Sunday, 26 December 2010

Does any of this chime at christmas time?


No apologies for another poignant episode of Misery Bear.  Either you love him or you think I've gone soft in the head.   Warning: he'll make you laugh but he might make you cry when you think about it..


Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Happy Christmas from a Domestic Goddess not





I don't know what it is about the festive season that make me go into hibernation.  Very much hoping for an adrenalin rush sometime in the next 48 hours.  

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Secret Desires






Now that London's Royal College of Art's Secret Sale (in aid of student bursaries and support) is over, I can reveal my contribution.  Over 2,800 postcards are illustrated by artists and students and exhibited anonymously.  Each costs £45 and the game is to pick one by an expensive artist like Damien Hirst or Grayson Perry and not get landed with a Rosie West.


Artists generally don't like to pin down the meaning of their work.  I suppose mine are supposed to be seductive as little pictures in themselves and then remind one of the gross price of property; they glibly juxtapose the tradition of painting with nasty material values; or simply stand as a painterly documentation of a common phenomenon like the property ads blah blah blah..


They are possibly rather sketchy but you have to take a run at them since you only get given
three postcards and there's no room to mess up even more.





I have no idea how many of them sold but I know that my son pointed out one of mine to his girlfriend not realising his old ma had done it.  Needless to say he didn't buy it.  


All illustrations © Rosie West

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

The Triumph of Hope over Experience II : Jamie Oliver's Naked Cheek?

Thank God I didn't attempt Jamie Oliver's three-course 'Thirty Minute Meal' before an audience of guests, laughing-charfing and moving confidently around my domain.  This is what happened in the privacy of my own chaos.


6.30: Read recipe. Strange step-by-step instructions swim before my eyes.



6.32: Throw contents of shopping trolley around work surfaces
6.33 Unwrap new frying pan


6.34  Wash new baking dish.  
6.35 Scrabble in cupboards for slicing attachments for my magimix.
6.37 Realise they went to the charity shop.  Start slicing 2lbs of potatoes and red onion by hand.
6.38  Decide to empty washing machine onto ironing board. Why?


6.39 Cut my finger and search kitchen drawer for blue plaster. Wind it up in kitchen roll.
6.40 Start chucking ingredients for Dauphinoise potatoes in pan. Seems from book that pan's too small so I  wash up new bigger baking dish. Transfer the slop of cream, olive oil, grated parmesan  and stuff into that. Occurs to me bigger pan only necessary to save a vital five minutes' cooking time but what the hell, I'm still in the game.
6.43 'Tear' oily anchovy fillets limb from limb. Would have preferred to use a knife, frankly.
6.44  Scrub and sniff hands.  Notice oil on floor and make a mental note to avoid.  
6.45 Put pan covered in tin foil on a medium gas flame.  Narrow tin foil doesn't fit big pan. Will vital steam escape through the join of two pieces? Oh dear.
6.46  Faff about with slimy chicken breasts and mustard powder. Help, I won't beat the clock if I don't cut 'em up! Realise I should have bought ones with skin on for crispy aesthetic reasons. Try to crush garlic cloves 'without peeling'.  Takes twice as long. Run out of olive oil.


6.48 Do the math on producing three 'baby leeks' out of two jumbo ones. Slice finely and hold knife with one finger sticking out at right angles. 
7.00 Oh quick, shake the potato pan!
7.01 Start frying chicken and leeks together.  It looks all milky.


7.05  Shouts from upstairs "Is there something burning darling?" Shout back "NO, the recipe doesn't say it will burn. It's the anchovy you can smell."  Shake the pan again. 
7.10 Realise the chicken's never going to get crispy like the picture.  Check the stopwatch and axe the idea of whipping up a snappy Black Forest Affogato
7.15 Burn my finger rattling the the sodding potato pan again.  Can't find any indication how long it's supposed to be there other than how long the chicken is taking me.
7.20 Open up tin foil.  So when is an anchovy not an anchovy? When it's your pan burnt to buggery.


