Thursday, 17 May 2018

Home IS Where My Heart Is! And You?

'Where We Love is Home – Home that Our Feet May Leave, But Not Our Hearts.' ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes

AND with a generous monthly pledge of $15 on Patreon - YOU too shall feel 'At Home' with exclusive access to 'Nicole's House' on my Patreon page.

Inspired by the life of Nicole Brown Simpson, 'Nicole's House' is the story of a 12th scale contemporary home which has enjoyed world wide recognition - however, the story is FAR from over!


With access to my Patreon musings, you can watch as I recreate Nicole's last home at 875 South Bundy Drive as faithfully as possible.

For with completion scheduled for Christmas 2018, you can now join me in the studio as I work on the ambitious design of another and much larger Nicole's House!


You'll have the opportunity to see the completed 'Nicole's House' before anyone else and you can enjoy other Patreon rewards too!

But what IS Patreon? And how does it work?

Although I love what I do and cannot imagine myself doing anything other than this – I do know that in this crazy world of mine that it's impossible to survive on fresh air with only a diet of hope and the occasional box of donated teabags.

The glue, paint, wood, tools, paintbrushes, fabric and all of the other lovely stuff I use to create my imaginary worlds ALL costs money AND if it didn't I would either be crawling over hot coals to get to this 'Land of the Free' or I'd be spending time at Her Majesty's Pleasure...

Which brings me to Patreon!

Patreon is a crowd funding membership site for artists just like me - although I've yet to find anyone else using this site who creates anything quite like I do!

Beginning with a monthly pledge from a $1 and up which is charged to your card on the 1st of every month – not only will you be supporting me in my work but you'll also be invited to cross the portal and step into my world!


AND there are also lots of unique rewards to enjoy including exclusive 'behind-the-scenes' images, giveaways, tutorials and an anniversary gift.​

A unique 'little' something from 'Nicole's House' designed by me will be posted to you on every six month anniversary that you and I have shared together on Patreon - as a 'Thank you' for your wonderful support!

And as June 2019 will the twenty-fifth anniversary of Nicole's death, you will receive an exclusive invitation to buy my tribute to Nicole as a gift for yourself or a loved one with the release of a limited edition beautiful coffee table book.

Your pledge means everything to me as it will allow me to the freedom to design, create and teach and it would be wonderful to inspire others to become a 'little' creative too - and you can cancel or amend your pledge at any time!

If you are unable to pledge - that's OK for knowing that you are still reading this means just as much - Thank you!

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

In Search of the Ghost of Brentwood...

A young woman named Moya Rimp, whom I met during the Simpson trial, called to tell me that she and her mother, Pauline Rimp, a prominent real-estate woman in Brentwood, had moved into Nicole Brown Simpson's condo, the scene of the murders, in order to help the Brown family sell it. 

The Browns are eager to get rid of the condo, although as yet there have been no takers.

"What's it like living there?" I asked.

"Very strange. Tourists are still coming by to look at it. When I walk the dog, I meet all these people in the neighborhood who tell me things. There's one who swears she saw O.J. talking to Ron and Nicole before the murders, but she wouldn't come forward."

Moya Rimp invited me for dinner, I went. Robert Altman, the film director, and his wife, Kathryn, were also there...


With the reverence of a docent at the Getty Museum, Moya Rimp showed us through the condo. "This is where Nicole's exercise equipment was," she said stopping in an area outside the master bedroom. We stared at the empty space, then moved on.

"Now we're entering Nicole's bedroom. That was her bed, and beyond, in the bathroom, you can see her tub, which was filled with water that night and had lit candles around the edge." We became caught up in her surreal thrall.

As many times as I had walked by the condo and looked at the pictures of the crime scene, I was still amazed at how large the place is - 3,400 square feet - and how small the killing area is.


I perched on the spot outside the picture window where Simpson would have sat when he reportedly spied on Nicole prior to the killings. It was the perfect place for a voyeur...

"We think he was watching Nicole through the window on the night of the murders before she came outside," said Moya Rimp.

In the ill-lit, eerie space, I felt as if I could almost hear the scuffling of rubber-soled Bruno Magli shoes and sneakers in the dirt and on the walkway. 

"This is where Ron fell," said Moya. "That's where Nicole was."

As I looked at the scene, remembering the horrifying photographs shown in court, I didn't want to be there anymore, and we went inside.

Dominick Dunne 
Three Faces of Evil for Vanity Fair 
(June 1996)

A Peek Inside the Abode of a Has-Been...

Brentwood was definitely not my neck of the woods. The conventional wisdom about this upscale 'hood was that it was a place where people air-kissed, compared implants, and did lunch. During my stint in Beverly Hills, I discovered that the cliches were pretty much true.


