Sunday, 28 June 2009

This much I know

  • I am happier at school than at home. Life is just toooo frenetic here and yet whenever I pick up the girls and they ask "so mum what did you do at the weekend"I can only think of going to the gym, food shopping,walking the dog, washing and catching up with DVDs. Some how I get more done at work (and that does not include the teaching bit) before 3pm than I achieve in a whole weekend here.
  • I just do not like (and it pains me to say this) silver sandals. I have tried on many pairs and it just looks like I have laced tin foil around my foot. Back to black.
  • Leyla will need at least 10 years of therapy to get over the damage done by Emin's ridiculously pushy parenting, the child will be a monster. My heart bleeds
  • Every day I waste hours dreaming of how I would leave Emin if I won the lottery. I don't even play the bloody lottery.
  • I hate photo realist painting. The BP awards at the NPG is full of the stuff. It is utterly gruesome. Take a bloody photo. It's like saying "oooh look everyone I am sooo clever" No you are not real talent is Frank Auerbach portrait of Catherine Lampert.
  • I did gain some solace in the rooms upstairs. Take a deep breath and smell that eau 'age both paintings and visitors. I also finally got the outfit spot on. A very billowy black silk skirt, green silk top and a very very old grey cardie. On EBay it would be classed as vintage it is one of those old thermal jigsaw ones. You know it's old because it has the wide velvet trim with cotton lace. Rather than the cheap ribbon and nylon lace they used as the cardies became more popular
  • David Sedaris is a wise man. I did find his most recent book When You Are Engulfed In Flames a bit maudlin but a recent interview with him did answer one question I too wanted to ask. "Yet even though he has had a home here for the past six years, British stories never feature in his writing. The reason, he smiles, is quite simple: "To me a lot of what happens here is funny because of the way that it's said, and there are certain accents I can imitate, but I can't sustain any kind of British accent" Plus this advice which is maybe stating the obvious but I like it anyway "Oh no," he says at once. "I don't think my life is more interesting than anybody else's.
    I think the only difference between me and everyone else is this ... [he reaches into his inside pocket and pulls out a small notepad] I write things down. That's all." read the rest here

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Time to curate

After shamelessly promoting myself I thought it was time to curate.Whilst at the V&A I did not just take photographs but I also went to see the excellent photography gallery, small but perfectly formed. My absolute favourite was work from Marjolaine Ryley. I liked her work so much I have bought two books that I found on her web site here "My work explores ideas of memory, history, familial relationships and archival narratives. My practice uses photography, super 8, digital video, text, objects and found photographs to explore a range of themes and issues that look at linking my own personal experiences to broader social and political narratives. My work moves between the personal album and the social document.

Throughout my work there is a strong interest in history and memory both of the individual family and its relation to wider culture. Working with multiple images, grid structures and the book format, allows me to explore the temporal and transient, the indexical and the archival nature of photography. The moving image work brings together past narratives with present places, conflating the two as documentary evidence, while the still images cumulatively narrate familial histories, relationships, exiles and returns. The work can be read as sitting between fact and fiction, past and present, the real and the imaginary."

This has become my favourite genre of photography the capturing the essence of what is and what was.

Nicholas Hughes

In Darkness Visible 2005 – 2007
His luminous photographs could well be considered paintings in the sense that they are often multi-layered constructions. Yet they remain pure photography……Hughes is indeed both writing with light as the root of the word photography implies and using the camera as one of photography’s inventors, Henry Fox Talbot described it, “as the pencil of nature.”

Verse I
In reaction to media led sensory anaesthetisation, and wearied by empty political rhetoric, my aim was to construct a forest built from accumulated memory and the ghosts of trees. Spending a period of two winters’ visiting public spaces in central London, this work inverts decorative Arcadian layout in an attempt to restore a sense of the natural in the cultivated, somewhat synthetic city ‘wilderness’ spaces.

What Hughes is doing with both verses of his elegy is asking us –‘ to slow down to find the still small voice of calm that in the darkness may yet be visible.’

These images are huge when you see them very powerful and slightly ethereal.

Veronica Bailey
How romantic are these images of Lee Millers corespondent?
When I first saw one of her photographs I thought it was a flower, there is something almost botanical in the way she frames and composes her images.
I 'print screened' her opening page so you can see the scale of her wok which feels monumental when you see them.

