to the gallery in Dulwich, we walked past a lovely clothes shop called Question Air
It is one of those shops where you want to buy everything. I particularly loved this range of clothes perfect for the very chilly November winds that have hit town this week.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Every picture tells a story

This is a photo, of a B&W photo of a painting of my Great Grandfather.

It was painted whilst he was serving in the Home Guard during the second world war. After he died my Gran remembered that he had his portrait painted by an artist, doing a series on men serving in the home guard, you can just see his uniform in the background. This was a long time before the Internet and so she spent many years writing letters, doggedly trying to trace the painting. It took many many letters and many more years until finally she found it. It was stored in the vaults of a museum in Manchester. The museum kindly got it out for her, it is quite a large painting approx 3ft x 4ft. My uncle, a photographer took a photograph of the painting and I received a B&W copy. I have grown to love the painting in B&W, it always comes as a bit of a shock to see the colour version.

My Great Grandfather died when I was about 12, I did not go to his funeral as I was the designated babysitter for all my cousins. My memories of him are very sparse, he spent a lot of time living at my Grans house, of his 3 children I think he preferred it there the most. He did not change much from the painting, a trim wiry man of few words. When we came to go home though, we would be summonsed to say goodbye, plant a brief kiss on his dry very prickly cheek and he would give me a sixpence.

That my Great Grandfather was alive at all, is it seems to me a miracle. He fought in the battle for the Somme and came home, my Gran was born soon after. My mother tells me that he never ever spoke about the war, would not, could not. All that she remembers is very very occasionally he would lapse into crude humour. Such repressed memories must have made for a very hard life.

Today Kitty is helping to organise a party to celebrate Armistice Day at a local community center, she and a small group of other students have spent the last 5 Thursdays working with and talking with the old people about what life was like during the war and helping to plan a celebratory party, she has loved it. She has even bought a black and red outfit to wear. I am so pleased that she is helping to preserve the memory's of others so we can never forget.

Monday, 10 November 2008

The view from here

My favourite photograph from the night, not easy on a digital camera with a small 7 year old insisting she needs the toilet NOW...having spent 20 mins trying to light sparklers in gusty winds.

And so we joined 80,000 other people on a wet and windy night to celebrate once more the historical 'near miss' that is Bonfire Night.
Had this happened today, we would have had at least two major enquiry's, major questions would have been raised about security and all Catholics would now be interred without trial on some distanced acquiesced island far far away.

Friday, 7 November 2008

A little cashmere tantrum

Finally, the cashmere arrived in Asda, last year I bought 3 wonderful pieces that saw me through the winter, I then read that they were producing another range this year so I have been counting the days. It arrived this week and what a catalogue of disappointment it was.
Last year they stuck to neutral colours, black, grey, green and a brown marle. This year, ugh,, a moss green marle and a really gruesome pink. To compound the misery the colours were repeated in stripes on another style.
One small beacon of sanity hung below the monstrosities, a beautiful pale grey kimono style cardie. So, yes, I know another bloody grey cardie, but it was soooo lovely and soft. I get so frustrated, the style and cut and quality of cashmere is excellent, why ruin it by using such hideous colours?
I realised many years ago that although I have a rough idea of what I like from a clothing store, I would struggle to be 'a buyer' because my taste is so narrow. But there is one thing I do know very well, and that is the colours that work. The average size of Asda customers must be around 14 - 16. Pale stripes are surely not the most flattering. Why not do a range of darker colours? Plums Navy's a Deep Bottle Green, so few shops get the colours right.
Two that do it for me are COS and Jigsaw, they always have deep rich colours and even their paler colours have a depth that so many other stores fail to achieve. Just imagine what a great job it would be to choose the colours for a season, I would be in heaven.

A very uplifting article in the Guardian today praising the great style that women of over 40 posses, we all knew that didn't we? But it is nice to see it in writing. I particularly liked the following...

"I did have a sexy little fashion moment in London yesterday, though. Popping out to get a sandwich in Soho, my eyes locked with 60s heartthrob Terence Stamp across Broadwick Street. He ran his steely blue eyes down my well-wrapped-up body to the fabulous flat patent boots I was wearing, then looked me full in the face and smiled. It was bliss. When I did the same thing to him, though, I discovered he was wearing purple Crocs. Perhaps it is our male contemporaries who need to learn to grow old gracefully".