The hills north of Sunset were jammed with multi million-dollar estates hidden behind many millions more dollars' worth of landscaping. All to create the illusion of privacy. The farther north you went, and the higher you climbed into the hills, the narrower the streets became, and the more obscure the street signs were. I strained to find Rockingham Drive.


There was a cruiser parked up ahead, where a uniformed officer directed traffic. A few civilians milled around outside an iron security gate. Some of them had the nervous, unfed look of reporters. Still, the scene was not exactly bustling with activity. I got the impression that the main show had come and gone.


I slipped unnoticed past the press and through the gate, where I got my first look at the larger Tudor-style house overhung with old eucalyptus trees. The manicured grounds seemed to glow an unnatural shade of green in the midday light. In one corner of the lawn stood a child's playhouse. O.J. Simpson might be a has-been, I thought, but he must still be bringing in serious bucks to manage the upkeep on this place.


A white Ford Bronco sat nosed into the curb on Rockingham. Extending up the driveway from the rear of the vehicle was a trail of reddish-brown spots. The rust-colored droplets stopped several yards short of the house. The front door was open and in the foyer I could see more droplets. They appeared to be blood. Gingerly, careful to disturb nothing, I stepped inside.


Search warrant or no, it always felt weird to me to walk into the house of a stranger. But there's also a voyeuristic fascination: what a person chooses to surround himself with tells you a lot about him.

This interior of O.J. Simpson's house was exquisitely appointed with overstuffed white furniture, Lalique glass, and Berber carpeting. And yet the place gave off a faint odor of mildew and neglect.

"Hey, Marcia, come upstairs. I want to show you something." It was Brad Roberts. I followed him up the spiral staircase, where the wall was lined with photographs, mostly shots of O.J. Simpson with various fat cats.

It was on that stairway that I got my first look at the face of Nicole Brown Simpson.


She was blond, with handsome, almost mannish, features. Her hair, teeth, and skin all had that gloss peculiar to the West Side elite. In some of the photos she was with a pair of lovely brown-skinned children, a boy and a girl. They all wore ski attire.

Her face was difficult to read. The expression in all the photos was uniformly happy, but her eyes were glazed. She had - how would you describe it  - a thousand-yard stare.

By now,  I knew that the Simpson had been divorced for two years. I found it peculiar that he still had her pictures everywhere. The photos of my ex were long gone from the walls and end tables.

I peeked into the master bedroom suite. From that vantage point I could see only the top and one side of the bed. Brad Roberts knelt on the floor. He reached under the box spring and, using his fingertips, pulled out a framed photo. It showed Nicole and her husband in evening dress.

"Is that the way you found it?" I asked.

"Yep," he replied. "Just like that. Face down. Under the bed."

"Make sure they get a photo of that." I told him.

Marcia Clark
Without a Doubt 
(New York: Penguin Books 1998)

Get a Life! A Brentwood State of Mind...

Brentwood, California, population 35,798, is the Los Angeles district where Marilyn Monroe's ambiguously debated death occurred thirty-two years previously in the early evening hours of August 4, 1962.

Brentwood is also the psychic nexus of the O.J. Simpson/Nicole Brown saga, somewhere between 10.00 p.m and 11.00 p.m., June 12 1994.


Brentwood does not exist. Not technically. It is a hilly, canyoned Los Angeles suburb - a ZIP code: 90049. Letters sent to Brentwood will be returned to sender. Roughly 250 letters a day end up in the small, Northern California town of Brentwood, ZIP code 94513.

In the daytime, Brentwood is almost exclusively a city of women old and young, focused on a small band of retail strip along San Vicente Boulevard. There are women peppered with hunky aspiring actors and slinky actresses springing about from auditions to gym.


Brentwood gives the impression of being a 1970s future utopia, one with a secret at its core, perhaps a pleasant secret and perhaps an unpleasant secret, but a secret that nonetheless remains fiercely protected. Brentwood, like Palm Springs, offers a version of an alternative future that might have occurred had certain factors not continued unchecked, futures that daily seem less probable.

It was into this neighborhood that Nicole Brown Simpson landed after her divorce, in a $650,000 condo near the noisy southwest corner of Bundy and Dorothy, on Bundy, a condo that would cost maybe $350,000 were it in most other parts of the city.

One Brentwood resident who grew up in Brentwood Heights (above Sunset: equidistant from Monroe's and Simpson's houses), now in his twenties, calls lower Brentwood a divorcée ghetto. 

Three of his best friends from high school had parents who divorced, and all three mothers ended up "in the ghetto. Only my own mother [also a divorcée] got to keep the house. She's the exception."


If people here are annoyed with O.J. Simpson, possible double murder aside, it is only because he broke the covenant of invisibility. The corner of Rockingham and Ashford is going to be a tourist attraction for the next one hundred years, like it or not. 

