First Night Design:

Battersea Arts Centre is a marvellous space and was one of our local theatres before we moved to Crete. As it’s World Book Day today, here are their favourite books, their ‘reading list’. In other news, next month’s bandwidth will begin on Sunday (8th March). Roll on Sunday!

Originally posted on Battersea Arts Centre: Blog :

As it’s World Book Day we took a quick tour of the office to find out our favourite books. Think of it as a Battersea Arts Centre reading list:

alice-in-wonderland-book-cover51VLtCYOxKL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_71h2sjik5al-_sl1380_tumblr_nkax4bUMwd1tv8vcro1_r1_12804406Original_cover_of_This_is_How_You_Lose_Her28921lesmiscover41Z3XNXTcHL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_9780449911518_p0_v1_s260x420thesecretgardenbook518A0CQ6VVLbuddha 2Infinite_jest_coverRiver God587786.Rachel Joyce-The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold FryBuddenbrooks_1901330386o-LITTLE-PRINCE-ANNIVERSARY-EDITION-facebooknorthern_lights_covernoughts_and_crosses_by_malorie_blackman516UNzgrg6L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_6767100

Natalie, Producing Placement: Oryx And Crake
Tref, Capital Administrator: Alice in Wonderland
Maddie, Assistant to the Artistic Director’s Office: The Regeneration Trilogy
Scott, Capital Project Manager: River God
Rosie, Executive Assistant: Buddha of Suburbia
Kane, Senior Development Manager: Infinite Jest
Natalie, Administration & HR Officer: Wuthering Heights
Jo, Admin Placement: The Secret Garden
Joanne, Tech Team: The Secret History
Dan, Tech Team: Short Guide To Nearly Everything
Frances, Deputy Production Manager: Les Mis
Katie, Take Out Assistant: The Remains Of The Day
Bethany, Producer: The Book Thief
Tanith, Catering Manger: East of Eden
Roisin, Agency Project Manager: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
Alex, Marketing Assistant: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry
Evan, Comms Placement: This Is How You Lose Her
Russell, Commercial Operations Officer: Purity and Danger
Phillip, Box…

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First Night Design:

More delights from Pippa Rathborne to make up for an inability to create my own posts with the current connection within any decent time frame; I think the Dark Angels post took me three days! Plus ca change!

Originally posted on LAST POST:

or To love and be loved

marieadelaidereadingMadame Marie-Adelaide in Turkish costume, by Étienne Liotard, 1753, oil on canvas, Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence. Image source: WGA
The book is not a mere prop. This was a princess who loved reading and collecting books for their own sake. She ended up with 5000 volumes in her library. Marie-Adelaide was the favourite daughter of Louis XV. She never married and spent fifty-seven years of her life at Versailles. Unfortunately for her she was intelligent, and ambitious, so being denied a fulfilling role at court embittered her. She survived the Revolution, and all her brothers and sisters, and her nephew Louis XVI and his queen, and died in exile in Trieste in 1800, aged 67.

The majority of female readers, whether they were intellectually curious or just wanted to be trendy, were brainwashed by the best-selling novels of Rousseau. He extolled female education in…

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Connection News: While I’m still trying to work out what I’m supposed to have downloaded onto my new computer that added up to 30 gb in just one week – I was very circumspect and made sure not to download more than 5gb per week, which is why I’m so confused – I’ve had more news from the locals about the connection in this area being exceedingly slow because the service provider is digging up the road.  Sound familiar!

Keep Calm & Then Scream Throw Pillow
Keep Calm & Then Scream Throw Pillow

Even when I get to next month’s bandwidth allowance – from 8th March – it’s still not going to be a great connection. Don’t you just love the 21st century? In any case, it is still making it very difficult to like or reply to your comments with any consistency, let alone visit and do the same on your blog posts. 

On a pleasurable note, I have been at play once more and created Dark Angels, a somewhat surreal piece in feel, even though it doesn’t actually contain anything in the scene that wouldn’t be there in life. I hope it tickles your fancy!

Textures from Kerstin Frank and 2 Lil’ Owls.
Birds photograph from Unsplash.
Venice building background from Didier Descouens on Wikimedia.

Available at the following galleries:
Zazzle US
Zazzle UK
Fine Art America
Fine Art England

Take care and keep laughing!


First Night Design:

My service provider is saying I used up 30gb (my monthly limit) in the second week of February. How on earth? Something’s happening that I don’t know about and I have to work it out before the start of the next month, which starts on 8th March. I’ve stopped the syncing with iCloud (I’m on a Mac) and limiting what I upload to my online storage but if anyone has any ideas as to what else might be happening that I’m unaware of, I’d be immensely grateful.

