Recent Post -  Patmos Garden From the Archives Desert Island Discs

Monday, 30 December 2013


Boughton House,
by Kim Wilkie
So far, so sad - the drawings of the Chelsea Barracks development are not inspiring. 
Work begins in the new year.  The architects are Squire & Partners.  The buildings on Chelsea Bridge Road will face the nondescript addition to Wren's Royal Hospital by Quinlan Terry [see my blog entry of July 24, 2013].  Promised are 'promenade gardens', which presumably means they will be open to the public and, most encouraging, is the choice of the talented landscape architect Kim Wilkie who loves water.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

MUSIC: 'Parsifal' at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden

The production left one mystified, not surprising given Wagner's libretto - mystical, religious, sacrilegious, and self-indulgent** BUT the music was SUBLIME.

*The setting was modern, an obstructive cube centre stage. Grey seems to be mandatory in this kind of production, recalling the monochromatic Candy & Candy interiors. The more abstract the setting the better but....

Monday, 23 December 2013


I think wanting to meet people who lived in past centuries rather fatuous.......BUT at the end of the 18th Century - before, during or after the Terror in the French Revolution - how I would have loved to know: 
Le Prince de LiègeTalleyrand**, Mme. de la Tour du Pin.

**I was reminded of Duff Cooper's biography on reading his wife Diana's letters to their son [see blog entry of October 23, 2103].  I re-read this masterly book with the greatest pleasure.

Friday, 20 December 2013

FABRICS: John Stefanidis Browns

JS painted mirror
 JS Diamonds in Mocha fabric walling
John Stefanidis Fabrics available from:

LondonUK - Tissus d'Helene
Showroom: Chelsea HarbourLondonSW10 0XF
Phone: +44 (0) 20 7352 9977

MiamiUSA - Monica James
Showroom: 40 NE 40th StreetMiamiFL 33137
Phone: + 1 305-576-6222

Los AngelesUSA – Harbinger
Showroom: 752 North La Cienega Blvd,West HollywoodCA 90069
Phone: +1 310 858 6884

Tuesday, 17 December 2013


Lucky people who live in Chelsea, or in the vicinity.

The Saatchi Gallery, in the old Duke of York building, has more than fulfilled its promise, as has Cadogan Hall where I recently went to a concert performance of EURYANTHE by Carl Maria von Weber (1786-1826) -  based on a French 13th Century romance, the opera heralds Wagner - performed by the valiant Chelsea Opera Group and conducted by a promising newcomer Cameron Burns, it was enchanting and very well sung - the chorus somewhat under power.  The hall has good acoustics the chairs are hard but very comfortable - it is a pity that this eccentric building was not converted from church to concert hall with more flair, it has a church hall atmosphere which does not concur with all the NEW architectural spaces that abound in LONDON.....garlanded as it has become with visual excitements, exhibitions, theatre and music galore.

Monday, 16 December 2013

ART I ADMIRE: Francis Bacon

Man with Dog [1953]

I first saw a Francis Bacon in London and up at Oxford - note the 'parlance'. A dog peeing at Erica Brausen's ** Hanover Gallery and I was stunned.  

Next came the Study after Velasquez's Portrait of Pope Innocent X, [1953] and the rest is history, as it is said.

Lying Figure, 1969
**A German from a Berlin banking family, she escaped the Nazis and slipped into England anonymously in a group of white-clad worshipers of a famous Indian guru. Hers was the first gallery to my knowledge to show Bacon and, indeed, Magritte and Calder.

Saturday, 14 December 2013


GARDENERS not aware of need to get on to the site for the best secateurs available and much else...

Thursday, 12 December 2013

BOOKS: Vladimir Nabokov & Orhan Pamuk

First UK Edition
Memory and nostalgia are selective and play a great part in literature of all kinds.  I have recently read Vladimir Nabokov's Speak Memory - a master work of memoir that vividly evokes pre-Revolutionary Russia. 

The Museum of Innocence by Orhan Pamuk is a slog by comparison but it too
transmits an acute sensibility.  Now there is a picture book, The Innocence of Objects -Pamuk's meticulously arranged museum of nostalgia - an extraordinary and riveting indulgence. Rooms everywhere have reference to the owner's past or present interests, their travels, their sensibility and, in some cases, their ability to arrange all this memorabilia in ways that please - we all have a museum of sorts.  

Tuesday, 10 December 2013


John Stefanidis
Big Ben is a neighbour. 
A commercial development for Ballymore

Sunday, 8 December 2013

COMMENT: Feeling low?

Listen to a speaker on and restore your faith in human nature. is financed by a non-profit organisation established in 1990 by Chris Anderson

Friday, 6 December 2013

POETRY: Stevie Smith

A salutary lesson - friends take note:

''People who are always praising the past
And especially the times of faith at best
Ought to go and live in the Middle Ages
And be burnt at the stake as witches and sages.''

Stevie Smith (1902-1971), British poet, novelist. The Past, Selected Poems (1962).

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

SHOPPING: David Linley & David Mellor

Xmas present from Linley?Smart cylinder contains matches to light a gladdening fire

Firewood in basket ..multiple use... from a uniquely good shop: David Mellor.

Thursday, 28 November 2013


Un décor de Jacques ne s’explique pas, on y est sensible - Pierre Passebon

Grange epitomises the sophistication of a great designer adept at juggling, matching and mismatching different styles.  He is, in his very essence, a civilised and articulate man...with a Developed Eye.  He has a quintessentially French understanding of opulence, understatement and comfort.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

ARCHITECTURE: St. George's Church, Bloomsbury

The portico is modelled on the Temple of Jupiter at Baalbek, the tower influenced by the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, with sculptures of lions and unicorns - the union of England & Scotland - a Hawskmoor (1661-1736) masterpiece.

Below: The Charles Grant Monument - Chairman of the East India Company [family famous for Grant's Whisky] - a friend of William Wilberforce, the abolitionist.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

POETRY: Extract from Alexander Pushkin: TO NATALYA

So it's come to me at last ---
Cupid's such a flighty chap;
Fevered heart, has it fast --
In a trice I'm in his trap!
Vanished is the joyful day
When, not knowing love's dismay
I could live and blithely sing
At the theatre and fête,
Promenade and masquerade,
As a zephyr light of wing;
When I'd laugh at Cupid's spite,
Scoffing satires I would write
On the charming female kind;
But alas, I laughed in vain,
Felt at last his arrow's pain,
Fell myself out of my mind.
Freedom, mirth, wiped of the slate --- oh,
I must take a break from Cato
And assume a lover's part:
Saw the beauty of Natalya,
Lovely votaress of Thalia;
Now --- here's Cupid in my heart! 

Friday, 22 November 2013

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

BOOKS: By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept by Elisabeth Smart

Available from Amazon in paperback only
AWESOME - first published in 1945, it is three decades since I first read this extraordinary book and I was, once more, astonished.  A masterpiece of poetic prose.

To quote Brigid Brophy in her Foreword to the book 'Reading the book is like saying a tragic, pagan, erotic rosary'. 

Sunday, 17 November 2013

LIVING BY DESIGN: Art Deco is still with us

Cecil Beaton, Loelia, Duchess of Westminster.
She is wearing a diamond tiara by Lacloche, [1930]

Still from Grand Hotel, directed by Edmund Goulding (1932)

Bernard Boutet de Monvel The Maharaja of Indore in Occidental Dress [1929)

Jean Dunand, pair of vases (1931)