Blog, Press Show Picks

MINTED

On the 4TH July The Royal Mint launched its first jewellery collection ever, designed and made by in-house experts in silversmithing techniques at The Royal Mint .  

          The collection, envisioned by luxury jewellery designer Philippe Cogoli, has been made at The Royal Mint from start to finish, using traditional coin pressing techniques that pay homage to the heritage and expertise gained from over one thousand years of coin minting expertise.  The designer, took inspiration from the design of the first ever £2 coin which was minted in 1997, and has deconstructed details of the design to create a truly unique collection that references the original coin. The range includes elements that capture and reflect the evolution of technology, with individual geometric designs. 

The Motto collection is named after the “motto” that is stamped into the original £2 coin and attributed to Sir Isaac Newton’s famous saying “Standing on the shoulders of giants”. The geometrically designed range is made from sterling silver and includes unique items ranging from cufflinks and tie pins to earrings and bangles, along with other stylish silver gifts. The collection is a beautiful handcrafted range made in-house, a new and exciting step for The Royal Mint. 

Helen Cooper, Director of Gifting at The Royal Mint, commented: “We are thrilled to be working with Phillippe Cogoli, a talented designer who has built on the heritage of The Royal Mint and the silversmith craft to create this beautiful new collection. The Motto collection is the first range of jewellery to be created by The Royal Mint’s experienced team and is an exciting development for The Royal Mint brand.”

Philippe Cogoli, designer of the Motto collection, added: “The main inspiration behind the Motto range was the fantastic design of the original 1997 £2 coin.  When we saw the potential of the geometric pattern which is stamped onto the coin face, we realised that it reflects an evolution of technology. The idea was to transform the motifs, and design them in a way that is unique but also aligns with The Royal Mint heritage. It was a fantastic collaboration with The Royal Mint team and I feel privileged to have been chosen to work with them. 

In contrast to Motto is the feminine, yet contemporary ‘Sprig’ collection is a first for The Royal Mint and marks an exciting development in their gifting range. The collaboration with Sarah Jordan was designed and made in the UK with the oak and acorn motif featured on many coins throughout history proved vital.

Taken from the original 1936 design of the silver Sixpence, the acorn design appealed to Sarah due to her childhood spent in the Derbyshire countryside. However, the motif was updated to create a sleek, unique theme which formed the basis of the Sprig range, from stud earrings through to a choker necklace.

Sarah Jordan has been designing and manufacturing jewellery for 30 years having won a number of prestigious awards including UK Jewellery Designer of the Year. Sarah set the trend of the organic, fluid style seen in the jewellery industry today which has been beautifully transferred into the Sprig collection.

The new collections are  now on sale, available from www.royalmint.com/gifts

With the art of silversmithing having first emerged in Britain in approximately 300 A.D, both collections build on the amazing heritage of craftsmanship that is still alive in the UK today. 

 Silver has long been an important part of human lives. Having once been available only to the incredibly rich, imports from South America resulted in the precious metal becoming more widely available and the desire for fine jewellery increased. Silversmithing is an age-old tradition that has stood the test of time, innovating as technology has changed, ensuring the craft is still maintained to this day. 

Pieces start from £80 and are available from www.royalmint.com/gifts  

About The Royal Mint

The Royal Mint has an unbroken history of minting British coinage dating back over 1,100 years. Based in the Tower of London for over 500 years, by 1812 The Royal Mint had moved out of the Tower to premises on London’s Tower Hill. In 1967 the building of a new Royal Mint began on its current site in South Wales, UK, to accommodate the minting of UK decimal coinage. 

Today, The Royal Mint is the world’s largest export mint, supplying coins to the UK and overseas countries.

The Royal Mint has also diversified into a number of other complementary businesses, building on the values that have been at the heart of the organisation throughout its history – authenticity, security, precious metals, craftsmanship and design:

  I was lucky enough to attend their press launch and see for myself the elegant, classic and timeless designs. As well as the jewellery, later in the year, they will also  be selling a fine china money box, a beautiful teddy bear and Sterling silver  Christmas tree decorations. 

Blog, Press Show Picks

You won’t believe where I bought this !

