Category: Comment

One, Two, Three, Floor x

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Before I go any further, can I just say how much I love my parquet floors – they’re warm, characterful and if they were a food they’d be a perfectly cooked, melt in the mouth steak.  But there is another type of floor I would happily embrace, particularly in bathrooms: Terrazzo – A centuries old technique of mixing up marble, granite or quartz chippings with a cementitious binder, which is then polished to a fine shine.

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The advantage of this technique is the ability to make anything from the mixture – it’s like the architectural version of play doh. Imagination (and possibly good taste) are the only limits to it’s capabilities.

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It can be big and brash, laden with special effects: patterns, glittery bits and brass inlays.063a8ea106b5b54b5fe22e6cc8e72318 15f4db96ed0dc8f85e66d807bef5c568 ded3ce73d98ad72576cef463864ba1e2

Or it can be discreet, quietly accepting the continual pounding of life with extreme confidence, forever remaining constant. Qualities to value.

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It also (and I speak from confidence here – this was the floor in my Grandparents house in Greece for many years) never shows the dirt.

Effectively it’s floor rock n roll.

Laters, Kate x

Jason deCaires Taylor..

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A true global and renaissance man, Jason deCaires Taylor was born in 1974 to an English father and Guyanese mother.  He then grew up with one foot in Europe, the other in Asia with regular diving trips in Malaysia.  In 1998 he graduated from the London Institute of Arts with a BA honours in Sculpture….before becoming a fully qualified diving instructor, underwater naturalist (Note to friends: That’s not a naked diver) and award winning photographer.

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Then in 2006, off the West Coast of Grenada, he created his first underwater sculpture park and a life blood of creativity was unleashed.

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His work explores the slipstream where Art and Nature collide, the grey area between man’s exploitation of nature for industrial means and the acknowledgement of the fundamental power of the earth: As time begins to colonize the forms it creates it’s own architecture, dramatic pulse and language.

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This pulls on something deep within – the mystery of Atlantis, Pompeii, fairytales..even gothic Victoriana.  They’re a dark presence, yet awe-inspiring at the same time.

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Under the water is a world Jason knows, and through his art he aims to highlight the living beauty of the under world to encourage environmental awareness and instigate social change.

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For anyone who’s heart sank at the news this week that 90% of sea birds have plastic in their stomachs, he’s a crusader you want to stand up and applaud.

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His work isn’t limited to the turquoise depths of Cancun and the Bahamas..this mystical beauty can be found in Canterbury…

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And now, from Sept 1 – 30, on the Thames foreshore at Vauxhall, London, adjacent to Camelford House and 87-90 Albert Embankment, is a new example of his work: The Rising Tide, commissioned by Totally Thames.

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It highlights the role the river has played in the shaping of London’s history.  And how easy it’s been for us to abuse it.

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(All pictures from here and Jason deCaires Taylor’s Facebook page)

These could be horses, but they’re oil pumps..animals of industry, draining the land.

A theme as strong and compelling as any story ever told.

Laters, Kate x

Wednesdays Child..

IMG_2550And so the day starts…

Right everyone – have you all been for a wee? Shoes on? As there are 3 of you and only 2 large scooters and one smaller one, I’d be really grateful if you Charlie, as the smallest child, would use the smaller scooter today.

No. I don’t want to.

It would really help me if you could be a gentleman and help your Mummy.

No. I don’t want to.

I realise that, but I’d really appreciate it if you could help me.

I don’t want to.

Well, I don’t want to take 3 children to the playground, but I’m still going.

I don’t want the small scooter, I want the big one.

I’d like you to help me, can you do that?

No.

OK. Well, no Harry Potter Land on Friday.

But I want to go to Harry Potter Land.

So go on the scooter.

I don’t want to go on the scooter.

So then no Harry Potter Land.

But I want to go to Harry Potter Land.

Charlie, I’m going to count to 3..after that no Harry potter Land, 1,2..

(moves to scooter, we leave the relative safety of the house)

But I want the big scooter.

(Ignore, shut door)

I want the big scooter, I want the big scooter, I WANT THE BIG SCOOTER

Charlie, LOOK at me, do you want to go to Harry Potter Land? Yes? So tell me what you have to do..