In the meantime, in-between-time, ain’t we got fun with this re-blogged writing paper!

Originally posted on First Night Design:

Birdcage Blossom
Birdcage Blossom Writing Paper by FirstNightDesign

Something sweet to send you to sleep with pleasant dreams!  This would make a beautiful present for all the ladies among your family and friends.

Birdcage Blossom products

Take care and keep laughing.

About Sarah & First Night Design

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No news is bad news when it comes to my internet connection! If you want to know how I’m feeling, simply visit this recent post by belsbror who suffers the same frustrations.

Royal English Opera's Ivanhoe Mousepad
Royal English Opera’s Ivanhoe Mousepad

Arthur Sullivan’s Ivanhoe was the only opera ever produced at the Palace Theatre of Varieties. ‘The Handsomest Music Hall in Europe’, it was originally built as a venue for opera by Richard D’Oyly Carte. The theatre was renamed the Palace Theatre in 1911, a name it retains to this day.

Available at the following galleries:
Zazzle US
Zazzle UK

Take care and keep laughing!


No change in internet connection!

This exquisite watercolour of one man and his dog was a special commission. The artist is Janet Weight Reed. The subject is Mr FND with our dog Pisch.

In the twenty years we have been together, we have rarely been able to give each other birthday presents. Let us say it has been the norm more often than not to let the occasions pass us by with barely a nod; finding money for food and utility bills has taken precedence.

I determined that last winter would be different because our circumstances were changing. Mr FND was in London selling our flat and as soon as we exchanged contracts, I emailed Janet asking if she would be able to paint a watercolour in time for 19th December if I sent her a photograph.

She could, she would and she did!

It was at this point that my old MacBook Pro died, as some of you know, and I was reduced to data roaming on my mobile which is not conducive to work or approving Janet’s painting before she sent it to Crete. I sent Janet a message, via a friend, with our address and said that I trusted her talent and instinct enough to ‘approve’ without seeing a scan!

The pleasure and excitement that the painting was coming and that Mr FND knew nothing about it was indescribable.

Except that it didn’t arrive before 19th December. Nor did Mr FND as there had been endless problems on the journey from London, not least the Anek Lines Ferry driver who broke the hand brake on our small van, and the impossibility of finding the new Piraeus ferry terminal in Venice. Signposts might be a good idea, especially as it still looks like an unmanned building site!

Mr FND arrived on 20th December but the painting went AWOL in the Greek postal system and did not arrive until after Christmas.

In spite of the delay, our joy in the watercolour is infinite. Janet has done a superb job, capturing a likeness of man and dog that is quite, quite remarkable, and every brush stroke expresses the loving bond between the two.

Janet, you really have made us immeasurably happy and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

If anyone reading this is considering commissioning a painting for a special occasion, I cannot recommend Janet more highly.

I end this post with some of Janet’s magical hummingbirds.


Take care and keep laughing!


No news on the duff connection. I thought you’d want to know! But I won’t tell you how long it takes to create my own posts with such a connection.

Le Déjeuner dans l'atelier by Édouard Manet Gallery Wrap Canvas
Le Déjeuner dans l’atelier by Édouard Manet Gallery Wrap Canvas

I’m following up my re-blog of Maedaz’s post yesterday by giving you my favourite Manet, Le Déjeuner dans l’atelier.

This French artist (1832-1883) might well have gone into the law had he followed the dictates of his upper class family but his passion for art held sway. Influenced in his style by the work of Francisco José de Goya and Diego Velázquez, he chose subjects not hitherto considered suitable for art such as gypsies and beggars or nudes alongside the fully-clothed, and strove towards a form of realism that paved the way for modernism. Luncheon in the Studio, or Le Déjeuner dans l’atelier, which Manet painted in 1868, is on display at the Bayerische Staatsgemaldesammlungen in Munich.

Available at the following galleries:
Zazzle US
Zazzle UK

Take care and keep laughing!


First Night Design:

My connection is still atrocious but this painting by Manet, posted by Maedaz at A Small Press Life, is immensely cheering!

Take care and keep laughing!


Originally posted on A Small Press Life:

I adore this painting; in fact, it is my favourite by Manet. A beautifully framed copy hangs in my dining room.

Why post it today?

The cold, the cold!

It’s far below zero–the chilliest temperature of the season. Since this painting makes me feel happy, content, and warm, I thought you might enjoy it, too.

