Category Archives: collaborations

Friday…with Monteverdi Italy

August 26, 2016

Filed Under : collaborations - colour - Summer - trips

Photo 29-07-2016, 16 29 53

Deciding where to go on holiday has never been my forté…I research things a bit, usually heavily relying on images, but then I always get a bit overwhelmed, suddenly convinced I don’t have a clue and just want a magic wand to be waved; all decisions made, rooms booked, flights sorted, and then when the time comes to basically be transported in a Star Trek like way to where it is I have to be in order to relax…( and it’s the pressure to relax that usually cripples me after about 3 days into a holiday! )

So this year, I was definitely enticed by some beautiful images that kept popping up of Hotel Monteverdi in Tuscany…I wanted that nature, the hills, the calm interiors…and of course a swimming pool and fantastic food!

We wanted to split the holiday between a short hotel break in the hills and renting the amazing Casa Guidi in Florence ( which you can see here ) and so we decided on Hotel Monteverdi in Castiglioncello del Trinoro and after a straightforward car journey from Florence airport we arrived at the beautiful village. The hotel is basically the entire village with a collection of stunning gardens and rooms, housed in original rustic buildings, overlooking the Val D’Orcia region of Tuscany towards Montepulciano and Siena.

There are loads of wine tasting and foodie type trips which you can go on, with amazing locations, but to be honest all I wanted to do was quietly read a book in a gorgeous garden, and really I couldn’t have asked for a more relaxing hotel garden than this…it was personal, not too large, scented, shaded and very quiet…Photo 30-07-2016, 08 09 00 Photo 30-07-2016, 09 09 11 Photo 30-07-2016, 08 09 45 Photo 30-07-2016, 08 11 36 Photo 05-08-2016, 08 37 26Photo 30-07-2016, 08 15 18 (1) Photo 01-08-2016, 09 49 27 Photo 30-07-2016, 08 20 59 Photo 25-08-2016, 17 39 26 Photo 05-08-2016, 08 13 23I’ve always been an early morning person; and the breakfasts at Monteverdi really were the best! Before the sun gets too hot, sitting on the terrace with coffee, orange juice, croissants, pecorino cheese, local salamis and perfectly boiled eggs was my idea of breakfast heaven!
Photo 05-08-2016, 08 11 50Photo 05-08-2016, 08 13 08Photo 05-08-2016, 07 11 31Photo 30-07-2016, 08 22 47Photo 30-07-2016, 07 05 18I found the best bit of being in the hotel village of Castiglioncello del Trinoro was quietly mooching around and ‘investigating’, ( as my brother and I used to call it ); punctuating reading and dipping into the pool with short walks, listening to cicadas, watching little green lizards disappearing into walls, smelling the lavender, and just looking at everything…at the views, the textures, the colours, the plants. I find it really difficult to actually ‘stop’ and the practice of really seeing and sensing where I am always calms me down…
Photo 30-07-2016, 07 04 33 Photo 05-08-2016, 10 06 56 Photo 05-08-2016, 10 09 23 Photo 30-07-2016, 07 01 23 Photo 05-08-2016, 09 15 07 Photo 01-08-2016, 14 01 48Photo 05-08-2016, 09 09 58 Photo 31-07-2016, 17 16 29Photo 31-07-2016, 16 18 45Photo 31-07-2016, 15 51 53Photo 01-08-2016, 06 40 58Photo 31-07-2016, 17 24 05Photo 31-07-2016, 16 34 17Photo 31-07-2016, 17 36 31Photo 31-07-2016, 17 27 34Although doing nothing was our priority, we did also drive out to Montepulciano, ( and  Chiarentana en route where we tasted absolutely amazing olive oils ), as well as Sarteano, the traditional, local town only 10 minutes from the hotel where we also ate some evenings…
Photo 02-08-2016, 15 22 52 Photo 02-08-2016, 15 20 04 Photo 02-08-2016, 13 54 40 (1) Photo 02-08-2016, 14 25 34 (1)Photo 01-08-2016, 13 29 42 Photo 01-08-2016, 14 08 50 Photo 01-08-2016, 14 34 54 Photo 01-08-2016, 14 40 38 Photo 01-08-2016, 14 37 47Photo 02-08-2016, 14 37 19 Photo 02-08-2016, 14 39 37 Photo 30-07-2016, 17 08 46 Photo 30-07-2016, 17 10 55 Photo 30-07-2016, 17 13 07 Photo 30-07-2016, 18 47 15But one of the other wonderful things about this hotel is the space…it’s a village after all, and during peak season in Tuscany everywhere was crazy with people, but Casteglioncello del Trinoro isn’t at all…the village is a complete sanctuary from the bustle of Summer tourism…Photo 31-07-2016, 17 37 12 Photo 31-07-2016, 17 36 47 Photo 31-07-2016, 16 45 26Apart from their fine dining restaurant there is also the lovely Enotica where you can have a quiet bite to eat, a glass of wine, wonderful cakes and ice creams,  ( as well as daily wine tastings! )
Photo 31-07-2016, 16 42 28 Photo 05-08-2016, 10 08 01And… they also have a Spa!

A spa session in the hot, late afternoon was such a treat, and the only time I have ever laid outside in a carved marble bath, water sprinkled with lavender from the gardens, listening to the cicadas…I think that this was probably the peak of my doing nothing and stopping…Photo 03-08-2016, 18 04 28 Photo 03-08-2016, 17 58 51 Photo 03-08-2016, 17 55 13 Photo 03-08-2016, 17 57 12 Photo 03-08-2016, 17 58 08 Photo 04-08-2016, 11 03 05But it was the Tuscan sunsets which completely blew me away…I have never seen such wonderful purples and pinks descending over hills, every evening…it was absolutely incredible and like some sort of natural magic trick…
Photo 30-07-2016, 19 31 00 Photo 30-07-2016, 19 31 56 Photo 30-07-2016, 19 25 21 Photo 01-08-2016, 19 32 02Photo 03-08-2016, 19 29 10And then to be able to sit in the Oreade Resteraunt in the evening watching these sunsets was amazing.

I absolutely loved the restaurant, and the Maître D, Fabio, was brilliant, as was Simone…they were so helpful and always made our meals feel very personal. On our last night, after the amuse bouche, which were like delicate pieces of taste art, we shared such an incredible local steak, carved for us at the table, with locally sourced vegetables. In fact so much of the food is locally sourced including, obviously, wines and even their beers.

