Much of a muchness

Things that make you go 'hmm'…

Category Archives: Colour

Hats off to Bridport

The town where I live, Bridport, is busy trying to reinvent itself and drag itself upmarket and into the 21st century. When a local hotel revamped itself and became a ’boutique’ hotel, there were cries from camps both applauding the move and loathing it. When an old derelict cinema was renovated and opened as an arts venue ‘The Electric Palace’ there was universal approval. However, when a reporter from the Observer newspaper suggested Bridport was becoming ‘Notting Hill on Sea‘ (in theory due to the large number of trendy London folk now visiting the town) there was uproar.

In Bridport, there is a brilliant shop called T Snook. This is their web site. They are a hatter and gentleman’s outfitters and inside it is an Aladdin’s cave full of hat treasure – they sell every kind of hat you can imagine – panama hat, bowler hat, top hat, fedora, fez, deerstalker, beret, bush hat, trilby, boater – the list is endless.  Splendidly, they decided to organise an event which they hope will become an annual tradition – the Bridport Hat Festival.

The sun was shining on Saturday, so I donned my hat (straw – very conservative) and headed into town to see what was going on. It was amazing. It seemed like the whole town was wearing hats, some had made the effort to make a wonderful hat, others were just wearing whatever they had at home but it was an fantastic sight. There were loads of trade stands selling every kind of hat, workshops teaching how to make hats (and their mini relation, the fascinator.) Here are some photos I took on Saturday.

At 12.30 there was a mass hat photograph in the town square (which is called BuckyDoo Square)

Later in the day there was a cocktail party and all the women attending had to wear a fascinator (not my favourite piece of headgear) but I have to say, having got togged up and worn one  I am coming round to the idea of them.

But I knew that it reminded me of something…

Later in the evening there was a poetry cabaret which was also excellent – the highlight was Matt Harvey – an hilarious poet who appears on Radio 4 regularly and who has also been asked to be the official Wimbledon poet in residence. His tennis poem ‘Thwock!’ was hilarious and my favourite. Listen to it here. (possibly UK only…)

These ladies are called the Lyme Bay Lovelies – a branch of the Red Hat Society, founded for ladies who are over 50 but not ready to start acting their age. The society was based on the poem ‘Warning’ by Jenny Joseph.

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple

With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.

And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves

And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.

I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired

And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells

And run my stick along the public railings

And make up for the sobriety of my youth.

I shall go out in my slippers in the rain

And pick flowers in other people’s gardens

And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat

And eat three pounds of sausages at a go

Or only bread and pickle for a week

And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry

And pay our rent and not swear in the street

And set a good example for the children.

We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?

So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised

When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

Jenny Joseph

Today we watched an Argentine Tango Social Dancing display and then later we went to see local singer Jess Upton perform at the final event of the weekend.

The whole thing has been a brilliant success and lets hope the Bridport Hat Festival returns next year.

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A fine day indeed

I had a particularly good day yesterday. The night before, I stayed up until 2am printing pages and then got up at 7am to finish the job, rushed to the post office and posted the latest book to the record company, so that’s 8 finished, 12 to go. Once that job was done I could head off on a much anticipated trip.

Since I became interested in bookbinding, I have come across the work of Cathryn Miller on many occasions and I have always admired it. I was thrilled when she started commenting here. I bought a book recently called ‘500 Handmade Books’ a while ago and two books caught my eye in particular – both were by Cathryn.

500handmadebooks

The first of Cathryn’s books was called ‘Bipolar Dream Journal #2’ and it’s gorgeous, made using handmade paper.

cathryn2

I particularly like this one because I had a go at this ‘dos-a-dos’ binding and it’s difficult! The colour scheme she uses is a favourite one of mine – I love the black and white and the red ribbons. My own effort used my images printed onto linen bookcloth.

double-standing

The second book I admired is one I have mentioned before in this post. It’s an ingenious construction made out of a single piece of card. The photographs on the book were all taken by Cathryn (the photographs of the books were taken by her husband, David) and when I think of what ingenuity and patience must have gone into working out the placement and construction of this it makes my brain hurt. It’s called a ‘bustrophedon variation’  and the piece is printed on both sides with Cathryn’s own images of street art. It’s called ‘No Skateboarding’.

