Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Chelsea Flower Show.... rain stops play

I have come to work just to load these photographs, I had taken them on a memory stick to load up at home, but I don't know what's the matter with me at home but I just cannot sit down and do this there. Either I get a constant stream of interruptions from Emin or Leyla demands attention with menaces, which is fine I guess, so operating as a only good enough parent I have abandoned the kid's to there own devices and slunk back to work to bring you a week of Chelsea Flower Show, which already seems a long time ago.

Yes rain did stop play, I knew it was going to be a sartorial fuck up when I saw the weather forecast, I did hope it was wrong, but forewarned is forearmed and the Great British public left sartorial style back home and wrapped themselves up in polythene bags. I did get a few shots though but they will be posted later this week.

A general round up

I Loved this amazing 'room of my own' made up of recycled gym floor boards and even a prison door which was apparently purchased via eBay!

Nothing recycled about this garden celebrating all things Monaco, the garden was amazing in a kind of Joan Collins way but my favourite view was this.

I have a pond already but loved this ideas of a pond in a beautiful glazed ceramic vessel, this stand was stunning and I just stood and gazed for ages, which was the bonus of going alone, I was able to just take in so much more.

In the background you can see evidence of people wearing polythene bags...Why?

BBC coverage saturates the schedules during the Flower Show so you can't walk more than 2 meters without tripping over cables and crew alike.

Nothing comes between the English and a picnic, nothing!

Rain may have stopped my play but not others, who sat watching the band playing through rain, hail and gusting gale force winds. Hip Hip Hooray!

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

The Hare With Amber Eyes

Whilst laid up in hospital I managed to finish two books* I started, this one I bought to read on the train to Berlin and it's one of the best books I've read. Not only enlightening but beautifully written evoking a period in history that I had previously really struggled to comprehend.
I studied European history at school, the rise of Germany and the cause and effects of both world wars. It will I know sound a tad naive but despite reading copiously around my subject and attending a lecture by the late great A.J.P.taylor I never really understood antisemitism.
I live in a country that has a deeper mistrust of catholics than Jews and growing up in Yorkshire had little exposure to anyone Jewish. To me they were a mysterious religious group who lived on the outskirts of Leeds.
This book finally unravels the mystery, it was like a veil lifting and whilst it continues to make no sense to me at all that Europe colluded unilaterally in antisemitic behaviour from day one I understand whilst still failing to really understand.
So please read this story you won't fail to be left open mouthed and amazed, a story you could not possibly make up.

I have scanned this article about the author from the Saturday Telegraph magazine

* The second book too touches on the less than exemplary behaviour of the politically naive designer, Coco Chanel, written by Justine Picardie.

I had ignored the enormous amount of hype that surrounded the release of this book, she is a journalist and boy do they suck up to their own. Picardie is the Telegraph's answer to the Times's Lisa Armstrong and the Guardian's Jess Morley Carter. Lisa Armstrong is head and shoulders better than either of the other two in terms of understanding the importance of fashion as well as it's lack of. She writes with tremendous fluidity leaving the other two flailing in her wake.

I find Picardie's writing difficult to read at the best of times, very disjointed and often lacking a grasp of what makes her reader tick. So when the book came out irritatingly she even managed to climb on that blog band wagon.

The book is impossible to read, it fails to flow and judders to a stand still every five minutes as she references some quote. Most good authors allow the facts to weave themselves into a narrative, this book is basically one long appendix and is the most irritating read ever. I staggered to end as it was all I had to read, Picaride's love of Chanel is obvious, but Chanel comes out of this book as a deeply unpleasant woman, a genius, but a flawed one.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Monday, 23 May 2011

It's not all about me...honestly

Honesty, it's a funny thing being honest, I read recently about yet another author exposed for embellishing the truth in a way that Faberge embellishes eggs. He had written about his experiences working in Pakistan I think, but once the book became common currency via Oprah the cracks turned into canyon's and it was it seems a tissue of lies, or fiction..Which begs the question, why not just publish it as fiction? Or is that just too simple a concept?

