Category Archives: Spring

Discover St James’s…with a Free Photo Walk

May 31, 2019

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

If you find you have any time to spare in central London, one of the best and easiest ways to occupy yourself, is to simply wander around aimlessly. Aimless wandering is by far one of my favourite pastimes and one which is vastly underrated. I love not planning where I’m going and armed with my camera ( which is always an iphone btw ), a pair of comfortable shoes and a biscuit ‘for later‘, I couldn’t be happier. I veer off well trodden routes and I explore inconspicuous streets, alleys and passages. I look for clues and spy long forgotten windows, grand facades, humble doorways and hidden gardens. I find London endlessly fascinating, and inexhaustibly inspiring.

However, many London areas have become rather saturated on our insta feeds; Notting Hill has social media fashionistas pavement-lining for their pink door, pink blossoms and pink shoes shots. Belgravia’s streets are bursting with instagrammable flower fronted shops, and then there’s that Mews with the bicycle and it’s basket…I’m not disputing the prettiness of all these places, especially if there’s a wisteria, cherry blossom or small cake involved, but personally I prefer finding hidden historical nuggets that most people sprinting past in chiffon and kitten heels would overlook: Why has that door got such a tiny letterbox? How many years of boots have worn this flagstone down? Why has that window been bricked up? Did Charles Dickens see what I’m seeing, and what’s that piece of amazing 1960’s public art doing there ?! I like finding wall plaques, not just the blue ones, but ones down dark passages holding the closely kept secrets of the walls. I like chancing upon an unassuming Magnolia or ambivalent Acacia…who planted them and why? I suppose I like finding atmosphere;  feeling a real sense of history. Obviously I take lots of pictures, I can’t help it, but they are usually pictures which resonate with the sense of how the place makes me feel, rather than a projection of how I want to be seen in a place.

Over the past few years I’ve got to know the area of St James’s really well. There’s still masses I have yet explore but it’s become one of my favourite central London places, particularly since Soho has become so overrun with demolition and new builds. St James’s never feels swamped by tourists ( apart from on Piccadilly, obviously ) and there is SO much rich history sitting in it’s streets, shops, restaurants, cafes and clubs. It always has a completely different atmosphere to the crazy touristy bustle just a couple of streets away…it feels like a precious jewel. And this is the reason I wanted to offer some photo walks of the area; I want to introduce people to beautiful corners of a part of London you may not have considered before. There’s a limit to how much I’ll be able to show you in a couple of hours, so I would definitely encourage you to stay in the area for the day. You’d be able to explore the shops, parks, galleries, cafes, restaurants and also maybe see a film or go to the theatre later. I would love my photo walk to be the start; the entrance into a whole atmosphere and experience of St James’s and a way of being able to share a place I love.

I am offering 2 FREE photo walks, both starting at 11am, one on Saturday 29th June and the other on Saturday 6th July. We will meet in St James’ Market by the Pavilion ( which is opposite Aquavit ) 10 minutes before we head off on my pre planned route. I will lead you to some great photo opportunities and also share some of the area’s history as we go…and there will also be a mid-walk treat! The nearest tube station is Piccadilly Circus  and buses run down Haymarket or along Piccadilly ( No’s: 6, 14, 19, 38 and 139 ). If you would like to join me, please make sure you register on the event page HERE

The images below show a selection of some of the places I will take you to on the photo walk as well as some interesting details in unusual places… You can read more about the St James’s area on a few of my previous blog posts here – Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and one about the oldest perfumer’s Floris here

Sensory Experiments…

May 29, 2019

Filed Under : Brighton - Conscious Creativity - Spring - synaesthesia - texture - workshops

The weekend before last I prepared a special workshop for a lovely client, Marie, from Sweden. It was a workshop to focus the senses; taking the time to connect with everything around us, listening, smelling and tasting. My workshops used to be much more about doing; creating flat lays and flower arrangements etc., but since writing my book I’ve felt much more drawn to helping people connect to the essence of their creative impetus rather than striving to achieve any pre -imagined photo goals. Process is hugely important to all creative development and it’s impossible to move forward without it so I’ve been working to find ways which allow people to feel more comfortable experimenting with their senses. I offer new experiences which make them stop, reflect and connect to the inside of their heads; the abstract processing and the less literal translation of everyday life, because in my opinion this is where the kernel everyone’s of creativity lies. I don’t really like the idea of quick ‘ How to be creative hacks’, but I do like the idea of infinite amounts of creative experimentation. Creativity always needs time to ferment. However, experiments are very personal and some people feel that if anyone sees their ‘workings out’ they’ll be exposed as a person not doing or thinking about it properly. I want to reassure everyone that experiments, however basic or complex, have massive creative worth and that there is no proper way to any of them . They may not be instagram gold, you may not want to show them to the world, or even your close friends, but they will always engage your mind and move you forward even if it’s 5 years down the line. Connecting to our senses on a much deeper conscious level is how we can learn about the world even if it’s not how we talk about the world.

