Thursday…with The National Dahlia Collection

August 17, 2017

Filed Under : Arrangements - colour - Cornwall - Gardens - Summer

It’s been a few years since I first discovered the National Dahlia Collection and wrote about it here and then shared more pictures another year here but basically each time I visit 3 things always happen; I can’t stop taking photos, I can’t stop collecting compost heap dahlias, and I can’t stop smiling.It’s a very unassuming ‘National’ place; a field down a twisty lane near Penzance, a stone’s throw from St Michael’s Mount, mostly unattended and heaving with different varieties of dahlia.

I’m often asked what is my favourite flower and usually I’m reticent to give an answer as I like to remain flexible with the seasons and my own personal gardening triumphs or disasters, but between August and October I think I have to come clean and say that it’s got to be the dahlia. It’s a flower I’m not confident growing in my own garden and this year has marked the first successful, un-snail bitten flower which I’ve ever managed to grow in the ground…and which I bought last year from The National Dahlia Collection!

I’ve now got 3 others which I’ll plant this year and wait patiently for next, as yesterday I visited again and for a second time took my friend Emma ( @sewrecycled )…there’s nothing like sharing the joy of a field of brightly coloured flowers…on the morning we left Cornwall, giving our compost head dahlias the best chance of survival.

So there follows images of the field, the greenhouse nursery, and the resulting flower arrangements back in Brighton after the 7 hour drive home! I’d dampened the inside of a bin liner and put all the dahlias in before driving home, and they were almost the first thing I got sorted when we arrived in Brighton ( giving Cheeks lots of hugs and attention was the first thing!! ) It was getting dark and I was knackered by the time I’d tidied them up and sorted them into 11 vases, so waited until today to fully appreciate them…

You can find out more about The National Dahlia Collection here and you can flip through the Steller Story version here which has a few extra videos.

Friday…with ‘Perfume’ at Somerset House

August 4, 2017

Filed Under : Art - exhibitions - London - Summer

This week I was invited by Somerset House to experience their current exhibition ‘Perfume’ – A Sensory Journey Through Contemporary Scent and I also had the opportunity to create my own, personal scent with the Experimental Perfume Club. I was really excited as those of you who have followed my blog for a while will know how inspired I am by scent and the incredible memories and stories it provokes.

Last November I created a scent installation for the Artists Open Houses in Brighton which you can read about here in my post about ‘The Scented Shed’  and there are also links to some of my other scent related blog posts at the end of this one. The exhibition is about the journey of contemporary, niche perfumery; perfume as works of art creating a whole experience rather than just a fashion accessory.

There are 10 perfumes exhibited, in simple, atmospheric installations where you can soak up the scent and allow your memories and imagination to mingle with the perfumes. The perfumes are representatives of key moments of the 21st Century shift into using synthetic scent. The perfumes are exhibited unlabelled so as not to hinder your sensory journey. But before you explore the exhibits there is a table of perfume history…L’Origan by Coty, 1905,  ( below ) was the first floral oriental perfume and was pioneering for its use of synthetic ingredients in conjunction with natural materials and Chypre by Coty, 1917, ( below ) is regarded as one of the scents that defined modern perfumery… Shocking by Schiaparelli, 1937, ( below )  was arguably the first multi sensory perfume and captured the high glamour mood of the 1930’sPossibly the world’s most famous perfume, Chanel No 5, 1921, ( below ) created for Coco Chanel by Ernest Beaux… Youth Dew by Esteé Lauder, 1953, ( below ) created to be an accessible luxury for the emerging, post war middle classes and marked a transition in global perfumery, shifting its influence from Europe to America…Opium by Yves St Laurent, 1977, ( below )…it is considered one of the most controversial scents of the century, apparently bringing illicit thrills to a decade which embraced more casual conversations around sex…( my mum wore this one in the 1980’s!! ) After exploring the table of scent history we explored the main exhibition and were encouraged to make notes…and maybe create a new sort of descriptive vocabulary… Being a synaesthete I was in my element being able to make visual notes rather than trying to use words…even though I didn’t have time to complete them.

