churches

going back to my post about churches – its so lovely that these grand places of worship that were once the centre of people’s lives in days gone by, have now become more modern and creative with their usage and unite the community again. we have listened to Gregory Porter singing the beautiful lyrical songs of Nat King Cole with an orchestra in St Lukes Church in Clerkenwell, as well as been introduced to new jazz by up and coming new artists.  apparently the roof was missing for years, until the london symphony orchestra decided to use it as a rehearsal space and hence its now intact again.    some may criticise the point of religions and blame the divide in countries and the onset of war, but we wouldn’t have these wonderful buildings without religion.

i love the songs of nat king cole – so romantic  – they take you away from the stark realities of real life.  my favourite being unforgettable

we have seen numerous artists at the union chapel – what an amazing venue!    churches now have to be very flexible with their uses  – with high maintenance costs, they are all opening their doors to help pay the bills.  the actors church, st paul’s church, in covent garden has its own theatre company, so look out for future productions. the garden is haven in the midst of the bustle of the market .

its lovely to walk around smithfields on a sunday when its quiet and explore – its strange how tranquil parts of london become on a weekend; but if you are there in the week, its good to visit st bartholomew the great – its a beautiful old church originating from the 12C – the cafe is open for breakfast and some evenings its open for cocktails – its very atmospheric! i saw a spectacular theatre performance there, so keep an eye out for events that go on there.

st pancras old church, which has been a place of worship since the 4th century,  is another atmospheric church that holds concerts.

i first saw st barnabas church in soho recently and was taken back by this gem of a church right in the busy centre;  its attached to a member’s club now,  but non profit making aiding homeless people into work;  there is also the added benefit of a beautiful garden.

and here are the details of the beautiful church of Blythburgh in suffolk, with its carved wooden angels, its simplicity really makes it one of my favourite interiors.

Unforgettable, that’s what you are
Unforgettable though near or far
Like a song of love that clings to me
How the thought of you does things to me
Never before has someone been more

Unforgettable in every way
And forever more, that’s how you’ll stay
That’s why, darling, it’s incredible
That someone so unforgettable
Thinks that I am unforgettable too

Unforgettable in every way
And forever more, that’s how you’ll stay
That’s why, darling, it’s incredible
That someone so unforgettable
Thinks that I am unforgettable too

Irving Gordon

festive things to do in london

things we have done the past few years at xmas that are lovely to do;  one xmas eve Robert and I went to the charles dickens museum –  its a fun insight into the writer’s life, especially if you are interested by the writer.   there are portraits of the family, the writing desk that dickens used to create his famous novels,  his personal book collection –  and even personal artefacts such as jewellery.  there are characters from the book that keep you entertained as you walk around the house, making it more fun and engaging for children.  after reading his biography by Claire Tomalin my interest in dickens was born – not only does it tell the story of the author, but it vividly describes a london of that era.    not only is it a great educational eye opener, but an opportunity to see the inside of these wonderful london historic houses.

usually on xmas morning, whilst Robert is cooking, the kids and I  usually take a walk to the top of Primrose Hill – unless its absolutely pouring with rain, its always good to get that winter’s fresh air and the view from the top of the hill is always a stunning picture of London. we must make use of the wonderful parks that London has – they are our treasures.  this year will be very different for us, as we are in the midst of moving Xmas week – bad timing, but I am guessing that we will be taking a walk on the beaches of Suffolk. 

on Boxing Day, I  last went to see Little Women with a girlfriend –  its a good time to go and see a film, and although you can practically catch up on anything on digital now, how lovely to be in a proper cinema with silence and the big screen.  we just recently saw West Side story, which I think is fun, colourful, and a great remake of the classic.  also Boxing Day is not usually   a busy day …..  I know that there is another worry with the new variant, but we went last saturday evening and it was quite spaced out and not at all busy.  All these places are really trying to make it safe. 

i know i tell you every year, but its always a lovely xmas treat and could be an idea for a gift, but for a great insight into 17C london life, you must visit the  fascinating  dennis severs house in spitalfields.  they have a special ‘spirit for the christmas’ season for this time of year, but check their website to see whether it is on this year – and if not, buy a present for someone for next year……

the 17C silkweavers house ,which has been lovingly restored as a working house – is an insight into life of that period and it certainly keeps your mind wondering.  since Severs has passed away the house has been beautifully maintained  and continues to show in all its glory what life would have been like. – the grandeur of the wealthy, the darkness of the poor.  its a museum, cum drama, cum personal collection – its just breathtaking – your eyes dart from corner to corner of each of the rooms on the 5 floors – absorbing the different scenarios, the different smells, the crackling of the open fires , the flickering of the candles- it really is a must visit.  why not buy a visit for a friend – they would just love it.    think of art crossed with drama.

exhibitions to see

there are so many exhibitions and galleries to visit now that we are able to. i have recently been to see a few, catching up on seeing art live is so inspirational. actually being in a room with a painting that you have seen for many years in print evokes a different feeling – seeing the brush strokes, the depths and tones. go and visit the Rothko room at Tate Britain and feel the harmony of those red hues.

