Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Anguis in herba

A real snake in the grass: a diamond python (morelia spilota) lying dozing near the water at Patonga, New South Wales. Wikipedia says "some forms can be more irascible than others", but this snake, although it was at least 6ft long, paid scant attention to over-excited photographers and lay quietly, not to say complacently, just outside its hole.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

O dear

Yesterday, in one of those moments when you feel lucky to be alive, I steered a crew in an OC6 through the harbour. The sun was shining, the wind was in our hair, and the eggshell of the Opera House was gleaming in the distance. There were ferries and yachts and pleasure craft everywhere, and our little boat boldly made its way though all of the chaos. The wind was behind us, the crew's timing was perfect, and we rode gentle rolling waves in towards the harbour bridge.

Today, I looked out of the window at another beautiful sky, only to be assaulted by this statement. Is it a smoke ring? Is it the second letter of a cry for help? No, it's a sign, desecrating the beautiful blue Sydney sky, that an American mega-celebrity and "world's most influential person" is in town. (Watch out for terrible puns about "the Oprah House".) Apparently they have also, cravenly, allowed a neon "O" to appear on the harbour bridge - I was spared this sight yesterday; it might have taken the sheen off the day. I'm happy that she is female, and black, and ascended from a terribly impoverished background to her current heights, but I don't want her to have the sky too.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

There goes the fear

At the foot of the wall in Pine Lane, and just to the right of the little red scooter, a peculiar little clay model has appeared. It's a TV remote control with "FEAR" written on it. It's discreetly tucked away in a place where it's hardly noticeable: another little secret. It's a pretty obvious statement about people being controlled by their own fear, but it also makes me think of people sitting mindlessly in front of their TVs - like the couple who live across the way, who have a beautiful roof terrace, but are never seen on it because they are sitting inside watching their garganto-TV instead.

Friday, December 03, 2010

The reader

When I was 18, just after moving to Glasgow to go to university, I bought a copy of Lanark by Alasdair Gray and was completely bewitched by it. I had dreams afterwards about growing scales on my skin. I related the dystopian landscape of the book with what I saw in Glasgow at the end of the twentieth century, just beginning its economic recovery and rehabilitation with events like the Glasgow Garden Festival (a visit here was the last time I saw my granny before she died; the cheerful newness of the showhouses and a cheap showcase of "modern" design are what I remember) and the accolade of European City of Culture (1990).

I had my precious, battered and well-read copy of Lanark until 1993. It was borrowed by my then-flatmate G to take across the Atlantic, on a boat-delivery mission from Cyprus to the British Virgin Islands. He got sick and had to get off the boat in Minorca, leaving my book behind; on its continued journey, it was seized upon by the captain's girlfriend, who decided it would be a fine wheeze to tear out each page upon reading it and cast it into the sea. On arrival in the BVI, she threw the carcass away.

Favourite books are a special possession in a way that few other things are. I can happily leave a thriller on a plane or in a hotel room for someone else to read, but I sometimes lie awake at night worrying about the safety of books left in the attic of a house in North London. This callous behaviour with someone else's book, by someone who later went to clown school, has always struck me as being an unforgiveable act of vandalism.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Transports of delight

One thing that's very different about Sydney, compared to Hong Kong, is the amazing proliferation of street art. In the area where I live, Chippendale, everywhere I look there seems to be a mural, or graffiti, or a subtle little stencil like the one shown (seen in Pine Lane). Sites like Acid Midget document street art all over Sydney. Some of it can be crass, or vulgar, and occasionally there's heavy-handed political posturing; but then I'll see something like this one, which is a little secret message from the artist to the viewer. (I used to ride a Vespa around London so I have a special fondness for scooters.)

(Thanks to elj, who captures street art around Newtown, for prompting me to photograph this little vision.)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Stuck in a moment

Perhaps partly because I've just been reading a novel about a WWII Russian spy by Alan Furst, and also because I've always been interested in that era (Gitta Sereny's majestic biography of Albert Speer, Hitler's Willing Executioners – which I read, incongruously, on a beach in Fuertaventura – If This Is A Man, Stalingrad and, absurdly, Wolfenstein), I was struck by the beauty and mystery of this picture, taken by Mark Hogencamp in Marwencol, the miniaturised battleground he built in his own back garden while recovering from a beating that left him brain-damaged. His tragic story has been turned into a documentary.

Found via the website Look At This Little Thing!

