Category Archives: My Garden

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 frosty Ikebana

January 20, 2016

Filed Under : Arrangements - cycling - ikebana - My Garden - My Home - Spring - Winter - workshops

Photo 20-01-2016, 11 10 47The snow from the weekend has melted, but the frost has set in this week, which is something I don’t mind at all if it doesn’t kill the echiums and the sun is shining…I love how the whites of snow and frost are actually often some sort of blue depending on the light…
Photo 20-01-2016, 08 35 53 (1) I cycled up to the Ditchling Beacon this morning and although I’ve done it loads of times this morning was so beautiful in it’s coldness…Photo 20-01-2016, 08 41 31 Photo 20-01-2016, 08 41 59 ( this is me looking like a Victorian postman on some sort of penny farthing! )Photo 20-01-2016, 08 42 45 Photo 20-01-2016, 08 43 48 Photo 20-01-2016, 08 35 36 I cycled on to Stanmer Park nearby as it was all too nice to rush back the normal route…Photo 20-01-2016, 09 08 18 Photo 20-01-2016, 09 08 32 Photo 20-01-2016, 09 08 50 (1) Photo 20-01-2016, 09 09 22 When I got back I felt really inspired by how I found it so beautiful even though there’s a lack of bright colour at the moment…just loads of twigs, blueness and a sense of structure…

So, it’s actually a perfect time of year for an Ikebana arrangement as there’s so much form and simplicity out there at the moment, with just those little pops of otherness…
Photo 20-01-2016, 09 45 29 Photo 20-01-2016, 09 45 49 Photo 20-01-2016, 09 46 50 Photo 20-01-2016, 09 47 15 I wanted the arrangement to reflect my bike ride in some way, so went into my garden to try and find things which I thought may be able to capture some sense of that…Photo 20-01-2016, 09 51 25 Photo 20-01-2016, 09 52 10 Photo 20-01-2016, 09 53 25 ( I also had a little black and white experiment inspired by Karl Blossfeld…this is a direct link, but if you Google him with ‘images’ you’ll get his incredible photos en masse! )Photo 20-01-2016, 09 54 48 Choosing the ikebana vessel is important…Holly Bell made me these 2 light ones for Christmas, and I wanted to use them, but I thought this arrangement would probably work better with a larger base…Photo 20-01-2016, 10 30 33 Photo 20-01-2016, 10 37 50 Photo 20-01-2016, 10 39 33 Photo 20-01-2016, 10 39 56 Photo 20-01-2016, 10 40 13 Photo 20-01-2016, 10 41 34 Photo 20-01-2016, 10 41 59 You have to start somewhere, and I love this common hogweed seed head which I’d picked even though it was the last one left…Photo 20-01-2016, 10 44 34 but it didn’t really work…

I wanted to reflect the landscape more…

Photo 20-01-2016, 08 44 27…so it disappeared!Photo 20-01-2016, 10 46 09 Photo 20-01-2016, 10 48 36 Photo 20-01-2016, 10 49 49 Photo 20-01-2016, 10 52 03 I wanted to create a sense of the cycling; the wind in my face, everything going past so quickly and glances into the hedgerows…Photo 20-01-2016, 11 06 32 …and I just added a hint of Spring as it was definitely lurking out there this morning even in an underground sort of way…Photo 20-01-2016, 11 08 51 …and these are the leftovers!Photo 20-01-2016, 11 12 21

I’ll be running a short Ikebana style workshop in a couple of weekends time at Arlo & Jacob in London, in which I’ll demonstrate and also give some firm ideas and starting points on how to create your own arrangements similar to this one…a sort of story telling though simplicity and the frugal sense of season, with a definite sense of place and relevance .

There’s more information about here and in a blog post here, and if you’d like to book a place you’ll be able to here.

I’ll be bringing all the ikebana ceramics, flowers and twigs, and there’ll be free coffee, cake… and popcorn ( I’m obsessed with popcorn at the moment! ) and we’ll be able to look at the photography aspect too once you’ve created your pieces.

( You can see a Steller story here which has lots of pictures of the space where the workshop will be held )

Tuesday…jumping out of the box ( with visual explanation )

January 19, 2016

Filed Under : Arrangements - Art - My Garden - My Home - The Shed - Winter

Photo 19-01-2016, 12 51 11I am feeling the need to be creatively unboxed a bit…Photo 19-01-2016, 12 59 00

I kept thinking I was going to write a New Year post…a post which would sum up how I was feeling about 2016 and what interesting stuff happened in 2015…but January came upon me, and January is basically when I feel like hibernating and, to be honest the void of the year ahead seems daunting…

I’ve also been feeling like I want to change a shape or pattern…

Creativity is such an undefined spirit…it’s something which follows you around, sits on your shoulders, wafts around your feet and then suddenly and unexpectedly, plants some seed of an idea in your head which grows at such a rate that it becomes impossible to ignore it…

The force of creativity gives me my visual voice, has helped me hone my style, and craft my table compositions… I work well with boundaries; they make me push things to the edges and keep being resourceful, which is what I love about the table, but it’s not the whole process…
Photo 10-12-2015, 13 03 15

I’ve used my blog to give more of a background to my table compositions and arrangements…sharing my garden and the process of it’s growth which then ends up on the table, but I’m definitely feeling that I need to share more of the complete mental picture; the whole process, influences and inspirations and creative triggers.