I’m usually predominantly a savoury person, but I have to say that the deserts here were some of the best I have ever tasted…it wasn’t just what they were, it was how they were put together; the combinations of tastes and textures, and their chocolate orange desert is something I would  now demand as a last rite!
Photo 04-08-2016, 19 57 19 Photo 05-08-2016, 08 12 25But, as I’ve said before, it was the pottering at Monteverdi which I really loved…the doing of nothing!
Photo 30-07-2016, 08 28 48 Photo 30-07-2016, 09 12 45 Photo 30-07-2016, 07 05 18 Photo 30-07-2016, 07 58 36 ( I found an old Siamese cat there too! )Photo 30-07-2016, 08 06 26 Photo 25-08-2016, 17 40 55 Photo 01-08-2016, 07 39 27Photo 01-08-2016, 07 38 43 Photo 01-08-2016, 07 39 47 Photo 01-08-2016, 07 54 30But one of the biggest treats of all was when Costanza, ( who puts together all the beautiful and very natural flower arrangements at the hotel ), brought me a box of hand picked fruit and flowers for me to ‘play’ with…this was the absolute highlight of my stay!
Photo 03-08-2016, 13 26 55Photo 03-08-2016, 11 28 15Photo 03-08-2016, 11 36 29…and you can see what I created with this box on this post here

So at the end of the week, although we were excited about going on to stay in Florence for the last part of our holiday, it was also a bit of a wrench having to leave our Monteverdi sanctuary…
Photo 29-07-2016, 19 59 08 Photo 02-08-2016, 11 31 32 Photo 04-08-2016, 08 46 58You can have a look at the Steller Story here and more about Hotel Monteverdi here

Weekly Snaps…

July 24, 2016

Filed Under : Arrangements - Art - Brighton - collaborations - colour - exhibitions - London - Summer - trips - Weekly Snaps

Photo 19-07-2016, 10 07 14 Photo 17-07-2016, 17 59 07 Photo 18-07-2016, 10 20 25 Photo 18-07-2016, 10 27 57 Photo 18-07-2016, 10 29 18 Photo 18-07-2016, 11 11 15 (1) Photo 18-07-2016, 11 12 25 Photo 04-07-2016, 15 30 01Photo 18-07-2016, 11 11 30Photo 18-07-2016, 11 28 31 Photo 18-07-2016, 11 35 43 Photo 18-07-2016, 12 00 50 (1) Photo 18-07-2016, 14 25 25 Photo 18-07-2016, 14 26 50 (1) Photo 18-07-2016, 14 30 56 Photo 19-07-2016, 10 08 32 Photo 19-07-2016, 10 13 41 Photo 19-07-2016, 12 08 26 Photo 19-07-2016, 14 17 35 Photo 19-07-2016, 21 26 35 Photo 19-07-2016, 21 27 30 Photo 19-07-2016, 21 10 52 Photo 19-07-2016, 21 22 44 Photo 20-07-2016, 11 35 32 Photo 20-07-2016, 11 42 29 Photo 20-07-2016, 12 02 51 Photo 20-07-2016, 12 03 41 Photo 20-07-2016, 12 04 04 Photo 21-07-2016, 12 00 13 Photo 07-07-2016, 11 15 58Photo 20-07-2016, 13 12 25 Photo 20-07-2016, 13 13 36 Photo 20-07-2016, 15 13 41 Photo 21-07-2016, 11 19 23 Photo 20-07-2016, 19 14 45Photo 21-07-2016, 11 33 21 Photo 21-07-2016, 20 20 50 Photo 22-07-2016, 08 23 06 Photo 22-07-2016, 11 23 57this is one of my Shelter paintings inspired by my visit to the Calais Jungle…if you feel you can donate something to The Worldwide Tribe, you can via their donating page here, or if you wanted to buy one of these paintings 50% of the proceeds go to The Worldwide Tribe and you can see/buy them here  Photo 22-07-2016, 20 14 17 Photo 24-07-2016, 19 04 58 Photo 23-07-2016, 19 40 15

You can see the Steller Stories app version here

Tuesday…with St James’s ( Part 3 )

June 7, 2016

Filed Under : collaborations - London - trips

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I thought that I’d visit just a few more places for this last blog post, but then each place I visited in St James basically deserved more space than just within a blog post. A blog post would only give a flavour of some of the really fantastic businesses and buildings in the area and I am genuinely so pleased to have been able to discover an alternative part of central London with a very distinct character.

So in this post I will share some of my photos from visits to Paxton & Whitfield, Tricker’s Shoes, The London Library, Dover Street Market, The ICA and Fortnum’s Gallery Restaurant for a lunch, but I have also put up individual stories on the Steller app ( which is brilliant by the way if you don’t already have it ) so you can see an clutch of concentrated images for each place which I’ll put a link to as and when I mention them in this post…Photo 28-05-2016, 20 01 17Firstly I’ll start with lunch at Fortnum and Mason’s which was really wonderful and rather unique as there was a Northern Irish menu being served. Northern Ireland isn’t a place I immediately consider when I’m eating out, so I used the opportunity to try a Northern Irish eel and bacon salad to start, an Irish rump steak for my main course and then Varlhona chocolate mousse with raspberries as a complete pudding treat. I adore eating out and can’t bear it if the waiting staff don’t seem to want to be there, but we had a really brilliant waitress called Maja who was a complete joy and made the whole experience even more special, especially when she brought me a bag of goodies which included a tin of their Royal Blend tea!Photo 17-05-2016, 12 36 13Photo 17-05-2016, 12 57 20 Photo 17-05-2016, 13 25 08 (1) Photo 17-05-2016, 14 10 13

Next up was The London Library  which I have to say absolutely exceeded my expectations and now I’m trying to convince myself that gym membership should be forfeited ( and added to! ) for London Library membership!

I was given a tour by Alisdair, ( who was very patient with my photo taking and question asking ) and he explained that the library has always functioned without funding and is run independently utilising memberships, donations and legacies.

The London Library has existed since 1841 and was founded by Thomas Carlyle, and now houses over a million books with over 17 miles of bookstacks, as well as having reading and study rooms ( you can find out more on their website here )

I’ve put together a Steller Story here so you can see all the photos and get a real sense of the atmosphere, which is the element I was really taken with; some parts like The Bookstacks, spread over 4 floors, almost felt like the backstage of a theatre and the steel floored stacks form part of one of the first steel framed buildings in London…and apparently if the books there were taken away, the building would rise 6 inches!

Photo 18-03-2016, 13 42 57Photo 17-05-2016, 15 02 29 Photo 17-05-2016, 15 17 48 Photo 17-05-2016, 23 45 33 Photo 17-05-2016, 15 51 24 Photo 17-05-2016, 15 58 40

When I was about 6 I was asked at school what I wanted to be when I grew up, and my answer was a librarian; I wanted to stamp books and be very important… however I think I’d overlooked the element of silence which I always found difficult!

The following week I visited 2 places which had been at the top of my list since starting this project…Paxton and Whitfield cheesemongers and Tricker’s Shoes.

