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260814 – Can-Can – Paris

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Work takes me to Paris to view the new Paris shop on Rue Saint Honoré. As I sit at lunch in a 21st Century Paris I muse the Belle Epoque that continues to haunt the city. The tourist postcards gratify the nostalgia with early posters of the Can-Can, Jane Avril and Toulous-Lautrec.

170814 – Syon House – Twickenham

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A day out at Syon House by Robert Adam built in 1760 here the Great Conservatory mixes science and classicism. Laboratory and porticos.

160814 – Stuart Dandy – National Portrait Gallery, London

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This morning we were in the Tudor Galleries this afternoon we are in with the Stuarts. Only one generation separates the Tudors from the Stuarts, the protestant from the Catholic but England had to do a lot of catching up between the two periods. The Renaissance had been in Europe for some time, both science and art had made huge leaps forward and along with this were changing social attitudes. Here this is all beautifully expressed through fashion.

160814 – Cut and Fold – National Portrait Gallery, London

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The clothes of the Tudors posed many interesting problems. At one level clothes are a political armour with a strict hierarchy of colour and material used linked to status. At another they need to serve the basic function of keeping warm. The clothes often wool based, heavily embroidered and backed. When worn in multiple layers, these make for a stiff material that does not hold shape. The techniques used to achieve free movement are the cut, the fold, the hinge and to add volume. The sleeve for example uses many variations on the theme to both bend at the elbow and allow movement at the shoulder. These include adding volume to the area of movement, sleeves splayed from the elbow or shoulders puffed and ruched. Or by cutting slits and vents that allow movement and allow a stiff fabric to hold a double curve. The outer garments can often be heavy and course so the under laying garments are in softer cottons and linen. This develops into and aesthetic that pulls fine materials through the slits on the outer layers and is a technique unique to this period. It also makes for unique juxtapositions when using linen, leather, tapestry and fur. A wonderful way to spend the morning and the counter point will be the Stuarts planned for the afternoon.

090814 – Ceramics – V&A London

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Cases and cases of ceramics in the quiet solitude of the V&A. Printed and painted, glazed and fired. Eighteenth and early nineteenth century pottery collates the whole the menagerie of Empire and the Colonies. Pictorial referencing captured by early industrial techniques redistributed amongst the newly formed merchant/middle class. The whole history and reaction to the industrial revolution and its consequences on society displayed on a cup in a show case in the V&A, heaven.

Formally, pattern and form, inside and outside, the edge the border, the accentuated line, texture and relief, the handle that dictates posture and etiquette, the saucer on a saucer, the art of revealing. All of these techniques can be applied to fashion.

030814 – Norman Foster – Swiss Re, London

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I have lots of time for Foster’s work. I have buildings that I admire and details that I enjoy but most of all I love the way Fosters work has evolved. Ideas develop from project to project and often can be traced back to the very beginnings of the practice. This constant refinement and development is very similar to the methodology of Porsche or Apple three firms I really admire. At the Swiss Re building we have stacked villages, spiraling atriums, tripe glazed vented skin, triangulated external structure forming the double curves of the tower. The true beauty of Fosters building is that it is the conclusion of a team effort from a team of the highest caliber. Today we (husband and I) are looking at all the pieces that have multiple functions like the street benches that are also security barriers, the urban space drainage system that both recalls the Piazza Del Campo in Sienna whilst creating a safety moat and collecting and clearing litter. The moat itself collects all the water from the piazza and building and all grey water is reused. It does all these things and many more without anyone noticing. It is a building with understated dignity.

020814 – Glass - V&A London

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Here is a place I often come to visit, the V&A glass displays on the upper floors by the members room. These floors are often deserted even when the lower galleries are full so I have lots of time to study every technique used through the ages. Colour and pattern, overlays, layering, reflections and distortions, all of these things exist in all of the applied arts but add the dimension of transparency and a whole new vocabulary transcends. The glass object is a three dimensional form that sucks in its surroundings and re-presents them as distortion and reflection. Each object offers its own subjective re-interpretation of its context. A story re-told as the light or viewer shifts position in an endless conversation. Aspects remind me of Romeo Gigli’s ghost collection.

280714 – Pattern Cutting – London

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Project research, explorations in Henri Matisse paper cut period Henri’s ‘second life’. Screen shots unedited.

260714 – The Races – Ascot

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I have been invited by friends to the Ascot King George Weekend on a day filled with blue skies and sunshine. In a box on the 6th floor, the canopy overhang and air conditioning made for a relaxed and pleasant day. As someone who has no idea about horse racing (apart from the weekly riding classes when young) and a non-gambler, I relied on the help of an expert via a quick phone call and placed my bet. The main race of the day King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes was won by Taghrooda.

Image – George Stubbs, variations on - Mares and Foals Without Background.

220714 – Nouveau Modern - Glasgow

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Whilst in Glasgow I pass the Charles Rennie Mackintosh School Of Art and I am reminded of the recent fire of May 2014. I last saw this building when I was a student. Sadly the damage is considerable and will require a lot of work to repair.

Images - Glasgow School Of Art, 1897-1909

210714 – Capsule – Glasgow

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Today my work takes me to Glasgow. The interior of the hotel room for my stay looking and feeling very much like an interior of Kisho Kurokawa’s Tokyo Nakagin Capsule Hotel of 1972 or a one hour love hotel of recent decades. The bed abuts the view of Glasgow from my window wall.

Japanese Metabolism addressed the fiscal and land availability issues of 1970’s Tokyo. The target market for each capsule was the ‘bachelor salary man’. In todays society we are all ‘bachelor salary men’, unable to buy and fed up of renting. Sadly the recent resurgence of interest in micro homes is market led and yield driven, this is a shame as the Capsule Hotel is an archetype that is very relevant to todays congested inner city urban life.

180714 – Cabbage Revolutionary - London

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Work today leads to the researching of textures for use as a framing device and where better to start than the vegetables in the oil paintings of Sir Nathaniel Bacon’s Cookmaid.

In the 17th Century the aesthetic excess of the Baroque and Rococo were an expression equally of the excess of the Catholic Church and Divine Sovereign. The Baroque came to represent the abuse of power and consolidation of national wealth into the hands of a corrupt few. Painting the ordinary was a Liberal and Protestant protest to this excess and with this the genre of the still life was born. So these are some of the numerous vegetable revolutionaries.

230614 – Vivienne Westwood – London

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I start a new job today at Vivienne Westwood’s as Visual Merchandising Manager. This will be a change following the large corporate structure of my previous job.