This week I visited Burberry at Old Sessions House in London for the exhibition ‘Here We Are’ curated by Christopher Bailey, Lucy Kumara Moore and Alasdair McLellan – in celebration of the September 2017 Burberry collection. I’d seen that Skye from @georgianlondon had been via her Instagram Stories and thought it looked wonderful…and it was! It finishes tomorrow so if you read this in time you really should go…and the cafe is great too! You can see the Steller Story Version here
Something I regularly feel shamed by is how helpless and impotent I know I am when it comes to the Refugee Crisis…it’s such an important global issue with tendrils reaching into so many aspects of what feels wrong to me in the world at the moment; racism, rage and and a general feeling of hate seems just below the surface of so many global problems right now, but when it comes to doing something about it I feel under prepared, under informed and and overwhelmed, holding onto what feels like some generalised views which have probably been perpetrated through social media…
But I’m no activist…and that’s what basically makes me feel a bit ashamed…
It takes a pretty special and totally commited person to be an activist; a person who is able to do things I’m not able ( or maybe prepared ) to do, a person with such a strong sense of belief that they know they have to go out there and speak for all of us who are too scared, too comfortable, or who have too much responsibility in other areas to be able to fight in the way they do…the activist has my total respect, which is the main reason I have to come out and admit that I am not one.
( One of the most incredible activists I know though, is Jaz from The Worldwide Tribe who took me to the Calais Jungle last February )
I feel strongly about supporting the refugee crisis and make donations both financial and with food and clothing, and I try and keep abreast of what’s going on. I visited the Calais Jungle last year to try and raise awareness through my Instagram account…but I still feel an awkwardness about not doing more…
When the opportunity arose for me to be part of Makers4Refugees and auction some of my work with ALL profits going to Help Refugees I knew I wanted to be part of it and raise some actual money for this cause…if I can use my skills as an artist and maker to do something which helps people, I at least feel that I’m not doing nothing. Makers4Refugees is the initiative of ceramicist Pip Wilcox and consists of over 40 global Makers across a variety of disciplines who have come together to make a difference by selling their work.
So I have designed 5 silk scarves which all measure 100cm x 100cm, I’ve hand rolled and sewn all the edges and… now I want you to buy them!
The scarves for the Makers4Refugees auctions have developed from my love for texture, nature and the blending of the two.
The photos below are of each scarf to be auctioned and the bespoke auction will be on the 6th day ( with a slightly higher reserve price of £65 ).
They are digitally printed in the UK by a small business in Warwickshire and are 100% silk twill; an incredibly soft silk with a lovely weight which means the silk hangs with a gentle flow.
In my online shop my silk scarves sell for £120 each, so you could even grab yourself a bargain as I’m starting these off at each auction at a reserve price of £50. Postage will be free, wherever you live in the world!
Each evening next week I will post an image of the particular scarf up for auction on my Instagram account @5ftinf and you will be able to place your bids in the comments below the image. The auction will last 24hrs.
The winning bid will be the highest bid at the close of the auction and the winning bidder will be expected to make the donation to the Makers4Refugees fundraising page immediately ( this is so that by the time the next maker has their auction week, all the previous week’s fundraising is sorted out).
So you can see the areas of aid where your money is likely to spent, here are some examples sent by Help Refugees …
• a meal for one person in Athens – 25p
• a mosquito net for a family’s tent in Greece – £10
• a pair of sturdy, comfortable shoes – £15
• baby milk for one baby, for a week – £20
• a buggy and cot – £25
• a warm sleeping bag – £30
• a refillable fire extinguisher – £35
• the cost of a bread-maker and the ingredients for one person to make their own bread – £65 for the machine, 75p for ingredients for one person for the month
• to support an unaccompanied child to live with a Greek family for a month – £400
• fresh fruit and vegetables for 1 camp on average for 1 month – £2500
• running a mobile sexual reproductive health clinic for a month – £5500
• a rescue boat on the water for 30 days – £23,000
If you feel that you could be part of bidding for these exclusive, hand finished silk scarves next week it would be so brilliant to have you on board…making a practical and significant contribution to a very human crisis.
