Today I had a little time on my hands so I took a trip to my favourite emporium, Attic in Hampton Hill. It is always a visual feast and at Christmas Debbie and Alistair Burnside, who are the creative power house behind two shops, always push the boat out. Today the festive displays did not disappoint. Parts of the shop were like little dioramas sparkling with gilt, glass and glitter. Debbie explains how ' One of the best things about what we do is that we are lucky enough to travel regularly to Paris and New York.’ She continues ‘When we go buying we cherry pick and source every product into collections.' Attic have been recycling, repurposing and restoring old furniture for years long before it became fashionable. It is lovely to have such a treasure trove of wonderfully curated objects and furniture on my doorstep. Debbie and Al have a wonderful blog and tumblr pages detailing their design adventures and inspirations.They also have an on-line shop for those of you who can't visit them in person. http://discoverattic.com
Friday, 9 November 2012
I cannot function without a lovely cup of freshly brew tea first thing in the morning. My grandmother taught me how to always warm the pot and had a caddy full of fresh leaf tea bought at the Co-op. Tea and tea drinking seems woven throughout my life. My other grandmother served tea on a special trolley from a stainless steel pot and always used bags not loose leaf! China Cups were obligatory in all the households and my love of drinking tea from a delicate vintage cup remains to this day. My grandfather would refer to a 'good sergeant Major's brew' when it was particularly strong. Teapots come in all shapes and sizes and I recently spotted these wonderful creations at Made Crafts fair in Marylebone. The delightful Ita Drew is a multi-talented artist working in many mediums but her ceramic work really caught my eye. Ita takes inspiration from the poems of William Blake and says she wants her pieces to appear fantastical and childlike with undertones of adult reflection. I think she has certainly succeeded in this! I am not sure I would put boiling water inside these pieces of art they are far too precious.
Wednesday, 7 November 2012
Earlier in the year I had a lovely afternoon with my good friend Flora pounding the streets of Brighton in search of various open studios. We left west London rather late in the day and only had time to visit one or two! The priority was the show case of the work of Sarah Young and I treated myself to a beautiful linocut print. Sarah has worked as an illustrator many years recently working on a book of Greek Myths. I love her monoprints and one of my favourite pieces are her wonderful tattooed ladies! They remind me of the strange circus performers of Victorian England.
Tuesday, 6 November 2012
This wonderful tiled floor is a fabulous mix of designs and colours at the Highway House Brasserie in Chiswick London. They are made in the encaustic style so loved by the Victorians and I would like some in my house! Talking of patterns I have decided to get cracking on my photographic collages. Please click on my link TODAY'S COLLAGE on the right. I am hoping to create one a day to make the winter days more colourful. I have started with some felt flowers.
I had a real birthday treat last week when I met one of my artistic heroes, the delightful Mark Hearld. I was attending the launch for his stunning new book 'Workbook' . The book is a wonderful scrapbook full of visual inspiration. Mark has had a long fascination for the flora and fauna of the British countryside whether it be a jay perched on an oak branch, hares out in the fields or a mute swan standing at the frozen water’s edge they are all beautifully represented in his bold work. He is heavily influenced by Picasso and British artists of the 30's and 40's particularly Edward Bawden, Eric Ravillious and John Piper. Like these artists he chooses to work in a range of media including paint, print, collage, textiles and ceramics. In 'Workbook' his works are grouped into nature related themes each introduced by Hearld, who narrates the story behind some of his creations and discusses his influences. It really was a pleasure to meet Mark and I hope to visit his open studio in York next year. In the mean time I am inspired to create my own autumnal
Saturday, 7 July 2012
This week I managed to have my quick annual visit to the Hampton Court Flower show and there was one stand and garden which really caught my eye. The Pretty Nostalgic Garden - Preserving the community, was wonderful. The idea is that it was built on a once disused piece of wasteland and it had been brought back to life by a small community team for the benefit of all. What a lovely idea. The tin shed is intended as a work space for preserving pickles and making jam. I would love a little shed like this! Some the ideas were quirky and clever. Using old colanders and enamel bread bins to grow flowers and vegetables in looked great. Near the garden was the stand selling a new fabulous magazine called Pretty Nostalgic. http://prettynostalgic.co.uk/ It is beautifully styled and has a wonderful ethos. It seems to chime with the current zeitgeist summed up by Vivienne Westwood "buy less....buy well". This will be a magazine to keep and treasure as its matt paper makes it feel rather more like a book than a magazine. It is also full of inspiring of things to do like creating natural perfumes, foraging for food and creating paint effects. I can't wait for issue 3.