For the workshop I prepared lots of sensory experiences as well as cooking a lunch which I had carefully chosen to highlight different scents, textures and sounds: mushroom and fresh tarragon soup with hot buttered toast, quinoa with capers, feta and fresh parsley,  fresh basil and tomato salad, and nocellara olives. ( Later on we also had a warm, fresh banana cake.) After lunch we went for a woodland walk and it was very obvious after our morning session that we were hearing so many more sounds than usual, smelling far more of our natural surroundings and generally taking everything in, in a much more conscious, slower and meaningful way. Taking photos is part of the workshop too, particularly when we went out to the woods, and I was able to share ways I use to capture and enhance the essence of something very simple, ways to combine photos and videos to give a sense of time and movement, how to make colours pop, how to create double exposures and easy ways to put cohesive visual Stories together.

The images below show a selection of experiments from the morning and our afternoon walk. 

After the workshop I became fascinated with the challenge of capturing sensory moments on film, so I’ve been collecting snippets for a couple of weeks and have made this film: 

…and if you would also like a bespoke sensory workshop please feel free to drop me an email at 5ftinf@gmail.com or by using the form here

Where I’m At This Open House Season…’Art at Zerbs’

May 24, 2019

Filed Under : 5ftinf Tables - Art - Brighton - colour - Conscious Creativity - exhibitions - Open House - Spring

This year I decided not to open my own Fiveways Artist’s Open House in May because my son basically has to get through his A-Levels during the next few weeks. Actually I haven’t opened in May for the previous 2 years: First it was my son’s GCSE’s and then my book deadline last April. To attempt an Open House and all that goes with it, ie: organising guest artists in January/February, designing flyers in March, massive house cleaning/gardening/general life upheaval during April, the open weekends throughout May, not to mention finding time to actually create new work and of course publicise everything on social media, would probably have left me insane. I opened for 1 weekend only in April along with fellow Brighton artist and neighbour Jo Sweeting, but it was pretty laid back as I only showed my own work and the way I live with it at home, hence calling it ‘A Studio Life’. I’ve always opened the house in November for an early Christmas thing, but May has managed to elude me for the past couple of years.

There are hundreds of Open Houses in Brighton so this year I’ve been able to show some of my new work from a collaboration with upholsterer Emily Beaumont at the ‘Art at Zerbs’ Open House on Dyke Rd. I’ve been producing upholstery textiles and Emily has been using them on vintage chairs. I’m going to write a more detailed piece about our project next week, but you can see from some of the images below what we’ve created for this open house.

‘Art at Zerbs’ is a big open house with a really beautiful garden so it’s able to accommodate 15 different guest artists inside and outside. It’s the final weekend coming up and they are open on Bank Holiday Monday too,  so if you fancy a trip to Brighton, visiting this house and lots of others is a really special Festival treat.

The images below show a selection of work by artists and makers showing at ‘Art at Zerbs’ this year. I’ve included clickable links to all of them You can also have a look through the Steller Story I made here  Below: My @5ftinf fabric designs made into cotton velvet cushions by Emily Beaumont Above and Below: Velvet Cushions in my fabric made for me by Emily Beaumont  Below: Vintage Parker Knoll chairs upholstered in some of my bespoke fabric by Emily Beaumont Below: sculpture by Si Uwins Below: Kinetic Sculpture by Andrew Jones Above and below: sculpture by Si Uwins Below: Fused Glass by Annie McMullen Below: Home made cakes by Keri Zerb Below: Ceramics by Paul Morley Above and Below: Ceramics by Angela Evans Below: Acrylic Painting by Dave Cheetham Below: Kristina Botterill with Zephorium Soul Tonics and Candles Above and Below: Paintings by Kate Scott Below: Me sitting in front of a matching Kate Scott painting Above and Below: Upcycled Jewellery by Keri Zerb Below: Watercolours by John Haywood and Ceramics by Paul MorleyBelow: Prints by Sarah Jones Below: Leatherwork and  Bags by DNABelow: Ceramics by Linda Calvert Below: Turned wood by Anna Cates Below: Cushions in my @5ftinf fabric made for me by Emily Beaumont and my new book ‘Conscious Creativity’

 

Weekly Snaps… 20/05/2019

May 20, 2019

Filed Under : 5ftinf Tables - Arrangements - Art - Brighton - colour - Conscious Creativity - cycling - exhibitions - My Garden - Spring - texture - Weekly Snaps

