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  1. A Homemade Life

    Just wanted to introduce you to this delicious foodie/love-of-things-homemade book ‘A Homemade Life’, as author Molly Wizenberg has just announced a new book tour of the US. As I am not planning to be in the US in April I sadly can’t go to any of them, so I thought I’d tell you about it instead, so maybe you could pop along and indulge for me! The dates are on her award-winning blog Orangette, along with lots of tasty recipes and ponderings about food and life.



    Following the death of her father, Molly took herself away to Paris, a city that ‘held vivid memories of a childhood trip with her father, of early morning walks on the cobbled streets of the Latin Quarter and the taste of her first pain au chocolat’. There she discovered that her heart was in the kitchen, and she goes on to tell a tale of cooking, eating, reading and love (with recipes!).

    It’s funny, reflective, inspiring, and you can almost taste the vanilla bean buttermilk cake.  Yum

    Other book recommendations for this week:
    ART: manolo blahnik drawings – a collection of sketches of some of the world’s most gorgeous shoes
    ADVENTURE: eat, pray, love by Elizabeth Gilbert – ‘one woman’s search for everything’
    STORY: The Open Hand by Chris Cleave – on the back cover it says ‘We don’t want to tell you what happens in this book.  It’s a truly special story and we don’t want to spoil it’. I won’t spoil it either, just say that it is stunning and shocking, sad and uplifting in equal measure

  2. This moment

    {this moment} – A Friday ritual from Soulemama. In her words “a single photo – no words – capturing a moment. A simple, special, extraordinary moment.” 

    What special moment have you captured this week?

  3. Noise in silence

    What better breath of fresh air during the working day than a quick gallery fix? One of the most wonderful things about London is that apart from special exhibitions, all the museums and art galleries are free, and no-one tries to sell you anything (except when you exit via the gift shop…).

    Anyway, finding myself at a conference near the financial district, I snuck into the corner gallery of ‘Bloomberg SPACE’ to see Damien Deroubaix’s contribution to the new Comma series of special commissions. 

    Enitled ‘ A place to lose oneself’, the blurb says ‘The visual noise that Damien Deroubaix energetically orchestrates in his paintings, sculptures and woodcuts is overwhelming: brutal, deafening, sharp and dissonant.’

    His piece is a tree.

    But somehow it is more than that. It is an angry tree, and in the silent white gallery space, it really does create visual noise. Not my ‘taste’ and perhaps not the most peaceful lunchbreak, but certainly a thought-provoking one

    It made me think about what makes me like some art and not other, and in the end I think it comes down to whether it speaks to me, tells me a story, and whether the colours and textures draw me in. 

    How do you know what you like?

  4. Knitting for good

    Yesterday I added my two stitches to the world’s biggest knitted textile! Force of nature Ingrid Wagner had brought her 4-metre long(!) needles to the Twisted Thread Stitch and Craft Show at Olympia, showcasing her particular style of ‘big knitting’ and raising money for Breast Cancer Care.

    Ingrid holds the Guinness World Record for knitting with the biggest needles, which were over twice as long as she is tall! She said that it made her feel like she was a character in The Borrowers – either that or she was knitting a scarf for a Big Friendly Giant…

    Ingrid also makes divine wall hangings and rugs out of this ‘big knit yarn’ which is about 4cm wide

    Watch out for the giant needles coming to a town near you, and knit a stitch or two for Breast Cancer Care. There’s nothing like women supporting women.

  5. Hanging out with London’s emerging new craft talent

    One school night last week I blissed out at ‘Craft London: the exhibition of emerging new talent’ in Clerkenwell. I headed over to the cosy gallery space of Craft Central for wine and chat with some of London’s most talented makers. Having been challenged to rediscover their city and represent this visually, the exhibition was as varied as the capital’s 32 boroughs, and reflective of the city’s incredible cultural diversity.



    French-born illustrator Julie Vermeille translated her love of fairytales into 3D characters living in her installation, creating a fantasy world of fabric pigeons, lace clouds and stringy stuffed people based on children’s book Arthur’s Seat. Quirky and cute.

    Ruth Babajide celebrated her West African heritage with a range of loud, colourful ceramic storage units, in stark contrast to the delicate and peaceful collection of hand thrown porcelain whispers created by Hannah James (below).



    Jessica Light is a woman on a mission to revitalise the dying craft of tassel-making. Jessica was responsible for the ornate embroidery on Buckingham Palace’s balcony hangings, and now works with designers such as Vivienne Westwood to find a new life for a centuries-old skill.

    But my favourite of all was the set of magical cobwebs created by Katie Barton. ‘Spun’ from metallic embroidery thread and fixed into jewellery cases, they took two days to install and will be destroyed after the exhibition. Katie, who describes herself as having an obsession with making repulsive things beautiful, said she loved the ethereal nature of piece. I felt simultaneously privileged to have seen these gorgeous creations, and sad to know that they will soon be swished away to nothing, as if they were never there.



