Thursday, 30 April 2009

Me me and a little more me

I have not done one of these Q&A for a long time and as I sat bored senseless today whilst a major virus swept the school, I did this one via Belgian Waffle
1. Are you a male or female: I can swing both ways

 2. Describe yourself: angry, arrogant, opinionated, decisive, day dreamer, impulsive, irritable, all wrapped inside a cloak of patience

 3. How do you feel about yourself: old, frizzy haired and subject to the very worse that gravity has yo offer..

 4. Describe your parents: Father, erudite, highly intelligent yet utterly stupid. Mother, acid tongued spitfire, but remarkably fair and generous in her twilight years..

5. Describe your ex boyfriend/girlfriends: far, far, too many of the former, monogamy does not sit well with me, (I hang my head in shame) absolutely none of the latter. The duplicitousness of the female species has left me so utterly speechless I have given up.* 

6. Describe your current boy situation: 17 stone body builder, ex bouncer, ex teacher, ex trainer, ex installation engineer and probably ex project manager the way he is currently behaving. Basically the missing link is alive and living with me.

 7. Describe your current location: I am sat at my computer at work, putting off a pile of marking. In front of me 15 girls are reluctantly finishing of their art work before they leave for study leave.

 8. Describe where you want to be: Chelsea Flower show, V&A, Damascus, any where on the British coast.

 9. Your best friend is: my sister

10. Your favourite colour is: INDIGO

11. You know that: The grass is not greener on the other side, just more interesting.

12. If your life was a television show what would it be called: life inside a straight jacket.

13. What is life to you: an endlessly unsolvable puzzle, with not enough hours in the day to even try.

14. What is the best advice you have to give: Walk, just keep walking.

Well obviously this excludes all those beautiful cyber girls,.Of course if any of you ever met me you would probably understand why I am friendless!

Hopefully some more of you will have a go at this, I just love these things they remind me of those multi choice questionnaires you used to get in old Cosmos, only I soon sussed that you could rig the answers to get the best profile.

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

feel the love

Margaret Mellis

Kurt Schwitters Collages

Am I discerning or just plain fussy?
I like marmalade on seeded bread toasted, honey on wholemeal bread toasted and apricot jam on white bread toasted or plain. No other combination will do!

Comic Sans goes into a bar and orders a drink, the barman says “we don’t serve your type”

My favourite font is Calibri, I like the clean, hard edged feel to it.

Although I admire Damien Hirst I do not always like his work or his lifestyle before he cleaned up. I have however of late been forced to reappraise him, the first surprise was discovering his relationship with the late Margaret Mellis who’s work I absolutely love.

Margaret worked on in Southwold, filling her attic studio and garden with driftwood. In 1986 she received a card from a would-be art student, Damien Hirst, who had "been equally blown away" by her constructions and Francis's collages. He visited and they swam, walked and worked together. In a foreword to Margaret's 2001 show in Newlyn and at Austin/Desmond Fine Art in London, Hirst recalled: "We lost touch. I don't really know why. Maybe it was the age difference, maybe it was because I got into art school. I think it was also because I felt such an affinity with her."

The 1995 Turner Prize-winner concluded that Margaret had been neglected by critics and curators and deserved to be "up there - large on the map with her contemporaries" and that her work should be in "the museums where it belongs". from here

When I read how underrated he felt she was I could not help but warm to him. They seem poles apart and yet that he has the sensitivity to understand and enjoy her work raises his him in my estimation. The second surprise was this piece in the Guardian yesterday.

In January 1948, Schwitters died of pneumonia. The Merz Barn, a one-hour walk from Wordsworth's cottage, soon became a secret pilgrimage spot for artists and academics. Damien Hirst remembers that a former teacher at Goldsmiths chanced upon it while rambling. "When they went inside," Hirst says, "it was filled with loads of old farming equipment; the windows were low down with grass growing outside, giving it an eerie green light throughout. To me, as a student, that was a very inspirational story."

Again there is that deep emotive response, this time to the work of Kurt Schwitters. Another artist I have also had a deep seated love of, especially his collages which have influenced much of my work.
The road to Damascus, is now double the prize. You snooze you loose.

