Saturday, 13 June 2015

Get a Life! A Brentwood State of Mind...

Brentwood, California, population 35,798, is the Los Angeles district where Marilyn Monroe's ambiguously debated death occurred thirty-two years previously in the early evening hours of August 4, 1962. Brentwood is also the psychic nexus of the O.J. Simpson/Nicole Brown saga, somewhere between 10.00 p.m and 11.00 p.m., June 12 1994.

Brentwood does not exist. Not technically. It is a hilly, canyoned Los Angeles suburb - a ZIP code: 90049. Letters sent to Brentwood will be returned to sender. Roughly 250 letters a day end up in the small, Northern California town of Brentwood, ZIP code 94513.

In the daytime, Brentwood is almost exclusively a city of women old and young, focused on a small band of retail strip along San Vicente Boulevard. There are women peppered with hunky aspiring actors and slinky actresses springing about from auditions to gym.

Brentwood gives the impression of being a 1970s future utopia, one with a secret at its core, perhaps a pleasant secret and perhaps an unpleasant secret, but a secret that nonetheless remains fiercely protected. Brentwood, like Palm Springs, offers a version of an alternative future that might have occurred had certain factors not continued unchecked, futures that daily seem less probable.

It was into this neighborhood that Nicole Brown Simpson landed after her divorce, in a $650,000 condo near the noisy southwest corner of Bundy and Dorothy, on Bundy, a condo that would cost maybe $350,000 were it in most other parts of the city.

One Brentwood resident who grew up in Brentwood Heights (above Sunset: equidistant from Monroe's and Simpson's houses), now in his twenties, calls lower Brentwood a divorcée ghetto. Three of his best friends from high school had parents who divorced, and all three mothers ended up "in the ghetto. Only my own mother [also a divorcée] got to keep the house. She's the exception."

If people here are annoyed with O.J. Simpson, possible double murder aside, it is only because he broke the covenant of invisibility. The corner of Rockingham and Ashford is going to be a tourist attraction for the next one hundred years, like it or not. Will this effect land values? Yes. But in which way, who is to know? Michelle Pfeiffer, although she lives below Sunset, has already chosen to move away to avoid the hubbub.

Just outside the Union 76 station at the corner of Bundy and San Vicente, a donation of a dollar, say, purchases you a photocopied sheet of "Poems for Nicole Simpson" by a local street entrepreneur wearing a felt-tip-pen-on-cardboard sign saying: MORE POEMS ABOUT NICOLE SIMPSON. Business in brisk. Locals say, "At least he's offering something original and new."

On San Vicente Boulevard, dark rumors float about Brentwood's no-fat cafes, phone machines and the brightly lit aisles of the Vicente Market - rumors too dark, too dreadful to mention, for to speak the word is to give life, and who will spawn this monster?

Perhaps these rumors are true. Perhaps time will tell. Perhaps it will all be forgotten.

Meanwhile to hinder the "lookie-loo's", thru-traffic is blocked on both sides of Dorothy. An LAPD officer beside his motorcycle keeps traffic flowing.

The front of the alleyway in which the bodies of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Lyle Goldman were found has been screened off by a dozen or so dwarf plantings of Australian tree ferns and Nile lilies behind a new enclosure of green-plasticated chain-link fence that separates the walkway from the sidewalk (this part of Brentwood has sidewalks).

Signs put up by agitated neighbors saying "GET A LIFE" and "GO HOME THERE IS NOTHING 2 SEE" have been taken down. By August 4, late afternoon traffic no longer concertinas to a grind the way it did in the initial sensationalist frenzy of a few weeks ago. But it still slows down.

There are a few joggers and dog walkers - Brentwood's only two species of residential pedestrian - and all are wearing Walkmans.

It was a dogwalker who first found the murdered bodies.

Douglas Coupland

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Everything Stops for Tee...

In addition, I am also frequently to be located within the annals of Regency history and in particular the year 1815 as the design for an abode for the delightful Lord Byron and which I have called 13 Piccadilly Terrace continues...

'A Portrait of Lord Byron in the Hallway of 13 Piccadilly Terrace in the Year 1815'

And although the pots of distemper paint, lime wash and brown mahogany wood dye have been packed away for the moment, a large cardboard box containing the gorgeous silks for the soft furnishings awaits...

I can handle fabrics that I can glue but, alas, the art of the needle is beyond me!

'The Drawing Room of 13 Piccadilly Terrace in the Year 1815'

It is fortunate that as I am also an enthusiastic social networker who travels through cyber space to the lands of Blogger and Facebook, tumbling into Tumblr and ‘tweeting’ to Twitter, I have been able to meet other miniaturists whose skills can more than compensate for my shortcomings.