"Bailey’s previous work includes the Jerwood Photographic Prize-winning ‘2 Willow Road’ (2003) on the architect Ernö Goldfinger, and ‘Postscript’ (2005), which was a visual meditation on the passionate yet volatile wartime affair between Lee Miller and Roland Penrose. These series have been exhibited by galleries in the USA, Canada and South Korea, as well as Germany and the UK. Her work is seen in prestigious private collections both in Europe and worldwide; and in such collections as the V&A Museum, Coutts & Co. and Stephenson Harwood.

Visually Bailey seems to pay fealty to both Rothko, and Barnett Newman. These works may be photographs and the subject may be surfaces fashioned by Victorian book-binders, but ‘Shelf Life’s Cantos do reflect 'a form, mood, beat, and scale' not dissimilar to the lithographs that Newman created in his ‘18 Cantos’ of 1963-4."

From here
I am not sure how 2 Willow Road has evaded me for so long, but rest assured it has gone straight in a No 1 in my places to see list. I have emailed them to see if I can take photographs because the house looks amazing. I had until recently a very dog eared pamphlet why I did not make more of an effort to get there I do not know.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009


Where to begin, well finally my scanner is now up and fully functioning. So faced with a plethora of negatives to reacquaint myself with where did I begin?
Well My sadly far too over developed film of my visit 10 years ago to Busan in South Korea.
I could have wept when I did it, the negatives are completely black. I even went to a specialist printer to get help but we had very limited success. So they have languished in my folder a memory of what could have been.

They are of an old temple that I found at the end of a tube line, it was a short walk into the mountains and the view was stunning, The temple was beautifully weathered and still used by the Buddhist monks. I cannot believe how lucky I am to get these images from the darkness. They appear quite grainy and have been heavily photoshopped, but I feel the means justifies the end in this case.
I actually love the graininess and I will print them very small on matt linen paper and frame them with a large mount to emphasise their delicacy.

So now I have managed to retrieve these I will be archiving some of my past successes and more mediocre efforts.
You can see more of this series on Flickr.


I have been trying to do this project for years, seriously trying to get the camera and the peace and quiet to do it, plus half the bloody sculptures are still wrapped up so I know I have only got half the ones I wanted.
One of the problems in the V&A is many of the loveliest sculptures are hidden in dark recesses which means the shutter speed becomes painfully slow. That I achieved this is a testament to the Pentax and of course my heavenly lens.

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Lessons I have learned

From trawling the Sartorialist back catalogue on I have taught myself that it is better to invest in the following;
Narrow trousers cut 2 inches above the ankle, this keeps the trouser from getting wet and soggy in our ubiquitous rainy weather, but looks good peeking out from...

A really gorgeous, fabulous coat. Lets face it how often do we get to go out without one. 

Finally last but not least  truly lovely scarf, big and thick to make a dramatic statement.

alternatively wear the whole lot together.

So why did I go out and buy a pair of slate grey linen shorts on sale in GAP yesterday? Well for one the colour is lovely and goes with everything. Also they fit like a glove and because I do have a half way descent set of pins they flatter. So all I need now is some hot weather! 
Ever the optimist but rest assured if it ever arrives sans the bloody relentless north westerly wind I will be ready to go.
Zara is currently my choice of shop for trousers and they currently have some lovely narrow ones, the down side is they are cut to be worn with vertiginous heels so I will have to cut 5 inches off the hem to create my Sartorialist look. As well as save up for a coat and get searching for some scarves to add to my collection. 

A day at the V&A

And STILL the bloody cast room is not ready, how long does it take to give a room a lick of paint?
I did rather like the contrast of the casts with the packaging

That one down there is one of my favourites, I did manage to take a few images on my Pentax which I will edit on Monday. The primary reason for going was to get my sixth formers out into the big wide world and see some photography in one of the galleries. The V&A has a superb collection most of it sadly not on display. However you can of course sit in the print room and order certain prints which will be brought to your table for your perusal , how lovely is that?

I also rather liked the contrast of the plants with the red brick work in the courtyard. 

Now long time followers of this blog will know that I am obsessed with stripes, I love this glass sculpture hidden away upstairs in the glass room, like a fool I was in such a hurry I did not make a note of who made it, but I do remember it was a Japanese artist.
Would that I could afford one of these beautiful  dresses from last years fashion graduate RCA show

By Lea Carreno, you can see more of her work here

I also love this collar by Eylem Binboga, I could not find any other information other than this bangle, she too graduated from the RCA.

Finally this necklace by Sarah Cavender is just lovely, not a bad price either at £95 on sale in the excellent V&A shop which is worth a trip by itself

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Where does the time go?