Monday, November 08, 2010

Call the cops

When I was about 8 years old, I had a crush on a boy called Derek, who was in my class at primary school. He was tall and thin, with swept back blond hair and a cynical look which I found wildly attractive: he was a romantic hero straight out of one of the too-old-for-me books I was fond of reading. He was an extremely fast runner, to add to his allure; my short-lived career as a runner (third in the East Lothian Schools' 200 metres in 1977) may well have been founded on (and certainly foundered on) an attempt to either emulate, or impress, Derek. Of course, he didn't even know I existed.

Not long afterwards my brother and sister and I were taken out of school to continue our schooling in a more maverick fashion, and I never saw Derek again.

My mum just emailed me to tell me that two policemen had arrived at her front door. She confessed to thinking "What have I done now?", having all too recently had an absurd brush with the law involving a knocked over bollard in a supermarket carpark, an off-duty policeman and jobsworth, and a summons to appear in court; but they were just following up on a local burglary. One of them asked after me and my sister; it turned out to be my very early hero, Derek, who's now a local copper. And somehow – perhaps because I still, risibly, harbour a secret yearning to be a police officer myself – that has really impressed me.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Amazing cakes

From Black Star Pastry in Newtown. In order of appearance: Persian fig, orange and pistachio cake ($6); salted chocolate and caramel tart (seen in a slightly dishevelled, but still beautiful, state after the ravages of a journey back home in the basket of my bicycle) ($4); and elderflower and pistachio cheesecake ($6). They tasted as good as they look. Apparently Black Star Pastry also does extremely good pies - including an award-winning lamb shank pie which I am already dreaming about.

Black Star Pastry on Urbanspoon

Saturday, October 30, 2010

What do I get?

“My mother once said, ‘We were too poor to be photographed.’ And there began my life’s fascination with the medium.”
Linder Sterling

Friday, October 29, 2010

Wings of desire

When I was about 8, I was unlucky enough to participate in an exercise with a group of other kids, both younger and older, where we were asked in turn what we wanted to do when we grew up. Bearing in mind that this was the antediluvian days of the mid-1970s, and despite the fact that these were the kids of my parents' friends, artists, hippies, musicians and the like, and perhaps should have been a bit more enlightened (having said that, from experience this often turns out not to be the case: people who pursue what they regard as an alternative lifestyle can often be surprisingly conservative), when I said that I wanted to be a pilot, peals of mocking laughter rang out. Clearly it was ridiculous for a girl to want to be a pilot, because that is a man's job.

One of the other kids played to the gallery with his answer which was "shoplifting, gluesniffing, stealing". This got the laughs he was after (although it may have been as accurate a prediction as anyone else's).

About 15 years later, having gone on an entirely different career path, I had a flying lesson from RAF Turnhouse, near Edinburgh. Despite the excitement of taking the controls for take-off and landing, speaking on the two-way radio, flying over my childhood home, and circling over the Forth road and rail bridges, it quickly became apparent that the career I had dreamed about would not have been a smart choice for someone who gets violently airsick.

A woman who had drifted around the edges of my parents' group of friends came to our house for the day, not long after the career path humiliation ritual. She was a bit of an old, sad figure in my view (horrifyingly, I realised on thinking about it that she was probably younger than I am now), a slightly bulky woman with bleached blonde hair, an oversized baggy mohair jumper, and a miserable expression on her face. She didn't seem to know what to do with herself. The porous clay mug from which she drank her tea was so throughly imbued with the reek of her perfume that it didn't wash off for months. My sister and I cruelly dubbed her "Shoplifting, Gluesniffing, Stealing" and the poor woman has no name other than this in my memory.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Post modern

My sister's art school boyfriend (Ben), in the 1980s, tried at one time or another to send her the following items in the mail:

- an arrow (for Valentine's Day)
- a hard boiled egg (it cracked)
- a toffee apple (it "ruined 20 pieces of mail" said the postie, clearly very satisfied by being able to impart this news)

Looking back, it's amazing the patience with which these items were processed. History does not reveal how many missives were unsuccessful (but Ben might).

I saw a book somewhere of letters which someone had posted to herself with puzzles (crosswords, word games, join the dots etc) instead of the address. If the postie solved the puzzle (and they often did) the address was revealed. It's a clever idea and it seemed as though some of the posties really quite enjoyed the challenge, although I'm sure quite a few of the letters got binned in exasperation.