MONDAY 25TH SEPTEMBER AUCTION:
TUESDAY 26TH SEPTEMBER AUCTION:
WEDNESDAY 27TH SEPTEMBER AUCTION:
THURSDAY 28TH SEPTEMBER AUCTION:
FRIDAY 29TH SEPTEMBER AUCTION:
SATURDAY 30TH SEPTEMBER AUCTION:
BESPOKE ASSEMBLAGE – 1m X 1m, 100% silk twill
( You can also have a look at other examples in my online shop here if you wanted ideas for this last auction ).
Please email me via the form below if you would like any more information about the scarves or the auctions.
Today’s composition was inspired by some artichoke heads my friend was about to dead head in her garden at the weekend…a couple of years ago I accidentally discovered the magic ( and subsequent mess ) of artichoke seeds: I thought I’d tease some seeds out of a head I’d been given to plant in my garden, which I did, and then went and made a cup of tea…when I came back to the table it was filled with giant, golden dandelion like seeds which completely mesmerised me…
So yesterday I thought I capture the happening through time lapse as well as experiment with some bright Autumnal colours amid the soft textures…
I was working with yellows today; a sort of burnt, yellowy gold collation , and a sort of homage to the end of the Summer and the approach of Autumn… It’s all in the positioning of the pears…( I should have thrown these out ages ago but I loved watching them grow more and more golden every day! ) I wanted to create one of my ‘classic’ tables with this particular chair…which meant that Cheeks was moved, still on the chair, to the other side of the room…he didn’t even notice!
I also just wanted to remind anyone who’s thinking of booking a place on my Consciously Creative Online Course, which starts on Sept 11th, that tomorrow is the last day that you’ll be able to use the Earlybird discount code…please email me using the form at the bottom of this post if you’d like me to send it to you. ( There are only a handful of places left now, so do let me know soon )
I’ve been working on some of the details for my new online course starting in September and wanted to share them here first with a few images to give you a taste of the sort of thing I’ll be teaching ( There’s also more information on this page here )
So Consciously Creative will be a 6 week online course designed to help you develop your creativity in a type of online art class.
Over the 6 weeks there will be homework and creative tasks which will encourage you to experiment and experience ways of working and looking which may feel out of your comfort zone but which will allow you to be more open to different inspirations and techniques.
I want the course to feel personal so I will be demonstrating and chatting live each week for an hour via the private course instagram account and will try to answer any questions which may arise. The course will also have a limited number of places so that I can maintain that personal input.
I will be working primarily with my iphone; creating work through photographs, but if you prefer to work with paper, pencil and paint,for example, that would be perfectly ok too. However it would still be good to create a photographic document of your process and work throughout the course as it’s good to share and receive feedback even if it’s nerve wracking.
The course is meant to help you identify how you can develop your own daily practice of creating…it’s meant to inspire that creative impetus rather than tell you exactly how to do it. It’s about being inspired to do your own thing; follow your own path; taking away the pressure of having ‘clickable’ content, and by the end of the course I would hope that you would feel more confident about your own ways of seeing and doing or at least have a firmer starting point. I will encourage you to also start a personal project which will serve as a spark and act as an anchor, or even a hobby, for much more work to come.Week 1:
Introduction to a Way of Working
One of the main elements of how we will work is to focus on deep observation and hopefully slightly alter or shift your way of seeing and looking at things.
I will try and help you increase your sense and recognition of natural symmetry, colour coordination and composition.
I will steer clear of ‘styling’ and too much considered manipulation which can definitely create a sense of beauty but often lacks a deeper meaning or atmosphere.
We will cover aesthetics of texture, how important it is not to overlook it and how useful considering the Japanese aesthetic of wabi sabi can be.
