Posted by on Nov 11, 2016 in Art & Fashion, Front Page

“It was terrible having to finish the picture after the men were lost. Like painting ghosts.”

A RAAF crew of a Lancaster Bomber from No 460 Squadron RAAF. Left to right: 408034 Flying Officer (FO) M. W. Carroll DFC of Ferntree Gully, Vic; Sergeant D. G. Champkin, RAF; 414807 Pilot Officer T. J. Lynch of Toowoomba, Qld (back); 404507 Squadron Leader E. G. D. Jarman DFC (Captain) of Yeppoon, Qld (centre front); 404467 Flying Officer (FO) H. R. Harrison of Lismore, NSW; 404503 FO F. G. Jackson DFC OF Lismore, NSW; 411227 FO R. L. Neal of Grenfell, NSW.

I discovered the artist Australian artist Stella Bowen at an exhibition in 2003.  One image out of the brilliant works on display has endured in my mind since and which I turn to every Rememberance Day.

Adelaide-born Stella Bowen’s life story is a fascinating tale of artistic hardship, difficulty and passion.  During the second World War, Bowen was one of only three women to be appointed as an official war artist and her appointment, initially for three months, was extended to a total of 20 months full-time.

This painting, said to be Bowen’s most recognised works, remains one of my most favourites.

“Bomber Crew” is a portrait of Australian Lancaster bomber No 460 Squadron RAAF at RAF Binbook, England.  Bowen started preliminary sketchings of the squadron – which seemed to go unnoticed by the crew and on 28 April 1944 six of these seven young Australian men took their final fatal flight over Germany and never returned home – one of the crew, Pilot Officer Thomas Lynch, was later discovered alive in a German prisoner-of-war camp.

After their fatal flight, Bowen finished the painting from official photos and the preliminary sketches she had made on that fateful day.  She chose to paint the men as group as if they had posed in front of her.  Of the painting she said “It was terrible having to finish the picture after the men were lost.  It was like painting ghosts’.

Every time I look at this painting I can’t help but stare at their young faces, full of courage, strength and vitality and wonder at the tragic loss of not just these young men, but of the millions of other brave souls who have perished in war.

‘Bomber Crew’ and many other works from Bowen’s time as official war artist is on display at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.  If you would like to see Bowen’s sketches of the crew, go to https://www.awm.gov.au/exhibitions/stella/detail-p5-i58.asp

[Images from the Australian War Memorial]

Posted by on Nov 5, 2015 in Art & Fashion, Balanced Life, Inside Style, Lifestyle

Most of us know of the event that is regarded as the most spectacular on the fashion calendar, that is The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute’s annual Gala Ball, chaired and hosted since 1995 by editor of US Vogue, Anna Wintour.  Each year the Costume Institute explores fashion history via an exhibition and since the first ‘midnight supper’ held in 1948, the Ball is a fund-raising event for the Institute.  It’s THE event of the fashion season and if you’re deemed ‘fashion worthy’ by Ms Wintour herself you will be one of the lucky ones to receive an invitation.

Each year the exhibition holds an extraordinary event styled in extraordinary ways and one of my favourites was the 2007 gala ball to celebrate the work of brilliant early 20th century couturier Paul Poirot with the exhibition Poirot, King of Fashion.   The Museum was done up to represent a pleasure place from the tales of Scheherazade and included swinging lanterns, table cloths, seat covers and cushions in Poirot’s fantastical designs.  To sit in the room that is literally covered with works from this brilliant designer’s repertoire is my idea of event heaven.

Posted by on Aug 29, 2014 in Art & Fashion, Fashion, Lifestyle

Aussie actress Isabel Lucas has been chosen for the cover of a new book ‘Young Hollywood’ by photographer and stylist Claiborne Swanson Frank.  The book features sixty of the hottest and emerging women artists including actresses, directors, and stylists.  Published by Assouline the book will be available from 1st September.

Posted by on Apr 27, 2014 in Art & Fashion, Featured, Lifestyle

I just found this print that I purchased from the QAG 2012 Portrait of Spain: Masterpieces from the Prado exhibition.    The painting is of  Doña Amalie de Llano y Dotres, “The Countess of Vilches’ by Federico de Madrazo in 1853.  I love the blue of her dress, the feathered fan, her elegant hands and her serene sweet gaze.  Bonita.

Posted by on Nov 12, 2013 in Art & Fashion, Celebrity Style, Fashion, Featured

Fashion heaven!  Just bought the latest edition of Australian Harper’s Bazaar with A-MAZING cover of Nicole Kidman and bonus notebook with artwork designed by fashion duo Romance Was Born.  I’m a happy stylist

Posted by on Jan 22, 2013 in Art & Fashion

John Singer Sargent painted this double portrait of Isaac Newton Phelps Stokes an American architect and his wife Edith Minturn Phelps c. 1897.  I saw this painting in ‘real life’ and was struck by the image of Edith Phelps.  Her confident stance in front of her husband which was unheard of in those times, her choice of dress to be painted in her smart daytime clothes instead of a glamorous gown which was the norm, and her modernity – if you took away her period dress her image could easily be transposed to our time, yet her husband’s face and hair is completely dated to that era.  I bet Edith Phelps was a smart and confident woman in charge of her life – and her man.

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