Friday, 30 March 2012

The high price of total humiliation


The very boring and far too protracted saga of the picture frames tipped me over the edge yesterday, having persuaded a frame maker to construct them he then did such a poor job I'm talking 5 year old with their hand tied behind their back bad, so I ended up desperately trying to salvage something from them only to staple through the back of them when I was attaching the effing corners the submission form insisted on them having.
So 3 hours before the deadline I threw them in the bin and went home.
Emin took pity on me so we went out for a bite to eat, not much consolation for the humiliation, but it seemed churlish to refuse.
I'm now packed and ready to drive away to Norfolk after lunch, it now looks like Daisy will join us for a few days which I will enjoy, not sure about the others mind you! The weather is of course going to turn very cold, but I have decided to revive my bag of beads and see if I can't rid myself of a very melancholic cloud by making some necklaces.
I feel very mean leaving Kitty behind, I wish we'd been able to book it for the following week so she could have joined us, but I have promised to take her shopping when I return to give her something to look forward to. Plus she has promised me a birthday curry! Yes my blogger friends, my half century is beckoning me next week, it's most peculiar to be the very age you thought was truly ancient when anyone admitted they were that old, worse, no one warns you that you feel a most cliched 18 years old inside. My reflection will ever more remain a stranger to me not helped by the fact that both the tabloids and I have always bench marked my age group against Madonna, but we have truly parted ways these past 10 years!

Wednesday, 28 March 2012


I have come to the conclusion that clothes fall into 2 main categories

  1. Clothes that create problems

  2. Clothes that solve problems.
Of course there are clothes that are no problem at all like this dress from COS, how is it that I have already worn this many times and yet another dress I bought and love, I have yet to wear once? Simple really, this one is effortless, the other is wool on top silk below, too warm for the sun, but too flimsy when cold. On Sunday I had 10 minutes to shop in COS, I tried on various bits and pieces, and so did my new COS buddy, Kitty. I came so close to buying a lovely dress, only it came with luggage, and that luggage was it's lack of sleeve's.


  • What do you do with a sleeveless dress?

  • Do you wear something underneath?

  • Or a cardie?

  • If it is a cardie, what do you do when you need to take it off?

  • Do you really want to go back to school and wear a pinafore?
So I put it back and I realised that has been my BIG mistake, I buy clothes that look lovely, but most of the time they raise more problems than they solve. Very few pieces of clothing solve any problems at all, they just perpetuate problems. Cardigans are the worst culprit, frequently bought to go with a top, they are then too long for dresses and too short for trousers. Stripy cardies, they end up going with nothing. Jumpers too, you would think were safe, but no, they too are often the wrong length. So this is why my trusty black shroud wins every time!

Other problems I have encountered this week,

  • 16th Century Jacobean tragedy, not a good play for an 11 years old. exacerbated by the fact we both had streaming colds, so at the interval we left. I felt so ill, and Leyla bless her pronounced that she felt that she had seen the whole play, so long was it!

  • Black Cabs. I hate cabs, really hate them I have used them only a handful of times in 25 years, laughably when I have been short of time! Because we all know they take the longest route possible, or even better they go the way they know they can encounter the most temporary traffic lights. Which was my fate on Saturday night, having neglected to keep an eye on the clock I was in danger of missing the last train home.15 quid the bastard cost me. A very expensive mistake.

  • Leyla's birthday party, never good, she shows off and misbehaves. I was dreading sitting through the Hunger Games, but it was surprisingly good unlike her behaviour.

  • Frames, I have them made but not very well, so I'm sucking it up and just using them anyway.

  • Time, it's running out and I'm increasingly behind with my essay.

