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Friday, 30 November 2012

FABRICS: for children

To complement The Story of Babar, these fabrics from my archive, designed for me by Eric Boman [now a successful photographer living in New York], will gladden the hearts of your small loved ones! 

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

ART: Motya Charioteer

I first saw this stunning statue of a charioteer when on loan to the Museum of Cycladic Art, Athens.  Sensuous and beautifully carved, I had planned to see it again at Mozia, a small island off the Sicilian coast*  The charioteer was at The British Museum during the Olympics this summer – any news of its arrival and display was swamped by the egocentric spoutings of ardent  Olympic winners!
*the island belonged to the Whitaker family who made their fortune selling Marsala wine. A descendant, Billy Whitaker, lived with his sister Penelope in Edwardian splendour at Pylewell Park near Lymington in Hampshire].

The British Museum, London

Made by a Greek sculptor in Sicily about 460-450 BC.
 Found on the Sicilian island of Motya (Mozia) of the western tip of Sicily in 1979.

Museo Giuseppe Whitaker, Marsala, Sicily 

Monday, 26 November 2012

BOOKS: Luxury Minimal



Published by Thames & Hudson

A book just out.  Fritz von der Schulenburg's incomparable images follow one after another from very grand to grand, simple to very simple, showing impeccable discrimination - interspersed with quotes and 'Conversations' with Karen Howes and nine different designers - a feast for the most developed eye.  I am privileged to be included.   

Friday, 23 November 2012

POETRY: Paradise Lost [excerpt] by John Milton

Farewell happy fields
Where joy for ever dwells; hail horrors, hail
Infernal world, and thou profoundest Hell
Receive thy new possessor: one who brings
A mind not to be changed by place or time.
The mind is its own place, and in itself
Can make a Heav'n of Hell, a Hell of Heav'n.
What matter where, if I be still the same,
And what I should be, all but less than he
Whom thunder hath made greater? Here at least
We shall be free; th' Almighty hath not built
Here for his envy, will not drive us hence:
Here we may reign secure, and in my choice
To reign is worth ambition though in Hell:
Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heav'n.

from Book I

Thursday, 22 November 2012

TRAVEL: Portugal


 Going south across the Tagus river, Lisbon

Vasco de Gama Bridge

designed by Armando Rito 
and opened in 1998 

...soon after, pine and cork forest and vineyards
 and endlessly long beaches...

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

PEOPLE: Loulou de la Falaise

The irreplaceable Loulou de la Falaise
- how to wear a hat!
   The Rifat Ozbek decor is suitably dashing..

Robin Birley, her first cousin,  named the nightclub of his stylish new club LouLou at 5 Hertford Street, London, W1.

Monday, 19 November 2012


A London office with JS designed oval desk in wenge with a pig skin inset top [see oak version in I.M. Pei designed pavilion in my blog entry of October 14, 2011 ].   Eames designed swivel chairs are covered in suede.  The wall panelling - also in wenge - is randomly matched and mis-matched.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Thursday, 15 November 2012

GARDENS: A video of my garden in Patmos filmed on an iPhone--better next time!


Wednesday, 14 November 2012

ART: Marsden Woo Gallery, London

I very much like the architectural mix in Clerkenwell, how new and old buildings are juxtaposed: Smithfield Market for its ironwork; paintings by Hogarth filling the walls in the James Gibbs Northern Block staircase of St. Bartholemew's Hospital.  Nearby is - the ancient 14th century St. Bartholemew's Church [right], one of the few to survive The Great Fire and which featured in the film, 'The Four Weddings and a Funeral'.

If in the area, do not miss the Marsden Woo Gallery, 17-18 Great Sutton Street, London EC1V 0DN -- great shows by Owen Bullett Force Field , Nao Matsunaga, and an extraordinary installation by Rupert Ackroyd, Inn, Inn, Inn:

A piece by ceramic artist Dawn Youll
Above: This piece by Nao Matsunaga has just been bought by The Victoria & Albert Museum in London
     Below: An installation Force Field by Owen Bullet

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

FOOD: The River Café, London

For reasons unknown, I have not been to the deservedly famous River Café since it has been re-done.  The kitchen is a very, very long bar - it is a brilliant design.

I was bidden to this culinary temple of delicious food to celebrate the birthday of a gregarious friend of mine whose intimate friends must add up to 180 souls and since the private room seats only 18 I felt most privileged! 


