Thursday, 19 May 2016

Iris Hantverk

You may already know or even own one of more of Iris Hantverk's beautiful brushes - they are sold in discerning design and homeware stores throughout the world. 

The company was first set up in the late nineteenth century to provide employment for visually impaired craftsmen. To this day Iris Hantverk continues to work with highly skilled visually impaired craftsmen in Sweden and Estonia. 

The traditional techniques of hand-drawing and binding are still used today resulting in brushes that feel both beautiful and functional.

The brushes are made from a amazing array of materials including agave leaf fibre, sago palm leaf fibre and goat hair. There is lots of great information on Iris Hantverk's website about all the materials and their specific properties

We are very pleased that Iris Hantverk stock our blankets in their Stockholm flagship store - to us they feel like real kindred spirits. 

For more information about Iris Hantverk and their beautiful brushes have a look at their website.

The wonderful photos above are all by Anna Kern

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Assyrian Lion Hunt

We were in the British Museum the other day when I came across these extraordinary low-relief carvings from Nineveh.

Although I am familiar with the big gates from Nimrod in the museum these 'lion hunt' stone panels were a real revelation.

The carvings date from 645 - 635BC and lined a chamber in the North Palace at Nineveh.

The palace was built for King Ashurbanipal. Although a keen sportsman, rather than hunting lions in the wild, Ashurbanipal had them rounded up and brought to an arena where he could shoot them down one by one. The staged hunt must have been a real spectacle and testament to his power and authority.

What I find really extraordinary about the carvings is that while the people in the images remain very stylized - always shown in profile and with no expression on their faces, the dying lions are depicted with an intense realism and - to my eye at least - an empathy for their suffering. You can clearly see the pain in their snarled and furrowed muzzles. 

Perhaps there were strict rules and conventions about how humans could be depicted, whilst the sculptors were left to interpret the animals in a much freer way.

Whatever the truth, if you have a spare fifteen minutes in the British museum they are well worth a visit.