Friday, April 29

My love of art, travel & photography just combined and exploded into fireworks

All photographs by Jan Kempenaers via here

 Melancholy, windswept and abandoned, these are Spomenics (monuments), erected during the 1960's and 70's to honour the former Yugoslav Partisans.
 (The Partisan's were a communist-led WWII anti-fascist resistance movement in former Yugoslavia).
Words fail me. I was astonished when I first saw these images and nearly fell off my chair.
So before I explain blather on and either faintbow down, break out in song or levitate, I will be silent so we can take in the full amazing awesomeness of these structures. 

(I just want to quickly whisper that these sculptures are meant to represent fists)

mmmmm some poignant musings from Richard Burghardt via FZZ:
'..they still proclaim a future, which already has become past. They are expressions of this future and they refuse to stop epitomising its coming. They keep calling: Ahead!  Spectres still inhabit the monuments, but their context, their audience has been lost..'

I really like this back-story from ModernSauce: Actually her whole take on it - and blog - is great! Plus she gives much more history (more than my lame Wikipedia links).
'Although all of these memorials are heavy "monumental" sculptures I find them hardly static at all.  More like stone outcroppings that move slowly over millennia but appear frozen to us'.
Yes I love that you can project so many stories on to these. Combined with their incredible settings, they are cinematic (they wouldn't look out of place on sets for Battlestar Galactica or Lord of the Rings); poetic (Shelley's Ozymandias comes to mind); political; historical; some organic; others resembling spaceships or portals to alien futures; even prehistoric or futuristic totems.....


Yet somehow I also feel incredibly sad when I look upon these. Compare this before and after: the image to the right looks so abandoned and forgotten.
 Although still managing to stand stoic and defiant amidst the overgrowth and weeds.

There's no limit to how much  these concrete sculptures fascinate me (& this is only a handful - soviet versions here). They have really captured my imagination. I need would love to visit!

Wednesday, April 27

Through the looking glass.....

Clare Young, Home, 2011, No.1 of 2 (dry point etching and collograph) 
via Clare's shop

Falling Garden
Gerda Steiner & Jorge Lenslinger
San Staƫ church on the Canale Grande
50th Biennial of Venice, 2003 here via beautiful/wild

My lovely, talented and gorgeous friend Clare sent me a blog link yesterday (she is always passing on great links) wanting to share this amazing installation with me. Before I knew it I had fallen through the looking glass clicking on all sorts of links and finding all sorts of great stuff. 
As well as an artist (see 'Home' above) and mother to 2 beautiful little girls, she is also a renovator extraordinaire who also happens to be married to our Charlie’s godfather. 
(So you can see I am not biased whatsoever!). 
Clare has renovated 2 beautiful homes and is about to embark on her third. I have always been in awe of her stunning transformations and I am really hoping Clare might start officially documenting this one for us all to drool over (pretty please?). Just a teaser – it’s a turn of the century cottage on a rambling country-sized garden block (close to the city!) and according to the last update I got, the original cottage was to become the sleeping pavilion, housing only the bedrooms - attached but separate to the new addition. 
Yes, a sleeping pavilion! 
How marvelous does that sound?!

As well as sharing a mutual love of design (and design blogs) Clare is tangled up in the origins of my love for great interiors. I will always remember walking into her sister’s terrace, gasping and exclaiming: 'but I know this house!' It featured in Belle Design and Decoration (and got the cover too) and I’m pretty sure it was one of the first magazines I insisted on keeping. It marked the beginning of my magazine hoarding and OCD urge of ripping pages out to fill inspiration scrap books. A compulsion that continues today at my Pinterest account (and what I like to imagine I will be doing in heaven one day). The magazine is well worn and quite tatty now – but I could never throw it out. I have a total sentimental and historical attachment to it. Such a simple thing but it’s a part of me. It’s a concrete link back to one of those first a-ha moments, of suddenly getting and appreciating the power of a beautifully edited and constructed living space. I still remember pouring over every detail! And then the thrill of actually stepping into it as if I was coming home.

And finally, continuing on my blog travels courtesy of Clare this morning, I fell through the looking glass into this house in Iceland - woah -
and into this pool* below (thanks for sharing beautiful and wild Clare)

*Doesn't take much for me to slip in a picture of a pool. Although this image is one I would love to enlarge to oversize and hang. There is something gothic, monolithic, slightly unhinged and foreboding about this image.
I love it!

