Tuesday, 29 September 2009

The view from over there

One day....
An excellent article highlighting just what hard work a relationship is.
I particularly enjoyed the descriptions. I am clearly Explorer trapped with Director. Not a great combo really
Fisher, a women's cult figure and an anthropologist, has long argued that falling in love – and falling out of love – is part of our evolutionary biology, and that humans are programmed not for lifelong monogamy but for serial monogamy. (In stretches of four years, to be exact, approximately the time it takes to get one kid safely through infancy.) Why Him? Why Her? explains the hormonal forces that trigger humans to be romantically attracted to some people and not to others (a phenomenon also documented in the animal world). Fisher posits that each of us gets dosed in the womb with different levels of hormones that impel us toward one of four basic personality types:
The Explorer – the libidinous, creative adventurer who acts "on the spur of the moment". Operative neurochemical: dopamine.
The Builder – the much calmer person who has "traditional values". The Builder also "would rather have loyal friends than interesting friends", enjoys routines and places a high priority on taking care of his or her possessions. Operative neurotransmitter: serotonin.
The Director – the "analytical and logical" thinker who enjoys a good argument. The Director wants to discover all the features of his or her new camera or computer. Operative hormone: testosterone.
The Negotiator – the touchy-feely communicator who imagines "both wonderful and horrible things happening" to him- or herself. Operative hormone: oestrogen, then oxytocin.
Fisher reviewed personality data from 39,913 members of Chemistry.com. Explorers made up 26% of the sample, Builders 28.6%, Directors 16.3%, Negotiators 29.1%. While Explorers tend to be attracted to Explorers, and Builders tend to be attracted to Builders, Directors are attracted to Negotiators and vice versa.

This holiday was very positive in that I got time to think about what I want in life. Right now I am juggling many balls in the air, career, motherhood, creative energy, the desire to travel etc But there will come a time when I hope to retire and although you could argue that planning for that time is like wishing your life away, seeing my mother stumble into retirement somewhat reluctantly makes me realise that yes, I may get run over by a bus tomorrow but the statistics suggest otherwise and so I have begun to plan.
It was always assumed that I would use my retirement fund to pay off the house but after reflecting for most of the summer as well as reading the above I feel vindicated by my decision. I will in fact use the money to travel. What is the point of a large house when I would be happier staying in some smaller ones. It is the view I desire not the trappings of size and space. I am currently compiling a list of places to stay, not just visit, but actually stay a while. Places like Lake Como or the French Riviera, as well as places in Britain such as Anglesey, Suffolk or the South West of Scotland. It is the view I crave and increasingly the desire to paint the view and it is the dream of that view that will have to sustain me for at least another decade.

And of Emin? Well curiously he spends the whole of his waking hours planning for when he can stop work, and has done since he started work, to the point that he does not really live, so much as exist at present. His dream is to rotate living in Berlin with his house in Cyprus, interestingly if not tellingly, despite needing urgent assurances that we are a couple for life, not ONCE did he ask what I wanted. That ladies and gentlemen is what is at the root of our problem we neither share a common goal nor I the desire to share it. It may work out fine, I hope in a way we can muddle through but I am very determined to get to live the dream.
image from here

Sunday, 27 September 2009

one coat two coat

And so to shopping, refreshed and refuelled by a most delicious brunch at Cafe Anglais where we dined on Smoked Haddock Monte Carlo washed down with Elderflower and white wine spritzers.
Mother had long hankered after a visit to the new shopping mall at Shepherds Bush. Having watched it rise from very inauspicious beginnings it opened with much promise of luxury and a wholly new retail experience.
The reality rarely quite matches up to the hype and sadly this was very much a case in point. Too much glitz and not enough to interest. Bluewater does it so much better. It felt quite empty, many shops seem to have but a sprinkling of customers. I was shocked that there was no John Lewis, No Muji, no Jigsaw or Kew, it felt a bit like a ghost town until we found Zara, which of course was heaving, Without my favourite trinity of shops I did not expect to find anything, let alone two coats.
The one above looks a bit like a blanket I know, but it feels divine. It really looks lovely on and is different enough not to make me feel too mumsy, which my other one tends to do. I already have the perfect biker jacket and have a serviceable mac, all be it more Colombo than Clouseau.
I have previously posted that having trawled through the Sartorialists back catalogue, most days out and about could be made to look great with just a well cut coat and an unusual scarf mix. I have found the scarves, I have worked hard to find the cigarette ankle grazer trousers that look so good with a coat, all I needed was, well, The Coat.
I have to have a raglan shoulder as my own are very broad, this really does limit what I can even try on so I held out little hope especially without my favourite shops.