(Thanks to My Rusty Sieve for sparking this off with a post about W. Reginald Bray, "The Human Letter", who was a pioneer in the field and a wild experimenter. He posted a turnip, a bowler hat, a bicycle pump, shirt cuffs, seaweed, a clothes brush, and a rabbit's skull. Following those triumphs, he posted first his Irish terrier and then himself .)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Streets of your town

Sometimes Sydney will unexpectedly remind me of Edinburgh: a certain slant of light, or an old building, or the texture of the stones. I usually think of Melbourne as being more akin to Edinburgh, as Sydney is akin to Glasgow: the former genteel, maybe a little smug; the latter brash, sometimes full of itself. Walking down Bridge Lane in the CBD, the first half of the alley was glistening with plastic bunting as part of the Art & About festival. There was a nightclub, apparently called FAKE, at the corner. And a beautiful archway led to Bridge Road, and the light coming through it, and the fact that Bridge Lane seemed like a secret known only by the people walking through it, made me imagine for a moment that I was in a close in the Old Town of Edinburgh, somewhere near the Royal Mile.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Doors of perception

Ever since I was a kid I've loved secret gardens and hidden away places: my imaginary house has a wooden gate with a little door in it, through which you enter a garden with overhanging trees and a winding path to the front door (this is based on a vague memory of a flaking cream-painted wooden doorway in the town where I was born, Haddington, East Lothian, which led to a potter's workshop and not to a mysterious garden, but I have adapted it for my own purposes). I see myself, fancifully, wandering barefoot through French windows into the dewy grass in the morning with a cup of coffee in my hand.

Kong's urban landscape, being very new, for the most part, has a low quota of surprises; in Sydney, I've been enjoying the ancient buildings, many of which are now being refurbished as the areas around the city centre rapidly gentrify. This doorway is contemporary, but has gracefully met the challenge of its surroundings and is also blending in beautifully; blink and you'd miss it. There's an enigmatic stairway behind the gate and no sign of what's beyond.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Turn suburbia upside down

I went to a fancy dress party for someone's birthday a couple of years ago. The theme was "Rock stars" so I went as Debbie Harry (and judging by the photos, unfortunately I looked, in my blonde wig and silver top, more like Debbie Harry now than Debbie Harry then). Someone else had also come as Debbie Harry, with a very similar wig. On reflection she may have been unwilling to acknowledge that we were both (equally unsuccessfully) trying to look like Debbie in the glory years circa "Parallel Lines" (at which point she was already 33), or perhaps she was just a bit doolally; in any case, her first reaction on seeing me was to gush "Oh! You've come as that Toyota!"

She meant, of course, Toyah: the middle class poster girl for punk, whose risible hit "I Wanna be Free" must have struck fear into the hearts of sixth form common room prefects and Home Counties G&T-drinkers everywhere with its stirring refrain "I'm gonna turn this world - UPSIDE DOWN!" and, sensibly, "I don't wanna be told what to wear - so long as you're warm, who cares?". Toyah was on the front of Smash Hits, suspiciously perfectly made up with sky blue skin and tiny birds circling above her eyebrows. Toyah hadn't actually shaved her head; she'd gelled the sides. It's a mystery, indeed, how Toyah ever got taken seriously. Even as a credulous 12 year old I was a bit suspicious of her. Even I could tell that the threat to "crawl through the alleyways BEING VERY LOUD!" was a bit pathetic.

And so it came to pass that Toyah became an actress, married Robert Fripp, and was most recently to be seen campaigning against the construction of a centre for asylum seekers near her village in Worcestershire.

And in case you wondered: yes, I was both offended and amused to be mistaken for Toyota.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Kind of blue

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Dresses by London-based designer Osman Yousefzada for his Osman line, also worn here by Anna Friel (it's a beautiful dress, and she looks great in it, though I'm not entirely sure about the legs akimbo look). Victoria Beckham was so impressed with Osman's column dress that she borrowed the dress and then, ahem, paid homage to it with a dress in her own collection. Dresses from Matches (and they are reassuringly expensive too).