Friday, 24 April 2009

A day in April

OK I confess, I played hooky yesterday afternoon. I had no classes and feigned a dentist appt, wouldn’t you if the sun was shining? But just in case you thought it was all fun, fun, fun let me tell you things do not always run smoothly.
First stop from Charing Cross is St James Square, once home to the most expensive address in London it is a beautiful square made doubly so by this stunning blossom tree planted to remember the rather senseless death of PC Yvonne Fletcher in 1984.
Onwards, to the Chris Beetle Gallery to visit the Cecil Beaton exhibition.

I went to push the door which was locked, a couple inside intimated that I should ring the bell, which I duly did expecting to be buzzed in. After what seemed like an eternity a man came huffing and puffing to the door and with great ceremony and rattling of keys opened the door. After I walked in he closed and locked the door. He turned and ask that I give him my bag, at this point I should have left, but I was locked in so succumbed to the humiliation of having to take out my purse, camera and phone which I then had to clutch in my hand. I was assured my bag would be “quite safe”
I wandered around and in the space of 5 minutes the bell was rung a further 7 times each time someone came huffing and puffing up the stairs and removed any bag bigger that 6 inches square, like an episode of the Keystone Cops. As I went downstairs I realised that all the bags were slung in the corner of their office and anyone and everyone was walking inside to collect their own! I then failed to get the attention of anyone so that I could be released from captivity and I could feel a very large sense of panic welling up inside me. (I have a real fear of being locked in; I think it must be a form of claustrophobia that I can trace back to my pot holing days, when we got momentarily lost as the water started to gush in from a sudden shower. I could tell you some funny story’s about climbing out of windows, suffice it to say I absolutely cannot be locked in, ever, how I fly I do not know).
Finally someone huffed and puffed back up the stairs and 2 of us shot out whilst another 6 went in. To a man all seemed confused by the system. Many small galleries will have a bell, but most buzz you in. If this gallery did not want or trust the hoi polloi to wander in and out they should have a strict appointment policy. Instead the exhibition has attracted a huge amount of publicity hence the amount of people trying to visit. I will not be back.
The Nancy Cunard suffers from a bit of flare in the top left hand corner so I did not buy, this had nothing to do with the £3,500 price tag!

I then went and bought a box of sushi from Wasabi and ate it in the RA courtyard. There are no seats at all, despite this being a natural place to sit, most people have to perch where they can.
It seems a rather cruel gesture on the part of the RA to make its octogenarian members have to precariously balance on the edge of a cold plinth, whilst peeling a soggy sandwich from its foil wrapper with one hand whilst chain smoking with the other.
The London Original Print Fair was dull, dull, dull. Most galleries appear to replicate each other. My favourite ‘would that I could win the lottery’ buy, was a beautiful Sean Scully aquatint

Tag Fine Art was the best and most interesting gallery, my favourite was this woodcut by Robin Duttson.

There were other artists which I will explore next week.
I then revisited the Kuniyoshi exhibition to restore my faith before walking up to Sprüth Magers to see the Cindy Sherman Exhibition. Having been buzzed in I saw three monumental canvases which were stunning. I tried to find more but I was told that’s all there was to see. THREE!

I then carried on up Bond Street to Sotheby’s seeing one of the most awesome Picasso’s well worth the trip on its own.
$16 million estimated.

After this I walked and visited a few more galleries including a brilliant Joe Tilson print show at Alan Cristea and then people watched.

Dover Street Market.

I want one of these in each colour.

I forgot to write down where this one came from but I like photographing fragments of paintings.

I did pop into a couple of clothes shops primarily Kew to try on a lovely stripy blue top, but something about it did not feel right (probably knowing my mother had got there first) but more likely because I already have a lovely one from COS. Instead I bought a really flattering jersey dress that skims not clings (now there’s a mantra we all need) reduced to £19. I have it on today with a very narrow pair of jersey trousers and a turquoise cardie. It is the most unbelievably comfortable outfit. When I bought the dress the girl in the shop very perkily pointed out that I could wear it with a variety of different belts. I perkily replied that the chances of me ever highlighting the thickness of my middle aged spread were some where between fat chance and no chance.
She winced and wrapped it a whole lot quicker.

I am developing a bit of a crush on Foyer Flowers.

Despite the trial and tribulations the day has recharged my batteries which was just as well since my A level students had done virtually nothing over the Easter break so I spent 4 hours spoon feeding them ideas.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

The road to Damascus....