7.21  Scrape potato gunge into yet another oven dish, grate on more parmesan, put in oven which I failed to light at the thirty second stage.
7.22  Imbibe wine and notice husband has polished off whole tin of smoked oysters. He announces that he's 'off to watch some mindless telly'.
7.24 Address recipe again.  F*** this for a skylark.
7.25  Go fetch camera and start shooting the mess. Feel vaguely embarrassed about promoting my new strategy for a three-course meal every night to anyone who would listen.
7.40  Chop up purple sprouting broccoli at 90mph
7.41 Scrabble to open tub of double cream and a bottle of wine. 


7.42 Glug it madly into chicken.


7.43  Haven't got time to wash the spinach.  Axe that idea.
7.45  Turn off chicken and weep with exhaustion.  Skid on anchovy oil.
7.46  Remember to cook broccoli and turn off oven.
7.47  Totally lose interest in the whole project.  Sit down in front of the telly with a glass of wine.
8.30 Rechauffé and serve. Apologise for delay in advertised time and discrepancy between picture and finished product.  Laugh bitterly.  Eat in 5 mins flat.  (Okay, it was moderately tasty.)
9 - 9.45  Clean Up 

Hmm rather than Mmm




Next day:  Go back to Jamie Oliver and read this: 'These recipes are carefully choreographed so that no single minute is wasted. If at first you run a little over time and your kitchen is a bit messy don't worry... [it's] all about orgainizing your kitchen and your equipment.'  I should coco!

Only Jamie does it better


Sunday, 28 November 2010

Seasonal Stuff & Nonsense



Wreathed in smiles...


I bought this delicious festive nonsense in Broadway Market (London) yesterday




from Bernie Malone an old friend of mine. At first I thought, what's she doing selling Christmas wreaths?  until I drew closer and noticed how witty and brilliant they were. That's a pink scouring pad at the top.    




They are made by Bernie and  Madeline Herbert, both notable artists,  so for anything between ten and thirty notes (depending on the size and illuminations)  you are getting rather more than a door decoration I can't help thinking.  




Something more on the traditional side here




And, finally,  another Christmas send-up..




Gorgeous, no?


Find the whole collection here

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Swansong



My childhood friend Laura McKechnie says she wants a viking funeral in a swan boat and I wish I had thought of that.  Would our families oblige, I wonder?  This whimsy from Tim Walker in Casa Vogue reminded me of our elegiac fantasy.




Meanwhile here are some more of the beauties, some more serene and some you might feel a bit of a tit in but who doesn't love them?



Boston's majestic fleet here



Ueno Park, Hanami, Japan here




Plaza Swanboat, Disneyworld here




Nestlenook Estate New Hampshire here



 Kawaguchiko Japan here


Hanoi's West Lake here




  at the wonderfully old-fashioned Camden Amusement Park, West Virginia here

Monday, 8 November 2010

Good Works: Me? At Buckingham Palace?



I  have just come across a note I scribbled whilst raising money for the RNLI  a few years back. Lady Somebody-or-Other nobbled me to turn up at 7 am at the Buckingham Palace tradesmen's entrance with a roll of stickers and seduce hapless Palace employees into putting money in my bucket.  Any time before 11 am (that point when I can generally manage to talk) is clearly out of my comfort zone so I accounted this expedition way beyond the call of duty. Besides, I wasn't best pleased to get Below Stairs as my station, fondly hoping to bump into the Queen or at least a brace of corgis.  (At least on this occasion I didn't have to wear yellow oilskins and a comedy red life-vest as I was once did outside Westminster Tube.)




Life Boat Flag Day 7.30 am  B Palace


Looking alert: resting one buttock on maroon baize table rather than settling passively onto  slightly tacky gilt chair with red satin seat.  I feel like a BBC anchor woman at such a positive angle.


I like the men who burrow through layers of mac/overcoat to find a suitable lapel for my sticker.


Always try to establish eye contact.


Strangely unregal and unromantic vestibule.. pipework, lino, fire extinguishers etc.


