Monday, 31 August 2009

The view from here

I realised with a bit of a start, that I had forgotten to go and see the Jeff Koons exhibition currently on at the Serpentine Gallery, So borrowing Emin;s travel card I went up to Hyde Park to see the show, Leyla, of course came too.
She loved it. But she was perplexed by it too. Try explaining to an eight year old that what she sees is an illusion. They are in fact hard sculptures made of metal, not the blow up seaside toys they look like. At first Leyla thought it was a trick, that the reason the place was riddled with 'Do Not Touch' signs was because actually they were blow up toys.
She also even more rightly pointed out that perhaps they could have allowed everyone to touch just one exhibit, just to see what they felt like. having been rather spoilt by her recent outing to Barbara Hepworth's gardens where everyone was positively encouraged to touch and feel, she was absolutely right.They are so slick, and curiously quite engaging.

Koons has used inflatables in his work since the late 1970s; one of his most iconic sculptures, Rabbit, 1986, is an inflatable bunny rendered in reflective stainless steel. He has also made sculptures on a spectacular scale inspired by inflatables, including works from his monumental Celebration series. More from here

On Friday we visited Elizabeth Peyton's Live Forever show on at the Whitechapel Gallery
This was a strangely uplifting experience. I expected very little but what I got was very intimate images, painted fluidly using almost jewel like colours. She paints on very primes surfaces that are so thick I thought the canvas's were made of Plaster of Paris. I preferred the still life images to the celebrity ones, but the delicacy of the brush strokes were a joy. Like a modern Manet

Sadly, it was downhill after the exhibition, the curry house was shut for Ramadan, we went for a pizza and suffered quite frankly some of the worst service ever. Never, Ever go to Strada, not ever, really not good.
The rest of the weekend turned into a bit of a Kate Winslet fest as I watched on DVD
  1. the Holiday
  2. The Reader
  3. Revolutionary Road
1. complete and utter crapola
2. brilliant, she just about breaks out of her 'two faces of Winslet' acting school, just. Ralph Fiennes wipes the floor with her.
3. Oh God, it was just like being at home, all that bloody point scoring. That was/is my world. Why is Sam Mendes drawn to such unremittingly depressing films? It was also difficult to watch and not compare it to Mad Men. The whole woman stays at home thing reared it's ugly head again. I am sure I recently read that there was a law that stated that once a woman got married she was unable to continue working. Can you believe that ? What a depressing time to live in and yet visually stunning. Both the latter films were beautifully filmed.
Daisy is back, she came, she ate, she showered, she left. Oh, this will all stop next week, OR ELSE. Once again Kitty is gatecrashing her cousins house. See answer to No3 for why, although there currently hangs a fairly relaxed truce here at the moment, part in due, to him having two holidays to look forward to.
He has booked us a week in Berlin and finally booked flights to Cyprus for the Christmas break. I am currently booking next summer.... Scotland, yeah, I have wanted to go back for ages and now is my chance.

I should probably confess that I have bought quite a few clothes, for work of course. Some lovely fluid jersey from Muji. Lovely knitwear from Uniqlo. Some T's from Gap. I am currently working a colour palette sans black, it's my way of clinging onto the remnants of summer.
I have two days left to psych myself up into waking up at 6am rather than my current totally chilled 8am, ouch.

Saturday, 29 August 2009

The Premium Meme Award, for blogs with Personality

Materfamilias tagged me last week for a meme.
It was tricky at first to separate my personality form that of the blogs, but they are two very separate beasts.

Well mannered, I am in real life a cross between House and Chandler. I have a mouth like a sewer and far too often speak my mind, but always with a smile. I feel that this blog reflects the more well mannered side of me. I quite like this alter ego and have enjoyed trying to be positive rather than the inherent cynic that I am normally.

Eclectic so many blogs I read have a focus, a theme or a continuous thread that runs through it. I just have tangents, I just find it so difficult not to have the occasional rant about my family mixed in with images that inspire me. This makes me difficult to categorise or pigeon hole, which I guess is a good thing, but I sometimes feel a bit amateurish, but hey if the cap fits!

Curate & Promote I do like to spread the word when I find something or someone who inspires me, I always try to link to there work as I have found the beauty of the Internet is that it has opened up what I feel was quite an elitist world. The playing field is so much more level and that can only be a good thing. I hope to inspire other with the enthusiasm I have for art. Sounds trite I know but it's true. I have shamelessly tried to promote my work, obviously an agent/gallery owner has yet to see my potential and I guess that I am somewhat naive if I think someone will just trip over this blog and 'discover' me. I am however an eternal optimist and this blog has if anything helped me to plod on and give my photography at least a small voice.

Travelled(as opposed to gloat) I do love to travel not just to exotic places but around town and country. I have always enjoyed being on the move, I have a restless spirit and so I hope that this blog can and does give a flavour of life in London all be it a highly sanitised one.