    We entered into the age-old ‘what is art, what is craft?’ debate, swiftly followed by a lively discussion on the pros and cons of being university trained vs being a self-taught artist.

    These are topics I shall return to, as I ponder them often.  What are your thoughts?

    The exhibition also featured fabric craft, ceramics and jewellery from Anna Johnson, Laura Felicity, Jo Davies, Ana Meneses, Daniele Geargeoura, Yuki Sasakura Assiter and Alexandra Simpson.
     







  6. Did that just happen??

    Something quite amazing happened today. I have been thinking of my ‘Mondo Beyondo’ list for some time – not that I need help with dreaming big, just juggling all the dreams! Anyway, this morning I sat on the train racing towards London, and put pen to paper. As the countryside flew by and the morning opened up to a bright blue sky, I spilt my long messy delicious list of dreams, big and small.
    And then I arrived at Kings Cross Station, packed my notebook safely at the bottom of my handbag with a smile, and got on with my day.

    And then, just five hours later, the weirdest thing happened.

    One of the small but important things on the list I wrote this morning was ‘get published’. And by 1pm, someone had asked me if I would write a chapter for a book being published later this year.
    Unbelievable.
    Maybe the Universe is listening…
  7. Child’s play

    Introducing… Grandma Spoon (with her hair curlers still in), Lady Spoon, Wizard Spoon and a Spoon Alien (with a feather boa?!)
    Hanging out with four-year old nephews is so much fun!
  8. Sometimes it’s good to be wrong

    Apologies if you are a fan of quilting, but for years I just didn’t get it as ‘art’. I had it in my head that quilts were ‘granny blankets’ from a pre-duvet era, favoured by ladies in rocking chairs who passed their days patiently stitching hexagons together into symmetrical pastel patchworks, which usually ended up in the spare room to keep visitors warm as they slept.  An important homemaker’s skill and well-loved craft, for sure, but art?

    Boy was I wrong.

    When in California recently, I wandered into the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles, lured by a pretty scarf in the shop window. The main exhibition on at the time was called ‘Poetic License: The Art of Joan Schulze’, displaying 40-years of ‘art quilts’. As usual, my curiosity got the better of me, and I had to have a look.

    And am I glad I did.

     ‘An Angel Equation’ – image reproduced with the kind permission of Joan Schulze


    Inside I discovered a retrospective of Joan Schulze’s prolific career as a fiber artist, a stunning collection so far from my naïve image of ‘quilting’ that I was genuinely shocked. Moody digital photographic images on silk, fused with painted textures and markmaking, stitch and funky storybook collage in a palette of breathtaking colours. It was nothing short of exquisite, and has changed the way I look at quilts forever. And I think that is much of the point of art – to make us question our own views and preconceptions.  I might even buy myself a sewing machine.

    The exhibition is on until May 9th. Do go and see it if you can. Peer at the work from up close, squint and stare, stand back and breathe it in. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

    Books of the week this week
    ART: ‘Layered, Tattered & Stitched’ – inspired by my new-found interest in all things stitched(!) I bought this great book which is full of gorgeous fabric art project ideas
    ADVENTURE: ‘The Wild Places’ – written by an old friend of mine, this book is breathtaking in places.  As urban society encroaches ever further into the countryside, this dreamy book explores the few wild places left in Britain
    STORY: The School of Essential Ingredients – read this in one sitting on the plane back from the US.  A delicious novel for foodies

  9. And here are a few I made earlier…

    One of the great things about An Artful Journey was being able to experiment with new techniques, without being worried about the outcome. 

    Me scribbling notes furiously –  thanks to Chrissy for the pic

    We created 20+ individual pages fairly quickly (or should I say ‘in a chaotic creating frenzy’), using a variety of mediums and methods – acrylic paint and glazes, alcohol inks, distress inks, embellishments, vintage ephemera, stamps, Shiva’s oil Paintstiks, pens, pencil, old maps, texture tools, embossing powder etc.  Anything was OK, and it was amazing how everyone had the same instruction and materials but produced completely different work.  Here are a few examples of my pages, that have been pulled together into a lovely chunky book. 

    Lots of ideas to take away and use in other places…

  10. The pictures speak for themselves…

    A sample of the delights created by my ‘An Artful Journey’ classmates:

    by Chrissy Gardner – don’t you think this looks like the cover of a chick-lit novel?
    by Mindy Lacefield – watch out for this girl!  So original
    by my studio neighbour Lorrie Spotts
    by the very creative Ann Deakers
    by our favourite Englishwoman in New York Louise Gale
    gorgeous creation by Holly Carson
    Check out some of the other lovely ladies’ work on their blogs: Peggy Krantz, Cathy Kirwan, Stella Singleton, Andrea Thinnes, Danielle Fraser, Davi Huffman,  Monica Moran, Debbie Williams, Tiffany Moore

    Back soon with some of my own creations!