But I want the big scooter.

JUST THERE! – did you spot that purple spotted fairy just hiding behind the car? Not there now?..I’m sure it was..look again..Maybe you’ll see it next time..Why don’t you just go and play with the girls?

Go away Charlie.

Bella please be nice, you have a friend.

But Mummy, Mummy, Charlie is being really horrible.

Charlie – why do you need to ride in the middle of the girls?..just ride to the side of them  ..and don’t touch their wheels..

But I want to ride in the middle of them.

I’ve told you not to. It’s dangerous.

Does it again.

CHARLIE you are going to cause an accident.

Does it again.

(Sit him on kerb to talk to at eye level) Charlie, if you can’t act properly I will take your scooter away. Do you understand? What did I just say – repeat it back to me…

You’ll take my scooter away.

Do you understand? Right, let’s go..

Mummy – he’s done it again!

Charlie – WHY did you do that??

(Take scooter to add to dog, poo bags, picnic, picnic rug, kite, football, cricket bat, cricket ball, stumps. skipping rope…)

I WANT MY SCOOTER!

I WANT MY SCOOTER!

I wANT MY SCOOTER!

Not until you can learn to behave.

I will behave.

So prove it to me.

Goes up to Bella, hits her.

CHARLIE BENTLEY. COME HERE NOW…

I want a cuddle.

Not until you’ve said sorry Bella and sorry to me and YOU STOP THIS HORRIBLE BEHAVIOUR. THERE WILL BE NO HARRY POTTER LAND ON FRIDAY WHICH WAS GOING TO KILL US ANYWAY AS YOUR FATHER’S FLIGHT FROM HONG KONG DOESN’T GET IN TILL FIVE IN THE MORNING AND THE DOG HAS TO GO TO THE POSH VET FOR ANOTHER APPOINTMENT (long story) SO QUITE FRANKLY I’LL BE MIGHTY PLEASED NOT TO GO BECAUSE IT’S NOT EXACTLY MY IDEA OF A FUN DAY OUT..

I want a cuddle, I want a cuddle.

WHAT DO YOU SAY CHARLIE?

I want a cuddle.

WWWHHHAAAATTTT DDDDOOO YYYOOOUUUU SSSSAAAAYYYY?????

Sorry Bella…Sorry Mummy…

Gives kisses, has cuddle.

But I want the big scooter…

Find brick wall. Hit head.

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Moral of this tale: When you see a mother tearing her hair out..

a. Honest to God..give her some sympathy..she’s been doing this for weeks now..schools in the UK broke up in July and don’t go back till September.

b. It’s probably me…………………………

Laters, Kate x

African heat..

imagesShoes by Burberry Porsum.

Like a moth attracted to a sweet spot I’ve been drawn towards the beauty of African print.  It has that magic touch of satisfaction where something unusual feels like it should’ve always been in my life.  I love the electric powerplays of colour… the fluid graphics..the exuberant clashes..it’s a buzz that gathers and turns a piece of material into a stage..

Burberry ‘did it’ a few summers ago….

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(Burberry Porsum summer 2012, photos courtesy of style.com)

But I think it’s time for the love affair to diffuse down the food-chain…I want to see more on the streets generally..there are legs on this baby… These photos were taken by MG Onania for Fashizblack Magazine..

African-inspired-fashion African-inspired-fashion1 African-inspired-fashion2 African-inspired-fashion3Rich, magical and aspirational.

These are of Yassive Rahal by Julien Cozzoline for Fashizblack Magazine:

tumblr_mizyc7jYAi1qd9ql4o1_r1_500-2 tumblr_mizye1Vr5g1qd9ql4o1_r1_500-1And these are from a wonderful blog: style-caralho.blogspot.co.uk. ( I don’t know the indivdiual photographers name – but if anyone does, I’m very happy to attribute)

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Personally I think we all need a fresh blast of African air.

Laters, Kate x

Today..

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On Wednesday night we had a huge storm over London, well, I say a storm – it just kept on rolling in on waves of ear splitting thunder and torrential rain..locally we lost transport, various shops flooded and the internet…I’ve never known anything like it.

