In Montmartre: Picasso, Matisse and Modernism in Paris, 1900-1910, by Sue Roe
This has been the book that has single-handedly thought me most about art, art history and some of the most important artists of the 20th century, from Picasso to Matisse, Braque, Modigliani, Cezanne and more. An incredibly well-documented account of what life in Montmartre looked like for these household names, how their lives intertwined and how their art developed.
This reads almost like a novel which is ideal to keep me engaged. Sometimes it feels like it is blending reality with fiction, but then it seems it is all taken from reliable sources, diaries, letters, press clippings and the like.
There is a series of books by Sue Roe on art and artists, including the prequel to this, The Private Lives of the Impressionists, looking into the lives of Manet, Monet, Pissarro, Cézanne, Renoir, Degas, Sisley, Berthe Morisot and Mary Cassatt, and the sequel, In Montparnasse: The Emergence of Surrealism in Paris, from Duchamp to Dali. Unfortunately, these are not yet available as audiobooks, but I am sure one way or another I will get to enjoy them in the future.
I can’t recommend this book enough if you are interested modern art history.
Around the World in 80 Days
There must be hundreds of cult series I have missed in the past few years alone, probably more than could be watched in a lifetime. And while I am sure there are many that I would find simply brilliant or that would engulf me, somehow, I can’t seem to bring myself to start any.
But give me a BBC mini-series based on Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 days and I will surely press play. No regrets either as this was a beautiful story to watch unfold even though I knew how it will end. A timeless feel-good and purely escapist watch which made me think of my childhood and enjoying some of Mr Verne’s other classics.
I hope you savor it too.
Cameron Hughes Tech Couture
Last week I wrote about the Haute Couture Fall collections, this week I bring you an incredible fashion designer, engineer and inventor changing the rules of the game as we speak when it comes to innovations in avantgarde creations and technology integration.
This purple ‘breathing’ dress by Cameron Hughes is simply brilliant, mesmerizing to watch and beautiful as a garment too. The same goes for his butterfly dress or any of his other creations really. It is honestly so exciting to follow him and see what he might come up with next!
Embroidery and Cross Stitch Kits
Fun fact, as a little girl I used to love to embroider printed canvas beginner’s kits alongside my grandma, using little wooden frames crafted by my grandpa rather than proper embroidery hoops. I have very fond memories of spending my time in this manner. I have been thinking for years to just buy a new kit and do it again but, while there must be hundreds of thousands of designs out there, I never spent time trying to find some that would appeal to me now.
On a quick stroll through Liberty London last week though I visited their haberdashery and there they were, beautiful kits by Appletons celebrating writers like Virginia Woolf, Jane Austen and Oscar Wilde, detailed three dimensional floral kits by Rowandine, and cross stitch tapestry kits by Bothy Threads celebrating William Morris designs, among others. Of course, this prompted me to do more research and this is how I also discovered the DMS art inspired kits, some created in partnership with the National Gallery and the V&A Museum.
I then remembered a long time ago saving the link to another brand creating really cool embroidery kits inspired by the stories of Rudyard Kipling or Aesop’s fables. Also worth checking their beautiful series on Night at the Circus or Musicians.
It just goes to show that this particular idea has never been too far from my thoughts actually. I really must take it up and now I am thinking of a project as a gift for my son, to have and hopefully treasure into adulthood, as something that can always remind him of his childhood, his home and me.
Ex Libris Game
I should start a series, The things I buy for myself from Charity Stores and carboot markets. Truth be told, I have discovered many exquisite finds in these places and it’s always all the more satisfying as they are always bargains too.
On a quick tour last weekend, I uncovered this gem – Ex Libris: The Game Of First Lines & Last Words, created by the British Library and the Bodleian Library in Oxford. A beautiful packaging hosts 100 cards highlighting the first and last words of classics from a variety of genres. I initially thought the way you play is by reading these and trying to guess the book, but the suggested way of playing is actually much more complicated – to give the name of the book and ask the participants to write the first and last lines from memory, shuffle these together with the correct one and then ask participants to vote for the one they think is the original. Albeit probably more fun, this is also more difficult for sure, but there is nothing stopping anyone from playing which ever version they prefer or inventing a new one.
I am hoping I get to try it soon with my best friend or my sister-in-law. I think this would make a cool gift for a bibliophile and even though it is sold out on their website, I spotted it on Amazon and also on eBay.
My mom has been making rose confiture for years, even decades, but I never actually tasted ituntil this week. Walking in on her a couple of months ago when visiting while she was making it felt like stepping into a fairytale for a few seconds. The big bowl of pink and very fragrant roses on our kitchen table looked like a centerpiece, certainly not like ingredients for food.
There are specific types of roses you can grow and use to make rose jam, not all, and my mom’s recipe is very simple: a plate of petals rubbed with lemon zest added to boiling sugar syrup made of one kilogram of sugar and one cup of water. Add lemon zest and lemon slices. It is sweet, but you can definitely taste the roses. A real delicacy to be savored with a silver teaspoon.
Fortnum and Mason have a range of jam, jellies, marmalades and preserves which include rose petals, but you can find variations in many stores.
This week I’ve been called an ‘old soul’ for wearing a bright pink granny chic outfit and for my admiration of William Morris. I realized I didn’t know exactly what this expression means. I thought it synthetizes my old lady habits and interests and my feeling that my old age will be my best age, the fact that I am actually looking forward to being 60 and sometimes I act as if I were already because it feels good. I am an old lady at heart.
Now, the Urban Dictionary definition is a bit different, it goes deeper and more meaningful – Someone who has a greater appreciation and understanding of things that might be dismissed by others their age. An old soul would have a different taste in things than the mainstream media. They are often wise beyond their age or appearance.
It’s a flattering thing to be called, for sure, and to a certain degree, I identify with this description (but less so with some of the (very specific) traits indicated by the almighty internet). In any case, it feels like a secret society or members club and it has a lovely ring to it, so I’ll take it.
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