I’ve done more London-ing in the past week than I have for ages – just at a time when I’m about to stop living in the centre of everything! The first outing was to Dulwich Picture Gallery for the Eric Ravilious exhibition. I have long loved his work and am ever hopeful of delving through a stack of old plates in an innocent junk shop/charity shop (ie one where there is not a bunch of astute antique hunters on the lookout – perhaps I need to start to frequent car boot sales when I move out of London) and chancing upon an original Ravilious design. I made do with buying a print – first purchase for the new house! His ability to create light almost by negative – the blank-spots created by bright sunshine – is remarkable.
The one I bought:
Seriously thought about buying this one:
Glare of light:
It’s always good to have a couple of anecdotes to go along with any outing – I have two related to this one:
Numero uno (In Italian for no particular reason) – I was delighted and very lucky to go to the wedding of Mary Sanver and Eddie Rich in the Dulwich Picture Gallery a few years ago. Sitting there at a very long table set up in the very long main gallery, amongst so many well-know and wonderful paintings, sipping on our white wine (we were not allowed red, for the sake and safety of the pictures), was an absolute delight.
Number two – Back in the sixties I lived in Acton and it was a more than weekly journey from home in Horn Lane, down to the High Street, and across to the old Eden’s Greengrocers in Church Road. On the corner was Ravilious’ men’s wear shop – I seem to remember a window of shirts, socks, and underwear. Later, when I got to know about Eric Ravilious, I checked for a connection, and found that this had belonged to his parents (though, having said that, more recent reading suggests that it may have been the shop of a relative – Eric’s parents certainly lived in Churchfield Road in Acton – where Eric was born – and had a shop there, whilst other members of the family had a couple of further shops).
So, I’ve been searching online for any old photos of the Ravilious shop and along the way came across a photo of an old local Acton and Chiswick twice weekly newspaper. This one just happens to be for Tuesday 1 January 1907 – my Father’s date of birth. Didn’t know before that he’d been born on a Tuesday! One of the stories summarised on the front page is about the “annual banquet” given that very afternoon for the “animals at the Acton Home for Rest for Horses”. The expanded story is partly captured at the bottom of the page:
Here are a few more:
On the dangers of flanelette:
No home should be without one:
Death by burning:
Kindness to a dead employee:
Most of the rest of the front page is taken up with a look back to 1906 and its General Election. The other main story is of a death on the underground:
The second art-related outing of the week was on Sunday – to Tate Modern with my lovely niece, Kali – along the way we saw this thoughtful piece of street equipment for a spot of emergency bike maintenance:
to two exhibitions (thanks to second cousin, R, being a Tate Friend). Agnes Martin, subtle, spare, cool, calm, obsessively and repetitively executed, squares of serenity, elegance and beauty.
Sonia Delaunay, vibrant, bright, bold, paintings, and amazing clothing and fabrics and embroideries – full of verve and vivacity.
Both women lived to a great age and kept on producing throughout their lives. What two excellent exhibitions.
Before all of that though, the morning was spent being regaled – in wonderfully precise accents and with the aid of a diagram – with Kali’s stories of her time in Kythera – in and out of various homes on the island, including that of my Father (the birth day boy mentioned above!) and Athens. This promises to be another wonderful family tale to tell – but perhaps a Winter’s Tale to be unravelled in the dark, cold winter months rather than now – a time to be outdoors and in the sunshine, especially as this was the Summer Solstice.
After the Story of Kythera and the Paternal Home, and before the Art, was The Food! At Pizza East in Portobello Road, a long, slow, serial lunch of shared starter followed by starter, followed by salad, followed by garlic bread, followed by main followed by a waddle to the car and the Tate.
We finished the day with strawberries and chocolate and tea and cards. We played the old family rummy game and imagined Fifi and Veti hurrying us up and checking to be sure we laid down a run and that it added up to 51 and that we played the replaced Joker immediately and that we hurried up and that we were quicker to organise our cards in our hands, whilst at the same time issuing a running commentary on whatever was on the television at the time and serving tea and cake. If we could get all the family women together for one more round of Rummy, what a grand afternoon that would be!