I used to do a Weekly Snaps post virtually every Sunday or Monday a couple of years ago. I never meant for it to stop, it’s just that other things inevitably got in the way… Anyway, probably because I’ve recently started writing more on my blog , I’m now craving a post with as few words as possible. I have cheated a little bit with these pics as they were taken over the past couple of weeks, rather than just this last one. I’ll be writing stuff on here again over the next few days, but for now I’m going to post a load of photos and say no more about it…

Where Pioneering Paths and Plastics Meet…

May 2, 2019

Filed Under : 5ftinf Tables - Brighton - colour - Conscious Creativity - My Home - Spring

I’m currently reading Annie Proulx’s book ‘Barkskins’ recommended to me by artist Jo Sweeting ( aka @TheStoneCarver ). I was telling her about how much I’ve enjoyed Willa Cather books and how the world of the American pioneers and settlers completely fascinates me on so many levels.

‘Barkskins’ has a cover I don’t much like. It is an enormously thick book and looks at me threateningly…I am not a quick reader. It took me 3 years in my early 20’s to finish Charles Dicken’s ‘The Old Curiosity Shop’.  Jo reassures me that she only read the first 200 pages, but thought it was great. To read 200 pages becomes my goal. A goal which encouraged me to at least open the book. I am, of course, absolutely loving it ( even though I’m only up to page 120 ). The synchronicity of the book coming into my life not only ties in with my pioneering fascination, but also resonates with my recent awakening to global consumerism, excessive waste and plastic packaging.

When I started to look at what I was personally consuming at the beginning of this year, particularly my everyday, convenience items, I felt a huge wave of guilt. Guilt for the part I have played in not taking any notice of these things before, not looking at what I consume and not being prepared to acknowledge that my lifestyle could and should change. I also felt complete overwhelm at the thought of a battle that has already been won by plastics, overwhelmed by the amount of years I’ve done nothing and even joked about all the eco hippies in Brighton and overwhelmed by the thought that I may not be able to actually afford to be ‘responsible’. I decided to address changes I felt I could make to my lifestyle by making it all an active experiment, a personal project. I’ve collected and consciously looked at virtually every piece of plastic I’ve bought over the last 4 months and I have learned so much just by simple, detailed looking and observation: The hidden recycling numbers on plastics, the ‘not yet recycled’ messages on things I’d always thought were paper, un-recylable film lids on recyclable plastic trays, Tetra Pak’s embedded with plastic windows and how a bottle of Prosecco might have something for each of my recycling bags ( glass bottle, paper label, plastic label and tin foil seal ). I’ve learned that I only need 4 pints of milk each week, delivered to me in reusable glass bottles. I’ve learned that I can remember to take my reusable coffee cup on trips with me, that I can spend time washing all my recycling in the sink and even get my teenage son to do the same, and also what an Eco Brick is. Taking the bins out has become a triumph, 1 bag a week maximum, and I’ve also changed to an independent local recycling company  who collect every Friday. I am now desperate to do something with my food waste which is why I’m hankering after the wormery I mention in my last post. And to top it all, a new and brilliant Refill shop ‘STORE’ opened in January, less than 5 minutes walk away from my house.

However I can’t help feeling acutely aware that this is a ‘project’ that I am able to afford to indulge. It is a financial, middle class privilege which allows me to feel in some small way that I am helping the planet, reducing waste and at least trying to live as a more conscious consumer. This awareness also serves as the reminder of the reasons why I was not prepared to look at the issue before: With very little money coming in and bringing up a child on my own, I would pride myself on intricate domestic planning. My two week food budget was £75 and I would supermarket shop so carefully and so precisely that it never felt like we were lacking. However, I know I would never have been able to be as frugal if I had wanted to shop more responsibly. Shopping at the refill store is absolutely brilliant, but a small bag of staples: cereals, coffee, pulses, rice, washing liquid and shower gels costs around £10 more than it would in the supermarket. The fact that you are refilling and being kinder to the planet is obviously innate, but it’s really not a viable option if you are hard up. I feel like my mission should really be to discover cost effective ways of making responsible consuming easily accessible for people who don’t have a comfortable income.

My own personal discovery has been to witness just how greedy I can be. If I’ve wanted something, then I’ve gone out and bought it. If I’ve wanted a bag of crisps or some Haribo on a car journey then I’ve bought them. But now I am developing the conscience that this want of mine is actually greed. Crisps, sweets and convenience foods in general are mostly not a necessity or a right, but a ‘want’, and ultimately I carry the responsibility of buying into yet more un-recyclable packaging for something that I simply do not need. I am absolutely no angel by any stretch of the imagination, and I do still buy these things, admittedly far less regularly, but I do still buy them…the major difference is that I no longer think that putting the remains in the bin is all that needs to be done to act responsibly…I now at least save the packets and bring them home to fill my Eco Brick. Actively sorting rubbish certainly takes loads more time than just chucking everything in the bin, but I have discovered how easily even a slight shift in my domestic habits has quickly become a new routine, a routine which has completely transformed my perceptions as well as how full my bin gets.