The smell of Elderflower can transport me straight back to my youth to when I lived in a small West Yorkshire village. I love it's tangy aroma as the tiny flowers explode. My father once went through a brew your own phase. So keen was he that he once made dozens of bottles of Elderflower wine, only somewhere along the line he made an error because I came down stairs one morning  to see the racks of bottles filled with the magnetic activity of teeny tiny fruit flies. What a waste! My middle sister has taken this baton and perfected the art, she makes something out of nothing most weeks and I suspect may go for a road kill casserole one of these days!
So where the bloody hell did my week go? Moderating that's where, look the word up in the dictionary and you will find it is also commonly known as migraine. For where a moderator goes a migraine is sure to follow. A years work judged in a few short hours. But it is over for another year. Now I just have to display the work, accept the plaudits and move on.
I also had the privilege of filling a 6 yard skip with the contents of our driveway. Oh lucky, lucky me. Emin helped of course but oh, did I ache, really really ache. Add to that heady mix of stress and strain one of those 'where is this relationship going' heated debates and my cup runeth over with joy. 
This relationship is in essence over, but of course the tangled web of finances mean we are inextricably linked at least for the next 4 bloody years. Then I have promised my self I MUST take my leave. So we live in a kind of weird limbo, I say little, he just bitches along in his mindless juvenile way. 
So now we have THREE unfinished projects to walk around. 
I have come to the conclusion that the death knell to any relationship is the 'working from home syndrome' I feel sure we could have limped on if he was not in my face 24/7. Such is life, it is just a shame it is mine.
If anyone is in London for the next couple of months promise me faithfully you will go and see A Winters Tale currently on at the Old Vic. It is AWESOME. Seriously, just brilliant. Inspired direction and interpretation and Ethan Hawke hamming it up as a strolling Bob Dylanesque minstrel is a hoot. It is moments like that, that make life worth living, (if that does not sound a shade too maudlin.) 
Tomorrow I am going to the V&A for a school trip and next week the  NPG so you see it is not all bad. Then before long Alls Well That Ends Well at the National. Yep I am a bit of a Shakespeare junkie at the moment.
Right now I am basking in an unexpected gift of peace. Lelya is at Tai Kwando and for some weird reason Kitty went to watch, Daisy is still at school and Emin oh joy, is actually on site working, hark the sound of a glass of Rose port being poured, sounds odd but I bet it will taste divine.
Now to catch up with all those blogs.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

I heart dresses

Although I do not feel the same frisson of excitement as I used to when I first bought Vogue all those years ago, I still feel The British  one is one of the more intelligent Vogues published in the world. 

I can appreciate the steely iron grip that Anna Wintour has had over American Vogue, but as she gets older she is in danger of become a parody of herself, wonder if Anthony Perkins is not just around the corner hissing “mother what have you done!” whenever I see pictures of her.

Likewise Carine Roitfeld of Paris Vogue appears  also to be the darling of the fashion press whilst having the looks and figure of a  pram face 

I am sure they are both utterly lovely women and yes, I am guilty of a bit of woman on woman bitching now and again, but it does puzzle me that both these woman are ranked so highly as arbiters of style and fashion yet Alexandra Shulman rarely gets a mention. Maybe it is because she is so grounded as this article in yesterday's Guardian proves. This is an editor that acknowledges the minor irritations we suffer as we get older, the drooping upper arms the thickening waist line and for me the shock of slack skin. Even I ‘Princess Olive Skin’ am suffering from gravity in that department

A dress you once imagined as delightfully bohemian suddenly looks like something your least favourite teacher* would wear on the hottest day of term. Because summer highlights not only concern about bare arms and legs but seems to draw unwelcome attention to the depth of your torso. The distance between the front of your stomach and your back unfortunately becomes a whole new difficult territory delineated by the thin fabrics of summer, and high-waisted dresses do little to help this.

*Oh there we go teacher bashing again

Although I am amazed to find myself writing this, leggings seem suddenly to be a bearable solution to wear under dresses if you find the seasonal loss of the opaque tight unsurvivable.

Both pragmatic and a realist. I am currently wearing some, because quite frankly, it is bloody freezing and I like to wear a skirt every now and again. I personally like to wear a loosish pair of jersey dhoti pants with tunics, whilst knee length very opaque coloured footless tights look lovely under a knee length skirt. Tabio is fantastic for these and although they cost as much as some skirts, they last forever and make the cold bearable.

So a big Mwah to Shulman (despite the usual teacher bashing) for showing us oldies a little understanding.

S-Sung as recommended by Shulman, I love these but they only appear to be available in America.
Matta, which I found here again in America

I do really like this last dress, very unusual and wearable over thin cropped trousers.

Believe it or not two from M&S! I am not a big fan and I can guarantee they would not fit but the one above is very Marni, again recommended by Schulman.