On the subject of lies I then flicked through a trash publication the other day only to read about a journalist who posted lies onto her Facebook page, it seems people now feel they should be seen to live the dream even when they are not, I could not really put my finger what I found more tasteless, the initial stupid lie or the fact she was then writing about it and making money from the fact that she was a fantasist, or did she make it all up just to write the piece in the first place? The line between fact and fiction is so very fine how would we know?

I say this because for me I write with a brutal honesty and yet I can imagine my family reading this and not recognising me at all. Is this in fact just an edited slice of my life? Just a thought really.

Anyway down to business. How much do I LOVE this dress? Does anyone remember a blog called The Thoughtful Dresser? It was one of those blogs that I think used blogger's to assemble the grist for a book, but it was a good hub and spoke for ideas and sartorial conundrums, one such was glamorous dressing without exposing hideous underarm flesh. Well I give you this...

Haider Ackermann Is this not glorious?

Saturday was all about Kitty, we needed to find her a pretty silver beaded bag and sandals to wear with her graduation/prom dress. She has booked her hair appointment and despite loathing school she is determined to leave in style. So good for her bad for my purse, I get NO vicarious pleasure shopping for others..NONE That said we ticked the boxes and she then went on to tick a shed load more. Whilst waiting for her to try clothes on in Zara I ached to buy the following.

I have mentally made a note not to wear animal print but this dress was lovely and was very fluid, it looks better in the flesh than in the photograph but in the end I decided it was a no.

These trousers were just divine, but cried out for a crisp white shirt which sadly for me would act as a shit magnet for every tiny splash of dirty water, spitting fat and spilt tea, so it was with a heavy heart I left it on the rack, nothing do do with my arse creating it's very own op art headache.

I will be very honest and say that I loved this shirt so much had they had my size I would have crumbled, it was so very, very pretty.

I loved the heavy linen of this skirt, it was very full and would look lovely with black, but... did I need it? So left it.

Finally I really did think maybe... but then... maybe not!

I would like to say I went to COS and bought nothing, but I will be brutally honest and confess that I tried on many, many black dresses , but they were all way too small making me feel Gulliver in the land of little people.

I did buy a lovely navy t shirt with a kind of square Devore pattern.

Honestly? It kills me to not spend but It will get easier I know, how often do I eat chocolate now? Not very, and I was once a chocoholic. so I can do it.

We finished the day sharing some Thai food, I put away the camera to focus on Kitty and now I have Thursday at Chelsea to look forward to can't wait.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Toatally exhausted

If you think teachers have an easy life don't bother reading any further. Yes, we have the effing holidays and yes, I have one coming up shortly.

What I find never gets any easier is marking, not the whole "oh, that's lovely dear, have a gold star" kind of crapola. No, I mean the kind of marking that will haunt you for the rest of your life, it will linger around you like a bad smell whether you give a shrug of insouciance or bravado, I promise these grades can and do hurt.

What makes it worse is that nasty little word 'subjective', not for me the clean slash of red, right or wrong, no, I have 'ifs' and 'buts' and 'well maybe'. How do you off set sheer slog against brief moments of genius? How does the latter always triumph over the former? It's so cruel that you can work your arse off in art and still only ever be judged mediocre.

So all week I have placed in rank order then judged and then rejudged and then lain awake at night wondering if I should have done more..........because when all is said and done I devised the course and I delivered it. On and on and on until I think my heart will go BANG!

I get tearful that no matter how I dress it up I teach students who will only ever be OK, it is rare to get the WOW although this year we have one even then I think is it me? Is she really WOW? Or just wow?

Last night I went for my interview for an MA at Goldsmiths, I have been accepted and really I think it will be amazing, but I had one of those ridiculous conversations with Emin that a few years ago would have reduced me to tears and had me searching for flats to leave him for. Now I really don't give a flying fuck what he thinks, this is a man who quantifies everything by either it's monetary value or it's usefulness to him. No it's not a language, no it won't earn me more money, but yes, it's all about me, and the enjoyment I get out of life and that you can't quantify.

