Patricia by Patricia

Patricia by Patricia
Patricia by Patricia

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Modern Couples at the Barbican

Auguste Rodin was in a relationship with Camille Claudel from 1882 to 1892 while this work was being created. Jane Alison curator writes, "While their professional and intimate relationship fuelled their inspiration for a decade, Claudel ultimately sought her creative independence from Rodin. She continued to pursue a new direction in her own work until 1905, but their final break up and her precarious financial situation aggravated her mental health. At her family’s request, she was incarcerated in 1913 and passed away in 1943 after 30 years of solitary exile." 

At the Barbican Art Center we met our artist friends Boyd and Evans to see  Modern Couples: Art, Intimacy and the Avant-garde. But what we really ended up doing was reading about the couples included in this show as there was very little visual stimulus.   The curator of this show Jane Alison  somehow managed to take artist couples who were undoubtedly full of exotic erotic sexual deeds and extracted the driest possible images of their lives together. There is a famous movie from the 70's called No Sex Please, We're British and it appears that sex is often the subject of the show but seems to also be absent from the exhibition. Over 50 couples are explored in so many rooms that we all had crossed eyes and visual indigestion. 

But when I was studying art history, I was taught little about the lives of the artists. This gathering of data made me concentrate on the relationships that existed while works of art were being created.  The text is very educational but reading it in the comfort of your own home is a much improved way of getting this information. You can have practically the same experience I did just Download the Large Print Exhibition Guide

There are a few exceptions. Tamara de Lempicka as part of the lesbian  group encouraged by  Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own is represented by the image below. Although we see the works of Frida Kohla, Barbara Hepworth and Georgia O'Keefe, most of the women in this display were less well known that their male counterpoints. So it was good to see them take equal stage space at the Barbican.

Tamara de Lempicka
Federico García Lorca and Salvador Dalí are described thus, "The extent of their sexual relationship is unclear." But letters to Lorca from Dali include, "You are a Christian storm and you are in need of some of my paganism [...] I will go get you and give you some seaside medicine. It will be winter and we will light a fire. The poor beasts will be trembling with the cold. You will recall that you are an inventor of marvelous things and we will live together with a portrait machine..." 

I enjoyed reading about Emilie Flöge and Gustav Klimt who had a relationship between 1892–1918.  Flöge was a fashion designer in Vienna and " for a short time at least they were also romantically involved."  It was easy to imagine the dresses she designed on his models. "They were also fervent advocators of the Secession’s promotion of the Gesamtkunstwerk or ‘total work of art’ that championed an integration of art and design in every aspect of life."  We saw many artist teams, which were activist. 

Images in this blog are not always the images in the show since no photography was allowed. I have used illustrations available online 

Thursday, January 24, 2019

The Cotwolds: Purton and Cirencester

We really enjoyed the New Brewery Arts Gallery in Cirencester (pronounced like Siren Cester) where there was a lovely exhibition of hand painted signs Sign UP...evidently there are still 300 sign painters still working in the UK and the art is being revived. The team of Colin and Louise Hawkins were also on site at this craft center, blowing and etching glass. 

This is lettered on a skateboard!

I could not resist posting what looks like a rubbing...I am a sucker for all things Darwin.

See the detail below as this is back painted and embellished on glass.. You would swear it was raised letters, but it is completely flat. So glad someone is still doing this technique. 

Gallery View

Colin and Louise Hawkins

Lunch at Made by Bob also in Cirencester was chic and trendy.  Bob Parkinson is a former head chef at Bibendum one of our favorite restaurants in London. Located in the newly refurbished Corn Hall, we especially like the fish soup. Corn Hall also host the Friday antique fair and I bought some useful used leather gloves lined in fur which later fell apart! But I replaced them with good warm gloves that can be worn while using a cell phone. When the weather is cold, this is very useful indeed. I know, not much use in southern CA but I am not done traveling yet.  

Fish soup with garlic sauce and Parmesan topped crouton.

Beet salad with creamy goat cheese was a little funky.

Darwin at this time was still waiting for his fish and chips but eventually had haddock and chips twice and with a full English breakfast once to complete his must have food in the UK. 

We went to The Organics Farm Shop recommended by my friend Peter Logan. His instructions were perfect, including the cones warning of the bump which we navigated smoothly! We bought some lovely things including an England Walnut Tart which we are planning to share on Monday with friends from Scotland coming to stay overnight. I was tempted by the textiles but having just come from India decided to give it a miss.. Much colder today so glad to be back home in Purton with a cup of ginger tea.

We had a wonderful Indian meal at the local last night The Maharajah...very mild but wonderful flavor...a mussala chicken and kurma lamb.   I have seen these spelled all sorts of ways like massala and korma, I think, but of course every restaurant has its own recipes. These were an intense red for the chicken and yellow ochre color for the lamb and just delicious. We had okra and naan bread with it and we have leftovers as well. I know we are pathetic, but we really enjoyed this version and the chance to eat Indian-type food that we were unable to eat in India.

