I was recently given some enormous, if somewhat bruised, windfall quinces. So as a great lover of cheese I decided to make some quince jelly, sometimes known as quince cheese. Suffice to say as soon as I wanted to make the jelly I couldn’t find a recipe. Then I found buried amongst all my other cookery books a slim volume called WI Book of Jams and other preserves written by Pat Hesketh and published in 1984. It has over 100 recipes tried and tested by the women’s institute.
So I turn to the page for Quince Cheese, on the same and facing page were recipes for cumberland rum butter, apple butter, marrow orange cream and bramble cheese. Fruit butters are a softer consistency than cheeses and are usually spiced and should be hermetically sealed. They are usually served as a spread. Cheeses are cooked to a stiff consistency and set in small moulds so that they can be turned out for serving and cut into wedges.
500g quinces chopped into roughly 1cm pieces
Wash the quinces and cut up into pieces
Place in a pan and barely cover with water.
Cover and cook until reduced to a pulp.
Pour through a sieve and weigh the liquid. (discard what is left in the sieve).To each 500g of liquid add 500g of sugar.
Cook over a low heat to dissolve the sugar.
Continue cooking until a thick consistency is obtained.
When a spoon is drawn across the base of the pan, it should leave a clean line.
Pour into prepared moulds. I used small glass pots used for ‘Gu’.
Make some fabric tops by cutting out circles with pinking shears.
Second Hand September aims to raise awareness of fashion’s environmental impact
Create a twenty first century version of a nineteenth century, Smoking Cap from an up-cycled 1980’s jacket. I made this for my brother who loved wearing smoking caps. Here it is modelled by the beautiful Elsa.
The embroidery on the Jacket was beautiful but the style was somehow lacking. So I chose to turn it into, what used to be called, a Smoking Cap. This is in essence a pill box shaped hat often with a central tassel.
You will need
Old lined jacket
Pen and paper
Optional a tassel
Instructions .We made a pattern with the crown, top of the hat having a 18cm diameter. The brim of the hat is 8cm deep x 59.5 cm long including the seam allowances. Cut a paper pattern and then cut a calico pattern and sew the calico brim onto the calico top. Try it on for size and adjust as needed. It should be a little bigger than the finished hat, as the finished hat as a layer of wadding in it.
Cut the jacket into pieces and then lay the pattern pieces on them so they use up the best parts of the pattern. Pin and cut out the pattern pieces. Remember to add more seam allowance if you need to make a join.
Cut the interfacing so that it is slightly smaller than the pattern pieces. Pin it onto the wrong side of the hat’s crown and brimSew the wadding onto the brim. Pin the crown onto the brim, and sew them together, including the wadding around the crown
Using the jacket lining, make a lining for the hat as you did the one from calico. With wrong sides together, and the bottom edges turned under to neaten, sew the lining into the
outside cap. Sew a tassel into the centre of the cap.
Last year, in the unlikely venue of a hospice, I came across Stuart Moore who has set up a small, but growing, charity LIFE LIGHT. Stuart, had been visiting my brother and we got talking as you do. He told me about his visit to Cambodia, where he discovered that it has the highest road death rate, in the world, of under 15 year old’s .
Poor Cambodian’s with large families, will send their brightest child to night school, so they may learn English and be in a position to get a better job and therefore more money for their family. If that child is killed on the road the family have not only lost a beloved child but also the potential of improving the lives of the family.
Stuart came up with the idea, to supply and distribute, free of charge, high visibility reflective road safety equipment to every child in Cambodia. These are in the form of flexible wrist-bands, this has the advantage of one size fits all. It also works in an extremely hot country where a high-visibility vest would stick to the body. Whilst the transport infrastructure is gradually being improved, road safety education for the young is sadly non-existent. Life light’s aim is to change this with their equipment and education.
To help fund the charity Stuart sells the armbands to bike shops in the UK, and for every one sold here he can provide 2 for free in Cambodia.
Alongside the distribution of equipment, the charity aim to give a basic education of road safety to children in the schools and villages throughout this incredible country.
“BE SEEN, BE SAFE” is the message Life Light brings to the youngsters and with public support they hope to save many lives.
100% of every donation, (no matter how small), goes to the supply and distribution of hi visibility equipment for the children of Cambodia.
Turner Contemporary Margate 7 February -3 May 2020
The work in this extensive exhibition is by African American artists in the American South during the second half of the twentieth Century to present day.
Slavery and segregation shaped the rural and industrial economies of the South and created a regime of racial terror. Much of the art in We Will Walk was made within this context.
