Last Saturday, I was back in London for the first time since the London: Winter Tales event. The past four months have been challenging to say the least. It was nice to be back!
We managed to fit in an exhibition, a great bookshop, a very long walk through some of the most touristy bits of the capital (we never learn!) and a movie.
Marilyn and I, we go back a long way.
As an awkward, artistic and bookish child then teenager growing up in a grey and conservative town in the middle of France, classic American movies (and the occasional British one) represented a life line. I fell in love with them at about the age of 6 and they became a genuine obsession.
My favourite has always been Marilyn Monroe, though - why was I so fascinated? It probably had something to do with the fact that she represented the beauty and glamour that were lacking in my life. I was impressed by the way she had turned their life around and she had worked hard to catch up on the education she hadn't had when she was younger. I admired her drive.
I had several posters stuck on the wall above my bunk bed from the age of 10 onwards. In 1984, my parents bought me the above book, Serge Antibi's Marilyn Monroe, and it has followed me ever since, crossing the Channel 20 years ago as one of my very sparse possessions . The cover is a little worse for wear after my 20-odd moves, but it's still here on my shelves and it is still in a great condition.
It's thanks to this book that I learned that Marilyn was much more than a blonde actress; the book is typically French, full of philosophical and rather pretentious musings about Marilyn and what her image and physicality represented, but it has reproduced (French translations of) some of her poems and mentions her drawings. I read all this at a young age and it made a strong impact on me.
The Design Centre is located in Chelsea Harbour and surrounded by on-going housing developments. It is a centre for luxury interior design, all minimalist structure with shiny, white spaces.
I do feel very privileged to have seen this exhibition, as this is a unique opportunity to see the costumes, jewellery and personal items on show before they go under the hammer in Los Angeles in November.
It was fantastic to see some of the drawings which had been mentioned in my Serge Antibi book!
Absolutely fascinating and moving were Marilyn's notebooks featuring musings, bits of poems, drama course notes, dreams - complete with rewrites, crossed words, insertions...
I am convinced that Marilyn Monroe would have become a great writer later on in life if she hadn't died so young. She was genuinely talented and incredibly thoughtful and lucid; she was a brilliant philosopher and a skilled commentator on the human species.
The huge prints dotted around the space were stunning...
And of course, you had the clothes... The display worked fantastically well, all put together under one of the big glass domes of the centre.
We then started our walk in Chelsea, an area we keep coming back again and again. My partner has some strong links to the area and it is always a delight to just walk around as many streets remain untouched - you can still see the history of the place embedded in its buildings.
Coming across Glebe Place was a high point of our walk. Apparently originally a "tatty and bohemian" area, it is of course now incredibly expensive and exclusive. Just imagine what it was like with all those artists around!
I was a bit disappointed to read that the fabulous 50 Glebe Place was built as recently as 1984 as a "folly" for an advertiser (not as romantic, is it?). In 1920, the sculptor Francis Derwent Wood had commissioned Mackintosh to build a house-studio for him, but the project was halted just before construction started. A studio was indeed built on the site but not using Mackintosh's design (read about it HERE). The folly now stands in its place.
55 Glebe Place was for sale back in 2009, and it has seen its fair share of action in its time...
We stopped for a browse (read: a drool) at the Worlds End Bookshop, a fantastic antiquarian and second-hand bookseller. This is what I want to be when I grow up. I'm starting small with my unit in West bay, but I too will have a gorgeous, intriguing bookshop one day!
We made our way to the Curzon Soho via Buckingham Palace, The Mall and Trafalgar Square (a great idea... it was packed full of dopey tourists) to see the lovely Love and Friendship.
Nothing better than a witty costume drama to end the day!
All pictures by Matt ArtPix
I think therefore I write.
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