I know I should be showing photos to you of the roaring fire and the cozy bar at  The Wild Duck Inn, part of the Lucky Onion group, and the abundant plates of food. This includes Cornish mussels in a cider and bacon sauce, roast pork with crackling, roast potatoes, carrot and parsnip, cauliflower cheese and Yorkshire pudding (with no room for pudding dessert) but instead I am including these moss covered rocks and toad stool seat because they photographed better than the rest and were more symbolic of the lovely drive through the country side we took to get to this eatery. 

The Bell at Sapperton and The Chequers outside of Stratford on Avon. 

KFP: Kentucky Fried Pheasant

Sticky Toffee Pudding

It is time to go home…I know this as I can’t possibly eat another meal at a gastropub.  We had lamb burgers and confit of duck and a pheasant burger (KFP instead of KFC)  pheasant pieces bound together in a nice sauce and then breaded and deep fried and served on a bun with lettuce and tomato. I made the wise decision to only eat half but only so the table could have sticky toffee pudding.  AND we stopped at an Aldi and they have wonderful fresh pastry so we have chocolate croissants, fig and walnut loaf, cheese buns and white chocolate chip cookies as friends were coming for tea and breakfast. Needless to say there were leftovers. 

Most of our errands were done in Royal Wooten Basset. I tell you this as I just like saying Royal Wooten Basset....sounds like a place in a P.G. Wodehouse novel where Bertie Wooster would live. Lots of small towns are suffering with empty shops, but in the UK these are all given over to charity resale emporiums. Royal Wooten Basset has 5 of them on the high street which is a lot considering there are only about 30 shops in this hamlet. Recycling is an ongoing way of life here through these efforts. 

Back to CA for us and only salads, where the richest thing we should eat is the occasional avocado. 

Lovely little cow sculpture in the garden of the The Bell. It was actually snowing when I took this image which appears to be in the fog. 
If any of you are interested in Brexit, we did get an earful from our much so that one man banned us from talking about it at a lunch party! A general consensus is not possible except that everyone agrees it is a mess. Equal time was given to Trump...nuff said. 

One more day in this space for the last blog from our travels once we return home. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Barnsley House Hotel and Spa


Sometimes you are just plain lucky. The Village Pub in Barnsley was closed for kitchen renovations  and they directed us to the slightly more expensive but vastly superior Barnsley House Hotel and Spa where we had lunch in the Potager dining room. But we started with drinks in one of the several sitting rooms at the open fire to study the menu and have a first glass of wine. Our meal began with a double baked cheese soufflé which was crispy on the outside, puffed and then super creamy in the inside served on a bed of matchstick apples slices and greens. Darwin had cod but I went all out for the local venison served with red cabbage, sprouted broccoli and the most amazing whipped potato purée. Darwin always asked, “How do they make it so good without butter?” Of course, they USE butter! We finished with a beautiful raspberry sorbet on a lemon tart. But the meal was only the beginning of the adventure.  There was a light drizzle but  we decide to explore the grounds before we made our way home. A series of outside rooms awaited us, with shaped topiary, the occasional folly, the portage garden, the kitchen garden and the herb/healing  garden. We also popped our heads into the very modern glass spa. Just take a look at these photos and dream!

Twice baked cheese souffle

Did we like it, you bet!

Raspberry Sorbet and Lemon tart

The loo had a fireplace

Wellington boots for all comers

A glass paradise hidden behind a hedge

Monday, January 14, 2019

India: Monuments and Museums 2019

What can you say (after just a few weeks) about a big complicated, mysterious, ancient, dynamic country that is India. I guess you have to be a big complicated, mysterious, old and not too tired person to tackle this task. I may not have all those requisites, but I am going to have a stab at a very few things I noticed. And my husband Darwin and I did manage an elephant ride and a crazy rickshaw ride through old Delhi which reminded us that we are ancient.

Our first days were completely occupied with Great Big Indian Wedding: Cultural event that ends my year!. We then toured the golden triangle of Jaipur, Agra and New Delhi with a hearty group of mixed aged fellows mostly from San Diego and all part of the wedding party.  Our limited view did not take in the Hindu south, the scenic east or even the borders to the north. We passed through mainly flat land with scubby fields, some interest brick making structures and a large number of sacred cattle. The air this time of year was full of fog, not cold but smog filled, which lent a picturesque mystery to the landscape as trees and buildings faded in and out of view.

We saw the Taj Mahal just before sunset and it almost blended into the skyscape at that time of late afternoon. 

Our tour guides concentrated on Muslim mosques, tombs and monuments which were preserved and restored from the 17th century. Those are the tourist attraction of this area. Muslims, as you know, don’t believe in depictions of sentient beings so they eradicated so much of what was here before. The early column and lintel entrances, plain arched entrances are mainly replaced by the more decorative arches. This produced a great variety of intricate designs.

