Recent Post -  Patmos Garden From the Archives Desert Island Discs

Friday, 30 August 2013


CISTERNS that fill with rain water
 - the only way to store water for a
 millennium in Patmos, Greece
[now topped up by water brought to the island by tanker]

Wednesday, 28 August 2013


I clicked on Amazon to add to my Ipad Kindle library Joseph Roth' s masterpiece The Radetsky March [see my blog entry 27 January 2012] - this led me to Perlefter - the Story of a Bourgeois, such a cynical book and the characters dreaded, I am so glad it was left unfinished.

I then read A Life in Letters, charming letters by Joseph Roth as a boy, fighting fit and a successful journalist, intelligent and fearless, Joseph is a most likeable character who descends into a vortex of despairing alcoholism, somehow never losing his integrity - all this with the rise of the Nazis as background, exile and maltreatment of Jews increasing daily.  Letters to and from Stefan Zweig, a star cosmopolitan writer, are so revealing of the times, both are driven into exile.  Roth, we can see, will die of alcoholism and, most poignantly, we know the glittering Zweig later commits suicide together with his wife.

I then read Job - the Story of a Simple Man, a moving, unforgettable and wholly credible story of Jews in Eastern Europe. The book ends in New York and has a most unlikely but joyful fairytale ending.  It led me to reflect how vast the difference is between Ashkenazy and Sephardic Jews.

Monday, 26 August 2013

LIVING BY DESIGN: Dorset Cow Sheds

Summer loose covers - pale blue cotton and and Ian Mankin stripe on John Stefanidis chairs, Applegrowers matting - often seen in Elizabethan pictures.
Brick floor covered with a specially commissioned dhurrie made in Jaipur [HH the Rajmata had to intervene to hurry it up!], the table is laid for lunch.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

ART I Admire: Jeremy Deller

I go to Venice in September and I am looking forward to seeing the British Pavilion at the Biennale - Jeremy Deller never fails to intrigue and amuse.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

POETRY: George Seferis: Stratis Thalassinos Among the Agapanthi

Stratis Thalassinos Among the Agapanthi
There are no asphodels, violets, or hyacinths;
how then can you talk with the dead?
The dead know the language of flowers only;
so they keep silent
they travel and keep silent, endure and keep silent,
beyond the community of dreams, beyond the community of dreams.

If I start to sing I'll call out
and if I call out –
the agapanthi order silence
raising the tiny hand of a blue Arabian child
or even the footfalls of a goose in the air.

It's painful and difficult, the living are not enough for me
first because they do not speak, and then
because I have to ask the dead in order to go on farther.
There's no other way: the moment I fall asleep
the companions cut the silver strings
and the flask of the winds empties.
I fill it and it empties, I fill it and it empties;
I wake
like a goldfish swimming
in the lightning's crevices
and the wind and the flood and the human bodies
and the agapanthi nailed like the arrows of fate
to the unquenchable earth
shaken by convulsive nodding,
as if loaded on an ancient cart
jolting down gutted roads, over old cobblestones,
the agapanthi, asphodels of the negroes:
How can I grasp this religion?

The first thing God made is love
then comes blood
and the thirst for blood
roused by
the body's sperm as by salt.
The first thing God made is the long journey;
that house there is waiting
with its blue smoke
with its aged dog
waiting for the homecoming so that it can die.
But the dead must guide me;
it is the agapanthi that keep them from speaking,
like the depths of the sea or the water in a glass.
And the companions stay on in the palaces of Circe:
my dear Elpenor! My poor, foolish Elpenor!"
Or don't you see them
– 'Oh help us!' –
on the blackened ridge of Psara?

Friday, 16 August 2013

BOOKS: by Junichiro Tanizaki

A revered writer I had never read. A present of a paperback started me off...Junichiro Tanizaki's THE SECRET  HISTORY  OF THE LORD OF MUSASHI - heads cut off in battle groomed before being triumphantly displayed by the victors - hair washed and combed, cosmetics applied, the procedure arouses a secret and sensual pleasure in the Samurai hero....I shall never feel the same about my head or anyone else's head for that matter.