The connections to Annie Proulx’s ‘Barkskins’ are multiple:  the abuse of nature due consumerism and greed has evidently been in process for over 400 years. The defiant ignoring and exploitation of indigenous people’s knowledge of nature, the assumption that nature will just keep replenishing itself, and the sadness of those who, understanding the simple joys and benefits of working in sympathy with the land, helplessly watch it disappear. ‘Barkskins’ is a modern book talking about an age old problem which is still in focus, and it is the book’s awareness of this which particularly resonates at the moment. We can look back, even to our own childhoods and think how much more sustainable things were then; I remember way more paper packaging, more glass jars, less choice, less treats and far less throwaway clothes and furniture. But the issue runs far deeper than that.

We have become such massive consumers of ‘stuff’ we do not need. ‘Stuff’ which either makes us feel better about ourselves, comforts us, elevates us or empowers us. I am by no means a minimalist, and I really admire those who are, but I have also never really been a big buyer of lots of new stuff. I like to accumulate old things, things with romance and a past which lots of people might think are scrappy or dirty, but which still have function and design. I’ve always felt quite proud of this amidst the massive DIY eruption over the last 20 years which has encouraged you to constantly reinvent your home interiors cheaply every time trends change. I’ve also felt rather complacent about the fact that I either make my own clothes, buy clothes cheaply, find them second hand or occasionally buy something very expensive to last. Taking the time to find out about the ethics behind how things are made and disposed of is incredibly time consuming and feels like yet another thing to do…and that’s the problem and the answer. These questions, and their answers, take up far more of our time than most of us are prepared to give, unless you are a proper heroic activist. I hugely admire activists, but they also intimidate me; their knowledge and experience is so vast and they do such good work that it just makes me feel small,  foolish and rather impotent and it’s that insecurity which has often stopped me before I’ve even started.

Looking at that massive ‘Barkskins’ book on Jo’s table; the enormity of the reading task ahead of me didn’t entice me in any way whatsoever, but telling myself I could maybe just read the first 200 pages made it feel do-able. We are all able to make small steps and take an interest, even if it takes a while to bring us to any action. We need to be creative on this journey towards a better relationship to consumerism and our planet. We can’t be expected to change our whole lifestyles in an instant, but I do think it’s possible to change our perceptions by personal involvement pretty quickly. Starting to think about what we need rather than what we want, what we can do rather than what we don’t want to do is surely a first step towards a better way of living responsibly. Like I said, I am no angel, no radical activist, I am someone who just really wants to find accessible and responsible solutions for everyone, not just those who can afford it. I want to live more responsibly and in tandem with the environment; I want to do my bit and learn as I go…

Today’s images are focused around some of my plastic observations from the last few months… ( you can also see more in my Stories Highlights on Instagram ) as well as showing you my local refill shop ‘STORE’ along with a few of my thoughts about some of the sustainable products. This washing up liquid is about the same price as Fairy, but it’s not a great one for cutting through grease and doesn’t last as long… My teenage son actually commented on how good this conditioner was! Expensive but good… Again expensive but great to be able to reuse the cereal bags… These 2 products are new to me so will let you know how I get on at a later date… There is a space in STORE waiting for the Old Tree Kombucha refill…there is a crowd funding project for their Closed- Loop Botanical Brewery here I also use my local greengrocers Fiveways Fruits

 

Eternal Catch Up of The Bloggers Mind…

May 1, 2019

Filed Under : 5ftinf Tables - Arrangements - Art - Brighton - colour - Conscious Creativity - Cornwall - My Home - Spring - texture

For the past couple of months, part of my long daily list of things I’m meant to do has consistently included ‘BLOG’ along with ‘Sort Photos’. I’m usually good at being on top of sorting my photos and observations but this year has felt really chaotic and as if I’m only doing things  when I absolutely have to. It’s not a feeling I enjoy; it’s a feeling which actually makes me  full of rage and self loathing. I can very happily start a Live Instagram story and talk about things; creativity, ideas, procrastinations, annoyances etc, etc, because I genuinely love connecting to you all; it’s like going for a coffee or hanging out at the pub and having a chat about stuff. But actually getting down to work, doing what I’m meant to be doing and earning a living has felt like something I’m completely rebelling against. I had to look back over some of my old photos the other day and longed for the freedom and flair I had felt 2 years ago…I’ve been really trying to look at why I’m being like this at the moment and also trying to accept that it’s actually part of my whole creative process. I can feel that there will be some sort of shift, probably into new areas, and that I just have to ride out this period of time where my creative output feels rootless.