Tuesday, April 26

Suprise Honey! Easter Bali Spoils

I managed to do a little shopping during our Bali break. 
Because we were lucky enough to spend Easter with friends from Australia, I was the nominated and designated shopping enabler. Not that I ever need much of an excuse to shop but having the extra incentive to show friends around - cause you know, I had to show them where to shop right?- did mean that I got to visit some of my favorite shopping spots. Because we packed quite a bit into our short holiday, our shopping expeditions were targeted military operations rather than wandering and browsing expeditions. I think we did quite well!

These are lovely little needle-point style woven baskets. The lids actually pull out to reveal a hidden space inside. They are quite delicate so I carried these back to Jakarta via hand luggage. 

These candle holders have a great mid-century modern feel, while this is second time I have bought this wicker cake stand. Great for holding fruit, muffins or cupcakes, but now that I own two I'm going to try using these at opposite ends of a set table for flower arrangements.

These candle holders hold tea lights. 
I can't decide where to put these (can you tell?)

Fished these little beauties out of boxes and crates overflowing with every kind of brass and silver ware imaginable. I had a hard time deciding but kept on going back to these decorative horses. They instantly reminded me of the mid-century modern Italian stoneware by Bitossi, known as Rimini Blu. I don't usually go for figurines but I thought these were too special to pass up. I think the little deer horns may end up on a bed side table holding my rings.

Also picked up a practical and very typical Indonesian kitchen basket. It may end up holding fruit. But it will probably end up holding something completely non practical nowhere near the kitchen. Also picked up the little oddly-shaped asymmetrical wooden bowl to the left 
(which will hold limestone eggs I acquired at the same time but not shown here)

Found these rummaging and clanging around in the same box. A cow, a goat and horse. They are decorative although hand made and quite rough which is a winning combination for me. These will probably end up on the back of a bedroom or bathroom door holding robes.

More colourful and embroidered basket weaving. This is actually quite a sturdy tray with cut-out handles. 
Think it will end up on our desk holding office-y things. I love practical and beautiful things. 

A tray. I'm pretty sure one of the nicest I have seen. 
It is very study and will be good for a breakfast in bed (hint hint)

I fell in love with this crazy lady vase from Jenggala Keramics. Can't wait to have fun creating exotic head dresses for her. For now I grabbed some leaves from the garden, but I can't wait to give her an afro of white baby breath (minus the carnations) or blue hydrangeas like these ones (my favorite). I think she will lend herself to many different flower arrangements.

And finally a hand painted lamp. 
It beautifully illuminates Vase-lady's smile. 
(Having one of those her-eyes-are-following-me moments)

Monday, April 25

Look closely, don't judge me: Easter Mayhem in Bali

Disclaimer: I did not dye the chicks. 
I may love colour, even going so far as to pretty well agree with designer extraodinaire Kelly Wearstler (Inc!) - who likens living without colour to living without love (the bathroom in the Viceroy Hotel, Santa Monica is my favorite. No wait, this wallpaper here is....Regardless, I never can get used to the nonchalant way Indonesian's like to dye their baby chicks when festivity strikes. Although it's not the first time I have seen it, I still can't look away and even though I am pretty sure it falls into the cruelty category (those harsh dyes surely can't be good for anybody), we still joined in the hotel's Easter activities cooing and cuddling with them - and heck, even taking photos! Yes I felt bad for those poor little guys and apologise for offending anyone with these photos.

There was the usual fare - an Easter egg hunt, egg painting, games, balloons................

...and the obligatory (and always slightly creepy) person dressed as the Easter bunny. Made slightly creepier due to the heat. So now I had 2 things to feel bad about: not only the colourful rainbow chicks dyed just for our viewing pleasure, but a person having to wear a 100% synthetic bunny suit in 100% equatorial humidity, all while smiling, waving, dancing and generally having to be the fun guy bunny.  I felt bad. And a few degrees hotter just looking at him.

(I love it when my stuff colour coordinates itself without being asked. Thanks stuff)

Maybe I shouldn't explain what the actual intended purpose of these baskets were really for*

* Ok (I bow my head in shame). One of the games for the older children entailed a 'race' whereby each one lined up alongside one of those baskets and in front of the chick pen...on your marks, get set, go.....and had to run between the two, collecting as many chicks as they could place inside. The only concession: that the (8 years and above) child could only grab one chick at a time. There. I said it. (While it was complete mayhem, surprisingly, none of the little chickens were hurt!)

