bare all

December 15, 2022

“I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape — the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it; the whole story doesn’t show,” wrote painter, Andrew Wyeth. Timed perfectly with this most wintery day, I came across Roy Wright’s charcoal drawings of bare trees today, reminding me how beautiful a tree can be in winter. There’s so much exquisite detail to his drawings. Have a look if you have a moment today, preferably while sipping tea under a wool blanket.

listen

December 15, 2022

It’s a deliberate choice not to listen to anything as I walk. No Adele, no Ki and Dee, not my Mum. Nothing. No one. Instead, I listen to my thoughts like a descant over honking horns and tweeting birds. Yesterday, I heard Arabic, as beautiful as any Adele song, and today opera, performed on foot by a guy on Harbord. Would I have noticed either had my ears been devoted to the sound of Tom Rosenthal’s happy melancholy? When I was a runner, I always listened to music. Tina Turner. Celine Dion. Cher. Name a power ballad, and I had it on my playlist. These days, I’m moving much slower, and my music reflects my pace. But sometimes, like now, silence is golden. Because it’s in silence that my mind gets to duet with the city.

Stu Stu Studio

December 14, 2022

Any time someone invites me to see their studio I jump at the chance. I love to see people’s creative spaces; the way they work, their process, the behind the scenes. It always feels like such a privilege to be invited in, like someone’s sharing a part of themselves that few people get to see. Earlier this year, I spent a morning in Amy Rogers‘ sun-filled studio near the AGO. I left feeling energized. Her creative space –– ribbon, feathers and fabric galore –– is as colourful and exuberant as her ceramic jewellery. In the summer, I popped into photographer and ceramicist, Katherine Holland‘s studio and felt the best kind of envy –– the admiring kind –– for the serene space she’s created for herself. It is so well organized, with equal respect extended to both her disciplines. And this morning, after a chance meeting at our local convenience shop, I spent an hour with painter, Victor Helfand in his eclectic Annex Victorian. The top floor is dedicated to his practice, and it’s a wonderful mess of acrylic paints, glue guns, tree bark and other found objects. Again, I left feeling inspired, and dreaming of the studio I’ll one day have. Everyone needs a room of one’s one, and while the most significant one is the one we create within ourselves, a studio with a window and space to make a mess is high on my wishlist.

light me up

December 12, 2022

Aussie designer, Jordan Fleming has created a series of floor lamps that meld function with flight of fancy. Constructed from metal, plaster and pigment, each one has its own zany personality. Collectively, they look like a chorus group for some brilliantly eccentric animated film. I imagine them launching into song when no one’s around. “I’m interested in exploring ways to remove the static element of an object, injecting life into it beyond a pretty facade,” says Fleming. They light up a room, with or without electricity. “I’m definitely much freer in my practice over the past few years, trying not to over edit the origins of the idea or fixate too much on the function of the object.”

porous

December 12, 2022

When I’m overwhelmed my brain feels like a waterlogged sponge. We all know what it’s like to wipe down a counter with a sponge that needs to be wrung out. It can’t absorb spills and water seeps everywhere. What’s good about sponges though is that they have an amazing ability to withstand compression and bending. We all have our own ways of “wringing out the sponge.” It’s rare to achieve that perfect state-of-mind where we’re strong and springy and confidently in control of what we do and don’t absorb. I’m learning to savour those moments, knowing that they are transient. Just as transient as the overwhelmed ones.

heart of mine

December 7, 2022

Surreal, magical, otherworldly, Azumi Sakata’s brooches are modern heirlooms, to be treasured alongside your grandmother’s wedding ring. Her moths, skulls and human hearts are all handmade in Japan using the finest gold threads, velvets and beads. “I think that in the past, many women had few creative outlets other than embroidery or cooking,” writes Sakata. “I think that the repetitive stitching motion of embroidery was therapeutic, and the choice of colours and techniques allowed them to express themselves. Like these women, I want to use embroidery to strengthen my own heart.”

all creatures great and small

December 6, 2022

As far as traditions go, chopping down a tree and planting it between the chesterfield and the tele for a month is pretty bizarre. But no one can dispute the delight a tree festooned with lights brings to a home and those who live in it. Last week, I walked to the corner to buy a few things and came home with a Christmas tree in one hand and eggs and a toothbrush in the other. It’s less than three feet tall, and with over a hundred baubles on it (plus lights, pompoms and silver streamers) it looks like an over-dressed shrub. It’s sitting on a pedestal in our living room like some relic from the past (or from another planet) and every time I look over at it, it brings me joy. I’ll admit a (rather large) slice of that joy comes from the fact that the tree was so easy to put up and decorate, and given all the sickness and stress lately, that’s something to tra la la about. No tears, no tangled lights. It was all done in less than an hour. The children are less enthralled with their eccentric little sapling. It’s ok. It’ll grow on them.

cooked cream

December 2, 2022

With two out of three children home all week with yet another virus, my brain is blancmange. Milk, rice flour, gelatin, corn starch, sugar, mix it all together, and yep, that’s my brain. As a child, I remember a very wobbly blancmange, pink as ballet slippers, arriving at the dinner table and doing my best to muster enthusiasm for it. I think that may have been the one and only time I have ever eaten blancmange. Creamy puddings aren’t my thing, and the thought of gelatin makes my tummy turn,. But if forced (like, with a machete) I may consider Panna Cotta. Everything sounds better in Italian. Even cooked cream.

story on a plate

December 1, 2022

“People say my work makes them smile and that’s good enough for me,” says Lancashire artist, Ben Fosker. His work is modern spin on the English slipware tradition, using a variety of techniques from sliptrail to sgraffito. His illustrations –– think fish with legs and bumble bees the size of trees –– reference a make-believe world that only a very vivid imagination could whip up. I love this big blue bird under a hot red sun. His plates are so full of brio and charm.

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.

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