Friday, August 19, 2011


La Vie en Rose and The Hours-
 TV movies this week.
 Both films won Best Actress Oscars for their leading ladies
and utilise the theme of angst in the Artistic Genius.

Marion Cotillard was great as the legendary French chanteuse
Edith Piaf:

Source: Edith Piaf's Paris.

Poor Piaf lived a life of neglect, abuse, tragedy, car crashes, addictions..
But of course, that is what gave her voice that heart-rending, distinctive and arresting quality.
I always get the shivers when I hear her sing La Vie en Rose.

My Blue Rose is blooming these days,
and has the most heavenly scent.
Blue was the mood of Virginia Wolff, as portrayed by
Our Nicole Kidman, in her Oscar-winning movie The Hours. 
Wolff's great novel Mrs Dalloway, is of course the basis for a fascinating film,
interlinking three story threads:
Virginia in the hours leading to her suicide in the River Ouse,
and two fictitious and interwoven tales utilising themes from Mrs Dalloway -
 so clever.
I loved this book when I studied it at uni, and wrote enthusiastic essays about it, Virginia Wolff, and the whole Bloomsbury Group.
Years ago we were in Brighton, UK,  for a conference, and I was able to organise a wonderful afternoon visiting Monks House, the home of Virginia and Leonard Wolff in Rodmell, near Lewes, then Charleston, home of her sister Vanessa Bell, played by Miranda Richardson in the film.
This is Monks House today:

 Here is a peek into Virginia's dining room:

I love that 1930s green, and the paint effects courtesy of her sister Vanessa and Vanessa's lover,
the artist Duncan Grant.  They had a little girl, Angelica, who is featured in
The Hours.
It was beyond exciting to investigate Virginia's writing lodge in the back garden,
and too sad to look across the fields to the River Ouse where she drowned in 1941.

This is Charleston, not far from Monks House.  In the early 20th century Charleston was the scene of the most amazing country house parties, gatherings of the famous Bloomsbury Group of artists, writers, and other luminaries like economist Maynard Keynes.
The menage included Vanessa Bell and her husband, famous Art Critic Clive Bell, Vanessa's lover Duncan Grant, and his lover David Garnett, who eventually married Angelica! 
They were quite the eccentric bohemians, and exciting artists.
My favourite period in Art History is Post Impressionism/Early Modernism, and I just love their style.
Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant were founder members of the Omega Workshops,
formed in London in 1913 to promote post-impressionist designs in furniture, textiles and household accessories.
They delighted in decorating every available surface in Charleston with their modern designs:

My purchases, from the gift shop in the outbuildings, were prints of two of Vanessa's flower paintings.
People often confuse them with Matisse:

and my treasured wooden coathanger, painted in the Omega style:

If you are still reading this, you can imagine my excitement early this year when, breakfasting at a B&B in New Zealand, we shared a table with a lovely English couple on their 40th Wedding Anniversary tour. 
It emerged that she had worked as Duncan Grant's secretary, at Charleston, sorting his papers in the years just prior to his death in 1978, aged 93.
She knew Angelica, who is still alive in her 90s, and another gifted artist.
I was trembling as I shook this dear lady's hand.

Art Historians are like that.


  1. A lovely post Patricia. The blue rose is beautiful, I so hope to be growing my own roses one day.
    Virginia did indeed have a tragic life and end.

  2. Watched La Vie en Rose last night.

    It was my idea to drown out the noise from Hurricane Irene.

  3. Oh Margaret, I hope you are safe. We have little information about the hurricane in Australia. Thanks for commenting on my blog, and hope you enjoyed the movie, under the circumstances.