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Tuesday, 26 February 2013

COMMENT: Financial Times

I was very interested by this chart from
 the Financial Times on Saturday February 23, 2013...

Monday, 25 February 2013

POETRY: Frederick Broadie

Frederick Broadie [1913-2009] - philosopher, poet, musician and novelist:

A word lay dead upon a tree.
She plucked it off and gave it to me
Alive again with all her love
Still walking in that orange grove.

I heard it in the burning noon,
Passing on this final day,
Would stop and beg her pluck me too
From the hearse on which I lay,
But the driver and the horse
Were deafer than the dead of course.

The Knight of Faith
All I can do to mind
Is being told,
Two thousand years gone by
That till the dawn grows old
And Satan kind,
I, outside there in the cold
Beside the iron door
Must wait.
But why,
Or what by that command
I wait here for,
I cannot call to mind,
Yet this I know,
it was two thousand years ago,
Before my brown locks bowed before
The fall of faultless snow. 

Sunday, 24 February 2013

TRAVEL: India Part IV

The Jal Mahal, JAIPUR

A water palace built by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II some 300 years ago.  The Mansagar Lake is now clean and fresh, the pavilion beautifully restored, there are many wall paintings by local artists - tinglingly decorative!  
A stunning Moghul Jasmine Garden is built on the roof [note the lotus flowers made of marble in the water]

Samod Fort, Rajastan

Friday, 22 February 2013


To have read Proust is a benchmark of a cultivated person – in the West at least.  Last summer I re-read all of A la Recherche du Temps Perdu’ on my I-Pad.

From Christopher Hitchins’ review of ‘Swann’s Way ‘by Marcel Proust, translated by Lydia Davis.
The Acutest Ear in Paris….if asked to summarise the achievement of Proust I reply as dauntlessly as I dared that his is the work ‘par excellence’ that exposes and clarifies the springs of human motivation…along with being “about” social climate and fashion, and the countryside versus the city, and sexual inversion and also Jewishness, with l’affaire Dreyfuss one of the binding and constitutive elements in its narrative, Proust’s novel…is all about time.

Also from this article – regarding English translations - Nancy Mitford wrote to Evelyn Waugh…There is not one [joke] in all sixteen of S. Monerieff’s volumes.  In French one laughs from the stomach, as when reading you”. To use an old-fashioned expression ‘non swanks’ – I re-read it in French. 

For shirkers who need to practice the language there are some charming books of cartoons.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

COMMENT: The British Museum

Room 1 - The Enlightenment Gallery - one of the best rooms in London.  Completed in 1828, it was designed by Robert Smirke to house the library of King George III.  It is now a cabinet of curiosities on a vast scale.  Discovering the world in the 18th Century...

On to a preview of Ice Age Art, the oldest figurative art that are staggeringly 10,000 to 40,000 years old.  A very moving collection of some 130 objects on loan from Germany, France, the Czech Republic and Siberia.

From February 7 - May 26, 2013. DO NOT MISS. 

Tuesday, 19 February 2013


JS 'Floral' in lilac used in a country house in England 

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

Monday, 18 February 2013


Mediterranean Community Architecture

 by Myron Goldfinger, published by Lund Humphries [1969]
Mykonos, Greece

Alberobello, Italy - each trullo exisits of a square or rectangular base topped by a conical dry stone roof with a chalk-coated finial. The domes' interiors are whitewashed for good light reflection.

      Post-Byzantine churches of the Aegean islands
Takrouna, Tunisia - built by the Berbers, the use of stone for both walls and vaulting is in response to the local scarcity of wood and for maximum protection against heat and cold: a thick coat of white stucco reflects sunlight and reduces wind infiltration.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

DRAMA: The Judas Kiss by David Hare

Do what you can to see this excellent play at London's Duke of York's Theatre - if only not to miss Rupert Everett as Oscar Wilde - it is an extraordinary performance.
And more West End nudity!

Thursday, 14 February 2013


Departing from Farnborough in England on a cold, grey January day and arriving on the Ligurian coast in pouring rain which soon cleared and one is bathed in beauty...

