January 15th, 2009

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January 15th, 2009

Green Goddess Go-Go in the Fringe
Green Goddess Go-Go in the Fringe


Sistah Double Bubble Trouble is Marianne Hyatt (née Marcus Leggett, until transgendrified by a tornado interrupting her circumcision) –  a Texan triple threat & musical mercenary, hailing from Austin.  If you blinked you may have missed her in Richard Linklater’s cult hit film, ‘Slacker’, as “Late Night Pickup”.  She also featured in Joe Sears & Jaston Wiliams ‘… Forum’ as Panacea and scared the men and children as Beatrice in “Much Ado about Nothing”, Shakespeare on Town Lake.    She was principle dancer with the Dallas Metropolitan Ballet & the Lone Star Ballet, and soloist with Ruth Page’s Chicago Ballet and Boston Ballet Ensemble, when her career as prima was interrupted by a bizarre incident, involving a snot bubble landing on her primeur danceur’s face, during finger turns as the Snow Queen for the Nutcracker Suite.  At  6’4”en pointe, she was only too aware that her options for dance partners were limited and decided to relocate to her psychic home in London, where she was honored to become principle decoy drag queen at Madame JoJo’s “Nothin Dirty Goin On”, instead.  She also landed the ultimate Shakespearian dominatrix role of  Lady M in Illyria Theatre’s summer tour of  Macbeth – John O’ Groats to Lands End – earning her the moniker “mad, bad & dangerous to know” while performing at the Minack Theatre, in Cornwall.  Additionally Marianne was videogame chartshow hostess for “Gamesauce” – inspiring introverted screenheads throughout Asia Pacific, Middle East & sub-Saharan territories to further avoid the sun.   Succumbing to the relentless voices in her head, Marianne began to write her own material in the naughties and fronted indie band, “Dragstripper”, signing to award winning label Poppy Records and gigging throughout England and London’s Camden scene, at the Popkomme Festival, Cologne and Dublin’s In the City conference.  During that time she collaborated with local musicians Jez Miller (Lords of the New Church and Brian James Gang), Terry Neale (Transglobal Underground), Richard Levy (Zodiac Mindwarp).  Marianne’s solo work made it to Independent music journalist Tim Perry’s CD compilation “Twisted AM” and appeared as number 1 in his top 5 unsigned artists.  She was invited to sing with Kentucky’s PapaM at the Garage and with Bill Callaghan’s SMOG at Meltdown, Royal Festival Hall.  Sistah joined forces with Punkvert production company to form the band, Anarchistwood, in 2006, and split acrimoniously over intellectual property issues in April 2007, after the release of their double album “Blessed are the Cracked for they let in the Light”, and also due to irreconcilible differences re percentages once Punkvert proprietorially mitosised to form Ex-Gratia record label, helping itself to 50% of all proceeds .  PRS & MCPS have been duly notified, and are watching/listening.

GIG archives

  1. Debut – 20th October 2006 – JAMM support to Robert Love (Alabama3) & the Nihilistics
  2. 10TH December 2006 – 93 Ft E – Shortwave Festival
  3. 23RD December 2006 – JAMM support to Alabama3
  4. 31st December 2006 – Charterhouse Bar – “How Dirty is your New Year”
  5. 23rd February 2007 – Pigeonhole @ Whitechapel Art Gallery
  6. 17th March 2007 – “Dragonfest”, Grenada, Spain
  7. 27th March 2007 – “Wide Angle Lens Home Movie Party” @ Cargo
  8. 8th April 2007 – Shortwave Easter Special @ 93 Ft E
  9. 17th June 2007 – Noise of Art special “Slipped Disco” @ Bar Music Hall, supporting Githead (formerly Wire)
  10. 29th June 2007 – Soundwaves closing party at Kinetica Museum, Old Spitalfields Market
  11. 28th July 2007 – Swiss Cottage Music Festival
  12. 29th July 2007 – Secret Garden Party – AMP stage
  13. 22nd September 2007 – Rocket Ron’s “Come as you Arrrggghh!” Pirate Party
  14. 4th April 2008 – “Blessed …” launch at The Old Sailmakers, Limehouse, London