Articulate I have tried hard to improve my grammar, I have always been quite articulate, probably from reading obsessively from a very young age. This blog definitely makes me conscious of the need to constantly expand and develop my vocabulary.

Therapeutic This blog for me has been of enormous benefit in terms of finally linking myself to the outside world away from my family. It has helped me realise how much I have to be grateful for and I hope in some small way my occasional rants about life in The House of Chaos will maybe resonate with others. I have learned so much from the experiences of other bloggers and in a small way this blog has been a very positive experience and enabled me to grow up a bit and move on.

Joie de Vivre I do hope that this is true, I do loose it occasionally, but mostly I hope this is what comes through this blog.

It was harder to define than I thought with out coming across as smug and self satisfied. But I guess that again is the positive side of me coming through. Words to describe the dark side of me would be
Irascible, cynical, miserable, moody, snappy, rude, unsatisfied, irritable, selfish, megalomaniac, oh could go on but that would make me introspective, self obsessed and narcissistic!
A Big mwah for the meme, I think most bases have been covered, so I will open it to all who read me.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Smug, thy name is Alison

Seriously, after last weeks rather sad and heavy day of poor A'Level results I specifically avoided school for the GCSE results, just too depressing.
I also told a colleague that under no circumstances did I want to know the outcome, I was happy to wait until I return to the chalk face next week.
So what does she do? Yep phoned me up, she was I think, excited to let me know that I was just shy of a 90% pass rate. an all time high for me. This is an astonishing achievement when you factor my reduced time with the students, plus that badly timed move. Mix this in with some monumentally artistically challenged girls with the fine motor skills of a six year old and I am feeling just a little smug.
I have also managed to paint the au-pairs bedroom so that too is another box ticked on my 'to do' list so as a reward I am taking Kitty to see

on at the

after which we will meet my sister and go for one of those
fab curries at Tyyabs.

Daisy is bopping her stuff down at the

fingers crossed it does not rain as guess
which mug will be doing the washing?

Just deserts

Starter or a pudding?
These were the decisions I had to make as I grew up. My cash strapped parents enjoyed eating out so this is how they managed to keep the bill under control.
As a child this was a complete no brainer. My sweet tooth was legendary, as illustrated by copious empty cans of condensed milk that lay under my bed, or the mysterious missing blocks of marzipan and tubs of glace cherries around Christmas time.
Nothing was too unctuous or too sweet. But as with all things in life, age has dulled the need for such sweetness, I no longer eat Ice cream and ate very little fudge this summer. I now positively dislike sweets and biscuits and I am so calorie conscious that if I am to indulge I want good quality chocolate, not cheap crap from Cadburys. The one think I am a sucker for is peanut M&M's they hit the spot every time.
So what started with "a pudding please" has now ended with a plate of cheese and fruit.
Over many many years I have concluded that whilst most restaurants lavish time and money on the first two courses very few bother with the last. I have eaten so many disgusting puddings I have all but given up bothering to order one. Exceptions to this rule was the ubiquitous rice pudding at the Ivy which I could have eaten three times a day. A cliche I know but it got that reputation for a reason.
Recently my faith in puddings was neatly defibrillated back to life by the St Ives Tate Gallery cafe, the food is excellent and I shared with mother, quite frankly the most memorable bread and pudding I or mother for that matter, had ever eaten. If you are there, go, it is truly scrumptious.
Second on my success list is the Princi bakery, this has been on my 'must go' list for ages but last Friday after a disappointing visit to see Richard Long at the Tate Britain, I do question his work, it is poetic and driven by the right ideals, but the retrospective lacked the intimacy that I know he is capable of. There was far to much emphasis on text and dialogue and not enough on the physical relationship he has with the environment.
A grueling search for Leyla's cousin via a disappointing trip to Liberty's fabric department and I was in need of some serious reviving. No better place for a pot of jasmine teas and a slice of heaven can there be than this bakery cum cafe. Leyla ate the biggest cream cake I have ever seen, I managed half of my amaretto sticky chocolate cake and stashed the rest for the next day. This place has now become a 'must go to' destination and it has slightly revived my deeply buried sweet tooth.
I recently stumbled across an interesting food blog

World Foodie Guide

which has some interesting reviews as well as a lot of other foodie related stuff.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Sartorial style St Ives

I, in no way present this post as the definitive guide to style in St Ives, but it gives a flavour.
I am probably slightly strange in that I have an almost completely separate holiday wardrobe. Very few pieces I took cross over into either my home wear or work wear. They are now washed and packed away for 2011!
This jacket is a classic example of that. I only ever wear it in St Ives nowhere else. It is perfect for watching the girls surf whilst keeping me warm and dry. yYou can just see I rather 'let myself go' and did not wear much sun block."Quelle horreur" I hear you cry. But hey, sometimes I just need a little colour on my face. I am as dark as I was when I came back from Croatia. Yes the weather was that good, no I do not sun bathe ever. I just freeze my legs off instead! and my skin just does the rest.
The skirt you can just see I bought in St Ives over 6 years ago, the one good thing is that because my weight stays the same I can get away with this strange habit I have.
This woman is wearing my favourite 'must have' label Desigual I ached to by a skirt by this label but they did not have my size. One WILL be mine soon as I have tracked the shop down on Regent Street.

