Sunday Night & Monday…in Amsterdam

July 10, 2017

Filed Under : cycling - exhibitions - Museums - Summer - trips

I’m staying in Amsterdam for a couple of day with my son as he’s just finished his GCSE’s and I thought he could do with a post exam treat…I’m on a kind of digital diet because part of the holiday deal was that I wasn’t always on my phone! But with a bit of spare time before we head out for supper tonight, I thought I’d share my pics…lots of which I took before he was even awake this morning as I got into trouble last night for taking too many…

He’s mad on film so we visited the EYE Film Museum with their Scorsese exhibition today as well as the Art Deco Tuschinski Cinema…

I haven’t got enough time to write about each pic so it’s just a glut of images and will hope to have another batch tomorrow!

Sunday…with Henley Royal Regatta and Bremont Watches

July 2, 2017

Filed Under : collaborations - Summer - trips

Yesterday I was invited to Henley Royal Regatta to be a guest of Bremont Watches.

I’d never been to the Regatta before so I was a combination of really excited and actually a bit nervous…wearing a fancy hat and high heels at 08:30 in the morning is a far cry from the paint spattered top and old trainers which I’ve been wearing all week in the studio!

Meeting up with a small group of well dressed influencers at Paddington station made me feel I was in good company though, and there were a lot of fancy hats, flannel trousers and striped blazers bobbing about.

This is the first year that Henley Royal Regatta has had official partners and Bremont Watches are not only the official time keepers of the boat races but they are also based in Henley on Thames where all their chronometers and time pieces are made.Bremont have handcrafted an incredibly beautiful mechanical stopwatch especially for the 2017 Regatta which you can see below and read more about here
Before we had lunch and a look at the races, Nick English, co -founder of Bremont ( the other founder is his brother Giles ) gave us a brief history of the company. His passion and enthusiasm for the precision and mastery involved in putting together a mechanical wrist watch of exceptional quality was more than evident and I was absolutely fascinated by the tiny details involved in putting a chronometer together… the metal coil is basically the life in the watch…it’s the bit you wind upSo many screwdrivers, eye magnifiers and little pots of grease for all different for all the different watch components…

I really loved their new ladies collection as I have small hands and I’ve always loved a watch that’s not too feminine…( over the years I’ve worn each of my grandfather’s watches as well as my fathers! ) After admiring the Bremont collections we wandered down to the river for lunch and the Regatta itself…the weather was daring itself to rain but then later in the afternoon the sun made a wonderful appearance… After lunch we were lucky enough to be taken on the most amazing amphibious boat by Iguana Yachts so we could watch from the water…

 

It was also great to be in the company of some fashion bloggers, particularly Emily from Fashion Foie Gras who is brilliant and who I’ve been following for a while as she has such a genuine, down to earth and witty quality…as well as being completely stunning!
It was also great to meet Craig from That Dapper Chap ( pictured below in the aqua green Hacket jacket ) and David from Grey Fox Blog who I somehow managed to miss with my camera! And also Toni Tran ( below ) from Fashitects ( his images are absolutely incredible!! )This is the fancy hat which I had bought especially for the occasion…and we were able to try some of the Bremont watches too…Although I was a bit exhausted when I got to the station, ( holding my high heels in my hands and walking along the platform in my stocking feet ), I felt like I’d had a wonderful, unique and very British experience.

You can see a few more images on my Steller Story HERE

 

Wednesday…with Greenhouse Textures ( Part 2 )

June 21, 2017

Filed Under : colour - Gardens - London - Summer - texture - trips

Chelsea Physic Garden in London was a discovery for me in March and has recently inspired some of my new silk designs. The greenhouses are really wonderful, as are the textures and plants… and the journey of a design…

You can find my silk designs in my on line shop HERE and if you use checkout code: SILKSALE20 you’ll be able to get a 20% discount…there’s also a Steller Story version of this post which you can flip through HERE 

Tuesday…with Greenhouse Textures ( Part 1 )

