April 30, 2009

Tea at the House of Lords

Christina and I attended a charity tea hosted by the Mayor of Kensington and Chelsea to benefit the Multiple Sclerosis Trust. The Mayor of Hammersmith and Fulham hosted our table and was charming. The tea was fine but the highlight was a new perspective of famous sights along the Thames.

KCWC Elsbeth Juda at L'Equipement des Arts Gallery

Cindy Stern organised a visit to the Elsbeth Juda exhibit at L'Equipement des Arts. Elsbeth, a 97 year-old photographer always known professionally as "Jay", joined us after we had the opportunity to view her amazing exhibit. L'Equipement des Arts worked with Elsbeth to print 100 photographs using negatives loaned by the V&A and National Portrait Gallery.

Elsbeth enthralled us with her stories as a photographer for her husband's magazine "The Ambassador, the British Export Magazine" which had a circulation in 90 countries at its peak. She explained that after WWII, Britain desperately needed to export British goods. Jay and her husband Hans were grateful to Great Britain for providing them sanctuary, and wanted to repay this kindness. Jay created exciting photographs on a very limited budget. She spoke of the generosity of many famous personalities dedicated to this cause, such as top-model Barbara Goalen who did her own make-up for the photo shoots.

Other pictures in the exhibit included Winston Churchill and Henry Moore. Elsbeth gave up professional photography ~1965 because she felt she "wasn't quick enough" (the equipment needed was enormous in those days). She never regretted this decision and went on to other creative endeavours. When asked how she maintains her vibrancy and intellect - she replied "Every day I visit a new gallery, otherwise I would lose track of the days."

April 23, 2009

KCWC Lee Miller and Standen

Our first stop was to Farley Farm House (no photos), home of Lee Miller and Roland Penrose. Considering his childhood, their son Antony Penrose has been generous in his tribute to his parents. His daughter, Ami Bouhassane, gave us a great tour. She calmly acknowledged the good (a Picasso tile over the stove) and the bad (Lee Miller was a difficult mother). The home is packed with famous art.

We ate lunch at the Six Bells where rumour has it that Picasso (frequent visitor to Farley Farm House) offered a sketch to pay for his bill but was refused -- cash only.

We then proceeded to the National Trust property Standen for a home tour. Standen was built 1892-4 for James Beale and his family. One of the reasons Beale chose this location was because it was close to the East Grinstead station in case he needed to get back to London quickly (he was a London solicitor). His wife was an avid gardener, keeping diaries complete enough for the National Trust to recreate the landscape. This Arts and Crafts home showcases William Morris wallpapers and textiles.