Sunday 27 August 2023

So glad that I, Claudius has proved every bit as engrosing as it was back in 1976 when it was cult viewing in the college JCR. (Two TVs for the whole college and much bickering over channels ... those were the days!)
I'm down on thrift this week, having just destroyed my printer, seemingly by recycling scrap paper. (Well, how was I to know?) But then I often find that looking after pennies ends up costing pounds in the end. So, no - I'm not going to refashion my worn-out denim into a Japanese boro garment that's likely to become a collector's item. Still, there was something very satisfying about the Japanese Aesthetics of Recycling exhibition that appealed to my (well-buried) inner Marie Kondo. I'd never been to the Brunei Gallery; turns out I used to walk past it every other week on my way to seminars that, sadly, have moved on-line since the pandemic.
Nothing was wasted. Handmade washi paper was made from old ledgers and used as wrappings for kimonos or other bulky objects. (Perhaps I should have tried that with my stacks of old book proofs instead of jinxing the printer!) This one was made from pawn shop ledgers; the writing reveals that the family who deposited a kimono never managed to redeem it. The recycled papers were rendered waterproof with persimmon paste. And can you imagine having a jacket made from wisteria fibre - which actually looks quite tough. Or a kimono made from advertising banners for violet soap or camellia oil shampoo? The exhibition is free, always a good thing! And on a sunny afternoon last week, I sat for a while in the Japanese roof garden, that I never realised was there, reading my book and enjoying my bird's eye view over the rooftops of Bloomsbury.

Tuesday 15 August 2023

I came across this book purely by chance, after reading a blurb at the back of another strange book by the same publisher - and having read it in two sittings (it's only 100pp), I can honestly say it's one of the most disturbing I've ever read. Up there with Shirley Jackson's The Lottery. 'They' are purging an idyllic pastoral England of art and artists - destroying books and tearing out bookplates to efface the memory of bookish gifts. 'They' loathe people who live alone, people who make things, people who are self-sufficient. 'They' maim writers and promote blaring television 24/7. 'They' was published in 1977 but seems more horribly relevant today. Of course, the reader smugly identifies as one of 'us', not one of 'them' - and I'm not sure that's altogether healthy, either.

Monday 14 August 2023

Woman at her Toilette, 1875-80 (Grr, why won't Blogger do captions like it used to?? And paragraphs?) This was painted in Berthe Morisot's own bedroom and if you look closely, you can see her Louis XVI bed. I can't even blame lockdown, or not wholly - but it must be a good five years since I was last at Dulwich Picture Gallery which somehow I build up in my mind as being A Bit of a Trek. But on a glorious sunny day last week, the Morisot exhibition was very much worth the effort. Though I do wonder what has happened to that lovely old mulberry tree in the gallery garden, which used to be weighed down with berries - not a single one!
Critic Charles Ephrussi (who owned The Hare with Amber Eyes ... I do love artistic connexions) said that Morisot worked with a 'palette of crushed flower petals.'
To avoid being bothered by lookers-on when painting out of doors, she would start work at 6.30am - and head home at 9 for a cup of coffee. As a night owl/vampire, I am always impressed by how much early risers achieve before I'm out of bed.
She spent her honeymoon on the Isle of Wight where you could rent two bedrooms and a sitting room in high season for £2 a week, including laundered bedlinen and gas lighting.
While in England, she met Tissot 'who does very pretty things that he sells at high prices ...he is very nice, though a little vulgar.' I'm inclined to agree - I've always thought that the 'ladies' at his shipboard ball were too showy to be quite ladylike.
I'd never have guessed this was Morisot - an Impressionist take on Boucher. I could rather fancy it hanging in my bathroom but the artist hung it in the recption room of her home.
I love this painting of Morisot's seven-year-old daughter 'catching goldfish' with the concierge's little girl - an inspired way to amuse the children while maman paints them. Do hope there was something down to protect the carpet!