An unforgettable visit to the Opificio delle Pietre Dure - a restoration laboratory founded in the 17th century by the Medici - the BEST in the world.
An unfinished painting by Leonardo de Vinci being restored, 'pentimenti' - a marvel - he drew like no other artist before or since.

On the computer screen, the infra red images are extraordinary 
- a highlight at the beginning of 2013.
The restoration of a figure of Christ

Another visit to Antico Setificio Fiorentino [see my blog entry of June 3, 2011] - handwoven fabrics of the highest 'rafinatezza', from butterfly wing silks, heavy brocades of silk and linen - without question the very best production of incomparable fabrics. 

An explosion of trainers from Nao do Brasil - opposite Palazzo Pitti 

At the Museo di Storia Naturale di Firenze
an exhibition of the Giazotto Mineral Collection - astonishing!

A Palazzo garden 
in the centre of 

Friday, 8 February 2013

BOOKS: In Two Minds by Kate Bassett

I have been reading the biography of Jonathan Miller, humorist, doctor, polymath and inspired director of film, theatre and opera.  The book covers it all - in somewhat clumpy prose - I only wish computer nerds and publishers would invent 'apps' that would illustrate this brilliant man's achievements by showing appropriate footage from his productions.  I read it on my I:Pad - with so much visual and intellectual imagery, a few photographs are, to say the least, inadequate. 

Wednesday, 6 February 2013


John Stefanidis 'Gainsborough Ribbon' fabric, designed and printed digitally for the curtains on this frivolous and luxurious bed - made by Interior Workshops in London, their master craftsman Keith Webb said "..seeing it set up was my proudest moment".

JS 'Gainsborough Ribbon' 
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

Monday, 4 February 2013


Mojacar, Almeria, Spain
There are five books that aroused my interest in the past [see Parts II, III & IV to follow] and have permeated my work, sinking into one's consciousness!  These books are in favour of architecture without architects and what they advocate has become part of contemporary culture - and emulated by some - but the forces of greed, ambition and ruthless entrepreneurs have won the day.

This preaching for indigenous vernacular excludes the great architects of our day, as testified by buildings all over the world and, most recently, in the Gulf States - such as the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar.

The air-conditioners of Hyderabad Sind,
 - windscoops channel wind into every building
Images taken from: 'Architecture Without Architects' by Bernard Rudofsky [published by Academy Editions, 1964] - a catalogue from a 1965 exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA.

Left: The Tower of Samarra in Iraq, built twelve centuries ago,  the 140ft ascent has to be made without benefit of railings.

Right: Ardmore Tower in Waterford County, Ireland

Saturday, 2 February 2013

TRAVEL: India Part III

Rashtrapati Bhavan, the President of India's palace.  Inherited from the British Raj, the building and all its furniture was designed and built by Sir Edwin Lutyens, ironically only some twenty years before the country became independent.
New Delhi has exemplary town planning, it is a remarkable garden city.  I can think of no other city with streets and avenues shaded by such magnificent trees.
The Jami Mashid Mosque

Right: Hamayun's Tomb, designed by the Persian architect Mirak Mirza Ghiyath, was the first garden tomb in India, commissioned by the Emperor's widow Hamida Banu Begum in 1562. Now restored by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture and the Archaeological Survey of India, work began in 1999 and was completed in 2003.  Twelve hectares of land was replanted, trees and plants include mango, lemon, neem and jasmine.  Water channels were re-laid to enable water to run in channels and the fountain to spurt.

Shrine of Nizamuddin Auliya

I was taken here by my friend Mitch Krites, a convert to Islam, who has been a patron and promoter of Indian craftsmanship for decades. To visit these shrines is to step into the 14th Century....

Sufi shrines are under attack from puritanical Wahabi Mullahs who strongly discourage the worship of saints.

Marble door

The monuments and adjoining tombs are undergoing extensive restoration in this extraordinary microcosm of centuries past.