Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Frivolous Fun

Black Fringe Ribbon Trim Necklace by Akong

Beautiful feather headdress by Rebecca Jewell

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Why I love Consuelo Castiglioni

The headline accompanying this photograph was enough to make my heart leapfrog into my mouth. Marne + H&M. Seriously, this has to be the one I pull my finger out for. Even if it's just to own a necklace or two.

But what really leapt off the page was what she is wearing herself. Could this be any better? The colour of the jumper, the patterned skirt, her hair. OK the earrings would drive me insane, and what I want to know is would she consider wearing this with tights? Or, is she granite like and goes bare legged? If so does that not look odd with a coat? Like a wool sleeveless polo neck. Of course the chances of her needing a coat as she runs for the 7am train on a sub zero morning, before climbing 4 flights of stairs into an over heated classes room are zero. I often think the life of a fashionista is totally climate controlled and not subject to the extreme vagaries we lower down the food chain are.
I have to say the best decision I ever made was to switch to jumpers, from an almost pathological need to buy cardigans, and after a recent wobbly moment last week I am back on top form currently wearing jumpers over skirts, but mostly black.
Now I've seen this I may have to get back out some patterned skirts just to have my own Marni moment.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Failure to launch

Well, I could argue that the economic climate is not the best time to suddenly launch a career as an artist. But I was not prepared for the brutality that was to come. Despite the hoards walking round, little money exchanged hands, I'd spent the whole of Saturday night cutting out paper doves to make cards. I'd other designs too, but in the end ran out of time. Thankfully, as no one was buying cards, not just mine, but anywhere. I had completely misjudged the Christmas Craft Fair, it was mostly jewellery and commercially imported merchandise. The only thing selling was cupcake candles, soap and lavender bags. Maybe some scarves but that was all. Neither stall either side of me made enough to cover costs. Luckily I did. What was laughable was how many stopped ooh ed and aah ed but didn't even buy a card.
My sister was stoic, she came with food and stood with me for 4 hours. Emin drove me and helped price things up, which was nice since the previous night I had called him a thoughtless prick. Both Kitty and Leyla called me to see how it was going, which was sweet. The main shock was that it was not a craft fair for people who make things, it was just a cash cow for the organisers. lesson learnt.

I have learnt 2 other important lessons.
1. I must have a website, this is a no brainer and Emin has offered to build one after the new year, he is surprisingly keen to launch my art career, so I know he will do it.
2. Everything is now packed and ready to go, this took hours but has now made me realise it can be done. I have through numerous conversations found 3 more venues that would work better for my work. I'm going to do some research this coming weekend and then after the website is up and running go for it.

Friday was a triumph of sorts. A great meal at Les Deux Salons, even Kitty agreed. I treated my sister and I to a glass of Champagne which was what I had looked forward to all week. She was more deserving having lost £8000 of business in one day. I think she will be schmoozing a client this week to make up for it, poor soul.
The play (Comedy of Errors) I have mixed feeling about. 3/5 is a fair I think. The stage as always was great, just brilliantly done. The acting was either 'very good' or 'not great', but it rolled along nicely. After 5 min's Kitty leaned across and said "are they going to talk like this all night?" I panicked but then she relaxed and just let it wash over her. Despite the lack of understanding she really enjoyed herself, and may join us again, but only if they talk in English!!
My biggest concern about the play was one scene that they had set in a brothel, this is fine, kids need to know they exist, (and there were a lot of children there that night.) What was disconcerting was the man in the 'gimp mask' seriously was that necessary? Luckily Leyla didn't see it so I was let off that very interesting conversation!

Friday, 25 November 2011

The view from here

I'm running late, this is a good thing. I have driven to work, which takes less than 20 minutes, as opposed to train and walk which takes over 40 minutes. I woke up to hear the 5.30am train moving off. I am so tuned into the trains that leave the station that backs onto our garden it's quite scary.
I reach for my phone and decide to treat myself to a lie in, so I reset the alarm for 6.30am. Yes, that's what constitutes a lie in! And indeed I do go back to sleep. A deep precious sleep that can only be achieved and appreciated after waking early. In fact I slept like a log most of the night having had an astonishingly stressful day, the details are boring, but after taking Leyla to her violin lesson I bought a bottle of white wine and a pizza, and kicked back in front of the television. Fuck making Christmas cards, I needed a break.

