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.


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)



Women in tension


John Gutman “Sisters”; Vivien Maier.

As I’m in Vienna today, it struck me that these were both photos that Freud could happily analyse, even if taken in 50s & 60s New York and Mexico.

The Mexican photo is especially apposite as I’ve just started Sybulle Bedford’s account of her 1950s stay in Mexico, A Visit to Don Otavio. Here she describes how she sets off:

Oh yes, Peru, decidedly Peru. I set out to tour the travel agencies with energy. They showed little, but proffered what turned out to be an extremely expensive air ticket to Lima. I could not afford it. There were no boats to Chile for the next six months. Then I spotted with the idea of Uruguay. A friend from Montevideo who loved Italy had talked and left a sense of Opera and red plush, late hours and delicious food….The friend also talked of a freighter. The freighter did not materialise…An agency, at which I had my name down, offered train reservations to Mexico City for the end of the week. We took them.

Life goals


I don’t know who Lady Stern is/was, but there’s something about the no-nonsense gaze and stack of books, combined with the comfort of that rug, vase  of flowers and cornflower suit that I can get behind. Portrait by Lance Cattermole, an artist who lived till he was 94 (1898 – 1992); his style reminds me of Enslin du Plessis.

Photo via Art UK, the renamed website of Your Paintings and the Public Catalogue Foundation. It’s a free website, dedicated to cataloguing all the public art across Britain, much of it held in provincial museums, fire stations and council buildings and provides a fascinating social history survey of a time between 1890 and 1960 when local pride and a belief in the inspiring powers of art were strong.

Podcast of the week

A riff on Blog of the Week, as tout le monde tells me blogging is dead. Whatever.


I love a good podcast too, as those who’ve had me bang on about Chat 10 Looks 3 or Backlisted will attest. This one features two women who made a sci fi film in the first episode, and the other two broadcasts of The Violet Sessions so far sound just as good. One to settle in with on the train home / the sofa and a cup of tea – serving suggestion included above courtesy of Raphaelle Peale, my photo from the Met.

The red gleam…

On a pouring wet Sunday night in December last year a special meeting was held at the House of the Sacred Flame in Knocklatchers Row…Nigel Bathgate, looking disconsolately out of his window in Chester Terrace, noticed its sign for the first time. It was a small hanging sign made of red glass and shaped to represent a flame rising from a cup. Its facets caught the light as a gust of wind blew the sign back. Nigel saw the red gleam…

An atmospheric opening to Ngaio Marsh’s “Death in Ecstasy”. Such clever writing; as well as setting a strong sense of atmosphere, all the psychological clues are already there. Marsh is so good at mood, whether it’s a tense evening party, a shabby artists’ colony or wet, dark night.

A Gentleman In Moscow



More autumn reading? I also saw this in New York and sort of regret holding off buying it. The cover might be carefully designed to appeal to current taste but the writing seems good (funny, well-paced, rhythmic) & has whetted my appetite:

“However the table is arranged!” the Count would exclaim. “Delightful conversation! I’ll have you know, dear sister, that careless seating has torn asunder the best of marriages and ended the longest of detentes. In fact, if Paris had not been seated next to Helen when he dined at the court of Menaleus there would never have been a Trojan war.”

A charming rejoinder, no doubt, reflected the Count from across the passage of the years. But where were the Obolenskys and the Minsky-Polotovs now?

With Hector and Achilles.

“Your table is ready, Count Rostov.”

“Ah. Thank you, Andrey.”

Eyes as big as plates



How phenomenonally beautiful is this idea & this photo from Karoline Hjorth and Riita Ikonen? Their Kickstarter page is here & I wish I’d seen it when it was open. Instead I’ll keep an eye out for their book.



The rhubarb camouflage made me laugh too – my dad has killed more rhubarb with his lawn mowing than a school kitchen’s worth of crumble, so this hideout would be perfect for him!