Is bloody expensive.
Talk, as it often does in our house, had led to questions of travel. Like a lot of discussions, solutions as to where we could go often lead to more questions than we have money to answer.
So first up for discussion was “what to do this coming New Year” surprisingly we have organised very little. I say we as in the ‘royal we’ Emin is King around here when it comes to organising. How many people do you know that project manage a holiday and place it on a spread sheet?

This brings me to a really funny story. Leyla was bought a game which involves solving puzzles. One of the questions was, if a mouse breeds after 2 months and each month produces 10 babies how many mice do you have after a year? No word of a lie, he had done the whole thing on an excel spread sheet colour coded and came up with the solution of…6001. Wrong answer, I mooted the point that it takes two to make a baby so the answer was in fact 1 I have of course omitted that this took me a while to realise and bizarrely I think Emin would have arrived at the same answer at the same time as I did. But it does illustrate that we are dealing with a man of Spock like pragmatism

Back to New Year. We had decided that our marrow had yet to defrost from last year and so he was keen on warmer climes. We will not travel east and so like a gazillion other Brits looked to the shores of North Africa. Far too expensive, bless him he even checked Hawaii. No good either, way too expensive. He then tentatively mooted that we go to his house in Cyprus so that he can carry on making it habitable, he wants me to do the garden, This was a surprise to me as I had previously been banned from Cyprus for bad behaviour, but it looks like time maybe a great healer. At first I baulked at the idea, but then my photography head kicked in and suddenly I could see the gist of a project forming.
I agreed as long as we could have 3 nights somewhere exotic. I fancied Beirut, but he thinks we will be blown up, so I mooted Jerusalem, big fat NO to that idea, he thinks the police will shoot him. So then I had a brainwave Damascus. I Googled hotels and fell in love. “WE HAVE TO GO” I cried.
Now Emin being Mr Logic Googled flights and this is where my dream began to unravel. Only BMI seem to fly direct, and he is convinced they will subcontract to some tin pot company and kill us all. Also the prices are rather steep; as we as usual want a round trip rather than a simple return. I am now keeping fingers and toes crossed we can go, It looks heavenly and in a bizarre twist I noticed it was featured in Vogue this month…..
If anyone would like a travel photographer please give me a call, I ask only for my expenses!

"Soon we’ll all be amateur photographers with real money making jobs on the side that we don’t tell our colleagues about. We need to get over the snobbery attached to that".
So writes Simon Norfolk here

"Peter never wanted his photography to become commercial and continued working in local pharmacies until he died. In this role, he was also a frequent adviser to drug users, always kind, but firm. He had several projects on the go at the time of his death. One was to photograph snack vans in laybys around his home in Somerset. Another was to photograph all the packaging that his many bits of computer equipment turned up in. He kept every box and wanted to exhibit them under the title The Bonfire of the Vanities". More here

It seems like only yesterday that whilst in my final year at college we had the chance to apply for teacher training certificate, only 4 of us went to that meeting but from where I was looking the alternative appeared to be ‘work to order’ this did not appeal to me at all, and whilst I was training to be a teacher I realised that the autonomy you have is fantastic, I love researching so much that teaching itself is relatively simple, controlling the students less so.
I heard on the grape vine that many of those who had sneered at me had followed me into teaching a few years later.
I have often wondered if it was the right decision, it has facilitated my need to have children as well as provide me with a home an occasional holiday and plenty to clothe my back.
I am staring 50 in the face and I am finally coming to terms that I did the right thing. I do not need the validation of others (although a place to exhibit would be good) neither is it now important to sell anything. First and foremost I must please myself and apart from the pesky school kids getting in the way! I am starting to make some progress.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Pink Rain

Disney Roller Girl asks "is there more blossom in London than ever before?” Indeed that is how it looks, the city is awash with blossom, dare I say more than Japan. It is not that there is more, although each tree is bent low with the stuff. It is that it has all come out at the same time, normally the blossom season is staggered. But the whole lot has come out at once and it really is a vision. London has to be the winner when it comes to spring time its summer may suck but it is looking amazing now. Returning from an impromptu gathering with my family last night, Kitty declared that London was quite the most beautiful city in the world, which was quite profound. The view across the river from the train is spectacular on a very balmy spring afternoon.
I had a very brief home alone moment last week, and so I grabbed a last minute ticket to see Parlour Song really, really funny, brilliantly acted especially Toby Jones. I laughed so hard I cried! It is on at the Almeida which I had not been to before, what a wonderful theatre.
My mother once owned a flat on Colebrook Row, I love the area, and now there are even lovelier shops stretching alone Upper Street. Sadly what has disappeared is the ‘local’ all the pubs are now overpriced under lit bars which made for a depressing drink. But so far this week has been good.