Instead I was faced with a huge choice in COS of all places. I love their clothes, but I often thought the coats a little esoteric. They are, but when you try them on they look surprisingly good, well OK the couple with built up shoulders were a little too extreme but two really stood out.
The one above is gorgeous. I have not really thought those bracelet sleeves would ever work but they do. It has no collar, all the more room for a scarf. So faced with a choice my head ruled my heart and I bought both. My heart of course wanted the cashmere blue and grey marle cardie from Gap as well as various other similar knitwear. Spending a whole months money on coats really goes against the grain. I woke up twice in the night feeling sick at the expense. Yet I KNOW it is the right thing to do. Why try having one coat to fit both work and going out when having one slouchy and one smart makes sense, it will prolong the wear out of both of them too.
Sadly the view from here continues to be balmy. We are basking in an Indian Summer, maybe I should go and get the cashemere too!

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Sunny Side Up

Paul Smith from London Fashion week, sublime colours and stripes. I loved it.
The rest of my day was not quite so sunny. This morning marching to the station I was suddenly enveloped by a HUGE spiders web. The web was so big and strong it did not break at first just crackled and then stuck to my face. My first thought was FUCK if that is how big the web is, how big is the bloody spider? Then I thought shit what if it is in my hair?
I was in public so I collected myself looked down and there it clung to my scarf, dazed and confused. I prised it off and finally coaxed it back to a shrub.
I get home tonight and Emin says to me " Did you see the size of that spiders web this morning? It was HUGE I stepped onto the road to get passed it,!"
Gee thanks Emin, thanks for taking that bullet for me....not.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Hannah Dakin

'Wax Block' series, 2007
This body of work is an exploration of childhood; revisiting locations and objects relating to a personal and cultural history. The images captured when making these journeys have then been cast in wax, combining photography and sculpture, allegorically attempting further preservation. The work also addresses the notion of the archive; the way in which it is displayed is symbolic of how some memories are propelled 'out of mind' - metaphorically putting things away in boxes.
Through this process of personal archaeology and the presentation of the work in groups of four, it is hoped that a potential for narrative has been opened up and a chance that the work may provoke the viewers own memories

These images are very beautiful. I have worked with wax a few times and it gives a wonderful depth to images, but it is a little unstable.

The view from here

I am so lazy that as Kitty has gone out to meet a friend and left her laptop on I just carried on her user area. Only for some strange reason she has 5, yes count them. 5 tool bars. It is like trying to view the page through a letter box. Why does anyone need 5 tool bars?

On Sunday I finally watched The Wrestler, what an unsettling film that is. It insidiously crawls under your skin. I keep getting flash backs. Watch the film and then look out of the window, we have it good my friends, we have it very, very good. Whilst I believe Micky Rouke is a strange and slightly damaged person he has always been mesmerising on the big screen. He holds every scene it was like rubber necking a car crash.

I whooped with delight at all the awards Little Dorrit scooped up at the Emmy’s I told you it it was bloody brilliant and I was not alone. What always tickles me is when you go to the official Emmy's website they list all the writers involved in nominated shows. The gulf between us (UK) is immense, some of our shows have just the one writer, most American productions run into double figures. Mad Men appeared to be the exception. Oh that won too. Did I tell you I was one of a lucky handful of Brits who tripped over episode 1 of series 3? Apparently it was a BIG mistake on their official website to allow this!