I have lots of different digital spaces to ‘file’ things or separate things; my 5ftinf Facebook page is purely for table compositions, my Philippa Stanton Artist Facebook page for my paintings and textural inspirations, my painting website, my Pinterest for inspiration and ideas, and obviously Instagram; different accounts for 5ftinf, my Open House and also one just for texture photos.

Steller is my current digital love outside of blogging and Instagram, partly because when I joined the app I made the decision to combine everything I did, and every week my Weekly Snaps stories I show a whole selection of what I’ve seen and where I’ve been in terms of my creative life: table compositions, mess, boring cafes, peeling paint, bike rides, my home, my studio etc ( I recently started sharing the Weekly Snaps images here on the blog too )…Steller feels like the place I’m most me and although having lots of separate ‘compartments’ for different elements of my work is really useful, I’m now at a point where I want to bring it all together a bit more…particualry on my @5ftinf Instagram account which is how that account started in the first place…
7These were some of my first images on Instagram…for me it’s always been a discovery about how to capture the aesthetics I see and feel inside…81011( I think this is the first time the table made an appearance…)14I  was having a good old look through my blog images from between about 2009 and 2011 and I was fascinated by the similarities and stark differences between then and now…

My love for taking pictures of telephone boxes has never dwindled:

( the first 2 images are from 2009 and the last one from this December just gone )

171179_108464909228317_1684562_o DSC04032 Photo 13-12-2015, 12 46 07

But I can also see from old images how my style has developed and how where I’ve been at in my head has informed what I do…

Looking back at old images made me find my old sketchbooks and scrapbooks from my pre digital years…

I started this scrap book in about 1988 and was fascinated to realise that what I did back then was just a different version of now…
Photo 17-01-2016, 15 08 17

I was always collecting images I liked from magazines and newspapers…Photo 17-01-2016, 15 01 34 Photo 17-01-2016, 15 03 50 and articles about artists and their work…Photo 17-01-2016, 15 05 18I suppose these were my early version of Pinterest boards…

I also realised that I’ve been documenting my gardening pursuits since the time I first had a garden in 1996…

( these images are from 1997 and my first garden in a flat in Lewisham, London )

Photo 16-01-2016, 16 14 37 Photo 16-01-2016, 16 16 05( and that’s Bumble…who was pre Cheeks! )

Photo 16-01-2016, 16 12 54

I also used to sew a lot more, and make my own clothes…I was never much good at it, but I always liked to wear stuff that I’d thought up…

Photo 16-01-2016, 16 16 59

for a long time sewing, fabric and colláge was my big thing…

( the images below are sewing colláges and fruit and veg watercolours from between 2001 and 2004…and with the fish one from 1997 )Photo 17-01-2016, 14 56 02 Photo 17-01-2016, 14 56 53 Photo 17-01-2016, 14 59 28 Photo 17-01-2016, 14 59 52painting sort of snuck in through the back door…Photo 17-01-2016, 14 58 08So…I must surely have a point to all this reflection…

Well I suppose what it’s made me think is that even though I physically cringe at some of the awful photos and bizarre accompanying words I put up on my blog between 2008 and 2010, there is always a process, and that process is important, even if it’s simply to reflect on later, but the images that caught my eye back then, even though I wasn’t as deft at capturing them with my camera, have all been food for the images I create now…

I’ve realised that I’ve always collected images as well as things, and that’s what feeds my imagination. I’ve also come to feel that I want to share a bit more of that process again here on my blog and also on Instagram and Steller…and that’s something that I’m sure brand experts would probably say distracts from my ‘brand’ of the table, but in my opinion the background stuff is vital too…but branding myself doesn’t interest me nearly as much as the fear that it fastens things down…

So, basically I want to put a bit more stuff on my blog and instagram which isn’t maybe as pretty as just nature and flowers, isn’t as well formed or as a composed table, or is just something that I find interesting in the moment which maybe has some atmosphere…even if it’s a bit odd but which probably then leads to a table composition in some way…

Photo 23-04-2015 14 53 57

I’ll be daring myself to put some of those different images on my Instagram feed too…it’s a funny feeling when you know you’ve created images which people love and you’re about to confuse them with rusty close ups or modern architecture, so I’ll use a hashtag #creatively_unboxed which I’d encourage anyone to use if they feel they just want to jump out of the box for a moment…when you’ve created a style it can often feel a bit restrictive, but also a bit too scary to change it or play around with it in any way, so I want to use the hashtag as my excuse to shake things up every now and then…

There will of course be flowers and the table too…that’s not going to change as that is a fundamental part of me, and the joy I get from putting those images together is something I would never have anticipated…

So I suppose this is my New Year post…just saying I want to creatively unbox myself…

I also want to share at this point some creatives on Instagram who have unwittingly inspired me to write this post; people who’s visual voice and constant visual discovery and rediscovery encourage me daily:

@sandrajuto, @famapa, @idalaerke, @elf_girl

…and for@xantheb for basically pushing my ‘go’ button last week!