Sunday, 11 November 2012

POETRY: One Art by Elisabeth Bishop

The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster,

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother's watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster.

- Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan't have lied. It's evident
the art of losing's not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like a disaster. 
Elizabeth Bishop

Friday, 9 November 2012

CURIOSITY: The Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford


If in Oxford, do go to see a Victorian oddity.

Housed in an amazing iron structure, The Pitt Rivers Museum - the University of Oxford's collection of anthropology and world archaeology. Except for one or two attempts, everything is shown in a very old-fashioned higgledy piggledy way...
worth a whirl!
Clockwise: Glass bottles containing samples of pigments used by Andaman Islanders and Australian Aboriginies for painting their bodies, collected in the 1870's and 1890's, a carved and painted wooden figure of a rhinoceros hornbill [c. 1923, Sarawak, Malaysia], Interior of an unfinished mudhif, Rumailiya Marshes, Southern Iraq [1955]     
The Pitt Rivers Museum

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Monday, 5 November 2012

BOOKS: Vladimir Nabokov: Lectures on Russian Literature

Extract from Leo Tolstoy's 'Anna Karenin' [Note Nabakov's preference for 'Karenin' rather than 'Karenina'] ... And so it went on and on: the same shaking and knocking, the same snow on the window, the same rapid transitions from steaming heat to cold and back again to heat, the same passing glimpses of the same figures [conductor, stove-tenders] in she shifting dusk, and the same voices, and Anna began to read and to understand what she read.  Her maid was already dozing, with her mistresses's red bag in her lap, clutching it with her broad hands, in woolen gloves, of which one was torn at a finger tip [one of these little flaws that correspond to a flaw in Anna's own mood].  Anna read but she found it distasteful to follow the shadows of other people's lives.  She had too great a desire to live herself.  If she read that the heroine of the novel was nursing a sick man, she longed to move herself with noiseless steps about the room of a sick man; if she read of a member of Parliament making a speech, she longed to be delivering the speech herself; if she read of how Lady Mary had ridden to the hounds, and had teased her sister-in-law, and had surprised everyone by her pluck, Anna too wished to be doing the same.  But there was no chance of doing anything; and she toyed with the smooth ivory knife in her small hands, and forced herself to go on reading.  [Was she a good reader from our point of view?  Does her emotional participation in the life of the book remind one of another little lady?  Of Emma?].

"The hero of the novel was about to reach his English happiness, a baronetcy and an estate, when she suddenly felt that he ought to feel somehow ashamed, and that she was ashamed, too [she identifies the man in the book with Vronski].  But what had he to be ashamed of? 'What have I to be ashamed of?' she asked herself in injured surprise.  She laid down the book and sank against the back of her fauteuil, tightly gripping the knife in both hands.  There was nothing.  She went over all her Moscow impressions.  All was good, pleasant.  She remembered the ball, remembered Vronski's face of slavish adoration, remembered all her conduct with him: there was nothing shameful.  And for all that, in this point in her memories, the feeling of shame was intensified, as though some inner voice, just at that point when she thought of Vronski, were saying to her, 'Warm, very warm, hot.' 

Greta Garbo as a Hollywood Anna Karenina [1935] directed by Clarence Brown
 - a black and white film and how it might have looked in colour

Sunday, 4 November 2012

DESIGN: Ann Getty

From Amazon arrived Ann Getty Interior Style by Diane Dorrans Sacks [see my blog post of October 26, 2012] .  The pictures of the Getty house in San Francisco show how an outstanding, eclectic, scholarly collector with flair and taste can create luscious, luxurious and spirited rooms - inspirational.Obama, US election Romney US Elections 2012
From from my book Rooms a riverside pied-à-terre designed in London for Ann Getty.
Entrance Hall [Note the specialist painted floor]

Drawing Room Visual
Master Bedroom

Master Bedroom Visual
Master Bedroom

Friday, 2 November 2012

ARCHITECTURE I admire: James Turrell

Roden Crater Project, Arizona, USA

James Turrell's interest is in the perception of light in various forms.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

POETRY: A contemporary Haiku


In this Dorset mill house, golden oak panelling and a pale stone floor,  a JS designed hall table and a pair of JS designed benches with turned legs covered in a wide stripe - a handwoven fabric from Antico Setificio in Florence [see my blog entry of June 3, 2011].  To the right sits a giant Medici bronze urn.