Monday, September 27, 2010

Another season passes by you

It sounds trite, but I find that one of the interesting things about Australia is that when you look at the sky, you know you're in a big country. There's something about the sheer scale of the land mass which seems to impact on the clouds which always seem so much higher in the sky than they are where I grew up, in Scotland, where louring, rain-filled, threatening clouds of slate-grey hue sometimes seem close enough to touch. Even in countryside north of Sydney, in the Hawkesbury Valley which is farmland like the landscapes I'm used to and has similar contours, there would be no waking up from a long journey and mistaking it for East Lothian.
This picture was taken from the balcony last night. It's spring, the days are sunny but the nights are cool, and the moon beamed through the clouds above the city.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Another country

I've moved cities, from Hong Kong to Sydney. I have a bit of time in hand before I start my new job and have created a new blog, A Place A Day, to give me an incentive to go out every day and find somewhere new. It's been a satisfying experience, although I find that as usual I have put pressure on myself to complete it every day; during a week I was spending at work, I only managed one post and felt strangely guilty about it. I'm so used to working full time in a proper role; I'm in a strange limbo where I no longer have any responsibility for Asia and have yet to take on any responsibility in Australia. It's taken a few weeks but I am beginning to enjoy it.

In the meantime I am also enjoying sitting in the sunshine on the balcony every morning with a takeaway latte and a (terrible, on my first attempt) homemade muffin; buying flowers (beautiful ranunculus and straight-as-a-die tulips); and cycling along civilised streets on civilised cycle paths looking for interesting places.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Vo Vo voom

At work this week, I attended a meeting of the managers of one of our government contracts. It took place in a drab government office with awkward chairs and yellowing sellotape still stuck to the wall from long-gone admonitory posters. The managers, who'd moved from Castlereagh Street bringing their giant desks with them, were apparently much more well behaved than usual because I was there; and to top it all off, someone had very thoughtfully bought a packet of Iced VoVos which were served on chipped plates. The Iced VoVo is an old-fashioned kind of biscuit, which was described to me as being "the kind of biscuit that old ladies have when you go round to see them". I'd never come across one before and was quite delighted with them - so much so that I ate four. It's a thin biscuit topped with a stripe of jam, banked by two strips of sprinkled coconut. Colourful, tasty, and satisfyingly old fashioned: coupled with the surroundings, I could have been in a meeting in 1975.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010


Tabitha Simmons Clodagh wedges. Seen in Lane Crawford; picked up, tried on, sighed over. Over $1000? Never.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Friday, September 03, 2010

I am beautiful and clean

These beautiful, and beautifully wrapped, objects arrived in a parcel from Singapore this morning. From Vice and Vanity. I love the witty little skeletal arm on the perspex necklace, and the uncompromising uniqueness of the golden half-moon. Objects to display as well as wear.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Furniture

To things we are ghosts, soft shapes
in their blindness that push and pull,
a warm touch tugging on a stuck drawer,
a face glancing by in a mirror
like a pebble skipped across a passive pond.

They hear rumors of us, things, in their own rumble,
and notice they are not where they were in the last century,
and feel, perhaps, themselves lifted by tides
of desire, of coveting; a certain moisture
mildews their surfaces, and they guess that we have passed.

They decay, of course, but so slowly; a vase
or mug survives a thousand uses. Our successive
ownerships slip from them, our fury
flickers at their reverie’s dimmest edge.
Their numb solidity sleeps through our screams.

Daguerrotypes Victorian travellers
produced of tombs and temples still intact
contain, sometimes, a camel driver, or beggar: a brown
man in a galabia who moved his head, his life
a blur, a dark smear on the unchanging stone.

John Updike

Monday, August 23, 2010

Vigorous anonymity

The Healing of a Lunatic Boy (1986), Stephen Conroy

The first time I think I felt really excited about art was at an exhibition at the then newly-opened Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Belford Road, Edinburgh, in 1987. Entitled The Vigorous Imagination, it was a showcase for contemporary Scottish artists, many of them painters such as Stephen Conroy, John Bellany, Adrian Wizniewski, Ken Currie and Peter Howson. I was particularly taken with Stephen Conroy, whose painting above was used for the poster, which I had a precious copy of for years. I remember feeling such a sense of amazement, walking round the new, expansive space, taking in ideas, that I could hardly breathe. Before then, paintings and sculpture and installations had never really spoken to me, even though I grew up in a house where art was all around me; I had an appreciation of it that fell short of real engagement. The mystery and majesty of Conroy's paintings, as well as his undeniable skill, had a profound impact on me. I longed to own one.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The lone sands stretch far away

My first view of Dubai was from the window of an airport taxi at 8pm local time, with the oven turned down to 39°C. During the day I stayed in the hotel; it's Ramadan, Muslims are fasting between sunrise and sunset, and may not observe anyone else eating; so if you want to eat or drink, even water, it has to be behind closed doors and almost exclusively in hotels, which have solid doors, no windows and heavy, dark curtains screening off the restaurant areas.