 Baroness makes it triple trouble

The post-Olympian landscape oozes by in super slo-mo as you break the sound barrier – topless – in your vintage caddie convertible. Strap yourself in, for you have arrived in the lair of ANARCHISTWOOD …ANARCHISTWOOD is the sound of melodrama & mystery… ANARCHISTWOOD gives you audacioustales of sleaze & danger …. ANARCHISTWOOD is punk-ass-blues-fuzz, sometimes known as cheap trick psychodelia, co-fronted by the helium howl of Funkcutter, indelibly intertwined with colouratura tea strains of SistaDoubleBubbleTrouble, in the fine tradition of B-52s or vintage X. They are indulged with gentle lashings of ripped up punkaway gueetar by the dynamic, enigmatic Mada Nomdak (alias Candi’s Flipped – depending on what dress he’s wearing.   Clem NZ Jones shoots from the root with lo-down dirty bass your mother may have warned you about.  Voodoo mastressesof the universe – The Baroness and Lady Muck – add another Ikette-style dimension to this prison breakout line-up, which has to be seen to be believed. ANARCHISTWOOD is as in your face as Kylie’s bum and yet as distant & serene as the Milky Way.  You can’t miss ’em.
Secret Ring Master

Secret Ring Master

An American’s Passion for British Art : Paul Mellon’s Legacy @ RAA, Oct 07

January 15th, 2009


An American’s Passion for British Art :  Paul Mellon’s Legacy is almost done and I’ve got a free pass.  I’ve been 3 times now, and never would have guessed …  I didn’t even want to like it.  Since I am also a Yank (from south of the Mason-Dixon line, thanks) I was a little suspicious.  Mellon hails from one of the richest American banking families on the planet, holding one of the largest collections of British Art in the world.  “What if this exhibit turns out to be some big tax dodge masquerading as philanthropy?”, I thought to myself?  I was fully prepared to don my best Dick van Dyke mockney and head for the hills, if anyone so much as asked me for directions while I was there.   I suspended my disbelief when I learned that the Royal Academy of Art is celebrating the centenary of his birth with this exhibit, having been made the beneficiary of his will.  I also discovered that the RAA considers him to be responsible for restoring art to its rightful place in the Pantheon, post WWII.   Once I braved entry I was swept away by the majesty of its Palladian interior and up the grand central stair case to catch the lift whose steward actually announced, “Paul Mellon’s Legacy:  The Sackler Wing”.  I drifted along, amongst the guillotined busts staring down with bulge eyes to the door of the exhibit, which was ram packed.

There are 7 categories of focus inside, mainly Georgian on the walls, mostly 17thC in the cases.

SPORTING ART – The gaming that made Britain Grrrr-eat!

“Hunting” is a subject chronicled in art for centuries.  Bearing this in mind, it was difficult not to view the horse paintings mounted on the walls as early 20thC cave art.  Beautiful though they were, I was in the dark as to their importance, other than as paying tribute to Mellon’s favourite British pastime:  blood sport.  It seems that, while reading History at Clare College, in Cambridge, a hunting buddy directed him to his 1st British art purchase from the Jockey Club in Newmarket, Gloucestershire.  George Stubbs’s Pumpkin with a Stable-Lad, 1774, defers to the Newmarket racehorse legend, Pumpkin, in all of his chocolate sheen & muscle-bound splendour, having won 16 of 24 races there in its late-Georgian hey-day.  Well, technically Pumpkin was not Mellon’s first British art purchase, since he did commission Sir Alfred Munnings to paint his portrait, positioned astride his favourite bloodsport stallion, Dublin:  Paul Mellon on Dublin, 1933.  (Mellon’s commissioned portrait is found in the John Madejski Fine Rooms on the 1st floor of the RAA).   Stubbs’s near hysterical attention to detail is made more evident by his etchings of human, tiger & common fowl skeletons, which are described in the lengthy title as  “…comparative anatomical study”.  We are assured of Stubbs’s dedication to process, describing him skinning the animals to draw each successive layer until reaching the skeleton.  Luckily these works hail from his studies at York Hospital, and not from some Silence of the Lambs scenario.    Looking around the SPORTING ART room, hunting does seem to dominate – John Wooton and Jan Wyck’s lush hunting scenarios and Francis Barlow’s 17thC ink drawings of hunting hounds are sheer lyrical mastery.  Amongst the many wonderful illustrated manuscripts in the vitrine, there is a 15th C letterpress book of “Hawking, Hunting and the Blasing of Arms”, presumably written in Middle English, by Dame Julia Berners – in nearly pristine condition.  There is a vibrant, hand-coloured aquatint A3 sized picture book, 17thC, depicting the natural history of India and the gaming that made Britain great, entitled “Wild Sports of the East” – again, nearly perfectly preserved.    Also within the case is a 14th C pen & ink letterpress manuscript on parchment, instructing its medieval reader on chess, heraldry and “craft of venery”, illustrated with woodcuts, watercolour and the occasional gold lettering – I couldn’t believe my eyes and almost stroked my own chin to make sure I wasn’t wearing a wimple.  In spite of my post-structuralist arrogance, I had to give Mellon his due for acquiring seminal specimens of Britishness, and for his careful, meticulous devotion to their preservation.