Friday, 23 March 2012

I'm not sure I should have given up coffee for Lent

I give up something every year for Lent, last year it was chocolate, which was a huge success since I rarely eat it now. Not that you would notice, truly the healthier my diet the thicker my waist line. That old adage waist or face seems to have stuck two fingers up as it passed me by because you know how you buy a jumper and you think mmm that will look great with those drop crotch trousers? Well one morning I woke up and put on what I thought would be a drop dead gorgeous rocking a gallerina look, only to look in the mirror to see a fat bitch in a black nappy old enough to know better.
When did that happen? When did the inches creep on? So whilst everything can be fastened, it now takes a surreptitious intake of breath before in fact the snap closes. I have been in such denial really, jumpers are flowing, belts donated to Kitty, snugger cardies to Daisy.
I could weep if I had time.
The reason I think I have taken this hit on my waist line is my lack of energy, I used to skip to the gym 4 times a week, now I drag my feet maybe twice.
I'm tired. The children may have grown up but my energy levels have dipped
Oh and the coffee? well I thought that one would be a breeze, I only have maybe one a day often less, but somehow I've really noticed the loss, every now and again I smell one and really ache for the creamy foam to stick to my top lip. Never again.
I've been waking up most nights for various reasons, not least the insidious rise of a head cold coupled with various inspectors crawling all over the school.
Plus a problem that came so left of field I can't believe it happened. I sent off for a form to enter two paintings for a summer show. I foolishly had not had them framed. And do you think I can find someone to frame them? No, seriously the smug looks I've had from framers who either a) will not frame without glass or b) know you want it urgently so quote an 8 week wait. 8 weeks to make a frame? So much for this being a recession.
I then bought the wood praying I could get the woodwork teacher to help, he too took great delight in turning me down, I'm left with one small place that may, I hope make me a frame with the wood I've been and bought, I'm just off to beg now, but I can't believe how stupid I've been leaving it so long, and yet part of me thinks just how much more am I expected to do.
Don't feel too sorry for me, I'm out partying tomorrow night dosed up with Lemsip, and it's the Duchess of Malfi tonight, with a no doubt very fidgety Leyla!
Oh and having just reread my last post I STILL did not make a dentist appointment. But the inspection went just fine, so now having worked my butt off, I'm doing NOTHING at school today just counting the days till next week arrives and Norfolk calls.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

The view from here

These came out in the wrong order, I will never get used to the way blogger reverses the order images appear in. So annoying.

Last Fridays post masked a multitude of stress, not least because a few minutes after loading the images I became really ill, the kind of ill where you just need to crawl away and curl up in private. I did this by locking the office door, but keep in mind I was teaching 2 classes! I was so lucky that despite it being Friday they somehow sensed they needed to just get on. So eventually I forced myself up and went and finished the two lessons aching for the time to arrive when I could get them to leave.. Half an hour later I felt a lot better so managed to get home, have a shower and go to bed...

Well obviously my life is just not that simple is it? I got home and Kitty asked for food, I kind of wondered aloud if she wanted to get a take-a-way. Most kids would love to no? Not mine, I got 'that' look, you know the one, which says "you're just the shittiest mother if you can't cook me food". I begged for a couple for hours sleep on the premise I would make her some burgers later, (I make them from scratch, everyone loves them,) so that bought me some time, I set my alarm and did just that. When the alarm went off I didn't know where I was, so deep was my sleep. So painful.

I am currently under a shed load of stress because:

  • I need to make an appointment with the dentist and I just know that will cost shed loads of money.

  • I need to frame two paintings by next week and no one will frame them, seriously, this can't be a recession because picture framers are just not interested in framing and when one showed a vague interest it was only if he could take 6-8 weeks! So now I have to try and do it myself.

  • On top of which we have have inspectors crawling over us for the rest of the week, so that means shed loads of planning and preparation, how the hell I am finding time to write this I don't know.

  • Oh, and I'm still reading for my essay which meant a trip to the library yesterday which is where those photographs come from. Sorry they're so crap, but I really loved the house, it was featured in last months Interiors Magazine they are of Sue Skeen's house somewhere near Norfolk I think. I love the simplicity it's all I hope for Cyprus.

