Today is Saturday - my last night here at the At Home B&B. Went into Oxford Circus today and Soho - to the Photographer's Gallery on Ramilles Street. My favorite of the gallery exhibitions was the top floor where there were photographs and along with them, text explaining how the photographer reacted to the death of a loved one. Very moving - a photo of a woman having her toenails painted so that she would look good when she died; a cat in a tiny white coffin with a small white blanket over him - I took a photo of the photo. And as I read about the death of the photographer's beloved black and white cat, I felt her sadness. Now earlier today, I was thinking about Sophie Calle, one of my favorite artists, and guess what? The photo was by Sophie and the essay about her cat - how she picked out a model white casket from a funeral home and buried the cat in her garden. Now of course, I was struck by the loss of human life and the reactions of the photographer. In one, she came every day so that she wouldn't miss her father's last words. Every day, a new whisper, sometimes odd words, sometimes significant ones. She wondered if his last words would be ultra meaningful or meaningless. One day he said the word 'petrol' which convinced Sophie he would live another day since the word was too ugly to end one's life with. It is all about our lack of control in someone else's death. According to Sonya Bones in Ekphrasis  in her analysis of Sophie's commentary on her father's death, "we often create conditional links in our mind to fool ourselves that we have control over an uncontrollable situation."

The following is an excerpt from The Guardian about the Deutsche Borse prize, Wednesday March 1, 2017 by Sean O'Hagan:

Laid out in a tiny white coffin, his face peeking out from under what looks like an embroidered tablecloth, Souris the cat looks serene and slightly ridiculous – anthropomorphised by the human he has left behind, now his nine lives are exhausted.
There are several intriguing images in this year’s Deutsche Börse photography prize shortlist, but none more so than Sophie Calles portrait of her deceased pet. Above Souris, a framed text recounts his passing: “Florence stroked him. Anne put him to sleep. He died.” Then these words detail his funeral service: “Yves buried him. Serena planted daffodils around his grave.” The deadpan tone, typical of Calle, is heightened by the payoff, a phone message received from a friend: “Sophie, I am sorry about your cat. Could you ask Camille to pick up some vegetables, maybe leeks or turnips if she sees any? Kisses.”



Souris almost steals the show in the French artist’s small but perfectly formed exhibition, My Mother, My Father, My Cat, a meditation on mortality that walks a fine line between grief and deadpan humour, though, as is often the case with Calle, how deadpan or how humorous is open to question. Her mother, for instance, is represented by a photograph of a stuffed giraffe, her father by a ram’s head, both of which are, for her, emblematic. Elsewhere, the tone is more elegiac, with photographs housed in small wooden frames that recall holy icons.
Beneath a snapshot of her mother, young and alive, splashing in the waves of the sea, is an extract from the woman’s diary, dated 28 December 1985: “No use investing in the tenderness of my children, between Antoine’s placid indifference and Sophie’s selfish arrogance! My only consolation is, she is so morbid that she will come visit me in my grave more often than on Rue Boulard.” Calle’s work is confessional, but never straightforwardly so, as this quiet, playful exhibition attests.
I had time to go to the shop and bought a postcard of a black and white photograph of a young girl near a wall with graffiti. It was British photographer Roger Mayne who died in 2014; he is known for his photos of West London in the 50s and 60s.

My next stop after wandering all over trying to find both the Photography Gallery and the famous bookstore, Foyles on Charing Cross Roads with five floors of books, plus a gallery and cafe on the 5th floor. It's where I had a very late lunch/early dinner - sort of cafeteria style with salads and small tarts and soups and desserts. Great coffee - a flat coffee is two shots of espresso with a little milk; an Americano is just black coffee - the latte seemed to have way too much milk.

I was going to go to Pimlico to the Tate Britain to see some of my favorite PreRaphaelite paintings but had a late start; plus, Ealing Broadway is quite a way even using the tube. I forgot my Oyster card which really saves a lot of money so had to buy a RT ticket. I've done quite a bit of walking and ended up taking Tottencourt Rd tube station back to Ealing Broadway. The highlight of the day was a very rousing and energetic musician playing his electric guitar and singing - I took a short video of him shaking his booty - it was part of his song but not the one you might be familiar with. I gave him a pound since I liked him so much and evidently lots of other people did too as he had quite the collection of coins on his jacket on the ground. Also, what I have noticed about taking the tube and observing people on it is that a lot of Brits were reading books, nearly equal in number to those who were talking on their phones, texting or playing with those annoying fidget things that spin around.

Home again - a lady upstairs in another room said that there was a worldwide Cyber attack yesterday which may explain why the Internet wasn't working. Will have to look that up.
Off tomorrow to take the train to East Grinstead on my way to Forest Row at the Brambletye Inn for one night and then my Emerson College Alchemy of Pigments five day course.

Learn the alchemy and processes involved in making your own set of watercolour and gouache paints. The roots, berries and minerals that we will be precipitating, grinding and binding, all have layered correspondences that link to the planetary archetypes.
Using compasses and straight-edge we will create mandalas that also resonate with the planetary patterns.

Alchemy of Pigments and Sacred Geometry

An example of a sacred mandala

I brought along some small jars in the hopes that I can take home some of the more interesting pigments. Compasses and geometric templates are available to purchase - I haven't used a compass since high school! From the first image, it looks like we are really going to get into the origins of pigment by grinding with bones? Mortar and pestle seems a bit more appealing but I wonder how fine you can get the particles?


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