I couldn’t move to the next phase of the collection, without mention of the most visible work of the exhibit:  A Zebra, 1763, another Stubbs creation.  The horse por(n)traiture of Stubbs, Ben Marshall & James Ward is curated so that the paintings seem to lead up and point to Zebra, in which the subject is positioned like an Egyptian hieroglyph – profile view so that the eye follows you around the room.  The painting celebrates the arrival of the 1st zebra on British soil, transported from the Cape of Good Hope, S Africa, as a present from King George III to his baby consort, Queen Charlotte.   This “African She-ass” – their words – is a true celebrity, and her presence in the collection speaks volumes – cultural integration and exotic status symbol for the wealth of the British Empire.   We are enlightened by the info that Stubbs’s friend, Dr William (ahem) Hunter, RA’s Professor of Anatomy, provided him the opportunity to paint this portrait for King George III – any American’s arch-enemy.  Is there a Groucho Marx-ist, American passion at work here?  I take a deep breath and move on to LANDSCAPES

LANDSCAPE – The Magic Hour

The Landscape rooms are divided between Finished Works and Studies.  The former feature some rather obscure paintings of JMW Turner, alongside his characteristically stormy seascapes; serenely luminescent landscapes of Gainsborough; surreal pastoral paintings of John Constable and a few other notables.   There seems to be a common visual motif weaving through the work of these three artists in Mellon’s collection:  gold suffused skyscapes informed by dawn or dusk, a quality of light known to filmmakers as the “magic hour”.  Turner is certainly a renowned sorcerer for nearly projecting light, rather than merely reflecting or conducting it from his paintings.  However, I was not prepared for my range of response to the different ways he manipulates that “calm evening glow” – as exhibited in Mellon’s collection.  Witness Staffa, Fingal’s Cave (1831-32).  I am drawn to the setting sun on sea in the background, before realising the imminent danger of being devoured by the mouth of a storm and swallowed by a black tidal wave in the foreground. It is truly frightening, very sneaky of JMW and I don’t want to get too close:  call it Impressionism by default.  This is extreme distancing device to make even Berthold Brecht wince just a little.  Then there’s Dort, or Dordrecht:  The Dort Packet Boat from Rotterdam (1817-18) depicting a boat taking refuge from a passing storm at sundown.  Local merchants, in rowing boats, have corralled the passengers and are conducting trade.  Though traumatic for the passengers, it’s business-as-usual for the locals.  Is it trade or aid, I can’t be sure, but I feel as if I’ve had a good cry, just looking at it – shock/relief is written all over this painting.  The notes explain that Dort is Turner’s nod to the 17thC Dutch golden age of painting, and I deduce, to Holland’s reign of Empire enabled by their navigational prowess.  Read familiar?  The juxtaposition of blasé merchants engaging traumatised, soft-target passengers in the “art of the deal” with a ghetto of other packet boats in the background – set against sunset – insinuates  the end of an era/empire to my eye.   Hmmm, here’s the sunset of one golden age of United Kingdom, as depicted during the golden age of another United Kingdom, and then purchased for display by its hegemonial COO and former colony – Hey, Paul, this is getting really good.  One other honourable mention from Turner is Vesuvius in Eruption 1817-20:  a fine example of a capriccio or imagined view of happenings/mythology from Venice.  The Venetian subject matter would also adhere to the spirit of the Grand Tour, whereby a wealthy young Englishmen would complete his education by seeing the world in the company of a painter as guide, with Venice/the Veneto being the principle destination. Vesuvius is a far cry from the hazy-climate ambience often associated with Turner’s work.  The nocturnal sky, defined by a crescent moon – perhaps a new moon – is lit by the volcano.   I am inspired by the notion that this painting could embody the mind-blowing, revelatory adventure of the Grand Tour – providing opportunity for experimentation, discovery and thus individuation.   Where do I sign up?

