Month: June 2014

“My Bed” by Tracey Emin for sale tomorrow at Christie’s

My Bed by Tracey Emin

My Bed by Tracey Emin

Charles Saatchi, art collector and ex husband of kitchen goddess Nigela Lawson, is selling one of his most famous works of art My Bed by Tracey Emin. Created by Emin in 1998, it was exhibited at the Tate Gallery in 1999 having been shortlisted for the Turner Prize and then subsequently bought by Saatchi in 2000 for £150,000 who installed it in the dinning room of his Belgravia home in London.

I enjoyed reading the Daily Telegraph interview with Emin in which the artist speaks about who’s likely to buy it and advises on hygiene issues. It’s estimated to sell for between £800,000 – £1,2000,000. I had to laugh when I read, ‘The only certainty, she said, is that it will not be quite the thing to appeal to a Middle Eastern buyer. “It’s not likely to end up there, is it?”‘

Detail from My Bed by Tracey Emin

Detail from My Bed by Tracey Emin

Personally I respect Tracey Emin and what she does. She takes risks, bares her soul and exposes her dark side as can be seen in this work replete with dirty knickers, used condoms, empty vodka bottles, an overflowing ashtray, a selfie (before selflies) and various debris reflecting her life and state of mind during that period of her life. From my point of view she’s saying, “I’m in a dark place right now but I’m not ashamed to be here. Yes, I have a dark side – here it is in all its glory.”

It takes courage to expose and embrace your dark side even to yourself privately. Doing it publicly brings it to a whole new level and that’s what makes this work iconic because the point is we all have a dark side but once it’s exposed there’s nothing to hide. She had the balls to go public with it and I really admire her for that. Who will buy it? And for how much? Update: It sold for £2.5 million last night but it’s not known yet who bought it – well not publicly anyway. Don’t look at me.

My Bed by Tracey Emin

My Bed by Tracey Emin

Schmoozing with Royalty at the Society of Women Artists 153rd Annual Exhibition

HRH Princess Michael of Kent

HRH Princess Michael of Kent at the Society of Women Artists’ 153rd Annual Exhibition

Besides a good cuppa tea, there’s nothing quite like schmoozing with royalty which is what I was up to yesterday morning at The Society of Women Artists’ 153rd Annual Exhibition. Myself along with many artists and art lovers packed ourselves into full capacity at the Mall Galleries, just off Trafalgar Square, where HRH Princess Michael of Kent graciously presented 15 awards. As a teenager there were two women who struck me as being utterly beautiful. One was Debbie Harry and the other was Princess Michael of Kent. Although they both seemed eternally beautiful to a 14 year old teen, beauty passes with age – as I grew older so did they – but the princess still looked great I thought and very elegant decked out in a turquoise ensemble, matching earrings and a Chanel handbag. And I really liked her voice: calm, relaxed and self assured.

Drifting in the Moment by Rebecca Fontaine-Wolfe

Drifting in the Moment by Rebecca Fontaine-Wolfe

Paintings that caught my eye included the large work entitled Drifting in the Moment by Rebecca Fontaine-Wolfe, (oil, acrylic, ink, pastel on canvas, £3,250) and I’m Nobody, Who are you? (Series II) by Irene Lees (black pen on paper, £1,250).

I'm Nobody, Who are You? (Series II) by Irene Lees

I’m Nobody, Who are You? (Series II) by Irene Lees

I was also interested to see Leaves are Full of Voices by Arina Gordienko (oil on canvas, £5,000) whose pictures are used on the covers of three books by Russian mystic Vadim Zeland. I read all five of his Reality Transurfing books when I was private tutoring in Astana, Kazakhstan several years ago. Every morning before teaching I’d bundle up and walk the half mile distance from my flat to the cafe in often – 15 to -20 degrees celius. And I’d stay there for hours eating fried eggs and potatoes reading my Zeland books. It was a very surreal experience indeed.

Arina Gordienko

Leaves are Full of Voices by Arina Gordienko

Love and Self Abandonment at Christies and Sotheby’s London Impressionist Sales

Nu agenouillé et Amour by Pablo Picasso

Nu agenouillé et Amour by Pablo Picasso

Saturday I was in the “elusive brass tack zone” meaning that even though I was bursting with determination to get things done, every time I tried to pick up a brass tack to nail something down it elusively rolled away from me and I actually managed to get absolutely nothing done the entire day.

The plan was to view Southgate  on Saturday morning goal being to find the NITH (needle in the haystack – nail it down once and for all), head into town in the afternoon to view the Impressionists at Christies and Sotheby’s then write about it here on my blog before opening a bottle of vino and having dinner with friends. A doable, enjoyable Saturday by any stretch of the imagination but alas far, far, far beyond my reach.

