The iced fire of your kiss


I think I was searching for treasures or stones
in the clearest of pools
when your face…

when your face
like the moon in a well
where I might wish …

might well wish
for the iced fire of your kiss;
only on water my lips, where your face …

where your face was reflected, lovely,
not really there when I turned
to look behind at the emptying air …

the emptying air

“echo”, Carol Ann Duffy

Photo from Mitchell Moreno’s series “Abide”, which wasin this year’s Taylor Wessing photographic prize, and which explored his love for his “extended queer family”.




My love of A Cup of Jo is well known, and the blog’s ability to get a real – and good – conversation going in the comments is next to nothing. That team isn’t smashing it. So it’s no surprise that when Ashley Ford posted there about her love of romance novels it broke the internet.

So many good suggestions! But for those of you looking for an indulgent night in, can I, firstly applaud the sheer genius of a romance novel bookshop called The Ripped Bodice (worth flying to America just for that), and secondly suggest you line up:

– Penny Reid’s Knitting in the City series

– Joanna Shupe’s Knickerbocker series

– the Nacho Figueras take on a modern Jilly Cooper

– Alyssa Cole: An extraordinary union

– Ann Calhoun’s Liberating Lacy

– anything by Suzanne Wright or Elle Kennedy

(mum, you should have stopped reading sentences ago…)

“Woman combing her hair” by Joseph DeCamp


I’m pretty sure that I’ve written before about how much I enjoy finding unexpected correspondences between a places, but I have a similar thing for faces.

It struck me as I was going round the Musee d’Orsay how much this Fantin-Latour sitter’s face is like a Gerald Brocklehurst from 70 years later.

Or how Berthe Morisot’s defiant face, painted by Manet in the 1860s, is exactly like this young girl’s face in Doisneau’s photo of 1957.

Or that this Bonnard really does feel like it could sit in the American Midwest.

All photos on the left of the pairs by me from the Musee d’Orsay.

Lucy Gauge


For someone who loves colour, I do also have a lot of black answers white art, and I also like both abstract and botanical-inspired pieces. So this exhibition of Lucy Gauge’s art at Botany in East London is on my to-see list. Temptingly for sale too!

Photo by @weareherenow

Podcast of the week

My love of podcasts is still going strong, and the latest one to cross my radar (very much in a sequence of Backlisted and The Reading Women) is the LRB podcast.


The first pieces were very much in the nature of 20 minute reviews, so if you want to know what a Giorgione painting is or isn’t, and the chicanery is art attribution, or an investigation of if “international relations” is just “race studies”, then it’s here.


But there’s also a longer-form interview style that develops, so you can also hear the Asia editor of The Times on North Korea, discussing with an American South Korean author the common iconography of north and south Korea, or a riveting, freewheeling, incisive interview with Carmen Callil of Virago fame (“such a lot of short malnourished people with bad teeth”) on Angela Carter and why Bohemia is bad for women.

In fact that latter one was ringing in my ears as I went to the Rodin Museum recently and thought of Augustus John saying with complete seriousness what a “great pleasure” it must be for his sister Gwen to serve such a man as Rodin…

Musee d’Orsay


I’ve never been a massive fan of the Impressionists, but a recent trip to the Musee d’Orsay just showed me that the best of their work remains in France.


Seeing room after room of them, especially hung nearby the bland Academy-style art of their predecessors, you saw the power and inventiveness of their work.


From top to bottom:

Monet waterlilies / Berthe Morisot / Renoir / Cezanne x 2 / Monet / Renoir x2 / Berthe Morisot / Monet x2 / Manet / Caillebotte / Monet x2 / Manet / Henri Fantin-Latour / detail of a Monet portrait / Bonnard / Vuillard