I don’t want to spoil things for you in case you’re able to get along to the exhibition so the following photographs show how the perfumes are displayed and how you interact with them, ie; there are objects in all the images which were infused with the scent. You can spot them by noticing a hole or circular mesh, rather than just telling  you what they are or who the artist was behind them…( although I list the artists and perfumes at the end of the blog post so you can have a stab at guessing. ) 

After the curated tour of the scents we then had the wonderful experience of creating our own personal scent in Le Petit Parfum workshop with Emmanuelle Moeglin from The Experimental Perfume Club; using our instincts to select our favourite olfactory notes and accords…
I discovered that I’m naturally drawn to citrus top notes, spicy heart notes and woody and oriental base notes and I managed to blend a perfume I was really happy with!

…and then to the shop, and of course I had to go home with the complete set of exhibition scented postcards! …and in my dreams Daniela Andrier’s ‘Rain Cloud’ would have been the scent I would have really liked to take home… …instead I satisfied myself with a shot of one of the wonderful staircases at Somerset House as I left the building, but very definitely followed by olfactory ghosts which stayed with me for days.The exhibition runs until 17th September and the 10 perfume ‘provocateurs’ are: Mark Buxton’s ‘Comme des Garçons 2′, Geza Schoen’s ‘Molecule 01’, Antoine Lee’s ‘Sécrétions Magnifiques’, Bertrand Duchaufour’s ‘Catholic Mass’, Daniela Andrier’s ‘Purple Rain’, David Seth Moltz’s ‘El Cosmico’, Lyn Harris’s ‘Charcoal’, Andy Tauer’s L’Air Du Desert Marocain, Killian Wells’s ‘Dark Ride’ and Prada’s ‘Iris’ 

If you wanted to read about some of my perfume and scent projects here are some previous blog posts: Monday…with Pop Ups and Perfume, Saturday…with Scented Reflections and Thursday…with Floris and Scent

Tuesday…with ‘Breathing Colour’ by Hella Jongerius at The Design Museum

August 1, 2017

Filed Under : Art - colour - exhibitions - London - Museums - Summer - trips

Last month I visited the new Design Museum in Kensington, London for a look around the ‘Breathing Colour’ exhibition by Hella Jongerius.

I didn’t know much about it but knew that it would definitely appeal to my obsessive sense of colour…

What I hadn’t anticipated was how the exhibition and the way in which Hella Jongerius explores and works with colour, would form part of a new appreciation I am personally exploring at the moment with colour, light and shadow.

I recently read Tanizaki’s ‘In Praise of Shadows’ which opened up so many questions and thoughts about how I view light and shadow, and so to then walk into an exhibition which examines how colours change and ‘breathe’ with times of day was not only serendipitous but also completely fascinating.The exhibition examines how we perceive colour and encourages us to be receptive of the effect that shape, texture, pattern and colour have on each other and Hella Jongerius has created a collection of Colour Catchers and textiles in an immersive light changing environment which leads you to experience metarism where colours come to life, changing and morphing at different times.

Hella Jongerius says of the Colour Catchers which she creates;

‘These Colour Catchers are an abstaraction of all the daily objects which surround me. They are the ultimate shapes for researching colour, shadows and reflections. They are my canvases.

She also says:

‘The colour phenomena and optical effects demonstrated in this exhibition are not just abstract theories. The exhibits are designed to provide knowledge about colour that can add value to practical objects and improve our daily lives.’ I have always found the perception of colour fascinating and when I was studying Art A Level my  art teacher completely opened my mind to seeing colours in places I had never seen them before. My work at that time became way too obsessed with colour, because it really was like I was seeing the world with new eyes…shadow and tone went out of the window and to be honest, they are still always something I have to work harder to see.

This exhibition really re-awakened my interest in colour as well as colour theory but also opened another door into the joy of shadows, alongside the Tanizaki I’d been reading.

The exhibition is a brilliant contemplation of colour and really lets you think and look at the world around you; the visual, tactile world as well as the intangible, ever changing world of light and shadow around us.

If you are in London over the Summer and up to 24rd September, you really should try and get to see the ‘Breathing Colour’ exhibition and visit the Design Museum itself. It’s an inspiring study and collection of work focused around colour which would appeal to fellow colour enthusiasts like me, but also those people who struggle with colour.

More information about the Design Museum here

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