  • Oh, and I kept getting sidetracked and did not get enough work done because I knew I had to get home in time to take Leyla to a concert she was playing in.

  • Oh, and that relationship is most prickly at the moment because he is waiting for surgery on his arm, so he can't go to the gym much so he is an absolute BITCH right now. BUT strangely he has started to walk the dog a bit, I said just a bit.

  • Oh, and it was Mother's Day on Sunday so I got to spend it with all 3 of my girls plus a lone boyfriend. Only Leyla bothered with a card, but hey it was good to see them.

  • And finally It was so frustrating to want to write a good deal more about the misery of ageing and not have time, but Mater seemed to read my mind and wrote a good deal more eloquently than I ever could.

Friday, 16 March 2012

Another whinging post about getting old

I spent far too long reading this curiously addictive blog yesterday, I have become obsessed by ageing, I really had higher hopes of myself that a) I wouldn't be quite so self obsessed at this age, and b) I would not have aged as badly as I have. This is not a diatribe of self pity, well maybe a little, but I am to say the least disappointed at how old I look. Of all the images I scrolled past yesterday this was one of my favourites.

Those that embrace their age seem so much more comfortable and so I must learn to do likewise. I need to stop obsessing and get on with life.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

The view from here

It's not often I want to walk away from this job, and it has become a job, I no longer see it as a career. Did I ever? There were brief moments when I thought it could be so, now it has become just irritatingly depressing, an environment that sucks at my soul and distracts me from what I enjoy most, which of course is research.
If I were to really pin down why I dislike coming to work it would probably rest on the shoulders of two people in charge of IT. They are without doubt the vilest of people, two of the most dysfunctional human beings you can meet with such power. If they just once did their job effectively I would at least just manage to tick over, but I confess my ideal would be to focus on the older students, the ones who almost care as opposed to the ones who view art as a good conversation interrupted.

My sanity has been saved by the university library, my god that library has got not only some amazing books, but journals too. I love nothing better than plowing through some back copies of journals. I had a very productive tutorial, I had written down my questions, always do that because otherwise you get sidetracked and forget the main thrust of what you really need from the discussion.
On Saturday I managed to carve a couple of hours up town, primarily to see this amazing exhibition of Joan Mitchell's work at Hauser & Wirth.

Food for the soul, it really was. I also much prefer this gallery to their Saville Row one, it's in a disused bank on Piccadilly, I often think people don't realise all you have to do is push the door open and walk inside. It's like an oasis of sanity.

I meandered around Cork Street, but nothing much was on, the shops seem pretty desultory too, but that may have something to do with my playing shop my wardrobe earlier in the day.

I was very tempted by some of the Marni for H&M jewellery earlier in the week, but I decided that the jewellery wears you, rather than you wearing it, so I stuck to what I know instead.

I find that whole designer thing a sham really, girls queue for hours just to buy clothes to sell on eBay. The idea that true fans get a bite of the designer cherry is a misnomer, and if H&M think it gets the punters in they are mistaken. Talking of H&M I went to Monki, to suss it out for Kitty. I really could not see the difference between it and H&M, the fabrics were very poor and they had not been steamed so were very creased on the hangers. Not a good sign.

My other distraction is very left of field, it involves my father who I have not spoken to for over 10 years. However a curious chain of events left me with a decision to make and I decided to draw a line and move on. He is back in London, unwell of course hence his return. Say what you will about the NHS but people flock to use it.

I have exchanged a few emails, and will meet during the Easter break. I was reflecting on how different my identities are with my parents, with my mother it has become superficially polite but functional, we no longer delve any deeper, too much damage has been done.

With my father it is clearly deeper, not on an emotional level, but certainly intellectually, he continues to work despite his age, because he has no money. But it means he constantly challenges himself which makes for a more erudite discourse, plus of course he loves marking work, so now both Daisy and I will be availing ourselves of his moderation!

