Art ideas

As part 361 of my ongoing rant about how art and decoration don’t need to be expensive, fancy or hard to find to look wonderful, I bring forward more witnesses for my cause. First up:

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these two scribble pieces, one from @jyoungdesignhouse and one from Danielle Moss of “The Everyday Girl”. I imagine they’d be quite satisfying to recreate.

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Next up, again by @jyoungdesignhouse, I like these easy ways to add punk to a bit of regency art. I could see it being easy to add a splash of acrylic to a postcard bought on holiday, and then you could either clip it up, put it on the fridge, or carry the joke on and frame it in the biggest ornate frame you can buy. It reminds me a bit of this simple but effective series too.

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And lastly, from @nicoledavisinteriors, this corner of family photos. Although the style is way preppier than I’d go for myself, I like the reminder of making something special out of an otherwise empty corner. It also reminds me of my favourite Cup of Jo house tour with the red frames.

Harriet would have dined out on that name for a week

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Katy MacScott (@katymacscott) walked from Holland to Istanbul last year in memory of her late friend Harriet, with hops on trains to keep time, as she didn’t have as much time as Patrick Leigh Fermor did on his original journey. Now she is posting memories of her encounters on Instagram, and I particularly loved her encounters with feisty pensioners in Holland. On the first day she encountered Map and Henkel:

Map – a derivative of Margaret – approached me with a pot of jam, as I sat on a bench in the rain, in the village of Zuillichem. When she offered me a cup of coffee by the fire, I didn’t have to be asked twice…Her husband, Henkel, returned from his errands and they proceeded to tell me, in halting English, about their travels. They were now in their late 80s, but had travelled all over the Middle East in their retirement.

Henkel revealed that like many Dutch children he was sent to England after the war to recover from years of malnutrition. After another hot meal, Map and Henkel passed Katy on to a local photographer Cor de Cock (“Harriet would have dined out on that name for a week”) and eventually to Jet, a former piano teacher, with a “wicked bark” of a laugh:

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She confessed that she’d put away her wine and cigarettes before I arrived, because she thought that someone doing a trip like mine would have ‘high morals’. I quickly put her straight and we enjoyed these vices for the rest of the evening.

Over asparagus risotto and radishes Jet and Katy discussed the audio books for the blind that Jet narrates, Jet garden, Chekhov and Harry Mulisch, and her brother’s paintings.

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Women’s team

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A group of awesome women – Painted walls by Claire de quenetain; Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell’s plate of Christina of Sweden; suffragette and campaigner for women’s contraception Edith Howe-Martin; activist on men’s mental health Poorna Bell bell; “a girl in Nice” by Berthe Morisot; “the cheese shop” by Eduoard James Dambourgez

Achille Castiglione

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An Italian designer who would have been 100 in February, his studio in Milan is one of the most fascinating things I’ve seen.

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He collected objects endlessly, getting a sense of how they worked, of how they could be stretched or improved and what the most practical next steps would be.

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All photos April 2018.

Feed of the week

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The Instagram feed of @susan_holloway_scott_author has such lovely paintings on it. I don’t know where she finds them all, but I especially love her ability to run a theme (women having tea; sewing; blue dresses; sisters) across a real variety of pieces. She must have a wonderful visual memory for finding ideas, and her feed really inspires me. Here’s a selection from her “sisters” series.

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From top to bottom:

The three daughters of John Julius von Vieth and Gossenau by Anton Graff

Sargent – the Acheson sisters

The sisters – William McGregor Paxton

Bella and Hanna, eldest daughters of M L Nathanson by Cristoffer Eckersberg

My granddaughters – Edmund Charles Tarbell

Sisters – William Gabriel de Glehn

Sargent – the Misses Hill

 

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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Balenciaga

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Another exploration from my staycation this year – I loved seeing these dresses close up and the amazing skill that went into them. Such amazing shapes! And the details…

Bravo the V&A for encouraging photography and sketching.

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All photos by me from my visit.

A language of the gods

In those days not many language teachers played gramophone records to their class, but Mr King did. They were old and very precious to him and us, and he kept them in brown paper bags in a satchel that he put in his bicycle basket when he rode to school.

The blog’s most proflific researcher (aka my mother: sorry there’s no pay-rise this year, but I’ll give you Christmas off that zero hours contract) found me John Le Carre’s address on why we should learn German. You can hear both the novelist’s view, and also an entirely genuine pleasure at learning.

What did they contain, these precious records? The voices of classical German actors, reading romantic German poetry…And I discovered that the language fitted me. It pleased my Nordic ear.

In between musings on the connections and sympathies that come from learning language, and an appreciation for the fierce attention to truth that German can provide, there’s still time for a joke.

You’ve probably heard the Mark Twain gag: “Some German words are so long they have a perspective.” You can make up crazy adjectives like “my-recently-by-my-parents-thrown-out-of-the-window-PlayStation” And…you can turn for relief to the pristine poems of a Holderlin, or a Goethe, or a Heine, and remind yourself that the German language can attain heights of simplicity and beauty that make it for many of us, a language of the gods.

Three cheers for this speech! I’m still grateful every day for the amazing – and eccentric! – German teachers I had. They gave me so much, even when my language was learned rather than instinctive: fun, new authors, a way of understanding my own language, and friends.