Produced in outdoor yards, the work takes many forms, from ephemeral environments made from salvaged materials to sculptural assemblages, paintings, musical instruments and quilts.
In the segregated South, creators drew on black Southern cosmology, musical improvisation, American history, African traditions and more recently popular culture as materials for their work.
Blues and Spiritual music were exported from the South to the rest of USA and beyond. The art in We Will Walk can be seen as a visual equivalent of this musical improvisation but has been overlooked until relatively recently.
It was during the Civil Rights protests (1954-1968) that walking, as an act of courage and protest, came to the fore. The title of this exhibition reflects that courage and protest.
To Quote Martin Luther King
“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”
Activists like the writer James Baldwin and the photographer Doris Derby went to the South to bear witness and demand change. Vast communal acts like the historic marches from Selma to Montgomery (1965) started a process of transformation that gradually allowed hidden artistic practices to become viable.
The exhibition highlights the innovative visual languages created by these artists, their relationship to history, the environment and their influence on American culture. We are in a new era of protest and resistance, even Prince William, at the recent Bafta award ceremony, expressed his frustration at the lack of recognition of diversity within the film industry.
WE WILL WALK presents the extraordinary creativity of artists working outside the mainstream for the first time in the UK.
My main purpose for visiting this exhibition was to see the quilts of Gee’s Bend, today known as Boykin. For those who haven’t heard of it, Gee’s Bend is a small community located on a former plantation in Alabama. It lies on a spit of land surrounded by the Alabama River. The deeply rural community has become world famous for their unique hand made quilts created by the women for their own use and gradually recognised and collected by outsiders.
Linked to their maker’s history of poverty and hard labour on the cotton plantation, the quilts are made from repurposed materials. They contain abstract visual languages that have been developed in isolation over a hundred years. The ferry that linked Gee’s Bend to Camden, the nearest town, was removed in order to prevent the residents from registering to the right to vote and from voting during the 1960’s and was not re-instated for forty years.
The quilts are made from used clothing such as blue jeans and football shirts, their materials follow the history of American clothing, as fabrics developed and changed. It was relatively common for plantation owners to name their enslaved workers with their own names, which remain a symbol of a terrible past. Many of the quilters are descendants of people enslaved on the Pettyway Plantation, which is reflected in their names to this day.
Much of the show draws on the tradition of the ‘Yard Show’, temporary outdoor environments made from salvaged materials.
The exhibition was conceived by, the artist, Hannah Collins, who spent three years researching and developing the show. She is joined by curator Paul Goodwin, professor of Contemporary Art and urbanisation at University of the Arts London. His particular interest is in fugitive art practices and place.
This exhibition is worth seeing, if only as a way to view of recent history. These artists turned impossible circumstances into innovative artworks and still do so today. This is an excellent, and deeply profound exhibition.
Tom Dixon has created a new range of products made by beating, banging and bashing large sheets of annealed brass .
BASH is inspired by the desire for more organic, spontaneous and unpredictable design in a world swamped with mass produced, consistently well-finished objects. Smacked, beaten and hammered into abstract shapes each one bears the imprint of the tools and the personality of the craftsman.
These hand-made bowls are surprisingly delicate given the aggressive hammering that is necessary for their crafting. BASH Vessels are treated with a wash which renders the surface of the brass matt and is not lacquered or treated with any sealant. This means the objects oxidise over time to create a unique patina. To prevent this, use it for decorative purposes only and protect the object from humidity and liquids, which will accelerate the process.
BASH is one of our most appropriately named products – beaten, banged and bashed from large sheets of annealed brass – they functioned so far as great bowls or serving dishes but we were missing over-scaled platters and vases. These are something to put a cherry blossom branch in, to use as an umbrella stand, or even a most extravagant waste paper basket. The tray allows for bigger parties and more ceremonial snacks.
Billed as the most comprehensive exhibition devoted to Picasso’s imaginative and original uses of paper ever to be held. There are over 300 works encompassing Picasso’s 80 year career. The exhibition shows the myriad of ways in which he worked both on and with paper.
Picasso was one of the most important and prolific artists of the twentieth century. He was born in 1881 and died in 1973. He worked across a range of mediums including painting, ceramics, sculpture and graphic arts. He drew incessantly, using many different media, including pastels, watercolour and gouache, on a broad range of papers and card. A glossary of these is available for anyone who is interested. He assembled collages of cut-and-pasted papers, created sculptures from pieces of torn and burnt paper, produced both documentary photographs and manipulated photographs on paper; and spent decades investigating printmaking techniques.