Firstly I adore cheese… even though I’ve been trying to cut down over the last few months due to my trousers suddenly not fitting during last summer, and secondly I adore brogues, so these trips were always going to be a treat and they certainly didn’t disappoint.Photo 13-05-2016, 16 34 30I started at Paxtons, which was great because after the visit, it meant I could have one of their pork pies in St James’ Square for lunch!Photo 12-05-2016, 11 00 00Paxton and Whitfield was established in 1797 and has been in it’s current spot in Jermyn St since 1896.

I met Hero Hirsh; cheesemonger and  manager, who gave me a ‘tour’ of their 150 artisan cheeses, two thirds of which are from the UK and 25% of which are French with others from Spain, Holland, Italy, Switzerland and one cheese from Norway; ‘Geitost’. we drove around Norway for a family holiday when I was 8 and I remember the vast arrays of cheese at breakfast in each hotel. We loved trying all of them, but geitost remained in my taste memory as one of the few cheeses I didn’t like…it was like it had tricked me; it wasn’t a cheese, it was surely fudge, or something sweet anyway, and after nearly 35 years I was offered it again…all the memories came flooding back; the family shock at the discovery there was a cheese we didn’t like, the strange, sweet taste of this boiled whey goat’s cheese and although I still felt exactly the same about the taste, I LOVED the fact that it was in the shop, and that it has apparently been a good seller for years!Photo 12-05-2016, 11 44 12I also learned that a double Gloucester is ‘double’ because it has a combination of cow’s milk from the morning milking as well as the evening milking. A single would just be from the evening…seems so simple but I’d never really thought about it before…Photo 13-05-2016, 16 39 45Photo 12-05-2016, 12 07 49 (1) Photo 12-05-2016, 12 23 15It’s a truly wonderful experience to visit this shop, particularly if you’re into cheese, and I guarantee you won’t leave without a small selection…and maybe even a pork pie in the park!IMG_9864

You can read more about their heritage here on their website and see more of my photos from the visit here on Steller.Photo 12-05-2016, 12 58 50I then visited Tricker’s, knowing that It was an inevitability that I would be desperate to save up for a pair of their shoes the moment I caught a whiff of a leather brogue. And of course that happened, but I hadn’t anticipated how welcoming Eamon and Clive in the shop would be; making it almost impossible to leave.

Tricker’s was established in 1829 and they have been making shoes in Northampton in the UK ever since. Not only is there evident pride in the shoes themselves but also in the shop in Jermyn Street which has original fittings from 1939; cupboards I can only wish I possessed which would keep a vast collection of handmade, customised or bespoke brogues…what can I say; I LOVED this shop, the shoes ( and the 2 men in the shop! )
You can see more of Tricker’s on their website www.trickers.com and more of my photos here on Steller.Photo 12-05-2016, 13 42 13 (1) Photo 12-05-2016, 14 12 18 (1) Photo 12-05-2016, 13 18 46 (1) Photo 12-05-2016, 14 10 12Photo 12-05-2016, 14 12 36 (1)So from the very traditional, I was about to venture to the very contemporary, although I couldn’t resit the old traditional Chequers Tavern near Mason’s Yard as well as the gent’s hairdressers to the other side of the yard…IMG_9660 IMG_9671 Photo 20-05-2016, 15 45 50Photo 17-05-2016, 16 22 43

I wanted to visit Dover Street Market…I didn’t know much about it at all, but now I feel like I’ve discovered not only a new tea and cake stop in the midst of exciting, and sometimes strange fashion, but it’s  a brilliant place to have a wander around in. It made me feel inspired, just how fashion inspired me when I was in my late teens; discovering Kensington Market and Hyper Hyper in about 1991 ( I was very proud of a pair of white sequined hot pants I bought there… )

You can see the Steller story with a few extra images herePhoto 20-05-2016, 18 08 19Photo 16-04-2016, 13 31 02IMG_9646 IMG_9647 IMG_9648 IMG_9649 IMG_9664 Photo 20-05-2016, 17 04 15IMG_9650Photo 20-05-2016, 17 29 09 Photo 20-05-2016, 17 32 59 Photo 20-05-2016, 17 33 10 Photo 20-05-2016, 17 34 09 Photo 20-05-2016, 17 35 14 Photo 20-05-2016, 17 47 13 Photo 20-05-2016, 17 59 54 Photo 20-05-2016, 18 00 05Photo 20-05-2016, 17 36 36

…and what better other contemporary space to visit, just down the road, is the ICA.

Again I was reminded of my late teens/early 20’s when I performed in a devised physical theatre piece at the ICAbut this time I was going to look at typewriters at the launch of Olivetti: Beyond Form and Function; a small exhibition which I loved. There was also an artist’s film biennial happening there that evening and an exhibition by Guan Xiao. I also love the shop there and came away with 2 great books including ‘Badly Repaired Cars’, as well as some1920’s Dada films for my teenage son who’s always up for a bit of surrealism.
Photo 25-05-2016, 20 05 34 Photo 25-05-2016, 20 07 56 Photo 25-05-2016, 20 10 15 Photo 25-05-2016, 20 11 34Photo 25-05-2016, 20 05 50IMG_0038Photo 25-05-2016, 20 51 08 Photo 28-05-2016, 18 41 00

I have SO enjoyed discovering the St James area of London and I thoroughly recommend that if you fancy a day in town, make it a day trip there, and allow yourself time to wander around exploring and looking… Take away any thoughts of pressure to buy a hand made cashmere dressing gown, because whether you come home with a couture hat from Lock and Co, a bespoke scent from Floris, a hand cut shirt from Budd’s Shirts, or simply a crystalised tangerine piece from Fortnum and Mason ( and maybe some Stinking Bishop cheese from Paxton & Whitfield  ), I guarantee that you’ll feel like you’ve had an experience, rather than just an aimless look into the ordinary high street shops a couple of streets away along with everyone else…this is an area not to be missed and one definitely to be explored!

To finish off, here are a few photos taken around the area…as you can see, there are so many brilliant photo opportunities!
IMG_9669 IMG_9670 IMG_9672 IMG_9665IMG_9682 Photo 12-05-2016, 10 51 25 Photo 12-05-2016, 10 53 41 IMG_8862IMG_8863IMG_8864Photo 12-05-2016, 14 53 53Photo 12-05-2016, 10 54 54 Photo 12-05-2016, 12 36 15 Photo 20-05-2016, 16 24 14 Photo 20-05-2016, 16 25 15 Photo 20-05-2016, 16 25 22Photo 20-05-2016, 16 30 31

You can see all my Steller Stories with the hashtag #mystjames here and here you can read Part 1 and Part 2 of My St James’s project .

