In fact, twice in one day because I can’t resist: a scrapbook of Instagram pretties: Schiaparelli dresses from @the_corsetedbeauty;
an Evelyn Dunbar sketch from @designfortoday;
an elegant doodle from @garancedore;
marmalade jars and the delightful National Trust home of Standen from phil._.b;
dogs on the beach from @thewomensroomblog
In the middle of heat rage a few weeks ago, I saw this fierce woman, captured in a 1930s photo by Fubing Chang.
Instantly I thought of her waving a battle banner, and @jennifershortotextiles showed me both the flag and how this girl might appear nowadays.
Finally, her palace: on sale in the Atlas Mountains via Christie’s,
where she sits waiting for lunch in the heat (@thebreadcompanion)
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.
Ming Lee’s poetic contribution to the Venice Biennale this year. More details on The Women’s Room Blog.
This window by Annie Rie reminds me of Ariel’s song. Where the bee sucks, there suck I / in a cowslip’s bell I lie / there I couch when owls do cry / on the bat’s back do I fly / merrily, merrily shall I live now / under the blossom that hangs on the bough
I was considering posting “Flaming June”, given the heat last week, but we’ve got a whole month to get there, and this is equally outrageous. In fact, it’s as unabashedly out there – and for similar reasons – to this blog’s second-favourite Gertrude:
Seeing this you can see why critics of the Baroque complained that the style shamelessly set out to manipulate an audience’s emotions, focusing on effect and appeal to the senses above all else. It rather pleases me therefore that this image came from a site dedicated to the cool-headed goddess of wisdom, Gifted Minerva. Check out the whole tumblr feed for some new art discoveries, especially if you enjoyed Still Life Quick Heart, when I posted that.
Nicholas Regnier, St Sebastien & St Irene
I haven’t got into Malcolm Gladwell’s writing, but I’m really enjoying this podcast, which is quite short and high-level, but has some interesting scenarios. In the two episodes I’ve listened to so far, Gladwell has talked about moral licensing (how making a small concession is used as an excuse to withdraw from wider change), and the point that intelligence failure is inevitable as each agent listens to reports through their own lens.
These points aren’t new, but his comparison of a Vietnam project spiralling out of control in search of more data with the current war on terror ($1m in 1965, versus 1271 state agencies investigating counter-terrorism in the US today), and of an 1870s artist who nearly became the first female member of the RA with Julia Gillard are interesting.
My only suspicion is that Gladwell’s eagerness to demonstrate that the “forgotten” situations are still relevant to today skews his summaries of the past. I’d also argue that the past doesn’t need to be relevant to the future in order to legitimise it, and it’s a complex point how far we can learn from the past in any case, but that unaddressed overtone just makes the podcast more thought-provoking.
Lots of commentators compare these books to Meet Me in St Louis, and as well as the period details (the hairstyles! the dresses! the slang! the excitement over a telephone!), what I love most is the inherent optimism – progress is always good, and friends and family remain stable whilst welcoming new developments – but also the complete acceptance that a job, writing, singing, making your own mind up, are all important to a girl and in no way conflicted with the rest of her being.
I find it depressing that a modern book wouldn’t show this, or would have to make a big point about it. Written in the 50s about the 1900-1910s, Betsy, Emily and Carney are in fact far more progressive than any characters today.