Katzeboutique from Etsy

Pamela Tang again Etsy
I currently love this shape over trousers, I do exercise my arms a lot, so they are tolerable! 

Monday, 8 June 2009

I heart theatre

I have been a bit of a theatre junkie recently; it started as a way of helping Daisy with her A' Level, but truth be told I have fallen back in love with seeing plays. I do not know why, but when I lived ‘up north’ I went to the theatre a lot, both ballet and plays, but somehow when I moved to London the habit stopped and I moved with ease into films.
Films like magazines have become slightly less satisfying, probably because sometimes a tightly edited episode of CSI can be a more gripping watch than many films. Television is no longer the poor man of the screen and in fact is, along with the more traditional avenue of literature feeding the film industry.
I initially stuck to the more traditional material, my criteria has been to pay no more than a tenner although I have bent this rule a couple of times. You might think this would preclude all star casts, in fact it does not.
The recent production of The Dolls House was rich with ability and shiny stars, I had thought that a couple of the actors would be a bit hammy but the play was well acted and I loved the close proximity you have to the stage at The Donmar Warehouse.
The story itself is one have I have read many times. It resonates more so now, as I am in one of those negative ever decreasing negative spiral of a relationship. The difference is of course I do not want to leave Leyla; so no door slams shut here.
Hamlet on the other hand was new to me, seriously; I must have been the only one in the audience who did not know the ending! I was enthralled, I honestly did not think I could ever access Shakespeare, but I have to thank Bill Bryson for opening up my horizons as his book Shakespeare is wonderful.
The production was the last in a quartet of plays directed by Michael Grandage. The sets, costumes and production have been amazing. I particularly liked the costumes in Hamlet as they were very simple, clean lines, contemporary shapes all in shades of dark and light.
Daisy was not sure about Jude Law’s mandigan as she called it. I had never heard that word before so laughed all the way to the station!
Tim Walkers review hits the nail on the head particularly Law’s voice. What is his strength in film is very much a weakness here, I wonder if he will last the run. This is a minor criticism it makes for a brilliant night out.
Then onto the Old Vic for the Bridge Project’s Cherry Orchard.
We were so lucky because I had bought seats with a restricted view, however the couple in front wanted to swap as she had bad vertigo and trust me it is a real drop, from the Lillian Bayliss balcony so we had a fabulous view. I love Chekov, this was vintage stuff, brilliantly adapted by Tom Stoppard; even Ethan Hawke manages to hold his own, just.
Sadly Emin was not impressed by my gallivanting, because the two nights out backed onto Thursday evenings RA Summer Show preview, oops.

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Royal College of Art

Post graduate degree show. Sadly despite my best efforts I was unable yo make it, but the web site is finally more comprehensive and you can at a push get a feel for the work on show this year. The following works is by the people I would snap up if I had a gallery, or better still enough money to do a Saatchi and buy the lot! have a look on their website for lots more

First up are these monumental prints by Claas Gutsche

Taking its subject matter from where suburbia meets the natural landscape, my work is concerned with the human living space as an alien, unsafe space, in which what is behind the curtain of an ideal world can sometimes be more threatening than the world outside.
Common to my work is the interest in narration and the subversive view of beauty in landscape, as well as an unease and uncertainty about the space or place.
I am interested in the contradiction between the beauty of the surroundings and the actuality of its past, a space where the viewer can feel a tension, a darkness just below the surface.

I likes these beautiful Photograms by Lewis Ronald

Making art is like finding a shortcut. Not because resolving something creatively makes life easier but because it gives you that magical feeling of finding something new in the middle of something known. Shortcuts bring things together. They do so differently, efficiently and in a more surprising way than before. I like being surprised, and I find the world to be a surprising place of things. My favourite things today are: tangrams, bilderrätsel, Architectural Rescue, headless chicken, the letter X, line drawings, paisley, stationery shops and wheels.

Some richly layered prints by Lucy Farley, who also has a print in the Royal Academy Summer Show

The fragments of memory, past sensations and experiences, that are associated with a particular urban or natural landscape, form the basis of my work.

Through repeated drawing, the images are built up from a series of quick and impulsive responses, which conjure up the spirit of a place and time, and reflect a state of mind.

The finished work is a combination of three or four layered plates that are both painted and etched

Finally Suzi Tibbetts, who should get a prize for sheer inventiveness, Daisy,

would love this...

Instead of seeing this I finally went to the British Museum to see Garden and Cosmos: The Royal Paintings of Jodhpur. THE COLOURS just amazing.