Monday, 11 February 2013

Trifle in Bed


Rembrandt's bed

David Allan Origin of Painting 1775

Proust's bed

'Proust's Bed' Richard Pettibone 1966

Tolstoy's silhouette traced onto the wallpaper after death.

Rembrandt's 'The Bed' 1646

This morning I horrified the octogenarian ladies in the 'gym' (ladies only, very gentle, mostly cycling and yoga gymnasium where people regularly wear kilt-skirts, slippers, twinset and pearls) by saying I would rather be at home in bed eating trifle. In fact this silent vow got me through the hideous gung-ho activities such as scaling alpine mountains in espadrilles when I taught alongside ex Gordonstoun staff in an International School in Switzerland. Leo Castelli I hear operated entirely from his bed, as did of course Proust (poor Marcel he is buried in a kingsize tomb in Pére Lachaise next to his extremely sporty brother and father). Aristocrats, regularly used to receive visitors while they lay propped up in their nice warm bed, people sitting around chatting, drinking tea and knitting.

Some people however are fantastic dynamos and find bed boring, a trap a coffin and a drag.
My mother in law for example has fantastic energy and hates being in bed for too long, her husband, more of a sleepy Leo, like me, could lounge there all day.

Bed is an intimate space and our Tracey capitalised on this with her bed sculpture. Times I have been in bed for a long time: having measles aged five during Charles and Diana's wedding, being depressed in my teens and hiding from school. (I was reminded of this the other day as two of my friends have children who feel the same at the moment). Living on a boat as I did for some years is really like living in a floating coffin/bed and while it can be soothing to be suspended in an amniotic river (The Deben & The Seine) it is like living in a chrysalis and I would not recommend it to anyone who has a less than robust mental health (mine is certainly less than robust).

Frida Kahlo of course spent many years in bed and probably longed to be able to escape it. Helen Ede spent much of her time at Kettle's Yard in her bed.

Above is a rather amazing trace of Tolstoy's profile drawn after his death. It seems to perfectly mimic the Butades of Corinth story of the maid tracing her lovers silhouette so that she can remember his when he is gone.

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