Kenzo Tiger

img_3979I woke surrounded by Tiger print.  Red and pink Tiger print.  Had it all been a dream? A glance at the receipt and an inspection of photos on my phone said otherwise.

A delightful invitation to a preview of Kenzo for H&M had me planning every minute of the week (not to mention a year in advance) beforehand with my plus one.  For a diehard long term committed fan of the H & M annual fashion designer collaboration, this one had special resonance: An opportunity not to get up at 5am and queue for days to be first in line, plus the fact that Kenzo, one of the 80’s designers has a special place in my heart.   Always just beyond reach of my shoulder padded purse in those heady days, would H&M work their magic on this designer brand’s less acute following in the last couple of decades and up the ante again?

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img_3756I tweeted H: ’Unfortunately it’s sold, so I can’t get it for you.’
‘Where is his nose?’ came the response. I ignored the question, after all a bust of this Hellenistic King from mid century BC was bound to come a cropper at some point in the last few centuries.

Frieze Masters hosted this fine piece of art along with many others of repute and fame, their makers well established in art history vernacular. From Picasso to Bonnard, Dali to Louise Bourgeois, these were all artists we can agree on as having made it. The elite hush of this particular part of Frieze held a reverence indicative of solemn recognition and certain provenance, to say nothing of sky high prices.

Across a cooling October park lay Frieze London.

I headed to the bathrooms, noting that Julie Verhoeven was performing a piece of her art there entitled ‘The Toilet Attendant … Now Wash Your Hands’. One of many works this year with a message cloaked in humour.

A blue strip of carpet led to the ladies, a pink to the mens. Once that initial confusion was dealt with I entered to the usual set up save a few trolleys dotted about laden with the tools of a loo attendant’s trade.  I spied the artist suitably dressed in the latter’s regalia.

‘I just want you to know, I’ve washed my hands’ I said.
‘But did you put the loo seat down?’ she asked, ‘It’s amazing how many people don’t.’ ‘Well, that could be because they’ve become confused by the blue and pink carpet. Perhaps you would find that if you went into the mens all the loo seats would be resting in situ between visits.’
‘Ha!’ she replied. ‘Maybe.’

Through the fair I wandered, stopping in my tracks for some pieces, marvelling at them, rendered mute by others such were the thoughts and feelings provoked.

I heard my name being called:  An old acquaintance from the 90’s, and art collector. I told him about Julie’s work.  ‘Did she ask you for a pound? Is that how artists are making money these days?!’ he laughed.

The question’s answer is potentially the same as it was in mid century BC as it may be in 50 years; a benefactor, menial work or connections – the way the pendulum swings dependent on our appetite for and willingness to appreciate another narrative to our daily lives.

Frieze Art Fair until 9th October, Regent’s Park, London.

The Things We Do For Love

IMG_3404The news had reported ridiculously long queues around each city venue of Kanye West’s global weekend only fashion pop-up on Friday. Around-the-block lines had already resulted in a sell out of his sand/gold colour T-shirts, sweatshirts and hats by Saturday morning in London.

At 5pm on Sunday, on a walk that took me past the vibrant graffiti punctuating the East End, the queue at Kachette on Old Street was somewhat diminished.  Nevertheless 15 minutes in and it was already trying my patience.

I chatted to the girls in front.  ‘I don’t really care what I get as long as I get something’ said one.

Moments after, I stepped past the security guard, into the hallowed space and made a left.  ‘It’s all unisex, doesn’t matter if you go right or left’ a tall blond grinning dude told me at the entrance. “LONDON” was writ large on the wall behind him and a steady flow of Kanye fans posed in front of it for the ‘Been there, got the T-shirt’ literally, pic.

‘Just get me anything’ pinged the message from my niece in Scotland. Continue reading “The Things We Do For Love”

Pokemon Olympics


IMG_3328What do the Olympics and Pokemon have in common?  Well, not much really except that they’re both topical and highly competitive.  So, when my suggestion to join my ‘nephew’ and his Mum at the Olympic park to hunt Pokemon was met by a youthful ‘Yeah okay’ that was enough encouragement.

I did the downloading and arrived at the beautifully landscaped venue of so many inspiring memories from 2012.  Alliums and long tall grasses gently swayed in the breeze, a blazing sun bounced off the River Lea and cyclists rode slowly past curvaceous benches, enjoying the sense of freedom and space afforded.

