Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Soul of an Artist...

I have finished Just Kids, Patti Smith's autographical work that tracks her early life, and her meandering artistic growth, largely in and around New York city from the late 60s. Many of these years were spent alongside Robert Mapplethorpe, incognito; just kids getting by, experimenting with different art forms and expressions of self, exploring their boundaries and opportunities just as they do the streets and buildings themselves. Like two street-wise alley cats, ever-hungry, ever eager, they are always on the move yet ready to bask in the bright light of some ephemeral beauty too.
We trace the period before either became famous in their own right, sharing a common survival instinct and a some-time lucky streak in this often unforgiving city. Both are forever driven forward and bound together by an artistic force that is a lifeblood. Their unique vision binds them as they look out onto the world and into themselves with the eye of an artist, a creator, almost comparable to deity itself. Theirs is a mutual admiration and appreciation of the other, but it is not blind and Patti Smith does not flinch at observing painful realities. Ultimately this leads to a union more enduring and of greater purity than a simple romance or lasting friendship of fond youth. Whilst experimenting they both find their respective artistic media – or rather fame seems to find them therein…

Patti Smith’s 1978 hit Because the Night led to international success, although she was, and still is, far more than ‘just’ a singer as her poetry, drawings and writings (such as this book) attest. Robert Mapplethorpe found fame as the renowned yet often vilified photographer whose work redefined photography as an art form whilst pushing limits of perceived decency and accepted artistic expression to the extreme. I came across some of his most controversial photos in a bookshop many years ago; these are not my thing on any level. However, it would be a mistake to limit his name and scope to these pieces alone and indeed his still-life work and portraits offer edginess without the hard-core sexuality of his most controversial homoerotic works. Likewise, Just Kids enables you to see further into Robert’s talent and beauty more than an observation of the X pictures alone. Patti Smith’s account of their unique relationship is so pure and loving that we are left with the feeling that death could never truly rupture their ties, just as Robert Mapplethorpe’s homosexuality could never break their bond, it led both to redefine it. That must have been down to the fact that Patti Smith seems to be able to see into the person and beyond, looking at the man and the creator, god-like but fallible. Maybe that’s the kindred soul of an artist.

Actor Matt Smith (of Doctor Who fame) is currently taking on the role of Robert Mapplethorpe for a forth-coming film. I do hope the film producer has read Just Kids

Tuesday, August 29, 2017


One of these days, the garden centre is going to kick me out for taking photos of their wares! I do usually purchase something, however, so I'm not totally shameless.

My eyes are generally riveted to those plants that would probably never survive life on a fifth-floor balcony.

The ones here are beautiful hibiscus, whose colours are often so bright that they seem to burn the camera lens, to the point that it can't reproduce their intensity.

Some of the final, fully-blown flowers are literally the size of large saucers, but initially unfurl from these pod-like buds.

Some of these folded petals looked like umbrella fabric, waiting to be opened out to reveal the full, delicate flowers within.

Not to mention those amazing stamens with rich pollen!

Some time ago, I had the great luck to watch tiny hummingbirds feeding from these, right in front of me, in South America. Magical!

Some petals seem papery and crisp, with intricate veining throughout...

But others appeared softer, with their ruffled layers. Suffice it to say, I'm looking forward to seeing the next collection of plants at the centre - rather like an art gallery, in fact!

Monday, August 21, 2017

P***ed Off...

Yes, feeling very p***ed, having lost all of my photos from this year, when the hard drive of my computer died on me. The above is the only one I have remaining of a visit to Fontainebleau, the rest have all been flushed away, along with all the other visuals of 2017. Meanwhile, the D.I.Y missions that I undertook weeks ago are still very much 'Work In Progress', even if my patience and enthusiasm dried up some time ago. Hmm... P***ed indeed!

A few days later.... Managed to salvage one photo from goodness knows where in the murky depths of my computer. Here are two partners in crime - ever ready to commit acts of feline felony on the home front, especially where D.I.Y is concerned!