For some of Henry Marsh's story and to get a feel for the man himself you may like to listen to his Private Passions - again from a little while ago - where in conversation with Michael Berkeley he discusses his work and his love of music.
"Nesbit indulges her own visual tastes in The Lark; her love of flowers, fabrics, glass, china, old pewter, well-made furniture, 'mellow Persian carpets', 'the dusky splendour of old calf and morocco', with 'gilded lettering like rows of little sparks', enriches every page."
The fruit of 36 years of work by Richard Ormond - John Singer Sargent's great nephew - and others, Yale University Press' series John Singer Sargent: The Complete Paintings has reached its end with the publication of Volume IX.
If you're a Sargent fan and feel like a splurge, Yale are offering a generous 20% discount on the books (UK orders only) until the 24th. of December - you'll find the code here.
This interview with Richard Ormond casts light on what must have been a fascinating if daunting project, and if you'd like to know more about the Sargent portrait above, Lady Agnew of Lochnaw, click here for a short video from Edinburgh's National Gallery of Scotland where the painting is part of the permanent collection.
To mark the 150th. anniversary of the birth of Beatrix Potter, here is Delmar Banner's 1938 portrait of the naturalist, artist, writer, conservationist, and farmer, whose books are loved the world over.
"This beautiful, thoughtful exploration of Scotland’s rich engagement with textiles weaves together the personal stories of quilt-makers with the industrial, social and artistic history found in quilts.
Rae has written extensively about textiles and Scottish crafts and for eight years operated a small arts and crafts gallery in the Scottish Borders. In Warm Covers she has drawn extensively on visits to the Fife Folk Museum in Ceres and many photographs of their gorgeous quilts are reproduced in the book. Warm Covers is a treat for quilters and the curious alike!"
Details of Janet Rae's forthcoming event at Topping's can be found here.
"The purest and most thoughtful minds are those which love colour the most."
"We are more than aware that the psychology of colour names is powerful. Many people might doubt the wisdom of calling a colour 'Dead Salmon', for example, but this name is actually derived from a painting bill found for the decorating of the library at Kedleston Hall, Derbyshire, in 1805. Salmon is the colour and Dead actually refers to the matt paint finish rather than a deceased fish. [...]
However, all the names are rooted in much more than quirkiness or attention-seeking. We use the connotative power of language to describe colours. [...]
There was a deep desire to make a white that was almost gossamer in appearance - a white with very little additional colour and almost translucent - like a spider's web. This was the birth of the colour 'Wevet', named after the Dorset dialect for exactly that: a spider's web. [...]
We all know the hue of a mix of mist and drizzle, which creates the colour 'Mizzle'. 'Dimpse' is also quaint local dialect for the colour of the sky, but this time at twilight. These colours are joined by another weather-related name, 'Cromarty', a sea area referred to in the BBC radio broadcast of the Shipping Forecast, which warns sailors about impending gales and is very much part of the fabric of British life. 'Cromarty', a little lighter than 'Mizzle', conjures up the colours of swirling mists and turbulent seas."
"My only purpose in this book was for me, as a music lover, to have a discussion of music with the musician Seiji Ozawa that was as open and honest as possible. I simply wanted to bring out the ways that each of us (though on vastly different levels) is dedicated to music." Haruki Murakami's passion for music runs deep. Before turning his hand to writing, he ran a jazz club in Tokyo, and the aesthetic and emotional power of music permeates every one of his much-loved books. Now, in Absolutely on Music, Murakami fulfills a personal dream, sitting down with his friend, acclaimed conductor Seiji Ozawa, to talk about their shared interest. Transcribed from lengthy conversations about the nature of music and writing, here they discuss everything from Brahms to Beethoven, from Leonard Bernstein to Glenn Gould, from record collecting to pop-up orchestras, and much more. Ultimately this book gives readers an unprecedented glimpse into the minds of two maestros.'
"In the lovely Estonian town of Viljandi there lives a young artist by the name of Kristi Jōeste who has knitted hundreds of pairs of exquisite gloves. [...]
Every knitter and every glove has a story to tell.
Museums have preserved many wondrous old gloves but very few stories. [...]
Kristi Jōeste invited her childhood friend, the well-known Estonian writer Kristiina Ehin, to write the stories.
And so this isn't by any means a typical handicraft book.
In this book art meets literature in two creative women, one who expresses herself by means of knitting and the other by means of words.
Kristi Jōeste's lively use of patterns from Estonian folk art, her carefully chosen colours and tight weave as it was done centuries ago are compelling in their perfection.
Kristiina Ehin's sensitive and imaginative stories about Estonian women who knitted invite us to travel with her in our thoughts to the times when a magical world of glove patterns was created in the grey day-to-day of nearly every farmhouse."
I'm reading Ornamented Journey by Kristi Jōeste and Kristiina Ehin, from which the above is the introduction. It's not a book of patterns, although there are instructions for some of the techniques involved in the designs, but you could adapt the designs to patterns you already have - should you not wish to knit at the gauge of some of the work shown: e.g. one-ply yarn on 0.7mm (US 000000) needles, 172 stitches around the hand!