I haven’t stopped working and I’m not in any way ‘blocked’, it’s almost the opposite problem, but having ideas and working out how to implement them; writing the emails and creating the proposals etc, is a complete nightmare. I just want to be gardening! I’ve also realised in this period of time, ( and this feels quite a big thought ) that I’m not, and actually don’t want to be a ‘business woman‘. As a self employed person of over 20 years I’ve always had to run my own ‘business’, chasing the dream that one day I’ll be earning a fortune. For the past couple of years my business was better than it ever was ( although nowhere near the £150 – £200k sums you hear about ), BUT I was under no illusion that it would last. Part of my problem is that whenever my work and I have been accepted, I feel the need to move on; create different work, explore new aesthetics, new ideas and generally just keep moving forward. I’m doing this at the moment but I’m doing it in the knowledge that I’m creeping further and further away from any sensible business models.

I go into Instagram and an amazing digital entrepreneur pops up telling me how I can turn my financial life around as long as I don’t talk about the negatives, if I learn their secret business strategies or even just ‘niche down‘…NONE of these things I want to do! I’m left feeling like a failure and it’s in these moments that my digital demon appears:” Having over 400K followers means f*** all  if you don’t get your act together and monetise it” , “No wonder your income has gone down and your business feels all over the place…that’s because you actually told people you were all over the place! ”  , ” How can you have no idea where you want to be in the next 18 months?!!!” ,  “And why aren’t you talking more about your book?! You have literally thousands of copies to sell before you receive any royalties at all!!”

Any sort of blogging has felt completely out of the question recently and Instagram Stories has felt more like my place, especially as they disappear after 24 hours…I love curating visual stories ( I use the Unfold app and Videoleap mostly ) but when I’ve uploaded it I feel completely done…the idea of repeating it all in some other form for the blog or on Steller or Facebook drives me insane! However, sharing things all over the place does mean that I can reach more people, and that IS the bit I love. Obviously it’s great when a brand finds you and wants you to create content for them; it’s a commission and I enjoy it, but pleasing brands is NOT the reason I create and share images and I’ve grown to resent the knowledge that a certain aesthetic or composition will be more appealing to them. Also I just can’t do that clever photoshop stuff, and part of that makes me feel old fashioned…even a bit too old for the Insta environment.

I’m a 40 something experiencing all the weirdness of growing out of the really full-on ‘being a parent‘ times…and maybe there’s the clue, maybe that’s where my personal shift lies. I was in that parent gang for so long, that gang which shared each newly discovered nightmare and hilarity of having a young child. Sharing the day in the forest when I accidentally poked my son in the eye with a stick whilst telling him off,  the day I didn’t notice that he’d cracked his head open on a wheelie bin, the sad day we lost Cheeko which then became the happiest day when we found him again, and the day he made an amazing film and I felt SO proud. I was a single parent striving to get somewhere other than being just a parent, and now that my son is 18 and about to leave home…I am all over the place. Who I am feels wildly in the air. Who I am is being wafted around the skies like a helium balloon without its helium, like an empty crisp packet on a windy day, like the scuttle of ordinary, overlooked leaves…and I can’t even begin to imagine who I will be when he decamps to Manchester in September…

At this point my digital demon is now itching to get a word in: ” Why the hell have you told them all that? Are you actively trying to secure your failure?!!” “You’re meant to embody positivity, creativity and inspiration…it’s your BRAND!”

Well Digital Demon, I suppose I can’t help myself…I need to feel the sadness, the strangeness, the rage and insecurity as well as all the amazing joys and excitement that being a creative brings. And if that means I can’t be a business woman to boot…so be it. 

…I’ve now become aware, and a bit self conscious, that I don’t usually write this much. I obviously spent months writing my book, but I was completely out of my comfort zone during that time. I think I acted ‘being an author‘ in my head on most days. I like my pictures to talk and I don’t really like the act of putting words down; it gets on my nerves, and I often find that I write just to get it out of the way… so I can get on with the pictures. ( Even now I am absolutely dreading having to go back to the top of this outpouring and edit it ). I’m also aware that in terms of  length I should probably now be arriving at some sort of ‘point‘…

Well, I’m not massively sure what the point is apart from it serving as an explanation of my floundering without cohesion at the moment. Right now I’m sitting at my desk in the shed surrounded by reminders of what I should be doing; my calendar is still staring April at me, a couple of books people have sent me are piled up, random notes for my online course students are pinned to a shelf, a memory stick with millions of photos I want to write blog posts about is teasing me from my pencil case along with a fat pin cushion giving me a very knowing prickly look. But probably the most telling of all is a Post-It note right next to me with a short list of ‘things I want‘ written in Sharpie. It says: Blue Yeti Mic, Yellow Roller Skates , Wormery …I want the roller skates more than the wormery, but I want the wormery more than the mic, but it’s the mic which would be for work. I really, really want the yellow roller skates…

I started writing this post because I was waiting for my images to upload and I thought I’d just get on with the intro…it’s turned into something else completely, but I hope it at least breaks the deadlock which I’ve created for myself around my blog…fingers crossed more posts will follow, although this may just be a sudden rebellious outburst in the direction of my digital demon!