LANDSCAPE STUDIES features preliminary sketches and drawings by notable English artists including Alexander (senior) and John Robert (junior) Cozens, Richard Wilson, Turner, Constable, Gainsborough and other OBAs.  There is nothing displayed here that departs dramatically from the recognised styles of the “finished” landscapes to which they contribute as works in progress,  though there is some interesting process revealed – particularly in the watercolour sketches of Turner and the chalk drawings of Gainsborough.  Constable’s 1819 cloud study of actual meteorological conditions in the sky is beautiful and fascinating.   How British is that?  So obsessed with the weather, he frames it.  In any case, Mellon’s collection demonstrates his vast appreciation for the creative process and not just the finished product – the makings of a proper patron for my money.   In fact, it is the various sketch books and ancient manuscripts displayed in the vitrines throughout the exhibit that steal the show.

TOPOGRAPHY & THE PICTURESQUE – Hallucinations of poetic device?

Here are painting/drawing structures or landscapes as vehicles for visual record – Topography – and inspiration – The Picturesque.  My favourites are the works that convey crossover, surely the two concepts are not mutually exclusive.  Anyway it’s  fascinating to gaze at 18th C London, right-here-right-now, as a Naughties local:  pencil & greywash perspective drawings of Old St Pauls Cathedral  and a pagoda-style “waterhouse” that once inhabited the Thames – both pre-Great Fire of London structures (1663) – draughted by Thomas Wyck;  a pen and ink drawing of Southwark, by Wenceslaus Holler.  Canaletto’s Warwick Castle (1748-49) is also on display here: an excellent example of going above & beyond the call of topographical duty.  There’s a definite smirk on the face of Warwick Castle.  I was drawn to it because it first presents itself as the most flat and cartoonlike Canaletto I’ve ever seen.  Just look at those Georgian figures parading and posing on the lawn – which is described as a Lancelot Capability Brown design-in-progress outside the moat.  They almost look like paper dolls.  There’s defo some dodgy dealings with the characters ascending the landscaping from the water.  Some of the Dandys are fishing in it.  Follow the flatline frolic to your right and you see some shoddy-looking shady characters climbing the fence, to crash the party above the apathetic eye of an obsolete toy guard dog.  Follow the flow to the background and you see a quaintly portrayed ghetto of townie rooftops.  Mercantile barbarians are at the gate.   Warwick Castle, itself, is in the throes of piecemeal renovation:  medieval fortification modernised to be William the Conqueror’s castle to Tudor to Elizabethan to Georgian to “Gothick” windows superimposed on the crumbling stonework.  Oh, and they just happen to colour-coordinate with the pannier-ed and wigged out posers on the lawn, not to mention the useless miniature dog.  The castle is truer to life than the people, but is this sort of visual commentary defined by Topography?  Compare his more naturalised figures on  the River Thames in The City of Westminster from near the York Water Gate (1746-47) swept away in a tidal wash of activity.  York Water Gate is in construction in the background – Empire as work-in-progress, check.  Canaletto may not have liked the English, but at least he respects England.  Apparently he journeyed here to be near his English patron, since travel to the Continent was tricky during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars.  He spent close to a decade here, so he was definitely shaped by “Englishness”.  Perhaps there was an equivalent of a Grand Tour for European gentleman and their accompanying artists, to refine craft and vision on the island where Empire was a contemporary phenomenon – a sort of informal, fraternal exchange programme. 

Paul Sandby’s Roslin Castle , Midlothian (1780) is a fascinating specimen of Picturesque mocking Topography whereby the subject matter is deliberately obscured, sinking into its gorge and relegated to backdrop.  Very non-Claudean.  The real happening here looks like an outtake still from the film “The Wicked Lady” (1945), if Margaret Lockwood’s highwaywoman were to wrestle the camera from Leslie Arliss’s hand.   Sandby paints an action portrait of Lady Frances Scott playing with a camera obscura, as if it were a dulcimer, perhaps reeling out the Scottish march named after her – 18thC ‘Lady Scot’s Reel’, by Daniel Dow.  Didn’t she lend a songbook to Adam Smith?   According to his correspondence – he couldn’t be bothered to return it.  There she is, Lady Frances Scott (The Lady of the Lake – Sir Walter Scott?) reeling her star spangled banner anthem, singing from the same hymnsheet as the high priest of Capitalism and keeping a camera eye on the Key bridge (as the Francis Scott Key Bridge is known in Roslyn County, Virginia -the Jamestown settlement state) across the rushing river to the sinking estate, again, at sunset.  A shot heard across the water, perhaps?   We seem to have caught Scott’s friend Lady Elliot in the act of lounging and basking in it, in the way she returns our intruding gaze.  Their boy attendant is wearing shoulders for earrings, nearly hiding in the shady pastoral wild.  This is way beyond pretty, as I understand the term “picturesque” to mean – this is pure political allegory and an earmark for where the twilight years of “painting as visual record” meets the dawn of photography.  There are other beauts here, like George Fennel Robson’s Loch Coruisk Isle of Skye (1826-32), Jonathan Skelton’s Harbledown Village near Canterbury (1757) and Celebration of the Thames near White Hall (1685) by Willem van de Velde the Elder and the frankly amazing hand coloured engraving of  Sir Drake’s W Indian voyage 1586 draughted by Baptista Boazio 1589.  You will marvel at Huguenot artist Jacques le Moyne de Morgue’s ethnographical watercolour of an Ancient Briton, A Young Daughter of the Picts (1585). In my imagination she’s the spit of your Boudica.  Anyway, Morgue moved to Blackfriars in 1580 and Sir Walter Raleigh was his patron.    