Young Lady in 1866 by Édouard ManetYoung Lady in 1866 by Édouard Manet. The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

View original

Jean-Étienne Liotard (1702–1789) was born on the 22nd of December 1702 into a refugee French Protestant family living in Geneva. His father, Jean-Antoine Liotard, was from Montelimar and a merchant tailor by trade. In Geneva, Liotard trained with Gardelle and Petitot, skilfully copying their enamels and miniatures. In France, he was an apprentice to Massé and Lemoyne, on whose recommendation he was taken to Naples by the Marquis Puysieux. He painted Pope Clement XII and several cardinals in Rome and in 1738 he accompanied Lord Duncannon to Constantinople, eccentrically adopting oriental costume, which got him the nickname ‘Turkish painter’ upon his return to Paris. In Vienna, he portrayed the imperial family and in England, the princess of Wales. One of the most cosmopolitan artists of his time, Liotard gained significant reputation, as well as fortune: “after fruitful visits to Italy, the Middle East and Austria, Liotard succeeded in becoming an important portrait painter at the French court, as is attested by his invitation in 1749 to produce portraits of Louis XV and the royal family. In part, these important commissions formed the basis of the fortune that Jean-Etienne Liotard began to accumulate from this date on.” (François Marandet, ‘The Formative Years of Jean-Etienne Liotard’, The Burlington Magazine, Vol. 145, No. 1201, Apr., 2003). In 1781, Liotard published his Traité des principes et des règles de la peinture (Treatise of the principles and rules of the Art of Painting).

Jean-Étienne Liotard: Marie-Rose de Larlan de Kercadio de Rochefort, Marquise des Nétumières, 1750, Pastel on blue-grey laid paper mounted onto thin paper, 60.3 × 50.2 cm (23.7 × 19.8 in), Detroit Institute of Arts

His style was unusual for the 18th century, when staged oil portraits tended to focus on highlighting status and refined poise. His Parisian contemporaries were scandalised when they “encountered Liotard’s pastels and oils; the lack of any touche, the absence of pose, the quasi-magical illusionism, the hyper-realism: all these ran counter to….

Continue reading Jean-Étienne Liotard’s Soulful Portraits | A R T L▼R K.

My title says it all. I’m too weary to struggle so unless I can brave the cold for the local taverna with a WiFi connection, I won’t be visiting, liking and commenting on your blogs at the moment. Forgive me.

I worked out a long time ago that I’m on this earth to learn patience but this amount of patience? Give me a break!

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah (cold, miserable and really very pissed off!)

Miss Ellen Terry as Beatrice Throw Pillow
Miss Ellen Terry as Beatrice Throw Pillows

It is such a treat to have sold a greeting card of Ellen Terry as Beatrice in Shakespeare’s Much Ado about Nothing alongside a matching cushion. I have lived with this theatrical postcard all my life. It was given to my mother by an actress friend and my mother handed it on to me.

In her memoir, The Story of My Life: Recollections and Reflections, Dame Ellen writes:

‘When Henry Irving put on “Much Ado About Nothing”—a play which he may be said to have done for me, as he never really liked the part of Benedick—I was not the same Beatrice at all. A great actor can do nothing badly, and there was so very much to admire in Henry Irving’s Benedick. But he gave me little help. Beatrice must be swift, swift, swift! Owing to Henry’s rather finicking, deliberate method as Benedick, I could never put the right pace into my part. I was also feeling unhappy about it, because I had been compelled to give way about a traditional “gag” in the church scene, with which we ended the fourth act. In my own production we had scorned this gag, and let the curtain come down on Benedick’s line: “Go, comfort your cousin; I must say she is dead, and so farewell.” When I was told that we were to descend to the buffoonery of:

Beatrice: Benedick, kill him—kill him if you can.
Benedick: As sure as I’m alive, I will!

I protested, and implored Henry not to do it. He said that it was necessary: otherwise the “curtain” would be received in dead silence. I assured him that we had often had seven and eight calls without it. I used every argument, artistic and otherwise. Henry, according to his custom, was gentle, would not discuss it much, but remained obdurate. After holding out for a week, I gave in. “It’s my duty to obey your orders, and do it,” I said, “but I do it under protest.” Then I burst into tears. It was really for his sake just as much as for mine. I thought it must bring such disgrace on him! Looking back on the incident, I find that the most humorous thing in connection with it was that the critics, never reluctant to accuse Henry of “monkeying” with Shakespeare if they could find cause, never noticed the gag at all!

Ellen Terry  drawn from photographs  by  Albert Sterner

Ellen Terry drawn from photographs by Albert Sterner and included in her memoir.

