The recent Culture Show documentary on Edward Burra has been uploaded on to Youtube (not by me). There is not much on his “Chelsea” friends unfortunately but the stuff about music and Burra’s fondness for France and Harlem is interesting. The paintings are just wonderful.

I have no evidence that Burra knew Elvira but his comments on two of her Cocktail Party guests (Olivia Wyndham and Ruth Baldwin) provide the liveliest and wittiest portrayal of them and their way of life that we have. These can be found in Edward Burra: 20th Century Eye‘ by Jane Stevenson or, the increasingly expensive, “Well, Dearie! The Letters of Edward Burra” edited by Billy Chappell.

Burra “Portrait of William Chappell”

Burra’s close friend Barbara Ker-Seymer knew quite a few of the named guests very well indeed -Brian Howard, Toni Altmann, Eddie Gathorne-Hardy as well as Ruth and Olivia.If she was around that Monday, it is not unfeasible that she was there herself or maybe at the party/viewing at Mulberry Walk (which is where the above all went afterwards).

Ker-Seymer and Burra would have also known some of the “unnamed” candidates .One witness claimed that Joe Carstairs was there (she denied it) and I have a feeling Marty Mann might have accompanied Olivia Wyndham – they had earlier travelled from New York together.

Anyway many of Burra’s passions, for Jazz and Black Culture, for Parisian nightlife – all of which the programme touches upon, were shared by Elvira and much of the “set”, so it’s worth a look for that, at least.

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