And tempting though this was as a reason to get back in touch, it was actually more to do with his failing health and proximity that swung it in the end. I decided my parents were as bad as each other really, so why not give him one last chance. The down side is one of my sisters is in touch too but baby sister refuses to talk to him, so I have to constantly check myself not to mention it when I'm with her. Life is never less than very complected is it?

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Matthew Harris

Beautiful paper collages from here

Friday, 9 March 2012

Esteban Lisa

I saw a lot of Estaban Lisa's work at Arco Madrid, I loved it, so much joie de vivre, just lovely.
I am nearing the end of my landscape journey and after seeing these am desperate to get back to abstraction.

If you love all things abstraction I have found a brilliant website called Abstract Critical here and the images are from here

Thursday, 8 March 2012

The view from here

Emin has man flu, of course that's just an excuse to snore all bloody night and eat rubbish. Last night he was fumbling around the kitchen searching for food, he managed to burn two lots of toast before dropping a box of a dozen eggs on the floor, much to the dogs delight. Even then he persevered until he went to soften the butter in the microwave and forgot, melting the entire block! He marched out of the house declaring he was off to McDonald's, Leyla begged him to get her a burger but he declared what was good for him was most defiantly not good for her. I then cooked her a chicken burger and just as I was ranting, calling I'm a self centered wanker he walked through the door with a pizza. Leyla took great delight in telling him I called him a wanker, he was way to tired to answer back. Last night, no joke I caught him googling the symptoms of Pneumonia! what a sap.
I am still undecided as to whether Monday was an unmitigated disaster or a brilliant stroke of luck.
I left school bright and early to go to a curators talk at the Tate Britain, the last two talks I've been to have been really very inspiring, so what could go wrong? Picasso and British artists, it sounded great. My intention was to get some face cream before I went as I'm close to the dregs and forgot to top up at the airport. I get the train to Victoria which is THE windiest place on earth, and I am blown down the road before getting seduced by the windows of Zara.
Kitty has given up on Zara, as well as H&M, having worked in retail she has become very fussy with fabric and both of those places sell cheap synthetic fabrics. GAP are great for jeans but their jersey needs hand washing, making it very high maintenance. I have introduced her to COS and so yesterday she went and bought two more tops from there. It has been interesting see the retail world from here point of view, I struggle to get clothes large enough she struggles to find them small enough!
So Zara, great trousers coupled with the worst service anywhere in London, really the very worst.
Walking into House of Fraser to buy some Clinique I was met by hoards of bored listless sales staff, I couldn't face trying to battle past them so gave up and walked to the Tate.
The walk through suburban streets is lovely and I was hoping to grab my ticket and whip round the exhibition before the talk. Draconian jobsworths prevented that so I went and looked around the new contemporary exhibition instead. It is brilliantly curated but what is sad is that being at Tate Britain rather than Modern means not that many people see it. From that one quick walk around I was able to garner my thoughts and plan an 8 week A' Level Fine Art syllabus. That was the good.
The bad was the appalling talk I PAID for, that was basically a PowerPoint of all the Picasso paintings they did not get for the show, coupled with the raging mediocrity of British painting. It was so bad and poorly delivered too.
The only British artist that could hold his own and then some was Henry Moore, the juxtaposition of Moore's work with Picasso's painting was brilliant and beautifully curated. During the talk someone asked why there were no female painters represented. The answer was none had met and been inspired by him, what he should have said is why would any women be inspired by such controlling misogynist? They had too much sense. The idea of pastiching Picasso seemed to be a man thing!