IMG_3322J came running towards me: “You need a name! Have you got one yet?”
“No – any bright ideas?”
We stood by the aquatic centre looking up at curves side-framing a blue sky.
“I don’t know – Helexium?”
“Whatever you say, you’re the expert.”

I punched in my virtual self’s new name, added a few numbers and I was off.

My first Pokemon appeared floating in front of me, hovering just above the grass.  I tried to zap him with the ball but to no avail.
“Here let me do it for you” J said grabbing the phone. “Gotcha! You got a Staryu, I’ll power it up, it’s only CP 11 though..”

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All Creatures Great and Small

P1080105It’s not what you might expect, but, as soon as I walked the dusty sunny path to Hampton Court Palace Flower Show from the station, entered the grounds and perused the catalogue, I knew what I wanted to see.

The show gardens are of course predominantly what it’s all about with prizes awarded to the most outstanding.  Then there’s the rose marquee, various celebrity talks, plants to be purchased and delectable food and drink to taste. However, this year the flower show encompassed so much more – from cooking to dogs and butterflies.  Yes, you heard me right.

‘If you head to the ‘DogsTrust: A Dog’s Life’ garden you should be able to see it complete with a few of its namesakes’ the press office told me.

I couldn’t get there fast enough.  Past people carrying trundling boxes full of garden delights I did my best to make haste.  But, the mood was relaxed, and I found myself slowing down: A couple stood looking over a show garden: ‘I think if we did something like that water feature dear – it could work – it’s just a small dribble’ one said.
‘We could give it a try love’ came the mellow response, made so by the warmth of sun shining and a precious day away from the norm.

Up ahead I spied a rectangular shallow pool overhung with various delicate plants and some sculptures of – were they dogs – wading through it? I had reached my destination and was soon chatting to Emily from DogsTrust.  ‘We just won Gold last night’ she told me excitedly proceeding to fill me in on the whys and wherefores of this sensitively planned garden.

‘It represents the journey of every DogsTrust dog – making sure they’re as happy as can be. It’s got herbaceous borders, sniffer tracks, a pavilion for shade, tubes for them to run through, water and places to dig. But, it’s also about people being able to enjoy their garden with their dog – showing that it’s possible to make it work for both.’

I stroked Evie’s head – a quiet and restrained greyhound visiting from their West London centre for the day.  ‘She’s been with us two weeks – often dogs come here when there’s a change in the family circumstances.  She used to race.’ In the cool and gently scented garden a photo session followed.

Time was flying by and there was yet a final highlight to attend: In the Butterfly Dome, I couldn’t stop myself smiling – thrilled by hundreds of these most colourful creatures flitting about my head, landing on plants and occasionally my bare arm.

Without a doubt it had been a day to delight not just one, but all of the senses.P1080159

Very many thanks to RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show.

Ms Georgia O’Keeffe

P1080066The last time I got tearful at an exhibition was The V&A’s Alexander McQueen show.  Today at the new Tate Modern’s sensitively and sublimely curated exhibition of Georgia O’Keeffe’s work, it happened all over again.  And then some.

Rounding the corner of one of the first rooms I came face to face with ‘Music – Pink and Blue No. 1’.  This was the catalogue cover of my first, and until this day, only viewing of Ms O’Keeffe’s art in the flesh as it were.  That was in 1987, just a year after she died.

A flood of memories surfaced; living in New York and then Washington D.C. where the show had taken place at the National Gallery of Art. Tears pricked my eyes.  Her powerful and confident strokes of both paint and charcoal reveal a determined character:  Determined and dedicated to being true to herself.

In her own words, quoted on the introduction to each room in this exhibition she comes across as a woman of single mind and focus.  I could say ‘person’ here, and many of the often cited quotes on her work refer to her as a great ‘woman’ painter which she famously railed against, saying ‘The men liked to put me down as the best woman painter. I think I’m one of the best painters’. However, only a female artist could say: ’Of course I was told it was an impossible idea – even the men hadn’t done that well with it’ on painting the New York landscape.

She knew she was up against it to be taken seriously as a woman who made art, and nothing less than 100% of herself would do.