We will focus on colour and how to develop a greater sense of the life of colours as well as learning how to identify and sense them in far more places than you thought. We will forage for domestic colours, look at colour wheels as well as noting how natural lighting can aslo impact on colour.WEEK 4:
Mood and Atmosphere
We will look at how we can add a further sense of atmosphere into your images…trying to enhance the way you ‘feel’ about something and how that leads onto the way you develop your editing skills. I will also create tutorials for making a very simple film and stop frame animation. WEEk 5:
Having focused on detailed elements in the previous weeks, we will now look at composition, focusing on a natural, organic style which I personally use, as well as some universal tips for points of focus, symmetry and asymmetry etc. WEEK 6:
Conclusion, continuing practice, re-cap and play
We’ll talk about everything we’ve covered over the last 5 weeks and work out which ones feel more natural or easy, which ones perhaps need more attention, which make you feel happy and which maybe make you feel at a loss. It’s important to feel that you will be able to carry on experimenting and being open, so starting a personal project in this last week will definitely be a benefit to developing your continuing practice.
I will work out a loose worksheet which you can print out as a creative stimulus and hopefully you will feel more equipped to create a continuing creative visual sense or response to who you are and how you see the world around you.Before the course begins I will provide you with a list of useful editing apps which I personally use, and each week I will suggest other inspirational Instagram accounts, artists, books and films which you may find interesting, helpful and relevant to the week’s topic.
I love working with other people and seeing how a collective of ideas and creativity can be so inspiring and motivating, so really look forward to meeting you if this course sounds like it’s your cup of tea…
You can buy your place in my online shop here but please do e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in taking a place as I will then send you an Earlybird registration discount code which will last until 1st September.
Looking forward to meeting some of you soon!
I just had to write a quick post as I can’t bear throwing these dahlias away; I find their beautiful decay just as alluring and inspiring as when I first put them on the table over a week ago…I’ve loved watching their journey and I may well keep them just a bit longer…in the shed though, as other people at home don’t seem quite as enamoured!
I woke up today needing, or maybe just feeling, something of the reds and yellows…I don’t plan things, colours just sort of happen, and while I think it may have been the small arrangement of oddments on the mantlepiece which I brought back from my Mum’s a couple of weeks ago which triggered things, I realised pretty soon after I started placing the objects that the colours together felt really representative of the end of August…a shifting or re-alligning of the seasons; a warmth and vibrancy alongside a fading glow…And even though the dahlia’s petals are falling and they’re looking all crinkly…I still love them and don’t want to throw them away…not before a table arrangement anyway!
Putting the arrangement together was a bit like doing a free form jigsaw…
I’ll be including a colour module in my ‘ CONSCIOUSLY CREATIVE ‘ online course which starts in September, where we’ll cover how to embrace, look for and see colour more clearly, particularly in the more ordinary and domestic places. We’ll also look at recognising colour patterns as well as colour opposites and how important colour makes us feel whether in positive or negative ways…The course will launch at the beginning of September and there’s some information about it HERE with more specifics to follow with the launch.
The table is the best blank canvas I’ve ever had, I suppose because it’s never really blank, it’s always living and has now become an essential part of my creative and domestic life ( it’s currently living with a blueish accidental paint mark which I’ve become quite fond of ).
I think of my compositions as visual maths…everything is in the right place but everything is also variable. It’s an improvisation in colour and texture and atmosphere.
I have days where I’m obsessed with colour and others where I’m obsessed with texture ( I even have another Instagram account @outsidesense where I can indulge my abstract texture collecting ) but the most satisfying days are when I can bring it all together. When I paint I have to work at bringing it all together and I often consider my photographic compositions as sketches which always inform my painting at a later date.
…and yesterday, it was this shelf in Asda…I stopped, as I always do, and looked at what is my domestic equivalent of an art shop. These are the shelves I love most in the Winter; when my garden is barren and brown, when everyone’s going on about how little colour there is…these shelves in the ‘foreign foods’ section are my life saver.
