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Diamond Jubilee

This year will be full of events and street parties to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. I simply cannot wait, I have heard we will have a little party in our street so I am searching for vintage bunting and will be baking up a storm!

V&A started the year with a small exhibition of portraits Cecil Beaton took of the Queen. It may sound very stiff and official but the pictures are wonderful, the Queen is portrayed with her children and as a young girl, there is a remarkable intimacy between the photographer and his subject. Some pictures are of course very official but you rarely see Elizabeth in tender private moments like some of these photographs.

Fashion, pictures and books

As promised this is not a garden post. For the first time since giving birth I went to see exhibitions. I saw two and both were excellent.

The first one is finished now, it was Yohji Yamamoto at V&A. It was a fantastic selection of his designs but it was only one room and I was left wanting more. The creations were beautiful and the construction of the dresses unbelievable. I think what stroke me most is how much influence he had from the 50s, I always have seen him as an ultra modern designer, which he is in a way, but some of the silhouettes are reminiscent of  New Look. Most things were very wearable, as my friend said, it’s not very important which dress size you buy, you can always make it work.

The second exhibition left me speechless. Eyewitness: Hungarian Photography of the 20th Century, at Royal Academy. I think I liked every single picture in this show. From idyllic nostalgic vision of the country folk through city architecture to cruel images of war, glamorous fashion shoots and surrealism, last century was documented in the most beautiful way. There were many known names like Brassaï, Robert Capa, André Kertész, László Moholy-Nagy, Martin Munkácsi but I also discovered two brilliant women: Kata Sugar and Kata Kalman, both took some beautiful portraits; and Erno Vadas with his Harvest picture. One of my favorite photographers, Kertész whose work I saw at The Photographer’s Gallery two years ago,  had too many stunning pictures to list.

Erno Vadas Harvest

Robert Kapa Death of Loyalist Militiaman

André Kertész Circus in Budapest

You probably heard me before going on about Dorothea Lange who is my favorite photographer ever. My dear friend Ewa got me her biography for my birthday and I cannot wait to dig in.

At the moment I am reading The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton but despite it being a good read it fails to deliver the drama and passion of Martin Scorsese’s adaptation. I am also very much looking forward to Mildred Pierce which I downloaded on my Kindle, I think I need a break from the old Victorians and 20th century has got a lot to offer. I have mentioned Mildred Pierce here before, see it, it is very good.

A book worth recommending that I read lately is Zeitoun by the amazing Dave Eggers. It is an insider’s account of the hurricane Katrina and Eggers delivers it beautifully. It is not only about the disaster and its aftermath but it is also about the paranoid Bush administration and the war on terror. Our protagonist, Zeitoun, is a devout Muslim, a hard working painting and decorating contractor running a successful company and a family man. When his family evacuate the city he stays behind to make sure their house and other property are protected after the storm, he uses his canoe to rescue people, feed dogs, deliver food and water to many, check on friends’ houses. One day he gets arrested for looting (his own rental property together with the tenant and few other innocent people) and gets put in an outdoor cage for days then transported to a maximum security prison and kept for months without charges. He is also refused a phone call so his wife doesn’t know if he is dead or alive. Being a Muslim he is of course suspected of being a terrorist. It is a very captivating and fascinating read.

Grey Saturday

Today I had a small success. For the past week Freddie would only sleep on my chest during the day, every time I put him down he was awake within minutes. This was not the case at night luckily but I got tired and ended up having no free time whatsoever. This was not ideal. So today I read up about it and got firm with him (which is very hard btw due to his extreme cuteness). But it worked and I’ve had 1.5h of free time so far, he is still asleep!

Here he is wriggling on the bed in the jumper I knitted for him. It fits perfectly and keeps the little fella warm in this nasty weather.

He started to smile at me as well which melts my heart!