Someone drops a knob of butter off his toast onto the lino - I point out its presence to a footman and two housemaids but it's ignored.  I clean it up finally with the waxed paper from my stickers.


Yow!   A footman and a groom together  His jodhpurs marked all along the saddle area.

*    *    *
Blimey.

Monday, 1 November 2010

HALLOWEEN SHOCK HORROR



Finding ourselves with but a half-eaten bag of  chocolate raisins in the fruit bowl, the wizard and I had to turn off the porch light and batten down the hatches.

Trick or treating came over from America and continues to take us by surprise. As kids in post-war Britain we might run to apple-bobbing or inviting scaredycats to feel Nelson’s eye in a darkened room. (A peeled grape, if grapes weren’t on rationing).  What we really loved was Guy Fawkes night on 5th November.

image  © Rosie West

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Why I've been Away


I mentioned in my last post that I was expecting a grandchild and here is the proof. He's called Lucien and Lucky for short born 11 October.  I spent a few days with Olivia, bossing her and her husband about and pretending to be a nursery nurse - something our mothers had perhaps.  I rather wanted a crisp uniform and  some white lace-up shoes and a thermometer in my top pocket but just felt a bit scruffy and in need of a hair appointment (which is why I have cropped as much of myself as possible in  this picture).  A manicure too, I see.  






So that accounts for a week or more of my blogging absence and  I can't remember where the rest went.  


More baby stuff at Lucien's mother's blog here

Friday, 8 October 2010

It's All Go In the Women's Auxiliary Balloon Corps


A Balloon Site, Coventry, 1943 by Dame Laura Knight (RA). Women from the Auxiliary Territorial Service work the mooring ropes on a barrage balloon. Image  courtesy of the Imperial War Museum




'It's all go in the women's auxiliary balloon corps', a phrase borrowed from the sublime Blackadder television series, has become a bit of a mantra in our family when things get busy.  And it's beautifully illustrated here by one of my favourite English artists Dame Laura Knight (1877-1970).


It's all go for me now because my daughter Olivia is about to give birth to her second child and I am off tomorrow to help her prepare, hold the fort and do what needs to be done.   In haste right now but here is some more of Laura Knight's work:




Ruby Loftus screwing a breech-ring






Gypsies at Epsom Down





Lamorna Cove


Self Portrait


Zebras


Clowns and Acrobat


The Artist

Read a brief biography of her here






English painter and designer. She studied at Nottingham College of Art from 1889. In 1894 the deaths of her mother and grandmother left her dependent on her own earnings, and she taught art from a studio in the Castle Rooms, Nottingham. From 1903 she exhibited regularly at the Royal Academy, London, and in the same year married the painter Harold Knight (1874–1961); they lived in an artists' community in Staithes, north Yorkshire, until 1907, also spending time in another community in Laren, Netherlands. They then moved to Newlyn, Cornwall, attracted by the presence of a number of prominent artists. Although Knight painted various subjects, her reputation was founded on paintings of the ballet and the circus, which became predominant after she moved to London. Technically of a high standard, her narrative realist works were painted in bright colours and have limited depth of expression (e.g. Ballet, 1936; Port Sunlight, Lady Lever A.G.). She painted backstage during the Diaghilev ballet's seasons in London and took lessons at Tillers Dancing Academy in St Martin's Lane in order to draw there; she also travelled with the Mills and Carmos Circus. In the 1930s she started painting horses and gypsies at the races, as in Gypsy (1938–9; London, Tate). An accomplished portrait painter, she painted wartime commissions and was the official artist at the Nuremberg War-Crime Trials. She also did etchings (e.g. Some Holiday, aquatint, 1925; see Fox, p. 60) and executed designs for stained-glass windows.Exhibited first at the RA in 1903, first exhibition with Harold at Leicester Galleries in 1906. Elected RA in 1936, became Dame in 1939. Retrospective exhitibion at Upper Grovesnor Galleries in 1969. Her work is represented in major public art collections, including the Tate Gallery and Imperial War Museum.