The exhibition is organized in a chronological framework and opens with two paper cut outs of a dove and a dog made by Picasso when he was 8 years old.
Highlights include Les Femmes à leur toilette, winter 1937-38.This extraordinary collage is made from cut and pasted papers and measures 4.8 meters in length.
Throughout the exhibition paper works are displayed alongside a number of closely related paintings and sculptures. Although Picasso didn’t paint war paintings as such, his images of sheep’s skulls or women in position of grief and anguish provide a deeply personal record of fear and dread in the shadow of impending catastrophe. He didn’t want his work to be mixed up in politics but after the aerial bombing of Guernica in April 1937 Picasso accepted the commission to paint a mural for the republic ‘s pavilion at The Paris Worlds fair of 1937
In August 1940 Picasso moved back to Paris and remained there throughout the German occupation. Picasso was considered by the Nazi’s to be a degenerate and was threatened with extradition to fascist Spain. He was forbidden to exhibit or publish but continued to work in his studio. with materials in short supply, the ever resourceful Picasso created a world of shapes- masks, birds etc by tearing, cutting, and burning paper napkins. He made ink drawings on propaganda published by the collaborationist press.
One section of the show examines the materials and techniques used by Picasso over the course of his career. This includes early woodcuts, photographic collaborations with Dora Maar and later Andre Villers, as well as experimental graphic works and illustrated books.
Near the end of the exhibition the audience can see the great master at work stripped to the waist in the film ‘Le Mystère Picasso’ made in 1956. It is a remarkable documentary recording Picasso drawing with felt-tip pens on blank newsprint. It is shown alongside original drawings made for the production.
The exhibition closes with a focus on Picasso ‘s last decade, which saw a final flourish of his work particularly as a printmaker.
I have said this before, and excuse me for repeating myself, but we as audience or viewer are seeing this work with hindsight and knowledge of 20th century art. We need to imagine how amazing, original and out of this world the work of Picasso must have been when it was first viewed. It is still amazing strong and vibrant. A great, but very large exhibition, so allow yourself plenty to of time to see it.
When it arrived, I wondered if this book had come to the wrong reviewer as I can draw, however if I couldn’t, this would be the book to encourage and to enable me.
When I was at art school, drawing was out of fashion and it remained so for a long time. However I was lucky as I did my degree at Camberwell School of Art, when it was believed that drawing was the foundation of all artistic endeavour and so we were taught to draw, how to scale up, how to draw perspective shade etc.
What Lydia has managed to do in her book is to encompass lots of techniques in a fun and modern way. It is not so much a ‘How To’ tome, but a workbook, that you fill in and have fun with, as you learn to draw.
In the opening page of the book the author says
“ Think you can’t draw? Think again.
Every page has been designed to put you in touch with your creative side and get you drawing.
No experience necessary- just grab a pen, or whatever else is handy and see where it takes you.
Each new project will ease you into learning a new skill, sometimes without you realizing what you are doing. “
Some of the topics covered include making marks, creating textures, drawing water, movement, far and near. Adding shadows, drawing in reverse and drawing negative spaces.
There are some wonderful experimental tasks such as drawing with your non-dominant hand and drawing by feel. For this task you get someone else to place an object in a bag and you feel, but cannot see it, and you draw what you have felt. Another interesting experiment is to draw a complicated shape using a continuous line and without lifting your pen or paper off the page. I highly recommend this book and I have already started using it, as even old dogs can attempt to learn new tricks.
Visiting trade shows always sounds exciting, but for those of you who have been to the likes of the Ideal Home Show and The Country Living Fair, you will know just how exhausting it can be. I recently wrote a piece on new spring and summer 2020 trends. This post is different as it is about my pick of the designers, often sole traders sometimes a partnership, who also show at the big trade fairs. Their stands are usually much smaller than the large flash companies, but this is where you will often find the truly innovative and inspiring products.
Before we get down to specifics, and despite it being a trade show, it is worth saying that the buzzwords this year are ethical and sustainable. So as well as wanting originality and good value for money the general public are less prepared to purchase at the expense of the environment and those trying to make a living in poor communities.
Many companies support charities, for example ‘Spice Kitchen’, a family-owned artisanal spice and tea company run by mother and son team Sanjay & Shashi Aggarwal (aka Mamma Spice & Baby Spice!) What started as a discussion over the kitchen table on Christmas Day 2012, Spice Kitchen has developed into a thriving small business that has never lost touch with its roots.They support the charities FRANK Water who build sustainable water projects in India and Nepal and Find Your Feet who help families in Asia and Africa build a future free from poverty and hunger. They produce small-batch, freshly ground spice blends and tea blends. They source the freshest raw spices from around the world, and then hand-blend, hand-roast and hand-grind them to authentic recipes. The containers they come in are covered in old Sari’s.
