Sunday 17 February 2019

I'm fairly resistant to posters that urge, 'Prepare to be blown away' ... but I was blown away this morning by this heart-wrenching film and by the young Syrian refugee who plays the lead role. The cinema was packed -  there are posters all over London - and it has my vote for a well-deserved Oscar. (Although I've just checked out the competition and have to admit that I've only seen one of the other films in this category.)
Read more about it here and here.

Thursday 14 February 2019

On my way to meet a friend for a film tonight, I stopped at the Portland Gallery to see their Mary Fedden exhibition which is always a joy. The green painted chair in this painting was on sale; only £6,900! it came from her studio. The painting considerably more - but wouldn't it be fun to buy both? (Although I have artist friends who would rescue a chair like that from a skip and paint it for pennies.)

I always like playing, "Which one would I choose?" Something bathed in sunshine. I'm reading about the Durrells in Corfu and this has the right feel, although it's Brittany.

Or one with flowers and fruit? (The exhibition closes on Friday if you're tempted.)

I love gallery browsing in this part of town; there's always something ... and this caught my eye in a gallery window. 'Looks like a Frith,' I thought and went in for a closer look. Then I remembered that I'd seen it not so long ago at the Royal Academy. (They're all there, Trollope, Gladstone. Millais, Oscar Wilde.) It's on the market for the first time in 135 years.
I'm cheeky, so I asked the price. £9 million.
Gulp. Makes a little Mary Fedden seem quite achievable.

Tuesday 12 February 2019

Ecarlate, silk faille afternoon dress, 1955

I spent a blissful afternoon today at the V&A's Dior exhibition ... and ladies, it is simply ravissante, one exquisite gown after another. As the reviewers say, no social context at all - but does it need to be spelled out? I'm quite aware of the post-war impact of the New Look because it didn't take much to get my mum reminiscing about the allure of full skirts with their yards and yards of fabric. I do think the V&A might have shown some of the punishing corsetry that it took to achieve those tiny waists. And prices. I'd love to know  - but if you have to ask, you can't afford it. Wasn't Mrs Harris's Temptytion four hundred and fifty quid?

Temptation was a black velvet gown, floor-length, encrusted half-way from the bottom up with a unique design picked out in beads of jet that gave to the skirt weight and movement. The top was a froth of cream, delicate pink, and white chiffon, tulle and lace ...

I was half expecting to see Temptytion on display this afternoon. (Incidentally, I got there at 3pm and to my amazement, it wasn't crowded. But don't dillydally if you need to book as I think it's already sold out until May.)  

There was this chic grey wool ensemble from Olivia de Havilland's wedding trousseau in 1955. And Princess Margaret's 21st birthday gown (with rather an ugly belt). And the most delicious little black dresses and hats that all seemed to have belonged to Margot Fonteyn.

 Look at the fabrics  ...

And the toiles ...

The garden room is enchanting, a pergola of cut-out paper wisteria and lilac roses.

I adore the English, dressed not only in the tweeds that suit them so well, but also in these flowing dresses, in subtle colours, which they have worn inimitably since the days of Gainsborough.

Lilies of the valley were Dior's favourite flower.

Not so sure about the Galliano years. Although Marie Antoinette would have have loved it.

And this was exquisite ...

But this wasn't! You look at every single one of the 1950s dresses and think, "If only ..." The recent ones - not so much. But do go. It's a fabulous exhibition.

Thursday 7 February 2019

I enjoyed my (very chilly) after-hours ghost tour here this week, even though not a single one of the 15 resident ghosts chose to appear; not so much as a whiff of ghostly tobacco smoke on the haunted staircase - you're warned to be careful on the third step!
At least now I can boast that I've seen one of the treasures of the house - the pathetic little skeleton of the King Charles spaniel that haunts the house.  The bones were discovered by gardeners after a storm uncovered a burial urn under a tree - so it must be true that they belong to the ghost dog?
I'd love to see him!
But I did see the first solitary primrose in the garden - and lots of snowdrops.