Anyway, I can’t finish without pictures so here are some taken over the last few months…

P.S The blog posts I am mainly wanting to put together ( and I’m writing this down so it makes them feel more like solid ideas ) are: My Trip to the Scilly Isles, Daffodils in Cornwall, Bluebells in East Sussex, Stanley Kubrick Exhibition, My Personal Plastic Journey, Shadows, Synesthesia, Artists Open Houses, My New Textiles, Patreon, and My New Paintings For Sale. In an ideal world I would be finished in an hour…in an ideal world I would have a wormery and yellow roller skates.

The Design Museum…with Azzadine Alaïa

May 17, 2018

Filed Under : Art - exhibitions - Fashion - London - Museums - Spring

Last week I got a sneak preview of the new Azzadine Alaïa exhibition at The Design Museum in London. It’s a fantastic tribute to an incredible couturier who trained in sculpture at the École des Beaux-Arts  in Tunis and who regarded his dresses as works of art. He was independent from the fashion world, crafting very specific pieces for specific women. He created his dresses on the body itself, draping and wrapping the fabric to enhance form and beauty, and making each garment personally.

Monsieur Alaïa had been a huge part of the conception of this exhibition at the Design Museum and had started to work on ideas last April. Sadly he very suddenly died last November but his long term partner Christoph Van Weyhe, with his close friend and curator Mark Wilson felt the exhibition should go ahead. But this is no retrospective; this is an exhibition of hand picked garments Alaïa chose for the exhibition himself and which interlace with stories of his life. This feels much more than a straight forward fashion exhibition and illustrates beautifully how Monsieur Alaïa worked with ideas rather than any fashion trends.There is also a beautiful display of some Richard Wentworth photographs of a few of Alaïa’s dresses which are on the second floor gallery, and each screen behind the garments in the exhibition have been especially created by artists including Cristoph Van Weyhe.

I love being able to see the passion involved in the way an artist creates and it is completely evident throughout this exhibition.

Being able to get so close up to Alaïa’s designs is incredible; his stitches are virtually invisible… I even saw a couple taking close up pictures just so they could zoom in and find them!

There’s something about fashion as art, as sculpture which I find irresistible. The theatricality of being able to wear something extraordinary, something so exquisite which has literally been made for and partly inspired by your body, is more than fashion; it’s the point where art, texture, shape and form all share a moment of magic.

If you enjoy the escape of fashion,or just love delving into another area of art, this exhibition is not to be missed and transports you to another dimension of design.

Azzadine Alaïa: The Couturier is open daily and runs until October 7th, and you can find more details and prices here

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May…with the Brighton Artist’s Open Houses

May 8, 2018

Filed Under : Art - Brighton - exhibitions - Open House - Spring - Summer - The Shed

Every year during the Brighton Festival in May, masses of Brighton artists open their houses to the public to show their art, sometimes their work studios and often a beautifully curated display of other guest artist’s work. Brighton is heaving with creative talent all year round but May is special; it brings artists together and showcases not only their work but the home in which it is created, a special part of the artist’s world which is usually kept private.

I have been involved with Artist’s Open Houses for over 15 years and first naively opened my own house one Christmas just after my son was 2. There was no social media back then and I didn’t have a blog so it was mostly posters I’d made to advertise locally and try and get people to visit. I can’t even remember what work I was trying to sell and it was a very quiet open house that first Christmas. I joined my local open house group about a year after that, The Fiveways Artists Group, and it was a great learning curve, especially as I was the youngest member by far and didn’t really know what I was doing. I have fond memories of sitting around a table with lots of artists filling addressed envelopes for the ‘mail out’ during my first year of membership and taking my son to lots of private views in his pyjamas. Since then in both May and November I have opened my house and studio many times, always creating new shed installations ( you can see ’The Scented Shed’ post here ) as well as inviting other artists to show their work in my home. A few years ago I instigated and then edited our group’s now annual magazine for 3 years and have also provided this year’s cover image.

The whole of the Artists Open Houses movement in Brighton is very cohesive nowadays; there are brochures, a website, social media ( Instagram and Twitter here ) and local media which give you all the maps and information, including parking and cake options obviously, which you’ll need to plan your personal tour of open houses.