cathryn1

I was thrilled when Cathryn started to comment here on my blog, and I was even more thrilled when she mentioned that she and her husband, David, were on a walking holiday in the UK and she suggested we meet. Well, yesterday, I went to Salisbury to meet her and David for lunch. Salisbury in Wiltshire, is famous for two things (there are probably a lot more but these are THE most famous things about Salisbury)  – Salisbury Cathedral

salisburycathedral

and Stonehenge

stonehenge

and it is now famous as the place I met Cathryn Miller  – and she gave me the artist’s proof of the ‘bustrophedon variation’ I mentioned above! It is exquisite! I have seldom been more surprised and thrilled, in fact I was almost (but not quite) rendered speechless at her generosity. If you read this when you get back from your trip, Cathryn, THANK YOU. You and David are delighful, talented people and it was a privilege and a pleasure to spend time with you both. I will let you know how I get on when I eventually have a go at a ‘bustrophedon variation’ – but it will have to wait until I have finished my book commission!

I’m having a lazy day today – watching movies (Howard’s End at the moment), varnishing prints, tidying my desk

my-desk

and playing with the dog at the beach

miloatthebeach

We had a nice walk today but a couple of days ago, we encountered a younger Bichon Frisé puppy. The two dogs squared up to each other, danced around for a few seconds, then the other puppy turned around, cocked his leg and peed all over Milo. We were both taken aback – I’ve never seen a dog do that before. The cheek of it! Poor Milo! Apparently, this happened because Milo was being submissive to the younger dog – so I am going to give him assertiveness training then we will go and find the puppy and show him who’s boss :-)

Art for art’s sake

I have been really useless at keeping my blog up to date this week. In my defence, I have been really busy finishing a website and a blog for a paying client (hurrah!) and also updating an old website so I can show it to potential clients as part of my portfolio. I almost feel like a proper working person! In addition I’ve been working on my own website to sell my books. I’ve probably missed Christmas now but with a bit of luck and a following wind,  it will be up and running soon.

rothko_room

I went up to London yesterday to see the Mark Rothko exhibition at Tate Modern. It was just as wonderful as I expected it to be. My favourite room at Tate Modern is the Rothko Room which normally has the Tate’s eight Seagram murals (originally intended for the Four Seasons restaurant in the Seagram Building in New York). For this exhibition, they have brought together others from Japan and Washington and the result is an inspiring exhibition. It also gives a fascinating insight into the techniques Rothko used to achieve the subtle tones and shading in these works.  Rothko specified these works should be viewed in subdued lighting and it makes the whole visit a very peaceful if not spiritual experience. It would have been even better if the gallery had been as quiet as the photograph – on Saturday, it was packed to the gills!

We also went to see a Surrealism exhibition and then had a mooch around the rest of the Tate’s collection. I particularly wanted to see ‘The Snail’ by Henri Matisse which is a particular favourite.

snail

I remember the first time I saw this ‘in the flesh’ after knowing it well from seeing many reproductions. I was blown away. It’s enormous for a start (2864 x 2870 mm) and it is made from paper painted with gouache, torn into shapes and then pasted onto paper which is then mounted on canvas. The colours are rich and vibrant and I loved it on sight. It also reminds me of a trip to the old Tate Gallery (now Tate Britain) when my #1 son was about 8 years old. His school had arranged a visit to the Tate as a treat and I went along as a parent helper.

A guide sat the group of about a dozen boys on the floor in front of John Constable’s ‘The Haywain’.

haywain

She coaxed the boys into discussing the painting. What did they see? Did they like it? Was it realistic? Did they like the colours? And so on. They then moved on to Picasso’s ‘The Three Dancers’.

picasso

The boys were encouraged to compare the two paintings. The colours, the style of painting, the subject matter. Which painting was painted most recently? And then they moved on to this. Rodin’s ‘The Kiss’.

the-kissThe guide asked the boys ‘ What is the difference between this and the two artworks you have just been discussing?’ She was expecting the boys to say that this was a sculpture and the others were paintings. What actually happened was this. One of the boys tentatively raised his hand and said ‘Well, with the other two, you have to put the light in but with this one, the light is already there’. The guide’s jaw hit the floor and we all looked at little Thomas in amazement. So succinct and one of those wonderful ‘wisdom of children’ moments.