Photo 18-01-2016, 16 15 36

 

Wednesday…with being outside

January 13, 2016

Filed Under : Arrangements - My Garden - Spring - The Shed - Winter

Photo 13-01-2016, 16 36 53It’s been so wet and rainy recently that even though the temperature has dropped massively this week, the fact that the sun has appeared makes cycling into the countryside as well as venturing into the garden a real possibility!Photo 13-01-2016, 08 45 44

Today I decided to pot up loads of baby succulents, because an experiment last Summer when I potted 3 small succulents in a large pot led to 3 huge ones, so I want to see what happens to these…plus the fact I’m sort of obsessed/addicted to propagating succulents as it basically involves sticking a ‘leaf’ on a window sill and waiting for roots to appear!

Photo 13-01-2016, 09 22 02 As you can see, there was a lot of tidying of stuff that had to be done today too…Photo 13-01-2016, 09 22 29 It was so cold whilst potting that a coffee acted as a hand hot water bottle…Photo 13-01-2016, 09 22 41 Photo 13-01-2016, 09 26 25 Photo 13-01-2016, 09 47 29 Photo 13-01-2016, 10 07 19 I also started a bit of a clear up in my shed and the moment the lower shelf was cleared Cheeks came in and found the sun spot…it’s like he can sense a sun spot even when he’s hiding his face in his cardboard box!Photo 13-01-2016, 10 48 10 …and after the succulents I started a garden tidy. It’s looking really washed out at the moment so I was determined to find the colour…

The cranberries are left from Christmas, as are the rose hips and orange ilex, the blue hydrangea petals and orange physalis are saved from the Autumn, and the blueberries are from my lunch…but the other bits are from my garden even the calendula and field scabious…

its definitely important to me to search for Spring in the middle of January…Photo 13-01-2016, 16 41 35

Thursday…with a Garden Catch up ( and a Colour Code discount! )

November 26, 2015

Filed Under : My Garden - Shop Discounts - Winter

Photo 26-11-2015, 09 32 53So, after loads and loads of rain over the past few weeks I decided to have a look around my forlorn garden…there’s loads going on; growing and hibernating, but I feel like I’ve neglected things for a couple of weeks and I needed to re-aquaint myself with the Wintry tasks ahead…
Photo 26-11-2015, 14 40 00 Succulents and echiums doing well…but looking scraggy and needing a tidy…Photo 26-11-2015, 14 40 12…Action Man unfazed by the recent cold snap! Photo 26-11-2015, 14 40 31 the Virginia creeper and perennial peas looking sharp for becoming wreath components…Photo 26-11-2015, 14 40 41 Photo 26-11-2015, 14 41 13 …rogue calendula and pineapple sage flowersPhoto 26-11-2015, 14 41 34 …and expectant coniferPhoto 26-11-2015, 14 41 43 Photo 26-11-2015, 14 41 50 …sedums from the florist in the Autumn, stuck in the ground and multiplying…Photo 26-11-2015, 14 41 59 …and the whole school of nasturtiums destroyed by the frost last Saturday morning…Photo 26-11-2015, 14 42 21 Photo 26-11-2015, 14 42 29 ( the messiest end of the garden! )Photo 26-11-2015, 14 43 10 …the last shasta daisyPhoto 26-11-2015, 14 43 30 Photo 26-11-2015, 14 43 38

So, although the garden is looking a bit bleak, I thought I’d offer a ‘ Colourful Thursday ‘ discount code for my shop which will last a week…I feel a bit odd about the ‘Black Friday’ madness, so thought I’d branch off in my own weekday way…

You can use the 15% discount code at the Checkout, and you just enter: 5FTINFCOLOUR

Photo 26-11-2015, 14 15 21P.S the yellow achilea in the photo above are the exact same pieces I picked 2 and half months ago, as the ones you can just see on the corner of the wrapping paper!

Tuesday…with a new shop!

October 13, 2015

Filed Under : Autumn - My Garden - My Home

Photo 12-10-2015 14 45 01…it’s taken me the best part of all day, but my new shop at Big Cartel is now open here with the 2016 Calendar in there!!
It’s early days, so to help you bear with me, I’m offering a 20% discount for the rest of the month on everything in there with the checkout code CALENDAR2016
Here are some images of what you’ll find in there…Happy Autumn!! 
Photo 13-10-2015 14 53 46Photo 08-10-2015 14 24 48 Photo 08-10-2015 17 03 23 Photo 13-10-2015 13 57 11 Photo 07-10-2015 10 28 49Photo 21-09-2015 12 46 35Photo 21-09-2015 12 22 39