Cath Kidston was EVERYWHERE, seriously every Tom Dick and Harry had one of her bags. This woman had the lot.
The shop was the first shop I saw every morning and eventually despite my sneering I went in and ended up buying a necklace.
I was tickled to see even a hard nose Tracey Emin look a like, dressed very urban style, pushing an all black stroller had a Kidston nappy bag!

Oh I know it's a cliche but what would a seaside holiday be with out stripes? This is my COS one which is very comfy.

Hers was similar too

My favourite look continues to be a tunic layered over cropped trousers

This woman was 'a certain age' and she just looked so lovely and elegant, a light grey linen jacket with grey shorts topped with a really cool hat.

As was this one. Yes another stripey top but she too looked so elegant.

Yet another Kidston bag but I did like how she wore it with the flowery top.
I have a load more images but they are stuck at school so I will post a small project I completed on my return to work.
I should right now be clearing up the house yet again, as well as painting the au pairs bedroom. The last one has left it in a dreadful state. I hope this new one will be the penultimate one. I am now counting the days until I reclaim this room for my self and finally have that all elusive 'room of my own'
Daisy has flitted in and out all week, mooning around around like a love sick teenager. I dreaded this moment and what a year for it to happen! She is not in my good books currently as:
a) she did really badly in her exams and has now left it too late (I think) to get into the University of her choice. She promises to work harder to prove me wrong, but I have yet to be convinced. So sad that some one so bloody clever is so unbelievably lazy.
b) I found out she had a tattoo!! yes , not a small discrete one, but a bloody great branch of blossom painted right across the base of her spine. What a cliche.
Kitty too has gone AWOL she gate crashed her aunties house again for the entire week and is now at her nan's so it has just been Leyla and I, and I can safely say Leyla is bored witless and counting the days before she can go back to school.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

St Ives 2009

So, I managed to write a whole post without saying what a lovely lovely time I had, I think we all had. We did not want to come home, perfect in every way shape and form.

These trees are everywhere, including my garden, yet some how they are more beautiful in this tropical environment.
If one image stands out it is this perfect still life. Agapanthus are nearly as common as the gulls, and I loved the clash to match look of it in the jug.

Oh these babies are EVERYWHERE including the roof below our balcony, they plead incessantly for food and the cacophony of noise upon their mother arrival was astonishing, as was not only watching her regurgitate a whole corn on the cob, but then watching said delinquent swallow it up whole after chasing it across the roof.

I have a HUGE Hepworth crush and this graces the entrance to some beach side apartments.

Loved the colours of this image as well as the sentiment.

Jewellery shops are EVERYWHERE nearly as prolific as the gulls. This was my favourite necklace, I gazed at it longingly most days.

A most photogenic doorway just at the bottom of our terrace, it marks the entrance to a particularly delicious pasty shop that also made a very very scrummy bread pudding. Seriously juggling fish & chips with fudge with pasty's with cream teas was sooo demanding.

Even shrouded in mizzle this place is divine.

Picture perfect

I became completely and utterly obsessed with this building. It was impossible to find a way to it, in the end I confess I gate crashed a garden to peek over a fence, it was the 'summer house' of an impossibly secluded house either Trezion (the one Ben Nicholson moved too to lick his wounds after his split from Hepworth) or it's neighbour.

The story goes that Alfred Wallis was discovered when Ben Nicholson and Kit Wood walked pat his house and saw his work propped up inside. Well, this lady lived next door, and her door too was left ajar, she was easily an octogenarian and would sit by her window with the door open watching the world go by.
Doesn't her house look divine?

Oh when the sun comes out everyone comes out. My favourite quote of the week
"Darling, hitting me won't make me change my mind"
I should have this printed on a T shirt and wear it every time I go out with The Leyla Monster

Gulls, Gulls, Gulls, everywhere bloody screaming gull's but do they move fast? Especially when they have stolen someones lunch.

Oh the hours I spent on this beach, but what a perfect beach.

Just a perfect day.

The view from here, or rather of our teeny tiny kitchen, which we managed to cater for my greedy brood from.

A couple of seconds prior to this, their beaks were locked in combat, as I scrabbled to get my camera I lost that moment, but got this one instead. Ouch.