We then moved on to ‘The Snail’ and after a discussion, the boys voted it their favourite of all the artworks they had seen. Not hard to see why, in my book.

I started writing this on Friday. Wrote the first paragraph and left it open to finish after my trip. Today, I finished the post,  saved it and then went to view it to check for typos – and discovered that WordPress has changed the user interface in the interim, and bottom line – it had lost all I had written. Aaaagh! So this is version 2. Not half as hilarious and informative and all round brilliant as the first version but there you go, it will have to do :-)

So to end, an art joke.

picassobraque

I’m back! Again.

Hello, I’m back. I apologise for just disappearing but I have been for a wonderful break to the South of France with a girlie mate for a week of gallery hopping and museum visits. Oh and lots of yummy food. I took 342 photographs so I will need a while to sort them all and I promise not to bore you all with too many of them but it was such a wonderful week, I do have to share some of it with you.

I came across this sculpture outside the Museé d’Arte Comtemporaine in Nice. Quite scary really, I hadn’t realised the cult of Daddy Papersurfer was so popular in France….

The prize for the cutest moment of the trip went to this little creature (no, not DP) who we watched for ages in the zoo in St Jean Cap Ferrat. He was SOOOOOO sweet! He was trying to be like his meerkat mummy – are baby meerkats called meerkittens? I must look it up.

The Worst Menu Translation prize goes to the ‘Trastevere’ restaurant in Villefranche sur Mer for it’s translation of the word ‘pignons’ (pinenuts) in the Salade Chevre Chaud on its lunch menu. Would you like oil with those, madame?

Most Spectacular View prize goes to the view from the Botanical Gardens at Eze. This photograph does not begin to do it justice.

Most Wonderful Street Art prize goes to the various installations which follow the path of the new tram system in NIce. These figures sit atop tall posts and at night light up and change colour. I love them but they are not universally admired – some detractors call them the ‘jelly babies’.

My favourite museum is just outside the hill top village of St Paul de Vence. It’s called the Fondation Maeght and it is the most beautiful tranquil place, full of wonderful sculpture and paintings – especially by Miró, Calder, Giacometti and Braque who were all friends of the founders of the Fondation, Aimé and Marguerite Maeght. Interestingly, there is an exhibition at the Royal Academy in London at the moment featuring the relationship between these four artists and the Maeghts.

I have been visiting the Fondation Maeght for 20 years or so and have always pronounced it ‘Fondation Mekt’. I recently found out it is actually pronounced ‘Fondation Magg’. I’m not quite as sophisticated as I thought I was!

I found this photo of my youngest son, taken in front of a fountain at the Fondation Maeght about 15 years ago. The fountain is still there but the little boy is now a grown man. Happy days.

Wedding belles

What a wedding! I am just about recovered from a very hectic weekend indeed. It all began on Friday when I was still dithering about which outfit to wear to the Indian wedding celebration on Saturday. I kept trying the two choices on, asking opinions of anyone who happened by my house, I worried about which shoes to wear with both outfits. I tell you chaps, you have no idea how lucky you are. Suit, shirt, shoes – your only potential problem is the choice of tie. You have no idea of the minefield of fashion dilemmas we ladies face. Anyway here are the choices – two shalwar kameez – tunic, trousers and shawl suits. Click on all images to enlarge.

Both outfits were beautifully made and I suppose my dilemma was that I wanted to wear them both! Here are some details of the embroidery on each shalwar kameez.

Sequins and embroidery

Sleeve detail

I eventually decided on the red suit as I thought that the pink one was a bit too bright, a bit too ‘bling’ and maybe the more classy, subtle colours of the red and cream was more appropriate for a wedding. How wrong I was! I have never seen a more stunningly colourful wedding. It was uplifting and wonderful to see the vibrant rainbow of colourful clothing, both saris and shalwar kameez, worn by all the female guests, Indian and European alike. I have a small slide show at the end to give you a flavour of the proceedings but to be honest, I didn’t take too many photographs as I was too busy enjoying myself and kept forgetting to take them!