In the meantime I keep myself amused with Boardwalk Empire

Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley

the new Penguin classics series for £2 a pop

discovering Vivian Maier who somehow reminds me of one of my favorite photographers ever – Dorothea Lange

Maier

Lange

A very slow weekend

My weekend started at Osteria Antica Bologna in Northcote Road, a nice family run Italian restaurant where I enjoyed delicious scallops with lentil, apple and parsley salad accompanied by good wine and fabulous company. I actually tried to recreate the lentil salad but it wasn’t as good, truth be told I used the wrong kind of apple. If you are ever in Clapham Junction area do go, it’s a fantastic place for lunch, dinner or drink. Beware of a slow service but the wait will be worth it!

Saturday was all about food shopping and a very early spring cleaning of the flat, we have thrown out a bagful of old papers and organised a lot of cupboards. We also visited the local charity shop to offload some stuff where I couldn’t resist buying F.Scott Fitzgerald collection of short stories for 50p.

After last two weeks of ebay madness I hardly have things to get rid of which feels so good.

Sunday was spent on cooking and playing with my little niece. I baked Allegra McEvedy’s Swedish apple cake which is more of a pudding than a cake, especially when served with good vanilla ice cream. Very easy recipe, it takes about 10-15 minutes to put everything together and 50 min to bake.

Got to read a little too, Vogue and ELLE arrived, The Sunday Times had a good article on Mad Men which btw won the best drama at Golden Globes for the 3rd year in a row, well deserved!

I am reading Chekhov’s stories and this weekend I enjoyed Ward no6. I also got D.V. by Diana Vreeland which I am very much looking forward to. Following the Norman Parkinson show at Somerset House I decided to re-read The Golden Age of Couture – the book accompaniment to one of my favorite exhibitions.

I watched the rather bad Breaking and Entering (a total waste of time) and the very graphic yet beautifully shot Antichrist.

Few things I am looking forward to:

a visual feast of A Single Man thanks to Dan Bishop

visiting V&A to see Quilts, Grace Kelly and Horace Walpole shows, and might even pop in to see a rather intriguing sounding The Metropolitan Police Service’s Investigation of Fakes and Forgeries

Foal and Tuffin at Fashion and Textile Museum should be fun, along with a stroll down Bermondsey Street

William Eggleston at Victoria Miro Gallery

Irving Penn Portraits at NPG

whole lot of good stuff at the Tate Galleries

buying some plants – I quite like the idea of mother-in-law’s tongue in nice mid-century pots, at the moment I own no plants whatsoever, even my basil died so this will be a challenge.

Art marathon

Desperate to catch all the shows before they end I organised a tight schedule and stuck to it this weekend.

On Friday night I saw Ed Ruscha at the Hayward Gallery which was good but not mind blowing. Definitely few very good paintings. Afterward my friends and I went to BFI for some drinks, the new bar on the riverfront is so much nicer than the old setup and the chips are excellent too!

On Saturday I met another friend of mine at RA and saw Wild Thing: Epstein, Gaudier-Brzeska and Gill. A truly wonderful collection of sculptures and sketches. The most impressive being Bird Swallowing a Fish by Gaudier-Brzeska and Epstein’s Portrait of Iris Beerbohm Tree and the spectacular Rock Drill. Amazing show, really worth a visit.

We had a quick lunch in Soho and headed down to Somerset House to see Norman Parkinson: A Very British Glamour. Another great exhibition, a lot of pictures of Parkinson’s wife and iconic shots of Jerry Hall from the 70s. Well worth a visit, especially if you enjoyed Golden Age of Couture at V&A a couple of years ago.

Warmed up by the museum hopping we decided to end the trip at The National Picture Gallery to see the very entertaining Beatles to Bowie: the 60s exposed.

I watched very moving Wajda’s Katyn – a film about an incident from WWII and its aftermath that not many people know of.

And I almost finished watching Mad Men season 3, a thought of only 2 episodes left to watch is making me depressed. Drooling over Betty Draper’s outfits.

October amusements

Things that kept me company this month:

Masterchef Professionals – always a sucker for cooking shows

Nigel Slater’s Simple Suppers – got few inspirations and I really really want an allotment, or at least a garden, or both!