Monday, 5 March 2012

The view from here

Friday's post hid a myriad of blues, the goal we have been marching towards finally arrived on Thursday and the news was bad, Leyla despite jumping through numerous academic hoops failed to secure a place at her sisters old school because we lived to far away. She has got into a very good school, but the overwhelming sense of grief that we had all worked so hard for so little was overwhelming. We both cried Leyla and I and of course the minute Emin see female grief he gets ratty and irritable, so we tore chunks out of each other all night.
I did shock horror get an apology the morning after, combined with a flurry of texts which cumulated with the news that he had booked flights to Amsterdam and Berlin in June for a well deserved break. Yeah, I know I have non stop breaks this year, but even I got quite excited at the thought of finally returning to Amsterdam, a city I have not been to for over 20 years! Berlin is a different story, but there are plenty of galleries left to explore. What made me laugh was that having booked to escape the Queens celebration we were going to a city with their very own 'Queens' celebration!! All be it later than we go, maybe they are making a holiday from it.
Walking the dog on a very wet drizzly Sunday evening I remember a similar evening where I caught site of a post Sunday lunch kick back through a window, I lamented that I thought my life would have become convivially languid like that, but instead seems just very overcrowded. Then I got to thinking that I may not have dinner parties, but I do get to travel in some style and sometimes I realise that is way better.
Back to last week though, it will come as no surprise I had a whopping migraine, but my mood was light as Lucy had booked a pre-theatre dinner at Hix, I've never been but quite fancied it for a change and I am happy to report it was great. Lucy of course always reads those Internet sites, I don't because the only time people write on them is when they have had a bad meal, people rarely write anything when they have had a great meal because they are left with such a soporific sense of well being they can't put digit to keyboard. So ignore the review it's great.It was not cheap mind you but my sister has the MOST annoying habit of ordering a cocktail which always bumps up the price.

We had tickets for an Alan Ayckbourn play, and here is the gist of my gripe, why are all theatre critics men? And what is it with men and nostalgia? So this play was set way back in the late 70's and it was so S-L-O-W really very, very, dull. You know you are struggling when you fixate on the set. The play got rave reviews because of course it appealed to the paunchy old hacks who hanker after the days when cigarette ash fell down on their typewriter keys as they slurped their fourth tumbler of whisky. It appealed to their sense of misogynistic nostalgia when men were bread winners and women were unfulfilled, ergo hysterical and dissatisfied. But all this is fine if it moves at a pace, truly this was like watching sandwiches curl.
Part of my research into female artists has led me down that whole feminist route, which is dated but quite interesting. Reading around it makes me realise how far we've come and watching that play made me realise how little I want to look back.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Cat Walk Shopping

I used to be glued to the screen when the cat walk shows came around, my favourite port of call used to be, sadly the website is so full of moving this and flashing that I have had to move on to, which is where these images are from.
I only ever chose something I would defiantly wear so it has been slim pickings this year, falling back on some old favourites, struggling to wade through some very formal eighties glamour, not me at all.
First up

Doo Ri

My favourite goldish yellow, I do love a bit of asymmetry

Limi Feu

Always does good draping, luckily I am just about tall enough to get away with this as long as the layers are thin.

Phillip Lim
Just how lovely is this coat? Perfect

Margaret Howell

What I love is that she never compromises comfort for vanity, no pencil skirts and cinched in waists here, just perfect shape and portion.

I do miss photographing my clothes, I hope to have a go over Easter, but otherwise my head has been down reading, reading, reading. I'm trying to research and write about the almost impossible dynamic of Artist Teacher Mother Wife, does such a thing exist? Well often 3/4 has been achieved, but often it is the husband not the children that destroys an artistic career. My favourite research so far was an interview with Louise Nevelson, no slouch in the style stakes herself, but the vitriolic gossip she dishes from New York in the fifties has been riveting. Many artists have been unveiled in a whole new light shed by what can only be described as searing honesty! This is always the fun bit though isn't it the reading. I have also been sidetracked by a couple of books which confirm what I knew in that my own art education was so monumentally poor it is a wonder I left with any self esteem at all. As late as the eighties it was not uncommon for classes of 70% female or more to be taught wholly by men, most of whom were never to be found. I had two tutorials in 3 years! It appears to be very different now, but in a way I wish I had been aware of it earlier.

I have a tutorial next Friday, and boy am I prepared, this time they are going to earn their salary!!