Instead of going to Southgate I ended up clothes shopping on St John’s Wood High Street all morning. I changed my mind just as I approached St Johns Wood tube station thinking I’ll have a quick coffee before heading north but before I knew it, it was 1.30 pm – and not even one purchase made.

Too late to make it into town, I plonked myself on the couch and started reading the 5:2 diet book my sister-in-law gave me a couple of months ago which wasn’t a bad idea at all because dinner ended up being homemade gnocchi twice. The first plate was with a creamy Stilton cheese sauce, the second with a tomato and guanciale (Italian for cheek lard) sauce. Both were mouth wateringly delicious and I had two helpings of each not to mention copious glasses of red wine. Seen from one perspective what’s not to like: shopping, lounging around reading, delicious dinner with friends. But what about the NITH, the Impressionists, writing my blog? I was in the “elusive brass tack zone” and I needed to get out of it but how?

Les nymphéas by Claude Monet

Les nymphéas by Claude Monet sold for £31,722,500 last night at Sotheby’s Impressionist sale.

Sunday I arrived at Sotheby’s at 12.50 pm just in time to catch the tail end of an invitation-only brunch not that my name was on the list but I went in anyway. There was tea, coffee, champagne and mini Danish pastries so bang went my plans for a healthy eating day. Mind you it would’ve been rude to refuse a glass of champers while looking at Monet’s Les nymphéas which sold at auction last night for £31,722,500 although I could have forfeited the Danish pastries or at least one of them. Still, between the Monet and the champagne I was beginning to feel a lot more relaxed.

NU COUCHÉ by Pablo Picasso

NU COUCHÉ by Pablo Picasso

But it wasn’t Monet to crack my elusive brass tack attack, it was Picasso. The first of his works that caught my eye was Nu Couché (sold for £64,900) – a naughty little doodle drawn by the hand of a 91 year old man – imagine. But imagine too feeling that unashamedly beautiful naked, abounding with the desire to give of yourself unreservedly not just sexually but on all levels. That’s what this drawing captured for me – the joy of sexual life force, female sexual life force.

Les amants dans la rue by Pablo Picasso

Les amants dans la rue by Pablo Picasso

Later, upstairs at Christies I came across Les amants dans la rue, would you believe by Picasso as well. (for sale at Christies Impressionist Evening sale, 24th June,estimate £1,200,000 – £1,800,000 – didn’t sell) Granted it’s a much earlier work, painted in 1900 when the artist was only 19 but I like the idea of juxtaposing these two works. They not only show Picasso before and after he’d formalised his famous style but also before he’d explored his own sensuality. From traditional ideals of love and passion to the driving force of life itself – real female sexuality! What a phenomenal lover he must have been in the end and he would have known it too, I mean just take a look at Nu agenouillé et Amour (sold at Christies for £182,500) at the top of this post.

Phallus familiar by Salvador Dalí

Phallus familiar by Salvador Dalí

Artists make good lovers – there’s no doubt about it. They’re sensitive to detail and have an instinctive desire to go exploring not only physically but mentally, emotionally and spiritually too and that’s a turn on for a woman. But I’m not sure what type of lover Salvador Dalí would have made.  Probably a  bit too self obsessed for my liking. Still, looking at Phallus familiar (sold at Christies for £31,250) he certainly had a good sense of humour. Does he see his big willy (well of course he gave himself a big one) as a mischievous hobgoblin that he’s trying to break free from? That’s what it looks like to me.


Akt Kit Rotten Strumpfbander / Liegender Akt by Egon Schiele

Although I”m familiar with his work, I don’t know much about Egon Schiele only what I’ve read on wiki (he died aged 28) and I kind of followed the Portrait of Wally saga when I was living in New York (you can read the original New York Times report by Judith H. Dobrzynski here).  I’m not sure I’d like to get to know him better but it’s hard to ignore his work. Last night, Akt Kit Rotten Strumpfbander / Liegender Akt (Nude with red garter belts / Reclining nude) sold at Christies Impressionist Evening Sale for £1,930,500.

Coq Rouge Dans la Nuit by Marc Chagall

Coq Rouge Dans la Nuit by Marc Chagall

And then there’s Chagall love: the tantric union of man and woman, male and female, soul mates beyond space and time as in Coq Rouge Dans la Nuit which sold at Sotheby’s Modern Art Evening Sale on Monday for £1,874,500. Yes, I could live with that. I wonder who bought it?