Then on my I Pad I read THE MAKIOKA
SISTERS which I had resisted because it is over 500 are less aware of bulk with Kindle books!.....a bourgeois drama, sluggish at times, the repetitions are an integral part of the structure and the book's social message...fascinating Japanese 'moeurs'...strongly in place even now?  A book I will not forget... and more Tanizaki in future....DVD of the movie ordered immediately.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

LIVING BY DESIGN: Balance and harmony restored in Cheyne Walk, London, SW1

A Lutyens floor - years of grime removed - A John Stefanidis ebonised wood table with black marble top, an 18th Century working fireplace.  On the wall, one of three 'papier peint' panels in grisaille.  The walls are sponged ochre and the columns marbleised.

Monday, 12 August 2013

ART I admire: James Turrell at the Guggenheim New York

 Rotunda at the Guggenheim Museum, New York 
until September 25, 2013

To quote Peter Schjeldahl [in the New Yorker, July 1, 2013] 'James Turrell, the veteran wizard of installations that involve illusory effects of light, both natural and artificial..... Since 1981, Turrell has maintained a cattle ranch near Flagstaff, Arizona. There he has toiled incessantly [and expensively] to turn an extinct volcano, the Roden Crater, into a sculpted, many chambered observatory of celestial phenonema! [see my blog post of November 2, 2012]

What a guy!  His "Skyspaces" can be seen in the UK at Houghton House in Norfolk and at Yorkshire Sculpture Park [left], Kielder Skyspace on Cat Cairn [above] and, of course, in Salzburg, Austria, in Japan, Argentina etc.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

MUSIC: Die Frau Ohne Schatten by Richard Strauss - libretto by Hugo von Hofmannstal

...a fairytale with many a psychological undertone.  To be seen at the Met in New York this November or at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in 2014.  I last saw it in Salzburg....a very difficult opera to stage...the music perfect rapture. 

Friday, 9 August 2013

BOOKS: An Uncertain Glory - India and its Contradictions by Amartya Sen written with Jean Dr├Ęze

I pre-ordered this book on Amazon after being sent the interview by Madeleine Buntring in The Guardian of July 16, 2013.
Amartya Sen, the Nobel Prize-winning economist is a man of wisdom who is very sceptical of the EU austerity measures having the desired effect - when in Greece, it would be hard to disagree.  

Thursday, 8 August 2013


INDIAN LEOPARD PRINT SCARF - proof of the subcontinent's gift for colour and invention

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

LIVING BY DESIGN: Balance and harmony restored in Cheyne Walk, London, SW10

A pair of John Stefanidis candlestick lights with small painted Kashmiri shades.  A Matisse drawing on a Christopher Gibbs easel, the table covered in a Sunanni embroidery [also called Bokhara].  The sofa upholstered in John Stefanidis 'Rice' fabric, an Indonesian log basket, stencilled walls and an 18th Century chimney piece.

Sunday, 4 August 2013


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

Thursday, 1 August 2013

BOOKS/ARCHITECTURE: The Landscape of Man

Since creation, the earth's surface continually worked its way, by trial and error, towards the condition of climate and racial groupings that existed at the beginning of recorded history.  The length of time it took to do so is beyond comprehension: if the evolution of the world since creation corresponded in time to one year, then civilised man would have been upon it for only one minute. 

From the chapter: 
The Central Civilisations: Islam, Central Asia
Isfahan, Iran
[JS: stunning to have visited this beautiful country now so repressed]

From The Western Expansion of Islam:
 Spain, The Generalife in Granada

From The Western Civilisations:
from Egypt to the Renaissance:

Italy: The Rennaissance:
Villa Lante

France: Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries:

Western Classicism: 

The Evolution of Modern 
Landscape in the Eighteenth Century:

Bridge of the Jade Belt, 
Bridge of the Seventeen Arches

The English School:
The Americas:
Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco

Extracts from The Landscape of Man 
by Geoffrey and Susan Jellicoe
published by Thames & Hudson [1975]