Will this effect land values? Yes. But in which way, who is to know? Michelle Pfeiffer, although she lives below Sunset, has already chosen to move away to avoid the hubbub.

Just outside the Union 76 station at the corner of Bundy and San Vicente, a donation of a dollar, say, purchases you a photocopied sheet of "Poems for Nicole Simpson" by a local street entrepreneur wearing a felt-tip-pen-on-cardboard sign saying: MORE POEMS ABOUT NICOLE SIMPSON. Business in brisk. Locals say, "At least he's offering something original and new."

On San Vicente Boulevard, dark rumors float about Brentwood's no-fat cafes, phone machines and the brightly lit aisles of the Vicente Market - rumors too dark, too dreadful to mention, for to speak the word is to give life, and who will spawn this monster?


Perhaps these rumors are true. Perhaps time will tell. Perhaps it will all be forgotten.

Meanwhile to hinder the "lookie-loo's", thru-traffic is blocked on both sides of Dorothy. 

An LAPD officer beside his motorcycle keeps traffic flowing.

The front of the alleyway in which the bodies of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Lyle Goldman were found has been screened off by a dozen or so dwarf plantings of Australian tree ferns and Nile lilies behind a new enclosure of green-plasticated chain-link fence that separates the walkway from the sidewalk (this part of Brentwood has sidewalks).


Signs put up by agitated neighbors saying "GET A LIFE" and "GO HOME THERE IS NOTHING 2 SEE" have been taken down.

By August 4, late afternoon traffic no longer concertinas to a grind the way it did in the initial sensationalist frenzy of a few weeks ago. But it still slows down.

There are a few joggers and dog walkers - Brentwood's only two species of residential pedestrian - and all are wearing Walkmans.


It was a dog walker who first found the murdered bodies.
 
Douglas Coupland
Polaroids from the Dead 
(London: Flamingo 1997)

Friday, 27 April 2018

At Home With Nicole...


Is Nicole’s House a ‘Real’ Model?
Yes, it is a ‘real’ model! And created in 12th scale.

Can I Visit Nicole’s House?
As Nicole’s House has been on private and public display in the past; there are occasions when it can ‘seen’ in person and a subscription to the Brentwood Ghost Newsletter will keep you informed about our studio open-days and forthcoming exhibitions.

What is the Story Behind the Creation and Design of Nicole’s House?
Nicole’s House began life in kit form purchased from an independent dolls’ house supplier with the original design having been ‘tweaked’.

However the house has been created primarily with the use of MDF, plaster, strip wood, paints, mountboard, papier-mâché, air-drying clay, natural foliage and of course with plenty of glue and lots of imagination!


The model remains the exclusive work of Tee Bylo.

Can I Follow the Stories from Nicole’s House?
As well as sharing the stories on the website, you can also follow the news from Nicole’s House on InstagramFlickrTwitterPinterestFacebookTumblr and Google+

And you can now join Tee as she continues the story from Nicole’s House on this blog.

Why the Creation of Nicole’s House?
Beginning with the news of the murders in June 1994 and from the first book she bought in the Autumn of 1994 to the sensational murder trial with the lurid tabloid tales and the campaign to raise much needed awareness against domestic abuse as well as being the subject of a controversial thesis; Tee’s interest in the life of Nicole Brown Simpson has been an enduring constant.

Tee’s contention is that for all of the many thousands of words written about Nicole with the tales of glamour, celebrity, wealth and beauty have only served to make Nicole a remote and insignificant figure – a wrong Tee is determined to remedy.

“The woman loved life. She loved to entertain, and she went all out when you visited, whether it was for coffee, lunch, to play tennis, to have drinks to eat dinner. You always felt special walking into her world…”

Tanya Brown 
Finding Peace Amid the Chaos (US: LangMarc Publishing 2013)
                                                                                                                                   

And even though Tee has been making ‘Small Worlds’ for many years now and the passion for design remains just as intoxicating; the creation and story of Nicole’s House celebrates the life of a talented and much-loved young woman who relished nothing more than being with her family in the home that she had made for them.​


How Can I Learn More About the Work of Tee Bylo?
You can discover more about the artist’s work with a visit to her official website Creating Life in 12th Scale... or by signing up to follow her blog Tee Bylo and you can also support Tee’s work and enjoy exclusive access to the creation of Nicole’s House on the membership site Patreon.

Tee can also be found on the usual social media platforms including FacebookInstagramFlickr and Twitter.


And Your Plans for Nicole’s House?
With ‘pumpkin carving’ planned for Halloween, a turkey to ‘roast’ for Thanksgiving and gingerbread cookies to decorate for Christmas; there is plenty to keep the artist busy in the kitchen of Nicole’s House for some time to come!


However, beginning later this year and with completion scheduled for Christmas 2018, Tee is now busy with the ambitious design of another and much larger Nicole’s House and plans to recreate Nicole’s last home at 875 South Bundy Drive as faithfully as possible; the story of which will be published on this blog and with further exclusive updates available on Tee’s Patreon Page.


