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.
I was lucky enough to attend The Royal Horticultural’s Chelsea Flower show this week. I got there at 8am, opening time and headed for my favourite section The Artisan gardens. I am not going to write about the large corporate sponsored gardens as so much has been written by others about them. Instead I am going to talk ARTISAN
Three gardens particularly stood out, The Finnish Summer Garden that was inspired by the biodiversity of Finnish Meadows and Woodland. The garden was designed by Taina Suonio a Finnish landscape designer, horticulturalist, environmental biologist and researcher in the Fifth Dimension- Green Roofs in Urban Areas research group.
The garden comprises clear Nordic lines and includes a 100 year old weather beaten barn wall made of granite. The cascading water feature reminds visitors to the garden about the relationship the Finns have with their roots in the country and the much-cherished respite by their countless lake-side, riverside and seaside cottages. The garden included many Finnish forest flowers and herbs.
The Donkey Sanctuary Garden celebrated the 50 years of transforming the lives of Donkeys. The designers were Annie Prebensen and Christina Williams.” We have a real fondness and appreciation for these hard The working animals, so were delighted to be asked by The Donkey Sanctury to design an Artisan Garden to explain ‘why donkeys matter’ The garden demonstrates how owning a donkey means access to clean, fresh water for some of the poorest and most vulnerable communities in the world. Set in an arid location a shelter near a well provides some shade. A dripping bucket hangs above the well and colourful planting surrounds it. The planting in the garden includes plants typical of dry regions, including Eryngium bourgatii, Iris germanica and Lavendula angustfolia. The colour palette is claret, purple and silver
The Camfed Campaign for Female Education won the Artisan Garden Gold Medal.
The designer of the garden is Jilayne Rickards
‘ I wanted the garden to reflect CAMFED’s strong commitment to supporting girls in eduction and the vibrancy of rural communities in Zimbabwe. It is a powerful message of how, by educating girls, we can tackle gender inequality and poverty, and break the cycle of poverty for good.’
At the heart of the garden is a classroom which is surrounded by plants and trees and edible fruit, leaves and roots that provide vital nutrition, particularly for mothers and school children.
The crops, which have been developed by scientists backed by UK aid, are also enriched with key vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A and iron, to tackle “hidden hunger” in developing countries.
The plants include bio fortified varieties of maize, beans and sweet potatoes and are in a garden which, unusually for Chelsea, evokes a rural Zimbabwean school yard – complete with dusty red earth, a black chalkboard and orange trees.
If like me you are interested in craft and design there are some first class designers showing in the artisan section of the show. There is a Dyers Studio set up by ex RCA student Lola Lely. She uses plants and natural materials to create dyes, pigments and paints.
Charlie Whinney Wood & Steam celebrates what is possible using locally sourced green wood and eco-friendly steam-bending processes to create beautiful works that enrich your life.
Ceramic artist Corrie Bain is a British ceramicist based in Barcelona . she studied ceramics at Edinburgh college of Art. Her ceramics are inspired by microscopic imagery of seed pods, pollen and fractals. They are made from hand built porcelain clay.
Botanicla, Applique Artist Natasha Hulse creates handmade fabric artworks for interior products such as bedheads lamps and cushions. She celebrates the beauty and phenomena of Flora found in British Woodlands, English gardens and the effect that nature has on us in our home.
As well as the artisan sections, one of the other visual joys of the show was the Alitex green house styled by Selina Lake. She always designs her spaces to feel like somewhere you want to spend time.
My all time favourite, innovative and very comfortable seats in a variety of designs by Cacoon are on sale. Every season their chief designer Nick McDonald comes up with new designs, so watch this space.
As I finish writing this piece, I must not forget the Chelsea Pensioners who are still very much in evidence in their smart red uniforms.
The show is still on and the weather is good. so if you can get in, do go and visit.
The Colourist is a Bookazine and is Annie Sloan‘s latest venture. The current plan is to publish bi-yearly, but don’t quote me on that.
For those who don’t know, a bookazine, as it says on the tin, is a cross between a book and a magazine. It looks magazine like, but is printed on much better paper. At £9.95 it is twice the price of a magazine, but it is a periodical that you will want to keep, as you would a book.
I did wonder if The Colourist would just be a vehicle for Annie to sell more of her excellent chalk paint. The paint does feature, but in such an inspirational and interesting way it doesn’t feel like an advertorial.
After an introduction by Annie, where she espouses her love of colour, the Bookazine is divided into sections starting with The colour hunter. This includes, What is new, Annie’s picks, Designer Focus, Trend watch and a competition.
There are travel features and most importantly Annie’s work with Oxfam in Ethiopia.
There are quite a few How To’s and Make Over’s and a lovely give away, a free style stencil accompanied by step by step photographs showing how to use the stencil, to create a tile table top.
Before I finish this review I think it is important to mention Felix Sloan who is the creative director of The Colourist and Jane Toft, the Managing Editor. Jane is very imaginative and so in touch with the zeitgeist, it was she who started Mollie Makes and The Simple Things. Their combined hard work and design flair has created something truly desirable.
Perhaps Annie should have the final word.
“It all boils down to sharing my passion for style and colour. I want to inspire everyone to get creative!”
This summer the restaurant chain LEON ran a wellbeing festival for the restaurant managers of their 57 UK and European restaurants, their new one soon to open in Washington USA and the restaurant support team. This two-day event takes place every year at John Vincent’s family home in Sussex and the event really is a family get together. The ‘mums’ and ‘dads’ (that’s what they call their restaurant managers) and the restaurant support team gathered together in one of the fields and started with a ball game as a way of breaking the ice and introducing any new ‘family’ members to each other. The event, like the LEON brand, is well thought out, wholesome and inclusive.
Next a session of Chi-gung (“Life Energy Cultivation”) took place and after that everyone gathered into groups to take part in different events throughout the day. These included swimming, yoga, cooking, movement and play, tennis, home-made remedies and the workshop I was there to teach, low tech printing onto calico bags.
Nichola, one of the ‘mums’ from LEON was there to help me, she was brilliant and as I ran six sessions back to back throughout the day, with a break for a delicious LEON lunch, I couldn’t have done it without her.
I showed everyone a look book of marks that can be made using very simple items such as fruit and vegetables, blocks of wood wrapped in elastic bands, pipe lagging cut into segments and erasers on the end of pencils.
Everyone then had a go on pieces of paper so they could work out their own designs.
Then to get the feel of printing onto fabric everyone printed onto a piece of calico.
Once satisfied with design and colour choices each person printed onto a bag. The bags were hung up in the garden to dry with the names of the designer on them.
Throughout the rest of their stay everyone posted thoughtful messages into the bags of one another. It was such a glorious event and I felt honoured to be part of it. Looking back at the images I took that day you can see people totally engaged in the activity, printing anywhere and everywhere; at the table, on the floor, on chairs or on their laps, completely absorbed in the moment which is what creativity is all about.
Designer, Jehane is having her first open house in five years but in a new location as part of the fiveways Artist group . Each weekend in May, artists open up their homes and studios to the public, to show and sell their own and other people’s work.
Jehane’s 2018 Open House delivers her signature style, of contemporary artists in her friendly recently refurbished home. At the bottom of her small garden stands a shed with an installation by Phillipa Stanton. As well as running open house Jehane also licences the work of a number of different artists and designers. See the piece I wrote on her on Meet the Maker Below are a few examples of the work on show.
Artists open houses run weekends from 5th -28th May in Brighton Hove Coast and Ditchling. To find out more about Brighton open houses go to aoh.org.uk