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Showing posts from 2017

On her own terms

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I sit and write this evening after an wonderfully exhilarating visit to the Vanessa Bell retrospective at Dulwich Picture Gallery.  There were over 100 oil paintings, book cover designs, fabric and rug designs, as well as photographs ranging from the early 1900s until just before her death in 1961.  The exhibition was split into themes, such as still life, portraits, and showed just how wide ranging and hugely interesting her work is.



Vanessa Bell is often subsumed as an artist into the whole Bloomsbury group, where she can feel like a shadowy figure behind Duncan Grant, rather than an equally interesting and important artist of that time.  She didn't stand still, she was influenced by the Post Impressionists and by Matisse in her early years, but she developed her own styles over time, painting subjects she was interested in, decorating her homes as she wanted, and designing fabrics that still look modern a hundred years after she designed them.


At her best she was bold and expe…

A Novel Experience...

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“That's what I love about reading: one tiny thing will interest you in a book, and that tiny thing will lead you to another book, and another bit there will lead you onto a third book. It's geometrically progressive - all with no end in sight, and for no other reason than sheer enjoyment.”   ― Mary Ann Shaffer, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Sometimes when life feels painful, overwhelming or difficult, or even just slightly dull, the only thing that can make it feel better is reading a book.  Immersing oneself into someone else's story, can sometimes be the only thing that allows you to get away from real life and enter into another world entirely.  Novels by Barbara Pym, Elizabeth Jane Howard or Mary Wesley are particularly interesting to me, and I always love reading a good murder mystery, especially from the 1930s and 40s.
Although I've been a bookworm for most of my life, in the last year when my life has been quite tough, I'…

Deep shame and wild abandon

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I've recently become quite obsessive about the art of Auguste Rodin.  Luckily Southampton Art Gallery has several of his sculptures on show.  There is a work called 'Crouching Woman' which seems like an almost impossible figure. There is something almost frog like about the pose, although much like many of Rodin's female figures, there is something very earthy, uninhibited and intimate about it.  Its alternative title is 'Lust' and he does indeed seem to rejoice in the female form in a very real way.

Rodin's Eve, a version of which is also at Southampton, was modelled by his some time mistress and much underrated artist, Gwen John.  Unlike the majority of his female figures, this shows a different side to womanhood, a deep shame and sadness.  Eve is ashamed of our gaze at her naked body, she tries to hide herself.
There has been much discussion about the way women are portrayed in art,  where women are often seen as either saints or sinners, as pious or wa…

Why Mildred Lathbury?

As this is a new blog, I wanted to explain why I've called it the Musings of Mildred Lathbury.  In the last year, as so many things in my life have changed, I have rediscovered the wonderful writings of Barbara Pym.  I even wrote about my love for her work in an old blog post. which you can read here:-

http://taleshazelcottage.blogspot.co.uk/2016/09/the-small-things-of-life.html

Barbara Pym's writings are often about spinsters and subtle longings, but the timeless way she describes the inner monologue of her characters has really struck a chord.  The main character of Excellent Women was one Mildred Lathbury, a wonderfully real character,  who made me laugh and cry in equal measure.

“My thoughts went round and round and it occurred to me that if I ever wrote a novel it would be of the 'stream of consciousness' type and deal with an hour in the life of a woman at the sink.”  ― Barbara Pym, Excellent Women

I often wonder about painting a portrait of how I think Mildred s…

Losing oneself

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It is often said that one can lose something of oneself in a long term relationship.  It is easy to almost merge your interests and lose a sense of your own individuality.  This blog is my attempt to write about things that excite and interest me and perhaps also a need to claim something of my own back at a time of confusion and change.

Today at Southampton City Art Gallery, there were several very interesting works, including Mark Gertler, Gilbert Spencer, Graham Sutherland and Lucien Pissarro.  I was most struck however by two specific paintings which made a difference to how I felt about the day as a whole.

I was drawn to  Frederick Gore - Olive Trees, Les Baux, (1948) from across the familiar airy space of the gallery.  The zest and power of the oranges and greens seemed more alive and vital to me that anything else.  My battered old soul was lifted up and felt reconnected with life.  So much of life has recently seemed so bruised and sore and sad, and this painting, one with whi…