Back to blog

Nearly fifty years later ..

Wednesday 06/06/18

Debby Faulkner-Stevens

Finally, thanks to the skills of Newport Pagnell craftsman, David Agnew, the beautiful piece of Art Nouveau glass salvaged from Lawman's the bakers house back in 1970, is up on our sitting room wall.In a previous blog I had explained how I had bought the glass for 5/- and how it had, for all the subsequent years languished under beds, in cupboards and various garages until I found someone who could do it justice and give it a new lease of life.

There is another related element to this tale -

When I had finally plucked up the courage to approach the workmen demolishing the house all those years ago, I was accompanied by a school friend, Sue, who lived with her parents and brother in a wonderful Victorian town house just off the Market Square in Newport Pagnell.

Sue was a marvellous musician - her father played professionally - and many a happy hour was spent in the largest attic room of the house where she played her guitar, we sang, chatted, laughed, and listened to records - mainly Leonard Cohen's, 'Songs From A Room'.
Her mother and father very kindly allowed me to paint a mural on one of the walls in the attic.

I was obsessed with Vaslav Nijinsky and the Ballets Russes at the time - still am! - and I painted a faun, inspired by Nijinsky in the ballet, L'Apres Midi d'un Faune, in a strange fantasy landscape with a sprites face appearing in the branches of a tree. The face was based on Greta Garbo. We were all influenced by 1930's cinema in those days, and Garbo's beauty was the gold standard.

Once we had left school Sue and I lost touch, although her parents continued to live in the house, and our paths would cross from time to time.

She would tell me, 'Nijinsky's still there!'. Her mother had not painted over it.

Sadly, her mother died earlier this year after fifty two years living in Newport Pagnell and the house came on the market.

I could not resist having a look at the estate agents details and was amazed to see the house unaltered since my school days visits and the layout unchanged since it was built.

( It has always been our dream to own a late Victorian or early Edwardian house but so often we look at agents details and are dismayed at the ruthless modernisation with torn down walls, sterile open spaces, stainless steel soulless kitchens and other - in our opinion - horrors. It is highly unlikely now that we will ever be in the position to buy a period home but, if we did, a fortune would be spent putting everything back! )

As I was clicking through the photographs of the interior I finally came to images of the attics and there, to my surprise and delight, was Nijinsky. Still there after I had painted him back in 1970 when I was sixteen.

Of course, the house will be sold and Nijinsky and Greta will finally disappear under paint and wallpaper but how remarkable my early daubings have stayed put for so many years. Seeing the photo of the room brought back so many memories and I do hope that Sue, wherever she may be, is having a happy life, no doubt filled with music, and I wonder if by chance she hears a track from Songs From A Room she thinks of all those hours spent in the attic at 'Izara'.

Art Nouveau glassArt Nouveau glass

Back to blog