The beauty of flora
Goodness everyone seems to be posting pics of garden flowers in simple pots on IG.
I gathered a sweet cherry blossom bough, a handful of Cow Slip spays and a few Stinging Nettles with tiny blue flowers from the local overgrown church yard. Yes, I bunched them in a glass bottle and voila, instant happiness.
Flowers bring joy. Whether so fresh they look as if they have been brushed with watercolour, when they are just on the brink of turning or already fallen as in Dutch floral masterpieces.
Creatives are drawn to flora and fauna. For centuries artists have captured their rich symbolism and for designers, flowers have been a constant leitmotif in their work.
I love seeing the homes and showrooms of those I work with filled with mood-making flowers and plants. Standing alone they make a strong statement and no matter how mixed and massed, we see how effortlessly beautifully nature is.
Enjoy a few of my snaps and some styled pictures...
Bennison: English Country-house style in the Georgian home of Gillian Newberry.
Jamb work alongside Coade. This Coade Lion Cistern was used as a planter by florist Charlie Mccormick to create an English country garden outside Jamb's Pimlico showroom during Chelsea Flower Show last year.
Cox London’s Pimlico showroom with lush, sculptural arrangements where everything is extraordinary.
Ochre always have the prettiest of flowers grouped together and often in a series of simple glass vases.
Stately Fox Gloves planted in pewter in the home of artist-designer Margit Wittig. Beautifully sculptural like her designs.
Tara Craig in her London apartment. In a word - exuberant.
Photo © Tillmann Pretscher
This is Scott with the most blowsy show of Hydrangeas in de Le Cuona's Pimlico showroom
A bunch of inspiration to finish with….
Gathered by Mary Norden
A beautiful book by interior stylist Mary Norden and photographer Polly Wreford. Mary and Polly indulged themselves with this year long project, photographing flowers from Mary’s garden, that culminated in this self-published book.
‘I wanted to create something more than ‘just pretty pictures’, images that the stir the emotions, sometimes in an unexpected way. I have always loved flowers. I have my own garden, and what I’ve come to realise is that my love of flowers and plants is not just about their colour and scent, but also about their seasonal cycle of blooming and dying. I love those first tight buds, and the blossom in spring that offers hope just as everything is at its greyest. Then there are the lush greens and glorious blooms in the summer, which are followed by autumn, and that sense of things decaying and ending. I wanted to express all of this, and doing a book seemed the perfect way to do this.’
'Gathered' book by Mary Norden & Polly Wreford published by Us Publishing.
Bloom, the first trend magazine for flowers and plants and how they relate to fashion, interiors and other industries.
Alexander Hoyle is a London based plantsman and garden designer.
"My design aesthetic is best described as the modern English country garden. It combines form, and function, structurally and architecturally,
and with a sense of serendipity in the cacophony of planting. I like gardens that are a little wild, have flair and zest, and are a little camp."
Charlie McCormick is one of gardening's most powerful new voices. He gardens in West Dorset, and is now making a new plot on the West Coast of Scotland.
Time will tell
"Cinema Closed Until Real Life Doesn't Feel Like A Movie" Sun-Ray Cinema, Jacksonville, Florida, USA. Photo by © Seth Langer
(Image seen on Instagram @let.the.eat.likes)
My youngest is solaced that a summer of GCSEs is no more. The eldest studying for his finals was faced with a term that saw strikes and then full university closure. The class of 2020 will go down in history. This vile virus has stolen the young, stranded the old made and left the rest of us in limbo.
Cities in particular are made of people, full of bustle and this lockdown is hard to bear. It takes a while for us to adjust to this new world order but adjust we must as we all have to listen to health experts and unless a key worker or can safely work, stay home. I am fortunate to be working from a recently finished garden office, my close-knit team has always been set up to WFH and our lovely clients remain loyal.
Be cosy at home with de Le Cuona's beautiful new accessories
This lockdown world will have an impact on how we work for sure. But at the moment we as a PR consultancy are feeding media with inspiring images, readymade features and positive news stories across the print, digital and social media landscape. We will keep in touch via our website, online gallery, newsletters and social channels. Yes, we are all Zooming and exploring innovative formats tailored for the digital sphere but I hope we are doing this in a respectful and helpful manner. It is nice to see that Conde Nast have unlocked their May issues with free digital access so design lovers and home birds can be entertained during the weeks ahead.
However, other media platforms have gone into autopilot blitzing us with daily coronavirus architecture and design briefings and now Virtual Design Festivals, with a rolling programme of online talks, lectures, launches and more. It seems, if there a buck to be made and a gap to be filled someone will more than fill it. I say leave some time and space to sow the seeds of fresh ideas and let sees what grows.
On Radio 4's Today programme, some of BBC News' best-known voices are offering their favourite poems of #comfortandhope, and talking about the importance of the words in their lives. Fergal Keane recites the verse that helped sustain him as he experienced PTSD.
He selected this from the Benedictus: Book of Blessings by John O'Donohue
"This is the time to be slow,
Lie low to the wall
Until the bitter weather passes.
Try, as best you can, not to let
The wire brush of doubt
Scrape from your heart
All sense of yourself
And your hesitant light.
If you remain generous,
Time will come good;
And you will find your feet
Again on fresh pastures of promise,
Where the air will be kind
And blushed with beginning.’
Tap yourself on the shoulder to remind yourself of the simple things we can all enjoy together.
Handmade dinnerware by Canvas Home
Make your homes as welcoming as you can and be kind to your family, friends and colleagues.