“This mutable woman, all instinct, sympathy and sensation, is as painstaking a student and as careful of the dignity of her art as Flaubert himself.” Virginia Woolf

“[Her name] rings like a chime through the last quarter of the 19th century.” George Bernard Shaw

“Blow that word charm! There is more to my acting than charm!” Ellen Terry

These three quotes are taken from a Lynne Truss article in The Guardian.

Take care and keep laughing!


Pen and Ink Love Greeting Card
Pen and Ink Love Greeting Card

Although she won’t know this until it’s published, I have combined a delightful article from Pippa Rathborne’s Last Post blog about love and the Brownings with some of my Pen and Ink products from Zazzle, which include Elizabeth Browning’s famous sonnet.

Pen and Ink Love Bag
Pen and Ink Love Bag

Pippa writes:

Feeling weary, stale and unprofitable, I’d vowed to give up blogging for a while, but the always happy thought of Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning has spawned this self-indulgence.

As I mentioned before, I was named after Browning’s Pippa Passes, and immersed by my mother in the love story of Robert and Elizabeth while I was growing up, Flush the spaniel and all. For a long time, as happens with history’s celebrities, their romantic personae overshadowed the value of their individual work.

If ever there was one, theirs appeared to be a marriage of true minds. It is painful to consider the possibility that in reality he had a restricting effect on her writing, specifically on her social and political freedom of thought. Robert had trouble stopping Elizabeth from dressing their only child, their son Pen, as a girl. Ignore, ignore, forget, forget, facts are only the dreary letter, not the spirit of truth.

And, anyway, Pen grew up filial, amiable and cheerful, a lover of Italy, a restorer of a palazzo, a painter and a bon vivant. He did not inherit his parents’ intellectual genius or determination, but he did not…

Continue reading“How do I love thee?” collateral « LAST POST.

Pen and Ink Love Round Sticker
Pen and Ink Love Round Sticker

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right.
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Sonnet 43, Sonnets from the Portuguese, pub. 1850

Pen and Ink Love 3 Ring Binder
Pen and Ink Love 3 Ring Binder

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Design available at the following galleries:
Zazzle (UK)
Zazzle (US)

Take care and keep laughing!


A lovely vintage image from The Graphics Fairy tarted up by me with texture and grunge from my magic cupboard!

“Oh, she doth teach the torches to burn bright!
It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night
Like a rich jewel in an Ethiope’s ear,
Beauty too rich for use, for earth too dear.
So shows a snowy dove trooping with crows
As yonder lady o’er her fellows shows.
The measure done, I’ll watch her place of stand,
And, touching hers, make blessèd my rude hand.
Did my heart love till now? Forswear it, sight!
For I ne’er saw true beauty till this night.”
― William Shakespeare

Available at the following galleries:
Fine Art America
Fine Art England

Take care and keep laughing!


Originally posted on Treasure Hunt:

Section of the pietre dure table in the Library at Charlecote Park, purchased by George Lucy from dealer Thomas Emmerson in 1824. Inv. no. 532986. ©National Trust Images/Derrick E. Witty Section of the pietre dure table in the Library at Charlecote Park, purchased by George Lucy from dealer Thomas Emmerson in 1824. Inv. no. 532986. ©National Trust Images/Derrick E. Witty

The English taste for Italian pietre dure, or hard stone mosaic work, goes way back – that much is clear from a quick perusal of the new book  Roman Splendour, English Arcadia, about the Sixtus cabinet at Stourhead.

Section of a pietre dure table-top made in Rome in about 1580, at Powis Castle, probably acquired by George Herbert, 2nd Earl of Powis, in the 1770s or 1780s. Inv. no. 1181054. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond Section of a pietre dure table-top made in Rome in about 1580, at Powis Castle, probably acquired by George Herbert, 2nd Earl of Powis, in the 1770s or 1780s. Inv. no. 1181054. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

One of the earliest examples is the so-called Great Pavement in Westminster Abbey, which was created in 1269 by the Roman craftsman Petrus Oderisius or Odericus. But many English palaces and country houses subsequently also acquired tables, cabinets and caskets incorporating pietre dure.

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A Valentine image taken from a vintage postcard in my collection that early readers may know but is here shown on heart stickers, greeting cards and make-up bags.

Kissing on the Chaise-Longue Valentine Cosmetic Bags
Cosmetic Bags

“I’d always worried but kissing’s not so tricky. Your lips know what to do, just like sea anemones know what to do.”
― David MitchellBlack Swan Green

Available at the following galleries:

Zazzle US
Zazzle UK
Fine Art America
Fine Art England

Take care and keep laughing!


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Sarah Vernon

Sarah Vernon

Artist, Actress, Writer

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