Towards sundown I took a taxi through the city with my colleague. Through a slight haze the sun was a perfect burning orange disc over a flat landscape; the architecture outside the centre is anodyne and the streets were deserted. The taxi driver raced along pristine freeways at 120 kmph, still being passed at much greater speeds by dusty SUVs and sports cars with heavily tinted windows. From very far away the stalagmite shape of Burj al Khalifa, still, for the moment, the world's tallest building, can be seen, but other interesting buildings, bulbous and squat, sail-like or funnel-shaped, cluster around it. There's distance between buildings, unlike Hong Kong, where people's lives are crammed together, and a curiously bland feel to everything.

At Madinat Jumeirah (shown here by day) we walked through an entirely ersatz souk of about 5 years' pedigree, filled with brass lions, lanterns, tea glasses and other trinkets, to a Persian restaurant alongside a manmade creek along which wooden abra transport sightseers. The surroundings have the attractive, though inauthentic, feel of a luxury hotel complex (which part of it is). Heat gentle enough to sit outside, lights strung in the palm trees, a salad of walnuts, mint and goat's cheese, slow roasted chicken, peppermint tea, and the loud insistent sound of a waterpump as a constant, droning accompaniment to the meal.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

So long Marianne

Poster for Marianne Breslauer exhibition at the Berlinische Galerie, showing the Swiss photographer, journalist and androgyne Annemarie Schwarzenbach (1932): "She was neither a man nor a woman, but an angel, an archangel".

Friday, August 13, 2010

I'll be your mirror

It's a colour photograph of a young woman, in her early twenties. Her name is Anne. She has a bright, intelligent face and long brown hair, parted fractionally to the right and slightly messily gathered in a bunch at the back of her neck. She is wearing a chunky black poloneck and what appears to be a graduation gown with a white collar. It might just have been a slightly fancy late 1970s/early 1980s dress with an embroidered neckline, but I can see someone in the background wearing something similar and both of them are holding red rolls, the cardboard tubes containing degree certificates. There are people in the background: over her right shoulder, a blurred group of four, including the other girl in her graduation gown, are looking her way, with smiles on their faces. Something caught their eye; maybe the person who's taking the photo was saying something loud or funny to Anne which is why she's half smiling, slightly ruefully, slightly knowingly. She has a peculiar look on her face which suggests things unsaid to the person behind the camera. Over her left shoulder, there are three men in brown suits, also blurred, with their backs to us. Anne's right hand is in motion because she's putting what looks like a light blue blanket, but is probably a good winter coat, over her left arm. Her pale left hand appears under the coat, holding the red roll: a strong, thin hand. In the far background, grey sandstone tenements; I think the street is cobbled. It's unmistakeably Edinburgh. Anne is unmistakeably Scottish.

I know some things about Anne: she died when she was young, probably not long after the photo was taken, in a car crash on the A9, on her way home. She was from Wick. From this and the evidence in the photo, I deduce that the photo was taken at her graduation from Edinburgh University, somewhere near St Giles' Church in the High Street, at the latest in the very early 1980s.

A friend posted Anne's picture on Facebook and I've been returning to it without knowing why. I find it poignant that he's tagged her in the photograph, but there will never be anything for her name to link to in that prosaic, often uninvited Facebook way: pictures of her life, friends, marriage, children, laughing in the sunshine in the garden, raising a wine glass in an ironic toast, emerging grinning from the sea after a swim. It seems mawkish yet irresistible to conclude, from the expression on her face, that she somehow knew what was going to happen to her at that moment and transmitted the yearning for her lost life into the lens. This might be the only picture of her on the internet. And she's looking out of her short life and telling me to be happy.

Photograph courtesy of David Heavenor.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Kiss this thing goodbye

In my teens I used to proclaim (somewhat smugly, I think) that "nostalgia is the enemy of the future". Although most of the records of my teenage years (during the 1980s) are available on iTunes I've generally avoided revisiting them, with a few notable exceptions (Searching for the Young Soul Rebels, Scary Monsters, Sulk). This might be a reflection, cynics would suggest, of the generally ephemeral quality of much of the music I was passionate about in the 1980s, a lot of which now sounds amazingly dated (The Brilliant Corners? The Bodines? The Close Lobsters? The Woodentops?), but I also have a sense that there is more than enough interesting new music around without the need for retrospection.