Thursday…with Floris and Scent

April 21, 2016

Filed Under : Arrangements - Art - collaborations - colour - London - My Garden - My St James - Spring - synaesthesia - trips

Photo 19-04-2016, 13 56 31So last week as part of the #mystjames project I’m working on, I had an appointment at Floris in Jermyn St in St James’s…

I was expecting a perfume shop with an old fashioned interior, and maybe some old fashioned perfumes…what I wasn’t expecting was an appointment with their bespoke perfumer and how incredibly affected I would be by their scents; how massive memories came flooding into my head at the mere whiff of Iris and Lily of the Valley and how I felt like I was almost time travelling via my olfactory system…

I am acutely aware of my senses and how important they are having synaesthesia and have been painting my interpretations of sound, taste and smell for a number of years, creating abstract representations of how I see smell in terms of colour, texture and shape ( you can see a post about a recent fragrance project here and some of my flower scent paintings here ) and  have realised what a meditation it is to really focus on what a smell is, but when I’m painting I’m focusing on what it all looks like, not how it makes me feel.

And so the reason that my visit to Floris was such an incredible experience was in part due to the fact that for the first time in ages, I was smelling and feeling, rather than just concentrating on what it was, and I really hadn’t anticipated what an emotional experience that would be…Photo 19-04-2016, 14 38 53

When I arrived I was introduced to Carim who gave me a tour of the shop, whose mahogany fixtures and fittings are all original from the Great Exhibition in 1851, as well as their fragrances… which totally took me by surprise.

One of their classic fragrances is No.127 which was the first bespoke scent ever blended for the Russion Emperor in 1890 ( and which later became a favourite of Winston Churchill and Eva Peron ). Smelling it was like suddenly experiencing time travel; I was smelling what someone had smelt like in 1890 and I found it extroidinary and quite emotional. We can all look at antique clothes, objects and buildings and imagine what life was like in a different age, but to actually smell what part of life was like in Victorian London, felt so alive; almost like smelling a ghost…It was truly wonderful, and since my visit it’s the one scent I can’t stop thinking about and suddenly smelling out of nowhere.

‘Lily of the Valley’ also made me well up…they were my late father’s favourite flowers and just having a smell of this scent made his memory suddenly so present and close by.

Carim also showed me the back of the shop where there is a collection of Floris’s history. Floris was established in 1730 by it’s founder Juan Famenias Floris and his wife Elizabeth and they began selling perfume, combs and shaving products at 89 Jermyn Street where the shop remains today and which is still the heart of the business and run by their descendants with Edward Bodenham being 9th generation and the ‘nose’ of Floris.

There’s a wonderful display of old perfume bottles, hair combs ( for which they received their first Royal Warrant in 1820 ) photographs and letters from customers including one from Florence Nightingale in 1863.
Photo 19-04-2016, 12 34 11 Photo 19-04-2016, 12 32 27 Photo 19-04-2016, 12 30 53 Photo 19-04-2016, 12 32 59 Photo 19-04-2016, 14 07 56Photo 19-04-2016, 12 31 28 Photo 12-04-2016, 17 23 34 Photo 12-04-2016, 17 17 10After my tour around the shop I was taken to the back room where appointments for bespoke fragrances take place where I met perfumer Penny Ellis…

Apart from the sheer magic of the room, I was completely fascinated by the chemistry of the whole process. I loved the combination of musical and visual language which goes into describing smells; base notes and accords. Smell often comes and goes, and I really like the fact that somehow it’s like music in the air, something you have to just be with and quietly acknowledge, but something you can’t hold or touch or see in front of you.

Penny let me smell some of the base notes and I was so surprised at the delicacy of musk and the sweetness of amber. I hadn’t realised that the accords were the complimentary smells which go into blending, what seems to me to be a work of art..I think a bespoke perfumer is really a scent artist, something I hadn’t ever considered before, but something which has really inspired me artistically and something I want to focus on in my painting.

I chatted to Penny about smell and memory; about how when I was 13, I had had a life changing and wonderful experience working at the RSC in Stratford-Upon-Avon for a year, and when the play, ( A Midsummer Night’s Dream ) finished I kept some of the make up we had used and used to go and smell it occasionally to make my happy memory real again which was always a bitter sweet moment. She told me she had a scent, a note,  she thought I’d like; Iris…and this was the one which really made me cry: I was suddenly back in 1986 in a dressing room overlooking the River Avon with an overwhelmingly lovely feeling of such an exciting, innocent and fun time, and then almost in the same moment it was too much to bear. Those beautiful moments in my life were suddenly there and yet not there, all at once…it was chemistry, memory and magic all at once, and although it made me cry it was also something I felt comforted by, knowing that I can in fact go back in time, even if it’s just for a tiny moment…

So I can totally understand why bespoke perfumery exists..it is the most wonderful sensory experience ever…
Photo 12-04-2016, 17 18 20Photo 12-04-2016, 17 13 16…and these are the Floris ledgers, full of fragrance orders from John Profumo to Lady Olivier.Photo 12-04-2016, 17 16 00Photo 12-04-2016, 17 15 29Photo 12-04-2016, 17 21 56So this week I went back to Floris, as I really wanted to photograph some of the bottles  with flowers from my garden as well as extra Lilly of the Valley and sweet peas…
Photo 19-04-2016, 12 36 14Photo 19-04-2016, 12 38 14 Photo 20-04-2016, 17 51 56I used one of their earliest fragrances ‘Limes’, first blended in the 1700’s and used by Florence Nightingale in the Crimean War ( who also wore ‘White Rose’ along with Admiral Nelson ).

‘Lily of the Valley’ was also first blended in the 1700’s and ‘Rose Geranium’  in 1890 ( famously worn by Marylin Monroe and Isabella Blow ). ‘Edwardian Bouquet’ is a Floris classic and was blended in 1901 and ‘Fleur’ is one of their more modern fragrances.

They have a little table at the back of the shop which I used to create the images below…Photo 19-04-2016, 12 46 08Photo 19-04-2016, 12 51 11 (1) Photo 19-04-2016, 12 59 31 (1) Photo 19-04-2016, 13 05 50 Photo 19-04-2016, 13 16 04 Photo 19-04-2016, 13 24 25 Photo 19-04-2016, 13 33 56 Photo 19-04-2016, 13 44 29 Photo 19-04-2016, 14 01 25 Photo 19-04-2016, 14 03 23 Photo 19-04-2016, 14 11 31As I mentioned before, I feel really artistically inspired by this visit which genuinely caught me by surprise as I had been focused on just taking photographs…sometimes it takes something out of the blue to reconnect things in your brain, and this experience certainly did that…
Photo 12-04-2016, 17 34 23 Floris doesn’t just feel like a shop, it feels more like an immersive experience and the staff are also brilliant and so committed to what a gem of a place they work in…Photo 19-04-2016, 14 38 30 …and I certainly have a new art project in mind and many hours smelling ahead!Photo 19-04-2016, 09 29 14You can see the Steller Story version here

Wednesday…with My St James’s ( Part 2 )

April 20, 2016

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

Photo 19-04-2016, 15 26 02In this second part of the #mystjames project, I’ve been exploring more of the St James area more and visiting some of the bespoke shops. I’m particularly enjoying having a glimpse into a working history round every corner and seeing the traditional skills which are still thriving in the businesses there.