Paula Rego is deeply moving and complex, relating the injustice to the female, violence, oppression – each painting relays a message, revealing the deep thoughts and moral sensibilities of the artist – sometimes portrayed as an activist, Rego rightly reveals the unfairness to women and girls and her paintings definitely disturb, provoke and make you think.

Noguchi at the Barbican shows what a varied artist/designer/sculptor he is – turning his hand to stage sets, bronzes and wooden sculptures – his most recognisable item being the paper lantern, which sadly has been overcopied , but part of every students room. An interesting exhibition for the those interested in all aspects of design.

the Royal Academy has its summer exhibition on, later due to the covid situation but worth a visit to see art from all ages, abilities. Always a bit overwhelming seeing so many pictures hung all together, it keeps one hope that you don’t have to be famous to hang in such an amazing gallery.

I am staying very close to the Victoria Miro gallery – an amazing architectural space, its always worth paying this gallery a visit.

Also worth visiting is the David Parry house in Cambridge, a fascinating insight into the house of David Parry who helped design the wall papers of William Morris; in his own home, he actually painted the designs directly onto the walls, rather than using paper – and all these years later, they have been preserved by his granddaughter and open to the public. you visit in small groups, but well worth seeing this beautiful labour of love in a domestic home.

happy art viewing.

Ronnie Scotts and Soho

it’s amazing how the simple things in life, like seeing a few friends, being able to sit in a cafe and hug your daughter have become so appreciated. But how lovely to be able to go and sit in Ronnie Scotts and see a live band. We did exactly that last Thursday and what a treat it was. Reuben James and his fellow artists wooed and entertained us reminding us how amazing it is to see someone in person and not just on a screen. The only advantage to the few rules that are left with the pandemic, is that you have more space around you, there is no crowding and everyone seems to be so patient with queuing and waiting around…… Seating was evenly spaced, so that the venue still looked full. If you get a chance then I would put Ronnie Scotts high on your list.

Afterwards, we walked through Soho, its streets lined with tables and chairs, and canopies to shield the rain and sun – so continental – it WAS busy, but it didnt feel chaotic. You can avoid the really busy streets if you still feel a bit aware. we ate in Wun’s tearoom, and managed to get a table inside without a booking – there are so many restaurants to choose from, you can take a chance and you can definitely get a table outside in most of the popular restaurants. We just felt a bit cold with that wind… and perhaps its just us getting older that we feel the cold more. we had never eaten in Wuns Tearoom, but we can recommend it as somewhere to get quick tasty food. Think Chinese Tapas….. and I loved what the waitresses wore, lovely striped cheongsam dresses with velvet jackets.

Let’s hope that everything remains open and that the weather gets better……

L. cornelissen

it must be one of my favourite shops in london, l. cornelissen stocks art materials, but not just like your regular art shop,  its a specialist in all types of mediums, from inks, to watercolours, to gouache etc….  there are bottles, jars, tins, tubes of everything that you would ever need.  the problem is that i didnt even know what you used most of the things for!  its definitely a place for inspiring your creativity – i have decided to buy some calligraphy pens with the beautiful shades of sepia ink (in gorgeous bottles of course) and try them out in the beautiful sketch books that they stock.  what a brilliant present to buy somebody interested in art, a starter kit in drawing or painting  with a lovely notebook – perfect for any young teenager or budding artist! its also such a beautiful shop to be in and the staff so helpful and knowledgeable. I hope it never changes, modernises – just stay as inspiring as it also has been to me.

I have been trying out Chinese brush painting with ink and watercolour – the right brush definitely helps as its about using your brush , turning and splaying out the hairs to produce the marks – watching a professional is fascinating and of course they make it look so easy. I started online with the Chinese Community Centre in Chinatown with zoom classes and not only do you learn a lot, but you are helping keep the community centre thriving. my teacher during those classes William Cai does the most beautiful paintings – one day – practice makes perfect. these were my attempts.

ammonite

watched this film last night about the amazing resilient woman, Mary Anning whose passion for fossil hunting discovered one of the most important geological finds on the Jurassic coast, but she was not acknowledged for her accomplishments. fortunately she is now being recognised, alongside a whole array of other women in the world, who may have been dismissed because of their class and gender. We went to this beautiful coast last year for the first time and fell in love with it – seeing them walk the Cobb wall in Lyme Regis just brought the lovely memories of the window of freedom we were allowed last year, fingers crossed that we are allowed a little more this year.

saul leiter

a few years ago a friend  introduced me to the photos of saul leiter, a street photographer who started off in the 1940’s and carried on until his death recently – his work has an abstract quality that depicts street life perfectly, captured unknowingly.  i have always wished that i could do street photography, it takes a lot of patience to frame and capture such lasting images.  you can go and see some of his works at the Photographer’s Gallery now.

another wonderful street photographer is vivian maier – its interesting to see the works of different photographers – very inspiring and remember they couldnt look at the back of their camera to check if they got the right exposure!  i still think that film adds a special quality to an image – digital has got a lot better, but there is definitely something special when you see images done on film – the light, the colour, the density…….