* Please note:  we took two days off sick and the guide changed the order of some of our visits so the names might be a bit confused. I have done my best to identify cities and monuments.


Hawa  Mahal, palace of the winds built for the harem so that they could sit at the windows and view the scene below without being seen. Just one room wide, this is more of a facade than a real building. But it was typical of the beauty of this pink city. 

We arrived by elephant up a steep 20 minute trail to the Amber Fort. I wish I could tell you I had video of this trip, but it was all I could do to hold on to my seat!

The bride and 4 bridemaids!

Hall of Mirrors

Stunning building right in the middle of the lake. Our guide told us this will be a restaurant but it has been held up for 3 years by permits. 

Agra and the Taj Mahal

House for the husband Mughal  emperor Shah Jahan to live in while the Taj was being built as a tomb for his wife.  Duplicate building on the other side was a mosque for the prayers of the workers so they did not lose too much time praying 6 times a day.  Shah Jahan was going to build a duplicate in black on the other side of the river with a silver bridge connecting the two. This was to be his resting place, but instead one of his sons murdered all the rest of the sons (older and younger) and imprisoned his father in a tower.  Saving grace was that he had a view of the Tag Mahal.  All Mughal emperors were Muslim and ruled by force. 

New Delhi

We visited the Jama Masjid, the largest mosque in India but you had to pay to take photos and I was pretty exhausted by that time. But we did observe Mahatma Gandhi memorial at Rajhat which was simple and moving, before going on to the Hamayun's Tomb 

Memorial to Gandhi

Hamayuns Tomb

Nizamuddin Basti was on the tomb property and part of the Urban Renewal Initiative. We were told the residents were sometimes paid to visit these renovations and become involved in the tourist industry. 

I did delight in seeing museums full of a wider section of artifacts from all over India. This is the selection at the Albert Hall Museum in Jaipur

8th century AD Stone Goddess sculpture

Early black stone sculpture from the Jain period.

This black stone sculpture is of a dwarf avatar of Vishnu and the story goes that he could have all the territory he could cover in three strides. He was a trickster and changes into a giant and then dominated. 

4th century life size statue in buff colored sand stone of  Yakshi, a divine damsel of love and beauty

I could not resist including two of the series of small sculptures of yogi poses. 

And two shelves of many of this weird variety of faces and hats.

Bikaner Gold Lacquer Ware on Pottery from Rajasthan, late 19th century

Chillhams are clay pots used to smoke opium and were introduced just after the Mojhal courts came to India.

Bahawalpur Surahi Kagazi  (Paper thin) double handled water bottle with triangular cut work on rim, Bahawalpur, 19th century.

These rounds boxes reminded me of those made to roll around on elaborate carpets to make the patterns come to life. 

Two intricately carved ivory pieces. Much of the display was not labelled with dates.

What we saw was some very old, trusted religious observances like the sacred cows in the streets taking priority over traffic and cleanliness and mosques which no longer seemed to be used by religious prayer but with places for rugs to face mecca and the necessity to remove shoes before visiting. This was juxtaposed with a cacophony of merchants’ signs in English, hoards of hawkers trying to get us to buy their goods, mothers using small children to beg for alms, and the most lavish of fabrics whirling around us in markets and on ladies of every caste.  Just like the cows, men were peeing but also washing in the streets, one man I noticed was even shaving using his cell phone as a mirror.

We mostly felt very safe but challenged by public toilets facilities that were universally disgusting. Our very privileged stay in 5 star hotels was soon considered a necessity as Darwin and I particularly could not manage the very spicy food and even those thought very mild by Indians, but gave us Delhi Belly and indigestion. We must have been seen to be very fussy to the locals, but we both suffered from bad colds probably brought on by the air quality with the even present exposure in airplanes and I ended up with a terrible rash soon after I arrived in the UK. We took precaution with Malaria and Typhoid and sprayed for non-existent bugs with Deet and are happily recovering, but I would suggest the trip to India is something you should do while younger in your life to have the stamina that is required.

You really want to develop a mindset that is accepting to this culture to fully enjoy it. Throw out the American standards and see how living with a cow as an equal might free you to enjoy life in a completely different way.  

On our rickshaw ride over every pothole in Old Delhi we saw overhead a continuous knot of wires leading us to wonder if this is the call center to which we are directed for help with IT. 

In this photo, I was somehow able to capture the serene beauty of this very populated country in an image that could have come out of a French turn of the century landscape. I will probably best remember India in this way. 

On our last two extra days in Delhi, the Poteets and I had an opportunity to visit some private contemporary galleries as well as the National Gallery of Modern Art. I was ready to be re-engaged in the present or at least near past. The installation about the Salt March of 1947 was one of the highlights. See the last of three parts of this report for more about India: Modern and Contemporary Art .