English painter and designer. She studied at Nottingham College of Art from 1889. In 1894 the deaths of her mother and grandmother left her dependent on her own earnings, and she taught art from a studio in the Castle Rooms, Nottingham. From 1903 she exhibited regularly at the Royal Academy, London, and in the same year married the painter Harold Knight (1874–1961); they lived in an artists' community in Staithes, north Yorkshire, until 1907, also spending time in another community in Laren, Netherlands. They then moved to Newlyn, Cornwall, attracted by the presence of a number of prominent artists. Although Knight painted various subjects, her reputation was founded on paintings of the ballet and the circus, which became predominant after she moved to London. Technically of a high standard, her narrative realist works were painted in bright colours and have limited depth of expression (e.g. Ballet, 1936; Port Sunlight, Lady Lever A.G.). She painted backstage during the Diaghilev ballet's seasons in London and took lessons at Tillers Dancing Academy in St Martin's Lane in order to draw there; she also travelled with the Mills and Carmos Circus. In the 1930s she started painting horses and gypsies at the races, as in Gypsy (1938–9; London, Tate). An accomplished portrait painter, she painted wartime commissions and was the official artist at the Nuremberg War-Crime Trials. She also did etchings (e.g. Some Holiday, aquatint, 1925; see Fox, p. 60) and executed designs for stained-glass windows.Exhibited first at the RA in 1903, first exhibition with Harold at Leicester Galleries in 1906. Elected RA in 1936, became Dame in 1939. Retrospective exhitibion at Upper Grovesnor Galleries in 1969. Her work is represented in major public art collections, including the Tate Gallery and Imperial War Museum.






English painter and designer. She studied at Nottingham College of Art from 1889. In 1894 the deaths of her mother and grandmother left her dependent on her own earnings, and she taught art from a studio in the Castle Rooms, Nottingham. From 1903 she exhibited regularly at the Royal Academy, London, and in the same year married the painter Harold Knight (1874–1961); they lived in an artists' community in Staithes, north Yorkshire, until 1907, also spending time in another community in Laren, Netherlands. They then moved to Newlyn, Cornwall, attracted by the presence of a number of prominent artists. Although Knight painted various subjects, her reputation was founded on paintings of the ballet and the circus, which became predominant after she moved to London. Technically of a high standard, her narrative realist works were painted in bright colours and have limited depth of expression (e.g. Ballet, 1936; Port Sunlight, Lady Lever A.G.). She painted backstage during the Diaghilev ballet's seasons in London and took lessons at Tillers Dancing Academy in St Martin's Lane in order to draw there; she also travelled with the Mills and Carmos Circus. In the 1930s she started painting horses and gypsies at the races, as in Gypsy (1938–9; London, Tate). An accomplished portrait painter, she painted wartime commissions and was the official artist at the Nuremberg War-Crime Trials. She also did etchings (e.g. Some Holiday, aquatint, 1925; see Fox, p. 60) and executed designs for stained-glass windows.Exhibited first at the RA in 1903, first exhibition with Harold at Leicester Galleries in 1906. Elected RA in 1936, became Dame in 1939. Retrospective exhitibion at Upper Grovesnor Galleries in 1969. Her work is represented in major public art collections, including the Tate Gallery and Imperial War Museum.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Attention to Detail






If  you haven't caught this sweet viral video yet, trust me you'll like it.  It comes from the studios of Aardmann, creators of Wallace and Grommit.  Dot is the world's smallest stop-motion animation and it's shot on the Nokia N8.   Dot really is that tiny.  Marvel at how it was all achieved in the second film below.










Thursday, 23 September 2010

Another for the Marble Halls of Embarrassment: the woman who loved Tommy Steele


    At a supper party last night, instead of trying to suss out the lay of the land as I normally do,  I just asked the man on my right 'What do you do?'   He said he was a musician and my heart sank because I can never find anything intelligent to say to musicians.  I lament the fact I'm an unmusical, elderly Radio 4 addict with embarrassingly middle of the road tastes.  You only have to look at my blog profile: 
I sighed a little, apologised and asked if he could kind of put himself 'in a musical context' for me.