June 20, 2017

Filed Under : Brighton - Gardens - texture

Yesterday on my bike, I took a greenhouse detour…I always love the textures, light, shadows and shapes…In Part 2 tomorrow, I’ll share my greenhouse images from Chelsea Physic Garden which have been inspiring my recent textile designs which you can see HERE

You can flip through the Steller Story version of this post HERE

Saturday…with Japanese Aesthetics

June 10, 2017

Filed Under : Arrangements - ikebana

I always like using a sense of abundance and colour in my work but I also have to connect to a calmer simplicity at times…

I love the Japanese aesthetic principles, particularly wabi sabi, and as I have been working on a sponsored Instagram project this week using Japanese food…

…I have also completely fallen in love with the book illustrated by Florence du Cane which I recently borrowed from The London Library ( you can see more of it here )

I wanted to explore editing my images in a slightly different way to give the photographs the sense of calm I was feeling from Florence du Cane’s illustrations…

The illustrations have such a quiet, asymetric and simple beauty…I have inherited many of my Grandma’s ikebana ceramic vessels, metal frogs and ikebana snips…
I picked a small amount from the garden to create a reflection of the season as well as a sense of calm… rose… heuchera… quaking grass… heuchera leaves… virginia creeper…

I always think that I’ve picked very little from the garden but then when I work on an ikebana inspired arrangement I always find that I have way too much…I love how the plants lead the way; they undeniably know what’s aesthetically best!

You can view some of my Japanese inspiration on my 5ftinf Pinterest account and my Steller Story of this post here

Thursday…with The London Library

June 1, 2017

Filed Under : collaborations - London - My St James - trips

Last month I was given a tour of one of the most incredible unsung heroes of London; The London Library.

It’s situated in St James’ Square and I signed up to become a member immediately.

Apart from anything else this is a library which looks exactly like how you would want a library to be…it’s so full of atmosphere and history that I know it’s going to take me a little time to calm down about how amazing the place is and actually start working there!

Philosopher, writer and historian Thomas Carlyle, effectively launched The London Library in 1841 after becoming frustrated with The British Museum Library. With this new subscription method, library members were actually allowed to borrow books and take them home which is still the case…I was amazed, and really excited to learn, that they basically lend any books printed after 1700. You can even borrow an original copy of Charles Dickens’ ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ which was directly inspired by Carlyle’s ‘The French Revolution: A History’

The library was first situated in Pall Mall and then moved in 1845 to the longest standing building in St James and has gone through many alterations and reshaping over the years.

I love the sort of eclectic feel it has; there are different sections which have been added over time and which all have a unique yet unifying character to them…

The first 7 floors of cast iron bookstacks were built between 1896 – 98 when the premises were being rebuilt and then a second 4 floors of bookstacks were built between 1920 – 22, this time with opaque glass floors, hoping to reduce the number of static electric shocks members would occasionally receive…( it didn’t work, so be careful! )
The bookstacks are the part of the library which I particulary love but there are 5 allocated reading rooms, including The Reading Room itself which is the only one entirely wifi and mobile free, complete with armchairs and silence!There are 134 desks to work at throughout the building; you can’t book a desk, so you have to be a bit flexible…it would seen that the London Library were operating a hot desk system way before anyone else!!

…and there are great views from wherever you decide to work
The beautiful St James’ Square is right outside the library and is one of my favourite quiet places in London…to be honest the whole area of St James is my absolute go to place in London ( you can read more about My St James by clicking here on Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3  )
The library also has a search engine called Catalyst which you can access from home and where you can reserve and renew books. If you live in the London area you can take up to 10 volumes at a time and if you live more than 20 miles away your initial allowance is 15 volumes with a one month borrowing time ( there are no fines by the way, just a secure trust that the books will be returned ). Books can also be posted to you throughout the UK and Europe if you can’t get up to London but need to research something specific.

I was really excited to borrow my first books and actually bring them home…and the first four books I now have here are SO beautiful that they completely justify any membership fee!

