Need some interior inspiration ‘My bedroom is an office and other Interior Design Dilemmas’ could be just the answer.

This book has been given the thumbs up by the design savvy team at Stylist magazine.

To quote them

Finally an interiors book that a) acknowledges that we don’t all live

In brownstones in Brooklyn and b) that 25% of us now privately rent our spaces. Chock-full of gorgeous home inspiration (always a winner), Joanna Thornhill is the decorating agony aunt you have been searching for.


A good example of a non intrusive office in a bedroom © Tiffany Grant-Riley / 91
Magazine

The other great bonus of this book is the pictures were researched, by the talented Caroline Rowland owner and editor of 91 magazine. She has sourced some great images, many of them from bloggers.


A fabulous use of colour in an otherwise neutral room © Tamsyn Morgans

         Joanna Thornhill, is a London based interiors stylist and writer . She guides you through an array of design dilemmas from minor tweeks to bigger projects. The chapters are those you would expect, including a beginners tool kit, colour combining explained, painting furniture, interior design rules which to follow and which to break.

If you have just moved into your home and have no idea where to start or what to do and your landlord won’t let you paint the walls Joanna has the answers. They are broken down into clear, easy-to-follow chunks of advice. Each topic covers a real life dilemma.

At the head of each page the question is asked and then answered briefly. An in depth solution is also given plus tips.


What a great idea to display and store your collection
© Betina Bianculli / @https://jolygram.com/profile/fridaflorentina/314397293?hl=enfridaflorentina

     

A good example of an easy on the eye, comfortable living space
© Avenue Design Studio

My bedroom is an office

In brief : Confine the office equipment to a specific part of the room, and create a set up that you can easily conceal-literally or by clever design- at the end of the working day.

The reader is given three different  visual alternatives plus as a DIY challenge as a tip.

This book is perfect to dip into for inspiration.

Joanna Thornhill £14.99 Laurence King

On trend : Textile Folk Art

Textile Folk Art  By Anne Kelly published by Batsford

T

I was just about to review this book, when into my inbox popped the following, prescient quotes, from designer and licenserJehane, from ‘ making art work’

Folk Art  – Folklore ‘Art of the people’ celebrates traditions and rituals from across the world and the relationship between maker and object’

‘Art teaches us to see into things. Folk Art allows us to see outward from within things.’ Walter Benjamin.

This book is an inspirational exploration of folk art from around the world by textile artist http://www.annekellytextiles.com/Anne Kelly.

It includes samplers, quilts, tribal and nomadic cloth. Anne Kelly explores traditional motifs used throughout the world in textile folk art and shows how contemporary textile artists use them in their work today. She demonstrates how to incorporate treasured personal objects- such as garments, stitched samples, vintage lettering and motifs-into textile to create unique works of folk art.

The red horse by Mandy Pattullohttp://threadandthrift.blogspot.com/ mixed media textile, appliqué and embroidery on vintage quilt background

We are shown examples of collections from around the world – Scandinavia, USA, Australia, China and Mongolia. There are some step –by- step projects including collages, screen prints, folding books. We are shown creative collages on garments and even a stitched shed that was shown at the knitting and stitching show. The reader is given resource to some of the best textile artists, such as Nancy Nicholson, Mandy Pottulloh and Sue Stone and you can see their work on their web sites.

Romanian Commission by Anne Kelly, mixed-media textile

My verdict this is a lovely book that more than earns its place on a bookshelf, I will delve into time and again.

Jeff Koons at Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum

A major exhibition of the work of Jeff Koons (b. 1955) opened at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, on 7 February- 9 June 2019 .

“I couldn’t think of a better place to have a dialogue about art today and what it can be.” Jeff Koons

Until I visited, I couldn’t think of a weirder or more inappropriate place to hold the exhibition. The Ashmolean, attached to Oxford University, one of the U.K.’s seats of learning, holding an exhibition of work that comes over, at first glance, as superficial, overblown and trashy.  Curated by Koons himself together with guest curator Norman Rosenthal, the show features seventeen important works, fourteen of which have never been exhibited in the UK before.

They span the artist’s entire career and his most well known series including Equilibrium, Statuary, Banality, Antiquity and his recent Gazing Ball sculptures and paintings.

Dr Xa Sturgis, Director of the Ashmolean, says: ‘In showing Jeff Koons at the Ashmolean, the world’s oldest public museum where the collections range from prehistory to the present, this exhibition provokes a conversation between his work and the history of art and ideas with which his work engages. I am sure it will also provoke conversations among those who see it.’