Tropical lushness, in a beautiful house. I do miss the deciduous trees though, which give a greater sense of the seasons.

Un Photoshopped and just a divine way to say goodbye for a couple more years, I will return in 2011.
I will catch up with all your blogs tomorrow, so much to read and so little time.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

The view from here

St Ives
image 1
Sandra Blow

Mother bought this Sandra Blow print as a memento of the holiday. She had wanted to buy one two years ago but could not bear to part with the best part of £1000. Mother is very careful with her money and agonises for ages. Two years might be a record though!
I personally would have bought a LOT more, instead of always saving, I would have thought it would be better to spend and enjoy rather than constantly worry as she does about how much she has to live on when in fact she has morethan enough.
This was a running strand of conversation I had to endure for two weeks. Mother has 4 topics of conversation
1. The weather, I was regaled with a full weather forcast every morning, noon and night, she would of course give details of areas where friends and family lived just to give it that compare and contrast flavour. I DO NOT really get this obsession, I wake up, look out of the window and dress accordingly. Who bloody cares? I can't exactly change it.
2. Money, constant wittering about how much she has to live on (oodles) how much better off her sister is etc etc on and on
3. critical analysis of whichever prodigal daughter is underachieving in life. mad as a hatter sister two's star is very much on the ascendant as she has finally quit smoking and is currently on an exercise regime that has allowed her to loose a stone, which brings me to her fall back topic.
4. How much she weighs

image 2
Chris Insoll

Mother really loved this picture above I swear we went to see it every day of the holiday. Eventually she went for the Sandra Blow but this was a very close runner up. It was on show at the fabulous Belgrave Gallery. They have an interesting blog too

image 3
Sandra Blow
I much preferred this one but unlike mother my money tend to go on the kids.
I rate them;
Daisy 7/10 bone idle as always, but when spotted was very affable. Lost marks for her slovenly habits and her inability to wash up.
Kitty 10/10
An angel, she read books, drew and painted pictures, cleaned and tidied up a lot, demonstrated patience beyond the call of duty with Leyla and apart from two teeny tiny tantrums (homesick) was a star.
Leyla 6/10 much improved from her previous visit but VERY demanding as always, displaying a complete inability to entertain herself. She was, apart from that very charming and only had one HUGE blow out on Kitty's birthday (Jealousy)
Mother 6/10 far less clingy than previous years at least attempted to go for walks on her own, as ever generous to a fault and was very patient and kind to the girls. Managed to only let slip one MASSIVE faux pas, which was to loudly proclaim the girls father a 'toy boy'. At this Kitty's jaw dropped to the floor and roundly denounced her as being very rude when she was in fact talking about her (kitty's) father.
Oh and I nearly forgot her absolute nightmare behaviour the night I arrived. I wanted an early night as I intended to leave by 5am so as to avoid the horrendous traffic jams that occur on the A30. However she was meeting a friend for dinner so I dropped her off and told her I would pick her up at 11pm. At 11.45pm she rolls out drunk. I was NOT HAPPY. The irony of this curious role reversal was not lost on me, so I plumped for a later start and crossed my fingers.
5 minutes before we left in the morning I asked her to double check that she had packed all her eye stuff since most holidays are spoilt by her incessant wittering about lotions, lights and other essential requirement linked to wearing contacts. Mother harrumphs and we left soon after. Just as I hit the open road she exclaimed that she had forgotten her eye stuff! seriously, I was speechless, I had to turn back and this made us even later hence a 5 hour journey took 8 hours. My poor feet were in agony. Imagine the pain of changing gears in Haviana's for 8 bloody hours!

image 4
Alexander Mackenzie
I have in mind the lighthouse at Godrevy point on the north coast of Cornwall. The lighthouse cylinder stands among a group of white washed buildings with black barrel roofs seemingly all of one piece. These white buildings are founded in grey rock. On some days the circumventing sea has blue,yellow,green,maroon or even orange colours created with effervescent foam as epitome. From the point in a tearing wind we look down at the island growing into firm white buildings with black roofs: the central cylinder of white outlines against the grey sky is a monument to every form and colour in sea sky and rock.
The above is a quote by Adrian Stokes
It is from a book The St Ives Artists by Michael Bird.
I love the quote which goes some way to capturing the constant changing of light and colour you get in St Ives. I took my watercolours and painted a lot, by the penultimate day I had started to finally crack the code of the sea.
It becomes addictive trying to capture the view we had from the balcony. I could have made it a full time occupation but instead took about a 1000 photographs instead! I will begin the laborious process of editing tomorrow
image 5
Sandra Blow
Mean while I will shut up and leave you with one last Sandra Blow image, this time not a print but a beautiful charcoal rendition of the coastline.
Images from here and here