I love finding new, quiet and beautiful outdoor spaces in London, and over the past month St James’s Square has burst into Spring colour…Photo 16-04-2016, 13 11 21Last week when I was coming up from Brighton on the train, the weather was so amazing that I knew I had to pay a quick visit to St James’s Park before walking back up to Jermyn Street because the blossom was out…there’s something about the pretty impermanence of blossom; it’s short life, that when you manage to see it on a bright day it feels like a special occassion ( you can see a post purely about blossom here )…Photo 12-04-2016, 10 38 56Photo 12-04-2016, 10 45 57The walk I usually take from St James’s Park up to Jermyn Street is past St James’s Palace…Photo 12-04-2016, 10 13 23Photo 18-04-2016, 18 47 16across Pall Mall ( I always think of endless games of Monopoly with my brother at this point )…Photo 18-03-2016, 13 19 06Photo 12-04-2016, 10 32 24…and up into St James’s Street past Boulestin ( as well as the amazing Lock and Co Hatters and Berry Brothers and Rudd )Photo 12-04-2016, 10 08 46I was visiting Budd Shirt Makers in Piccadilly Arcade. It’s a small shop specialising in shirt making and they are a very traditional business having a small workshop in Andover, as well as a cutting room right above the shop and virtually everything you can buy at Budd has been made in this country; even the socks are made in Leicester…
Photo 12-04-2016, 15 23 04The Cutting Room is led by Head Cutter John Butcher who has worked at Budd for over 45 years, and there are also cutters Darren Tiernan and James Macauslan who are all on hand to fit bespoke customers and take them through their styling and cloth options…( have a look here at just the collar options!! )

Having a theatre background myself I have always loved theatre Wardrobe Departments; seeing costumes being designed and made is always a piece of magic I love; their workshops always look so creative and alive, and similarly to when I visited Lock and Co last month, I felt like I was taken ‘backstage’ at Budd’s when I was shown upstairs to their cutting room…
Photo 12-04-2016, 15 11 35Photo 12-04-2016, 14 34 42Photo 12-04-2016, 15 10 59Photo 12-04-2016, 14 32 29I had no idea that knives were used for some of the incredible precision needed to cut shirt fabric…Photo 12-04-2016, 14 17 57Photo 12-04-2016, 15 12 48Photo 12-04-2016, 14 33 56Photo 12-04-2016, 14 28 37and the shears they use are enormous…some of them are nearly 40cm long!Photo 12-04-2016, 14 30 19Photo 12-04-2016, 14 43 20Photo 12-04-2016, 14 55 13I loved it in the shop and although they don’t make women’s shirts I wanted the pyjamas, the linen night shirts, cashmere dressing gowns…and beautiful pocket squares all with hand rolled edges…Photo 12-04-2016, 14 53 00They also have a range of silk pocket squares and bow ties designed by Claire Gaudion who uses outdoor landscapes as inspiration which you can see herePhoto 12-04-2016, 15 04 46Photo 12-04-2016, 15 00 21Photo 12-04-2016, 19 50 00The silk woven ties are a 1960’s classic, made in Italy with colour combinations chosen at Budd, and as a lifelong fan of colour charts and pantone books, it was a joy to see one of their silk shade cards…Photo 12-04-2016, 14 49 37Photo 12-04-2016, 14 47 26Photo 12-04-2016, 14 36 32Budd’s manager Andrew Rowley has bee there for over 35 years and the whole team really couldn’t have made me feel more welcome…Photo 12-04-2016, 15 23 35A brilliant spot to sit and stop for a sandwich sort of lunch is St James’s Square which looks amazing at this time of year, even on rainy days . It’s beautifully cared for by The St James’ Square Trust and is open open weekdays 10am – 4:30pm and there are SO many tulips there at the moment it’s incredible!
Photo 19-04-2016, 15 35 13Photo 16-04-2016, 13 08 14 Photo 19-04-2016, 15 20 11Photo 19-04-2016, 15 21 43Photo 19-04-2016, 15 23 05Photo 19-04-2016, 15 23 30Photo 19-04-2016, 15 25 48Photo 19-04-2016, 15 28 11Photo 19-04-2016, 15 33 34Photo 19-04-2016, 15 36 10I also always love having a wander around London picking out colours and textures so it’s great for me to explore a new area for hidden details…Photo 16-04-2016, 12 45 09 Photo 16-04-2016, 12 49 17 above, by The Cavendish Hotel Car Park this amazing Bill Mitchell releif mural

below, outside Dover Street Market on the HaymarketPhoto 16-04-2016, 13 31 02 Photo 16-04-2016, 13 15 34 Photo 16-04-2016, 13 30 36On St James’s Street there is a beautiful traditional chemist’s which was established in 1790 called D. R Harris . I love a browse around a chemists but this takes soap, lotions and personal grooming to a whole different level which reminds me of the smells and pleasant places my grandparents used to frequent before the onslaught of Superdrug! They have fantastic collections of all sorts of traditional bits and pieces; shoe horns, beard combs, hairbrushes, razors, shaving brushes…
IMG_3432…they can even make a soap on a rope look and smell good!  Their Windsor range was my favourite; it smells so clean and fresh, and basically how I’d like to smell every day after a shower…and their packaging is to die for!Photo 18-03-2016, 12 32 47

