Crooked House

A country life in France

A bit of a facelift

Roz’s Journal Prompt for today, over at Autumn Cottage Diarist is:

How do you beautify your home on a budget? What memories of the past do you have of yourself and your own parents & family doing the same?

I am not certain that I have much to say on this topic but perhaps if I begin to type, some thoughts will jostle their way to the front. (UPDATE: yes, I seem to have managed that… I do go on a bit, don’t I?)

Settling Down and Putting My Stamp on It

Without doubt, this is something that I want (and need) to do at The Crooked House. I feel strongly that I have yet to make my mark on this home and am often heard to say to the Crooked Man that I really want some Art on my walls. I suggest that we make a point of visiting galleries and shops when away on our travels and yet, it simply seems not to happen.

I do peer in windows and I do say “that would look lovely in the sitting room…” but I just cannot make myself spend the money! That’s my thrifty Yorkshire heritage at play.

It was not always so and I invested in some key pieces for my walls in the years that I lived alone and had to answer to nobody at all when spending my money. That was fun. I developed a taste for the (earlier, not so sure about his later paintings) surreal works of Neil Simone and over the years bought three of his limited edition prints. I also enjoyed picking up limited editions and originals from as-yet-unestablished local artists at shows, which are a great way of acquiring pieces that speak to my soul but without incurring a significant expenditure. A bit like buying Premium Bonds, there is always the possibility of striking gold further down the line – though I buy only what I love and therefore how could I part with my pieces, no matter what their value.

I had a nice collection of Nudes in the bathroom and my bedroom. They raised eyebrows because they were entirely female. I see nothing wrong with finding the Female form aesthetically pleasing and do not believe that it necessarily implies something about my sexuality, but there you are. Folks can be funny. My favourite was picked up at an Art Society exhibition in Scarborough and I paid a tenner for her, one of a limited edition of ten of “Nude in Blue and Orange” but I also had cheapie prints from chain stores and favoured some of the old classics… Renoir etc.

This one hung over the toilet cistern in my little flat in Leeds for some several years. I love her. She migrated to our bedroom when we were in Orkney.

Well, part with my pieces, I did. We disposed of everything that we owned, bar the clothes that we stood up in, more or less, when going off to live full-time in a van. We did not see the point of cold storage given that at that time we had no intention of settling down in another house. But, settle down we have done. And I have bare walls in need of filling.

Roz’s use of postcards and prints in recycled frames is a terrific idea, one that I have done myself in the past, and one that I might again emulate at some point in the future. Particularly useful are the books of tear-out postcards that can be had from museums and galleries (or, apparently, also via Amazon). But supporting local artists is also a great idea. I don’t wholly exclude myself from this category and have a strong feeling that I should like some prints of my own photographs on my walls, yet at the same time I have an equally strong feeling that it’s not quite tasteful to flaunt one’s own work on the sitting room walls!

This is one that I should quite like in my sitting room:

Bicycle at Gastes, November 2017

Would you do it? Do you do it – hang your own work in your home?

I am reminded that I asked a friend if I might have a print of one of his photographs. I really must organise that.

Homemade Art – not simply paintings (or photographs)

Reading back the Journal Prompt, to ensure that I keep on topic, I (belatedly) picked up on the question about Family and something went ping in my memory. My Grandfather made marquetry pictures and they were hung on the wall in his house and I recall being utterly fascinated by them. These may have been what sowed the early seeds of my lifelong love for real wood and its many patterns and textures. My father learned the skill from his father and I can recall watching him at work, the results of which went up on the wall in our own home. In more recent years I developed an urge to learn the skill myself and purchased a kit in order to start. It never was started and disappeared in the great sell-up when we left Orkney. Perhaps there is time remaining in which I could learn the skill.

The Poster

I am very much a child of my Time and was a teenager in the Sixties. My early Art preference took the form of The Poster. The cheapest of large Art! My first home decoration was in the flat where I lived when I was first married. It was a rainbow-shaded poster with a Hobbit theme; a line drawing that depicted Rivendell captioned, “Within the walls of The Last Homely House, a new world is revealed.” It hung on the back of the toilet door and I contemplated it daily. A little piece of escapism from the joyless cage in which I had imprisoned myself (a story for my Left Luggage Office.)

Athena black and white art posters were an aspiration for years and I mourn the loss to the High Street. My favoured purchases, had I ever been able to “waste” the cash at that particular time would have been the Athena classic of the young Johnny Depp and/or that garage mechanic holding out the two tyres and baring his rippling torso (anyone remember that!) Tennis Girl did absolutely nothing for me…

The Importance of Art

Art is, I believe, essential to the Spirit. It uplifts. It provides a solace and a peace, if chosen carefully. It can reinforce memories. It need not be expensive, as Roz points out, and might even be one’s own handiwork, it seems – even if not “an Artist”. My latest, though not very recent, cheap art purchase was of three miniature hand-painted greetings cards of stormy scenes of the bay at Balnakeil, up on the north coast of Scotland. I bought them in a gift shop for under ¬£2 each (!) and purchased a three mount frame from a local shop in Kirkwall when I arrived home from our trip, then hung the frame in my bathroom. Your cheap Art could be a wax crayon scribble stuck to the fridge with a magnet. It’s all good. Art is not what others define. Art, like Beauty, it seems is very much in the eye of the beholder.

I acknowledge that my home is empty without these personal touches and I thank Roz for the reminder that I need to do something about it soon. The Crooked House needs enlivening!

I tell a Lie…


Actually, I have just realised that my most recent Cheap Art purchase was not those greetings cards in Scotland but is under the stairs, waiting to be pinned up in my kitchen.

Not great Art; probably does not even deserve the capital A – but something about it spoke to me.

I like it. It matters not one jot if nobody else does.

It’s a cheap mass-produced “folksy” print of a farmyard subject that I picked up in a local charity shop for one Euro (I think).

Time to get out the hammer and nails, perhaps.

Getting one’s ducks in a row

And this in turn reminds me that I need to get my ducks on display. I won’t reveal all at this stage as my ducks really need a post of their own. Keep one eye open for them.

2 thoughts on “A bit of a facelift

  1. Absolutely loved the whole of this, Beth and you are living proof of the concept of ‘just start writing and the words will come…’
    A thoroughly enjoyable read.

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