The book tells us that gloves accompanied Estonian people throughout their lives, and patterned gloves were believed to increase good fortune and keep evil at bay, which is no doubt why such skill and artistry went into their making. The gloves, mittens and wrist warmers shown involve various techniques such as embroidery, appliqué, entrelac, Roositud inlay, beading, and colourwork, and all are beautiful. The stories - I'm in the midst of them now - complement them perfectly.
Lastly, a word on where to find the book. I put it in my basket at Loop's online shop and took it out again when I discovered how much the postage would be. You can get it from the publisher, Saara, via Amazon which is what I did; the postage was very reasonable and it took a week to get here. I've since discovered that you can order directly from Saara where the book is cheaper, but I can't speak to the cost of delivery. They also sell yarn, needles, kits, and other bits and pieces.
"... He ground indigo leaves, pulped and dried them to a powder, mixed them with palygorskite and heated them in copal resin to a rich dark zaffre that could colour a night sky at that moment of dusk to dark. He fired ochre to the almost-black of midnight. Cooked white lead to the yellow of noon. Cooked it again to the red of dusk. He soaked saffron with egg white, transformed the scarlet stamens to citron golds. Discovered the magic of salt. Mixed it with mauve-tinged azures, violet reds. Boiled roots, and thickened the dye with turpentine and alum. He found vermilion sunsets in mercury sulphide, fired them to an orange cinnabar. He ground berries to a pulp, discovered purple when he mixed the juices with acid, ultramarine when he mixed them with alkaline. He ground up malachite, found cyan and celeste, celadon and olive. Ground up madder, found crimson, ruby and alizarin. Crushed azurite, inhaled lungfuls of deep blue, as if the air were now visible.
Then he bound these colours, set them, with gesso, plaster, linseed oil, sap from cherry trees and resin from sweet pines. He melted wax. Dabbed at his creations with paintbrushes made from fine horsehair, and swept colours across reams of white parchment paper, over and over, until he'd sought out some arcane perfection. His pigments were luminous and brilliant. They did not fade in the sun, in the wind or the rain. They lifted skies and made rich the blue red earth."
"The floor was well-worn red brick, and on the wide hearth burnt a fire of logs, between two attractive chimney-corners tucked away in the wall, well out of any suspicion of draught. A couple of high-backed settles, facing each other on either side of the fire, gave further sitting accommodation for the sociably disposed. In the middle of the room stood a long table of plain boards placed on trestles, with benches down each side. At one end of it, where an arm-chair stood pushed back, were spread the remains of Badger's plain but ample supper. Rows of spotless plates winked from the shelves of the dresser at the far end of the room, and from the rafters overhead hung hams, bundles of dried herbs, nets of onions and baskets of eggs. It seemed a place where heroes could fitly feast after victory, where weary harvesters could line up in scores along the table and keep their Harvest Home with mirth and song, or where two or three friends of simple tastes could sit about as they pleased and eat and smoke and talk in comfort and contentment. The ruddy brick floor smiled up at the smoky ceiling; the oaken settles, shiny with long wear, exchanged cheerful glances with each other; plates on the dresser grinned at pots on the shelf, and the merry firelight flickered and played over everything without distinction."
"The Kitchen, described in these terms, is as universal a symbol as the River. Whereas the River is the expression of the adult Arcadia, with its challenges and its rules and its excitements, the Kitchen suggests another kind of Golden Age.
Its appeal is multiple. It hints at the mead-halls of such poems as Beowulf ... To Grahame's generation it must also have had William Morris-like hints of an earlier, pre-industrial, and therefore ideal society where distinctions of class seemed unimportant when food was being dealt out, and men of all ranks sat together in the lord's hall or by the yeoman farmer's hearthside. And, more sharply for Edwardian readers than for those of the present day, there is a suggestion too of a return to childhood. Many of Grahame's generation spent much of their early life being cared for by domestic servants, and so as small children lingered often in the kitchen, watching the pots and the joints of meat cooking on the great ranges or spits."
There are other excerpts from the book here and here, an interview with Robert Ingpen here, and if the above appeals, this post might, too.
The gist of it is that if you can identify which personality type or 'tendency' you are - upholder, obliger, questioner, or rebel - then you will be better able to adopt particular strategies which will help you establish good habits and avoid the loopholes which can make it harder to break 'bad' habits. Simple!
If you can recommend a book on willpower, habit-change, personal development generally, do tell us in the comments.
"It is more than three hundred years since Francis Bacon advocated that 'There ought to be gardens for all the months of the year,' proceeding to relegate to the Winter months 'things that be greene' only. Laurels and Privets and Euonymus have ceased to satisfy the modern gardener. He wants flowers too, and the smallest garden may boast its patches of Cyclamen, bringing it Spring in Autumn and Summer in the clouded months of English Winter."