Sunday, 31 May 2009

Sunday Supplement: In The Pink

This week it's a selection of girly stuff from my photoshop files and my drawing folder

All Images © Rosie West

Friday, 29 May 2009

The Magic of The British Bandstand

I've plundered these pictures from Vintage Bandstands
because they're whimsical in design (sometimes oriental, sometimes wedding cakey) and evocative of the innocent pleasures of promenading on a fine day and settling down on a deckchair to listen to a very jolly brass band, a military orchestra, local musicians.. They are also fine examples of old postcard art.

Locations Top to Bottom: Westcliffe-on-Sea; Southend-on-Sea; Leeds; Newcastle; Margate; Kirkaldy; Hastings; Eastbourne; Dovercourt; Clacton-on-Sea.
The Vintage Bandstands site includes many more 'overseas' from Algeria through The USA to the Virgin Islands . Too lush for words.

Finally, fromWikipedia, this fantastic bandstand from the 1930s in Eastbourne

Thursday, 28 May 2009

A Talent for Overdoing It: Tony Duquette

Flamboyant talent: Tony Duquette and his longtime collaborator Hutton Wilkinson

[Do try clicking on all the images for a much better look]

The name of decorator Tony Duquette, protegé of Elsie de Wolfe, is synonomous with excess and the exotic (walls covered in abalone shells anyone?). He prided himself in using cheap or unorthodox materials to substitute for genuine luxe and his longtime friend and business partner Hutton Wilkinson said of him ''He was the only man who could spend $999 in a 99-cent store''

I always wondered what Duquette looked like. Here he is marrying Elizabeth Johnstone, ' an artist and eager contributor to the Duquette vision.' [Read the entertaining NY Times obituary of T D here]
The wedding took place at the fabled Pickfair with Mary Pickford as a bridesmaid.

What about this bridal gown? It looks like the national dress of Piedmont or somewhere. Are those sleeves silk jersey? What colour might they have been? Or is she wearing a jumper underneath? In the context of marrying such an interesting man I think it succeeds fabulously.

Elizabeth who had marvellously turned ankles and Tony at home in 'The Porcelain Pavilion', their miniature house in Paris 1951.

The two of them had a magisterial talent for parties.

Elizabeth helps Mrs Harrison Williams (Mona Bismarck) with her Tony Duquette mask for The Vicomtesse de Noailles' costume ball in Paris C. 1951

T & E at a chinoiserie ball that Duquette designed for the Pendletons of Beverly Hills.

Walls of crushed abalone shell and a Tony Duquette nacre and coral chandelier decorate the entrance to Mrs William Roth's Undersea Ball. ( You didn't need to look up to the surface.)

Another whimsical party setting. Don't you adore indoor topiary!

.. and a magical winter ball

A vegetational decoration for a ball given at his Los Angeles Studio.

Talking of the Studio, I love this picture of them having tea there with the cat 'Weak Eyes'

Maybe the tablecloth was made out of Elizabeth's wedding dress?

And here they are photographed at the Studio for Town and Country Magazine in the 1980s
Click for a close-up of TD's remarkable sunburst sculptures and their gorgeous dressing gowns.

The Duquettes' tiny but mighty house Dawnridge in Beverley Hills is featured in the video below when a jewellery designer pays homage to the whole Duquette legend. The host is Hutton Wilkinson who bought it after TD's death in 1999. (Don't be put off by the video's appearance; just enjoy Wilkinson opening the door to this odd-looking lady)

A pagoda in Dawnridge's orientalist garden.

''Decorating is not a surface performance, it's a spiritual impulse, inborn and primordial.''

All images courtesy and

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Dreadful Dancing

For state of the art of backing singers emerging fully clothed from bathtubs watch The Mamas & The Papas California Dreamin here. One shouldn't laugh. The music's fab.

Susan Boyle Rides Again

Go Go Go Su Bo ! I love Susan Boyle. Her second appearance on Britain's Got Talent was bound to be an anti-climax. This time there was no magical dissonance between her appearance and her voice but I still think the power of her personality - a winning mix of modesty, cheek and steel - shone through. Oh what a ghastly song is 'Memory' but after a shaky start it transformed her once more from frump to goddess!

What does anyone think of her makeover? I think it was masterful in the circumstances. Her hair and eyebrows were tamed, and why not? Her dress was more dramatic, more flattering; but in its shape, length and fabric echoed the debut number. Shoes were understated but took twenty years off her age. Her makeup was sweet, maybe a smidgen too much blusher?

Susan you did look fabulous and you deserved to. You're not a freak show, you're an attractive, talented woman who was completely overlooked until now. You will never have millions of people across the world sobbing in the same way again because that was a moment when all kinds of forces coalesced to make it uniquely moving. But you still have the power to entertain and give great pleasure and you mustn't be exploited. Some hope. Go Girl all the same!