The Kindness Co-op
The Kindness Co-Op, is an online clothing and gift store for children aged 0-14 years started in 2014 as The Wee Store. It was re-launched and re-branded by Lucie Carr and her business partner Charlie in September 2018 in an effort to become more socially responsible, for example sourcing organic clothing that has been locally screen printed with their own designs. The brand makes a donation to the charity Young Minds for every piece of own brand merchandise sold. https://www.thekindnessco-op.com/
One of my favourite brands is
lllustrated Stories by Kay van Bellen I love the quirkiness and originality of her work.
Netherlands-based ceramics brand, Illustrated Stories, was founded by British-born artist and illustrator, Kay van Bellen in 2019. The brand story emerged from her Dutch heritage and her love of Delft Blue ceramics and the stories that unfold behind each delicately painted image. The pieces in the inaugural collection are made from old, found objects which Van Bellen screen prints and hand decorates to create new narratives. Illustrations are witty, humorous and often sinister, each individual piece is a work of art to hang on the wall.Kay has worked with brands such as Converse, Universal Works and Size? She has recently had a solo exhibition of her work at Pols Potten, Amsterdam. Her latest commission was was to design and produce a range of bespoke giftware with Nottingham Lakeside Museum. https://www.kayvanbellen.com/
AMPellegrini Art & Design was founded by London based designer-maker Anna-Maria Pellegrini in 2019. Her passion for printed textiles, nature illustrations and homeware products developed during her Master studies at UAL, where she fell in love with designing homeware and illustrating the natural world. She mainly draws inspiration from the nature surrounding her to create storytelling designs, reflecting the biodiversity on our planet. Anna-Maria exclusively works with UK based companies only, to ensure all elements are sourced and produced ethically to the highest standards. The current product range includes tea towels, tile coasters, giclée prints and tote bags. https://www.ampellegrini.com
Shortbread House of Edinburgh are known around the world for the quality of biscuits that they produce. In 2018 they again won more Great Taste Awards than any other shortbread producer. However it was the Sables not their shortbread that makes me love them, they are delicious. Pea Green Boat Cheese Sablés. are made using a wonderful blend of Scottish Cheddar and Italian Parmesan, the Fennel & Chilli flavour won the Golden Fork Award for best Scottish Product at the 2019 Great Taste Awards.
Poppy Treffry is a Cornish based company, producing a range of quirky textile based products. They have been going a few years now but always come up with new products of a high standard. These include bags, rucksacks, totes, purses, tea and coffee cosies and much, more. Their latest exciting product is a reusable sandwich wrap.
www.materiarica.com are a husband and wife design team who laser cut walnut which they are then paint to make very imaginative jewellery. Their motto is Choose Your Style, Wear Your Story. Here is their story :
Destiny united the paths of Marta, a Polish artist who lived in London and painted pictures of peculiar characters, with Joan, who was passionate about both design and technology and was running a laser cutting company for creative projects. Together they began to transform Marta’s illustrations into small works of art to wear: brooches, earrings and necklaces, which Marta sold in local creative markets in the English capital.
In 2014 Marta and Joan set sail for the Mediterranean and founded the Materia Rica brand. In recent years the growth and international projection of the project have allowed the team to grow, incorporating Oscar, Clara and Sonia.
British Colour Standard was originally conceived in 1931 by the British Council, cloth -bound earthy green ‘dictionaries of colour’ crammed with 100’s of brightly dyed ribbons were created to standardise colour reproduction throughout the British Commonwealth.
When the art/design team of Jackie Piper & Victoria Whitbread discovered an old colour dictionary in an Oxfam shop, they began a journey to re-establish this long forgotten brand.produce a range of products based on the book of coloured ribbons. They were original colours not used since 1958. The designers turned entrepreneurs now produce paints, ceramics, basket work glasses in bright colours www.britishcolourstandard.com
Rye and Moor were another fabulous find. They are a partnership who have designed a collection of contemporary furniture, textiles, home wares and prints using their own prints. As it says on the tin. Simply Designed. Thoughtfully Made. Remarkable objects for modern living. www.ryeandmoor.co.uk
As you may have gathered I love quirky and one of the originators of this genre is Donna Wilson. She produces strange cushions, animals, toys, many knitted and felted. She has recently added platters, trays and mugs to her range. www.donnawilson.com
As a replacement for cling film, Beeswax wraps have been round for a while. wwwprettybeefresh.com have come up with a new and fun idea, a DIY box with everything in it to create your own beeswax wraps. They too, are supporting a charity and have teamed up with www.workforgood.com For every purchase of on of their larger packs a tree is planted.