This week I attended a fascinating panel discussion, on the latest trends and interior developments created by the Sainsburys and Argos design team for Autumn Winter 2019 The event was chaired by Kate Watson Smyth, from ‘Mad about the house’

The teams work together but Argos tends to sell more furniture, the smaller accessories are sold in Sainsbury’s.

There are five key trends this season. They reflect the different ways in which we live today: often renting, flexible living, traveling  so we only live in our homes for part of the week. Sometimes letting out our places as Air B&B and often living in quite small places . Some of us have remote working styles, which may mean we work from home.

Trend 1. Japanese inspired, called Kanso Living. This is for a home that is neat and uncluttered. It has a monochrome base.   

Colour Psychologist Karen Haller was on the panel.

‘Black, white and grey are psychologically known to offer protection, safety and a sense of space whilst at the same time being very calming. This minimal pallet lowers the emotional noise”  

Although there is no colour as such, there are many textures and patterns. Included is a ladder shelf unit that looks good, saves space and you can take it with you when you move.

From the head of design  “We did lots of mark making in the studio and then translated those marks  into different kinds of surface design using a range of scales from quite large on bedding to teeny tiny on ceramics.’

Trend 2 Highland Lodge. I would describe this look as modern country with touches of rustic wilderness, such as pale oak furniture and  country touches including images of flowers and animals such as hares on ceramics and textiles. A favourite in this range is light washed oak furniture, including a beautiful four poster bed that retails at just £400

This collection has muted colours that are excellent to use in the UK where they fit in with the prevailing  blue light rather than warm yellow as found in

Mediterranean countries. These blue based tones help us to reconnect with nature and bring the outside in, they fit in well with the grey story that has been popular over the last 5 years Interiors.

Trend 3 . Apartment Apparel This is a very vibrant and exciting collection, it is the Sainsburys Argos take on the centenary of the Bauhaus . There are some exciting juxtapositions of colours, including a much coveted harsh orange velvet sofa which, by the way, is child friendly.

Table-ware is playful and brave with a pallet of mustard and oak that work with a deep navy that runs throughout the collection. The mid century styling helps make small spaces feel bigger.

The pop of colour in this collection attracts the eye and makes the shopper curious about the pieces.  

  • Karen Heller ‘Strong colour creates emotional energy and the volume is  turned up, we see colour before we notice anything else. To work, these colours need a warm yellow base and also need yellow lighting. This is a party place for extroverts.’

Trend 4.  Palm Luxe

With it’s grey soft pale pallet , this look is quite glamorous. There are lots of metallic although mainly silver. Inspired by beautiful hotel lobbies. It is opulent and nods towards preciousness. It is quite a showy look influenced by  old Hollywood glamour. It is aspirational and has the feel of a cocktail party with soft music playing.

 Another expert on the panel pointed out that this is a look that will stand out in the rental market and also appeals to those who love Show Homes. It happens to be a very instagramable look, that is very easy to shoot.

Trend 5. Loft living   This look includes loads of natural wood.

Sainsbury/Argos sponsor new designers exhibition each year and choose a winner from those presenting their work. This collection was designed by a winner and has taken two years to come to fruition.

Designed very much with  the young of today in mind who live much more minimally than their parents did, with far less in the way of possessions. They may be working from home and so the solution is a desk storage bedding collection that is all encompassing and super flexible for easy living. It is a  continuation of the successful industrial modular look with contrasting textures carried over from last season.

Many of the pieces are multi functional such as the desk/ dressing table which is easily packed away if more space is needed.

As well as these key looks there is also a quite sophisticated non gender stereotype children’s range.

 All in all a very impressive range of products.

Blog, book review, Book Reviews

Bowerbird

Creating beautiful interiors with the things you collect

By Sibella Court

This book was published a couple of years ago and it is one of those I love to go back to time and again as a visual source book.

In BOWERBIRD, Sibella reveals her approach to collecting and collections. She shows how to procure the elements of a collection, how to organize and store them, and how to display them in creative and ever-changing ways. With the help of BOWERBIRD, you will view your belongings in a whole new way.

What is a bowerbird?