Photo 18-03-2016, 12 56 45 Photo 18-03-2016, 12 55 39 Photo 01-03-2016, 12 27 23Photo 18-03-2016, 12 02 21Photo 18-03-2016, 12 48 51I also visited New and Lingwood in Jermyn Street and when I arrived I was still enthusing about the blossom in the St James’s park…the men in the shop hadn’t seen it, and I suspect wouldn’t have been quite as obsessed with it as I was, but with the blossom in my mind and the most extraordinary array of colours and textures to play with, I decided to focus an arrangement on outdoor blossomy shapes and colours…
Photo 12-04-2016, 11 40 18 (1)New and Lingwood were established in 1865 to serve the scholars of Eton College by Elizabeth New and Samuel Lingwood and in 1922 they bought the shop in Jermyn Street, and although that premises was destroyed during the Blitz, their shop now is just a few doors down from their original one on the entrance to Piccadilly Arcade ( they have 2 shops either side ). I was particularly drawn to their amazingly colourful accessories which have, as they say, an ‘occasional eccentric wink’…Photo 12-04-2016, 11 23 34Photo 12-04-2016, 11 23 14Photo 12-04-2016, 11 33 12Photo 12-04-2016, 12 30 48Photo 12-04-2016, 12 38 44Photo 12-04-2016, 11 20 13Photo 12-04-2016, 13 10 27Photo 12-04-2016, 12 24 12Photo 12-04-2016, 12 39 20Photo 12-04-2016, 12 52 41Photo 12-04-2016, 13 04 45Their fabrics are so beautiful and they specialise in silk dressing gowns, ( their Peacock gown was recently worn by Hugh Laurie in ’The Night Manager’… )Photo 12-04-2016, 13 09 57Photo 12-04-2016, 13 10 05Mark Rylance gave me my first opportunity to exhibit my voice paintings at Shakespeare’s Globe, so I loved spotting this gorgeous picture of him and his daughter Juliet amongst the polka dots )Photo 12-04-2016, 12 32 34There’s also a shoe servicing area and a selection of Poulsen Skone shoes…Photo 18-04-2016, 06 01 18as well as incredible shoe polishing box…Photo 12-04-2016, 12 36 33Photo 12-04-2016, 12 35 15but it was the bright colours and the silks which really appealed to me; they were so vibrant and fresh…Photo 12-04-2016, 18 31 42…and I also loved their pet dog guarding the door! Photo 12-04-2016, 13 09 16Just behind Jermyn Street is Duke St where there are a lot of art dealers…

( this one was closed when I walked past but liked how the Elizabethan young man had a jacket which matched mine! )Photo 16-04-2016, 12 51 36I walked down Duke Street and suddenly came across a new exhibition of Emily Young sculpture at Bowman Sculpture, which is absolutely incredible and which I highly recommend…

I studied Classical Civilisation at A-Level and became obsessed for a while with Greek architecture, particularly the caryatids on the Acropolis, and these modern stone carvings have a real sense of those ancient pieces. A sense of being worn down and damaged over time, revealing that the texture of the stone is just as beautiful as the original carving itself…Photo 16-04-2016, 13 01 44Photo 16-04-2016, 13 00 21A few weeks ago I had been walking around St Pauls and was really taken with her enormous stone carved Angel heads outside the cathedral, so it was a joy to see some of her powerful work so close up…Photo 17-04-2016, 09 37 06Photo 17-04-2016, 09 37 44…and we all need a little cup of tea at the end of the day and I discovered that Osprey have a really sweet hide away place hidden at the bottom of their shop!
Photo 01-03-2016, 11 10 18IMG_3389There is so much more I’m excited to see in St James’s, particularly the ICA and White Cube, the London Library, Paxtons, Berry Brothers and Trickers and which I’ll write about next month, and tomorrow I’ll be putting up a post about my new favourite sensory place; the perfumer’s Floris in Jermyn Street which has suddenly inspired me!Photo 19-04-2016, 14 03 23

You can see the Steller Story Version here

Wednesday…with Lock & Co

March 30, 2016

Filed Under : Art - collaborations - colour - London - My St James - Spring - trips

Photo 30-03-2016, 12 32 38Last week I was invited to Lock & Co Hatters in St James’s, London for part of the #mystjames project and which turned out to be a wonderful and unforgettable afternoon…Photo 22-03-2016, 13 56 30

Visiting Lock & Co., the oldest hat shop in the world, established in 1676, and which is still a family run business, is like visiting a museum intertwined with a gallery. The women’s couture hats, designed by Sylvia Fletcher, are such beautiful works of art, that you really can’t say that this is just a hat shop…Lock and Co. is a glorious world of traditional hat making, history and beauty, and also where the bowler, or ‘Coke’ hat was born…

The shop front on St James’s St has one of the oldest shop doors in London, which once opened enters you into a small, quiet and quite unassuming room, surrounded by hats and an extremely old grandfather clock…
Photo 18-03-2016, 16 22 07Photo 01-03-2016, 12 33 02There are 2 small corridors lined with hat boxes and then tweed caps…Photo 18-03-2016, 15 00 15 Photo 18-03-2016, 14 58 06…and which lead to the back room, where you discover some of the history of the shop and also where you can see some of the head shapes of prestigious customers from Winston Churchill and Roosevelt, to Jackie Onassis and Tracy Emin…as well as Admiral Nelson and his famous hat which was made there.Photo 18-03-2016, 14 49 16 ( a purple background denotes a Royal customer, red are politicians, yellow are sportsmen, green are the armed forces and the others are simply very prominent people! )Photo 18-03-2016, 14 51 39 All head shapes are very different, so to get an absolutely perfect fit for hard hats, Lock and Co still use the conformateur which was invented in 1852, and it’s from this device that these paper head shapes are made…Photo 18-03-2016, 14 59 10 …and stored alphabetically in drawers in the workshop.Photo 18-03-2016, 14 57 20When I was taken through a small, ‘Private’ door, it felt like I was going backstage at the theatre…this was the place where hard hat magic happens; just behind a door and right in the heart of the shop.

I think we’ve generally come to accept that most of our clothing and accessories, or at least many of their components, are now made all over the world, so to see hats being made in a very traditional and long standing way, only minutes away from Piccadilly Circus is really wonderful…Photo 18-03-2016, 14 53 16 Photo 18-03-2016, 14 56 23Photo 18-03-2016, 14 53 41Photo 18-03-2016, 15 01 22The shop building itself was a coffee house and Tavern with lodging rooms at the back before James Lock  took it over in 1765, and the original staircase is incredible…it’s known as a ‘coffin staircase’ because back in the 1600’s lodgings were often up many flights of stairs which were not only so steep and narrow that it made it impossible for a coffin to be removed from an upstairs room, but also you would be charged accordingly on how many floors the coffin had to travel down, so this staircase was built to fit coffins; lowering them down to ground level through the central space shaped like a coffin, avoiding any stairs. The space is actually really small which is a reminder of how much we’ve grown over 400 years!

Photo 18-03-2016, 15 06 02

…and once up this staircase and on the first floor, I was basically in couture hat heaven!