So drinking my coffee looking at the view from my classroom window rather than reading the papers online I see the sun streaming through onto my Ficus, with my fake orchids behind. I love the colours so grab my camera.
The fake orchids are stuck into a real orchid, the flowers of which I have only been seen twice, and they were quite grim. I'm too afraid to re-pot it, despite the fact it's one large root ball, in case I kill it. So it sits, sulking on my cupboard and so to teach it a lesson I stuck some silk flowers in it!
I have driven in so I can take home my boxes of stuff to sell at the craft fair. Lucy has tried to drum up trade by posting it on Facebook. If it all works out I will pay off my MA fees, if not it may just be enough to buy me a sausage sandwich. Watch this space.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Tim Walker

Tim Walker goes to Mongolia.

When I saw this photograph my jaw dropped, it's just so beautiful. I bought Vogue because it's choc full of the most amazing images. The story behind them is remarkable too. They travelled to Mongolia, to go so far with so much luggage and get these photograph is a triumph.
I have wondered if Tim Walker wasn't running on empty recently as he does seem to rely on props to create a story. These photographs prove he should get out more as they are so much better than some of his previous work.

Whilst we were in Istanbul Emin asked why I bother taking photographs, when I do so little with them. He's right, I should make more effort to at least make a blurb book. I'm hoping the MA may help give me a direction, we shall see.

I am still frantically wrapping up old collages, some over 8 years old. I have so far found and wrapped 120 pieces, plus made some ginky cards. I would've liked to have packed up more peices, including some oils, but I'm running out of time and part of me, the negative fatalistic part thinks what's the point.

Looking back over my old work has made me realise how much I miss watercolour painting, so I think I will try and do some in Cyprus, (snow and fog willing) The early dark nights should focus my mind, no distractions I hope, that's what I am looking forward to the most right now. Oh, and Comedy of Errors at the National Theatre on Friday night with the girls. I have booked Les Deux Salons as it's Leyla's favourite for the burgers, which she has declared the best in the world.

My sister has had a rough week so I think I may have to treat her to a champagne cocktail.

Finally my favourite bit so far from my new book by A.C.Grayling is, do you believe in the tooth fairy? No? Then why do you believe in God?

Monday, 21 November 2011

The post where I have to admit I have lost any sense of self control

These I will keep.

It all started inauspiciously enough, I was on my way to the NPG to look at the recently opened Taylor Wessing Portrait prize exhibition as well as listen to two of the photographers discuss their work. This exhibition has become a double edged sword for me on the one hand I love looking at the photographs, on the other should one of mine not be there? I did enter this year, but did not submit the image because it just looked crap on a larger scale. I am aiming for next year all guns blazing, or not.

I digress.

Because I never read anything properly, I'd made some stupid assumption the tour started at 5.30pm, which would be logical since most teachers have a long way to commute into London. Sadly, it started at 5.00pm. So I ran in only to not find anyone, no one knew where they were, and I was told to go in and wait inside the exhibition. I waited for half an hour but no tour appeared. I decided they must be in the lecture theatre and since I was hot and very stressed and had for some reason a crippling stomach ache, I limped home, tail between my legs and walked the dog, smarting from having wasted £7 on travel and even more money in COS.

What made it worse was I was outside the gallery at 4.45pm, but then decided to run up to the London Graphic Center to buy some spray varnish for some work I am attempting to sell. I shot through Waterstones and bought a book and of course was then lulled by poisonous sirens into COS. In the heat of the moment I bought a tunic dress and a knitted dress. Impulse. So I was both poorer and missed the talk.

I put the irritation to the back of mind, but then this morning I woke up and stood frozen like a rabbit in the headlights in front of my wardrobe. It's not that I do not have anything to wear. I have felt 100% positive about all my sartorial style until today, but this morning something cracked under the strain, and the reason is.... Historically I have always felt cold, I'm only comfortable in warmer climes, but it has been my misfortune to spend the last 7 years in a classroom with no heating. I am therefore programed to buy wool anything really. Dresses, jumpers, skirts, even Nora batty tights all worn over up to two thermal layers.

So what has changed?

For a start weather has not got much colder, balmy climes most days, second, I have a feeling they may have fixed the heating but worse of all I feel like I am going to combust most days, so I feel it has all gone horribly wrong. I am hot, so hot I can now only wear 40 denier tights, plus I have to fling my cardie off every 5 minutes. I no longer wear a vest let alone two, and I often have to open a window at work. YES it's the menopause. But how do I know this will last? Do I buy the wool just in case? But then I feel like I have wasted my money. I itch to wear the new stuff, but I feel like I'm going to explode the minute it goes on, so I get ready, then get ready again. I was so pissed off this morning, I stand there looking at all the clothes I have bought yet cannot wear and having been fine for weeks now I feel it has all fallen apart.

