Hatfield & The North


This post is for Hank & Paula, friends from the USA who have visited London so many times I think they know it better than we do. They really should be showing us the sights but instead we go out of town for a change. Last time we went to the Henry Moore Foundation at Much Hadham so it seemed appropriate that this time we should meet by his Large Spindle Piece outside King’s Cross station. Read more

Frames of reference

A September Garden


Every time I buy a plant I save the label, if there is one. A recent search for a particular label spurred me to lay the entire contents of my label box out on the lawn. Seven years of gardening has furnished the plot with over 170-plus plants – not including the ones that didn’t come with a label, or boxes of seasonal bedding plants. Read more

Frames of reference

Casa Museo Ivan Bruschi


Ivan Bruschi was an antiquarian and collector and founder in 1968 of the Fiera Antiquaria in Arezzo, the first and still the largest antiques market in Italy. He was inspired by his frequent visits to London’s Portobello Road. After his death in 1996 his home was opened as a museum, but without labels. It’s a treasure-trove of anonymous artefacts, a cabinet of curiosities. Read more

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In Arezzo


On the first Sunday of each month the streets of Arezzo are lined with stalls filled with antiques and bric-a-brac for the Fiera Antiquaria, one of the best known antiques markets in Italy. Read more

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Between Object And Architecture


Tate Modern has a new offspring, grown out of the former power station’s oil tanks. It’s called the Switch House, with a similar tweedy brick texture to its parent building – a new London vernacular. It has a utilitarian look with no decorative frills, polished concrete inside, minimal, neo-brutalist, multi-storey car park aesthetic but beautifully tailored. In retrospect it feels a bit like we just visited an enormous new sculpture and discovered inside the seeds of its own germination. Read more

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Livres De Poche


Barjac brocante, hot day

Dear Chris, I’ve just got back from Le Gard & Ardèche. Here are some sketches from my trip. I bought some old Livres de Poche paperbacks and painted on the pages. I like the quality of the paper. Hoping all is well, good wishes, Chris. Read more

Frames of reference

My Garden Studio


I built my large wooden studio in our garden more than 30 years ago. I previously had a number of productive and happy years sharing a studio in Holborn with Graham Crowley, Vanessa Jackson and others. But when the men in suits with laser rulers came round we knew our days in the studio were numbered. The building owned by the church was to be converted to flats. So with the help of a few friends, including very fortuitously a master carpenter and an architect, I decided to build my own. Read more

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An August Garden

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Bees and butterflies love Verbena bonariensis, which is at its floriferous peak right now. I rescued two large pots of it from B&Q a few months ago – they were sitting atop a trolley and hadn’t been watered for probably a week. They were brown and crispy, but I could see that there was a little life left in them at the base. They were marked down to fifty pence, so I took a gamble and parted with a pound. I took them home, chopped all the foliage off to the base, and stood them in a bucket of water. Now they are huge plants, waving about in the breeze with purple puffs of flowers atop 5ft high stems. I’ve planted one in the border but haven’t decided what to do with the other one. Maybe it’ll stay in a pot, to be moved about the garden wherever there is a stage for dancing flowers. Read more

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Pieve Di Corsignano


One evening we came down the hill from Pienza to see the original parish church, which dates from the time when the town was still known as Corsignano. Luckily we found the caretaker sweeping up rose petals after a wedding and he invited us to look inside. Read more

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In Pienza

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Pienza was the creation of Pope Pius II. He was born here in 1405 when it was known as Corsignano, and in 1458 he commissioned the architect Bernardo Rossellino to replace it with a Utopian new town, intended to be the rival of Siena. The buildings around the main piazza were built within three years, but the rest was never completed. The ideal city remained little more than a village. Read more

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