Country kitchen, Max Rollit
No matter if you are working, WFH, schooling, furloughed or day dreaming about how to breathe life into your interior as yes, homes are important in times of crisis, we are all also facing a colonnade of emails and voices instructing us how to self-improve with new timetables. I loved the Tweet from House & Garden and the online story by Rumer Neill: In defence of not self-improving during isolation
"To cope in these tricky times, it seems that the entire population has embarked on one mammoth, nationwide quest for self-improvement. And I, for one, am finding myself increasingly tired of it all."
Before this illness struck we worked all hours of the day and night. Now we are made to feel anxious for not filling our days, nights and weekend with a new time table of activity.
However you are charting your days, pause to watch the blossoming of spring in your garden, balcony or on your one a day walk. Make time to clear your head, reflect on life and work. Someone who has done this better than most I know is Ben Pentreath, who writes a beautiful authentic blog each week. Read his latest Inspiration here
Ben Pentreath Inspiration Blog, Image © Ben Pentreath
“But the question for us to think about so very carefully now - to use this time - an unbelievably challenging time for so many (including me, I will add), but also precious time - to use this time to think carefully and profoundly and with love and humour about the world we'd like to see together on the other side. And I think it's going to be okay.” Ben Pentreath
Heart Hand Head
COLLECT Crafts Council VIP Lounge with new work by Cox London and curated by Rachel Chudley
COLLECT makers are experimental and clever folk, often fluidly traversing craft, design and fine art practices.
The Crafts Council Collect is one of my favourite shows, a special moment to stare in wonder at some of the finest contemporary craft works and hear voices and stories of new makers. This year Collect presented 400 artists, over 4O galleries and Collect Open 12 artists and collectives. Quite a show. It’s also about renewal as pieces have to have been made in the last five years.
In its new home at Somerset House, ceramics ruled and I missed the textiles of former years. But if you began your journey in the VIP lounge then visceral and flocculent textures abounded in the new body of work by Cox London. The Dada sofa was inspired by deconstructing traditional upholstery to expose raw materials: jute, beech, webbing and wool. And what wool. Sofas and chairs topped with the most tactile soft curly lamb’s fleece. It is wild. These handmade pieces an organic and free form, breaking the handsome symmetry and classical lines of Somerset House.
Above, off centre and suspended by three rig-like branches is the Magnolia chandelier. This monumental forged Iron chandelier is a profusion of tree foliage and is illuminated with grand scale moulded cotton Magnolia blooms.
Christopher and Nicola Cox invited interior design Rachel Chudley to curate the space. Visiting Cox London’s bronze foundry, Rachel was fascinated by the relationship between the manual process of making and the exhibition of the finished object.
‘When thinking about how to explore this duality in the Collect setting, I looked into the history of Somerset House, with its many reincarnations and maritime past. The result is a room of rough and smooth textures, sculptural pieces created specially by Cox London and pulled together with a deep bespoke colour by Donald Kaufman. Some of these new designs feel like rare heirlooms, some full of foundry character, while others threaten to buck you off!’ Rachel Chudley
Dada sofa and chairs with Magnolia Chandelier, Cox London
It was the first major outing of Studio Pottery London (SPL) into a wider arena - a significant international fair of craft and design. Studio’s Pottery Director Lucy Attwood and Artistic Director Gregory Tingay said it was something of a coup to be accepted by the Crafts Council to be a part of COLLECT. Gregory was aware that he was having to be the primary face for this fair, with the work of Michel Francois as secondary, with the addition of Jason Wason.
Studio Pottery London at COLLECT
Since visiting SPL and meeting Michel I have desired a Moonjar. What a word and what a round and gentle shape. Round like the moon and a jar loved by many for the comforting nature of its curves.
The Moonjars of Gregory and Michel are linked by a common form and philosophy broadly rooted in a shared link to the legacy of Bernard Leach, that pillar of 20th Century studio pottery revival.
Lucy says that ‘Michel’s three large moonjars with their generous proportions and ravishing simplicity of surface achieved through reduction-fired specific ash glazes with copper-red blush effects raised the bar for moonjars within the overall fair. Both he and Gregory make their moonjars according to the traditional Korean way of joining thrown bowls lip to lip to create the classic moon sphere. - opalescent moonjars with their blushes of pink and lilac.’
Gregory’s moonjar forms coloured in a variety of dark blues, white and brown are strongly individual art pieces, each telling their own story by sgraffito patterning through slip exterior surfaces. For COLLECT he made two new moonjars, one entitled ‘Marginalia’ in free-flowing organic decoration.
Michel Francois Moonjar
Gregory Tingay Moonjars on the left is Matamorphosis
My textile quest was sated by textile artist Margo Selby who was this year's Collect Open award-winner with Vexillum, a grand-scale series of handwoven artworks exploring ideas inherent to weave: mathematical pattern, the binary system and simultaneous contrast of colour.
Margo Selby explains:
‘Vexillum – the Latin word for banner or flag – seemed a fitting name for this project. It presents my art as a sort of abstract heraldry. It explores colour relationships and patterns created by the mathematical and digital systems intrinsic to weaving. The threads which create the piece are concealed or revealed to create visually striking yet harmonious compositions.
Each artwork is a development of weave structures blown up and abstracted. I’m fascinated by the way juxtaposed colours enhance or subdue each other and create secondary hues. It’s an exploration of the way colours mix in the eye when placed next to each other and incorporates mathematical stripe graduations that change and challenge the viewers’ perception of colour across the work.”
Vexillum II framed by Margo Selby
Vexillum, an art-textile installation , by Margo Selby
This new scale of work is well suited to large gallery spaces, inviting a new audience to see Margo Selby’s work that celebrates the crossover of art, craft and design. That is the essence of COLLECT.