Sunday morning and the sun is shining. I was up with the magpie on the orders of a builder who is supposed to be repairing my roof. It's his second not-coming; he supposedly passed by my house on Friday but described an utterly different building. He insisted that I was up to greet him at 8.30 this morning; it's now beyond 9.30 and I have that foolish feeling one has as a teenager upon realising that one has been stood up, yet again.
I have an absorbing task to do today but i don't want to dive in just yet. Instead, I'll briefly relive Thursday's visit to the Hannah Hoch exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery.
Caroline Coon and I meet up every so often to look at art together, and then converse over food about anything and everything we can think of. She puts colour where so much of the London experience is black-and-white; circling a gallery is an enriching experience because she knows so much about politics and the history of art. She knows that Hoch's severe cropped'n'slashed hairstyle itself was a dig against Hitler and his Rhinemaiden chic of blonde plaits symmetrically laid down bountiful Aryan bosoms in parallel thick gold chains.
Hoch was a precise collage maker; my favourite pictures are the simple ones where, for instance, a delicately trimmed face merges faultlessly into a set of wings. There is something lovely about the colour of the faded newsprint and the shapes of the collaged figures against the plain backgrounds, and there is none of the sense of exuberant randomness that we find in some collage. Beneath the careful snipping and selection lies a heart of seething rage and a great deal of bravery.
Later in her life she was able to watch herself and look back on her past with some objectivity; a very large collage summarises her life and shows happiness and contentment in a lustrous garden.
I particularly liked the film; it's so absorbing to watch someone draw confident lines on white paper, and this had an odd coincidence with an idea on of the students I'm supervising told me about that morning for a video.
So to cake and coffee and politics: Caroline gets one to question one's opinions while stimulating the formation of new ones. I feel lucky to have met so many women through writing my book and researching essays, who act as catalysts not just for myself but for so many other women (and men).
Caroline's website is carolinecoon.com . You will always find stimulating writing there (and some beautiful paintings).