Mike and Doug Starn

More from here

and here
Wonderfully rich and ethereal

Monday, 20 April 2009

Kitty calling

The phone rings, I let it ring, it stops then rings again, somehow I can sense the urgency this time so I run upstairs and pick up.

Kitty “mummy, mummy, Daisy has taken my pocket money”
Me “well I will give it back to you tomorrow from dad’s money”
Kitty “no, you don’t understand, she has taken money from my piggy bank, she’s taken over £25!”
Me “why would she do that?”
Kitty “she said she had to buy her friend a present, then she would give me back the money”
Me “when you come home I will make sure she gives you back the money”
Kitty “she’s a fucking cow, I hate her, she should not take my money”
Me “is Daisy there?”
Kitty “yes, here”
Me “Daisy you should not just help yourself to Kitty’s money”
Daisy “Jesus mum it was only £40”
Daisy “don’t you start, it’s not like I am not going to pay her back, I just needed to get my friend a present, my other friends will give me the money back on Monday”
Me “why did you not just ask?”
Daisy “because she would just say no, and I had to get this present”
Me “Daisy you must not just help yourself to other peoples money”
Daisy “how was I to know she would check”
Me “Daisy you are missing the point, do not take money without asking”
Daisy “Kitty you’re a fucking bitch for telling on me”
In the background they started another slanging match; Kitty tells everyone who will listen.
Daisy was lectured by her father, nanny and various aunts and uncles, but not once did she apologise, all she did was curse her bad luck that Kitty decided to pay for her haircut out of her savings*. When it transpired this is why she knew the money was missing she called Kitty a ‘mug’ for not blagging the money from her father for the haircut like she always does!

* Kitty and Daisy get a fiver a week from their father as well as odds and sods from his huge family.
Daisy is permanently broke, whereas Kitty never spends a penny, and consequently she has a traditional piggy bank with about £100 of notes and change.

P.S Daisy has been really, really good recently. She is great company and even more amazing she has been revising! but this is oh so typical of her cavalier attitude towards Kitty.

Wadrobe remix

The view from here, my wardrobe. The bright turquoise is my most recent bargain, a cashmere cardie, half price £30! COS as is...
This gorgeous stripey cotton jumper.
Last week I spent over 5 hours reorganising my clothes. I rolled and packed most of my wool and unpacked the cotton and linen and silk.
Because I had the luxury of an empty house I was able to really play around and try on different combinations. I do have too many clothes and so to keep it simple I removed all the brown, skirts trousers and tunics.
I will keep them and maybe work around them in a couple of years but for now My look book is looking like this.

I will wear these tops with thin or pegged cropped trousers.
My favourite new tops are top and bottom left. Both from COS, I have spent most of my money here this spring because they have finally started to make my size. I have always managed to fit into their cardies because they cut their knitwear more generously, but any thing more fitted has previously been a no no. I love COS They are a bit of a poor mans Marni mini me.

The rest of what you see comes from Muji, Jigsaw, Zara and Whistles the latter sadly not so affordable now. Other favourite places to shop include Kew, GAP The White Company and Id id manage to squeeze into a couple of Banana Republic pieces last year.
My skirts are generally from a more eclectic source including Toast, White Stuff and even a couple from H&M. The waist of their size 18 is 34 inches which is the same as a size 14 in M&S.
British sizing is a nightmare.
The bulk of inspiration comes from a scrap book I have assembled from various Internet sites including Flickr’s Wardrobe-remix, The Sartorialist and prêt a porter images from This scrap book is a mine of inspiration and according to the Guardian the tail is now firmly wagging the dog.
In these dark economic times, fashion labels and retailers are looking to the street for inspiration. There are two main factors in play. One: we're forced to get more creative with what we've got in our wardrobes; and two: we're much pickier about buying new things.
"What people buy and how they wear it is invaluable information for a retailer," says my trend mentor, WGSN's associate womenswear editor Kathryn Kenny. "Seeing real women wearing real clothes is very powerful, rather than looking at models on a catwalk." more here

and even more pertinently

What you see on the streets of Britain is us getting it right, being good at something. Street style is our gift to the world. from here