Monday, 2 July 2012
I found myself in the heart of London the other day just a stones throw away from Liverpool Street Station. I had a lovely cup of tea at Jeanette Winterson's cafe and grocers, Verde, admiring the way she has preserved this beautiful Georgian shop. I was struck by how there is a real mixture of old and new in the area and I was encouraged to observe this with more attention, inspired the wonderful BBC-2 series The Secret Life of London Streets. The series draws on the fascinating maps created by Charles Booth. Starting in 1886 his ambitious plan was to visit every one of London's streets to record the social conditions of the residents. His project took him 17 years and once he had finished he created a series of maps colour coding each class. Yellow for keeping a servant to black for the vicious and semi-criminal. Years ago I used to travel very late at night though Commercial Road, returning from work, past the Ten Bells Pub in Spitalfields on my home to the very edge of East London. It was not a place to linger. Poverty was there for all to see as the ladies of the night plied their trade openly all along the dirty road. Today it could not look more different with trendy bars, restaurants and up market shops. Modern Booth's map would look totally different from the old one!
Sunday, 1 July 2012
This summer I have been enjoying myself on a photography course and although I have been taking photos since I was bought an Olympus 0m-10 by my parents over 30 years ago my technical knowledge has had quite a few holes in it! I now have a few more tricks up my sleeve and my allotment at The Royal Paddocks in Hampton Wick is a beautiful photographic canvas. These flowers are for my dear friend Kristina who always appreciates things of beauty and introduced me to the world of blogging.
Monday, 25 June 2012
On Sunday afternoon I had the pleasure of meeting The Baroness Carrie Reichardt. Her title is used ironically and has a connection with the last Tsar of Russia, who made her grandfather an honorary general for helping the allied forces in WW1. Carrie studied fine art at Leeds Metropolitan University. Much to the horror of her tutors she was awarded a first by the external examiners. Carrie's artistic talents took flight in the form of mosaics and in 2000 the Baroness decided to transform her home into a living work of art called the Treatment Rooms. It was really great chatting away to Carrie and her enthusiasm was infectious. She told me she is a craftivist. She is certainly passionate and we both bemoaned the demise of the Stoke-On-Trent pottery industry, destroyed by cheap Chinese imports masquerading as made in England, under the banner of old pottery names. Carrie even showed me her bathroom which was like the most beautiful ceramic museum, each tile in the room with a transfer long discontinued. It was stunning. She is also well known for her anarchic crockery where vintage pieces are given a new twist often with radical political statements. One powerful recent commission is dedicated to Mary Bamber a radical suffragette. It is a truly moving piece and Carrie explained it records the contribution of many suffragettes who otherwise would be forgotten and lost forever. Thank goodness for people like Carrie who are using art to help bring about positive change and keep the stories of brave and important people alive.
Sunday, 24 June 2012
This weekend I had a wonderful time visiting artists who were taking part in the open art house event in Shepherds Bush in West London. I made an exciting discovery because just a few streets from where I work every day Kate Fishenden and Jonathan Mercer are creating beautiful things from their tiny studio. The exquisite art works are created using wood cutting, a technique which requires enormous skill, patience and creativity. We were given a tour of Jonathan's shed, shown the wood blocks which are pieces of art in their own right and given a demonstration of the magnificent Albion press. Kate was so welcoming and she has a wonderful blog at http://blog.starchgreen.com/ I am now a proud owner of a few lovely things from the Starch Green studio including jam labels, a wonderful print, a mug and a jug! Kate says that "We only make or sell things that we love and feel would make our home (and hopefully yours) a more lovely place" . My home is certainly more lovely with these things in it.
