Blog, Exhibitions, Features, Uncategorized

Chelsea Flower Show

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.

Lola Laly setting up the studio

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.

From the Seed Pod collection

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.

Part of a head board by Natasha Hulse Design
Alitex Green House styled by Selina Lake

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.

Blog, book review, Book Reviews, Uncategorized

The Art of Pressed Flowers and Leaves

By Jennie Ashmore Published by Batsford £16.99 Artworks by Jennie Ashmore, photographs by Euan Adamson.

This is the most unusual and beautiful pressed flower book I have ever seen. It is full of amazing compositions that are reminiscent of traditional American Quilts.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Early leafwork (1998) using sycamore leaves and fennel seed heads. 15 x 15cm (6 x 6in)

As the publisher describes it, this is a contemporary twist on a traditional craft. It is a must-have guide to pressing flowers and leaves packed with exciting ideas and practical information for creating beautiful botanical works of art.



Kirklea Garden (2017). Rich summer colours using iris and poppy petals with small leaves and flowers. 30 x 30cm (12 x 12in)
 

         Jennie Ashmore, flower artist, breathes new life into traditional flower-pressing techniques with a unique and spectacular kaleidoscope of floral and plant designs, using everything from flower petals and leaves to seaweed and lichen.

 Jennie studied painting and printmaking at Exeter College of Art and for many years taught in art schools and worked in environmental education, conservation and gardening. Her work has always concerned the natural world and she has a strong interest in surface texture, pattern and geometry, which are key to her designs. She teaches workshops and sells her work.


Threave Garden Quilt (2016). This intricate design features plants collected in Threave Garden, a National Trust property in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland. 40 x 40cm (16 x 16in)

         The leaf works, guide and inspire through every stage of the process, from working seasonally and selecting the right plants for a vibrant colour, to experimenting with interesting texture and pattern. There are also tips for incorporating watercolour, gouache and other exciting materials into beautiful botanical creations.


Simple landscape using variegated balsam poplar leaves (1998).
13 x 18cm (5 x 7in)
 
 

The art of pressed flowers and leaves will inspire readers to celebrate the beauty of their local landscape, a favourite walk or garden, or even capture special memories through eternalizing wedding bouquets or plants collected on a holiday.

Blog, Uncategorized

The Colourist Issue 02- A fantastic and inspirational read.

The art of colourful living by Annie Sloan

I have just spent 2 hours at the hairdressers and rather than reading all the gossip and fashion magazines I decided to take my own copy of  the latest edition of the The Colourist. I am so pleased I did.

When they first appeared a few years ago I had my reservations about Bookazines, that cross between a book and a magazine, I suppose it was as much to do with the price as anything.

I had a few questions about this form of publishing, the first being:

If you are going to pay the best part of £10 why not just buy a book?

A book takes much longer to produce and the information you get in a bookazine is bang up to date.

Why are so many bookazines cropping up, as the rest of print journalism is very much on the decline.

I think the answer to this is that there are many journalists and designers who are passionate about their subject whether it be design and interiors such as shown in 91 magazine, Rakes Progress the progressive guide to gardens, plants, flowers and The Colourist – which is a cornucopia of  design and colour.

 Bookazines have a particular look and feel about them. On the whole the paper is nicer than run of the mill magazines, they feel like something you want to keep and they are not full of adverts.

 I am aware that Annie is promoting her chalk paints and ‘The Colourist’ is a great showcase for them. However the bookazine is, like Annie herself, full of practical information, design inspiration and examples of how to use colour. 

This issue features two of my favourite designers Anni Albers whose work was shown at the Guggenheim Bilbao before transferring to the Tate Modern late last year. Albers is known mainly for her weaving that was created at the Bauhaus although she worked in many other disciplines too.

The other featured designer is more contemporary, the innovative Dame Zandra Rhodes who not only is a fabulous textile and dress designer but was the instigator of London’s Fashion and Textile Museum.

The magazine covers, what is trending, design classics, inspiration and also homes, including Annie’s own home in France. There are features from abroad plus How-to’s and also includes two stencils that you can use on a project of your choice.

As a bibliophile I am delighted that The Colourist also includes book reviews.

“It all boils down to sharing my passion for style and colour. I want to inspire everyone to get creative!” says  Annie

Blog, Meet the Maker, Uncategorized

Meet the Maker Jehane Boden Spiers, Textile designer, Art licenser and Consultant

Jehane in her studio surrounded by work

I know you as a textile designer and maker, Can you tell me if you went to art school and if so what did you study?

I was born & bred in Brighton. I studied Textile Design at Winchester School of Art (1994 – BA Hons).

How and when did you become an art consultant?

I have curated my fellow artists’ work since first opening my house for the Brighton Festival in 2002. I discovered that I am skilled at selling other artists work and enjoy talking about the creative process. The next one is every weekend in May starting on the 4th in less than two weeks time . For details of Venues, locations and times look at https://aoh.org.uk/house/may2019/

I became a licensing agent in 2004 when my children were born. Through my work as an agent, I have received many submissions from artists that I have not been able to represent for one reason or another. Being an art consultant means that my services can be offered more widely. I now offer one-to-one consultancy to emerging and established artists internationally.

