play house

October 7, 2020

‘Take your pleasure seriously,” said Charles Eames. Choose work that fulfills you, and make room for people and pastimes that do the same. Charles, and his wife, Ray resolved to only take on projects that were of interest to them, and once committed to the project, give it their very best. Pleasure remained a priority all their lives, from the chairs they designed, to the picnics they prepared for gathering friends. To this trailblazing couple, seeking pleasure wasn’t a luxury, but a necessary pursuit, a process, and a way of being. Eames once said, “we worked very hard at that—enjoying ourselves. We didn’t let anything interfere with what we were doing—our hard work. That in itself was a great pleasure.”

red

October 6, 2020

I’ve always wanted red hair. Both my paternal grandparents were red heads, so I was in with a running chance. Sadly, I got brown hair, but I also got olive skin which they didn’t have, so I suppose there’s something for everyone. I’ve dyed my hair twice in my life, and both attempts were at a rich, pre-Raphaelite red. In the first instance, the result was more of a tango orange, and the second, Christmas Eve, 1994, was a Gothic plum. Barring some golden highlights in the late 90s, I’ve since accepted by natural brown (with lightening bolts of grey) locks. I do still double take every time I see a red head though. They are beautifully rare, after all.

creativity abounds

October 5, 2020

Frances Palmer is a bee keeper and a potter. She grows giant dahlias (some 140 varieties) in her beautiful Connecticut garden, and is a passionate photographer and cook. She studied Art History at Columbia and cut her teeth at print making and knitting before getting into clay. I read an inspiring profile on Palmer in House & Garden today –– her creativity, approach to clay, and life. Of clay she says, “you have to be completely calm. I meet the material part-way. It’s the same with the flowers and bees.” And of her ability to move from one creative endeavour to another, she says, “I’ve trained myself to do many different things in small segments over the course of the day…..Yesterday I began by making a butternut squash cake for our meeting, then I worked on my kintsugi.” It’s always exciting to meet a person so abundantly creative and whose aesthetic is so confident that it manifests in every single thing they create. Have a gander around her home; it really is a labour of love.

kenzo

October 5, 2020

My Mum wore Kenzo in the 90s. She owned a lot of the brand’s signature prints, and she wasn’t afraid of combing them. I was sad to hear of the passing of Kenzo Takada. His designs were exuberant, playful and irreverent. As journalist, Suzy Menkes said yesterday, “he wanted to make happy clothes.” If you have a minute today, please watch this beautiful portrait of Kenzo’s hands created by Buenos Aires-based filmmaking collective, 1985. “The hand is where the mind meets the world. The way we use it shows what kind of a person you are.”

creature comforts

October 1, 2020

“A lot of people are intimidated by a blank canvas, but I love it,” says artist, Kindah Khalidy who’s juicy coloured canvases caught my eye a few years ago. “There’s just a million possibilities of what you can do.” We own a tiny Khalidy –– weird blobs and scribbles in blue, red, yellow and neon pink –– that moves from room to room. “I like to leave it open for interpretation and see what people see in the at work. I think it’s more fun that way.” I see a hat, a cloud, a whale, a boob and a mountain in our painting, but beyond the shapes, it’s Khadily’s playful, childlike embrace of colour that I love. Have a look at her website; her tea towels, masks and tote bags are hard not to love.

niche

September 30, 2020

“You have to find your niche,” says Denzil Forrester in a short film produced by the Tate. London’s 1980s reggae club scene is the Grenada-born painter’s niche. When his friend, Winston Rose, died in a police van in 1981, he felt propelled to paint the scene. “I started making paintings about him –– I didn’t plan to, but I painted his burial. I was doing a nightclub painting and took out the DJ and put a coffin in instead.” Forrester portrays the joy and energy of reggae –– crowds of bodies gyrating under a technicolour strobe light –– as well as racism and police brutality. “Forrester’s celebration of the vibrancy of Caribbean culture is inseparable from the struggles of assimilation and institutional racism,” writes Osei Bonsu in Frieze. Forrester recently left London –– the backdrop of 40-years of work –– to settle in seaside Cornwall. It was there, that like dub musicians who do different versions of the same records, that he decided to re-imagine previous paintings. “I was looking at the background of Three Wicked Men and decided to change the figures’ surroundings. Porthtowan is a lovely beach in Cornwall, but 90 percent of visitors are white. For From Trench Town to Porthtowan2017 (below) I thought I’d superimpose Three Wicked Men onto that beach and bring the people of London to Cornwall.”

Holiday

September 29, 2020

It’s hard to imagine that this photograph of model, Vittoria Ceretti wasn’t shot in the 70s. The faded Capri posters, headscarf, clogs, raffia bag and overall tint, make it feel decidedly 1973. It was actually shot recently, and featured in the SS20 issue of Holiday by Quentin de Briey. It’s pure Mediterranean summer to me, and reminds me of many a port side cafe I’ve sat in, while waiting for my boat to arrive.

in between

September 28, 2020

Late September days with soft winds that lift orange leaves off warm pavements are a gift. They are summer’s last sigh; a big release of things clogged up by heat waves and relentless pandemics. I walked through my neighbourhood today, mostly green spaces where trees grow, and I saw a monk in saffron robes posing for a photograph and teenagers bouncing on foldable trampolines. There were families eating sandwiches, and exercise groups doing press ups and burpees. I noticed a lot of people reading, and just as many doing nothing. I love how the city has been everybody’s playground this summer, inviting us all outside to walk or talk or read or pray. I worry about what we’ll do in frigid temperatures when trees are bare and the grass is buried under snow. Here’s hoping we dress warmly and head out to play in it.

high and dry

September 25, 2020

My image of dried flowers is largely shaped by memories of hanging red roses from their thorny stems (a shrine to old boyfriends) and filling porcelain bowls with heady potpourri. But in the last few years, dried flowers have experienced a re-birth, surfacing as a chic, ethereal addition or alternative to fresh cut flowers. I have a Lunaria branch (delicate petals of mother of pearl) that adds a beautiful shimmer to my arrangements. And last winter, I collected several seed heads that I’ve scattered into bowls and baskets around the house. I’m seeing lots of pampas grass and stems of canary grass in arrangements today, and I love the look and texture of dried poppy pods. Have a look at this series of photographs shot by creative studio, Akatre. Some are dried, while others are in their final stages of life; each one is breathtaking.

all together now

September 24, 2020

It’s a human instinct to seek out experiences that tend to our need for solitude while embracing our pack animal urges. Activities that are both solitary and communal are of great appeal to me. Matinee movies are one of my greatest indulgences. It’s also why I love lane swimming. It’s communal, in that we’re sharing the same pool, but under water, you hear nothing but your own breath. My pottery studio is not so dissimilar. I’m aware of the people around me –– the sound of wheels turning, tools scraping, brushes mixing –– but I am also able to find great focus. Long car journeys where no one feels the need to talk, speak to the level of closeness and comfort of the people travelling in the vehicle. Same goes for train rides. And flights. Communal worship –– churches, synagogues, mosques –– brings people together and provides moments for private repose and reflection. I don’t often go to church, but when I do, it is this aspect of the experience that I most embrace. In these times of social distancing, many such opportunities –– communal swims and communal prayer –– have been limited, and that’s hard for people. I wonder how long it will be before two strangers sit side by side at the cinema sharing in the experience of being alone.

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