On top of this I have started to wake up in the night and then lie in bed raging against the lack of self control I have, and then I think does it really matter? Then I start to think what am I doing with my life? Why am I even here? ON and ON it goes.

So I have written it all down, it's now in a box and I just have to get ready for Sundays craft fair. because lets face it, that is my problem, the though that I will stand and sell nothing and then have to lug home all the stuff I have spent hours wrapping and wonder why I am even bothering, why don't I just read a book and give it all up.

Oh and yes, I did get dressed eventually, I think I will return one jumper and one dress, please, please pray I can find the receipt and return them, and more importantly walk past Eileen Fisher, because those clothes are gorgeous especially for a menopausal woman!!

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Istanbul .....the locals

Those two dogs were enjoying a game of tug of war!

Fishing, fishing fishing, everywhere.

It was still alive!!

That is all the photographs I am posting, there were more, but I think it gets a bit boring after a while.

Having almost thought I was on top of the paperwork another list appeared pretty much at the same time the books needed marking, so posty light again.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Robert Motherwell

Sometimes I think I am close to realising a goal and then I walk into a room and see this, and I realise I am still at the bottom of the stairs looking up.
Bernard Jacobson Gallery

Another gallery close by that is exhibiting an astonishingly brilliant exhibition is Ordovas, the current Francis Bacon show is just brilliant, don't let the doorman put you off the staff are lovely.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

The view from here

I had one of those weekends that made me wonder if I would ever get to sit down. In my fantasy world I would go to the gym before pootling in the kitchen and then watching crap TV all evening. This weekend involved none of that. Instead I volunteered my services to Emin helping cut back a vine. Comedy moments galore, because think about it, when is it quite frankly the very worst time of year to cut back a vine laden I tell you with red grapes? Yes, this weekend is the correct answer.
I am not talking a carefully nurtured and pruned vine, I am talking Sleeping fucking Beauty's Castle vine, It had spread EVERYWHERE and some, taking no prisoners. I donned wellies and a cagoule, because directly afterwards I was going to the theatre.
I was thoroughly juiced for 2 hours, it mattered not how carefully I clipped the stuff. it just kept on splashing. Plus of course the grapes were riddled with mould and flies and wasps. The joy!
I did skulk off for a bacon butty before passing the baton to his niece and collecting Leyla to go and see a rather saucy production at The Royal Court, called Jumpy. The premise was the relationship between a rattled mother turning 50 and a dysfunctional teenage daughter. Throw into this mix a childless friend in need of a relationship and the usual sprinkling of feckless men all on a pure white stage and you pretty much have the premise.
There was much that was good, there were however too many opportunities missed. There was way too many swear words for Leyla nudity and a rather risque burlesque routine. But she loved it. She on a couple of occasions nodded like a wise sage at the dialogue, but overall I felt the daughter was too hammy and over written. Teenagers are far more subtle than this one was and I came away feeling it was a missed opportunity.
I then persuaded Leyla to get the bus to Knightsbridge so I could indulge in my favourite pastime, COS. There is a new store open near Harrods and it has been a while...I tired on various bits and pieces, much was lovely, more was laughable, and I purchased another jumper. So you see I have stuck to my rules with considerable success, sadly the weather is not playing ball and the climate remains a little balmy for a wool jumper. But my day will come.
Now having poured scorn on Mary Portas recently it has been her turn to pour a little back on COS, I now realise she does not get it at all. The whole grey thing maybe a metaphor for dull, be that metaphor is beautifully cut and produced in some of the best quality fabrics on the high street. Can you for instance go into her outlet and pick up a jersey dress 80% Silk 20% Angora? Does she use the finest Merino Wool, machine washable? The clothes she so damns with feint praise are classics, we wear them year in year out with minor updates very little dates. I know where my money is spent, I wonder if women are still spending in her shop?Bitch over .

Supper at Kulu Kulu was amazing, really, I could have eaten that sushi until me belly exploded! It nearly did
The rest of my weekend was shop, clean, walk dog, boring, boring, boring. No gym...again.

I returned to work to a very magnanimous email from Mother, who was hurt by my comment written for last weeks Identity post. I am guilty as charged and as always have tried to gloss over the elephant in the room ( my deep seated rage) and put it down to artistic license for a drama queen.
Yes I know I am papering over the cracks, I am too old for anything else.

Finally, I am pleased to report that due to a small unexpected weight loss* I am wearing two items from my wardrobe that have languished unloved and forgotten, a long slate grey jumper from GAP sale last year over a ling tube jersey skirt. A year ago this would = sausage, now it looks quite sleek and very classic. The downside is that a once favourite combo from last year now drowns me and can no longer be worn.