Me and my lovely boys

My younger son and my house guests, Garry and Beryl, arrived on Friday,  but my older son who was travelling from Bath, said he would arrive on Saturday morning. He finally pitched up at 1pm (the wedding started at 3pm) and I was relieved that he had made it in time. My joy at seeing him was soon shattered. His first question was ‘My suit and smart shoes are here, aren’t they?’  He hadn’t been able to find his suit at his house in Bath (needless to say he doesn’t wear it much) so he assumed they must be at my house. Wrong! What followed was an hour of panic while he tried on several old suits we had in the wardrobe. As you will see from the photograph, he is very much taller than his brother and all the old suits we had were much too short, so he changed into the shirt and tie he had brought with him, borrowed some shoes off his brother (a size or two too small) and still in his jeans they both shot off into Dorchester to try and buy him a suit. I went off to the wedding very apprehensive that either they would be late or #1 son would be unable to find a suit to fit. I needn’t have worried. They turned up with 30 minutes to spare and as you can see, he found a lovely suit which fitted perfectly.

The afternoon was gloriously sunny and began with afternoon tea where the most delicious canapés were served. We were then asked to cover our heads in preparation for the ceremony. The men were given scarves to tie around their heads and despite making them look a little like pirates, they all looked very dashing. Then, having removed our shoes, we went into the Gurdwara – another marquee which was decorated in shades of fuschia pink and orange – auspicious colours. The wedding ceremony is called the Anand Karaj (Ceremony of Bliss). On entering the Gurdwara, we had to bow to the Guru Granth Sahib, a box containing sacred texts, which was positioned in the centre of a dais where the ceremony takes place. All guests sit cross legged on the floor, females on the left, males on the right.

The bride wore a stunning red sari, heavily embroidered with gold thread and the groom wore a long cream brocade tunic, with a long red scarf, over slim cream trousers and a red turban. During the ceremony, Kirtan (hymns) are sung by the Raagis (musicians)  Ardas (prayers) are recited. The bride’s father places the end of the groom’s scarf in the bride’s hands, this is called Pallae di Rasam – tying the wedding knot. A series of four verses called the Lavaan are recited and for each one , the groom leads the bride around the Guru Granth Sahib, she is assisted by her brothers or close male relatives.

As you can tell, this photograph was taken by my friend Garry, who was sitting on the men’s side of the Gurdwara. The bride and groom are circling the Guru Granth Sahib during the Lavaan.

The First Lavaan is a promise to love each other for ever.

The Second Lavaan is a promise to merge together completely.

The Third Lavaan is a promise to be faithful to each other.

The Fourth Lavaan is the promise to be together in both happiness and adversity.

After the completion of the Lavaan, other hymns and prayers are sung and then a sweet cake called Koraah Parshad is passed to all members of the congregation.

Then we collected our shoes and left the Gurdwara. The ceremony was then followed by a champagne reception, dinner and dancing. I don’t know where to begin telling you about the marquee where we had dinner, it was vast, magnificent, awesome, splendid, gorgeously decorated – I’m running out of superlatives here – outside, the lake had been illuminated with floating lanterns and there were lanterns in the grass around the lake, leading to the surrounding trees which were all lit up – it was quite magical.

After a sumptuous dinner, there was much dancing to a wonderful Indian group playing Bhangra music (I think that is what it was called).  My knees are still feeling the effects – it was so, well, danceable! Later on,  we all chilled out in the stunning relaxation area until it was time to go home.

It was a truly magnificent occasion. My friend Edwina, is now very nervous as her two daughters (the girls in the photographs with my sons) have now got very firm ideas about their perfect wedding – the bar has been set very high indeed. Nick, their father, is keeping a very nervous eye on his wallet! As for me? Well, I’m planning a Bollywood party sometime soon so I get to wear my pink outfit….