Wednesday, 13 June 2012
I was lucky enough to return to the beautiful French seaside town of Collioure last week with my son. There is colour everywhere. Colour on the doors, windows, walls and even on some stairs I just spotted on my wanderings. Collioure is home of the Fauvism movement literally meaning Wild Beasts. This short lived movement used deep and brilliant colours and exaggerated perspectives. Derain, Braque, Picasso and Matisse were all inspired by the harbour, quaint streets and castles of Collioure. My mother loved it here so. She was with me in spirit on the wind across the sea, in the waves and in the chorus of the song birds.
Tuesday, 3 April 2012
These wonderful mugs are handpainted in Stoke On Trent and designed by Sarah Cole. In fine bone china not only are they a joy to drink from but you will also learn a little bit about British history written on the side of the mug. There are lots of kings and queens to choose from!
Friday, 30 March 2012
I have always been fascinated by the intriguing art of placing ships in bottles. I treasure my ship inside a Haig bottle because it feels part of my childhood. It sat on a shelf in my grandparent's house, a present from my father returning home from one of his merchant navy voyages. I often wondered how that ship with all its masts and rigging could have possibly got into the tiny neck of the bottle. Stephanie Cole's bold prints capture the spirit of the ship in a bottle perfectly. She clearly also has a interest in this unusual craft. People have been putting things inside bottles since the mid eighteenth century. From human and heavenly figures to wooden puzzles. Some of the earliest examples come from monasteries where the quiet hours of contemplation were also spent carving tiny miniatures. Ships started to be put into bottles in the second half of the nineteenth century. Sailors were encouraged by the improvement in glass bottle production giving thinner glass and less bubbles making the ship more visible inside. The most common method of putting a ship in a bottle was probably the flatpack approach so that all the masts could lie flat ready for insertion into the neck. Once it inside the ship would be placed gently on a putty sea. The masts were then raised by pulling the rigging. It all sounds so simple but it is a very meticulous process and difficult to achieve. I could sail away in my ship in a bottle right now....
These exquisite paintings are the work of Rachel Ross who has been shortlisted in the Lynn Painter-Stainers Prize 2012. The purpose of the Prize is to encourage creative representational painting and promote the skill of draughtsmanship. This annual exhibition is open to all UK artists with prizes totallying £25,000. I spotted Rachel's work at the recent Affordable Art Fair in Battersea. The spoons shone so brightly reflecting shapes just like a mirror. I really felt that I could reach out and touch them!
Sunday, 25 March 2012
This weekend I spent a delightful weekend with my dear friend Amanda in Lambourn and there were many surprises in store! The little town is full of charm from lace in old windows, The Universal Stores - the shop selling everything, to the home of talented sculptor Sioban Coppinger. A man sits on the wall outside her studio. I was intrigued to see him proudly staring out and I was keen to find who he was and why he was there. I knocked on the door to the big house and was greeted by the friendly Sioban who kindly invited me inside to tell me more. She has been prolific producing art in a number of mediums over thirty years but she has made a huge impact in the field of public sculpture. She showed me an exquisite piece which was bird. The wings were formed using the casts of people's hands. These hands were to find flight and rest on the wall of a hospice. The hands were of those finding comfort and peace in the hospice. What a beautiful way to create a sculpture. But what of the man on the building outside? Sioban explained that this was The Birmingham Man, a sculpture created as a memorial to Thomas Attwood, Birmingham's first M.P and reformer. His great grand-daughter commissioned the sculpture in his memory. Now he looks out over Oxford Street in Lambourn. I can't wait to visit again.
Tuesday, 13 March 2012
These exquisite chalky white ceramics are the work of Katherine Morling a graduate of The Royal College of Art. You might think they are made from paper or card but they are definitely sculpted in clay. They are have a surreal quality and impressively are life size! Katherine is a rising star. Her graduation show was a sell out and she is now represented by the gallery Long and Ryle. Imagine how amazing a whole room of objects and furniture created by her would be.
Monday, 12 March 2012
A few weeks ago now I had the pleasure of spending the afternoon at Mo's Cafe just off Regent's Street in London town. I was joined at this hidden gem by my dear friend Andy and my Son Stanley. It is an Alladin's cave filled with antique lamps, carpets and low metal tables. The mezze was delicious accompanied by the most divine Moroccan mint tea laced with rose water. All the lamps are for sale and I have my eye on the gorgeous sliver one pin pricked all over to let little stars of light shine through.