Wednesday, April 20

Glass houses again: meet one of the most influential homes in 20th century architecture

Glenn Walls, How to Avoid Modernism, 2008 (video installation) 
This is an exact scale model of the amazing glass house below

The Glass House by Philip Johnson,1949 is considered a mid-century architectural masterpiece. 
(image via archdaily) It sits upon a rural estate in New Caan, Connecticut. Johnson lived there with his partner, modern art curator David Whitney ( I like to imagine it all very Tom Ford's A Single Man) until he died at the age 98 in 2005. Luckily, he bequeathed it to The National Trust for Historic Preservation. 
You can take tours and read a lot more about it here at the official site

A model of The Glass House on display in MOMA in NYC

A different angle via here: reflective, transparent, minimalist. 
  Inside and out merge. I really do love glass houses.

The house was also featured in Vogue's US October 2009 edition. 
Shot by Annie Liebovitz and featuring Phoebe Philo's (love you phoebe) first collection for Celine, 
you can really see the house's transparency and reflectiveness. The reflections impart so much energy and movement against the static models (image via here)

The director of the glass house (it's now open to the public) explains that although 
they field hundreds of requests to shoot there, they have only approved 3. All non-paid. 
Annie Liebovitz commented on shooting at the site:
"because the architecture is a major player in the dialogue - it is not submissive or passive - 
it has an active voice in the picture"   

I appreciate that Johnson often referred to the house as a viewing platform to look out over landscape. 
I find it such an inspiring and exciting concept. As you may have gathered, I am slightly obsessed about our garden and daydream a lot about it from over here (often while stuck in crazy world-famous Jakarta traffic jams). It doesn't take much to trigger my longing and I only have to glance at a property like Johnson's to start swooning. The way he blurs the line between solid structure and all that surrounds it really takes my breath away. While the house is dramatic, it is also transparent and unassuming and modest, blending into it's surrounding with ease. If I could execute 1/10th of what he does in our garden one day, I'd be very very happy. It's properties like this that inspired me to search for a really special space of our own. 

....and here it is. ok, I feel some poetry coming on - this place is poetic so it's hard not to break out in a ditty! Round the corner and down the gently winding path.....

and boom - my eyes came to rest upon a great big expanse of space (excuse this sound effect and lack of rhyme). In my dream I would put a glass box right here. Alternatively, and more feasibly,  I would love for our house (will get some images of it up soon) to dissolve as much as possible into the garden. For the boundaries between inside and out to be blurred and to create views from as many windows as possible.. 
(the ground cover needs work - the two images above are from the original listing. (This is the same image as above taken from a slightly different angle - in Spring)

As if it couldn't get any better, Johnson's property also includes this unusual and amazing pool. I've already documented my love of pool reflections here and here, so I was very excited to see this image, looking like some sort of lunar landscape. I just took a photographic course this weekend and 
dream about taking a shot like this one above

 I love how the pool has been sunk right into the ground, almost like a natural pond, with no obvious boundary. You can also see it through the window in the next photo.

"The only house in the world where you can watch the sun set and the moon rise at the same time. 
And the snow. It's amazing when you're surrounded at night with the falling snow. It's lighted, which makes it look as though you're rising on a celestial elevator." Philip Johnson describing his home. sigh

Far from a glass house but certainly a house with a serious view, it will be hard to put up curtains or obscure it in any way. I took this photo on the house inspection last year (aka love fest '10 - the one where I had an affair with the house via the computer screen and then had to convince my husband that it was worth flying from Jakarta to see it in person. I really do have so much love for this house. 

Another view. One of the many I took on a beautiful Autumn day 

And finally, more of the MOMA model. 
Imagine playing with this as a doll's house! It definitely would have given my Barbie townhouse a run for it's money. p.s I tend to play 6 degrees of separation with our new house. Maybe because we are not living there yet (and won't for a while longer) has mean't that I tend to 'visit' it via these sorts of images. I can pretty well find some point of reference to this place in every post I make ha! Whatever the reason, the house is like a gateway to a corner of my mind that likes to take regular vacations there. A holiday to a place where I can have a picnic on the lawn, fantasize about building a tree-house, and sip martinis with Philip Johnson by his pool.