Friday, 28 February 2014

good new music

Wild Beasts - Present Tense. Out now.

Matthew and the Atlas - Other Rivers. Out 14th April.

Owen Pallett - In Conflict. Out 13th May.

Lykke Li - I Never Learn. Out 5th May.


One of my Willow Crowns, ready to be popped in a box and posted today. I still have a couple of crowns available to buy from my online shop, and they can also be made to order. I have recently revamped my shop - for the moment I have only the crowns and my Tristan Leather Satchel Backpack from my graduate collection for sale, but once my new range of cushions is ready to launch, I will be selling these here too. As for the backpack, I sold the original right after my show at Saint Martins in 2012, but after receiving a few recent enquiries, it is now possible to have the backpack made to order too. It's a handsome item indeed - completely handmade in England from fine, durable bridle leather with aged brass hardware.

february in scotland

I spent last weekend in a very cold and windy Edinburgh with D. and his family. Mostly we just rested at home, tucked up with red wine, poodles and newspapers, but we blew away the cobwebs with the odd amble around the glorious New Town.

Saturday afternoon was spent at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, where we dropped into the wonderful and highly recommended JD Fergusson exhibition. Outside the gallery this gloomy illuminated work by Nathan Coley always brings a smile to my face. The words are taken from a seventeenth-century royal proclamation made in a French town believed to have been the frequent site of miracles.

After a late night train ride back to London on Sunday, I was up early on Monday in time for a quick but turbulent flight to Inverness. I was visiting the area for a work decoration project; this was the view from my bedroom window on Tuesday morning. Two trips to Scotland in five days: a treat.

Oh, and I couldn't resist posting this picture: beautiful and original William Morris wallpaper in the downstairs bathrooms of the house we're decorating. The real deal, and so, so lovely with the green paint and cream, brown and toffee coloured tiles.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

art on a thursday

The Boxer by FCB Cadell.

Francis Campbell Boileau Cadell was a Scottish Colourist painter, renowned for his depictions of the elegant New Town interiors of his native Edinburgh, where I spent this past weekend. The colours in this painting are absolutely sublime - the boxer's milky white skin, the bright red of the chair and the turquoise walls. I like his pink cheeks and rather melancholy expression too...

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

petersham nurseries

On Saturday D. and I went to Petersham Nurseries for lunch, along with our friends Edward and Charlotte. I'd wanted to visit the cafe at Petersham for some time and by very happy coincidence Charlotte emailed last week to let us know that she'd booked a table for us all. Petersham Nurseries, a garden centre, was carved out of the grounds of Petersham House in Richmond in the 1970s.

In 1997, Gael and Francesco Boglione moved into Petersham House with their family. Threatened by demolition and property developers, the Bagliones acquired the neighbouring Petersham Nurseries and began renovations. After extensive restoration works, the nurseries reopened in 2004 completely transformed. Skye Gyngell acted as head chef until 2012, when Australian chef Greg Malouf took over.

The restaurant, situated in a greenhouse, is ramshackle and wonderful. The floor is sandy, the furniture is mismatched and there are flowers, herbs and plants all over the place - draped over beams, flowing out of terracotta pots, crawling under the tables and chairs. It really did feel like entering a wild, peaceful, beautiful oasis. In reality the weather on Saturday was grim and awful. This fabulous display however screamed spring with bells on.

We began the meal with a glass of rhubarb prosecco. That colour! Too much!

I ate polenta and colourful leaves (a very beautiful plate of food indeed), lamb with I can't quite remember what and a warm chocolate and macadamia nut tart. It was all pretty good, but to be honest I think the setting, drinks and good company rather trumped the food itself... I'd like to visit Petersham again in the summertime - I'm sure lunch outside in the gardens, on a hot July day, would be just glorious.

Monday, 10 February 2014

this week's best house for sale

St Cadix, a Grade II listed Georgian country house, at the head of St Cyric's Creek, near Lostwithiel, Cornwall. For sale with Smiths Gore.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

art on a thursday

Green, Orange, Pink by John Hoyland.

John Hoyland (1934–2011) was a London-based British artist and one of the country's leading abstract painters. Pink and green: my favourite combination of colours.

i am listening to...

La Vérité, the brilliant and bouncy new single from Frànçois and the Atlas Mountains. I started listening to Frànçois a few years ago; my old college photography tutor Tom Cops (check out his website - he makes nice collages) is friends with him and if I remember correctly, this is how I first found about the band. Their new album, Piano Ombre (great name), will be released next month. Hurrah.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

a weekend in early february

Bright and early on Saturday morning, we paid a visit to Ben's shop (newly renamed Pentreath & Hall), where I picked up this charming print of the Houses of Parliament at their one-off crazy sale. In fact I'd had my eye on this since December. How I wish the Thames actually looked like that... Practically Caribbean!

After poached eggs and orange juice at The Delaunay (a favourite spot for breakfast with its remarkable David Collins designed room), we walked over to Lincoln's Inn Fields and dived into the Soane Museum for a quick browse. Always a treat. The rest of the day was spent at home with piles of newspapers, new flowers and many cups of coffee. I usually like to spend half of my weekend days hopping around the city and the rest of time at home, doing not very much at all.

I spent Sunday morning poring over my new book - an original copy of A Village in a Valley by Beverley Nichols from the 1930s, with illustrations by Rex Whistler. I've been reading quite a bit about Nichols recently (take a look here); he was definitely a character. Osbert Sitwell called him ‘the original Bright Young Thing’.

Later on we had lunch (steak frites and red wine) at Hardy's Brasserie on a quiet street in Marylebone - the perfect French bistro of the sort one always hopes to stumble upon in Paris but never actually does...

After lunch we strolled around to the Wallace Collection - one of my top London galleries. French Rococo madness. The fabulous title of this painting caught my eye.


It is time to celebrate Imbolc, the Gaelic festival which marks the beginning of spring. Traditionally associated with the onset of the lambing season, this holiday is a festival of the hearth and home, and a celebration of the lengthening days and the early signs of spring. A time for new life.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

max rollitt

We've been thinking a lot about our home recently, and what we might like to do with it, decoration-wise, in the future. We're on the lookout for antique armchairs to reupholster, little tables on which to place lamps, drawings, prints and mirrors for the walls. We're not at all in a hurry, but we're certainly enjoying pondering fabrics, colours and furniture. For inspiration, I've been studying Max Rollitt's work. Max is an antiques dealer, furniture restorer, bespoke designer and interior decorator, working out of his showroom in the small market town of Alresford in Hampshire (which is not too far from where my parents live). I love the way Max places well-chosen antiques (his favourite period is 1700 to 1850) alongside his own designed bespoke furniture, which he often upholsters in bright jewel coloured fabrics and finishes exquisitely with contrast trimmings and painted woodwork.

Inside one of Max's interior decoration projects: a bedroom in a Cornish cottage.

Another bedroom, this time at no.1 Fournier Street in London's Spitalfields.

A room for dining at no.1 Fournier Street.

I love Max's fantastic use of colour, and his mixing of the sensible with the jolly.

I lust after this beautiful Regency Sofa in beautiful deep teal velvet, from a design dating 1815. The orange piping is a touch of genius.

Max's Corner Chairs. I love the contrast of the fabric with the pale blue legs.

The very beautiful Katzic Sofa, which is based on an 18th century original Max bought from a Lancashire Manor House. Ben has one of these in his Drawing Room at the Old Parsonage, and it features on the front cover of his book.