My timetable this year is split into week A and week B. Week A (this week) is a complete nightmare, back to back lessons with very little in the way of non-contact. Week B is a slice of heaven, loads and loads of planning time and mostly the easy peasy upper school. This second week is now my painting week.

I had to take Daisy for a check up at the skin clinic in our local hospital. 3 very l-o-n-g hours later she emerged sans a mole on her chest and an mysterious lump on her arm. This had bizarrely been caused by an insect bite that was turning into gristle. Mmmm.
Add to this heady mix a house full of poorly people. In particular Emin who is managing to turn a head cold into full blown man flu.

But… I am happy because:
· I made to the gym 4 times last week
· I have found a lovely pair of gym pants, Reebok, but don’t let that put you off, they have a perfect soft fold top with a draw string so no builders bum there then and they have draw string at the bottom of the legs thus keeping them dry when it rains.
· The weather has been a delight
· All my paperwork is up to date
· I have a ticket for the Anish Kapoor evening on Friday
· I will be dining at CafĂ© Anglais on Saturday
· I will be shopping on Saturday as it is PAY DAY

Saturday, 19 September 2009

This much I now know

I have a real mixture of stuff in this room. It is a purpose built darkroom, but I am primarily teaching digital by popular demand. So this space still has all the darkroom features, sink, red light, shelves etc, but no enlarges as yet. I was disappointed that having been given no office I had to use this room which has no window. But it is a blessing in disguise as there are no distractions.

This is my notice board, and what a board it is. Photographs of me as a child, my children mixed with images from private views and exhibitions. Below, some very raw work.

If you had cupped your hand to your ear this past summer you would have heard the gentle filling in of the chip that has rested somewhat heavily on my shoulder since I first began teaching.

I have always felt that to teach is somehow not compatible with being a practising artist. The adage 'those that can't do teach' haunts most art teachers but is in fact a myth from what I have experienced. However I read an excellent book The St Ives Artists A biography of place and time by Michael Bird which shone a very bright light onto the real world of how some of my favourite artists came to be.

I learnt that many such as Patrick Heron, Ben Nicholson and Peter Lanyon were all afforded the luxury of a private income so that they could hone their skills and develop as practising artists. Many, many others however taught.; some became professors of important academic institutions such as Terry Frost. But the book reveals that those without the cushion of money struggled for recognition considerably longer than the others.

Out of art school, Anish Kapoor made furniture for Nicky Haslam, to make ends meet; and he taught art. He had very little money. “I had to say to myself, all right, I’m going to be an artist but I don’t have any dough so I’ll probably have to teach for the rest of my life. But I’ll still be an artist”

Well the rest of his life is well known, and he is about to be afforded the second retrospective in London this decade, which is a considerable achievement and reflects his talent as an artist. But I like the fact that he has not poured scorn on the teaching profession.

So I have in a very simplistic way realised that to create work that reflects a wholly personal journey it is better for me not to need or indeed want to sell the work. I refer of course to my painting. (My photography for some reason I feel the opposite about and would love to make a career out of that.)

I have realised that in fact it is far better to teach and paint than to have to paint to the orders of what others want. I have neither the talent nor the money to do otherwise and I would rather my journey was at my pace.

I was very heartened to read that Jim Ede did not begin to create kettles yard until he was in his sixties. So many amazing artists mature well into their old age and I happy to wait.

If any quote ever dispels the urban myth that Barbara Hepworth was a tyrant this one does.

Barbara Hepworth describing her working conditions whilst living at Park Hill Road Hampstead recalled that Mondrian’s and Ben’s (Nicholson) studios were most austere, but my studio was a jumble of children, rocks, sculptures, trees, importune flowers and washing.

I would however add her to the pile of those with money, as Nicholson paid for a nanny and a cook to help with the triplets. Her life was tough but many others had it tougher.