There will also be an opportunity to buy Tee’s tribute to Nicole Brown Simpson as a gift for yourself or a loved one with the release of a beautiful coffee table book which tells the story of Nicole’s House and is due for publication in June 2019.

Can I Share the Information and the Images from Nicole’s House on My Website or Blog?
Of course! However, all we ask is that you will remember to fully and accurately credit the artist and her work. Thank you!

Home IS Where the Heart IS! The Story and Creation of Nicole's House...

For as well as enduring interest in the life and legacy of Nicole Brown Simpson, a passion for the Regency world of the Poet Lord Byron and the occasional bar of chocolate, I am also an artist and storyteller who creates 'Life' in 12th scale.

AND as one of the most popular ‘Small Worlds’ is still Nicole’s House, I thought I’d share a ‘little’ more about this unique 12th scale house.



"I just don't see how our stories compare -I was so bad because I wore sweats & left shoes around & didn't keep a perfect house or comb my hair the way you like it - or had dinner ready at the precise moment you walked through the door or that I just plain got on your nerves sometimes.

I just don't see how that compares to infidelity, wife beating, verbal abuse...


I just don't think everybody goes through this....
I called the cops to save my life whether you believe it or not.."

These are the harrowing words written by Nicole shortly before her brutal murder on Sunday June 12 1994 in the garden of her Brentwood home in Los Angeles as her two children were sleeping.


Nicole's former husband NFL hero and celebrity O.J. Simpson was subsequently arrested, tried and acquitted of her murder and that of her friend Ronald Goldman in a relentless blaze of publicity the following year.

I began to read about Nicole shortly after her murder in 1994, she was the focus for the research and publication of my BA thesis in 1999 and I have been reading about her ever since.

She was also the inspiration for the creation of the 'Ghost of Brentwood' and now known as 'Nicole's House'.


For in June 1994 and shortly before her brutal murder, Nicole was making plans to leave her home at 875 South Bundy Drive in Brentwood, Los Angeles in order to escape the abuse and obsession that had characterised her long relationship with O.J. Simpson.

Only days before her death, Nicole had seen a beach house in Malibu available for rent and she was excited and positive at the prospect of a move there with their children.

'Nicole's House' is a 12th scale miniature of several narratives:

A recreation of some of the principle rooms at 875 South Bundy Drive as they were discovered in the early hours of Monday June 13 1994 as the investigation into the murders of Nicole and Ronald Lyle Goldman was underway.




The additional rooms are created as a tribute to the style and essence of Nicole who loved the style of interior design that has come to typify the "California Look".







Finally, as we know that Nicole was planning a move to a beach house in Malibu, 'Nicole's House' is a poignant reminder of 'what might have been'.




To learn more about the life of Nicole through the creation of this unique house, follow the link: The Ghost of Brentwood - At Home With Nicole...

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Remembering Nicole Brown Simpson...

On Sunday June 12 1994 Nicole Brown Simpson became a public figure overnight for on that balmy Sunday evening she was senselessly and brutally murdered in the grounds of her home at 875 South Bundy Drive in the leafy suburb of Brentwood in California.

Her murder trial and that of her friend Ronald Lyle Goldman who had been murdered alongside her became known as the 'Trial of the Century' with her former husband Orenthal James Simpson as the accused.


It is hard to believe that Nicole was murdered over twenty three years ago for I can remember the BBC news reports and the iconic photographs of the bloody pathway lined with the neat rows of purple and lilac Agapanthus.


I also remember the farcical 'Bronco Chase', the sensational headlines week after week in The National Enquirer, the court testimony of Mark Fuhrman and the shock of the “Not Guilty” verdict on October 3 in the following year.

And yet what I most recall is the realisation of a grotesque dichotomy that despite the voluminous photographs of a beautiful and happy Nicole that she had in fact been abused by Simpson throughout most of their seventeen year relationship.

I just don't see how our stories compare -I was so bad because I wore sweats & left shoes around & didn't keep a perfect house or comb my hair the way you like it - or had dinner ready at the precise moment you walked through the door or that I just plain got on your nerves sometimes...



Published in October 1994 and written by her friend Faye Resnick, Nicole Brown Simpson: A Private Diary of a Life Interrupted was the first book that I ever bought about Nicole and I am still reading about her.


She was the subject of my Thesis in 1999 and remains the purpose for my work ever since.

There are literally hundreds of books that have been written about the life of Nicole and of her life with Simpson and the tales of glamour, celebrity, wealth and beauty have frequently made her appear remote, abstract and insignificant.



Yet it is the very tragedy of her early death that makes her life a compelling human story of hope, love, obsession and betrayal and that is why I choose to remember her.