This year I’d decided early that I wouldn’t open my own house as my book deadline was at the end of April, but I was asked by Jehane Boden Spears if I would create one of my shed installations for her open house and show some of my work which I now sell on line. Jehane is an artist and designer as well as a licensing agent and has been part of the Open Houses for about 25 years and this year she has 17 artists showing in her beautiful home including: Iris Del Torre, Debbie George, Atelier Stella, Justine Allison, Sarah Hamilton, Paul Thurby, Eleanor Kolycheva, Cressida Bell, Marion McConaghie, Natalie Pedetti Prack, Ken Eardley, Annabet Wyndham, Jane Walker and Patternistas. Iris Del Torre’s work above and Patternistas rug below Jane Walker’s still life prints hang above Cressida Bell’s cushions and Debbie George’s paintings below Marion McConaghie’s butterfly painting below hangs above jewellery by Annabet Wyndham Ceramics below ( top and middle shelf ) by Justine Allison, and ( bottom shelf ) by Atelier Stella Debbie George paintings above and below are Justine Allison’s ceramics and Annabet Wyndham’s jewellery Scarves above by Cressida Bell and red damask designs below by Jehane Boden Spears
100% silk scarves, jigsaws, coasters, prints and cards by me, which you can also see in my shop here  Ceramic planters below by Natalie Pedetti Prack and ceramic spoons by Justine Allison Debbie George paintings above and ceramics below ( top and middle shelf ) by Ken Eardly and ( bottom shelf ) Atelier StellaI jumped at the chance to create a shed installation as it is my favourite part of putting my own open house together. After some initial thoughts and chats with Jehane about poetry, textiles and the senses, I found my inspiration in Brian Patten’s poem ‘A Blade of Grass’. I wanted the shed to be a multi sensory experience which evoked childhood memories of grass-filled summers, and I also wanted it to be a reminder about how much poetry is contained within the simple, everyday things such as one blade of grass…

Artist’s Open Houses are an absolute gem during the Brighton Festival and are always open during the first 4 weekends of May, usually from 11am – 5pm. It’s a great chance to get to chat to the artists as well as have a nose around the house ( the artist’s are very used to people doing that! ).  If you wanted a day out filled with creatives and loads of inspiration I highly recommend it and you can look on the Artist’s Open House website here for all the details of what’s on offer. You can also go straight to @jehane_openhouse instagram account to get more of a feel for it and have a look at my past open houses and updates on this year on my @64sandgate instagram account. I’ve also variously linked all the artists showing at Jehane’s to their websites and Instagram accounts so have a good click through to see more of their amazing work.

I’ll be around at Jehane’s open house this coming weekend so do just drop me an email at 5ftinf@gmail.com if you’re thinking of coming.

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The Flipside Exhibition…with Radical Luxury at Selfridges

April 26, 2018

Filed Under : Art - exhibitions - Fashion - London - Spring - trips

Last Monday I took a different bus from Victoria station and got off outside the corner of Selfridges. I went to dive down the side street to avoid the tourists and get a move on to my meeting. I always love a good window display but if I’m honest they rarely actually pull me immediately into the store. But last Monday was different…

There were some extraordinary pieces in the window; theatrical, operatic and not at all what I expected to see in Selfridges. It felt like a snippet of something from the V&A; more like a fashion and art exhibition I tried to walk on, but couldn’t. I had to go in…

So, I then discovered that since January, and since their Accessories Hall refurb, Selfridges have launched a campaign called Radical Luxury which will run until June and as part of the campaign they have created The Anatomy of Luxury at their Corner Shop, ( on the corner of Duke St and Oxford St ), which showcases a new brand, exclusive items and unusual collaborations each week. It feels incredibly contemporary, very free and excitingly transient. It was Gareth Pugh’s designs which drew me into the store and which then reignited my long standing interest in the combination of fashion, art and design.

Later that day, and by complete coincidence, I received an email asking if I wanted to have a preview of ‘The Flipside’ installation exhibition which is part of the Radical Luxury campaign and at the Old Selfridges Hotel in Orchard St. Excited by my new discovery of Gareth Pugh, and as he was one of the designers who had created a piece for it, I obviously said yes!
The Flipside is a multi sensory exhibition curated by Selfridges with the concept that it is the ‘alter-ego’ of the Accessories Hall. It has elements within it which reflect the design within the Accessories Hall like the semi circular Fount Bar and the orb lighting, but it stands as its absolute opposite; the entrance itself a rotating door, designed especially for the exhibition, and inspired by a flipping coin.It’s full of shadows, shifting light and an esoteric soundscape, focusing on the thought that time itself is the ultimate luxury. It invites you to forget time and be transported into a distorted, different concept of it which enables you to connect to your senses and actually feel the experience. 