I do not want all this to sound impossibly smug, but small steps help my sanity and get me through the weekends! Yes, I must be the only blogger who is happier at work than at home.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Freddie Timms

I do not normally buy House and Garden but when I saw these paintings I had to had to have it. The are buy an Australian artist called Freddie Timms and they are just spectacular. My favourite is the last one.
I could not find much about him so being lazy I scanned the pages instead. How about the apartment for a bit of lifestyle envy?
I am having so many problems trying to post you would not believe it. We have tiny intermittent breaks in the wireless connection that mean it is impossible to load images. On top of that I have to wait till Kitty is in bed then I have to type in the pitch black, since her lap top is attached to a monitor. Hence the misspelt header on the last post.
I know I take a lot for granted, but this week has been ridiculous, we are soon to enter the next decade of this millennium and we have to endure conditions of the last century in terms of Internet access. Emin, Crown Prince of IT is so utterly crap (yes I do hope you read this) that with all his supposed knowledge he has to have 30 feet of cable draped across the house so He can get a continuous connection. It is times like these I hate him more than ever. Nothing like a bit of harboured resentment for a harmonious household!

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

The virw from here

It is sometimes impossible to write something without coming across as impossibly smug or essentially wrapped up with all that is navel gazing.
So because I did I will share the inanities of my weekend a little late, as I have NOT BLOODY STOPPED at work, It is like being sucked dry by a series of vampiric requests. Data analysis for this, self evaluate that and the bloody other. On top of that I have had to start displays from scratch, this being a new room sans any kind of display facility so everything has to be stuck up with Sellotape. It is 2009 and I am having to use sticky tape. NOT A HAPPY BUNNY. Add to this heady mix a member of staff with family problems and a complete inability to control her classes and my cup runeth over with joy.
Yes that was a very heavy sigh.

I can always tell when I am rife with dissatisfaction when I start buying magazines. Which I am..
There was one moment of salvation and that was going to see the Pitman Painters at the National Theatre, A play so brilliantly written I truly wish you could all go and see it. So uplifting, in a melancholic kind of way, but best of all, so incredibly funny. I laughed and laughed. Food for the soul. If you can GO SEE, it if you can’t buy the play.

One of the few pleasures I have doing this job is being able to order my Amazon ‘wish list’ each year under the auspices of building up resources. The down side is that they arrive at the same time as all the paperwork needs completing, but I have managed to have a peep at few. Watch this space as they say.

Finally on a sartorial note, yes, I bought the book, it was half price on Amazon, what is a girl to do?
It is good, but I have my favourite images already in a scrap book. There was however little duplication and I really enjoyed the nuggets of text it has. I showed it to Kitty but strangely she did not ‘get it’
I have found my scrap book invaluable. It has stopped me repeating the same old mistakes and focused my attention on buying pieces that recreate my favourite silhouettes’ No longer do I waste money chasing the surfer dream or trying to float around in palazzo trousers Katherine Hepburn style. Now I have my key pieces and more focus.
I do have slightly more clothes that can fit into to my bedroom wardrobe, mainly because He Who Must Be Obeyed has the bulk of the space, which implies a level of sartorial style on his part, but I can assure it is not the case. You couldn’t give his crap away. Acres of worn jersey tops and joggers. Really, it is not pleasant.
For this years summer, to focus my brain I put away all that was black for two whole months. Not easy, but it does help to pare down choice as well as create new mixes of some oldies. The weather finally blew cold this weekend so I put all that was light and pale away and back out came the black. Oh the joy, it was so good to see it all. I must say I do prefer going to work wearing something dark. The lighter, brighter elements of my wardrobe instill a bit of a manyana feel to my work ethic, which is not good for the start of term.

I cannot say I am a big fan of this time of year, darker nights are not something I look forward to, and whilst I do have a trip to Berlin to look forward there is little in the way of theatre coming up. Our next play is not until January.

Mother is packed and ready to go and so has requested a final shopping fling. I have suggested we try the new shopping mall Westfield so she can get her COS fix before disappearing into the northern ether. This plus Frieze Art Fair plus tickets for MUSE will keep the SAD at bay until next year at least.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

A short story about Liberty Fabrics

Once upon a time when I was a fresh faced bright eyed bushy tailed student, I was besotted with all things Liberty. Just about every penny I had was spent in that building. I thought it was a temple to the exotic, a shrine to all that was creative and unique,and all those years ago it was rather affordable exotica too. The haberdashery department was amazing, trimmings and buttons of the like you could not possibly imaging. And the fabric, have I every told you how wonderful the fabric was?