‘A bowerbird is an Australian native bird that builds a reed-y ground nest and goes to extraordinary lengths to decorate it with ‘stolen’ goods and found objects such as shells, bones, pegs and shiny milk caps. I have been referred to as a bowerbird, and like to think of myself as a finder, keeper & curator of collections & beautiful things.’ Sibella Court

Bowerbird is an exquisite inspirational book of beautifully styled selected and collated collections. As the author says

‘Think of each chapter as its own Cabinet of Curiosities. Although my ‘collections’ are loosely tied and not dictated by discipline as a museum cabinet may be, I like to consider all objects as significant and of equal importance regardless of rarity, value or acquirement. They are based on memory, relationship, experience, ‘the find’, the hunt and location.’

Sibella shows you how easy it is to create an emotive interior, to be surrounded by the things you love & treasure, and make any environment a reflection of you. By looking at the collections in the book she is hoping it will inspire you to start your own collections.

Collecting & fossicking

‘As a bowerbird, I do get fixated on things and enjoy the focus it brings to shopping expeditions and forages through markets. I have never tired of this, and have a love of early morning jambon baguettes & cafe au lait whilst scouring & scrambling the trestle tables and back of vans at Porte de Vanves or other such markets, finding treasures & pre-loved goods: textiles, porcelain, lampshades, ephemera, tableware, stylist-wares, cutlery, small furniture pieces and other flotsam & jetsam’.

Objects can be found in many places from beaches and forests to shops, markets, dealers, auctions, sidewalks the internet and friends.Be prepared to be on the lookout. Different things can motivate you with collecting; it may be the space you are in, it may be a certain period of history or new ideas, or a visit to a museum, historic house or gallery.

The book opens with a chapter called Toolbag & Tacklebox

These items are the basic tools & tackle you’ll need to help you organize & display your collections. They are collections within themselves.

They are utilitarian, beautiful in their simplicity and can add to your display – and include the hand-forged exposed nail your art hangs from, vessels en masse to house your natural history finds, lead pencils sharpened with knives to write on your labels and walls, glass domes to create your mini 3D worlds, the perfect string to holdup flags, kites, lights & anything else that needs to hang, as well as all different types & colours of tape.

The other chapters in the book are divided into the following categories, beach combing, objects trouve, zoologie/entomology, tinctures, apothecary &alchemy, smiths & tinkers draper & mills, ephemera, honest & humble, oddities & curiosities, magic, tricks & lucky dips and finally where she sources her collections and the books she looks to for inspiration.

The images are beautifully shot by Sibella’s brother Chris Court.

Published in the UK by Hardie Grant

Blog, book review, Book Reviews

Craftfulness

Mend yourself by making things

By Rosemary Davidson and Arzu Tahsin

Published by Quercus books

As somebody who is a craft author and maker of many years, when I saw the title and strap line of this book it resonated with me. 

In the introduction the authors, both makers, describe how they realized that craft is their therapy.

‘ Working with my hands to make a thing-whether it’s a sketchbook or a piece of weaving or drawing –fulfils some essential function of me. It feels predestined, it’s a part of my DNA. I can’t imagine not having a project on the go. There would be a hole in my life, a sense that there is something I should be doing. When I’m making I am focused, resolved, connected to the work I am shaping. Afterwards I feel refreshed, invigorated even, and always more energetic for what is going on around me. I’ve come to the conclusion that as long as I’m making, I can do all the other things being alive requires of me. I equate my daily craft practice with, if anything, meditation.” Azru Tahsin, editor, crafter and one of the authors of this book.

         The co-author Rosemary Davidson describes being surround with materials from which to make as a small child. Her grandmother was a seamstress and so Rosemary had access to beads feather and threads from a very early age.

“When I’m making I have room to think. And to do my daydreaming.” she says.

         Neither woman wishes to set up a business crafting things so they wondered why do they craft. This book comes up with some very plausible of the answers.

         ‘ We make things because we enjoy it and because our crafts make us feel better. It is when we return to our sewing, knitting, bookbinding or weaving that we achieve moments of calm. When our energy is low, making something energizes us. Making reaches into the place where ideas are sparked and where problems are resolved.’

          The authors admit that they are not craft experts, or feel particularly ‘artistic’ in the conventional sense of the word. They both work as freelance editors, but it is by being menders, dabblers and gung-ho experimenters that they are convinced there are health benefits to be had by practicing as often as possible a craft that inspires and challenges.

‘Through making and mending things, we contend that you are also potentially making and mending yourself’.