This Mrs Beeton book is from 1890…

This practical gardening book has really interesting tips as well as beautiful illustrations… this little French book of roses hasn’t been borrowed since 1976!!And this is my favourite book which I’ve been wanting to pour over since I discovered it last year…Florence du Cane’s painted illustrations are absolutely stunning… I urge anyone with a love of old books, libraries , history, research, an inquisitive mind and also the need of a quiet place to work in central London  to join The London Library…it is a great joy, literally on many levels.

You can view the Steller Story version of this post with some extra images HERE

Monday…with a Stratford Reflection

May 15, 2017

Filed Under : Spring - trips

This weekend I went back to Warwickshire where I grew up for a friend’s birthday and we decided to stay in Stratford. I’d never visited Stratford as a tourist as it’s a town where I spent so much time in my early teens so it was like looking at it from a new angle.

The Royal Shakespeare Theatre had also played a massive part in my childhood and it formed my enduring love for the theatre. When I was 13 I had played ‘Cobweb’ in ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ with The RSC and it basically changed my life…it was that point which made me committed to the theatre and move in a certain direction and end up training at RADA. I hadn’t visited the the theatre for years…I don’t even know why; maybe something to do with not wanting my memories altered or maybe just that when I’m down there I’m there to visit my mum…whatever the reason, it was a wonderful revisiting of the Art Deco part of the theatre designed by Elizabeth Scott, built in 1932, and thankfully it felt like it had maintained the essence of how I remembered it…

So here are some visual meanderings from the weekend…
( The Towhouse  is a wonderful Georgian building and was a really lovely, friendly and central place to stay btw ) Holy Trinity Church or Shakespeare’s Church
The back of The Swan Theatre Art Deco details of Elizabeth Scott’s 1930’s design of The Royal Shakespeare Theatre The incredible marquetry details on the Circle Bar doors… The ticket booths have to be my favourite…I spent so many Saturday afternoons queuing for last minute deals, standing tickets or returns… I loved the, now redundant, illuminated ashes detail for the smokers in the audience…can’t even imagine that in a theatre now!!And I pulled out the programme from the production I was in… Below: I’m the one with the sailor hat on the far left and also perched on Titania’s back in rehearsals… …and Stratford is, as always, a great place to aimlessly wander around. I knew all these places so well and wondered what it would have been like back in my teens if I had had an iphone ! and when I went to pick my son up from my Mum’s, she pulled out this etching of Stratford Theatre by Alice Barnwell for me…it had been my Grandmother’s and I couldn’t be happier to now have it on my wall…

You can see the Steller Story here

Saturday…with Georg Jensen and London Craft Week

May 6, 2017

Filed Under : Art - collaborations - exhibitions - London - Museums - Spring - trips

This week I was invited by Georg Jensen to visit their Mount St store in London to watch one of their Danish silversmiths from Copenhagen, Tina Bentzen, demonstrate some of her techniques, her sketches, answer questions and show us some of her amazing hand made pieces.

It was an event which was part of London Craft Week which runs from May 3rd – 7th 2017. London Craft Week is an annual event showcasing exceptional craftsmanship through a programme which features hidden workshops and unknown makers alongside celebrated masters, famous studios, galleries, shops and luxury brands.

I was really excited to visit Georg Jensen as I absolutely love their designs and also the fact that they champion design collaborations between architects and fashion designers such as Zaha Hadid and Ilse Crawford.

Tina Bentzen started at Georg Jensen as a silversmith apprentice in 2006 and finished in 2009 and since then has worked on various hollowware products and has an extensive knowledge and expertise, often being involved in product development projects, like Kengo Kuma and the re-launch of the Bernadotte cocktail set.

I have always been interested in craft and design, choosing to study the History of Design at Manchester Met years ago… a course which unfortunately I never finished as I decided to train at RADA instead . I’ve always loved design and been fascinated by working processes, so being able to have a glimpse into how a silversmith works was perfect…

Below is the original 1939 design for the Bernadotte Cocktail Shaker… There are hundreds of hammers to use in the workshop, but each silversmith has one  personal hammer which they make themselves, and the one below is Tina’s… The finished Bernadotte Cocktail set…Hours of work goes into each piece with different specialists working on different elements: there is a chaser who is able to create the marks within a piece and a spinner who works on a machine to create the shape. I hadn’t realised that often silverware is a collaborative process between different craftspeople.