There was Tana lawn, Viyella, Velvet Devoré or the more esoteric knitted tubes of ribbed wool.

You could with some judicious pattern cutting, create some amazing outfits, which is what I often did.

Shawls too were all the rage during the early eighties and I had a substantial collection of various brightly coloured ones to wrap around in that romantic style so popular at the time.

During my college years we even got to tour the factories ‘up North’ where we wept as grown men wiped the grease off the printing presses with paisley off cuts, yet cruelly we were denied anything, nothing, not a skerrick. Too, too cruel.

When did this love affair stop? I know it was with a whimper, not a bang. But somehow my weekly visits petered out until they became annual, then not at all.

I recently posted about how many of the women featured on the Sartorialist blog stood out because they had festooned a plain coat with one or more scarves. I hunted high and low for some to wrap together. Nothing, absolutely nothing caught my fancy. Then a ripple of a memory surfaced, I remembered that deep in the archive of my resources at school, I had kept one very eighties tessellated patterned shawl and two skirts made of liberty paisley wool. Perfect.

Unbelievably, I found them. The skirts need unpicking, but it will be worth it to give me three new vintage scarves. Why vintage? Because as I discovered recently, the fabric department is so utterly depleted they appeared to sell only a minimal range of basic cotton. Gone were all the exotica.

Thank God I kept those skirts, because now this winter I will rock the plainest of coats.

Images are a montage of the 3 pieces of fabric twinned with some images of a recent Liberty window display

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Sally Mann

Image & text from here

This was a project my husband Larry and I talked about for six years, maybe eight. The further I got into it, the more exciting it became. Every new picture opened the door to another, which doesn't happen often. I knew I was done when I had explored every inch of Larry's body: feet, arms, hands, legs, butt, back, head.

Image from here

Sally Mann just gets better and better, the few images I have found from this new body of work are sublime. Would that I could catch them in the flesh, so to speak.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Barbara Hepworth

Although Barbara Hepworth’s house and garden makes me ache with lifestyle envy, the truth is when she bought it just after the break up of her marriage after the war, she could not really afford it. She was egged on by her dealer who felt sure that she would sell enough of her work to eventually pay for it. He was right, she did, and spent the rest of her life working here. It is but a stones throw from the heaving masses on Fore Street, and yet it is the most peaceful tranquil environment you could ever hope to find. The garden evolved and was completely devoted to displaying her sculpture so that you get these amazing multiple viewpoints.

I liked the story I read, that every time anyone came to take photographs of her or interview her she would lock her assistants in the conservatory. All artists employ assistants but she seemed keen not to let anyone else know, she was at the time one of very few woman struggling to make a name for herself. I suppose she was afraid that if the public knew that a lot of her work was completed by men, that would in some way devalue her achievements. Hepworth has always been portrayed as a harridan but I often wonder if a man would ever gain such a reputation for the same behaviour? I know for a fact that Paolozzi was a very unpleasant person to work for, and yet somehow because he is a man this becomes an endearing and acceptable quirk of an eccentric genius.

Her studios are particularly poignant reflecting the suddenness and unexpected nature of her death.

I love the way the tools look as if she might reappear and pick up where she left off

Although I love the garden, I love this room more. I always though it had evolved after her death as a kind of museum, but pictures show the room has barely changed; it is just a little tidier. It was her untidiness that killed her in the end. Having fought cancer with some particularly aggressive and unpleasant treatment, she then fell and broke her hip. She brought her bed up to this room so she could walk straight outside to her studio and carry on working. She was a heavy smoker, and one night a lit cigarette burned through copious mounds of polythene which she used to protect her work. She in fact died of smoke inhalation in her sleep. The fire such as it was, burnt a tiny patch of floor, nothing else, but a glass jug on display is completely opaque from the smoke which shows how thick and acrid it must have been.