Artists such as Louise Goldsborough of Angelique Miniatures have positively embraced the art of miniature couture on my behalf and Hayley Bedells of MiniMunchies has managed to create a delicious feast or two for my ‘Small World’ inhabitants which is something my own family have been known to long for!

Now what I most long for is a nice cup of tea and perhaps a chunk or two of chocolate!
Bye for now!

It's Tee Time!

I am also the artist and designer of St Margaret's Miniature Parish Church and Parish Hall which is an old church and a parish hall with a scruffy and charming graveyard that captured a sense of our history and yet is forever changing... a peaceful place for reflection and thanksgiving that remains "alive" with the human presence.

Celebrating Pentecost at St Margaret's Parish Church... Somewhere in a Small World!

It was the artist Henri Matisse who said that "there will always be flowers for those who want to see them" and although I am no fan of his work, I do love his philosophy!

For many years I lived and breathed a world of flora and fauna as a floral designer and although my life has taken many strange twists and turns since I began as a 'green-fingered' recruit in my teenage years; there will always be a place in my heart for a flower or two.

'Something Blue' Cheerful Pots of Daisies Await...

Having already created 'Bouvier's Flower Shop' several years ago, I have simply been unable to resist the opportunity to design another small world of flowers and so I have created the Brentwood Flower Market which now can be found nestled within a quaint Tudor building that has all the appeal of a typical rustic flower shop and which remains alive with the human presence.

The Brentwood Flower Market Prepares for All Hallows Eve...

Bye for now..

The Blogs that Feature My Work!

When in Doubt... Brew Up!

I have been creating small worlds in miniature for over ten years now and the passion to design and create a miniature world remains just as intoxicating and challenging! Which, I might add has also left me a little lighter in pocket!

Vision and inspiration for the creation of my small worlds comes to me in all different forms, the pages of a history book perhaps or a television drama series or even within the pages of a contemporary magazine I find myself reading while waiting for an appointment!

'The Terrace Garden of Nicole's House...'

My small worlds have included the Gothic Castle Dracul perched on a snow covered mountain to the trendy and "hip" Themis, a fashion boutique inspired by the "Swinging London" boutiques such as Biba and Granny Takes a Trip.

There is also Surf's Up!, a surf store that is complete with it's own beach and guaranteed beautiful weather...

'It's Time for Lunch... Somewhere in a Small World!'

 And "Dolce Vita" is a fantastical Patisserie that can be found in a shopping street on the All Hallows Hamlet  which is a collection of fantastical magical buildings where the weird and fabulous collide!

'Decisions, Decisions...'

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Memories of a Magical Christmas...

Christmas, 1993, was blissful in the O.J. Simpson household. A 6-ft tall tree sparkled in the family room - decorated with gold bows that Nicole had lovingly made by hand...

Carefully wrapped gifts were piled under the tree and the atmosphere was warm and festive...

Cora Fischman, her prominent doctor husband Ron, and their children, Michael, 11, Leslie, 9, and Nicole, 5 were guests at O.J.'s pre-Christmas celebrations at the Rockingham Avenue mansion on December 23...

"It was a magical night," Cora recalls. "Everyone felt it..."

They sat down to champagne and caviar while the kids feasted on pasta and chicken from Rosti, their neighborhood Italian takeout restaurant...

Explains Cora, whose kids were eagerly looking forward to spending part of the festive season with Sydney and Justin: "Christmas brings the young child out in everyone..."

"The kids had been getting very excited about opening the presents. Their expectations were rising all night..."

Nicole and Cora had decided in advance to be "sensible" and keep their presents to one another under $100. 

"So Nicole gave me a fake Chanel zippered pouch," says Cora. "I still carry it with me every day. I gave her a huge jewelry box covered with a tapestry print that came just under the limit at $99.99. Nicole loved it."

Cora says: "Nicole absolutely loved Christmas and always insisted it should be spent with her family. She told me, 'It's a time for bringing loved ones together...'"

Nicole's Last Christmas...
Star Magazine
December 27 1994

It was only after I had bounded up the stairs and into the warm and festive loft, did I realise that I was not the only visitor to Nicole’s house this Christmas Eve…

For perched upon one of the beautifully gifts piled up under the tree was none other than Murphy!

Determined not to intrude upon his thoughts as he gazed upon the portrait of Nicole from underneath the tree, I crept quietly away and left my gift in another corner of the room.

However my presence had not gone unnoticed and as I went over to have a chat with the feline, I saw no sign of the usual playful glint in his large copper-coloured eyes…

To Be Continued...