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  • Shelley Dark

#20 final week at Kew

​'When you buy or commission the work of a craftsman you buy more than just an item or service. You buy hundreds of hours of experimentation. You buy days, weeks and months of frustration and also moments of pure joy. You’re not buying an object, you’re buying someone’s heart, a piece of their soul, a part of their life. More importantly you're allowing the artisan more time to create.'

This is Florence - neat, petite, warm and trusting. Speaking to her this morning was the highlight of my day. She has that quote in fluoro orange letters on the window of her shop, Frame Kew, which I pass on the way to the archives.

​Florence's apron

She read Art History in Brussels, has a certificate in Gilding and Restoration, and learned her craft in her Belgian mother's framing atelier. She also worked for Henri Bolsens, antique dealer, restorer and master gilder.

So when you bring your work of art to Florence for framing, you're not just buying a frame. You're buying Florence's passion and that's very special. She also has her hands full running a home with husband and children.

My research this week has been very similar - a week of frustration punctuated by sneezing fits from the dusty old books, and rare moments of pure joy! I've also started to wear my jumpers inside out so that I don't wreck them totally with big black marks across the belly.

All necessary for my end goal, and very rewarding. Now the security staff greet me - it's not nearly so intimidating!

Many of my 'documents' are huge old books which I put on a trolley - I feel like Jerry Lewis as a medical orderly, trying not to crash into the tables of other researchers!

​Mind you, I don't wear my coats too long or drop my yellow tags....

This was my view from the Library section this afternoon. I had to let down the louvres...

This gorgeous creature was yesterday's high point. I'm at the archives when they open, and still there at closing, and I've been feeling a little panicky that I won't have enough time before I go home. So rather than meeting elsewhere, darling instabuddy Julija (pronounced you-lee-yuh, on Instagram as @nejafeja) came to the archives to see me. It absolutely made my day.

She has an MA in art history, a wonderful Russian accent, and a heart as big as the vast Russia steppes. I adore her kind warmth and enthusiasm, her fierce independence and can-do attitude. And a formidable artistic talent.

It hasn't been easy for her to make her way in London, especially with her mother still in St Petersburg. A photographic artist herself, she runs guided art walks of the Tate Modern, Tate Britain, the National Gallery, the Wallace Collection and the private art galleries of both Mayfair and East London. Sounds like a plan next time I'm in London!

Her card is actually snowy white! I took those two photos tonight in the bathroom which is why they look a funny colour. Sorry Julija! Gorgeous website too!,

One of her recent reviews says: Fantastic experience when in London. Modern art explained in a way that takes you on a tour inside the artist’s head. Amazing. Also great with children, mine stayed interested throughout the tour and even started creating their own stuff back home.

​Aeroplanes fly over the archives all day on their finals to Heathrow. I took this shot this afternoon on my way home.

They make great abstract patterns taking off don't they?

The ducks and swans on the lake at the archives paddle fast towards any human being nearby! Looking for food...

This dark green hedging shrub is flowering here with the tiniest insignificant flowers. The sweetest lingering fragrance had me backing up to see what smelled so good! One of you will know - is it an eleagnus?

​Each evening as I walk back to the pub, I notice different things. That photo above was on a late closing day.

It's a visual feast in a ten minute walk. Here's a few flowers on the way...


On a footpath table at the pub.

This on the footpath nearby - I'm trying I'm trying!

It looks pretty outside the pub doesn't it? I took this this morning. At night, there's lots of people.

I've always wanted to pull a beer. Love these taps in the bar. Young's beer apparently has a very good reputation.

photo courtesy Coach & Horses Hotel

This is the library - this evening it was closed for a function.

A blind wine tasting event. I think that means pink-blind-folded so you're relying on your sense of smell, not a description of the way you'll end up. Maybe both.....

Dinner was something I never cook at home, but I love! Lambs fry and bacon!

Sure does look like comfort food doesn't it?

There's no more reliable rose than Iceberg is there? That's your flower for today.

I've lots of documents ordered for tomorrow so I'd better have some beauty sleep. My final post will probably be from home next week. Lots to do in the meantime. So until then buddies, I wait you!

Over and out from 44B.

ps. Today was 22 degrees C. The weather for this whole month has been nothing short of amazing.

shelley dark, writer 

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