Having problems embedding the you-tube video of Susan's latest appearance on Britain's Got Talent so click here to go straight to the semi-finals.

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Sunday Supplement : More My Li'l Pony

These images continue the My Li'l Pony theme of an earlier post. I conjure a fantasy which is a curious mixture of the infantile and the faintly erotic in an attempt to say something about a girl's relationship with her pony?

(Somehow, a chap seems to have entered the mix..)

All images © Rosie West

Friday, 22 May 2009

Henry Allingham: A Life Spanning Three Centuries

No, this is definitely not an obituary. Dr. Henry Allingham is very much alive
and on 6th June will become a teenager again on the occasion of his 113th birthday. Britain's oldest war veteran, this is a man whose life has spanned three centuries and who remembers Queen Victoria’s funeral. Henry grew up in East London and joined the Royal Naval Air Service as an engineer in 1915 . He was to see action in the Battle of the Somme, one of the most traumatic and ghastly of World War I, and the naval Battle of Jutland.

Henry Allingham is an intelligent, humorous and compassionate man. In recent years, since he was 100, he has been committed to educating schoolchildren about the sacrifice and horror of two world wars. I had the honour of meeting him today when he was awarded an honorary doctorate in engineering at the Maritime Training School of Southampton Solent University.

He made a notable contribution to the early days of naval aviation and to magnetic mine counter-measures in World War II but he always regretted that he never had the opportunity to become a chartered engineer. That omission was made good today, recognising not just a fine career but an inspiring life as well.

Henry arrived by train from Sussex and was cheered by rail passengers on Fareham station. He was accompanied by his nurse and his two remarkable carers Dennis and Brenda Goodwin. The old man referred to his 82 year old companion as Dennis The Menace - a soldier who no doubt was a real menace to the Japanese in the ferocious Burma Campaign of the 1940s.

The ceremony was charged with emotion as Van Gore the Vice Chancellor of Southampton Solent University read out an impressive citation and the Chancellor, Admiral The Lord West of Spithead, presented Henry Allingham with his award. You never saw a man more proud or happy.

On my knees to pay tribute to an extraordinary man.

Thanks to Rear Admiral John Lang for these photos.

Do watch this You Tube clip of Henry at 110. Be amazed, amused and humbled.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Stars of the Chelsea Flower Show

London's Chelsea Flower Show was opened by the Queen on Monday. Here are some of the celebrities and the gold-medal winning gardens grabbing press attention.

Best show garden: 'The Daily Telegraph garden fuses a modern, relaxed Swedish style with traditional English elements.' All I know is that you seem to have to field a mixture of white and purple flowers to win these days.

Designed by Swedish landscape architect Ulf Nordfjell
Photograph: Jon Enoch Photography

Bill Nighy gets interrupted amongst the irises
Photograph: Carl De Souza/AFP/Getty Images

Most creative award: 'The Fenchurch garden
 A simple garden for sitting in, a green escape. The garden represents an awkward space, one with overwhelming boundary walls and limited planting space. Large structural concrete forms divide the garden into distinct areas.
Who left those silver beanbags there?

Designed by Paul Hensey
Photograph: /Jon Enoch Photography

Designer Paul Smith: Warmth over vanity?
Photograph: Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Best courtyard garden: 'The Fenland alchemist garden
 This theatrical garden is a light-hearted look at the life of a traditional Fen Tiger who practices the ancient art of alchemy. It feeds off the myths and mystery which surround the Fens.'

Designed by Stephen Hall and Jane Besser
Photograph: /Jon Enoch Photography

Helen Mirren vying with The Queen for the best bouquet
Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

President's most creative award: 'Cayman Islands Department of Tourism & Newington Nurseries Models in swimwear, bearing typically Caymanian art, against the backdrop of 3D images of the Cayman Islands' underwater reef garden.'
Great complimentary colours in the bikinis.

Designed by Heidi Klein
Photograph: /Jon Enoch Photography

Helena Bonham-Carter with her mother Elena.
Photograph: Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Best floral arrangement: Elaine Middleton Scaled down, this might suite Helena B-C ?
Photograph: Jane Perrone/Guardian

Best urban garden: 'Helios
The urban garden award went to an 'eco chic' creation of a small and cosy space for cities.' You can't help finding the accessories in these gardens faintly comic.

Designed by Kate Gould
Photograph: Jane Perrone/Guardian

Rod Stewart and Penny Lancaster accessorised by a trug basket
Photograph: Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Top: Stephen Fry, a rose by any other name
Photograph: John Stillwell/PA

All images and bold captions courtesy of The Guardian
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