Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Kai Samuels-Davies

We have just hung two tiny oils by Kai Samuels-Davies in our little dining room. We first saw them on the Cold Store stand at Tent, and were both really taken with the sensitivity and quality of the marks.

"His portraits focus on moments of solitude and self-reflection. Cinematic themes often arise in his paintings giving them a sense of being fragments of a larger framework of thoughts." - the Cold Store

Kai is originally from New York, and now lives in Bodega Bay on the West Coast. His website has beautiful images of recent work, and also some very inspiring photos of his studio and environment - it seems a very long way away from East London!

The painting above is called 'Of the Unconscious'. I really like the dreamy far-away feel...

...although it was actually the little milk glass which first caught our eye - it's so perfect - like a tiny detail from a Dutch still life. 

'So Long As Nothing Happens (i)'

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Pont 13

This is my new favourite space - a 1920's ferry, which has been beautifully restored and converted into a wonderful restaurant, out on the docks in Amsterdam.


The feel is still very industrial, with lots of the fittings left intact. The light quality is wonderful - big wintery skies and views out onto the water. And there is a delicious lingering smell of woodsmoke from the huge stove.

The feel all around is of real working docks - no fancy marinas or designer houseboats here. A really inspiring place.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Constructivist Architecture

We went to the Russian Constructivist Architecture exhibition at the Royal Academy the other day - 

Building the Revolution: Soviet Art and Architecture 1915-1935

There were all sorts of extraordinary buildings beautifully photographed by Richard Pare in their various states of crumbling delapidation. The sense of a new architecture for a new order must have been incredibly compelling and exciting for the architects who designed and the people who inhabited the buildings.

For me though, the most magical and ethereal images were of Schukov's towers. This is his radio tower in Moscow, built in 1920-22. It is so extraordinarily delicate and ghostly.

And these twin sentinals (sadly no longer standing) are electricity pylons, overlooking the Oka River, built between 1927 and 1929. They feel almost visionary in their grace and scale.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Kneading Bread

One of my favourite picture books is 'In the Night Kitchen' by Mauruce Sendak. I loved the night city-scape made up of kitchen implements, and was deliciously scared of the gruff bakers.

The other day Borja Garmendia from Pensando en blanco sent me a link to their lovely film about weaving and flour sacks. The baker in the film really reminds me of Sendak's bakers.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011


The lovely folk at Inventory Magazine in Vancouver have given me a nice little write up on their blog. It is a really interesting magazine - looking at the stories and processes behind the things that they like. When I'm next in Vancouver their shop is top of my 'to do' list.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Another thing of Beauty

I've been collection photos of concrete car park mouldings for a while now. They are such beautiful exercises in perfectly balanced functional and decorative design. This one is on the side of the Tesco's on Bethnal Green Road.

And this is on Redchurch Street, just by Shoreditch House, on a very quiet Sunday morning. 

Monday, 3 October 2011

A Thing of Beauty

It seems a bit bizarre in this amazing Indian summer weather we are having, but with the advent of October, we spent Sunday morning making a log pile up at my parents place on the Worcestershire/ Herefordshire boarders. There is something very pleasing about all the shapes and textures, and a very snug smug feeling about preparing for the winter. I remember a few years ago seeing a book of photographs of Austrian log piles. They were beautiful exercises in repeat pettern and construction - but had the whiff of tape measures and spirit levels - much too perfect to use. Ours is very amateur in comparison, but hugely satisfying none the less.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Diagonal Twills

Deptford, where my studio based, is an amazingly vibrant part of London, with new architectural landmarks jostling for space among the mission churches and charity shops. When I moved to the studio here about eight years ago, the Laban Dance Centre had just opened. Looking out onto the Creek, the steeply banked lawns are a favourite summer lunch spot where you can watch the dance students going through their paces while eating your sandwiches.

For the last few months on my cycle to the studio I have been watching another landmark building going up. It is a huge monolith, entirely clad in perforated brass sheeting. I'm not sure how I feel about it - it needs to bed in for a while, but there is something very appealing about the diagonals which step across the surface - like a giant twill weave. I took this photo on my phone a couple of months ago as they were adding the final panels.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Poster Boys

Yesterday Peter and I went to the McKnight Kauffer show at the Estorick Collection up in Cannonbury. Although I didn't know much about McKnight Kauffer, a lot of the pieces were very familiar. He was probably best known for his posters - for London Underground, Derry and Toms, and this - my favourite - for the Daily Herald. The poster is huge - well over 6 feet tall, and the composition is so strong. I love all that yellow, with the really graphic feeling of the movement in the birds. Perfect.