 The book is divided into three sections. The first, and for me the most fascinating part, explores what is meant by creativity and the importance of craft in our lives. The authors explore the latest research on how working with your hands and making things can have a huge impact on your mental well-being and happiness.

         The second section of the book deals with how to deal with negativity, how to stretch your imagination and flex your fingers.   The final part of the book has a projects section that gives techniques for a number of crafts including weaving on a frame, knitting, drawing making a simple clay pot and darning and mending. There is lots of helpful advise including inspirational web sites and a recommended reading list.

Blog, Exhibitions

Cindy Sherman

National Portrait Gallery, London 27 June – 15 September 2019

Cindy Sherman’s groundbreaking series, Untitled Film Stills, 1977-80, is currently on public display for the first time in the UK, in a major new retrospective of the artist’s work at the National Portrait Gallery, London. Cindy Sherman, explores the development of her work from the mid-1970s to the present day. The exhibition features around 180 works from international public and private collections, as well as new work never before displayed in a public gallery.

Widely regarded as one of the world’s leading contemporary artists, Cindy Sherman, (b. 1954), first gained widespread critical recognition for Untitled Film Stills, the series that she commenced shortly after moving to New York in 1977. Comprising 70 images, the work was the artist’s first major artistic statement and defined her approach. With Sherman herself as model wearing a range of costumes and hairstyles, her black and white images captured the look of 1950s and 60s Hollywood, film noir, B movies and European art-house films. Building on that layer of artifice, the fictional situations she created were photographed in a way that recalls the conventions of yesterday’s cinema. As a result, each photograph depicts its subject, namely the artist, refracted through a layer of artifice – a veneer of representation. 

Cindy Sherman at Private View – National Portrait Gallery

It is important to realize this is in no way similar to today’s instagram selfies. Unlike those who post themselves on instagram, wanting to be seen and admired, Sherman uses herself as a blank canvas that is hidden, transfigured and disguised. The exhibition sees all five of Sherman’s Cover Girl series, completed when she was a student in 1976, displayed together for the first time. Other key works are from the artist’s most important series including Rear Screen Projections, Centrefolds, History Portraits, Fairy Tales, Sex Pictures, Masks, Headshots, Clowns and Society Portraits. In a revealing juxtaposition, Ingres’s celebrated portrait of Madame Moitessier has been borrowed especially for the exhibition and is displayed alongside Sherman’s version of that historic painting.

‘Centrefolds’ was a commissioned piece by Art Forum magazine in 1981. It was presumed that Sherman would photograph women laid out for delectation of the male gaze, but instead she showed women as a psychologically frail, and with personality. The work was rejected by Art Forum as it showed an opposite impression to delectability, that of vulnerability.

Cindy Sherman is at once disgusted and fascinated by magazines. Between 1983- 84 she was asked to produce some fashion shots of the clothes of Jean Paul Gaultier so she shot them, on her disguised self, looking fraught, depressed and deranged. The irony is, that the more she attacks the fashion industry the more the fashion houses love her work.  

Cindy Sherman focuses on the artist’s manipulation of her own appearance and her deployment of material derived from a range of cultural sources in order to create imaginary portraits that explore the tension between façade and identity. She is famous for her use of make-up, costumes, props and prosthetics to create complex and ambiguous photographic images. A range of source material from the artist’s studio is shown in order to provide unprecedented insights into her working processes. Taking a quotation from Alfred Hitchcock’s 1954 film, Rear Window, which Sherman has cited as an important influence: ‘Tell me everything you saw and what you think it means’ as its central theme, the exhibition examines in detail Sherman’s rich and varied visual language – which draws on cinema, television, advertising and fashion.

Paul Moorhouse, Curator, Cindy Sherman, says: ‘Cindy Sherman’s art is completely distinctive. By inventing fictitious characters and photographing herself in imaginary situations, she inhabits a world of pure appearance. No other artist interrogates the illusions presented by modern culture in such a penetrating way – or scrutinizes so tellingly the façades that people adopt. Probing the elusive connection between appearance and meaning, her work explores contemporary life – and with sharp observation exposes its deceptions.’

Cindy Sherman is curated by Paul Moorhouse, independent curator and writer, formerly Senior Curator of 20th Century Portraits and Head of Displays (Victorian to Contemporary) at the National Portrait Gallery. He is the author of Cindy Sherman, published by Phaidon in 2014.

