Saturday, 26 March 2016

Happy Easter

Dear readers, I hope you are enjoying a happy and peaceful Easter weekend!


Tuesday, 22 March 2016

M Train by Patti Smith | № 1 spring reading list

I'm sitting here with coffee in the safety of my home, feeling shaken, sad and numb by events in Brussels. There is also a feeling inside that I don't have a word for. As most of you know, Belgium was our home for two years and immediately my thoughts were, Are our friends safe? Most of them live in Antwerp and, fortunately, we have received no bad news. When I watch the news I cannot help but thinking that the Icelandic Embassy is just a short walk from the Maelbeek station. When one has walked these streets this just feels too close to home.


Looking at the stack of books after my library visit I thought it odd to go straight from reading the diaries and works of Virginia Woolf to Patti Smith's M Train. Well, it sounded odd. All of a sudden my mind was going, Wait a minute, didn't I see an interview with Patti taken in the Charleston House? It was the home of artists Vanessa Bell (Woolf's sister) and Duncan Grant. I looked it up and found it on YouTube and there she was, talking about her admiration for the house and the Bloomsbury group's artistic way of living. I even found a clip of her reading Woolf to an audience.

Going from Virginia to Patti now seemed a basic choice.

Patti Smith starts M Train with the words, 'It's not so easy writing about nothing.' If she is writing about nothing, she is certainly good at it. I hardly looked up from the reading and before finishing had decided to buy my own copy. To give you some idea of this 'nothing', during the reading you will drink plenty of coffee with Patti in the Greenwich Village, and likely mourn Café 'Ino on Bedford Street, visit graves of authors in various corners of the world, and watch detective series. Remember Linden and Holden from The Killing (the US version of the Danish series Forbrydelsen)? Those two are there. Haruki Murakami is there; his book that 'did [her] in' was The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (p. 94). The most important presence on the pages is her late husband Fred Sonic Smith (d. 1994). At one point she touchingly writes: 'You've been gone long enough. Just come back' (p. 171). In a way M Train is a book about nothing, yet it left me with an unexplainable richness. My only disappointment was that it ended. I cannot wait to pick up Just Kids, her memoir that won her the 2010 National Book Award. I shamefully have to admit that I haven't read it.

Perhaps inspired by Virginia Woolf, who occasionally wrote down reading lists in her diary, here is mine for this spring:

The first on the list is already marked as read and I had started reading the next two, finding Nicholson's book delightfully entertaining. When I started reading Miller's autobiography it grabbed me and I think my next reading list will contain one of his plays. It's been years since I read anything by him.


Monday, 14 March 2016

Wild Thing in red emerald by Lewis & Wood

The fabric sample above is a detail of Wild Thing in red emerald, a linen fabric by Lewis & Wood that I have been admiring for months. Last autumn they sent me a stack of textile samples and this particular piece was the first thing that caught my attention. I had seen the fabric in its entirety - 'a bold large print pattern featuring foliage, flowers and wildlife' - on their website and cannot say it particularly interested me, perhaps because there seemed to be too much going on; it was too wild for me. When I turned it over to view the information on the back I honestly thought the sample had been wrongly labelled. When my mind finally began registering that this was in fact the Wild Thing fabric I realised how important it is to focus on the details of fabrics before judging.

The motifs of the fabric are flowers, leaves, birds and a monkey. What makes the fabric so interesting to me is the way the dyes are unrestricted. There are outlines but the dyes are both inside and outside the lines, which makes the design even wilder and more vibrant.

Wild Thing in red emerald and ginger kiwi by Lewis & Wood

The Wild Thing fabric is available in three colourways: copper cobalt, ginger kiwi, and the aforementioned red emerald. I think the copper cobalt fabric (below) is ideal for those who perhaps want to play it a little safer but for me the red emerald is the winner. I can easily picture it as my future bedroom curtains.

Wild Thing in copper cobalt by Lewis & Wood

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Deborah Turbeville's 'Casa No Name'

Last Friday I told you I had snapped a few photos of a Mexican home that I promised to share. The house tour appeared in the December 2015 issue of The World of Interiors, in a feature called Destination unknown, lensed by Ricardo Labougle. The house belonged to the late fashion photographer Deborah Turbeville (1932-2013), who lived a nomadic life. She named it Casa No Name. It's located in the historic city San Miguel de Allende, in Guanajuato. When Turbeville bought the house it was in a terrible state, but if you are familiar with her photography it is easy to understand why it fascinated her. A friend of hers, who oversaw the two-year restoration told the workers to 'not ... make too perfect a job of it, for "The señora likes it that way"' (p. 190). There is no one thing that draws me to this house; it's the richness of it that captivates me, the gorgeous blend of patterned textiles, colours, plaster walls, the breathtaking roof terrace . . . this is what they mean when they talk about turning a house into a home.

In 2009, Rizzoli published the book Casa No Name by Turbeville herself. I have seen some of the images from the book and I cannot say it's a book for everyone. Let's just say that it's a different interior design book with a lot of blurry images. Hard-core Turbeville fans will probably love it.

I found a short interview with Turbeville on YouTube, taken at Casa No Name when Toast was shooting their Spring/Summer 2010 lookbook there.

For everyone interested in fashion photography I would recommend the book Deborah Turbeville: The Fashion Pictures. It's also published by Rizzoli and you will find in it the infamous bathhouse photos, which shocked when they appeared in Vogue in 1975.

images by me | credit: The World of Interiors, December 2015, Destination unknown, pp. 182-191 · Ricardo Labougle