Recent Post -  Patmos Garden From the Archives Desert Island Discs

Saturday, 29 June 2013

GARDENS: Voodoo Lily [Amorphophallus konjac]

A curious plant in flower in my London garden...Paul, who looks after my house, says: "It has a delicate scent of rotting flesh and attracts every fly in the area. When I first caught a whiff of it I started looking for a decomposing corpse".

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

BOOKS: James Joyce

Who better than James Joyce to explain the Irish.

From the Complete Works of James Joyce read the admirable essay 'Ireland, Island of Saints and Sages' - an update from 1907 no less.

Monday, 24 June 2013

ARCHITECTURE: Luis Baragan [1902-1988]

Luis Baragan was first brought to my attention in 1967 by Bruce Chatwin.  I immediately fell in love with his architecture. He has been a less renowned influence than Corbusier but his taste and sparseness and elegance have continued to be highly inspirational.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

ART I admire: by Vittore Carpaccio

Of all the wonders of Venice, none has surpassed the pleasure given to me by this frieze of paintings by Carpaccio - and especially St Jerome and the Lion.  They evoke Venice at the height of its glory.  Orientalism is depicted in an imaginary fashion based on the reality of Venetian trade with the Levant, India and the Orient.  The animals are particularly appealing, the buildings are architectural follies, the turbaned figures in brocade robes the epitome of elegance.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

POETRY: The Bishop of Babylon by Elizabeth Bishop

I have a friend who has bought a house in a Rio de Janiero favela...clean of crime I am told.

Sunday, 16 June 2013


An explosion of talent in Brazil 
in the 1950's and '60's, encapsulated in 
The Journal of Decorative and Propaganda Arts 
published by The Wolfson Foundation on a yearly basis.  
Left: Marc Ferrez: A Master of Brazilian Photography - 'Broom Peddler', Rio de Janeiro 1895
Right: Film still from Patria brasileira, 1917. Renowned poet Olavo Bilac directed one of the film's heroic scenes.
Public market in Belem, Made in France, 1901. The gothic towers are purely decorative.
Left: Facade seen from the inner court of the theatre in Fortaleza.
Right: Bandstand in Caxambu, Minas Gerais

Left: J. Carlos, vignette of bathing beauty
Right: Roberto Burle Marx, mosaic paving, Atlantic Avenue, Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro [1970]  

Roberto Burle Marx working at his office in Laranjeiras, Rio de Janeiro, 1991 
Roberto Burle Marx, aquatic garden at the Ministry of the Army, Brasilia 1970, Architect Oscar Niemeyer [see my blog post of January 23, 2013].  The white concrete sculptures were inspired by rock crystal formations
Roberto Burle-Marx, plan for the terrace garden, Ministry of Education and Public Health, Rio de Janeiro [1938] 
Amazon Theatre, Manaus, walkway. Portuguese-style stone mosaic

Roberto Burle-Marx:  "A garden is a complex of aesthetic and plastic intentions; and the plant is, to a landscape artist, not only a plant - rare, unusual, ordinary or doomed to disappearance - but it is also a colour, a shape, a volume or an arabesque in itself" 

Friday, 14 June 2013

LIVING BY DESIGN: Specialist Painting

Tony and Jim painting in various 'faux bois' and 'faux marbre' techniques and colours on JS furniture destined for the Italian countryside.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

POETRY: Anna Akhmatova

Portrait of Anna Akhmatova
by Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin [1922]
Then the king learnt that Sophocles was dead (LEGEND)

To Sophocles' house that night an eagle flew down
      from the sky
And sombrely rang from the garden cicadas' choir.
At that hour the genius was passing into immortality,
Skirting, at the walls of his native town, the night-fires
Of the enemy. And this was when the king had a 
      strange dream:
Dionysus himself ordered the raising of the siege,
That no noise disturb the Athenians in burying him
With fitting ceremony and with elegies.


Monday, 10 June 2013

ART: Houghton Revisited

Sir Robert Walpole - a Norfolk boy made good - built the handsomest of all Palladian houses in England to house his remarkable collection of pictures - these were sold by his grandson, to pay off considerable debts, to Catherine the Great.

The Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg have loaned the pictures which now hang in splendour according to the original plans [also on loan are pictures and silver from other museums in Russia and the USA).  A unique exhibition that lasts five months - until September 29, 2013.  

On your visit do not miss the seven acre walled garden created by David Cholmondley - it is stunning and kept immaculately.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

ART: Wolfgang Tillmans

From The New Yorker, May 27, 2013:
There are always knockout photographs in a Tillmans show—several here are the size of picture windows—but individual images never seem to be the point. The German photographer, who lives between Berlin and London, is most successful and influential as an installation artist, mixing representational and abstract, big and small, framed and unframed works in sprawling exhibitions that accumulate power as you walk through them. In Tillmans’s eleventh show at the gallery, travel shots from Africa, Asia, and the Middle East share the space with pictures of sleek car tail-lights, gloriously starry skies, and a fly on a chunk of crab meat. He treats the global village like it was his own back yard. 
Through June 22, 2013   ROSEN 525 W. 24th St., New York, N.Y. 212-627-6000 

Wolfgang Tillmans, the Tate's Turner Prize winner of 2000, is the world's top photographer whose images I have admired for years:

"Astro Crusto, A", by Wolfgang Tillmans, at the Rosen gallery

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

ARCHITECTURE: Asmara 'Africa's Modernist City'

Asmara represents perhaps one of the most concentrated and intact assemblage of Modernist architecture anywhere in the world.
Shell Service Station [1937]
Cinema Impero [1937]

The design on this former Fiat service station clearly imitates the streamlined and dynamic form of an aeroplane [1938, Architect Giuseppe Pettazzi]

Above: From my personal photographs, rural Eritrea in the 1940's