The best gifts come in small packages, though – the vitrined manuscripts rule.  Check out Theodor de Bry’s letterpress & illustrated engravings:  A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia (1600) and rethink all notion of American natives as noble savages.  Don’t miss the 17thC translation of Ptolemy’s atlas illustrated with woodcuts or a Woodcocke illustrated survey of America 1582. I’ve learned more about America from a British art collection than I’d care to admit.  The star of the vitrines, however, is James Forbes’s A3 sized manuscript of letters to his wife  illustrated by images of flora and fauna he’d discovered  in Asia, Africa and S America and recorded in vibrant watercolour, during a voyage en route to Bombay (Mumbai) and back, 1766-1784.  There’s an unassuming little A5 sized Channel Sketchbook belonging to JMW Turner close by.

TRAVELS ABROAD – The Grand Tourist is free at last

Onwards and outwards to TRAVELS ABROAD.  The post Napoleonic war grand tour of Continental remains is led by John Warwick Smith’s The Villa Medici, Richard Wilson’s Temple of Minerva (1754), Colosseum of Rome (1778) by William Pars, Normandy coastlines & Venice-scapes of Richard Parkes Bonington and beyond to William Alexander ‘s bell & ruffled Orient depicted in City of Lin Trin, Shantung, with a View of the Grand Canal  (1795).  A Frank Encampment in the Desert of Mt Sinai 1842 – Convent of St Catherine in the Distance (1856) by John Frederick Lewis is an absolute must.

In the mighty vitrines below Pars’s Colosseum is a manuscript of Constable’s memoirs (1843), bookmarked by an autographed letter from John to,  umm John Thomas Smith,  draughtsman, and David Roberts’s record book of sketches & clippings of his grand tour.  Alexander Marshall’s manuscript is opened to late 17thC stunner, St George and the Dragon in mere watercolour.

BLAKE & OTHER VISIONARY ARTISTS – Blake-spotters beware

All right so it’s pistols at dawn, but I don’t get Blake’s illustrations or even inventions, like the copper stamp, so I didn’t bother to elbow my way through the punchy enthusiasts to get an extraordinary comic-book rendition view of a disembowelling  that is the Jerusalem selections (to me).  However, I was perfectly happy to kick some Blake-spotter shin to get to his vitrine-shielded Songs of Innocence and of Experience manuscript from 1795, beneath his mounted illuminations.  Hold me back.  I also had plenty of time for the work of his “Ancients” cult following, made evident by Samuel Palmer’s savage autumnal  Kent-scapes (1820s/30s) Harvest Moon and Weald of Kent.  I nearly had to pinch the punter next to me to see if he wasn’t dreaming that I wouldn’t body block him if he wouldn’t move outta the way … so I could gaze with a 5 centuries stare – point blank range – at Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, opened to the Wife of Bathe woodcut (1483) …. Mastery, indeed.    

GENRE SCENES & PORTRAITS – Who’s the boss?

