Saturday, 27 February 2010

On My First Birthday..

I interview myself ...

Well done Rosie, you didn't throw in the sponge like you normally do

I know I can't believe I'm still here

Why do you keep blogging?

Because it gives me an excuse to sit up till 2 am running my global personality cult from my kitchen  

So, the name Rose C'est La Vie - what's all that about?

As I mentioned at the beginning, it's a smartass pun on Marcel Duchamp's alter ego Rrose Sélavy. In turn it was his wordplay on 'Eros c'est la vie'.  But I decided not to major on the erotic, tempting as it was.  I'll never be as alluring as her though! 

How did you start off?

I just plunged in with a couple of posts about the joy of opera gloves here and here

What sort of stuff do you write about?

Art, style, name-dropping, my embarrassing moments, the occasional rant, nostalgia and more name-dropping.  And then I put up you-tube clips when I run out of ideas.

And possibly your best post?

Probably the one about the lifting of the ban on gay men and women serving in the Armed Forces. It had the warmest response and and seemed to resonate with some of my favourite readers.

What do you do when you're not blogging?  

Oh don't.  It's embarrassing because I'm a massive time-waster. I ricochet around the blogosphere, I half-read books, draw pictures on my kitchen table and sometimes paint in my studio, try to avoid cooking and write a lot of emails.  Oh, and I am doing a course in 'sequential art' - drawing the graphic novel.  And attempting to make an illustrated catalogue raisonné of all the clothes I have ever owned.  I can't remember if I do anything that would generally be considered useful apart from looking after my adorable grandson who's three and ironing seven shirts a week.

How old are you?

Old enough to know better. And to remember the Beatles.

I'm getting bored now

Can I just give my Oscar speech?

Oh if you have to

I just want to thank all the other gorgeous bloggers who have put me on their favourites' list. Stefan of Architect Design was the first and rescued  me from oblivion.  Gaye Tapp of little augury has featured me an embarrassing number of times and I think everyone will agree what a generous spirit she is.  Then there are special mentions for old pals: Toby Worthington, Emily Evans Eerdmans, Home Before Dark, The Blue Remembered Hills and Rurritable. . sob sob .. all my lovely lovely sweet candy lambs out there!

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Sandersons Wallpaper and Me

Just thrilled when I found a sample of this wallpaper from Sanderson's notable Palladio collection featured in World of Interiors March issue. I had longed to see it again because it resonates with my childhood at Dovercourt, the primary department of Portsmouth High School. It was an amiable gothicky building designed by architect Thomas Ellis Owen who added such distinction to Southsea in the mid 19th century.  

In the late 1950s I was amazed to find the Lower 2nd classroom had been converted into a restroom papered with this incredibly exciting design.  Moreover one wall was painted in a coordinating soft tangerine and the skirting boards in that putty colour.  Rather grandly at the age of nine,  I congratulated the art teacher on her inspired decorating instincts!   Miss Walden - a great woman with a matching putty coloured complexion, short hair, strong shoes and the kindest nature. I loved her.  I had plenty of time to savour the scheme when I was consigned to a little lie down in the restroom one day.  I had a dizzy spell. Probably a sugar rush from eating too many liquorice pipes at break-time.

But guess what, when I introduced my daughter to my old school in the early 80s, I raced up to the same room and found it still intact.  And Miss Walden still on the teaching staff.  This was the first of many nostalgia attacks about the 50s. 

The designer, Walter Hoyle was an artist and printmaker (1922-2000)  who was strongly influenced by his tutor Edward Bawden at the Royal College of Art.  Indeed he became part of the Great Bardfield  group of which Bawden was the doyen.  Including one of my favourites, Eric Ravilious, it was a brilliant school of figurative artists and illustrators (very much in contrast with the St. Ive's painters)  and  I have always felt that their aesthetic nailed the quintessence of Englishness.  

Here are some of Hoyle's block prints from the mid 1960s of Cambridge University. The images come from the Government Art Collection's website, worth a look in itself. (Although the site appears to be  under construction you can still search the collection.)

King's College

King's Chapel Porch


Senate House

St John's College

Wren Chapel Emmanuel College

Below:  more of the Sanderson Palladio collection courtesy of W of I.   

'Very Sanderson - 150 Years of English Decoration' runs at the Fashion  and Textile Museum, 83 Bermondsey St, London SE1  19 March - 13 June.

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Off With His Head!

