Friday, 11 June 2010


Oh, England has a good feel to it this week, surprisingly so. There is sunshine and happiness in my house - and I had the good fortune to be invited to Glyndebourne by Damian Elwes to see Cosi fan Tutte. We have been friends since we were 14 when we used to meet at house parties in the country during the holidays. He is now an artist and lives in Santa Monica, Los Angeles. The glories of Facebook put us back together. There is something very comforting about old friends - although Nicky Haslam's quote, "a good new best friend is the best kind of friend", is truthful, too. Anyway, I love seeing most of my pals old and new, and we slipped into a cozy familiarity as we headed to Lewes.
Damian's life has been remarkable, but I won't tell you it all, it is better from the horse's mouth. Educated at Harrow School, then Harvard, with his passion for nature, poetry and travel, he carries his intellect with great grace. He recalls one saga after another and I could easily have listened to him for another few days. His early life spurred him to paint, his father committing suicide when he was 15 obviously affecting him. As a result of the ensuing depression, he decided at Harvard to do a thesis on Keats.
As we arrived at Glyndeboure, we were allowed to see the library the Christies have collected in the main house. There on the shelf was an old complete edition of Keats - sadly slim compared to its neighbours, as Keats died young. Damian read from this book with clarity and beauty.
By the way, Damian is not part of the Brit Art world. He should be but he is not, He was not educated at St Martin's. He is not trendy, but his body of work is noticed. He is just a bit too well read to be part of the trendy mob here, and differently educated. His collectors, however, are huge household names and his shows are usually sold out.
His lively paintings of nudes and artists' studios will delight you - the stories behind each painting are quietly and interestingly explained - and he currently has an exhibition at Moreton Metropolis,41 Berners Street , Serena Morton's new gallery.
Actually, I recently spent a fascinating time in Los Angeles, where Damian told me he had discovered famous artists' studios that were wrongly documented. The stories were intriguing. So when you meet Damian, get him to tell you, and make time for his colourful, liveable art in your soul and try to enter his. There, you may find that if you listen he could help change the planet. There should be more room for him in this hard, tough art world.
In such good company Cosi flew buy, with charming performances and pretty sets. A fun interval was spent eating with Lady Helen and Tim Taylor and I will tell you about that another time...

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