The soup tureen below was also made by Tina and took over 600 hours of work and used at least 7 different solders…After the demonstration I popped downstairs to have a look at their new cocktail set Manhattan as I’m particularly in love with the bowls…I just love looking at them as their smoothness and reflections are incredible…I was inspired by seeing Tina work and thought how amazing it is to have a particular craft and talent to make such exquisite pieces. I thought the personal touches, like making her own hammer, which is such an integral element of her work, was really important; creating and adapting your work tools is part of what makes every piece of art unique; it’s the artist’s hand, the artist’s movement and the artist’s personality, is what creates a truly beautiful piece of work.

I realised when I got home that I also had a favourite hammer, and although it’s only used for domestic chores, it was made by my grandfather who started off as a carpenter and it’s precious because this was his hammer…
The following day I visited the V & A Museum to see the Silver Speaks: ‘Idea to Object’ display in the Silver Galleries with a talk from Design critic, journalist and curator, Corinne Julius, which was another London Craft Week Event…
Corinne Julius discussed the works on display with a selection of the makers and there were demonstrations with silversmith Abigail Brown from Contemporary British Silversmiths as well as Tina Bentzen from Georg Jensen… Tina was working with the tea leaf container from the new  Kusa tea set , designed by Kengo Kuma, before the oxidisation process which turns the inside elements to a charcoal black finish. Tina would then polish the outer silver giving it the 2 tone effect. This is one of the Georg Jensen images of the finished set…The Silver Speaks: Idea to Object display was also really interesting as it was virtually all non functional silver and explorations in design from contemporary British silversmiths alongside some of their workings such as notes, models and found objects. ’Animus’ by Kevin Gray ’Ice Tea for One’ by Rajesh Gogna Pillow Cutlery set by Angela Cork Silver and Leather Clutch by Kyosun Jung ’Urban’ Candle Holder by Anna Lorenz Alistair McCallum’s Silver Vase with Makume Gane Rim alongside his spontaneous sketches ( on betting slips! ) Rebecca de Quin’s ‘Four Vessel Set’ (with a group of her paper models below ) Below was my favourite piece in the display ‘Boscawen-Un’ Vessel by Abigail Brown who was interested in the symbiotic relationships between man and stone and lichen and stone. The vessel was designed to evoke a monolith much like the standing stones in Cornwall, which is where Abigail lives. Abigail was also demonstrating in the silver galleries and having learned what chasing was the day before, it was brilliant to actually see a silversmith doing some deep relief chasing; the silver vessel being supported and filled with pitch, made from Stockholm tar, pine resin and tallow, so that the silver still has movement when being hammered.

After the talk and demonstrations I had a look around the Silver Gallery.

There is an original Georg Jensen tea pot set from 1911, made by Georg Jensen himself for a cabinet maker friend who had designed his bedroom furniture!The Silver Galleries are spectacular and show something of a completely different age…I was trying to explain to my son a couple of days ago what decadence was…I reckon a trip here would probably illustrate that pretty well!
The decadence of this giant wine cooler, in my personal opinion, is dwarfed by the simpler, stylish tea set…
…or coffee pot It was so brilliant to have a wander around part of the V & A Museum which I had never been to before. The museum has so much to offer that you can never really squash it all into one day. I’m obsessed with The Antiques Roadshow ( it really is my favourite television programme ) and I loved looking at all the little bits and pieces in the cabinets, imagining them turning up in a box of bric a brac at a car boot sale, waiting to be discovered by a potential visitor to the Roadshow! It was hard to pull myself away and head back to Brighton; there was so much to tempt me to stay longer all the way to the exit, so I will definitely be going back to spend more time exploring soon… It’s been such a fascinating and inspiring couple of days for me which has really left me fired up to connect to my own painting and making again.

You can still catch London Craft Week as it runs all over this weekend, so if you’re in London you really should have a look at some of the events which are happening all over the capital…I certainly feel very lucky, thanks to Georg Jensen, that I was able to experience and learn so much about silver.