“They’ll always remember me in “Vertigo”, and I’m not that good in it, but I don’t blame me because there are a couple of scenes where I was wonderful”. Kim Novak.

This square shows Kim Novak and Jimmy Stewart in a scene from Vertigo. Cinematography by Robert Burks.

Having spent the last couple of hours reading about Kim Novak, I now feel sad. About Hollywood. And women. And Women in Hollywood.

You can see it here.

The square was cut from a BFI leaflet.



Fernanda Oliveira and Alejandro Virelles


The square is a scene from Le Corsaire, and was cut from a leaflet for the English National Ballet. The dancers are Fernanda Oliveira and Alejandro Virelles, and the photograph was taken by Perry Curties.

Conrad, the dashing pirate, braves the high seas to rescue Medora, the beautiful harem girl who has been sold as a slave.

Based on The Corsair by Byron, which sold ten thousand copies on its first day, 1814.



Mr and Mrs Clark and Blanche


The square shows a section of a David Hockney painting, Mr and Mrs Clark and Percy, 1971. I cut it from Tate Guide (Feb/March 2015).

Mr Clark is the fashion designer Ossie Clark and Mrs Clark is the textile designer Celia Birtwell. They are in the bedroom of their Notting Hill flat with their cat, Percy*.

When Celia and Ossie were married in 1969, Hockney was their Best Man.

* I have just heard from my friend, John Loader, via Woman’s Hour (he thinks), that this cat is in fact not Percy but Blanche. Blanche did not sound good in the title. They did have a cat named Percy, but this is not he. Thanks, John.

The whole piece is here.


The Moomins


“I lived on this great big housing estate in suburban Liverpool, from a working class background, and somehow this bohemian, upper middle-class, Finnish lesbian eccentric felt like she was speaking directly to me.” Frank Cottrell Boyce.

Tove Jansson, writer, artist, creator of the Moomins (in picture above) was born in Helsinki in 1914. She was great. Just great.

You can see the whole piece here.

The square was cut from a BFI leaflet.


Underground Shelterers


“One day we heard that a bomb had destroyed the home of a classmate, Derek Barnes. His mother, father and baby sister were killed. Our class clubbed together to buy him a Meccano set. To this day I can see him standing forlornly as he received his gift and said goodbye to us, presumably to start a new life with relatives”. John Gent, a retired London Transport worker, talking in 2010.

During the Blitz, Londoners took shelter into their own hands and went deep underground. The government had forbidden this. During a raid, people would simply buy a ticket and occupy the station. 60,000 people would gather underground. Eventually, the government had to bow to pressure.

This station is Swiss Cottage, London Borough of Camden. It was closed in 1940, so the chances are it was not in use at the time of the photograph. Records show that 41 ‘high explosive bombs’ were dropped in this area.

Sadly, the shelterers are unnamed.

You can see the whole piece here.

The picture was taken from ‘The London Bus And Tube Book’ by Nicola Baxter. Design Consultant, Jeremy Rewse-Davies. Editorial Assistant, Sharon Appleton. Photographer uncredited. Published by Hodder and Stoughton, 1994.

Bought by Bromley Libraries in 1994, and sold to me, in a rather knackered state, in 2010.


Paddington Station, 1937


“In Britain, a cup of tea is the answer to every problem.
Fallen off your bicycle? Nice cup of tea.
Your house has been destroyed by a meteorite? Nice cup of tea and a biscuit.
Your entire family has been eaten by a Tyrannosaurus Rex that has travelled through a space/time portal? Nice cup of tea and a piece of cake. Possibly a savoury option would be welcome here too, for example a Scotch egg or a sausage roll.” David Walliams, Mr. Stink.

This square was cut from a National Railway Museum Diary given to my mam, then given to me unused. Published by Frances Lincoln Limited, 2014. It shows a passenger at a refreshment trolley, Paddington Station, 1937.

You can see the whole piece here.


Polly and Dolly Barnard


“No small dabs of colour – you want plenty of paint to paint with”. Sargent.

When I was a student, thirty years ago, I lived in Camberwell, a walkable walk from the Tate (now Tate Britain). I walked this walk pretty much every weekend. There were a handful of works I would always scrutinise. This square was cut from an image of one of them. Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose by John Singer-Sargent, 1885-86. Seen in the flesh, it is one of the most exquisite paintings I have ever seen. I had subconsciously thought the title of the work referred to the girls’ names. I scrutinised the brushstrokes, not the commas. Having not seen the painting for a number of years, I saw it again recently-ish, as part of the Sargent exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery. It was there that it dawned on me, the title could not be the girls’ names. My irrational dislike of artists who do not name their sitters reared its ugly head.

Turns out the title is taken from a song by Joseph Mazzinghi, ‘The Wreath’. The girls are Polly (right) and Dolly Barnard, daughters of illustrator Frederick Barnard.

It was presented to the Tate by the Trustees of The Chantrey Bequest, 1887.

You can see my whole piece here.

The square was cut from ‘What’s On, March-May 2015’, NPG.


Anita Ekberg and Marcello Mastroianni


“It’s an Italian movie, but even with the subcaptions, I don’t know what’s going on. They had Jesus hanging off the helicopter, but you could tell it was a dummy.” Uncle Junior, The Sopranos.

Anita Ekberg as Sylvia and Marcello Mastroianni as Marcello Rubini, in La Dolce Vita, 1960. Directed by Federico Fellini. Cinematography by Otello Martelli.

Synopsis: Tabloid columnist, Marcello, wanders around Rome and cavorts in a fountain with Sylvia. A news photographer, named Paparazzo, gives birth to the word paparazzi.

Legend has it, during the famous fountain scene, shot in winter, vodka-fuelled Mastroianni wore a wetsuit beneath his clothes. Ekberg stood in the cold water for hours in her dress without complaint.

When Mastroianni died in 1996 The Trevi Fountain was turned off and draped in black.

The square was cut from a BFI leaflet, May 2015 (found on the Southbank).

You can see the whole piece here.