I found a couple of new ‘textures’ today. I’m always looking for colourful food textures but today I was taken with white sago and clear sugar…and then I saw the turkish delight, which sort of reminded me of some of the dahlias from Thursday and also some roses in my garden, and that was that…
I have a special case where I keep all my foody textures…it’s sort of akin to my big bag of paints but which has a much spicier smell! I like being quite selective and choose things which I instinctively want to work with so today the ingredients were:
Red peppercorns, Juniper berries, Sumac, Popping Candy, Breadcrumbs, Tapioca, Sugar, Star Anise, Dahlias from the fride ( the ones whose heads had come of on the car journey ), Rose, Valerium, Marjoram, Perennial Pea, Japanese Anenome, Rose hips, a plant I can’t remember the name of ( please let me know if you know it! ) and Turkish Delight…
I take lots of pictures as I go as more often than not, it’s the textures and items themselves which lead the composition… I also like to play around with the formats so take photos in landscape, square and portrait as sometimes I’m surprised by how different the atmospheres are within them… I also take pictures when I feel I finished as, again, the ‘ingredients’ can still surprise me, and it always somehow feels less pressured when I know I’ve got one in the bag anyway…
…and that happened today…I was about finished when I took the photo below and realised that it had all the feeling and colour nuances I’d wanted to create in the first place…I added some extra sugar…slightly altered the composition…
and then felt I could leave it.
Editing the images is the part which I consider brings my images to life; it’s another artistic element which feels to me a lot like painting. I don’t have a recipe which works every time as I like to consider each image in it’s own right and then tease out the atmosphere and how I really feel about what I’m working with. The image on the left is how the iphone sees the table, the image on the right is how I see and feel about the table…
I often think of that Helena Rubenstein quote “ There’s no such thing as an ugly woman, just a lazy one “, as I kind of feel the same about photo editing…If I think I’ve taken a rubbish photo I don’t dismiss it until I’ve edited the life out of it first!
This is a recent example below…I was on the train walking down the aisle and suddenly noticed the sky and St Michael’s Mount. I rushed to the window and took the shot as we raced past not very hopeful I would catch anything useable. However with a bit of editing I was able to pull out the colour and composition much more clearly to create a cleaner image.
I never think of my table compositions as just something a bit pretty, and to be honest I quite like adding a potentially ‘ugly’ element; maybe it’s because I like a bit of a challenge as well as some instinctive yin and yang…‘Consciously Creative’ – A New Online Creative Course
I’ve been asked a lot over the last few years about my working practice, my influences and inspirations, my techniques and tips, and I’ve been able to share lots of them during my one day workshops and one to one coaching, but I’ve felt for a while now that although these workshops are a lot of fun, I can only scratch the surface of how to work creatively. So, I’ve spent some time recently putting together a 6 week online creative course which will lead you to discover more about looking, seeing, colour, texture, atmosphere and all your senses as well as equipping you with a feeling of your own personal, ongoing creative journey…one which isn’t just about social media, but one which is about creating more of a daily practice and encouraging you to feel the importance of experimenting and process rather than focusing on clickable content.
I’ve been a self employed creative artist for over 20 years…many of those years really didn’t feel very fruitful at all, but all of those years, in some shape or form, have directly influenced what appears on my table, in my photographs, my paintings, my products and the way I live…it’s an ongoing process, like life I suppose, and I really want to be able to help people start that practice of creative ‘doing’ .
It will be a very personal course where I’ll demonstrate and chat Live on our private Instagram account for an hour each week as well as answer questions, set and assess homework, create weekly inspirational Pinterest boards, have a group Facebook page ( although you’ll be able to post and comment on our Instagram account too ) and also remain flexible and open to inspirations which may crop up during the 6 weeks. Because I want it to be as personal as possible, the course numbers will be limited and the 6 weeks will cost £300 per student and will run from 11th September – 16th October 2017. ( If you feel you would prefer a one to one version of the course I’m also happy to discuss that option via email ).
I’m planning to have the course ready to launch in the next couple of weeks so if you already know you’d like to be included on the course or want to be notified just prior to the launch date please send me an e-mail via the form below.
It’s a new project for me and I feel genuinely excited about sharing my work and exploring areas I love with other interested and inquisitive minds.You don’t have to have to be an artist or even someone who’s always been naturally creative to do this course…it’s a course to help anyone, artistic or not, to reconnect to the excitement of creativity, look at things with new eyes, see new colours, and inspire confidence and clarity to your own personal projects.
Please feel free to email me if you have any questions..and look forward to meeting you!
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…
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.
‘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