Sunday, 22 August 2010

Outward Bound

I am not sure if anyone's terribly interested, but I am off on holiday here till the beginning of September.  As the the old coastguard house, part of a row of seven (the big dark smudge on top of this Dorset cliff) has no electricity,  I shall be in radio silence.  Unable then, to answer any comments were you to be kind enough to think of making any.  There's a tempest and torrential rain forecast for tomorrow as we drive there across the fields ( who's going to open the damn gates? You guessed it) and unload food, water, foul weather gear, torch batteries, gas mantles and rather a lot of booze.
I think I might be getting too old for this game. I'll tell you later.

My son Will made a little film about the place . He introduces it like this "We shot this at one of my favorite places in the world, in Dorset. Exact location to remain a secret. Its an adaptation of a joke my dad used to tell; any excuse for a film.  And this was real micro- budget. 75 pounds for radio mics, and 25 for sandwiches and petrol!

Image © Rosie West 

Saturday, 21 August 2010

The Generation Game: The Distaff Side

For the distaff side of my family, I  recently came across this crumpled photo of me with my daughter Olivia, as embellished by her.  I was presented with it by way of a birthday card a few years ago.  As  she has become a photographer herself (with her own blog) I hope she will now treat other people's work with more respect!  This  and the one below were taken by artist Peter Glover, an old friend of ours.

We looked rather more like this at the time.

My mother Mitzi with me. I remember that dress.  I wrote about her here.

My grandmother Ethel with my mother.  I could only find this image of her superimposed with a fragment of a sort of poem I wrote about her once.  Like my maternal grandfather I never knew her or very much about her but nothing ill was spoken of her.  She ended her life in London but had once run a club for gentlemen in Durban, South Africa or possibly in Laurenco Marques, now called Maputo in Mozambique. My mother said that this probably accounted for smart chaps in London's St. James tipping their hat to her. Funny the things you remember.   She was married to my raffish grandfather here.  

And finally, I have a granddaughter of my own.  

Arabella India Rose born in May this year with my daughter-in-law Joan (neé Gibbons)

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

The Scruffy Gene

  My paternal grandparents with the incredibly scruffy next generation. The Childs family. They would become two lawyers, two doctors and an almoner (social worker).  My father is on the far left.  I don't remember any of them being that threadbare and woolly but clearly it was in the family somewhere..

I think my great grandmother had a Beatrix Potter thing going on with her Benjamin Bunny 
tam o shanter and  Mr Alderman Ptolemy Tortoise's string bag. You will remember that he went to dinner with Mr Jeremy Fisher, taking his  own lettuce with him in one.  

The little girl, Joyce, was the younger sister of Grandfather's wife Mabel, standing next to him.  Joyce, unencumbered by the Childs aesthetic became a fashion illustrator in Paris! Alas, I never knew her because she died in childbirth.

THE GENERATION GAME: A Tale of Two Grandfathers

No wonder the Right and Left sides of my brain are constantly at war. I like to think they are personified by my two grandfathers.  My mother's father  Frank Gillam (above) was a dandy, gambler, a raffish character by all accounts.  He was a good artist too and I have some marvellous characatures he did of army officers in World War I.  Born in India, he spent most of his life in South Africa, doing what I have know idea, but he owned a Bugatti and was, my mama hastened to tell me, a 'gentleman' jockey.  He's reading 'Sporting Sketches' in this picture.  He survived the war but died young and I would love to have met him.  

By contrast, this is Philip Childs JP channelling Van Gogh.  He wasn't an artist, he was a provincial solicitor, magistrate and HM Coroner for Portsmouth and he was probably on holiday here. (I hope so!) His father was a pharmacist and his grandfather a 'tide-watcher' (port customs officer).  My grandmother, Mabel (not in the picture) would take her four sons and one daughter to the Isle of Wight and set up camp for the summer, hiring Pickfords removals to take all the canvas and kit by water and then horse and cart to Compton Bay.   Coming from a non-Conformist religious tradition, Grandfather was a teetotaller, but full of fun and occasional mischief. He was judicious and kind and never took himself too seriously.  The story goes that he was late back from the office for lunch one day.  Granny went out into the road and saw the coalman's cart approaching with her husband sitting up alongside the driver, a client of his.

I suppose another way I always sum up the difference between these two men is that in The English Civil War, Philip Childs would have been a Roundhead and Frank Gillam a Cavalier. Definitely. Meanwhile I permanently feel conflicted between these two opposing inherited strands of my character.  Creative tension, I guess.

Friday, 13 August 2010

When The Postman Knocked Twice

OK, it's not so bad but I had a dispiriting day.  My new all-singing all-adjusting ergonomic office chair finally arrived, in pieces with no instructions, which brought my other half out in hives.  " I hate these sodding things, they always effing say they're easy and they never effing are."  Followed by the IKEA flat-pack rant. The situation did look menacing but once we'd calmed down, it was easy. A piece of cake. So I sit on it, apply my tortoiseshell specs, smooth my skirt, thrust the bust and .. realise they've sent me the wrong flaming chair.  My work surface is draughtsman's height and I know I ordered the tall version. Instead of feeling like that secretary in Mad Men, I'm like an old lady driving a rather large motor car. When I press a lever, I'm a child driving a motor car.  That's crap isn't it?

But cheer is on its way because a parcel lands on the doormat.  I've waited a long time for it to arrive from The USA courtesy of a firm called Alibris via Amazon.  Recommended by Peak of Chic, it's 'Only the Best: a Celebration of Gift Giving in America'. . Except it's not.   It's just what I've always wanted:

I trust I can be justified in saying that's crap too.

Image top by Magda Archer for POLITE cards here

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Great Colour Combos II : Red & Green China Style

Mao by Andy Warhol

From one of my all-time favourite fashion shoots Vogue in China October 1979.Why don't they still dress like this?  I know, but still..

The fibreglass version by Sui Jianguo  here

Conveniently dressed Beijing cyclists

Red lacquer and green leather does it for me

Red Lacquer and Nature not bad either

Me as Mao

Images 4,5& 6 from China Style Photos Reto Gunti  ed. Taschen

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

What a Pill

The artist Grayson Perry in his motorcycle leathers.

I can't say I'm not always pleased and flattered to get a comment on my blog.  The latest was in response to an old post entitled The Transvestite Artist and the Harley Salesman and  I read it with mounting pleasure:  'I liked this blog, is very interesting and wonderful.It catched my attention since the first time that i saw it,that because it´s very entertainment.I feel happy when i reache what i am looking for,like...

when i buy viagra the result is really great.' (Linked to a site selling the stuff)

Oh f*** off, do.  

Wondering if anyone else has received stealth merchandising like this?  I am constantly bombarded with offers of penis enhancement but they go straight into my, erm, spam.

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