That said I am entering the world of subjectivity myself again as we have to exhibit new work at the end of each year, but it will give me the push I need and maybe when I become rich and famous, I can laugh at him from my luxury seaside retreat! HA.

So another week disappears, I have one more Saturday up town and amazingly 4 more have been added to her term, I'm not crying, having edited my photographs I have improved immeasurably whilst spending time up town photographing on a regular basis, so I will push this envelope a little further.

One last thought, a girl in my tutor group (age 18) thought the Dalai Lama was a terrorist organisation!! How? You see what I'm up against?

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Berlin... It's all about the architecture

What I absolutely love about Berlin is you can walk just about anywhere and find the most amazing Juxtaposition of modern with old, this brilliant example is the German Historical Building. I did not have time to go in but will next time we stay for longer.

The radio tower as seen reflected in the hotel bedroom window.

The government offices look beautiful reflecting the blue sky, Berlin has had temperatures consistently 10degrees higher than Istanbul this spring!

Above is the view from the gallery's 3rd floor, well worth the climb!

This is a French church built by French Huguenots who clearly brought there skills with them, unlike German Baroque this church is a triumph of understatement.

Much of what I love about Berlin as well as the architecture is the yellowness of their public transport system, which for me makes it more photogenic. I guess I would not feel the same if yellow prevailed across our TFL!

No flowers allowed

Last week was A Level exam week and I had time to mess around with the Hipstomatic app which I grow to love more each time I get used to it.

By the end of Thursday I felt unwell and after walking the dog could barely stand my legs felt like lead, I went to bed with a temperature and a small sinking feeling in my heart that history was repeating itself.
Leyla proclaimed I was burning up and after numerous attempts to sleep it off I knew the infection was back. No Emin, who was away from home working, I could not face a taxi knowing my propensity to feint or vomit, so I called an ambulance and left for hospital shaking Kitty awake to tell her I was leaving.
Same infection, different hospital, but lets face it they are all an Hieronymus Bosch like vision of hell, the flotsam and jetsam of life spilling out onto the pavement at 2am whilst I clutched an overnight bag that I convinced myself was my ticket home before the end of the night.

No such luck, I was booked in for 4 days!...4 days of my life I was to never see again, in a room of octogenarians and a wailing woman who cried loudly through clenched teeth for 3 days before they took pity on me and moved me.

I phoned the house to remind the girls to get up and go to school, I phoned Emin whose phone was switched off. I later managed to phone home to check the girls were home safely only for Leyla to give me a list of wants and needs to collect on my home! Home? "Leyla I'm in hospital and won't be back until Monday" She emitted a long wail, before sobbing, Kitty had no recollection of my waking her and life it seems had ticked over very nicely without me, until now, however food was needed and finally my absence was duly noticed!
I was however stuck in bed tied to a drip whilst another industrial quantity of antibiotic's were pumped into me.

I blame Emin, it started when he took us on a ridiculously long walk after I had been on my feet all day in Berlin, it's hard for him to understand that I now have a finite limit of tolerance when it comes to walking, I may seem perky enough, but my foot is agony after too long in less than appropriate footwear. 10 miles in converse trainers, yes, 10 miles in sandals, no. My sister suggested that instead of moaning I should send him a text that way he might stop and comprehend the message and thus understand, I think he had learnt a lesson, but I have lost 4 days of my life.

These peonies are from my garden, for the last 4 years I have watched them bloom, slump and die, often drenched with rain and I feel I have barely seen them, so this year I cut them and put them in water and placed them next to my bed at home, now I finally get to see them and smell them, I never knew they had such a divine scent but they do, making them even more lovely. They photograph like a dream too.

Friday, 13 May 2011

Farnley Hey

I LOVE this house and there are others on this website nearly as covetable but not quite. So if you have a cool £700,000+ knocking around perhaps you could buy it for me!

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Berlin It's all about the art


This amazing new gallery sits right in the heart of what was east Berlin, sitting next to the river Spree it has, if you can climb the stairs, amazing views of the old church. I LOVE the way it has been designed to allow light to flood in, the windows do not open, but the wooden panels are in fact shutters that open, creating a lovely breeze, negating the need for air con. The Germans are truly awesome at designing eco' friendly buildings.