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Except maybe this morning and the news of Brexit.  Astounded, ashamed, depressed.  It wasn’t that Europe didn’t have it’s problems, but we’ve now thrown the baby out with the bathwater because we asked people to vote on the EU…and they voted on something else entirely.  As an act of rebellion my country has given a thumbs up to xenophobia, racism and bigotry. I thought the Americans had it bad with Trump..the laugh was on me.

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Will the last person to leave the country please turn out the lights.

Laters, Kate x

Bea Johnson x

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Anyone else read the article in the Times yeesterday about Bea (pronounced ‘Baya’)  Johnson and her zero waste lifestyle? The picture above represents the amount of waste her family have accumulated over a year…it’s an eye opener..

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She’s been living this way since 2008..and it doesn’t make her a crusty hippy.

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Her (and her family’s) wardrobe are small enough to fit into carry-on suitcases…which they pack, wheel away – and then their house is rented out to pay for their holidays.

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But a small wardrobe doesn’t mean she doesn’t have style.

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It’s just that they’ve made choices about what they really need against what society and big companies want them to need.

I think I’m going to have to read her book…

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Laters, Kate x

Row Like a Girl x

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Turn off Big Brother with it’s endless whining voice of entitlement and check out the Row Like a Girl team, now halfway through the Talisker Whiskey Atlantic race.  They’re four British girls: Lauren Norton (skipper), Olivia Bolesworth, Bella Collins and Georgina Purdy who are hoping to become the youngest four ever to row the distance and break 2 world records in the process…just a mere 3,000 miles.

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They’re part of 26 teams taking part facing sleep deprivation and exhaustion with a continual pattern of two hour on/off shifts, extreme weather conditions including 30-40 ft waves, and health issues with salt sores, blisters and possible infections…

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Not something to be taken lightly…

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But there’s something saintly about their bloodyminded combination of fun and fierce conviction. They bridge the gap between girly girls and inner strength, racing under the banner ‘strong is the new skinny’ and laughing in the jaws of adversity, making it all look like the most glamorous, fabulous romp on the planet. As I type, the girls are in a strong second but things are looking promisingly awful for the whole fleet with significant headwinds of excess of twenty knots expected…

 

Really..who needs reality TV?

Laters, Kate x

Ai Weiwei

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On Friday I went to The Royal Academy of Arts to experience their Ai Wei Wei exhibition and attempt to understand what makes China’s most recognisable yet contentious (Google his name in China and nothing will come up) artist tick.  It’s a brilliant and interesting exhibition where each exhibit, like the best art, holds a powerful message that’s greater than the sum of it’s parts.

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Like ‘Straight’ a gigantic installation made of 150 tons of rebar salvaged from the site of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake and then painstakingly straightened.  A labour of love, now laid out in broken undulations recalling fault lines, it tells of sub-standard building practises, even in the provinces schools, due to rapid expansion and state greed..and the tragic consequence that had for thousands of lives.

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‘Souvenir from Shanghai’ is made from the concrete and brick rubble saved from the artist’s studio which was destroyed under a trumped up planning charge by the authorities.  Through the art, the story is told and immortalised.

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‘He Xe’ both means river crab and harmonious..’harmonious’ is a key concept with the Communist party with their continued aim for an harmonious society no matter what. This play on words, exquisitely made from porcelain and hand painted, is a cultured two fingers to the governments attempts at quashing freedom of expression.  It’s also what 1,000 of Weiwei’s friends feasted on the night before the Shanghai studio was razed to the ground.

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‘Coloured Vases’ shows twelve Han and four neolithic vases covered in bright, industrial paint. It questions what we value and why…antiquity? commerciality? tradition? or change?

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The art is compelling and full of contradictions, sub clause upon sub clause: Manmade versus nature versus human nature versus control, every element down to the source of materials a piece of the puzzle. Yet, I have to confess to a grain of sand in my shoe.  Weiwei’s talent is bringing the human touch to conceptual art and it’s certainly a powerful thing to be able to make ugly things beautiful and change rubble into gold.  But many of the exhibits were stunningly crafted out of prized and expensive material like this pair of immaculately carved jade handcuffs, quietly stating that beautiful things can be ugly. But the pleb in me wanted to know where the money came from to purchase such expensive materials? and more importantly, who were the master craftsmen who physically created these pieces?

