flower fairies

November 30, 2022

Samantha Kerdine’s ceramics fill me with delight. I’m as excited about these candlesticks as my eight-year-old is about her new fairy lights. Childlike glee. I think you’ve got to be pretty connected with your inner kid to make work as playful and free as this. I love Kerdine’s wonky vases, and her plates are charming, too. Her illustrations remind me of Luma’s, which is the ultimate compliment.

at my table

November 24, 2022

It’s in the mundanity of the everyday that artist, Jane Dunn Borresen finds beauty. Her still lives –- the morning papers, buttered toast and a half drunk cup of tea –– are a celebration of little things that bring big pleasure. Set against a backdrop of richly patterned textiles, her paintings capture the beautiful, topsy-turvyness of life. There is a childlike sincerity to her style that I find fresh and appealing.

great wall of china

November 23, 2022

Molly Hatch creates stunning installations of handmade plates adorned with designs that reference periods and paintings from the history of art. From 15th century Dutch still life paintings to the lithographs of William Saville-Kent, Hatch looks to fine art and textiles and ceramics for inspiration. Her progress series, made during the Covid 19 Pandemic, is inspired by 18th Century Indian weaving while her beautiful mille fleur series pays homage to a series of tapestries made in the South Netherlands in the early 15th Century. The plates are illustrated with the whole piece in mind, and yet each one stands alone.

in the mood

November 22, 2022

Shelagh Wilson’s paintings are so richly atmospheric. She captures a mood. “My paintings and drawings are primarily an emotional response to a subject rather than what I see,” says the Brighton based artist. “When I work, I become absorbed in memories –– of colours, of pale suns, snow, mist and soft rain, plants, trees, bogs, birds, fields full of wildlife –– all things sown deep in my sub-conscious from my Irish childhood.” Her landscape series is so intensely saturated with colour and emotion that one might actually feel that they’re seeing through Wilson’s mind’s eye. Tobacco leaves, bruised skies and migrating birds over frigid waters.

november

November 16, 2022

November snowfalls are like April ones in that they come every year and yet we’re always surprised to see them. This one was particularly unexpected. And a little jarring, to be honest. It wasn’t so much a practical unpreparedness –– my family is always buying winter boots in a snow storm –– but an emotional one. As I trudged through the slushy sidewalks of Kensington Market this morning, I felt like I’d time traveled through Autumn, past the festive season and the New Year, and landed bang on some ordinary weekday in February. My whole journey from home to market and back felt so viscerally mid-winter that if not for the sight of bright pink roses peeking through the snow in a neighbour’s garden, I may well have believed that it was. Thank heavens for pops of pink! Thank heavens for the last remaining autumnal leaves, tiny crimson catchalls for the snow. All signs that it is indeed mid-November. A month to expect the unexpected. Like wierd weather and time travel. Or is that just life?

ambivalence

November 15, 2022

Ambivalent is such a good word, one that I use a lot. I didn’t used to, in fact, I’m not sure I even knew the proper meaning of the word until a few years ago when an acquaintance used it to describe me. Given that I was eight months pregnant with my third child a state of conflicting emotions now seems apt. But in the moment, her passing comment, thrown into our sidewalk conversation like parsley on a salad, felt like a punch to the stomach. We were chit chatting about whatever women with children in the same playgroup chit chat about when she just came out and said it; “you seem ambivalent about this baby.” Immediately, I launched into a monologue about the joys of motherhood and how excited I was to welcome another child. Was my inner conflict so transparent that a virtual stranger could see it? I felt exposed. Vulnerable. Ashamed. And then angry with her for stirring feelings in me that I’d tried so desperately to keep static. It took days to reconcile all the many emotions unleashed in that one tiny encounter. Years later, equipped with a clarity that only hindsight gives us, I wish I’d been able to say, “yes, I am ambivalent,” followed by a cordial, “bugger off.” I wish I could have understood that her comment was as much a reflection of her inner workings as it was mine. And I wish I had known that the ambivalence I was feeling, as natural as it was, would soon be replaced with a certainty of heart so fierce that it’s hard to imagine having felt any other way. Today, I see ambivalence to difficult situations as a gift because it means that I’m allowing myself a fuller human experience. It’s funny how a fleeting encounter can tap into something quite profound, and sometimes even, induce a change within us.

ephemeral

November 8, 2022

It was “Sandcastle” that first drew me to Wolfgang Tillmans. It wasn’t so much the image but what the image represented that resonated with me. We know that by break of day the tide will have washed it away, and yet we still build it. It’s the possibility that this one might survive and the knowledge that we can re-build if it doesn’t that spurs us forward. And of course, there’s the sheer joy of turning sand into turrets. Sandcastles are the best of human spirit. Hope. Resilience. Love. Creativity. A reminder that nothing is permanent. Tillmans is such a prolific and influential photographer, but for me, it’s about this one photograph.

making strange

November 3, 2022

“I’m not strange, weird, off, nor crazy, my reality is just different from yours.” ― Lewis Carroll.

in leaf

November 2, 2022

Given the fragility of leaves, I find it amazing that artist, Susanna Bauer is able to work with them the way she does. “It took me a long time to get to know the limits of the materials I work with,” she says of her intricately crocheted leaves. Her designs are as detailed as the tiny veins that run through each leaf. “There is a fine balance in my work between fragility and strength; literally, when it comes to pulling a fine thread through a brittle leaf or thin dry piece of wood, but also in a wider context –– the tenderness and tension in human connections, the transient yet enduring beauty of nature that can be found in the smallest detail, vulnerability and resilience that could be transferred to nature as a whole or the stories of individual beings.” They’re so beautiful, and no doubt deeply meditative to create. I can’t imagine the focus, precision and calm Bauer brings to each leaf. Or is it the other way around?

cemetery walk

October 29, 2022

I don’t often walk through Mount Pleasant cemetery, once every few years, but whenever I do, I’m reminded what a beautiful pocket of the city it is. Today was particularly lovely, with leaves all shades of dried fruit, and an early morning light that made everything feel so hopeful and alive. I’m always curious to see how a family chooses to immortalize a loved one, and most specifically, the words they select to do so. How to distill a life into a poem, quotation or phrase. You can tell the Jewish graves by the stones placed upon them. I happened upon one today with more than thirty stones of different shapes, sizes and colours. As much as I adore flowers, roses wither and dry up, stones are permanent. If there wasn’t such a chill in the air, I might have spent more time reading through the many, many inscriptions. There’s always next time.

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