Upstairs in the permanent collection is a room full of etchings by Giorgio Morandi. Although I love Morandi's still life paintings I haven't seen the etchings before. They are so sensitive and beautifully observed. It is incredible how he conveys light and shadow with the weight and density of line - they feel very poetic. The Estorick is well worth a visit - it is a real treasure.

Friday, 16 September 2011

The Much Bigger Picture

A couple of beautiful public art murals...

Long long before I trained in weave, I did a History degree at the University of Birmingham. Last week I popped into my old faculty, where this beautiful Peter Lanyon mural is installed in the foyer. Lanyon was one of the second generation of the St Ives painters, and was a also a passionate glider pilot. Many of his landscapes incorporate abstracted arial views of the Cornish coast - I love the sense of place.

This is a new commission by Tod Hanson in the new overground station at Haggerston. It references the 17th century astronomer Edmond Halley who was a local resident, and explores his concept that the Earth was hollow and composed of a series of concentric rotating rings each with their own magnetic poles. I really like the graphic quality of the pattern.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

The Bigger Picture

Just the before we left for New York last month, a lovely man called Juriaan Booij spent an afternoon in my studio filming for the V&A / Crafts Council exhibition 'Power of Making'. The footage has been edited and spliced to show details of a number of different making processes. It's a fascinating study in the rhythms, textures and materials of making. I am really intrigued by the film made in Moorfield Hospital of the process of constructing glass eyes - truely extraordinary.


Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Mo(i)re for your money

I am fascinated by moire effects - whether they're unintended optical effects created by parallel grids or meshes, or beautifully considered like this piece in the Virgin book-in area at Heathrow airport. I love the way it moves as you walk past - turning like a propellor, and changing direction depending on your view-point.  

I had a great write up by Bill Hamilton in the Wall Street Journal last weekend -

 it made me feel very grand!

Friday, 26 August 2011

Things in the Maine

We are just back from a trip to the States where I was showing my new blanket collection at the New York Gift Fair. I was thrilled with how well the new work was recieved - lots of orders and lots of press interest. There seems to be a real appetite for and understanding of textiles in the US.

We took a little trip up to Maine after the show to see friends there. We stayed  with Mary at her lovely wooden shingled summer place. She has some beautiful old Maine hooked rugs which really caught my eye. They remind me of tole-work - the painted patterns you get on old narrow boats. A lovely folk feel.

I particularly like the way that this rug has streakes in the ground colour. I wonder whether the rags have faded differently over time, or whether it was hooked like this.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Text - ile

I have just finished stitching a word for the upcoming 'Power of Making' exhibition at the V&A. The show will include a series of words make in different materials and techniques by a whole host of different designers and makers. Mine is stitched in reflective yarn - like the material you see on bicycle gear. It catches the light at particular angles in a very pleasing way.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

What's cooking?

For the last few months, I have been doing lots of sampling in the studio, getting ready for winter 2011-12. 

Here are some of the designs on my loom. This is Scallop - an old favourite, now re-coloured in Lemon Drop. I love the fresh feel of the colours - like lemonade on a hot summer afternoon.

 And here is Westerly on the loom. I am very pleased with the sense of movement and balance in the design.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Barron and Larcher

I have long admired the block prints of Phyllis Barron and Dorothy Larcher. They ran a textile design and print studio from the 1920's through to the beginning of WW2. I really love the sense of movement and energy in their work - I think it still feels very fresh and contemporary today.

 Here they are on holiday in France. They really look the part in their sun hats.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Lovely Lisbon

We are just back from a week in Lisbon. I am afraid that I couldn't resist taking hundreds of pictures of the tiles. Here are just a few...

As well as a very blue car..

And a very red house...

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Mitwoch Markmaking

For a number of months now, a few of us here at the studio have been getting together once a week for a drawing evening. It's a chance to get together and get our hands dirty, without any particular outcomes in mind. Over the winter we've been holed up at the studios, doing lots of life drawing. But now, with the clocks changed, we're into our field season now - out drawing on the creek, the river, Observatory Hill...

In preparation last week we cut up all our odds and ends of paper to make sketchbooks. They're immensely satisfying, and indulge my stationary obsession. I particularly like the braille pages - torn out of a braille weekly sporting news!

Monday, 4 April 2011

Take off and landing

Hello and wecome to my blog. This is the first posting, of what I hope will grow into a scrapbook of flotsam and jetsom - things which catch my eye and make me ponder.

To start us off, here are some lovely terazzo waterbirds, which we spotted in the doorways to a block of flats in Amsterdam. The spareness and fluidity of the forms are perfect.