Friday, July 4, 2014

Skulls, Portraits and Oven Cleaning

I was in Soho yesterday when I spotted this extravagantly costumed woman making her way along Charing Cross Road. As I told Dave, thank god there are people like this in the world. They sure make things interesting.

Check out her rings and bracelets!

I went into town to see the BP Portrait Award show at the National Portrait Gallery. This has become a ritual for me since Dave and I first discovered the annual exhibit right after we moved to London. As usual, it was remarkable. I'm awed by the level of comfort and intimacy a painter and subject would have to cultivate to result in a good portrait -- think of having to learn the contours of your subject's face, the texture of their skin, the placement and pattern of hairs on their arm, every mole and wrinkle. There was something especially touching about the parents who paint their own children, and the children who paint their parents.

Anyway, after seeing the show, I had coffee in a sidewalk cafe on Old Compton Street and wandered the streets of Soho. I got some good pictures. The light was fabulous yesterday -- strong and bright, casting dramatic shadows and reflections. It did me a world of good to get out of the house on a beautiful day and go see some interesting art. It was like feeding a part of my brain I didn't even realize was hungry.

Dave, meanwhile, hosted a team of professional oven cleaners (I am not kidding!) who managed to whip our oven back into shape, in readiness for the handover to the landlord. I made a half-hearted attempt to clean it a couple of years ago but otherwise we'd pretty much allowed it to develop its own personality. Given how much Dave cooks, you can imagine what that was like. Now I'd venture to say it's cleaner than it was when we moved in!

We had more prospective buyers touring the flat yesterday evening. I'm embarrassed to let them in, the place is such a mess. Olga is even scared to walk down the box-lined hallway, and she absolutely will not do it if it's dark. Every evening I have to turn the hall light on and coax her past the big scary boxes so we can all sleep in the bedroom, where we belong.


  1. That is one remarkable woman -- and I'm with you on the gratitude for what makes life more interesting and even worth living, sometimes!

  2. Poor Olga. It would be unnerving for me, too.

    I love what you said about painting portraits. I'd never thought about it before but of course it's an intimate experience. Very cool, thanks.

    I too am grateful for extravagant style. She is fabulous.

    When I get out on a beautiful day and look at art (something I do rather frequently), it captures my imagination, yes, but what it feels like in the Reyaverse is that it feeds my soul. My brain can keep itself amused and well fed. My soul needs beauty.

  3. You have given me a new level of Cronehood to attain! Thank you!
    I'm serious.

  4. She is amazing! I want to see a closeup of her headdress. and a shot from the front would have been nice too!

  5. Beautiful thought about the artists. I certainly hadn't thought of painting in that way.
    I love your photo today and couldn't agree more about colorful people. Diversity is so important.

  6. You've captured her! The Voodoo Priestess of London! Those rings are scary. And do you think she can get those bracelets off? Great capture!

  7. I adore that woman! What a great portrait. I also enjoyed your thoughts about the intimacy of painted portraiture. Would love to see that show.

  8. How long did it take that woman to get dressed!!! Particularly when she is no spring chicken.

  9. Thanks to Reya for linking on FB; a blast of color to begin my day.