Helena Bonham Carter as The Red Queen

I haven't done an etiquette post yet.  I think everything has been covered beautifully by other bloggers but I do have a couple of Bad Manners Betes Noires

The first solecism isn't terribly common, in fact it may only have been committed once in the history of the world.  It is using your laptop on the table at a Buckingham Palace state banquet.  I happened to find myself at one such glittering occasion in honour of the Chinese Head of State and the man on my right, from the Chinese delegation, positioned his computer amongst the plates, the goldware and his share of the crystal glasses and waved away the footman in scarlet livery.  Not knowing the mandarin for 'What the fuck do you think you're doing?'  I let him get on with it whilst trying subliminally to express my disapproval. 

After he'd written his piece he got up and carried his electronic equipment towards the top table and I was agog. I imagine Her Majesty might have been too since he established a direct transit line with her tiara.  Rather disappointingly for me he stopped short, tapped one of his countrymen on the shoulder and produced his homework.  The conference over, he returned to my side ready for the dessert.  I can't say I found anything to try and talk to him about after that.  Luckily I had a real diplomat on the other side.

Now, will anybody agree with me on the next matter?  It happens at receptions.  People come round with trays of food and it strikes me that the tastier it looks, the  more determined they are you shouldn't enjoy it. Either they try to humiliate you with a neat side step towards another group just as you've stopped your conversation mid-sentence and your hand is poised to grab that crab cake; or they point their wares at you with variations on a theme of ill-grace. There's the I Suppose Somebody Ought To Eat These look, the No You Can't Have Another One look,  the I'd Have Thought You'd Be On A Diet look and the Oh For God's Sake Get On With It Whilst I Stare At The Floor look.  Ok, I wouldn't like that job either.   But there are some, I admit, who are genuinely warm and hospitable which makes the whole tedious business of small talk worthwhile.

Maybe they're embarrassed about the paper doiley?  I find the naive enthusiasm of this look rather refreshing in the scramble to find ever more modish ways to present canapés.  I have been offered little 
sausages to dip into a square glass container of mashed potato,  spoons containing mouthfuls of peking   duck arranged on banana leaves and most recently, trays made out of glazed rococo picture frames.  I am sure people can top that??

Friday, 19 February 2010

Drawing Room

Established in 1855,  Cornelissens near the British Museum is possibly the most attractive art supplier in London.  Its original wooden cabinets are full of delicious things like steel nibs, gold leaf, graphite powder and all kinds of arcane preparations.

I went there to get  Sennelier Le Maxi drawing blocks because I love their unusual square format and crisp creamy paper.  With 250 sheets at your disposal there's no need to worry about messing up the blank page.  The last time I got artist's block,  my old friend John Dougill at my studio suggested that I get a hundred sheets of paper cut to the same size and work my way through them in a diligent way but at the same time not caring too much about the result.  By about page 30 you really get into the flow!

image from

So here I went..

Images taken from my hand and from Anatomy for the Artist by Sarah Simblet pub. Dorling Kindersley

Sunday, 14 February 2010


Barbara Cartland ~ Queen of Romance

To All My Darlings 

Thursday, 11 February 2010

ALEXANDER McQUEEN (17 March 1969 - 11 February 2010)

Genius, ever a fragile commodity.  

Poor Alexander McQueen, devastated by the death of his mother whose funeral was arranged for tomorrow. But one thing I've learnt is that you cannot find an easy answer to why people choose to depart this life, leaving us all behind bewildered and bereaved to a greater or lesser extent. In that childish way that we learnt to make sense of death,  let's hope he's reunited with her and with his close friend and muse Isabella Blow, who died by her own hand in 2007 .  

Isabella Blow in a creation designed by McQueen with Philip Treacy.  

I was in a restaurant when Isabella Blow piled in just after us, squeezing past the tables to hang up her coat in the closet.  I made an excuse to enter the closet so that I could see who she was wearing. (What a terrible admission!)  The label said Alexander McQueen. Of course.  

Images from The Guardian website.  Read McQueen's obituary here.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

The British Afloat

I came across this jolly little film of a Battersea Park Gala in the sixties and nearly capsized watching the frolics on the boating lake.

It's a wonderfully dated vignette of innocent summer fun and I hope it will raise your endorphin levels too.  For my British chums of a certain vintage, spot stalwarts of tv entertainment and newscasting and the occasional home-grown film star.  I listed Elsie Tanner, Nicholas Parsons, Sam Kydd, Honor Blackman, Shirley Anne Field and more..  Answers on a postcard please.   

Illustration © Rosie West
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