Monday, 9 January 2012

Manning the Exhibition

This morning I went to an exhibition of one of my favourite local artists; Julia Manning. She specialises in printmaking and her subject matter is the nature, birds and animals. I like her work because it's energetic and little bit sketchy but somehow still very real. She captures the character, movement and nature of the animals without a hint of photorealism - it's the world around her as she sees it. She is also excellent with colour and her prints have a really graphic quality that I love.

The 'all things bright and beautiful' exhibition runs until 25th Jan at the John Leach Gallery in Muchelney, Somerset. 

Wotan's Wut

I am in love with her woodcut prints of Rooks and Ravens. I am saving up for the framed print above, though am torn between one big print or two smaller ones:


Rook Star
I have until the 25th January to decide! No house to hang them in yet but I believe in being prepared!

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

It's been a while

I gave up writing this blog just before I finally moved back to Somerset. After being busy with work for the last year and a half I'm ready to take it up again. It is a new year after all.

So without further ado I'd like to get back into posting about things I've found that I love. For the last few months I've been staring at a postcard on my bedside table that I picked up at a Vintage Fair in Somerton. It's by artist and jeweller Racheal Eardley. She has a beautiful naive handwriting. I particularly like the jewellery that she makes out of defunct coins, they are such an original idea.

Various Rings - mixed alloys and silver

I am also a big fan of her embroidery. Taking already detailed pieces of textile such as a doily or a handkerchief and adding her own graphic designs of everyday items results in a piece of work that is nostalgic and modern at the same time. 

Malted Milk

Racheal Eardley's website and online shop is very lovely so I suggest taking a look. Her blog will keep you up to date with up and coming fairs and exhibitions.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Coco...may I?

I felt this box of chocolates from Cocomaya just really couldn't go without a mention...I think they are the most beautiful chocolates I've ever seen! The chocolatier and adjoining artisan bakery are located on up-and-coming Connaught Street, a London street known for its luxurious collection of independent shops and restaurants.

The chocolate shop specialises in anything chocolatey; drinks, ice creams and handmade cakes as well as exquisite chocolates like the ones below. They are all handmade, use the finest cocoa beans that meet fair trade standards, and avoid at all cost any artificial colourings or flavourings.

I was lucky enough to get this little box for my birthday...the chocolates are molto costoso so I think it will be a while before I get to sample them again. They were delicious though almost too pretty to eat. There is also a cafe where they do great coffee and delicious (but expensive!) salads and sandwiches, but it's well worth the treat, and you get to have a wonder round the lovely shops afterwards. Super.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Garden of Eden

A very belated post about the wonderful 2010 Chelsea Flower Show. There were some amazing gardens at this year's show. My absolute favourite was the Eden Project 'Places of Change' garden. The biggest ever show garden seen at Chelsea was created by 500 people supported by 43 homelessness agencies and 50 from eight different prisons, who teamed up with gardeners from the Eden Project in Cornwall.

The colourful garden was designed by Paul Stone and I enjoyed it because it was a very 'real' garden that felt like it could be achieved by all, and on a budget. It incorporated flowers and vegetables, and I was especially intrigued by the greenhouse made from recycling plastic drinks bottles. Such a sustainable and cheap alternative to a glass house - I'm saving up my Evian bottles already!

You can read more about it on the Eden Project's blog here.

I also loved L'Occitane's garden designed by James Towillis, who has managed to successfully bottle a piece of Provence. The best bit were the ancient olive trees, which I was told were saved from Northern Italy from certain death and were thought to be dated between 100 and 400 years old. Amazing!

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Bee in your bonnet

Up-and-coming new milliner and very good friend of mine Bee Smith has just launched her first collection of hats. Bee has long been known on the craft scene with her unique range of quirky, hand-made accessories and handbags, with a following on folksy and at her market stall at Spitalfields.

Bee has always been inspired by a sustainable approach to design and looks to alternative sources such as recycling garments and overlooked materials with which to create her accessories. Bee has looked to vintage wedding accessories when designing this collection which offers a chic alternative to the feathery fascinators found on the high street!

Her hair pieces are delicate and natural and offer a pretty addition to the veil for a bride or a delicious detail to the bridesmaids' outfits. Bee uses recycled parachute silk and vintage veiling where possible in her entirely hand made creations, ensuring a unique finish every time.  

I love her iconic 40's style hats which remind me of my grandmother's wedding outfit. The peach one above and the pink with the veiling below are my favourites.

At the moment Bee's range of hats, which would also be perfect for a day at the races, are available online from her folksy outlet:, from her stall at Spitalfields market on Fridays from 10am - 4.30pm, and I suspect a few more stockists will be popping up shortly! You can see more of Bee's past collections on her website here. 

Bee is also happy to undertake commissions so you can request something special for your big day. You can contact her through her website here.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Horrockses Fashions

Drawn from the extensive V&A museum archives, The Horrockses Collection available from the online shop is a great little find. These vintage textile designs feature on dainty handkerchiefs, cotton scarves and tote bags.

Horrockses Fashions, a subsidiary of Horrockses Cottons was launched soon after the end of World War II in 1946 when ready-to-wear sales through department stores became increasingly important, following the 'make do and mend' ethic of wartime Britain.

The couture silouette and youthful and modern textile designs of this ready-to-wear collection was incredibly popular with women of different age groups and social backgrounds. Relatively expensive, women would save up for the 'perfect' day dress or an outfit for their honeymoon.

The V&A collection comprises a range of accessories, prints and garments inspired by the contents of the Horrockses archive. Would make very pretty presents for Summer birthdays!

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Daisy Daisy

My best friend sent me an email to tell me about this jewellery designer as she was convinced I'd love it as much as she does...and I do. Daisy Knights delicate and detailed necklaces, bracelets and rings are feminine but with an edge that keeps them far from sweet.

Central St Martins graduate Daisy was already supplying Paul and Joe with her designs before she graduated, making jewellery by night in her bedroom. Now she continues to work alongside her team in her Cotswold studio to make every piece by hand. She is inspired by the beauty found in nature in the British countryside, the Isle of Wight coastline and by her friends and family, naming each range after its muse. I love this 'gem heart necklace' available in silver, blackened silver and gold with a choice of gem's my birthday soon, hint hint boyfriend!

Same with these....

These Michelle rings are stunning, and were my friend's favourite too. They are stackable and available in a variety of colours. If I started now I could have ten before I'm 30, that's Christmases and birthdays covered until then. Easy.

The talented young designer won the Bright Young Gem award in 2010 issued by International Jewellery London and has just designed a collection for Astley Clarke under their mentoring programme. Inspired by the seaside, the chunky silver collection is really wearable; "think white blouse, silver shell cuff and designer earrings on a beach in the South of France” says Bec Astley Clarke of the collection. You can keep up to date with Daisy's lovely designs through her blog.