I also love the photos of Lola Alvarez Bravo and Deborah Turbeville.

one of my favourite influential still life photographers is Josef Sudek, who also liked to photograph eggs.  other worthy photographers are Joel Meyerowitz who has a new still life book out,  inspired by morandi and sergio larrain – a chilean photographer.

Jan 2016 still life_0141 Jan 2016 still life_0137 Jan 2016 still life_0135 Jan 2016 still life_0132

national trust properties

a few years ago i remember that the national trust  had to close the modernist house, High Cross House in devon, due to lack of visitors –  its sad that some unique buildings are not able to sustain their upkeep and therefore wont be open to the public.   my kids bought me a membership recently for my birthday, but I have not yet been able to use it with this lockdown.  (it was something that I kept hinting at).  its definitely a great gift idea for that person who has everything.

homewood which is featured in some dramas and films is a national trust property and  this is on my list of things to do once we can travel again and things open up.   the last trip that i did like this was to the  Henry Moore gallery in Perry Green.  it was so peaceful and pleasurable walking around the grounds seeing all the sculptures and Moore’s workshops.

other interesting buildings to see are the  erno goldfinger house in hampstead and the literary carlyle’s house and sutton house –  chartwell, home to Churchill looks very interesting, and one of the smallest properties to see is clouds hill, rural retreat to T E Lawrence.  so maybe its time to plan a daytrip for the future and help support the maintenance of these wonderful buildings.  it also gives us something to look forward to.  its such a frustrating and depressing time and I always think that even putting a little something in the diary, even if it means changing the dates just puts a little rainbow out there.

openhouse is also an annual event that allows you to see the inside of buildings that are not normally open to the public – its maybe worth signing up now, so that you can see which ones interest you.

if you are looking to move and just want a modern house, then this is the perfect website – the modern house estate agents – it also allows you to peep at other houses and get lots of style ideas!

IMG_1008 (1) church28may2015_0361-1 stairwayDetail Shots_2918

everybody’s free to wear sunscreen

 I heard this recently and thought how true these words are…..,

Everybody’s free to wear sunscreen. 

Ladies and Gentlemen of the class of ’97.
Wear sunscreen.
If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it.
The long term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience…
I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth; oh nevermind; you will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they have faded.
But trust me, in 20 years you’ll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked…
You’re not as fat as you Imagine.

Don’t worry about the future; or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum.
The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind.
The kind that blindside you at 4pm on some idle Tuesday.

Do one thing everyday that scares you.

Sing.

Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts, don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours.

Floss.

Don’t waste your time on jealousy;
Sometimes you’re ahead,
Sometimes You’re behind.
The race is long, and in the end, it’s only with yourself.

Remember the compliments you receive, forget the insults;
If you Succeed in doing this, tell me how.

Keep your old love letters, throw away your old bank statements.

Stretch.

Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your
Life.
The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives, some of the most interesting 40 year olds I know still don’t.

Get plenty of calcium.

Be kind to your knees, you’ll miss them when they’re gone.

Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t, maybe you’ll have children, maybe you won’t, maybe you’ll divorce at 40, maybe you’ll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary.
Whatever you do, don’t Congratulate yourself too much or berate yourself either.
Your choices are half chance, so are everybody else’s.
Enjoy your body, Use it every way you can… Don’t be afraid of it, or what other people Think of it,
It’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own…

 

 

Queen’s Gambit

so as there is not much to do and the weather has been somewhat wet, we have caught up on watching a few films and series.  we particularly loved the Queen’s Gambit which is about chess, but it really is about the clothes and encompasses loneliness, addiction, gender bias and the role of women in the 1950’s.   it really is worth watching – visually it reminds me of Madmen.   we also watched the documentary Billie Holliday, which was worth watching to hear and see the wonderful Billie sing – it’s mainly told through the tapes of Linda Lipnack Kuehl who was an avid fan and was wrtiting a biography about Billie Holiday but strangely died before completing it.   you have to watch these through the digital platforms, but we were happy to support Curzon films, fingers crossed that they survive this pandemic.

I couldn’t find my chess images – somewhere amongst my 10 hard drives and thousands of images, I searched high and low, but to no avail.  I remember recently stumbling on a chess afternoon in our village in Vejer de la Fronterra in one of the narrow streets – tables all laid out and locals mingling and swapping playing chess with each other, the young, the old, it was a community spirit that lifted my spirit.  when I eventually find this image I will share it, but for the time being, here is one of Havana, which still evokes the time of the series  – its a city where time stood still…..