I don’t think I’d realised how much I actually truly love hats; how much I want to wear them, and rather mourn their absence in general daily life. I’ve always been in awe of designs by Irene in films like Easter Parade, and stepping into a room full of Sylvia Fletcher hats felt a bit like I was in vintage Hollywood…
Photo 18-03-2016, 15 56 19Photo 18-03-2016, 15 42 27 Photo 18-03-2016, 15 31 51 Photo 18-03-2016, 15 58 22Photo 18-03-2016, 15 40 14 I’m not really a selfie person, but these hats just made me SO happy!!Photo 18-03-2016, 15 43 49 Photo 18-03-2016, 15 48 01 Photo 18-03-2016, 16 00 46 Photo 18-03-2016, 15 46 31 Photo 18-03-2016, 15 59 36 (1) Photo 18-03-2016, 15 44 43 Photo 18-03-2016, 16 07 39 Photo 18-03-2016, 16 09 29 pink without the labelPhoto 18-03-2016, 16 11 58I could have stayed in that room for hours…it was such a lovely experience, and I was incredibly lucky to have both Sue Simpson and Ruth Ravenscroft arranging and re-arranging hats on the mantlepiece for me to photograph…

Ruth then took me to the workshop at the top of the building where these hats are made…Photo 18-03-2016, 16 19 01Photo 18-03-2016, 16 18 22Again it was like entering a theatrical and magical world of felt, feather and ribbons…Photo 18-03-2016, 16 15 03 Photo 18-03-2016, 16 15 30 Photo 18-03-2016, 16 14 00 Photo 18-03-2016, 16 14 15 Photo 18-03-2016, 16 14 52 (1) Photo 18-03-2016, 16 13 04 Photo 18-03-2016, 16 16 45and even the dying room was wonderful…Photo 18-03-2016, 16 17 38 Photo 18-03-2016, 16 17 04…particularly this Dickensian London view!Photo 18-03-2016, 16 17 19 (1)I left Lock and Co with a massive smile on my face and a deep determination to acquire one of Sylvia Fletcher’s couture hats…I love original art and ceramics but only have a few pieces, but I now desperately want a piece of millinery art; a beautiful creation which I can wear!

The trip also inspired today’s table composition with the Beatrice Baker hat I wore when I got married; my Mum bought me the hat and it inspired my whole outfit design, and which I still adore… even though I’m divorced!! Photo 30-03-2016, 12 40 12From my teens and into my early 30’s I always loved wearing hats, but I’ve sort of drifted into just wearing beréts, which I don’t really consider a ‘proper’ hat; well at least not a couture hat anyway, so after my visit, I unearthed a few of my own collection and, including berets, counted over 40!

I also dug out some of my own outfit designs from years ago, which often featured a hat ( I used to make lots of my own clothes )…Photo 30-03-2016, 11 43 31 Photo 30-03-2016, 11 43 42 Photo 30-03-2016, 11 48 07and this is one of my personal favourite vintage hats…
Photo 30-03-2016, 12 47 32( The hats below include my wedding hat in the middle, my father’s school boater, my grandmother’s green feather hat which she wore to my parent’s wedding in 1968, my prep school Panama, a vintage black straw hat and a feathered creation made by me over 15 years ago! )Photo 24-03-2016, 13 51 04If you find yourself in London, in or near the St James’s area, you really must make Lock and Co. part of your visit, if not the reason for it!

( You can follow them on Instagram here and you can follow St James’s here )Photo 22-03-2016, 13 51 22…and just to finish, here’s one of my favourite clips from Easter Parade, 1948…it’s all about those ‘bonnetts’ by Irene!

You can see my Steller Story of the visit here, and I’m on Snapchat as: five5ftinf with table compositions and inspirations

 

 

Saturday…with an Easter Table

March 26, 2016

Filed Under : Arrangements - collaborations - colour - London - short poem films - Spring

Photo 15-03-2016, 15 52 55 (2)I used to spend every Easter when I was a child visiting my Grandpa in the Lake District…

On Easter Day we’d always have lunch at an hotel which was really old fashioned and we were only allowed into the dining room after a gong on the staircase was sounded…

The waiter wore a short white jacket and didn’t need a notebook to take the order; he remembered everything which always really impressed us.

After we’d eaten there was a room, which overlooked the garden with the sea beyond, where coffee and biscuits were served. At that point my brother and I would escape; there was a big hill we’d roll our dyed Easter eggs down…my brother, who’s older, usually got a bit bored with simple ‘rolling’ and would take to bombing my egg until there was nothing left, until it was destroyed, and then he would decamp to the pond and round up strands of toad spawn and newts and get completely filthy.

I would walk around pretending I was a ‘good’ Victorian child…until I got bored too, and joined my brother at the pond. After a while I would run back to the coffee and biscuits room and report back to the grown ups about what he’d been doing. No-one was really interested in my reports; they were probably so relieved that they were having a quiet moment with a cup of coffee without us arguing and winding each other up!

In the afternoon I’d go for a walk, often in Cartmel, with my Grandpa and my Mum ( my Dad and brother would go back to the house to fall asleep in a chair and play billiards respectively…even though billiards was banned to my brother unless my Grandpa was present! ) and in the evening I seem to remember small sandwiches and the Antiques Roadshow featured heavily!

I grew up in Warwickshire, right in the centre of England, and even as a child I felt land-locked and claustrophobic by my home turf and though it was very pretty, I longed for these Lake District escapes; full of natural space, high fells, sea and lakes.

I still have a deep yearning at this time of year to be back up North, particularly at Easter…maybe that’s one of the reasons I enjoyed my recent trip up there for The Landmark Trust so much; it captured or at least helped me re live something about my childhood Lake District memories..Photo 25-03-2016, 15 58 38 So, Easter is genuinely something very special for me…it always feel like things are at last looking pretty, bright and hopeful after a long, cold and bare spell…

I mentioned in my last post about the #mystjames project which I’m currently working on, that Fortnum and Mason is in the St James’s area, and one of the brilliant perks of this project is that I was given a bag full of Fortnums Easter treats to play with on the table…

I love putting my compositions together; not only placing objects in pleasing combinations of colour, structure and texture, but also thinking about the emotional sense behind it…and there was something about the memories of my childhood Easters in the Lake District, my love of Spring, blossom, chocolate eggs and tea which inspired the images below…Photo 25-03-2016, 16 26 58 Photo 25-03-2016, 16 29 16 Photo 25-03-2016, 16 35 45 Photo 15-03-2016, 16 01 10 Photo 15-03-2016, 16 37 55 Photo 15-03-2016, 16 07 39 Photo 15-03-2016, 16 28 48 Photo 15-03-2016, 16 47 22 Photo 25-03-2016, 16 59 48 Photo 25-03-2016, 17 04 47 Photo 25-03-2016, 16 56 54

a bit of stop frame bag opening…

Photo 25-03-2016, 15 40 55 (1)

You can see the Steller Story version here

Wednesday…with St James’s London ( Part 1 )

March 23, 2016

Filed Under : collaborations - London - trips

Photo 09-03-2016, 14 13 59I’ve always loved exploring London, even when I lived there before I moved to Brighton, and I’ve always really liked wandering around more central areas; partly out of convenience because that’s where I’ve often had to be for work, but also partly because I love it’s history and searching for details I’ve never noticed before.

Whenever I’ve read a book set in London, like Dickens’ The Old Curiosity Shop or Wilkie Collins’ The Woman in White, I’ve adored walking around the streets cited in the pages which have been there for years but have morphed into something more modern, and I enjoy searching for it’s atmospheric clues to the past…

I am also a creature of habit, so once I find somewhere I like, I keep going back regularly; investigating it in more detail each time,  wandering around, taking things in, discovering new streets I didn’t know where there, and then finding somewhere a bit special to have lunch or tea.