The press information describes ‘Jeff Koons as surrounded by superlatives. Since he burst onto the contemporary art scene in the 1980s he has been described as the most famous, important, subversive, controversial and expensive artist in the world. From his earliest works Koons has explored the ‘readymade’ and appropriated image – using unadulterated found objects, and creating painstaking replicas of ancient sculptures and Old Master paintings, which almost defy belief in their craftsmanship and precision.’

        Well that is true up to a point, the work is beautiful the craftsmanship superb, but it isn’t he who has painted or sculpted. As in the tradition of many of the greats, he has a number of artists in his atelier who carry out the work on his behalf and under his direction, and it is his concept, that he oversees.

         Throughout his career he has pushed at the boundaries of contemporary art practice, stretching the limits of what is possible. The Ashmolean exhibition includes important works from the 1980s with which Koons made his name through the novel use of the readymade and the appropriation of popular imagery: One Ball Total Equilibrium Tank 1985; Rabbit 1986; and Ushering in Banality 1988. It also explores Koons’s more recent focus on the art of antiquity and the western art canon where layered images of ancient and modern art meet in Koons’s singular vision.

Balloon Venus (Magenta)

Among the highlights are the spectacular Balloon Venus (Magenta) (2008–12). While evoking the tiny Ice Age ‘Venus of Willendorf’, one of the world’s oldest works of art, Balloon Venus (Magenta) is made with Koons’s signature motifs: monumental scale; the inflated balloon with its intimations of transience and mortality; and the flawless mirror-polished surface which positions the viewer in the work. He has put the figure through a double transformation from limestone sculpture to balloon model and from balloons to his trademark, super-reflective, coloured steel on a huge scale. The artist insisted on the model being made from a single balloon to maximise the sense of a continuous pressure all over.

The tiny Ice Age ‘Venus of Willendorf’

Reflective gazing balls are usually sold in suburban American garden centres, along with birdbaths and water features. The one’s Koons uses are handmade , specifically for him. His preoccupation with them ties in with recurring themes in his work: breath (they are hollow and hand blown) and the presence of the viewer in the art work- it is impossible to look at a gazing ball without seeing yourself and your surroundings.

         “ When I grew up, if you drove through Pennsylvania, people would put gazing balls in front of their houses. There’s a kind of generosity about that. Your neighbour doesn’t have to do that for whoever drives by.” Says Koons.

Shown in the UK for the first time are seven works from the series including Gazing Ball (Belvedere Torso) (2013), Gazing Ball (Gericault Raft of the Medusa) (2014–15), and Gazing Ball (Titian Diana and Actaeon) (2014–15).

“ The gazing ball represents the vastness of the universe and at the same time the intimacy of right here, right now.”

Curator, Sir Norman Rosenthal, says: ‘Jeff Koons’s work plays with our memories of childhood and our “educated” cultural experiences as he blends high and low culture, inviting us to challenge the distinction as we gaze at art and at ourselves. Putting his work in the Ashmolean – the first museum in the very heart of academia, Oxford University – we can take his experiment a step further. For those of us willing to share in his visions, Jeff Koons makes art a magical transformation.’

         In case dear reader at the end of this article you think I don’t like his work, this is not the case-I love it. However, I am a great lover of kitsch and I am not sure where we draw the line between high art and kitsch.

A book for art and cat lovers : History of Art in 21 Cats

by Nia Gouldhttps://niaski.co.uk.

This humorous and witty picture book uses the cat as a guide to enlighten us about the different and fascinating art movements throughout history. This is Art history as you’ve never experienced it before- with a large helping of cattitude. From the old masters to the modernists, the moggy as muse.

Feline friends have stalked the studios of many artists, such as Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet and Georgia O’Keefe, so, it only seems entirely fitting to enlist 21 cultured cats to navigate a journey through art history.

From ancient Egyptian and Byzantine art to the wacky and wildly successful world of the Young British Artists, explore the styles that characterized important art movements and the artists who led them. Each cat is depicted in the style of the art movement that is being shown. For example the Egyptian cat has an ornate eye and the colour palette of the Egyptians is explained.

         To show renaissance art, the Mona Lisa has been represented in cat form.

We have Rococo cats, impressionism, Post-Impressionism, Pointillism, Symbolism, Fauvism and Cubism. Dada, Destijl, Magic Realism, Art Deco and all the major art movements of the twentieth century are represented. The book ends with a feline timeline. This will make a great gift for any cat lover.  

From Michael O’Mara books £12.99

Fine Little Day, Elizabeth Dunker, designer and visual communicator, with 153K instagram followers

Ideas, collections and interiors

This book was published in October 2015 but it is still beautiful and relevant today. It encompasses the world of Fine Little Day, you’re invited to take a peek into the fascinating life of blogger, artist, designer and photographer Elisabeth Dunker. We meet Elisabeth in her studio, where she presents her workplace and sanctuary, before she introduces us to one of her greatest loves – collecting!