You contributed a chapter to the very successful book ‘House of Cards’ did you enjoy the writing process and have you ever written a book of your own.

I loved it! I would love to do a book of my own. It’s on my bucket list.

Can you give us a brief history of how you started out.

I first licensed my own designs in 1992 as a student at Winchester School of Art. I worked as a textile designer in Vienna when I graduated. I set up as a freelance designer back in Brighton in 1996 under the name of Cloth of Gold.

I designed for industry (mainly paper products), made one-off embroidered pieces for private clients, and created hand-made items for small batch production sold to galleries and retail outlets nationally.

My designs have sold for textiles, gift-wrap, greeting cards & more. Licensees of my designs include Stewo, Jung Design, Gallery Five, Sanderson Fabrics, Baumann, Penny Black, Collage, Medici, Zoewie, Boots Plc, and The Paper House Group. 

My designs have featured on London Underground posters. My retail clients have included Liberty of London, English Heritage, the RSC, and Vienna & Sydney Opera Houses. My one-off embroideries have sold in galleries nationally. I have given many talks about her artwork including at the V & A.

I also had a variety of agents before I set up on my own as an Artists’ Agent. I was always very pro-active, exhibiting at trade fairs and contacting shops/ licensing clients directly.

What is a typical day for you?

Work by Ken Eardley

Everyday starts with catching up on my Instagram and planning the day’s social media. I will walk down to my workspace at Studio Eleven where I have been for 7 years. I have my own room in a shared studio space of creatives. It’s a great atmosphere and very focused. I currently spend all of my time at a computer although I have started planning a new range of products for my Open House in May. A typical day I would be designing and writing new marketing campaigns, liaising on existing licenses, contacting new clients, and giving creative direction to the artists that I work with.

What do you love most about what you do?

I love being immersed in another artists’ work. I enjoy the wide variety of client responses to artwork and the fun of trying to predict who might like what. Most of all I love combining my love of the visual world with conversations

What do you dislike most about what you do?

Being solely defined and seen as an agent. Being a designer is at the source of everything I do.

Examples of Jehane’s work

What made you want to start your own creative business? I knew it would be the thing I would most regret not doing.

Your business seems to have really grown over the last few years how has this happened?

I have always worked hard. I have never taken time out. More recently, I have spent a lot of time asking myself difficult questions and challenging myself. What is really important to me? I realised that working in an inter-disciplinary manner is hugely important to me. It has guided me to expand my offer. I have been able to promote hard as a result because I am very sure of my vision. This has really helped me to grow my business.

Cressida Bell

Can you describe your creative process?

It always starts with a response to either pattern, colour, or words. I often need to make associations and connections between things.

What are your biggest challenges?

So much to do, so little time.

I also find it hard to send short emails!

Focusing on the bigger picture when there are so many details pulling me the other way.

Speaking in public – I have lots to say but I get incredibly nervous.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in your field today?

Work hard. Ask questions, Don’t be scared to put yourself in front of people. Think about your own intent, what is important to you, really important to you? This will be invaluable in guiding your decision-making. Present everything visually and beautifully. Attention to detail.

Nancy Nicholson

Compared with when you started, do you think it is easier for designers to set up on their own nowadays or more difficult? Why?

I think it is easier. There are more resources and the creative industries are booming. Even though they are marginalized in schools, they are more recognized by the government (and people at large) as being crucial to the economy. 35% of the UK’s income is from the creative industries. Websites and social media make it much easier to be seen and to connect with clients.

One of the reasons I am interviewing successful women who are over forty is that they have often had to take a career break, or had to slow down to deal with child care and or aged parents. Have you ever had to deal with either of these of issues and if so how did it impact on your creative life or business?

I decided to license work by other artists was when I had my children. I was scared that if I took a seven year break from my designing, to have my two children, that I would lose confidence and be unable to get back into the industry. Having children can be isolating as can be working on your own. Working as an agent meant I still had lots of contact with people even though I was working at home. I worked virtually full time when my children were young in order to develop my business but I decided against having a nanny or an au pair. It is a constant juggle!

Have you exhibited? If so, where?

Yes – all over the country, mainly in group exhibitions but all over 15 years ago.

Liberty of London

Grace Barrand Design Centre

Ferrers Gallery

Manchester City Exchange

Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art etc

How do you find clients?

Trade fairs, social media, trade magazines, look at the underneath of products

What are you currently working on?

Planning new products with my designs for my open house

New newsletters for Jehane Ltd

A bespoke licensed range with British Airways i360 and Cressida Bell

Talking to New artists for representation

Planning my open house; getting flyers ready to print

& more!

What is next?

An online shop on www.jehane.com

Has social media impacted on your business and if so in what way?  Yes, hugely. It has been the launching pad for my new business Jehane Ltd and has been the main reason that I have attracted the new artists I represent and the new clients I am talking to.

Many thanks Juliet

Blog, book review, Book Reviews, Uncategorized

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

Blog, book review, Book Reviews, Uncategorized

On trend : Textile Folk Art

Textile Folk Art  By Anne Kelly published by Batsford

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.

Blog, Exhibitions, Uncategorized

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.