So when I was asked by St James’s to immerse myself in a project called #mystjames discovering and documenting their area, right in the centre of London, it was an irresistible and really exciting opportunity…also, brilliantly, it was an area which I wasn’t familiar with, so this is my introduction post and over the next few weeks I’ll be sharing lots of my discoveries and recommendations on here, Instagram, Steller and Snapchat ( I’m @five5ftinf on there )
Photo 22-03-2016, 11 03 34I’ve obviously been familiar with the Royal Academy before, and over recent years Fortnum and Mason has become a bit of a new love…there’s something about that light duck egg colour they use, their packaging, their tea, their restaurants, and just being in the building feels a very special and a proper treat…Photo 22-03-2016, 11 07 22( their window displays are always worth stopping for too… )Photo 22-03-2016, 11 10 25Photo 22-03-2016, 11 12 12and everything inside is gorgeous…IMG_0292 IMG_0299 IMG_0306…not to mention their chocolates, which I basically can’t leave the shop without…and as it’s coming up to Easter, it’s more dangerous than ever in there at the moment, as so many of their chocolate eggs are incredibly pretty!!

The quality is always fantastic too, and what’s brilliant is that you could leave with a very expensive, very special treat or… you can just treat yourself to a bit of amazing chocolate and some biscuits for about a fiver and eat them on the way home! Photo 15-03-2016, 16 32 20So, Fortnums seemed a very natural place for me to start my exploration of the area…although I also knew that the logo for St James’s is the Pelican, which were brought over as a gift from the Russian Ambassador in 1664, and which still live near Duck Island in St James’ Park today, so I thought it only right to go and have a look!
Photo 22-03-2016, 12 51 11Photo 22-03-2016, 12 33 30Photo 22-03-2016, 12 38 17…visiting the park is obviously a big touristy thing to do, as it’s such a pleasant place to be and right next to Buckingham Palace, but it’s really the more tucked away and traditional buildings and businesses of St James’s, which I wanted to focus on with this project, as well as some of the newer elements of the area…Photo 18-03-2016, 13 52 59So I started basically where the 38 bus from Victoria drops me off on Piccadilly, outside Fortnum’s, the RA and St James’s Church…which has the most magnificent magnolia in bloom at the moment…Photo 09-03-2016, 14 12 49and directly behind it, in Jermyn St, is a really sweet florist…Photo 22-03-2016, 11 25 56…and almost directly opposite that is the perfumers Floris which was established in 1730…( and which has an amazing display of paper flowers made by fellow Brightonian, the very talented Sue Beech from @apetalunfolds )Photo 22-03-2016, 11 21 11Jermyn Street is, I think, probably my favourite street in the area…Photo 22-03-2016, 11 17 49It has so many really old and very traditional businesses that it feels like you’re shopping in way which feels slower and more specific; more exact and not as rushed…Photo 22-03-2016, 11 20 12with old businesses ranging from traditional shirt makers, hat makers, shoe makers, cheese mongers and perfumers, Jermyn Street is a living, breathing piece of beautiful history…Photo 22-03-2016, 11 23 47Photo 22-03-2016, 11 26 49 Photo 22-03-2016, 11 30 44Having briefly studied History of Design at Manchester, I’m always  looking out for interesting architecture and design, and the area which, was the vision of Henry Jermyn in the 1600’s, has really wonderful buildings designed by, amongst others, by John Nash, Christopher Wren, Edwin Lutyens, Thomas Cubitt and Samuel Wyatt, and with so many blue plaques of historical occupants on them that you could spend a whole day just taking in the area on your own architectural tour without even spending anything.
Photo 22-03-2016, 11 35 14

Photo 18-03-2016, 13 48 40 (1)

Photo 18-03-2016, 13 33 10St James’s Street and leading on to Pall Mall also has some amazing old traditional shops and a couple of really wonderful little 17th Century alleys…Photo 18-03-2016, 13 16 26Photo 18-03-2016, 13 19 06Photo 18-03-2016, 13 11 06 Photo 22-03-2016, 13 58 46 Photo 22-03-2016, 13 59 01 Photo 22-03-2016, 13 47 08 Photo 22-03-2016, 13 47 27 Photo 22-03-2016, 13 51 22 Photo 22-03-2016, 13 56 30and this is Lock and Co Hatters, which is the most incredible place and deserves a whole post of it’s own as I was lucky enough to be shown around the shop last week, and work on some images with their hats which are beautiful works of art, and which I’ll post in a few days , although here’s an initial taster…Photo 18-03-2016, 14 53 41 Photo 18-03-2016, 15 59 17 Photo 18-03-2016, 16 14 52 (1) Photo 18-03-2016, 15 46 31( trying on hats always makes me very happy!! )Photo 09-03-2016, 14 36 04 As well as exploring the area on foot…( in all weathers! ) I also wanted to use the area to inspire some compositions on my own table at home…Photo 18-03-2016, 10 30 06Photo 09-03-2016, 15 45 16 (1)and after an afternoon tea at Villandry whilst sheltering from a massive rain storm, I was able to take a few of the sweetest bits home…Photo 09-03-2016, 15 15 56…and make the whole experience last even longer on the table!Photo 10-03-2016, 13 08 02I’m also really looking forward to discovering the Haymarket a bit more, and the art galleries, particulary The White Cube  in Mason’s Yard…Photo 22-03-2016, 14 07 37 (1) and the ICA on The Mall…Photo 22-03-2016, 13 14 50…as well as some more of the traditional shops like Floris, Trickers Shoes, Paxton and Whitfield’s and D R Harris and The London Library amongst others, and I’ll also be exploring a few of the restaurants and cafes too…

There’s nothing like discovering a new area for lots of inspiration, and also one of the massive plusses for me where St James’s is concerned is that I can wander around ( obviously taking lots of photos ) without literally bumping in to people and jostling for space on the pavement…I hadn’t realised that there was a quiet, beautiful and completely fascinating place just behind the manic-ness of Piccadilly Circus.Photo 22-03-2016, 12 12 30And although you can walk away with very expensive purchases, you can also walk away with really beautiful, quality bits and pieces which don’t cost the earth…( and work out how to save up for the best hat in the world! )Photo 15-03-2016, 16 37 55 (1)Photo 15-03-2016, 16 07 39So, over the next 3 months I’ll be posting more about my travels and trips into St James’s as well as putting together some collections and arrangements on the table!
Photo 22-03-2016, 11 49 06

You can see the Steller Story version here and if you do find yourself in the area taking pictures, it would be great if you wanted to use the #mystjames hashtag too, on Instagram, Twitter and Steller, and we can share our independent discoveries!