With beaded baskets, crochet potholders, vintage embroidery patterns, Scandinavian crockery and retro novels just as a start…

Elisabeth gives us a tour of her own eclectic home. Bursting with colour and pattern, her Gothenburg apartment is an enviable mix of handmade blankets, vintage finds, bold printed wallpaper and fabrics, smart storage and classic Scandinavian furniture.

She also gives us plenty of ideas for recreating the look, with quick and easy projects to try at home: pressing flowers, re-using textiles in a patchwork, making beaded baskets, decorating wooden spoons or printing a sweatshirt…

There are also images of Elisabeth’s creative friends and partners we also meet Japanese artist Mogu Takahashi, illustrator Henning Trollbäck and hear about her successful collaboration with homeware brand House of Rym, to name a few.

This inspiring book is full of pictures, fun and heart and is an essential addition to the bookshelf of anyone interested in interior design and handmade.

Elisabeth Dunker was educated at the HDK School of Design and Crafts at the University of Gothenburg. She founded her blog, Fine Little Day, in 2007. The blog reaches an international audience and features interiors, art and craft. The blog has been featured in Vogue Living, Design Sponge, Apartment Therapy, The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living and more. It has been listed in The Independent (50 best interiors websites 2013), Vogue Japan (top 3 blogs for moms and kids, 2012), and The Times Online UK (50 of the world’s best design blogs). Elisabeth has designed homewares for Urban Outfitters and has worked as a stylist for IKEA.

£17.99 published by Pavilion

Up-cycle old books and children’s toys to create stylish book ends.

If you have some ‘time expired’ books such as out of date restaurant or travel guides or have a few charity shop finds why not create some book ends from them. Top with a child’s toy animal, sprayed with Rustoleum paint.

1

You will need

Rustoleum Neon Spray paint

Rustoleum Metallic spray paint

A few books (hard back are best) Make 2 piles of books and make sure that both piles are roughly the same height when on top of one another

Paint brush

Glue gun

2

Using PVA and a brush glue the pages together round the three sides of the book. Obviously the spine is left as it is. Once the edges are dry, Use the glue gun to stick one book on top of the next.

3

In a well ventilated space, spray the pile of books you have stuck together, with the neon  paint. Spray the plastic toy with the metallic paint and leave to dry.

4

Glue the sprayed animal, to the top one of the sprayed books. Repeat steps 1-4 with the second book end.

A sneak peak at Zandra Rhodes archived knit wear

Dame Zandra Rhodes selected ten, rarely seen, pieces of knitwear from her design archive as an exclusive for the Spring Knitting and Stitching show recently on at Olympia. Many of these pieces will be on show along with her beautiful textile designs and dresses in the exhibition 50 Years of Fabulous at the Fashion and Textile museum later this year. From 27th September to 26th January 2020

Black and Red ‘heart’ jumper Spring/Summer 1987 Venetian Palazzo collection
Black ‘Magic Head’ jumper Spring/Summer 1987 ‘Venetian Palazzo’ collection
Intarsia cashmere machine knit Clan Douglas for Zandra Rhodes

The acclaimed British designer Dame Zandra Rhodes DBE founded her eponymous fashion house in 1969 with a small collection. Her prints were Pop Art-infused commentaries on the world of Sixties Britain; the designer felt that there was inherent structure within the pattern that could work with and enhance the shape and construction of a dress. With this concept as a starting point and with her distinctive approach to cut and form, the house of Zandra Rhodes soon became one of the most recognisable labels in London.

In celebration of fifty years of the Zandra Rhodes’ label, the Fashion and Textile Museum presents Zandra Rhodes: Fifty Years of Fabulous. This retrospective will highlight 100 key looks, as well as 50 original textiles. This comprehensive exhibition will explore five decades of the distinguished career of a British design legend.

Grey jumper with pearl shoulder detail Autumn/Winter 1980 ‘Elizabethan’ collection
Rib machine knit

Black and Gold Lurex Jacket Autumn/winter 1987 ‘Wish Upon a Star’ collection Double Bed jacquard machine knit
‘Magic Head’ dress Spring/Summer 1989 ‘Venetian Palazzo’ collection
Intarsia cashmere machine knit Clan Douglas for Zandra Rhodes
Blue and Gold Lurex coat
Autun/Winter 1987
‘Wish Upon a Star’ collection
Double bed Jacquard machine knit