News, sad news, just sent by our stringer in the West Country, of the demise of a local institution. Shiver Me Timbers salvage yard.
All the above images are from John Stumbles. And they certainly capture something of the combative vibe you could find there. But what they don’t include is the owner himself. The late Terry Gray, known to everyone in town as Trader Gray. And I mean known. He used to drive around in a camoflage-painted truck with ‘GET YOUR HAIR CUT’ painted on the side. I remember him showing up to a party at 4am playing a (salvaged?) tuba.
This wonderful film by Sky Neil captures the man on camera. I love her voice-over, which says, with affection, “Terry Gray is one of the rudest people I have ever met in my life.” Check out Salvo’s report on his very unique funeral here.
But while the old site is today no more than a bonfire, it’s heartening to see that Trader Gray’s son, who has owned the business since his death, has set up elsewhere. Still claiming to be ‘the most westerly salvage yard in the UK’, you can find a rather cleaned up version of this Penwith institution in nearby Crowlas. They even have a website.
A great picture of the original Grosvenor cinema in my old stomping ground in Glasgow. There’s still a cinema on this site, but it’s a ghost of its former self. Nearby was The Grosvenor Cafe, an old Italian greasy spoon where you could get a cup of tea with a digestive biscuit. Belle & Sebastian formed there and Donald Dewer was a regular (him and a million students). When it changed hands 12 years ago, it was moved into the cinema opposite, its charming old booths dumped in the skip – except for one, allegedly rescued by B&S’s Stuart Murdoch. All of which is to say I’m on about lost buildings again. Head to Completely London to read about a few ongoing campaigns to rescue London landmarks – plus the story behind a Nunhead pub saved by a local campaigners.
Another photography project, reminding me of a decorating trend I’ve been contemplating recently. Andrew Miksys spent months travelling through Lithuanian, seeking out discos in rural villages. Brilliant. A bit like my teenage years in Cornwall. I found the pictures on the Mail (of course). The paper took a rather sniffy (I mean xenophobic) tone, but as far as I can see a disco is a disco. I wanna go!
As the gent said of the Mail’s coverage, ‘They’ve obviously never been out in Paisley.” He thought painting the whole room pink was the definition of ritzy-ness. And it goes without saying that I quite agree. Even the wires, Even the pipes.
I’m declaring it a trend. or, as I’ll be shouting as I dance under a Lithuanian glitter ball some time soon… tendencija!
My interiors ‘expertise’ is self-taught, but I originally trained (in the very slightest way) as a dancer. Not often that the worlds of dance and architecture are specifically combined, so today I’m sharing the work of Pablo Bronstein. Here he is at home in Bethan Green, working on some architectural drawings.
He works in live performance, with a choreographer, and creates what the Tate website describes as ‘spoof historicism’. The Guardian suggests he’s ‘part architectural draughtsman, part fabulist.’ How wonderful. Here he is on the buildings that interest him:
“I’m a fan of the Charing Cross Station enlargement by Terry Farrell, and I love the MI5 building. They are very, very, very unfashionable buildings, but everybody knows them. One thing I like about architecture is its attempt at aspiration, its desperation. I’m not excited by good-quality, decent, sophisticated buildings. I like buildings that want to be seen as better than they are, not trying to be good design, trying to be loud design. I’m not a fan of integrity.”
This video shows what he’s up to – I’ve watched it twice now and I love how disorientating the mirrors are, and the way it achieves its amazing effects live, with just a bit of walking around and a few pot plants. Watch for a couple of minutes – it gets more and more complex and hypnotising.
Those are my Ercol kitchen chairs looking splendid with their embroidered cushion friends. As mentioned before, half of my husband’s family hails from Bethlehem, so for many years we’ve been gifted various embroidered items by The Bethlehem Arab Women’s Union.
The Union was originally opened as a first aid centre for refugees from 1947-48, when Israel was founded. Today it’s both a community centre and an HQ for income-generation projects for women with economic difficulties. The embroidery project began in 1968 as conditions of living under occupation were worsening, and in recent times has become increasingly crucial because of high unemployment rates among men (more about those issues here).
There are quite a few projects like this one throughout Gaza and the West Bank, and in 2005 Bella Freud tried to highlight their work in a feature for Vogue. She took Stephen Jones, Katie Hillier, Markus Lupfer and other fashion designers to the region, explicitly to create awareness of the skills, boost industry and encourage ties with international companies. I stumbled across the story in an old pile of tear sheets just the other day and wondered if there were any lasting results from this jaunt eight years ago. A quick look at the catwalk reports would prove that, er, anyway…
Did you know that Bella Freud also co-founded the charity, HOPING, which aims to help the children of Palestinian refugees? There was some controversy last year when Tilda Swinton wore one of the Bella’s scarves (designed for the charity) in a Vogue shoot.
Oh, it’s been one helluva year. The best cure? Always a trip to the seaside. This time it was Whitstable, and a stay in a converted fisherman’s hut. Wow. First, the colour combinations. I wouldn’t have associated red, black and green with the seaside, but it was everywhere.
Right on the beach, these huts are just gorgeous. Recently done up inside, the first floor bedroom was, we both agreed, the nicest room we’d ever been in. It was the light, and the view of the sea, like sleeping in a boat. You can hear the clanging of the beached boats and the swish of the sea all night.
Of course, the inevitable happened, and talk turned to how to get our hands on one of these beach-front beauties for ourselves (no chance, btw). Just next door is this. Run down, ramshakle and empty. Stag Cottage is subject to ongoing ownership confusion I think. Why else would it stand empty on this otherwise chi-chi seafront? Still, imagine it.
All that (broken) glass. Imagine the light…