Emma – BBC series and the book, very amusing. Johnny Lee Miller is excellent as Mr Knightly

Sandra Juto’s beautiful photos

Kevin McCloud’s Grand Tour – I wanna go and travel to all those beautiful places in Europe

Art Etc

Last week, having managed to see all the exhibitions from my list I felt rather pleased with myself. Two days later the Tate magazine arrived announcing the autumn schedule, I scanned through all the galleries and here is my new to see list:

Tate Modern: Pop Life show will include Kippenberg, Koons, Warhol and Hirst to name a few. There will be also a John Balderssari show and Miroslaw Balka will take over the Turbine Hall.

It seems to be the season of Pop Art, The Hayward Gallery is having a retrospective of Ed Ruscha paintings, this should be good!

Tate Britain: Turner and The Masters, I am really looking forward to this show, it will include old masters like Rubens and Rembrandt. I would suggest to visit this exhibition bit later in the autumn as it will be packed in the opening weeks. The gallery will hold the annual Turner Prize show too.

Somerset House is hosting Norman Parkinson: A Very British Glamour, expect a visual feast of some of the best fashion pictures ever taken. I must admit, I have never been to this venue, it has been on my list for ages. Now is the time to go.

Victoria and Albert Museum: Maharaja show, I really hope this is good, the last few times I went the exhibitions looked tempting but failed to deliver. The last one that I really enjoyed was The Golden Age of Couture which I went to see twice.

Royal Academy of Arts, probably my least favorite museum in London, will hold Anish Kapoor show. Looks very interesting.

National Gallery is showing a major exhibition of Spanish painting and sculpture from 17th century, Velazques and Zurbaran are among the artists. The Sacred Made Real show opens in October. This is my favorite gallery in London, I often go in and spend hours looking at the paintings from their permanent collection.

The White Cube Hoxton Square and Mason’s Yard will hold Anselm Kiefer and Damien Hirst shows respectively.

Fashion and Textile Museum have got Foale and Tuffin retrospective. I saw few designs of this iconic company few years ago at the V&A and loved every piece they produced.

British Museum:  Revolution on paper, Mexican prints 1910-1960. This is a real highlight for me.

I did miss one exhibition this summer which was Banksy vs Bristol Museum however Purple Cloud documented it very well so I feel like I have been there. Have a look here.

Sartorialist – the book

The book signing and the pop up shop will be at my favorite shop – Liberty, just a minute walk from my office.

London Book Signing
Monday Sept 21st
6 to 8 pm
Liberty of London
Great Marlborough St.

SartoraLUST Pop-Up Shop – London
Sept 18th – 30th
6 to 8 pm
Liberty of London
Great Marlborough St.

Walk in the rain and André Kertész

Today I really felt like I had to go out of the office and air my head. I spend way too many lunch breaks at my desk which makes me feel tired so my new resolution is to make myself go out. I know when a new project starts I will be stuck at the office from mornings to late evenings so I might as well take advantage of the quiet time.

As I walked out of our building it started to rain, I made my way towards Soho and decided to see the André Kertész exhibition at The Photographers’ Gallery. I don’t like the new gallery building in Ramillies Street and I have not seen any good exhibitions there yet so I was very happy to see one of my favorite photographers being shown there.

The show is called On Reading and it displays a collection of book related photographs from 1915 to the 1980s. The pictures show people on a beach, in a park, on a roof terrace, homeless guy with papers from a bin somewhere in Manila, poor boy with a comic at a paper dump, nun sitting in a street – all caught in the act of reading. Even though they are in public places the act of reading is very personal, they are in a little world of their own.

The photographs are amazing, I might go back to take another look. I never understood why Kertész never got the same acclaim as Cartier-Bresson or Evans, his work is wonderful.

You can see the picture selection here, my particular favorite is Dog Walker from 1927.

Refreshed I went back to the office and am having a very productive afternoon.

All pictures by André Kertész.

The Sartorialist

We all admire Scott Schuman aka The Sartorialist. Each of us secretly dreams of being snapped. Here is the guide to How To Get Snapped. Enjoy!

PS I do have a feeling he is not very fond of London….