Seven different brands have created installations for the exhibition, and the fundamental connection between art, design and the world of fashion is evident throughout. It’s not just about selling bags and dresses, this is about witnessing the creativity and conceptualism of cutting edge designers. The issue I often have with fashion is that I can’t afford the pieces I want and then that makes me feel a bit cut off from engaging with it all. But going to this exhibition made me rethink…I don’t decide to go to a new art exhibition just to look for a piece of art to buy; I go because it’s inspiring and fires me up creatively. If, at some point I can save up for something really special; a ‘work of art’ I will; that is a goal…and that’s how I want to address fashion, because for me it’s the more extraordinary, exclusive and artistic pieces which I love. I don’t just want to own a nice dress or bag, I want to own a treasure and be inspired by just looking. Seeing how other artists think is a constant reminder that we don’t have to all be like sheep and that thinking outside of the box is not only exciting, it is completely invigorating.

The questions which anchor The Flipside exhibition are ‘What is your idea of luxury?’, ‘What does Radical Luxury mean to you?’ and ‘How do you define luxury’. These are questions and concepts which the designers and brands have worked with whilst also considering the future of luxury.

The brands involved are: Google Pixel 2, Byredo, Louis Vuitton, Loewe, Thom Browne, Mr Lyan, Gareth Pugh and Selfridges. When I had the preview, not everything was set up, so I didn’t get a proper look at the Byredo and Google pieces and which I hope to go back for.

Google Pixel 2 who will lend you one of their phones to take pictures as you go round as they are excellent for low level lighting shots apparently ( the shots here btw are shot on an iphone 7 which isn’t brilliant for the dark! ) and you can create ‘Your Luxury Portrait’ by selecting your definition of luxury.

Loewe who have worked with the concepts of tradition combined with limitless future and intelligent design to protect the Earth’s resources for their ’The Future is Green’ piece and which for me was also reminiscent of my late father’s obsession with technology in in th 70’s and 80’s but which then seemed to overtake his understanding of it as he grew older.

Mr Lyan has conceived a wonderful sensory experience in ’The Libationary’ which allows you assimilate various questions, tastes and smells  to determine your ideal personal cocktail.

Thom Browne presents a surreal, and almost sci fi, theatrical piece ‘Dreamscape’ which is like an old fashioned music box.

 

Gareth Pugh has created a video installation ‘Void’, which has an extra sensory experience as you enter. I love that his luxuries are escape, freedom and clarity and that entering his void really connects you to that.

Louis Vuitton have created ‘Radical Journey’ where they look at travel of the future where luxury is expressed as an experience.

Selfridges have created really thought provoking, yet gentle shadow and light displays which then come together in ‘The Shadow Dial’ where you become its middle point, allowing light and shadow to rotate around you. It creates your personal shadow journey and actively slows you down so you feel like you are becoming part of time itself.

I loved this exhibition because of its exploration of The Flipside; the darker underneaths of the instantly attractive. It also felt like Selfridges had a refreshing sense of self awareness. It’s a crucial contemplation at the moment because now more than ever,as people rush around to capture all the pretty;  grabbing the ’cream’ or the easy ‘cherry on top’, means that any thought about time, where things are coming from, where things are going to and our position in all of that can get massively overlooked or lost, whereas it should be fundamentally embraced.

 The Flipside is a site specific installation which I highly recommend to anyone who wants a London experience which is out of the ordinary and which transports you to another dimension.

It’s also a FREE exhibition, although you will have to BOOK ( which you can do HERE ) as there are timed slots. It runs until May 11th and is open Tuesday – Friday: 12pm – 8pm, Saturday: 10am – 8pm and Sunday: 12pm – 6pm.

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Saturday…with some Weekly Snaps…

April 21, 2018

Filed Under : 5ftinf Tables - Arrangements - Art - Brighton - colour - exhibitions - Fashion - London - My Home - Spring - texture - The Lonely Kiosk Project - Weekly Snaps

I haven’t done my Weekly Snaps for absolutely ages, so I thought I’d put together as I think I’ve taken more photos this week than in the past 3 weeks together ( although I may just have snuck in a photo from a couple of weeks ago too ). I’ve been writing my book recently and sitting at my desk for hours on end isn’t massively photographic. I’m also prepping for a new shed installation which I’m creating for an Artists Open House ( Jehane’s Open House ) which will open in Brighton the first weekend of May…The installation is called ‘A Blade of Grass’, after a Brian Patten poem which has inspired it. So, I’ve been collecting lots of bits for that, as well as popping to London a couple of times, matching my yellow and black clothes to all things yellow and black, finding new decaying phone boxes, discovering Gareth Pugh and having a walk into Brighton… Btw, the note on this board says ” The Importance of Fashion”