Jacqueline Ayer

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The House of Illustration is very good at making me see artists I hadn’t heard of before (e.g. Linda Kitson), but who are very accomplished and had fascinating lives.

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Jacqueline Ayer’s parents had moved from Jamaica to New York in the 1920s and Jacqueline grew up helping her father’s ad agency, the first aimed at African Americans.

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Her observation for fabric and costume fed into her children’s’ illustrations when she moved to Bangkok in 1959, and after coming back to America in 1963 she founded a Thai textile line. I wish there’d been more room for her work with the Indisn government, her autobiography, and what was clearly a fascinating life, but I’d still recommend this to anybody.

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Grand ambitions

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There’s something magnificently crazy about writing a book on accordion playing round the world (useless fact – Haile Selassie had an imperial accordion troupe), but what great illustrations to fit the joie de vivre of such a project.

Nesting

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It’s that time to shout out again to the Cup of Jo house tours, especially as I wonder if I can bear to take on building work. I’ve not yet seen a whole house I like – this first round is as close as I got – but I love corners of lots. The tranquility (and cleanness!) of that hallway, and the calm woodwork

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this crazy wallpaper, which I looove the colours of but don’t know how I’d feel about at breakfast,

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and the feel of this place.

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Laura Wheeler Waring

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Confident and dignified poses from these 1930s and 40s sitters,

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a great reminder of the African-American middle class,

and also these defiant faces. Images via Pimterest, but the discovery via the Women’s Art Twitter feed.

Feathered friends

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Quentin Blake’s delightful series of extremely human birds. This could be creepy, but it’s absolutely not, mainly because underneath the wicked humour is a fundamental kindness and interest in people. On display at the House of Illustration in London.

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Eating dresses

Talking of pockets – this time I mean pockets and not votes/social justice –  I think this piece by Sali Hughes is brilliantly spot on. “Eating dresses” – “neat at the shoulders, sleeves and neck and shoulders, but with enough fabric around the middle to invisibly conceal a bottle of red and more than 19 calories” are a genius description for what I’ve mooched up and down shop aisles looking for, ditto Sali’s call for the kind of occasion wear that is basically whatever you need in the day but will look good with red lipstick and a funkier pair of shoes than what you’ve worn at the office.

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Finally, check out Sali’s list of dresses every middle-class woman of 35 and over wants. It’s probably the only time that a capsule wardrobe has made sense and is exactly what the fashion industry ought to lobby retail for.

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Photos: Oliver Bonas shift dress snapped by me – would be a good weekend dress though ideally more colour please, and possibly even pattern. Libby London dress from their website – a good 15 hour dress, but not really enough waist room for an eating dress & pretty pricey. Their shirt dresses are good though, if you suit that style.