In a conscious departure from usual practice (which in a strange way actually made me feel a little ashamed) I recently downloaded del Amitri's eponymous first album. Recorded in more innocent times (1985, to be precise), before they embraced Americana as many Scottish bands do, it still holds up fairly well: many of the lyrics are obvious juvenilia (the definition of "irony" in the lyric to "Former Owner" is as inaccurate as Alanis Morrissette's), but much of it still sounds as fresh, clean-cut, and passionate as Justin Currie used to be.

At the time, I was obsessed with the record; even now I can recite the lyrics by heart despite a gap of at least 20 years since I last listened to it. I wrote to them and got nice letters in reply. My sister and I went to see del Amitri in a club in Tollcross, Edinburgh, not long after the album came out. There were only a handful of people there and we stood slightly awkwardly on the dancefloor watching. Afterwards, leaving, we met the band packing their van for the return trip to Glasgow. They offered us a lift; we declined. They weren't looking for groupies; they just thought, being the nice boys they were, that we might need a lift home.

I moved to Glasgow in 1987. After the success of their subsequent records on the back of their second album "Waking Hours" (1989), which I of course snubbed, due in part to their massive popularity - no longer a minority taste to be proud of - and also to what I saw as their capitulation to the mores of mainstream success by embracing a much more laconic, lazily rockin', American, and accordingly less distinctive sound, I used to see Justin Currie loping along the streets with his pointy cowboy boots, skinny jeans and massive sideburns. I also met him a few times at the Cul de Sac in Ashton Lane, Glasgow, near the university. I told him how much I'd loved their first record and he smiled ruefully and said he loved it too. And listening to it now reminds me of things which are worth remembering.

From a distance

Being awake much too early with work preoccupations has its advantages. The view from my window towards the goddess of mercy at Kwan Yan Temple and Stanley Bay beyond, just after 6.30am.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Such great heights

The view from the CitySpace bar at the top of Swissotel the Stamford, Singapore, at sunset, with two apple martinis waiting to be devoured (in this instance, one by me, and one by my colleague from the UK office). Every time I go there I remind myself how lucky I am. And not just because of the apple martinis, although they are the best I've ever tasted.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Coleman Street, Singapore. A whole "fox" tail, with a texture suspiciously like real fur, dyed in the style pretentiously known as "ombre", attached to a bag by means of a little gold hook, and all for no apparent reason and to slightly disturbing effect.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


It was a day peculiar to this piece of the planet,
when larks rose on long thin strings of singing
and the air shifted with the shimmer of actual angels.
Greenness entered the body. The grasses
shivered with presences, and sunlight
stayed like a halo on hair and heather and hills.
Walking into town, I saw, in a radiant raincoat,
the woman from the fish-shop. 'What a day it is!'
cried I, like a sunstruck madman.
And what did she have to say for it?
Her brow grew bleak, her ancestors raged in their graves
as she spoke with their ancient misery:
'We'll pay for it, we'll pay for it, we'll pay for it!'

Alastair Reid

Monday, July 19, 2010

Go with the flow

Beautiful, and possibly unwearable, unless you happen to be entirely lacking the key characteristics of the female form (curves, dimples, cellulite). Roksanda Ilincic, from Net-a-Porter.

Monday, July 05, 2010

By the neck

In a shop in Stamford Place, an old building in Singapore (which hosts the hilariously outdated Singapore Walk of Fame which boasts, amongst other where-are-they-nows, Debbie Gibson's handprints on a concrete plaque), I saw an amazing jewellery collection by local Singaporean designers Vice and Vanity. There's a handful of little shops running along one side of the building, with old-fashioned grey-painted exteriors: interesting-looking, one-off boutiques, a nice contrast to the shopping centre Raffles the Plaza opposite, with its worldwide identikit stores (Ralph Lauren et al) and perpetual sales. On my recent trip, caught in a heavy downpour, I sought the shop out again but it had closed - I'd been thinking about their striking necklaces ever since and wishing I'd bought one. I didn't even know the name of the designers, but their style is so unmistakable that when I saw a necklace by Vice & Vanity in a copy of Singapore ELLE, I knew it was by the same designers.

What I like about these necklaces, aside from the fact that they're so incredibly striking and unusual, is this combination of industrial design with iconography that seems almost primitive (the ancient Egyptians spring to mind), but is actually very modern both in its execution and in its materials (perspex, spage age lightweight metals, and plastic).