That table you can just see at the end of the room is gorgeous, and despite the lack of views the room feels surprisingly light and airy.
You can see more images on Flickr

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Barbara Rae

Small slices of heaven from Barbara Rae.

I think these images are from a series she completed in Spain. I am looking forward to her next exhibition which celebrates the publishing of her new book
All this is to cover the fact that so little has happend this weekend it is slim post pickings.

I start teaching on Monday and I have made small inroads into preparing to paint. I was however a tad side tracked with editing my next and last set of images from my holiday.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Surf Widow

Surf Widow
Originally uploaded by theviewfromhere indigo16
Now on Flickr, the first set of images from St Ives.
I loved this project, it was considerably harder than it looks. I had to be directly behind the woman,I tried not to have too much around them.
Humans must have a sixth sense because the amount of times they would turn around and see me and then move was amazing.
Nevertheless I had a 70% success rate and I love this set

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

The view from here

The clock is ticking away my final hours before my sanity can rush back to work and unpack it's bags. Not a moment too soon I tell you, because after 6 weeks of He Who Must Be Obeyed managing to keep is big fat mouth shut, he finally came home and said it. Yep, he finally let the words trip effortlessly from his tongue, but oh so laden with meaning. "What the hell have you done all day*" Oh that went down well. So I explained how I felt about this rather insulting remark, receiving a similar retort, implying it was but a simple question.
Bollocks was it, what he should have done is walked into the kitchen, burst into tears, stamp his foot and wail beseechingly, "Where's my dinner?" Because in effect, that is what he meant. Well moron I do not cook for someone who belittles my cooking and since the kids were not around I had made Leyla and myself a comforting plate of tuna mash.
So having thrown all his toys out of his pram he made some cheese toasties and sulked in front of the tele for the rest of the night. Thankfully Mr Moron is stuck in a meeting all day.
I had in my fantasy world thought I might spend my last hours of freedom visiting Kettle Yard, but quite frankly the thought of yet another day following Leyla in and out of every public toilet in town and listening to her whining voice exclaiming how utterly bored she is, or how hungry she is, filled me with such dread that I have stayed at home.
Daisy came back from Reading dumped a large bag of washing at my feet and then went flush with another £30 of my hard won alimony to Bluewater. Kitty too came back home dumped two bags of washing at my feet then she too went clutching the other £30 plus £10 pocket money to Bromley. Their bedroom which I had tidied and cleaned looks like someone couldn't decide on what to wear and so tipped out their entire wardrobe. Oh actually that is exactly what has happened. Well if it does not resemble a photo-shoot by the time I get back from work tomorrow tears will be spilt, and I suspect they might be mine.
Currently Leyla has just locked me out whilst I was emptying the compost bin, it took a long and somewhat irritable 10 minutes for me to get her to open the door. Any tiny privileges amassed were promptly rescinded. THANK GOD she is back at school tomorrow, I used to cry when Kitty and Daisy went back, I used to howl all the way back to work.
Leyla and I have really reached the end of our goodwill and we will both be glad to see the back of each other. The au-pair arrives tomorrow as well, the bells are ringing out in celebration.
I have booked the cottage in Scotland and will post pictures once I have confirmation. For someone so not superstitious, I am curiously superstitious! plus I do not want someone gazumping me as I have set my heart on a cute shepherds cottage overlooking loch Awe.
I have read quite a lot over the holiday, nothing particularly challenging, some Kate Atkinson, and some Patrick Gale, who coincidentally lives and writes in Cornwall. I really enjoyed a couple of his books, very easy to read but quite perceptive too.
I also got out of the library two books by Kate Muir, Left bank and West Coast the latter being set it seems in or near the town where I have just booked a cottage. Although the books are peppered with grotesque caricatures, much of the observations are quite pertinent and very pithy.

* I had in fact had huge amounts of fun trying on all my new clothes and planning some outfits to wear for work without using any black.

I had also spent;
  • 2 hours playing with Leyla
  • Taken Leyla to the library
  • Taken the dog for a walk
  • Made lunch for Leyla and I
  • Taken Leyla to the park and walked the dog again
  • Spent an hour booking swimming lessons for guess who?