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Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

GARDENS The Chelsea Flower Show 2012

At London's Chelsea Flower Show you come away with garden furniture and garden sculptures rattling around in your brain.  The displays in the 'tent' were very disappointing and, since it is now such a tall space, should they not be to scale?

The gardens are always laudable, so much work goes into them, and, miraculously, all the beds [and some inside the 'tent'] were planted informally as if wild, and were ALL the same colours of blue, mauve and lilac!  Meadow planting has become the fashion.  My favourite exhibits were the kitsch corgis and Thai Pavilion.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

POETRY: Charles Baudelaire

The dreams of true love, of which I never tire, are encapsulated in this famous poem - let us not give up! [best not translated]

L'invitation au voyage

Mon enfant, ma soeur,
Songe à la douceur
D'aller là-bas vivre ensemble!
Aimer à loisir,
Aimer et mourir
Au pays qui te ressemble!
Les soleils mouillés
De ces ciels brouillés
Pour mon esprit ont les charmes
Si mystérieux
De tes traîtres yeux,
Brillant à travers leurs larmes.

Là, tout n'est qu'ordre et beauté,
Luxe, calme et volupté.

Des meubles luisants,
Polis par les ans,
Décoreraient notre chambre;
Les plus rares fleurs
Mêlant leurs odeurs
Aux vagues senteurs de l'ambre,
Les riches plafonds,
Les miroirs profonds,
La splendeur orientale,
Tout y parlerait
À l'âme en secret
Sa douce langue natale.

Là, tout n'est qu'ordre et beauté,
Luxe, calme et volupté.

Vois sur ces canaux
Dormir ces vaisseaux
Dont l'humeur est vagabonde;
C'est pour assouvir
Ton moindre désir
Qu'ils viennent du bout du monde.
— Les soleils couchants
Revêtent les champs,
Les canaux, la ville entière,
D'hyacinthe et d'or;
Le monde s'endort
Dans une chaude lumière.

Là, tout n'est qu'ordre et beauté,
Luxe, calme et volupté.

— Charles Baudelaire

Monday, 21 May 2012


A plastic lobster [ a squeaky toy from London's Victoria & Albert Museum's Surrealist Exhibition] enhances a Louis XVI backgammon board made of ebony and ivory. 

Friday, 18 May 2012


MASTER CRAFTSMEN on the outskirts of Jaipur in Rajastan, India.  

They carve miraculously and deserve the rather 'arch' name.  

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

ARCHITECTURE: Will Alsop & Wilkinson Eyre

   Two talented British architects... 
Gao Yang International Cruise Terminal, Shanghai
designed by Will Alsop

Department of Earth Sciences, University of Oxford
designed by Wilkinson Eyre 

Friday, 11 May 2012

Thursday, 10 May 2012

DESIGN: A Tented Room

I added a conservatory to this Regency rectory.  Electrically controlled roof blinds are in the same fabric as the walls and sofas.  The fabric was specially designed and printed in yellow and blue stripes with stars. This room could be filled with sunlight or, with the curtains drawn, the pattern and colour of the fabric made the room glow a perfect overflow space for parties.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

BOOKS: The Landmark Herodotus

Book Three 3.11.525

The Persians marched across the desert and took up their position near the Egyptians in preparation for meeting them in battle.  At that point, the Greek and Carian [Caria is present day Turkey] mercenaries of the Egyptian King, who resented Phanes leading a foreign army into Egypt, schemed to punish him in the following way.  They took the sons of Phanes, whom he had left behind in Egypt, into the camp, and after placing a wine bowl between the two armies, they led each of the sons up to it in full view of their father and cut each of the boy's throats in turn, they added wine and water to the blood, and then each of the mercenaries drank from the bowl.  Thus fortified, they went forth into battle in which the fighting became quite fierce, so that a large number of men fell on both sides, but finally the Egyptians were routed. 
Boy, oh Boy! 

Friday, 4 May 2012

MUSIC: Massenet

Jules Émile Frédéric Massenet 1842-1912

The French composer so famous in the late 19th century and early 20th century, a great melodist, has never regained his popularity.  I have been listening to Werther and it is glorious! 

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

GARDENS: Gresgarth Hall

On a visit to work in the North of England, I was harboured by Arabella Lennox-Boyd - the Victor Ludorum of the gardening world in comfort and ease with delicious food, in a house brimful of plants and flowers.

The garden at Gresgarth Hall is the best kept I have ever seen and Arabella, a propagation champion, has a collection of rare and unusual plants from the Steppes of Asia, the Mediterranean, China and the Americas which make the garden a wonder and a delight.
The garden is open every second Sunday of the month from April to October – a treat in store for visitors.


Tuesday, 1 May 2012


Ramsès dans son Harem (Ramses in his Harem) · by Jean Lecomte du Nouÿ, 1881
Egyptomania has been part of cultural European history since the 18th century and earlier, but particularly after the style ‘Retour d’Egypte’ caught on, thanks to a magnus opus -- the prodigious and august DESCRIPTION DE L’EGYPTE PUBLIÉE PAR ORDRES DE NAPOLÉON BONAPARTE - a comprehensive catalogue of antiquities in Egypt.  

Defeated by Nelson, Napoleon withdrew from Egypt in 1799.  The book, however, led to flights of invention and imagination.  There followed - all over Europe – furniture, papier peints [scenes on wallpaper], toile de jouy fabric, clothes and jewellery – ALL INFLUENCED BY EGYPT AND ITS PHAROAHS. 
 Examples of Egyptomania

IN THE 19TH CENTURY, amongst my favourite Egyptomania are the Schinkel sets for Mozart's The Magic Flute.

Verdi’s Aida, an opera staged in Cairo to celebrate the opening of the Suez Canal in 1871. 

The discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb in 1921 led to a new manifestation of  this phenomenon, jewellery by Cartier and much else.

The Carlton Cinema -  Islington, London
Panache, revue du Lido, à Paris, 1985 

Inspiration was taken from Egyptian motifs for a scarf I designed.