Women seem to be dominating a new world in the bureaucratic family portraiture of Mellon’s collection, as demonstrated blatantly by Francis Wheatley’s The Browne Family (1790) where Mrs Browne lifts up her skirt to expose her hot pink petticoat and assumes a stance much like an English gent or Louis XIV might do, holding his lapel and showing his leg to demonstrate masculinity.  She’s fishing by the riverside with her other hand, while her husband is sketching the children:  all except for the daughter who’s reaching up to grab the rod away from Mother Browne.  Who’s putting food on the table and who’s looking after the children, here in this genre scene?  This Georgian man was Principle Clerk of Westminster at the Fire Office Insurance Company when the painting was commissioned.  In Thomas Rowlands’s The Exhibition Stare-case, set at the Royal Academy’s Great Room in 1800, Venus stares at her own backside, at the bottom of the “stare-case”, whilst the Royal Academicians,  High Art-ists & other climbers fall on theirs, trying to rise above her on it.  Apparently the 3 elliptical flights of stairs were impossible to climb, so it might have been a dig at Brit Architects too, who knows.  It’s clever and still funny.  I guess the RAA is gazing at its own rear-view mirror with a little wink at you watching her, before you go.  Note to self:  take the lift back down when I do…

An American’s Passion for British Art :  Paul Mellon’s Legacy is one self-ref (v)erential  showing and the RAA  does deserve a pat on the back for cranking out an  awe-inspiring mass of era-defining artists exhibited in this collection, but also for entrusting its care to Paul Mellon and his pro-bono advisor Basil Taylor, from the Royal College of Art.   Mellon cleverly targeted a high-growth market, post World War II, but he demonstrates a substantial investment into its upkeep.  It’s a fascinating tribute to what made Britain Great.  I was also amazed at how the collection embodies the relationship b/w Grand Tourist and advising artist –  with Paul Mellon as Collector and Basil Taylor as his Curator through time.

I was guided through the cool green of the Gamesroom, gazed through amber windows of pastoral and maritime splendour, winding through vitrined gardens & over the ponds into a brave new world of role reversal & hand-over of Empire.  Now that’s what I call Noblesse Oblige.  I might have to treat myself one more last time this weekend.  Merci bien, SG!

Fuck “The View” & the broadcast bitchfight!

January 14th, 2009

 hostile-grrl     hostile-grrl

My favourite saviour of the month – Facebook – has provided me with a perpetual online college reunion. It’s like I never left UT 20 years ago (University of Texas, known to all Texas Exes as TU – The University). I even had a virtual kiss and some hot 3rd base action over the phone, as a result of one gorgeous retrocession. Whilst on FB in London UK, I’m also sitting on the couches in the Winship Building, Austin Tx, shootin the shit with my best buddies all over again – and with multi-media at my disposal. Only a time machine could improve on the model. However, I did stumble upon (sorry for blundering ref to rival networking engine) a very disturbing link posted by one of my very talented actor/musician friends & alumni, Queen Esther, who pointed her virtual remote control stick at Ann Coulter getting an ass whippin from her twisted sisters on The View, last Monday.

Obviously a lap bitch to Palin’s ilk, Coulter was on the circuit promoting her book,  “Guilty”, and the topic of The View’s inquisition was her contempt for single mothers.  It made me sick – not in some streetwise, hip kinda way, and not just from Ann Coulter’s ‘tude:  but because of the state of Women’s Liberation, Feminism, Sisterhood, Womanhood – insert your jargon here.  Her point was that single motherhood is contributing to a rising crime rate.  It’s not accurate, it’s a variation on a theme addressed in the formidable jetset reader “Freakonomics”, by Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt – ie Roe vs Wade legislation’s responsibility for the unexpected drop in crime rate during the early 80s – so last century.  The common denominator, here, is a correlation between unwanted children who grow up to be society’s outcasts as well, and wreak havoc to survive – making war at home.  Not that the children of single mothers are necessarily unwanted or unloved.  Mind you, we never get to that discussion on the programme.  Instead we drool over an ugly, broadcast bitch fight.  The View-er must pick out meaning like arrowheads in a parking lot – bitch, bitch, blah, blah “…Mein Kampf…”, bitch, bitch, blah, blah, “..only citing social science…”, bitch, bitch, blah, blah “…you don’t even have children..” – as the professional frumps roar to score a soundbite.  Shocking, disgusting & perfect for morning TV. 

I was the most horrified by Whoopi Goldberg, who was once my personal best heroine, deftly luring Coulter into a corral of  Pavlov’s feral, frothing she-bitches to ring the dinner bell, whilst that scummy Libber-coyote Babwa Wawa watched, furtively, furiously, fervently fingering herself from the pig’s trough.  The question to Coulter about whether she herself has been married or has children kept recurring, as if it were requisite for an opinion … as a woman.   Nothing surfaced from this determinist din, beyond sporting applause from the suckers in the studio audience.  Meanwhile, the expert panel never clarified or even touched on what IS causing this tragedy in our human family, what is happening with fatherhood and where is the failure in our community to raise our children?  At least Coulter addresses (however feebly) a real problem, which is on the horizon, bounding toward us to bite us in our proverbials.  Cathartic scapegoating from our network icons will certainly not spare us. 