* Yes I too loathe smug cows who, with little effort drop a dress size. That has not happened, rather a few skipped meals have shrunk my back fat that's all.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Istanbul, it's all about the food

The first time we stayed in Istanbul we struggled to feed ourselves anything remotely edible, this time it was hard to stop eating. The difference was all in the area we stayed in. If you stay in the old part near the mosques you will be subjected to tourist pap and little else, unless you are on an unlimited budget. This time we were located away from the tourist attraction, more centrally where local people lived and worked. The difference was immense, with amazing cake shops and copious cafes selling a far broader range of traditional foods, not just kebabs but casseroles and soups and salads.
We were spoilt for choice.
We also discovered that in the smaller cafes you could order small plates like tapas and have them brought to the table and top up as and when, until you were full, the most expensive plate came in at around £3.50 so hardly busting the budget. In fact we spent very little by using public transport and eating this way.
My favourite cafes were out of the main fray down side streets, where the locals eat, and the locals all seemed to eat out, there appeared to be no such thing as a packed lunch. My favourite time to photograph was just as they were getting ready for lunch, the calm for the storm.

I started to seek out the smaller cafes, with their slightly retro air and hotch potch interior design

The really urban cafes would have bags of bread on each table to help yourself to, and best of all a sink or hygiene wipes to clean your hands before and after you've eaten, real Turks only use a fork plus bread to eat with! Looking back at the photographs this is something I would like to have spent longer on photographing.

Everything is washed down with tea, copious bucket loads of tea, it's consumed throughout the day, I missed more than anything the chance to have my food with a glass of wine, not a single drop passed my lips all holiday, I can live without it, but I must confess I find life a little duller.

Friday, 11 November 2011

I See You See I

The captions I placed around the object, I decided one statement would not work as I wanted to lead the viewer around the pieces one by one.

This was really a work in progress, I would have changed the scale of some of the pieces had I time, the small copper coloured maquette I would have liked to make in copper rather than a photograph, but I gave it 7/10.

The Pantone card was a last minute addition, I found it in my pigeon hole with a thank you note from the Head Teacher for a recent presentation. I like the fact that he 'gets' me ..Cool but quiet. I love grey as you know so I felt this worked with the whole. I think the only other item I would have included was a small painting, but I was worried it would clutter rather than enhance.

So I felt acquitted but the stress truly I cannot convey to you how hard I found it, not least because having prevaricated for days, the very day I was ready to print the printer broke down, I nearly followed, but I think the sheer unadulterated misery on my etched across my face transmitted itself to the IT engineer and miraculously he called another engineer who fixed it by lunchtime. Then it was all hands to the deck and my assistant prepared it for me whilst I mentored another member of staff.

It was then a quick dash to the studio to put up the work and grab a coffee.

Although the idea of Identity I thought was quite trite, it did seem a good way to meet the other students some who are here from Singapore, Brazil and Israel! As I was talking about the piece I realised just how much though t I had put into it and having looked at the other students work I realised that actually the irritation with the theme was my blinkered outlook not their choice of theme.

The work of some of the other students ranged from brilliant to a bit sixth form like obvious. Some were happy to open up, some were very cagey. It was an interesting night and I was able to stay off the drink which can you believe was Chardonnay. Who the fuck still sells that stuff?

Roll on the next project.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

The view from here

Imagine it is a lovely crisp autumn day, there are people spilling out of the nearby catholic church and I have arranged to meet Daisy and Kitty so we can take Daisy shopping for jeans. Our final destination is GAP for obvious reasons, but I had though that maybe we could look at some cheaper jeans in New Look first.

So I am standing on the corner gazing at this view with the sound of birds singing, the sun warming my face, waiting and thinking life is good, all was calm.

I then saw Daisy's face and I knew we were in for a rocky ride. She looked thunderous, still smarting from putting on weight over the summer, the idea was to buy some larger jeans so she was more comfortable. The weight gain has become the elephant in the room, it poisons the atmosphere wherever she goes, whenever we meet.

I am waiting outside the changing room and when I look inside she is just sat with her head in her hands, I get irked and she cries, really really cries. I cry really really cry. I have not cried for ages, (OK not like this anyway) I am not sure if I will ever stop.
It transpires the source of her current mood swings is some kind of contraceptive implant, she hates it, it is poisoning her moods and welfare. She had tried to have it removed but was told it was too expensive. I have given her a week to demand its removal before I start phoning and making very big waves.

After a group hug with Kitty the air cleared and we walked to GAP, Kitty wove her magic and 2 pairs of jeans were purchased. Daisy was happy...ish.