I would say that had we not stumbled on this amazing private view we would not have known it was a gallery, yes the art work should give it away but the entrance is very obscure. So we walked past the huge picture windows and saw Berlin's finest, trendiest crowd, all achingly hip and wonderfully dressed.

I know you will hate me for saying this but they are way better dressers than the French, seriously? Yes you do still see the Otto Dix dowager here and there, but younger generations including my own clearly have learnt to mix up French classic with Japanese quirk, all of Berlin in spring is a pleasure to stand and watch. Outside I realised we had stumbled over Berlin's Gallery Weekend
So pressing my nose against the window I longed to either go in or just stand outside and watch, so I went in with Leyla.

The man in white (below) I think was a well known artist as many were taking his photograph as he went outside for a cigarette, now if you look closely you may see a smaller man wearing a blue bandanna, when we went in he came up to us and introduced himself, not because of me, but Leyla, he could not get over how amazing she looked, men are often drawn to her because of her bizarrely symmetrical face and ice cold blue eyes, (his were an astonishing Paul Newman blue) he spoke to us at length about how the future of art was in her hands (god help us then!)metaphorically of course and how lovely she was and we must go to his studio where he was working with some friends.... He gave us his card and regaled us with stories about working with Joseph Beuys. He was such a great character, and I would like to say we did go, but I am pathologically shy and couldn't face turning up only for him to have forgotten all about it. Still Leyla was FULL of it!

On to my favourite and what has to be the worlds most expensive gallery ever.


Having seen a Richard Long exhibition recently at the Tate Britain I was a bit disappointed that this exhibition was showing, but once in, WOW, it was brilliant, really amazing and perfect for the space which is for me the best space anywhere.

I was almost the first one in, hence the empty space although the eye watring price helps. The scale of Long's work is monumental. This time no Leyla to bug the hell out of me instead Emin was waiting outside since he baulked at stumping up the 12 Euros, so no pressure then! There was loads more on show so I made sure I went round everything this time. info here


An unexpected bonus was finding this gallery, it was not our destination but was opposite, the place that was, a place so weird I will not mention it as it was not worth the trip. This gallery was based in such a lovely building, really a wonderful space, so light and featuring my favourite architecture.

On the whole I admire Sarah Morris but rarely engage with her work, we use her a lot at school because the students find her very accessible, however downstairs a video was showing called Points on a Line and it was just one of the best videos I have ever seen, very, very beautifully shot and really inspiring.

I will leave this post here now and show you some more later in the week.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

The view from here

EVERYWHERE you look bloody roadworks, right across town the sound of tarmac being kanga'd up by men in high vis' vests scratching their balls and lounging around watching the one man who controls the digger.

Testing another ap' yes I am addicted, bothered?

Warehouse, a shop I avoid, does have a deliciously celebratory window.

This huntin', shootin', fishin' shop is somewhere around St James Street, love the whole old world charm thing going on.

Camden passage delights, the shops here are soooo lovely, I will really miss this place when Leyla finishes Saturday school.

Just before Easter I had collected Leyla and promised her an ice cream, not easy to find round here but I did spy a shop selling frozen yogurt, she bought a tub at an eye watering £4.50 but enjoyed it so much that when I forgot to bring home her Friday treat last week I foolishly promised her another.

Back we went, and this time she loaded up, promising to share.... Well you just know that wasn't going to happen, I took two mouthfuls before she threw a big fat strop and declared that I was eating all of it and there was barely a mouthful left for her. I can promise you there was plenty, luckily after the 5oth mouthful she got brain freeze so there is some justice in the world! But I then though £5.00 is a ridiculous amount of money for some yogurt and fruit, you can buy a book for that, so I declared it would be the last.

Today I will buy a lottery ticket and when I win I will fulfil a small dream by going to live in Istanbul, that way Leyla gets to polish her Turkish and Emin can work on his house during the week flying back for the weekend for good food and fine conversation.

I will document the underbelly of the city self publishing the outcome to rave reviews and creating an iconic best seller....no? I did say when I win!