I couldn’t help but see this episode as a little mirror to our failed community, and if THAT is what is raising our children, no wonder we’re in the shit.   “Freakonomics” suggests that female choice has spared us from hell on earth.  Coulter would suggest that female choice is fostering hell on earth.  Which one of these dumbasses is going to deflect her “bait & switch” routine?To think that I ever fantasised about Whoopi for Prez.

It seems to me that this meaningless mudwrestling is more indicative of nearly no women deciding the fate of nations, making final broadcast decisions or making more than 70 cents to the male dollar.  So where did the men go – oh they’re all  jerking off in front of morning television



Elizabeth Galton – the new it-bag of fashion AND/OR missing Links

January 14th, 2009

I’m sure it was the hottest ticket in town, last Thursday 18th Sept 08. Camilla Campbell certainly knows how to throw a summer swansong party in Sloane Square. With the secret code of “SocGen’s Women’s Network: Anthology”, I was ushered into a bedazzling Aladdin’s Den of haute couture, under lock & key … at dusk. The local Sloane Rangers narrowed their eyes and bit their proverbial lip, as I disappeared into Links of London. Even still, they couldn’t have imagined what they were missing. I would soon be privy to the secrets of one of the foremost movers and shakers in town. Elizabeth Galton, Creative Director of Links, herself, would reveal what is to become the new “it-bag” of the fashion elite: the Anthology collection.


I was stunned by the sparkle, but managed to find the lovely ladies who launch from SocGen, and helped myself to the amply stocked array of healthy nibbles in their company. With glass of oaky red wine in one hand, I steadied my purse with the other and squeezed in with my colleagues on the couches to avoid temptation.


The lights were dimmed, the screen was lit and we were on the edge of our seats for the wizardess of glamour, Elizabeth Galton. Cool and poised as she guided us through the dramatic, colourful sweep of her promo presentation, I couldn’t help but wonder if she was really someone behind the scenes. Surely she belonged in front of a camera or on the catwalk – the preferred vehicle for her work, her forte in fact. Svelte and styled to perfection, it was no wonder she was able to soothe the savages on Dragon’s Den, twice – even doubling her money in the 2nd round. But never mind the hype, we all discovered that Ms Galton is one qualified lady. With a Central St Martin’s undergraduate degree in silkscreening & goldsmithing and Masters from Royal Academy of Art, she started her own brand, upon graduation about 10 years ago (no shrinking violet!), and rocked the fashion world with commissions by Gucci, Mont Blanc Swarovski & Mercedes Benz. She’s crafted installations for Harvey Nichols, regularly features in British & Italian Vogue, was the darling of London Fashion Week 06 with her Orchid’ Ready to Wear collection and ‘Orchid’ Diffusion collection, plus she was shorlisted for ‘Bright Young Gems’ at International Jewellery London and for UK ‘Jewellery Designer of the Year’ Award. More recently she has expanded into Asian and Australian markets with her collections – notably Blonde Venus, Australia & On Pedder, Hong Kong. She joined Links of London as Creative Director 2007, to expand collections into new categories.


“Affordable Luxury”, she finessed, when asked about her place at creative helm for Links of London.


Anthology collection

This unique and truly original showcase centers itself on a concept that they name, “Spirit of Discovery”. It focuses on travel, whether globe-trotting on the planet or just jet setting within the realm of one’s imagination – through time, even. East meets West is a recurring theme. The collection also hints at Victoriana style keepsakes and treasures, art with the imprint of nature (the pressed leaf imprint on some pieces nearly dances across the white gold surface) … and even costume history.


The press for Autumn collection includes 11 images showcasing jewelry and watches, but the hero of the collection is the Diamond Capsule Pendant, inspired by the Japanese inrō. The inrō was once a 16th C. miniature case to carry tiny objects, like medicines & identity seals, since there are no pockets in traditional Japanese costume. It is now coveted object d’art. This particular model of inrō is available to order … and worth £28,000, but it is designed to be customized. The wearer curates her/his own inrō pendant, with various companion pieces, including diamond embedded charms, lockets, keys and other personal treasures worn close to her/his chest. There are 4 categories of gem featured in this body of work – Rose quartz, rock crystal, Red Jasper (crown cut exclusively for Links) and Turquoise – all on white 18 ct gold. For those who do not consider 5 figures to be anywhere near “affordable luxury”, not to worry there are also some micro-pave’d diamond inrō available for £2,500 – a bargain, considering how handbags are priced recently.


