Heart-lifting

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In some years it’s September that’s a mix of seasons, but this year October seems to be hovering between the seasons. This pin sharp view was last week as I went out to walk across Blackfriars Bridge at lunch.

Fleet Street, October 2017.

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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Glowing

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I saw this late work by Alma-Tadema (better known for his massive classical set pieces) over at Leighton House on a pouring wet day earlier this month. Leighton House itself is pretty stunning, with an “Arab Hall” inspired by Syria and Sicily and an entrance of deep peacock blue tiles, so the perfect setting for Alma-Tadema’s equally lush art.

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Rather nicely, the two artists actually knew each other and Leighton recommended his architect to Alms Tadema, when he bought Tissot’s house in St John’s Wood and decided to remodel it to include extra studios for his wife and each of his daughters. This exhibition’s well worth a trip, especially for the films showing how Alma Tadema’s art has influenced film depictions of Ancient Rome, and for a reconstruction of the “panel room”, where artistic visitors were asked to paint a contribution before leaving.

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photos of Leighton House from my visit.

Summer evenings

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Flora went into the kitchen, where a lamp already burned on the table. Its soft light fell into the heart of a bunch of pink roses in a jam-jar. There was a letter from Charles propped against the jar too, and the roses threw down a heavy, rounded shadow onto the envelope. It was so pretty that Flora lingered a moment, looking, before she opened her letter.

Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons. Photo from @elfredapownall.

Pretties

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In fact, twice in one day because I  can’t resist: a scrapbook of Instagram pretties: Schiaparelli dresses from @the_corsetedbeauty;

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an Evelyn Dunbar sketch from @designfortoday;

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an elegant doodle from @garancedore;

 

marmalade jars and the delightful National Trust home of Standen from phil._.b;

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dogs on the beach from @thewomensroomblog

Tiger women

In the middle of heat rage a few weeks ago, I saw this fierce woman, captured in a 1930s photo by Fubing Chang.

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Instantly I thought of her waving a battle banner, and @jennifershortotextiles showed me both the flag and how this girl might appear nowadays.

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Finally, her palace: on sale in the Atlas Mountains via Christie’s,

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where she sits waiting for lunch in the heat (@thebreadcompanion)

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Blog of the week & Mexico City

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I’m still completely absorbed by Sybille Bedford’s A Visit to Don Otavio, and these passages (dinner; setting up a hotel) show why. If it fuels your fever, you really must see Ben Pentreath’s blogs here and here. Normally I dial in to Ben’s pastoral idylls on Mon mornings, but these posts from his travels carry some heat.