There are lots of stationary designers around but I was particularly drawn to the work of Scarlett Josse. Her work is whimsical feminine and romantic. All made in England and her greetings cards either come wrapped in compostable plastic sleeves or naked. www.byscarlett.com
I definitely have a thing for blue which given it is Pantone colour for 2020 is probably a good thing. So my next recommendations are all have blue elements. I met Robert Goldsmith from Selborne Pottery. He makes beautiful hand thrown and curated stone ware. He has used some beautiful blue glazes. on his work. www.selbournepottery.co.uk
I like be meeting makers, and Lisa Reddings of www.indigowares.com was no exception, particularly as she was her hands were covered in indigo dye, and her work is beautiful. She runs workshops and sells her goods at shows and on line.
Another lover of blue is Hayley Potter RCA. She works from her studio in Dorset creating works on paper and ceramics inspired by the wild, folklore and magic. She uses the image of the hare in much of her work. www.hayleypotter.co.uk
I love lino-prints as a medium and particularly these made by Sarah Cemmick her work consists of original Lino cuts of predominately British wildlife with exclusive editions of only 25.
Each print is produced by hand in Sarah’s Cumbrian studio. Designs are printed on Japanese tissues and traditional printing papers which are then tinted with watercolours. A range of 90 art cards detailing the lino cuts compliment the original prints. They are produced in England on recycled board with recycled envelopes and biodegradable cello bags.
Using the brand name My bear Hands Sally Holyoak hand makes silver jewellery from re-cycled silver. www.mybearhands.co.uk
This is her mission statement:
‘As a maker, I want my jewellery to be beautifully designed and well made. But I don’t want this to be at the expense of the earth or people who live in it. Jewellery is a luxury item, and there is really no justification for damaging natural environments or exploiting workers in it’s creation.’
The final company I am writing about is Roka. They have just celebrated their second birthday. They create practical, colourful, beautiful ruck sacs and bags. I have bought many of them in different colours from my favourite emporium ‘ Live Like This‘ in Cowes on the Isle of Wight. For any stylists out there they look great in shoots.
A yellow Roka rucksac stars as a prop on a shoot.
This bag is made using 12-15 recycled bottles.
In order to reduce waste in the ocean, Roka has created a new line of bags. Made using 12-13 recycled bottles, the Sustainable Finchley iThe production of this bag not only uses recycled materials, but also uses less energy than traditional production methods.
This week Olympia hosted ‘Top Drawer’ the show where the buyers go to source new, unearth the latest trends and discover emerging talent, and buy for the coming season.
According to Flamingo Trend Predictions , there are four key trends this season the first being Playful Chromatics. Described thus, as a fun filled palette of block colours that bring modernity through mid tone brights. Varied hues are achieved through mixed material densities.
A key colour is neo mint and it adds a fresh and positive start for 2020. Kat Burroughs, Interiors Journalist of the Times, mentions in her predictions for 2020 the Pantone colour of ‘Classic Blue’, which is more or less Royal Blue, and also lilac being used in some home wares.
Blue also features in another of her 2020 predictions, chintzy china. There was a great deal, of that old favourite, blue and white china, much of it with a modern twist.
The second predicted trend is ‘Rare Bloom’ powerful, pigmented florals grounded with soft brown leathers. Florals add deep intensity of reds, oranges and purples clashing with acid lime, and tempered with soft peachy coral.
The show certainly had many surface designers who have taken their inspirations from nature with fine examples of flowers and insects.
‘Mad About The House’ journalist Kate Watson Smythe, in her predictions for 2020 describes how we are turning away from the minimalism of recent years and embracing pattern, particularly with a new take on English country style with layers of colour and pattern.
Unadorned Tactility is the third trend and that is formed from new interpretations of traditional materials. Organic prints and textured layered on to geo shapes give a bio-futuristic look.
The fourth trend is Serene Warmth. Described as dappled sun warmth and cool shade, colours are juxtaposed in the raw fabrics, rich prints and smooth pale marble and concrete.
This warmth aspect of this trend fits in with Kate Watson Smythe’s prediction that ‘the fashion for brown furniture, which I wrote about last year, has now become part of the sustainability movement and will, rightly, continue to grow in popularity. We will buy more from eBay and vintage stores, we will paint and customise and up cycle more and we will continue to reupholster and repurpose.’