Recent Post -  Patmos Garden From the Archives Desert Island Discs

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Thomas Mann's Magic Mountain

Vivid recollections of how I had enjoyed Thomas Mann's Magic Mountain.... made me want to read it again but I found it boring so I read Death in Venice instead - not too long, a novella after all - wonderful! 
My reading was periodically interrupted by visions of Sylvana Mangano, the mother of the Polish family, in the  Luchino Visconti movie....... assuredly the most beautiful and stylish actress of her generation ......with a sense of humour [see her in Conversation Piece by the same director.].........Then I embarked on Mann's first novel Buddenbrooks [burnt by the Nazis] - 600 pages were a bit daunting--a marvellous story of a Hanseatic port and the disintegration of a merchant family - so psychologically acute - and engaging!....... thanks to H.T. Lowe-Porter who translated the book into English. 

John Stefanidis visits Venice in 2011

Fisherman's multi-coloured houses on the island of Burano

The most glamorous of all pull-up blinds - shading the arcades in St. Mark's Square

Monday, 16 May 2011

The Clock by Christian Marclay

An unforgettable visit to Glasgow to see  Peter Brook and Chloe Oblensky’s Mahabaratta in 1988.  Four hours transfixed, sitting in small, plastic chair makes me think I should go to the Tramway in Glasgow again - May 27-Aug 21, or the Plymouth Art Centre - Sept 17-Dec 4, to see The Clock, a film by Christian Marclay, which I first saw at The White Cube in London - rave reviews by Zadie Smith in the New York Review of Books and mass enthusiasm from Susanna Moore – my talented writer friend with impeccable taste.


The background of many a Renaissance painting, the Val d’Orcia is of a beauty unparalleled.  In Spring, sheep graze in undulating lush, green country, punctuated by towering cypress, majestic oak and chestnut trees. 

Whereas the towns have kept their character, the hilltop villages – exquisite in the landscape tend to be over-restored, empty, mere remnants of past bravery.

Lunch in a top, Tuscan garden with the gifted artist,

Betty Stokes                                      

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Montalcino is a charming wine capital.  Italian wines are getting better and better, vino Brunello di  Montalcino and Argiano and, of course, from elsewhere in Tuscany, Antinori and Frescobaldi.  Argiano belongs to the charming Noemi Marone Cinzano, an exemplary patron, whose Regency London villa I had great fun restoring, improving and decorating.  You might have to go to Patagonia to find her – she has the Bodega Noemiade Patagonia S.A.
Do not let the wine get the better of you!

Architectural details in Pienza

Pienza – 15th century urban ideal, built as a new town by Pope Piciolomini [Pins II], a meeting of Gothic and Renaissance styles and the classical principles as laid down by the great Alberti who might have designed my JS Malcontenta chair – [below]

JS Malcontenta Chair - Breakfast Terrace, Patmos, Greece

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A feature of Italian towns, lurid fly posters which advertise, side by side, a Good Friday procession, a sexy nightclub, horse races and auctions!

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Brilliant Tropical Greens in John Stefanidis Fabrics

John Stefanidis Jaisilmir in Lime Green
Tropical fruit in Bora Bora

Available from:

London:          Tissus d'Helene, Chelsea Harbour, London, SW10 0XF
Phone: +44 (0) 20 7352 9977

Miami:            Monica James, 40 NE 40th Street, Miami, FL  33137
Phone: + 1 305-576-6222

Los Angeles:   Harbinger, Almont Yard, 636-A North Almont Drive, CA 90069
                        Phone: +1 310 858 6884

'Graven with Diamonds' by Nicola Schulman


Nicola Schulman's
masterful book 'Graven with Diamonds' about Thomas Wyatt in Henry VIII's reign, makes Hilary Mantel seem like Barbara Cartland!

John Stefanidis' London garden in May

Protected by a mild city micro-climate, blue-grey Agave americana, perhaps more suited to parched deserts or sun-baked Mediterranean hillsides, do well in pots, even in this north-facing site. Their barbed, fleshy leaves provide elegant structure. Any rotting, mushy leaves which may have suffered in the winter wet are trimmed off. A neighbouring, potted olive tree [Olea europea] and variegated Yucca gloriosa are in familiar company.
Spherical heads of the summer-flowering bulb Allium ‘Purple Sensation’ stand proud above a raised bed of plain and variegated Buxus sempervirens, their unsightly, dying foliage skilfully hidden by the evergreen box.

On a pergola which stretches the width of this very narrow garden, a white Chinese wisteria [Wisteria sinensis ‘Alba’] frames the picture, its spectacular racemes of flowers shimmer in the sunlight. Mingling happily with the wisteria is the slower-growing, Trachelspermum jasminoides, an evergreen climber whose delicate, white flowers release their heady scent in June.

Bottom left – A statue of the Hindu god Shiva’s bull ‘Nandi’ haughtily contemplates the scene