Barbara Jones – The Unsophisticated Arts.

Barbara Jones, the English artist, writer and mural painter was way way way before her time. As were her three books “The Unsophisticated Arts” “Design for Death” and Follys and Grottos”.
She belonged to the group of young Royal College of Art artists and illustrators, more well-known than she, who were her contemporaries: John Piper, Edward Bawden and Eric Ravilious.
In 1951 Barbara organised Black Eyes and Lemonade, a Festival of Britain exhibition of popular and traditional art at the ‘Whitechapel Gallery’. She exhibited what she labelled as the “unsophisticated arts”, a ground breaking body of work recognising working class and very British themes and presented them as valid “art forms”. One of the centre pieces to the exhibition was a recreation of a regular 1950’s front room complete with ceramic tiled fireplace, flying ducks, a standard lamp and geometric hearth-rug. She also curated and arranged many of the art exhibitions at the Royal Festival Hall at that time.

 

“Before it was generally fashionable to enjoy the decorative and amusing objects produced by popular art, Barbara Jones was already studying them and collecting them, and she did much for them when she put on the exhibition called ‘Black Eyes and Lemonade’ during the Festival of Britain.  Miss Jones’ house in Hampstead, full of curious and delightful things, is a vivid illustration of her impatience with the chastity of conventional ‘good taste’ and her feeling for invention, fantasy and vitality wherever it may be found.” – Taken from the ‘Black Eyes and Lemonade’ exhibition flyer.

           

I love her book “the Unsophistacated Arts”, Written in 1951 to coincide with the Festival of Britain. Her splendid and richly illustrated survey of British vernacular art. Interested in all things odd, unacknowledged and quirky- with material on firework packaging, taxidermy, pearly Kings and Queens, fairground and circus art, canal boats, seaside, riverside, tattoo art, the decoration of food, waxworks, shops, cemeteries and funerals.  In essence a total recognition of pure british 50’s folk art.
I do think Barbara Jones was fascinating. Her book illustrations and book sleeves gorgeous and highly underrated. She lived and worked in Hampstead, such a shame her home wasn’t pickled and preserved in aspic for future generations, it must have been a treasure trove of inspiration.

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Blame it on the Brunette.

               

               

               

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Thank you Mr Bricolage.

I found this fantastic French cleaning product packaging in Mr Bricolage. Like Robert Dyas on acid, Mr Bricolage is a French hyper market dedicated to home improvements, DIY and nice things. Jon took us to the branch just outside Nimes. The size of an airport terminal, it did not disappoint. Jamie’s favorite destination in the south of France- who needs the beach, Roman arenas,  gallerys and great restaurants when you can go to Mr Bricolage?

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Summer rain.

Today was a deliciously wet day.

Today was a very very wet day, my favorite sort of day.

The smell of the rain was particuarly good today.

Deliciously damp.

We took the dogs for their morning trot through Marble Hill park, with intervals in the car when the rain got too heavy for the little darlings. I took this photo through the rain drenched car window.

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Marie Assenat.

Sheds


This is the most gorgeous work of the French artist and illustrator Marie Assenet. Working from her home and studio in Paris, she creates character filled drawings and naive doodles of objects, animals and people with oodles of personality and presence. Her clients include The New york Times, The  New Yorker and Le Soir. Her Website is beautiful and very inspiring. take a look.

Mutant Geometries

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The Unimportance of being Worthing.

Why Worthing? Well, we had the foggy notion that Worthing may still be steeped in Victorian splendour as it once was, or at least have a faint whiff of that period. Sadly we were mistaken. Aside from some beautiful 19th century buildings scattered through the town and the old pier, Worthing has given up!

Oscar Wilde wrote the Importance of Being Earnest in Worthing as he ‘summered’ with his family in 1894. Now a far cry from Oscar’s Worthing, the disdain and disapproval on Roger’s face speaks volumes. However, the Pavilion theatre on the sea front at the start of the pier is worth checking out. A grand peice of 1920s seaside architecture that Jonathan Meades would go gaga over. It is very pretty. Oh and Worthing has it’s own Symphony Orchestra……imagine.

 

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Baby Dee.

I find myself all consumed by Baby Dee. Performance artist, songwriter, classically trained harpist, circus sideshow veteran, and transgender street legend Baby Dee was born in 1953 in Cleveland, Ohio. She spent ten years as music director and organist for a Catholic church in the Bronx before joining the circus as the bilateral hermaphrodite at Coney Island. She also became a fixture in lower Manhattan as a street act on a high-rise tricycle with a concert harp. I have been lucky enough to see her perform on two separate occasions at TONIC, the Lower East Side’s now defunct intimate music venue on Norfolk Street. A nostalgic and deeply warm collision of harp and piano based chamber music inside a poetic world of love loss and deep yearning. With a voice unlike any other, an impossible combination of the medieval ghost of Judy Garland, trapped inside the body of  Tom Waits playing a Steinway, trapped inside an aviary of songbirds……..perfect.

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A north London boy and two French bulldogs.

My Jamie (Bobsey) and our girls. Our French bulldogs.

Chica our adorable black and white Frenchie we rescued from Barcelona. Unsurprisingly she does love tapas (chorizo in particular), football and Picasso’s “Perro con hueso”. She also understands the spanish word ‘vamos’ among others. Pushka, our little soviet baby is from Moscow. She loves anything red. The snow. Riding in troikas and Stolichnaya sausages, she eats almost anything.

Today our little red fawn baby girl, Pushka aka “Sweetie Sweet” is at the zenith of her season. Being on heat and as randy as buggery, she and her big sister Chica aka “Kitty puss” have been discovering the world of sapphic love. Their full on lesbian doggy display was being observed and enjoyed vicariously at a distance by HANK, Lucy’s one year old male puppy dog. Hmmmm, so the world of teenage boys and ‘girl on girl’ action is also as fascinating in the dog world. Hank has been staying with us while Lucy is away in Sicily. He couldn’t believe his luck, being placed with two such hot bitches!

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Lucy’s studio.

This is inside Lulu’s very inspiring studio space. It’s a bright white room from floor to ceiling peppered with interesting and beautiful things. Whenever I’m there I always want to stay longer than planned and create “stuff”. Paints, papers, inks, pencils AND a sprawling collection of scissors- one for every occasion! This afternoon I went straight for the Conte crayon box.


 

 

 

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Sound advice.

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The difficult first post.

  Just for me.
No client deadlines.
No dealing with the general public.
No performing, no compromising….

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