Through showing such an extraordinary variety of her work in this exhibition, the Tate seeks primarily to champion O’Keeffe’s own insistence that her work was not overtly sexualised, that every flower and landscape she painted had little to do with sexuality and in particular the female body.

It’s largely succeeded in this mission, but there’s no getting away from the fact that there is an inherent sensuality and almost erotic like quality imbued within her paintings in particular – whether they be of New York skyscrapers or clouds floating beneath blue skies.  Nature was such a source of inspiration to her, and that in its most basic form is reproduction – in all that is created.

The final rooms hosting her paintings from New Mexico stirred up emotion again. The ruthless and unrelenting desire to demonstrate clarity and one’s own truth is particularly piercing in the Pelvis series and the paintings of her Abiquiú house. The sense imparted is of an infinite search for oneself, to strip back all that doesn’t matter and reach the core:  ‘I feel there is something unexplored about woman that only woman can explore’ she once said.

Her love of nature and the nature of love, in particular for oneself, is imbued in all Georgia O’Keeffe’s work. She just couldn’t help herself. P1070963
‘My Last Door’ Georgia O’Keeffe.  Portrait of Georgia O’Keeffe by Alfred Stieglitz.

Georgia O’Keeffe at Tate Modern 6 July – 30 October 2016.

Inside and Outside

P1070862They informed me at the Press Office that I might be able to have a few words with Bjarke Ingels, architect of this year’s Serpentine Pavilion.  I’d read about the unzipped wall and wondered how it would compare to past years’ structures.

I was also super keen to ask him about the unzipping part:  In conceiving of these staggered cubes undulating from narrow to wide creating a different view from every angle, had he thought it male or female?  Had he thought of no gender whatsoever? Are structures/buildings usually referred to as ‘she’ or is that just for sea vessels? I felt it could be an interesting conversation.

Walking through Hyde Park to get there, raindrops fell from tree branches, soft landings on my top, rippling outwards to create the occasional water mark.

Wandering in past the gallery, I moved slowly through the crush of people by the 2016 Pavilion. Wine gasses in hands, bottles of beer, interesting spectacle frames – coloured and otherwise surrounded me. ‘Isn’t it great to be out’ I overheard someone remark. Indeed it was, after a day of downpours the sun had finally granted us an audience, enabling outdoor pursuits once more and now setting on a city yearning for summer.

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House of Crab

IMG_1948When you’re in the West End of London town and feeling peckish at lunchtime, it’s hard to escape the pull of the ubiquitous fast food chains for a re-fuel: Mayfair, home of the £20 cocktail is especially challenging.

Crossing New Bond Street through streams of Bentleys and revving Maseratis I sought sustenance and respite from the main drag. On Grosvenor Street I spied a couple of brightly painted tables and chairs sitting outside a cute wooden facade.  An entrance gaily thrown open to the street dared me to walk past without investigating.

I walked in to more cheery furniture and a whitewashed bar at the back, behind which a young bearded man industriously attended to business.

“Are you a pop-up?” I asked, “Specialising in Crab by any chance?”

He grinned and gave me the lowdown.  Open since early this year they are indeed that, and plan on staying in Mayfair for the duration of 2016, business depending. “Sit down! Sit down!” he insisted handing me a menu.

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The Image of Beauty

IMG_1686The first pedicure of the season is always a reason to be cheerful.  And, cheerful is the order of the day at Village of Beauty.

I walked in to sunshine streaming onto the plumply cushioned window seats.  Instantly at home I felt the need to lie down on one, like a kitten about to be pampered to within an inch of its life.

“Oh, our clients often want to do this” Kamila told me, “In fact one of them did, she fell asleep right there.”

I could just imagine. What’s not to love about a comfy sofa-like seat, sunshine on your face and the gentle hum around you of ‘me’ time being relished.

Downstairs I lay back on the therapist’s bed and thought of beaches and waves, sea salt and sangria that a treatment of this nature usually precludes. Kamila’s voice softly spoke to me, and any pain was minimised.

I noticed a photograph of Marilyn on the wall and asked where it came from.  “I’ve never seen that picture of her in my life before” I said, astonished.
“Ah, I pick it up at a car boot sale – it was just £1, somewhere in Wimbledon I think.”

Continue reading “The Image of Beauty”