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, Workshop

Learning how to take beautiful styled instagram shots with Carole Poirot

Last year, having seen Carole Poirot’s lovely images on instagram and read her genuine and engaging posts, I wanted to know more. She doesn’t blow her own trumpet, she doesn’t need to, her images do it for her. All the photos on this blog post are hers, shown here with her permission. She works as both a professional photographer and stylist in England and France.

Carole runs small workshops teaching the basics of using a proper camera, without it just being on an automatic setting. To be honest even automatic had to be better than my iphone images. I duly booked onto one of her courses. It was to be me and another half dozen people. At the time Carole was using different locations from which to run her workshops and this involved her travelling around laden with props, camera, food and equipment. That is the life of both photographer and stylist, and it can get a little wearisome and fatiguing at times.

To go off at a tangent, my youngest brother became seriously ill, and I needed to be at his side fairly constantly that year, so I had to wait before I could attend one of Carole’s courses.    She offered to give me a one to one day’s tuition at her home, which is incidentally full of fabulous props.

I set off on a wet, rainy, dark winters day feeling both excited and nervous, also I suspected my camera wasn’t working properly. Carole is a brilliant host and on arrival presented me with  delicious coffee and croissants. We went through the vital things you need to know when using a camera on a non-automatic setting. She showed me on hers and then I tried using my camera. I was correct the camera wasn’t working.

         *Note to self 

Check your camera before attending a photography and styling course.

For lunch, Carole had made one of those hearty soups you need on a wet winters day. She had developed and cooked a super delicious gluten free cake that we tried out at tea -time. This not only gave great eating opportunities but also plenty of shooting ones too.

As the workshop progressed Carole explained various rules of styling, light composition etc. she also showed how to manipulate and enhance images on the computer. We discussed styles of images shown on Instagram. At that time her dark moody shots were being much copied, so being ahead of the field she had moved on to lighter images.

It was a fascinating and informative day.  for anyone attending her workshops Carole provides fulsome and very useful notes.

Just as an after thought, if you can’t get to one of her courses Carole has a brilliant web site https://www.mademoisellepoirot.com/

It is full of beautiful photo’s recipes and much much more. The piece she wrote last year on photographing flowers is exquisite and extremely useful.

https://www.mademoisellepoirot.com/blog/how-to-photograph-flowers

I know that one of her ex attendees now runs styling workshops at £150 a head, so Carole’s course is a sound investment.