28 August 2014

Poetry Thursday - Pathology of Colours by Dannie Abse

Bruise colours (via)

Pathology of Colours

I know the colour rose, and it is lovely,
but not when it ripens in a tumour;
and healing greens, leaves and grass, so springlike,
in limbs that fester are not springlike.

I have seen red-blue tinged with hirsute mauve
in the plum-skin face of a suicide.
I have seen white, china white almost, stare
from behind the smashed windscreen of a car.

And the criminal, multi-coloured flash
of an H-bomb is no more beautiful
than an autopsy when the belly's opened -
to show cathedral windows never opened.

So in the simple blessing of a rainbow,
in the bevelled edge of a sunlit mirror,
I have seen, visible, Death's artifact
like a soldier's ribbon on a tunic tacked.

- Dannie Abse (via /litmed.med.nyu.edul, where you can listen to him reading the poem.

(Also on that site he says: "I felt that poetry shouldn't be an escape from reality, but rather an immersion into reality, and part of my reality was, indeed, my hospital life at the time. And so I became prepared to write poems which had medical undertones. Louis Pasteur once said (talking of scientific inspiration), 'Chance favors the prepared mind,' and my mind was prepared to write poems that were medically colored. In the mid-60's, I wrote a poem called 'Pathology of Colours,' and it proved to be one of a number that I've written over the years which are medically thematic.")

Dannie Abse is regarded as one of the most important Welsh writers of the 20th century. While a medical student, he once met Dylan Thomas - an influence on much of his early work. He wrote novels as well as poetry, and his connection with Wales is interesting - a non-Welsh-speaking Jew, he has lived most of his life in London, and been published there. He was born in Cardiff in 1923 and after a spell at Cardiff University, went to London in 1943 to start his medical training - and "took to the café society in Swiss Cottage like a duck to water."

He has written or edited 16 or more books of poetry - most recently "Speak, Old Parrot" (2013), and also several novels, among which The Strange Case of Dr Simmonds & Dr Glas (2002) was longlisted for the Booker Prize.

27 August 2014


My photo of Jeanne Lanvin's bedroom (designed by Albert-Armand Rateau, completed 1928 and now in the Musee des Arts Decoratifs in Paris) doesn't do it justice - fortunately there are more and better photos available online - and of the wonderful bathroom too.
The shade of cornflower blue is known as Lanvin Blue and is said to be inspired by the sky in a Fra Angelico fresco. The collaboration with Rateau for redesign of her apartment, homes, and business began in 1922.

Jeanne Lanvin (1867-1946) - a milliner who married an Italian nobleman - made beautiful dresses for her daughter and from this evolved a famous Paris fashion house - indeed, an empire. She was formally recognized as a couturiere in 1909, and became one of the most influential designers of the 1920s and 30s, using intricate trimmings, virtuoso embroidery, and beads in clear, light, floral colours.

She is also well known for the perfumes My Sin and Arpège, developed in 1925 and 1927 - Rateau designed the bottle for Arpège, which was designed for Lanvin's daughter and presented to her on her 30th birthday.
The illustration on the bottle is by Paul Iribe, rendered in 1907, of Jeanne and Marguerite.

26 August 2014

Wet weekend

Monday's unrelenting rain put a bit of a damper on Notting Hill Carnival, but in Kensal Rise we could still hear some of the music rumbling in the distance throughout the day. And it was quite amusing to watch the traffic speeding through the lake that had formed outside -

The drain simply can't cope, even with less water. By morning it had shrunk somewhat -
Being trapped indoors made it imperative to do something "useful" - while dusting and hoovering the weekend studio I managed to throw out a few old, unneccesary, bothersome things - and found a few bits to salvage, including this, which only needed a few more borders to get it to journal quilt size -
which, now that it's 8"x8", doesn't quite work as a "High Horizons" quiltlet. Hmm, what to do with it next ... foiling? applique? hand stitch? Let's face it, some things end up looking like a bunch of scraps thrown together - this seems destined for the interior of a potholder!!

Perhaps this accumulation of scraps has more chance of success -
It's waiting for next weekend to be sewn together. Joining the scraps of wadding was a simple pleasure, and now there's enough for three more JQs. (Old towels and sweaters make good wadding for JQs too.)

Handstitching is a lovely thing to do on a wet weekend, listening to Radio 4 or catching up on the iplayer - I got on with this
which is mostly linen threads, the rows made either "over and over" or "back and forth" - each has a different feel during the stitching and then later when you run your hands over the piece. It was inspired by seeing the work of Gillian Lavery online - that brought on the itch to stitch, and it feels wonderful to be filling this cloth in this simple way, waiting to see what evolves from choices and accidents.