Cindy Sherman  27 June – 15 September 2019 at the National Portrait Gallery, London www.npg.org.uk

Tickets without donation: Full price £18, Concessions £16.50

Tickets with donation: Full price £20, Concessions: £18.50

Free for Members and Patrons

Cindy Sherman is sponsored by: Calvin Klein

National Portrait Gallery, St Martin’s Place WC2H 0HE, opening hours Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday: 10.00 – 18.00 (Gallery closure commences at 17.50) Late Opening: Thursday, Friday: 10.00 – 21.00 (Gallery closure commences at 8.50pm) Nearest Underground: Leicester Square/Charing Cross General information: 0207 306 0055 Recorded information: 020 7312 2463 Website www.npg.org.uk

Blog, book review, Book Reviews

Sashiko

20 projects using traditional Japanese stitching

Jill Clay

Published by GMC publications

Here at Creative Colour we are very taken with the whole concept of slow, and hand sewing  in particular, as a way of winding down after a hard days graft, so this book is perfect for us.

What is Sashiko? It is a traditional Japanese sewing method that uses evenly spaced running stitches to create eye catching geometric patterns. It has a humble background, originating as a form of darning – a way to strengthen weak areas of cothing. However its utilitarian beginnings have since been shed, and it is now a popular form of decorative embroidery.

This book explores this strikingly effective technique and demonstrates how to apply it to a range of useful and ornamental items for the home, and to accessories and gifts. Minimalist in style, Sashiko sits perfectly in modern interiors as well as traditional environments giving it broad appeal.

         Sashiko is pronounce Sash(i)ko, the I is almost silent. It means little stabs because it involves stabbing the needle in and out of the fabric, to make a number of small gathers on the needle.

When the needle is pulled through it creates a series of small stitches. It has also sometimes been called rice stitch as traditionally the yarn colour is off white and resembles a grain of sand.

         There are twenty projects in this book and several of them use traditional designs. Shippo Tsunaagi  known as Seven Treasures is a design used in Buddist Art. Bamboo is often used as a design and it signifies prosperity as well as purity and strength.

You need very little in the way of tools and the techniques are simple. The projects range from practical to beautiful. There are small projects that will take much less time than large ones with a density of stitches. So it is up to you to decide how long you have to create a project.

As the author, Jill Clay, says in this excellent book

“ Although there are some ‘rules’ to sashiko, I prefer to think of them as guidelines which is what my sashiko teacher taught me. Following the guidelines is important, but so is enjoying what you are doing. The simple message is don’t take it too seriously, relax and enjoy.”

Blog, book review, Book Reviews

HOW WE CHOOSE TO PLAY

By Fran Heath 2016

Abel’s illustrations copyright Roscoe Cattle 2016

Heather’s illustrations copyright Cleo Cattle 2016

I was browsing in the children’s shop a

Pocket Full of Pebbles, in Cowes Isle of Wight when I came across this delightful book by an Isle of Wight author and artist. She has taken a dolls house decorated it and created scenes for her story. This book is an excellent example of crowd funding working, to produce a book with a clear message that is : Parents and other adults should not limit the activities of children or choose how or with whom they play .

As someone who wrote children’s books in the nineteen eighties I was somewhat surprised and saddened to find this message is still needed.

         I grew up with Janet and John books, where John did things with his father and Janet looked on passively. At art school I was, and still am, a feminist. When I had my own children, boys first, I bought them dolls and buggies and wouldn’t let them have weapons of any sort. This didn’t prevent them from making them out of sticks, lego or anything else they could lay their hands on . My daughters played with Meccano and Lego. They climbed trees, learnt to sail , drew, painted and played with dolls, and one has studied disaster management and the other has a degree in architecture.

         Getting back to the book. It is made up of wonderful rhymes.

“ The princess loved skateboarding and she found it rewarding

to use the rainbow as a half-pipe when she flipped it upside down

She was liking being reckless, while the ninja made a necklace

of the brightly coloured flowers as he sat upon the ground. “

It is a story about a brother and sister and the different ways they are treated. Happy to say by the end of the book things have changed, the parents have seen the light and the children play together doing both quiet and physically challenging activities. The drawings done by the children in the story, have been created by the author’s own children and are fabulous.

A great book and thoroughly recommended.