He replied  'I play in a band called Pink Floyd'.  


And he really does, has done since the beginning.  Hard to describe how I felt at that moment.. basically the flight option of the so-called fight or flight response to a situation that is none too comfortable.  But I need not have panicked because Nick Mason, the band's drummer, was utterly charming and far from offended.  I suggested  I lost interest in pop music in 1965 and he teased me for liking Tommy Steele (spot on) and sang me a couple of bars of  'Green Door' by Frankie Vaughan  - both British  names, lost in the mists of time to everyone else I suspect. We were virtually quits by now and the conversation moved to everything but music. Well, that's not quite true because I found out that Nick Mason loves working with youngsters and encouraging their musical ambitions.

Had he been to art school as many  musicians had?  No, but he had a degree in architecture.
I was beginning to realise that this was no ordinary world famous rock star.  He's clearly addicted to adventure and admitted  - somewhat affectingly - that he loves collecting certificates. 'I got my helicopter's pilot licence but not content with that I became a helicopter instructor. I did scuba diving but had to become a diving instructor. And then I had to qualify as a rescue diver!'   This didn't strike me as boasting, just the natural enthusiasm of a terrifically talented and intelligent man. It was only when I looked him up on Wikipedia that I found he has a phenomenal collection of cars, has taken part in the 24-hour Le Mans race and lives in the house formerly owned by Camilla Park Bowles.   Oh, and he has a gorgeous wife called Nettie who is also a helicopter pilot.  (I didn't bother to tell them that I have got a million plus score at a  computer game called Bejeweled.)

By the way, I am labelling this post 'name-dropping'.

Here is  Nick Mason as I confess I never remember him:






And here is Tommy Steele.  Can you spot me in the audience?  Well, it could have been 
me.


Thursday, 9 September 2010

ABRACADABRA! The mess in my house disappears

  

A new dawn breaks in my kitchen

The work surface used to look like this  on a bad day (out of focus, the way I prefer to remember it)

Where I used to blog  


Where I would paint on the dining table which gave me an excuse to eat standing up at the fridge


Bingo! The reason it's all changed



I took over a spare bedroom and all this was beautifully made for me by Colin Failes, a multi-talented man who worked on the massive Armada paintings for the House of Lords [here].  I had a bit of a flouncey moment when the pinboard stuff arrived and it was a cold slatey blue.  Colin looked perplexed but set about giving it the subtle trompe l'oeil effect you can just see here.  I should have got him to sign it, dammit.  I can only describe him as a class act, suggesting  the wide plan-chest drawers and a fold down table to the right of the picture. 




This isn't quite the end of the story. For a number of regrettable reasons,  I have just decided to give up my studio in Bermondsey and that's full of canvases, paint, books, drawings, a  mountain of paint-spattered old clothes, a glorious easel on wheels, my virgin's couch (a Vono 1950s studio bed that's past redemption) and a pommel horse I upholstered at art school.  I stood there last night and practically wept.  Where the hell will I put it all? 

  


My MA (Textiles) show at Goldsmiths College, London 2003.  The series of paintings entitled 'Calamity Fixes Her Makeup' are in the Ernst & Young Collection but I am stuck with the pommel horse entitled 'Last Chance for Horseplay'.  It's conceptual innit.

I produced the screen-printed fabric myself which contains illustrations of how to sit in a ladylike manner  from a 50's beauty book.  Someone else did the upholstery, which is beyond my pay-grade, in an attempt to morph the horse into a dressing table like the one I had growing up.  I am still kicking myself for not making it pale lilac instead of pink to match the ground in the paintings. I am proud to say that it was recommended for the Warden's prize but the poor man said he didn't think he could live with it in his office.  I could hardly blame him.  Shall I put it in my bedroom and use it as a clothes horse?

[Last two images courtesy Gerard Williams.  All artwork © Rosie West]

 
Related Posts with Thumbnails