Ylva111's Blog

Goat with a tyre and other London treats

March 6, 2017
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Spring is definitely in the air with daffodils in full bloom in London’s parks, and also at the rather grey and stony Paternoster Square in the City, as I discovered on a wander. In fact it was a promotion for Marie Curie – a most worthy cause – but they weren’t all real!

At Tate Modern the Rauschenberg exhibition is still attracting visitors as it draws to a close in early April. This is a mega selection from his long career and includes many of his well-known works such as the Goat with a tyre which has been lent by the Moderna Museeet in Stockholm.  It was developed in the 1950s from a stuffed goat the artist found in a second-hand shop in New York.

Tate Britain, as predicted, is bursting at the seams with Hockney fans – well worth the effort to get a ticket.  Some people love the portraits, others prefer the Yorkshire landscapes.  So there will be something there for everyone.

Looking back to the 1930s

More challenging are the two exhibitions at the Royal Academy and they make a good match – maybe not on the same day. There is a lot to digest, particularly in the Russian exhibition in the main galleries. In the Sackler Wing the small but exquisite exhibition covers the impact of the depression on American art in the inter-war years.

Revolution: Russian Art 1917-1932 took me back to my visit to St Petersburg in September last year when with our Russian Martin Randall guide we spent several hours at the Russian Art Museum.  The RA has brought together iconic artworks from there and also from private collectors to illustrate the post-revolutionary period by Chagall, Kandinsky and Malevich including posters, porcelain and photographs.  Short film snippets show life in collective housing and on the land.  There’s even a mock-up of what a small flat might have looked like.  In a country where many still could not read, the propaganda value of revolutionary art was soon realised and used on the sides of trains travelling through the vast countryside.

America after the Fall: Painting in the 1930s while much smaller also pulls a punch with its evocative paintings of despair as Western economies plunged into depression after the Wall Street crash in 1929. Grant Wood’s picture of the cheerless American couple in “American Gothic” is the highlight of the exhibition. But every painting in this show really does tell a story….so linger and explore.  You may even spot Lenin’s face in one of the paintings.

Family memories of the depression

In my Swedish book about Family Gronstedt, the depression played its part. My maternal grand-father was not just a doctor but also an investor in property and shares. A few years after the Wall Street crash which reverberated round European capitals, the Swedish “match king”, Ivar Kreuger, took his own life in Paris causing further havoc.  He had created his financial empire not just from matches but also from financial loan instruments to countries around the world – something of a Ponzi scheme – which collapsed with him taking down banks, and large and small investors.  My grand-father’s finances survived the blast through Sweden’s economy but he died in 1937 with his resources severely depleted.  It was a tough time for many families as the RA exhibitions show.

Find out more about my books including – newly launched The Go Around and the Family Gronstedt’s history – at http://www.ylvafrench.co.uk


Now for something completely different….The Go Around

December 29, 2016
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This is a story for the 21st century where millions of people enjoy the ease and pleasure of air travel but also live in cities and towns below busy flight paths. 

Every day some 1,300 aircraft land and take off from Heathrow Airport – one of the busiest airports in the world. And some of those aircraft I can see from my balcony as they descend on the flightpath over central London, heading west.  It is a miracle that it hardly ever goes wrong.

Several years ago I had the idea to write a fictional story about an accident on the flightpath and what it would mean in the air and on the ground. I finished the story and put it away.  A visit to the Heathrow Control Tower with the Tourism Society in the spring of this year brought it all back and I decided to rework the story and publish it as an eBook.

This is a story about the convenience, excitement and the orderliness of air travel and how it works so well, nearly all the time. When it does go wrong, the impact can be catastrophic.  Quite a sombre subject, you will agree, as inevitably it involves many people dying and others suffering injury and loss.  But there are miracles too, in my new book, “The Go Around”, now available as an eBook on Amazon.

It’s a sunny summer’s day in August in London and conditions at Heathrow are perfect with aircraft on the flightpath approaching the airport in a steady stream. The unthinkable happens – two aircraft collide over London’s western suburbs. The peace and enjoyment of a summer Saturday is shattered, as London’s emergency services respond to the disastrous consequences over a wide area. 

“The Go Around” focuses on individuals and how they cope, as well as on the unlikely report that there are two survivors from one of the planes. Is that possible? The world’s media gather in a town hall in South West London to find out what went wrong – somebody must surely be at fault – or is it just the systems?

All the characters and events in this book are purely imaginary.

Read it on your PC or handheld or Kindle; download now from the Amazon Kindle Store, www.amazon.co.uk or www.amazon.com