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We all know that large studios umbrella the workers beneath, but who actually carved the marvel that is this marble push chair above? In an age when we don’t have time (and possibly the money) for fine craftsmanship, it was a modern joy to see. Maybe it was an administrive error – at Weiwei’s sunflower seed installation in the Tate, every worker was acknowledged so call me a cynic, but I just had a feeling there was a hint of ego stalking these galleries.

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That’s not to say you shouldn’t go or it’s power is dimmed: Rarely has such simplicity sung with such complexity and great calmness.

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Go – because if nothing else, it confirms the truth that art will always conquer censorship by the simple strength of it’s vision, the connections and the memories it makes.

 

Laters, Kate x

Jason deCaires Taylor..

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A true global and renaissance man, Jason deCaires Taylor was born in 1974 to an English father and Guyanese mother.  He then grew up with one foot in Europe, the other in Asia with regular diving trips in Malaysia.  In 1998 he graduated from the London Institute of Arts with a BA honours in Sculpture….before becoming a fully qualified diving instructor, underwater naturalist (Note to friends: That’s not a naked diver) and award winning photographer.

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Then in 2006, off the West Coast of Grenada, he created his first underwater sculpture park and a life blood of creativity was unleashed.

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His work explores the slipstream where Art and Nature collide, the grey area between man’s exploitation of nature for industrial means and the acknowledgement of the fundamental power of the earth: As time begins to colonize the forms it creates it’s own architecture, dramatic pulse and language.

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This pulls on something deep within – the mystery of Atlantis, Pompeii, fairytales..even gothic Victoriana.  They’re a dark presence, yet awe-inspiring at the same time.

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Under the water is a world Jason knows, and through his art he aims to highlight the living beauty of the under world to encourage environmental awareness and instigate social change.

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For anyone who’s heart sank at the news this week that 90% of sea birds have plastic in their stomachs, he’s a crusader you want to stand up and applaud.

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His work isn’t limited to the turquoise depths of Cancun and the Bahamas..this mystical beauty can be found in Canterbury…

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And now, from Sept 1 – 30, on the Thames foreshore at Vauxhall, London, adjacent to Camelford House and 87-90 Albert Embankment, is a new example of his work: The Rising Tide, commissioned by Totally Thames.

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It highlights the role the river has played in the shaping of London’s history.  And how easy it’s been for us to abuse it.

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(All pictures from here and Jason deCaires Taylor’s Facebook page)

These could be horses, but they’re oil pumps..animals of industry, draining the land.

A theme as strong and compelling as any story ever told.

Laters, Kate x

Inner Life, Outer Coat..

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No Joke (hashtag-no-filter-added) this arrived through our door yesterday. ‘Guys, let us inflict extreme pain and fleece your crown jewels (literally) for your hard-earned cash’.  It’s the biggest rip off I’ve seen in a long while….waxing is the love child of the devil with the craft and credentials of Nurse Ratched. And then they have the cheek to call it Serene..

Apparently Essex is the Mordor and birthplace of this spawn and the materialistic home of the pejazzle – a county sadly known more for it’s orange tans and love triangles than brains, a place where this torture is considered an accepted part of male grooming with crystal tattoos (slot eyeballs back in) applied during treatments.  But for this madness to reach the leafy shade of South West London?…it’s the world gone mad. I’ve been against the silly stripping of women to prepubescent levels since the plucked chicken look became a brand – a women should be a woman, it’s one of the things that defines us as adults. Keep things under control by all means…but this phobia against body hair because porn stars want to look like girls? it’s just plain wrong.  And now men want to follow the same route?? All I can say is you’ve got a lot to learn…watch this video without wincing (a man, no less, going through a wax sack and crack..be prepared)..and then, if you still think this is something that floats your boat…don’t look to the Essex boys for advice, skip a few generations of intelligence, ask the girls and google electrolysis.  But believe me, a man obsessed with body hair shrieks of narcissism, sheep and the need for help.  Just don’t do it –  remember everyone loves a man’s man with something to hold onto and plait.

 

Laters, Kate x