Tuesday, May 18, 2010


Last week I had a Bee buzzing in my in-box, "Where is that Teddy Millington-Drake post?" There wasn't one, isn't one, really, though Miguel Flores-Vianna had mentioned M-D in his Enduring Style post.

After I searched the blog for the link I searched the bookshelf for An Island Sanctuary; A House in Greece. The book is the story of John Stefanidis's home in Greece which he shared with the late Teddy Millington-Drake.

I pulled it out again, thinking of maybe sending it to Bee for her own hive. It's a beautiful book, and I enjoyed it at first glance, but there is only so much room after all. When I looked through again, in a different place than last time I suppose, I was captivated by how much craft filled the house.

Millington-Drake was an artist and the canvases, top, are his work. But he also created those wonderful, graphic porcelain plates which seem quite happy to live in the same spot as the place settings of Flora Danica.

In nearly every room there are hand-embroidered pillows and linens, locally hand-made furniture and decoratively painted surfaces.

But certainly none of this seems kitch. While the interiors are spare they are rich in the details that have been hand crafted. Alas, poor Bee, not stung I hope to have to buy her own copy (she did.) I need this one close at hand.

If for nothing else, this post script. A small image, the last in the book, of chairs that Stefanidis's sister stitched for his London home. Four scenes from his island idyll.

And this:

As Best You Can

Even if you cannot make your life the way you want,

try this, at least,

as best you can: do not demean it

by too much contact with the crowd

by too much movement and idle talk.

Do not demean it by dragging it along,

by wandering all the time and exposing it

to the daily foolishness

of social relations and encounters,

until it becomes an importunate stranger.

C.P. Cavafy (Translated by Evangelos Sachperoglous)

All images from An Island Sanctuary; A House in Greece, by John Stefanidis, published by Rizzoli. All images are by Fritz von der Schulenberg, but the last which is Graham Seager.


fjackson816 said...

Beautifully said! C.P had it right...

Marija said...

Now that will get you thinking...I actually took a short deep breath once I finished.

pve design said...

Have those chairs become importunate strangers to you? They are something else.

Barbara said...

Beautiful home. Thanks for introducing the designer. While
"casual" this home is rich in detail and color. The plates are wonderful.
Have a good day, Mrs. Blandings!

Kerry said...

Cavafy is exquisite and so are those chairs. How I wish I had the time and skill to create some of my own.

AppleTree said...

Does that poem seem a little sad?

Style Court said...

My favorite aspects of the book include the soulful passages such as the one you shared here. Great counterpoints to the photography.

Kare said...

The needlepoint chairs are fabulous!

Thanks for the post!

North of 25A said...

She stitches those chairs? Amazing... And so that book goes on my never ending list!

home before dark said...

A beautiful and haunting remembrance that a home touched by loving hands feels more alive and soulful and proving once again that there is a craft to living.

I am always fascinated by the different facets really good books offer up over time. It's as if we have to turn our own prism is see it in its many lights.

little augury said...

of course I love this home, such a mix of style and comfort and love of home. a beautiful nest. May I file the chairs away for my stitch in time postings? Gaye

Mrs. Blandings said...

For those of you who felt this poem the way I did, it can make you really wonder about why the heck you are on facebook.

As for the chairs. The chairs are a personal fantasy. And, Kerry, it's not so much talent as time. And those chairs represent a lot of time spend. Lovingly, I bet. It's hard to stitch resentment.

Karena said...

Those chairs Patricia!! The plates as well. So much talent.We all need more time to do the really important things in life!

Giveaway by Beth Cosner Designs is up on my site. Do come visit and spread the word!

Art by Karena

Anonymous said...

Oh boy Mrs. B, another one of your "deep sigh" posts! Those plates -- wow. And the fabulous chairs stitched by his sister. Reminds me why I love needlepoint so much -- it's not as much the stitching or the design but the sense of connection to the (hopefully) loving heart and hands of the dear relative or friend who took the time for us.
That poem is something else. Such truth! No, I've never understood the appeal of Facebook but to each his own, I guess.

Emom said...

My grandmother had good advice. She said that when collecting or decorating your home, one should lean toward "hand crafted items, first. smiles.

mary said...

I think that i will have to search out this book. The quote (and the house) is an inspiration to travels one's own path, even when the going is tough.

Toby Worthington said...

Nice seeing this tribute to Teddy Millington-Drake, but
what really took me by surprise was noticing the poem by Cavafy at the end of your post. It's a poem that's haunted me for years, long before the Facebook
generation began sharing indiscriminately. Your reference to those different approaches to life certainly resonates. Thanks, Mrs B.

Millie said...

Oh-those-chairs! I can sort of sew a stitch or two on a canvas, but these, well these Mrs. B. would be a whole of life work. I'd have to do a 5th one though, so there wouldn't be any fighting at The House of The Raising Sons at the reading of the Will.
Millie ^_^

Lee said...

The blues, the plates, the chairs, the poem (which I'm thinking of copying and hanging (some place) - beautiful. I found the book on Amazon, clicked his name, and found other books he authored. One even had a "Look Inside", which led to more beautiful pictures. More books for the wish list. Thanks for introducing him to us.

Carter Nicholas said...

The book should be acquired from Heywood Hill. They presented it to London. They have signed copies.

Carter Nicholas said...

The book should be acquired from Heywood Hill. They presented it to London. They have signed copies.