Also under the needle, a small double-sided piece - again to see what happens and what changes can be made to something prosaic -

On (in?) a sub

The Ocelot, a Cold War submarine - 90m long

Not easy to move around!

It would have been crowded - 60 or so men aboard

Equipped for surveillance duties

The periscope-thingy

...and what you see through it (Chatham Historic Dockyard)

Engine room - not as claustrophobic as I'd feared, but the 15-minute walkthrough was enough for me.

25 August 2014

Monday miscellany

Natural dyes - and a great idea for storing shorter lengths of yarn
by Cozymemories on flickr

Coptic weaving (8th century or thereabouts) at British Museum

Machine(?) of the week - what is it? Seen at Victoria Station

Milk float, now used for general goods transport at Chatham Historic Dockyard

"The bright cloud" - reminds me of this one ...
... by Samuel Palmer (via)

24 August 2014

By the sea side - St Leonards

Window dressing  (with view of  English channel)
Shopping au plein aire - a tourist destination?
Last glimpse of the sea

23 August 2014

Preparing for Notting Hill Carnival

Is Notting Hill Carnival world famous? have you heard of it? It's the largest street festival in Europe and has been going since 1964. Music, food, parades, costumes, drink, crowds, traffic disruption - it's party party party, especially on the Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday. By 5pm on Saturday, preparations were well underway, largely consisting of property damage limitation (consider the amount of garbage from food and drink, for example) and crowd control measures. I usually keep well away (we're at least a mile away but can hear the music in Kensal Rise, and parking spaces are snapped up here and even further away from the main action).

So here's what I saw from the bus, travelling south to north.
Painted boarding in the posh bits - Notting Hill Kitchen

... and "Happy Carnival" wishes from Paul Smith

Some residents make sure they're away for the duration

Immediately the boards gather graffiti of varying standards

The lull before the storm

Fences and movable barriers are also in evidence

No "dental care" this weekend!

Already looking busier than usual, Ladbroke Grove station will be closed

Graffiti artists go to town

Police cones everywhere ... including side streets - no parking!!
The weather report isn't particularly good, but that's hardly likely to stop the crowds. Happy Carnival!

Subterranean splendour

White Rock Baths provided the citizens of Hastings and St Leonards with sea water swimming and private baths at the end of the 19th century; in the 1930s they were rejuvenated. With war and the postwar holiday slump business fell off and they were closed, but in the 1970s they were converted to an ice rink and a roller rink. Since 1997 they have been closed and left to moulder.

Photographer Brian Ryboult was granted access, and though his photographs - on show at Hastings Museum till 14 September - we can revisit this forgotten place.

Mosaics in what we think must have been the cold plunge pool

Skate hire storage
Once they were the largest covered swimming pool in Europe,
with luxurious facilities
Historical photos, and some of the sadder sights, are here.

Exhibition list

Some things to see in London - reminder to myself! (Most are free.)

Reason & Intuition: Alvar Aalto & Ola Kolehmainen in Soane at PM Gallery, Ealing - till 24 August

The Felt Cornershop, 19 Wellington Row, Bethnal Green - till 31 August (video is here)

Fine Prints & Maps at Henry Sotheran Ltd - till 8 September
Pelletted plastic rubbish (via)
The Rubbish Collection at the Science Museum - till 14 September

Paper Cut at The Proud Archivist - till 25 September

Primrose: Early Colour Photography in Russia at The Photographers’ Gallery - till 19 October

Virginia Woolf at National Portrait Gallery till 26 October (£7)

Joan Fontecuberta at the Science Museum - till 9 November (entry fee)

Rapid Response Collecting  at V&A until 15 January 2015

Disobedient Objects at V&A till 1 February

Truth and Memory, art of WW1, till 8 March 2015 at the newly reopened Imperial War Museum
Ceiling of books by Richard Wentworth at Leadenhall Market (via)
Sculpture in the City - till May 2015, but why wait till then?

The art and science of exploration at The Queen’s House in Greenwich - ongoing

Little houses at Hastings Museum

 The models include a battered one of this large building, in India -
which is connected to the Brasseys, a prominent local family, who donated an amazing room, the Durbar Hall, to the museum -
It had been installed at the back of their London home (24 Park Lane) as a smoking room that contained Lady Brassey's ethnographic collection. A special extension to the Hastings museum was eventually built to accommodate it.