Watches – “Chinks in the Links of London

Links of London launched their first watch collection AW07 last year. This year sees their 1st Limited Edition range, with a nod to Elizabeth Galton’s expansive contribution as Creative Director. With an emphasis on bling, the “refreshed” watch collection will be launched early October in 4 different irresistible flavours:


Driver Charm – watch as jewelry whereby the miniature time face dangles from the wrist chain as if a charm bracelet. There is opportunity for engraving on the back within a Baroque background, to stress the timepiece as jewelry.


Driver Ellipse – feminine but luxuriously large, they have added two new cocktail watches this year – White & Black – both with diamond indexes (but the White variety lights up at night).


Driver Ellipse Chronograph – distinguished by Mother of Pearl face


Rogue Axis – Evening wear, featuring gold plate case


Next year will see the launch of a new family of sport watches in February 2009 including an exclusive range which hosts 365 diamonds – one for each day of the year. I didn’t dare ask the cost. If I have to ask, I can’t afford it right?


Driver Edition 16 – only 16 models of 5 editions, so extraordinarily exclusive. The look suggests “provenance of Sloane Square”, but there are 2 more varieties within this spec:

Baroque –female/curvey – more decorative or Gothic

Art Deco –male/geometric –defined by style of London landmarks


Driver Chicane – launched by the sponsorship of British Formula 3 driver Henry Arundel, this is a particularly sturdy model boasting a titanium PVD (powder vaporized deposit, don’t you know) coated stainless steel case. Competitive, where timing is everything whilst on track, and perfect for road rage at rush hour during the oil peak.



The Anthology collection is quickened by diversified teams of fashion experts and watchmakers all over the world, including those in London at Hatton Gardens and nearly onsite, just around the corner from the Sloane Square outlet, at Duke of York Square. Designs are submitted for approval by Elizabeth and other directors. Elizabeth admits to being passionately involved in negotiating the final result, sometimes hotly contesting decisions in the sign off process, with a dedicated creative temperament. She also has the final word on the promotional campaign for her bespoke couture. This writer was amazed that someone as serene as Elizabeth Galton could be a dragonlady in the boardroom, but it is obvious that she gets what she wants.


When asked how she would avoid the fate of Burberry’s or Tiffany’s – providing cheaper product which spirals to high street overexposure and a Chav reputation, her reply betrayed a savvy and acumen beyond what would be perceived as a pure “creative” talking. She acknowledged that it was a seamless skill to tread a fine line between affordable product & blatant exploitation in the journey from brand to product, especially in the context of Far East “snide”. She revealed that her trick is sheer mastery of design – “raising the bar of luxury”- and quality materials, whilst maintaining adequate pricing: solid business fundamentals, really. As an example she cited her designs with rock crystal as apropos for office wear to lunch on Sunday. Galton is pitching for middle market and her design flair is trump.


It seems like there is palpable chemistry between Links & Galton. The promotional campaign is definitely informed by Galton’s theatrical flair for catwalk design; and while the actual designs for Anthology are more daring and bold than traditional Links fare, they are also a departure Galton. Elizabeth Galton, the brand, is renowned for its outrageous and extrovert qualities. Indeed some of the showstoppers for her Orchid Gem series, created for Swarovski, border on Centurion style performance art pieces – woman as warrior or even some variation on the theme of a floral iron maiden. Her choices for Links of London are more intricate and draw from real, functional moments in costume history. She has triggered a different emotion with her newest works. Though she jokingly refers to herself as the “Anti-christ” of Links, Elizabeth Galton is definitely leaving a luxurious mark on Links of London.


Links of London Background

Started from the kitchen table, literally, of Annouchka Ducas and her husband John Ayton, two London fishmongers. They tried unsuccessfully to find a pair of salmon cufflinks for a client and had a pair crafted at Hatton Gardens which they designed themselves, and then sold to Harvey Nichols. Opened a shop, referred to as “the fishbowl”, in Broadgate, 17 years ago, and have since expanded to Hong Kong, Dubai, USA, Canada. October sees an opening in Japan and in China, next year. In July 06 sold up to Folie Follie Group.