I am a bit 'posti lite' for a couple of weeks whilst I set up a project that has niggled away at me for some time. My photos need some serious filing and it has done me a lot of good to start to categorise and theme them. It is good to reflect sometimes so we can move on. Also my mother is visiting, the one bloody weekend I get without Emin and I end up entertaining..So a trip to Dulwich Picture Gallery should keep her happy.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Christopher Wood

Life is full of happy accidents, I was researching Christopher Wood as part of a project on painters from St Ives, when I found a more contemporary Christopher Wood alive and producing wonderful paintings in Scotland. I wish I was closer to Glasgow so I could see his work, sadly Paris is closer!

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Postcards from Kettles Yard

I have been many times and taken countless rolls of film, but I never feel that I have taken 'the one'. You know, the photograph that captures the essence of a place. For many places it come easily, but here, I do not know whether it is the weight of history or the sense of place. It could be more physical than that, although a place of light, that light comes with real metering issues, it creates reflections and shadows everywhere more often where you do not want them. When I looked at the images all I saw was me!
I know it is churlish but Lelya trying to grab the camera every five minutes did not help. But hey it is a hobby not a living, so why do I mind? I will return...

Kettles Yard

"I'm in the midst of a quixotic scheme which, if I can get it into action, would interest you. It has struck would be interesting to be lent a great house on the verge of a city - or a place of great beauty in a town (Cambridge I have in mind) and make it all that I could of lived in beauty, each room am atmosphere of quiet and simple charm and open to the public (in Cambridge to students especially) And for such a living creation I would give all that I have in pictures and lovely objects, would bear the initial cost of making the house suitable, give my services for the next 10 years (if I live that long) as organiser and guardian - and if it worked when I die endow it with what I can. It just happens to be something I believe I could do with usefulness, Helen and I would live in a bit of it - the rest would look lived in - its special feature would I think be one of simplicity and loved qualities. There could be a library there (art perhaps) and there could be evenings of chamber music - and your pictures - and Ben's and Kit's - and Brancusi and so on - would be part of its life and beauty"

Jim Ede wrote this to his friend the poet David Jones, in the end he joined four tumble down cottages into the most amazing space, beautifully lit by swathes of natural light, the space is alive with art, creativity oozes out of every pore. You approach a small door and pull a cord. Inside a bell rings and a small old lady opens the door and lets you in. You may sit on any of the seats and read any of the books. You ache to live there and it always pains me to leave. It is the house of my dreams.
Two wonderful books
Graham Murrell, Katheryn Faulkner and Ian Jeffery

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

The Photograph Not Taken

A brilliant site The Photograph Not Taken really resonates with me. Most recently whilst we were at mothers, Kitty and Leyla had decided to celebrate Halloween, (primarily since Emin bans any celebratory event) Lelya even took an outfit. We bought pumpkins which the girls helped carve and Leyla got dressed up, including a lovely witches hat she has. When I looked up a little later I saw her in profile engrossed in watching the television, her hat was perched on her head and her legs were slung were over mum's best chair, best of all she was sucking her thumb. I was so tickled by the sight of a thumb sucking witch that I reached for my camera. However seconds later and she was up, and I had missed my perfect shot.
It maybe a photograph not taken but It will forever remain in my mind.

Postcards from Cambridge

Lady luck was shining on me last week because Emin decided he needed to go and do some work on his house in Cyprus, so not only do I have peace and quiet at home, I also got to spend the afternoon in Cambridge. I dropped him off at Stanstead airport and it was only 20 more miles to get there. The only small draw back was the lovely Leyla! but hey the sun was beginning to shine.
Cambridge is the town where I was born. It is where my parents met, my mother worked at the Sedgwick Museum and my father was studying his PhD at Sydney Sussex so he spent many hours completing his research in the Sedgwick.
My mothers family lived a few miles north of Cambridge and have done so since Elizabethan times, I think it is why I am drawn to flat wide open spaces with water. The Fens to many, are a desolate place, but I love the wide open beauty of It all.
Cambridge is my most favourite town in all of England, some run it a close second, places like Bath and York, but Cambridge is more egalitarian unlike the other Varsity town, Oxford, there is not such a pronounced 'town & gown' feeling. The shops are a million times better too my first experience of Biba was in Cambridge, and Heffers (sadly now swallowed up by Blackwells) was always the most wonderful book shop. Market square is always bustling and the river Cam is a haven of peace and tranquility. The colleges are amazing, not just their age but the way they so effortlessly interlock and unite the town.
Cambridge is also home to some wonderful museums including the Fitzwilliam and best of all Kettles Yard.