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“I had been invited to dine on Saturday evening which was the evening when everybody came, and indeed everybody did come.”

The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, Gertrude Stein

Gertrude Stein has been peering at me from behind her book. Her influence permeates through a great deal of my inspiration and yet it was only recently that my focus turned to her. It is hard to explore the world of modern art and literature without eventually meeting its curator. One could start in a hundred places and finish by opening ‘The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas’ to discover the birth of a new world.

Swept along by Alice’s flowing stream of consciousness (written by Stein), giants of art and literature exchange anecdotes and in seemingly chance encounters, change the world we now know. It is a treasure trove of memories and perfectly captures the passion that burned before the Lost Generation were thrown into a stark coming of age at the onset of World War I.

27 rue de Fleurus was Stein’s and Toklas’ home on the Left Bank of Paris until Stein’s death in 1946. Very few locations in history can boast such a confluence of genius and character. In this collection, I have sought to capture the atmosphere, individuals and moments from those Saturday night gatherings and to illustrate a world that was concerned with one thing - living.

Aaron Hales

London, 2016