I’ve been hit by a Bolivian Coca Leaf Liqueur


Agwa de Bolivia Coca Blue

Agwa de Bolivia Coca Blue

I’ve been hit by a Bolivian coca leaf liqueur. It’s the strangest thing. Like falling in love, I didn’t see it coming.

It all started last Tuesday evening I was at the Bolivian Embassy here in London celebrating the Occasion of the Presentation of Credentials to her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II The Ambassador of the Plurinational State of Bolivia to the Court of St. James H.E. Roberto Calzadilla or in my language  “the Queen’s official welcome to Roberto Calzadilla, Bolivia’s new Ambassador to the UK. I’d met Roberto twice before, once at the Chelsea Arts Club with artist Gaston Ugalde and the second time at an event to promote Bolivian quinoa here in London. One of his major roles as Ambassador is to promote Bolivian exports e.g. quinoa and Bolivian culture, particularly the coca leaf which is part of their heritage and an integral part of Bolivian every day life. However, when processed it becomes the raw material for cocaine, Bolivia’s largest export. It’s a subject I knew little about before meeting Gaston but one that has tweaked my interest ever since.

This time Roberto stood at the main door of the Embassy warmly greeting each of his guests. He looked very dapper indeed in his traditional Bolivian attire. I kissed him on the cheek and congratulated him before making my way upstairs. It was a lovely warm evening, the doors of the first floor reception room opened out onto Eaton Square, people chatted in groups, quinoa sushi and empanadas were passed round and wine, champagne and a traditional Bolivian cocktail made from the coca leaf were offered on the drinks table. It was a formal event or at least semi formal, but relaxed with none of the stuffiness usually associated with this type of do. More of a South American atmosphere I thought although I’ve actually never been there.

At the appropriate moment, Roberto took centre stage and proudly recounted the day’s activities. I had to laugh when he told us about how he’d arranged with his four year old daughter that, on cue, she feed a carrot to a horse – for a press photo I guess – while they were on their way to meet the Queen, but she was so tired that when he finally gave her the cue she promptly ate the carrot herself!

We all clapped as Roberto finished his speech and was presented with a bottle of what appeared to be a blue liqueur by the man standing next to him. As it turned out, this was the liqueur used in the cocktail I’d been drinking, Agwa de Bolivia, my second one at that stage. To be more precise, and as Tommy who was making the presentation explained, the green version used in the cocktails is made from 40% coca leaf, the blue version, a bottle of which was now in Roberto’s paws, is made from 100% coca leaf.

I wasn’t feeling drunk or even tipsy, more charged with a relaxed-confidence and strangely enough with an overwhelming desire for a bottle of the blue Agwa de Boliva called Coca Blue. Actually ‘overwhelming’ is the wrong word, it was more like the desire had landed from nowhere – completely out of the blue… and I just had to have a bottle full stop.

I’d overheard some one say the makers were Irish. ‘My in’ I thought so without further ado I introduced myself to Tommy as one of his fellow countrywomen probably sounding like a real twat – but didn’t care – I was on a mission. He was very polite and we talked for a few minutes before he handed me over to his colleague John who I basically cornered into giving me his card so I could contact him for purchasing info.

Mission accomplished, I spent the next 20 minutes chatting to familiar faces. Well I thought I was chatting but a friend told me afterwards I was really giving it some on the conversation front. Mind you, later at the Chelsea Arts Club, I bumped into another person who’d been at the Embassy and who’d had the same experience. Ah, now I understood.

So could this be the new Absinthe?

Well what if it is? I’ve never had absinthe and have about as much interest in getting high as I would for standing in a smoke filled pub all night. OMG NO THANK YOU.

Then why did I feel such a strong desire to ensure a “second reunion”? And what does a nice Yiddishe cailín like me have to do with Bolivia anyway?

Beats me but the following day I emailed John saying I’d like to write about Agwa de Bolivia for my blog and how it can be used to promote the Bolivian coca leaf heritage and oh yeah any chance of a bottle of the blue stuff?

To my joyous surprise he wrote back saying he’d send info on their links with the coca leaf and how they’d come to know Roberto and – here’s the bit that got me the most – he’d arrange for a bottle of CocaBlue to be delivered to my flat!

Well last night I got home at about midnight and there, sitting in front of my hall door was a big package. I can’t tell you how excited I am, I’ve already  boasted about it with the girls over coffee this morning. The whole thing is quite a turn on!

I want to get to know this strange new entity in my life. Will read John’s info in the next few days and do a bit of my own research.

But really, what’s this all about?