Friday, 4 November 2011


Coming back to work on Monday I cried, not because Istanbul was so great, but because I just wanted to knuckle down and get on with my own work, I have finally grown up and now think more about creating the image rather than obsessing about my own image. When I say I cried, I did not actually sob, more a tear escaped. The pressure has piled on this week, extra marking coupled with having to evidence planning on a daily basis rather than half termly. On top of that I have to now mentor 2 more teachers. Curiously I do not mind this but it has already seeped into my available time, and the pressure of all this work plus getting ready for my sale at the end of the month has started to keep me awake ..just a little.

Istanbul, wouldn't want to live there, we both decided we love the city but not the crowds. The traffic and constant thrum of car engines combined with the constant hooting of horns on top of buses belching out clouds of noxious crap, really was a struggle.
Plus the earthquake opened up a can of worms, did you know 70% of the buildings in Istanbul have been constructed with no planning regulation? Since the other 30% are probably mosques, it's a sobering statistic, so we found ourselves drawn to walking the banks of the Bosphorus, which I constantly kept calling the 'river' Emin berated me each time. For mile upon mile you will encounter nothing but fisherman, which kept Leyla entertained.

As did the plethora of cats, they are everywhere, I mean everywhere, often mingling in the parks with feral dogs, who are so passive it was hard to believe they were not trained.

We only crossed the bridge to the old town once, I wanted to revisit this mosque, which in the courtyard has the most beautiful tiled wall, as it's by the sea the gulls swoop across the sky line and one afternoon this amazing sky appeared behind the mosque opposite.

I confess I have forgotten the name of this mosque below, we went unintentionally whilst looking for a museum, previously it was partially closed for renovation, but now here it is in all its glory, I really loved it because it's painted inside not tiled, the colours used are beautifully subtle. There is still a lack of intimacy about the large cavernous spaces but at the same time they do inspire a certain awe.

And so to Bebek, the area we gravitated to the most, it was Leyla who kept wanting to climb up to see what was there, we found some huge houses protected by barbed wire and this stunning view. As always we hypothetically shopped for real estate and decided here was where we wanted to be, quiet with stunning views.

Emin shocked me by saying he preferred Berlin, but I could see why, it's less frenetic and I for one really missed the contemporary art galleries. They are here but impossible to find, believe it or not the Istanbul Biennial was on yet there was no mention of it anywhere, no one knew where it was, it was so frustrating. Plus the weather stayed relatively dry, if very cold meaning it seemed churlish to languish inside museums all day.

Back home I found an interview with the organisers who stated the the lack of publicity was deliberate!! WHY? How is that something to be proud of? The city was heaving with tourists none of whom would get the chance to see some really interesting art work. I doubt the locals knew about it either, certainly none of our au-pairs had heard of it.

Some people are seriously stupid and those organisers were right up there.

Just down the road from here was a museum called Sakip Sabanci Muzesi

It was originally a house owned by one of Turkey's rich cotton merchants, the house was given to the university to stop it being sold off by his heirs, it was an amazing mix of fifties architecture and traditional Turkish antiques, the real bonus was an amazing exhibition of Sophie Calle's photography and video instillation's undertaken with the local population, it made the holiday for me plus Leyla and Emin both enjoyed it too.

I am now going to York for the weekend, to see my beautiful daughter, who has taken the day off work to go shopping with her cash rich sister!!

I have just re-read this post, so bloody boring I've lost my humour mojo, sorry.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Frieze Art Fair

Tony Swain

Walid Raad

Michael Bauch

Dayanita Singh

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Frieze Art Fair

Sandra Gamarra

Lucy Skaer

Harm van den Dorpel

Andrew Kerr

Yuko Someya

This last one I would have bought it was so beautifully delicate.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Eva Kotatvoka

Last year I posted a photograph I'd taken of this artist's work, a small piece tucked away around a corner. This year she was deservedly given a whole stand, it was the very best stand in the whole show, she is a real inspiration to me and I credit her with guiding me from the flat surface to a more thoughtful instillation approach to mt photography.

Yes I am back.

No I was not squished! Although sobering fact of the week, 70% of building in Istanbul are built sans permission and with no planning regulation, big gulp.. Next time we will stay further up the coast, but I digress. I am slightly anal in that I like my blog to run in sequence, so although I have an Enormous folder of images to trawl through I am spending the week on art for you instead.

Another reason is that have you noticed that when you do your job well you are then expected to not only carry others but train them too, without any extra dosh. That is my lot this week, lots of extra work, on top of putting together my first art presentation next Wednesday, preparing for my first sale at the end of the month.. unpacking then repacking to go to York on Friday.... I have to remind myself to breathe sometimes!!