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Must see exhibitions

David Wootton, a writer and researcher who helped curate the exhibition, which opens in London next week, said the aim was to show the full range of Beaton's work. As a young man Beaton was transfixed by glamour but as he matured some of his best photographs would be of old people as they were, capturing their spirit. more from here

Chris Beetles Gallery
I am very much looking forward to seeing this exhibition.

Including some esoteric images such as this

as well as more iconic one such as this one

Another must see is CINDY SHERMAN   SPRÜTH MAGERS LONDON   APRIL 16 - MAY 27 2009
The gallery is housed in a beautiful old regency building and I have wanted to see some Cindy Sherman images for sometime now. After this I will walk down to the london art fair to see Photo50 works

Thursday, 16 April 2009


This one is HUGE I am not sure I would be brave enough to wear it but as a work of art it is devine, I may hold out for the sale.
This one is called Cyprus and does reflect many of their cultural decorative touches.
The last one is by Chantal Bernsau click on to her website, her jewellery is just fantastic, I want all of it!

Other wonderful necklaces from here
I did not take my beads with me this holiday, but I have been very fired up by the wonderful jewellery from Anthropologie
Some of it is remarkably affordable, but pay day is a long way off so I may get out my beads and start threading. 
Whilst Emin has been in Istanbul he has been staying with our Au Pairs family. Her mother insisted on buying me a gift so I asked for some beads, fingers crossed they will be good.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

A voyage around my garden

Not big but big enough to create an oasis. It appeared to be landscaped, the whole garden is divided into three sections. The first is a hideous patio that needs relaying, the second is what you see. The third section is what should be a vegetable patch but in fact is a wilderness. I would like to create a meadow at some point but I keep forgetting to buy the seeds

The arch is a bit flimsy, but the wisteria is budding nicely. The area in front is the pond, how those poor frogs survived the cold winter I do not know.

The garden has two of these rather incongruous trees. Far too exotic they shed badly but what can you do?

Both my neighbours have wonderful white camellias, I left one at my previous house. What do I get? A Blackpool landlady of a camellia. A blousy red, I do not like it at all

I do not know what this is but it is the most beautiful buttery yellow and has wonderful fragile leaves.

I also love the fragility of this maple. It is small but looks wonderful when the new leaves unfurl.

A wonderful laurel

This is in my pond and appears to have flowered quite early

If you stare hard you should see my beloved tadpoles, they are slightly manic at the moment.

Another mystery, I think this is a very small flowering clematis it has wrapped itself around a tree along with a honey suckle. Yesterday it was covered in delicate white flowers, but sadly the torrential rain overnight left me with just these two.

Violets are like a visit from royalty, one of my favourite flowers.

My lilac is flowering so early it has come out at the same time as the forsythia. It should coincide with my laburnum but it does not look like this will happen this year.

My peony is a stunning white. As the buds grow and burst open I can guarantee it will rain.

I have had this bay tree for years languishing in a pot, I planted it last year and I have been rewarded with a show of wonderful flowers.

My wonderful french windows

If you look very hard through the dining room French windows you may see a rare sighting of the 'Daisy Bird' revising in her pyjamas!
Every year as my impending break from Emin and Leyla looms I plan lots of things I would like to do but can't. 
  • I would like to spend the day in Chichester and visit Pallant House. 
  • I would like to walk along the river to Chiswick and visit Hogarth's House. 
  • I would like to walk across Hampstead Heath. 
  • I would like to explore the City and visit the Museum of London.
25 years living in London and there is still so much I want to do. Which has to be a good thing as the old adage goes "he who is tired of London is tired of life" Trite but true.
Instead I have done none of those things, because the house is so calm I have elected to be a housewife for the week. Cupboards have been tidied, the garden is clipped, shelves wiped, pictures hung, 10 black sacks filled and puzzles and games sent to the charity shop. 
Sometimes just living is good enough.

All bar the first image were taken on my Pentax using my Macro lens