Saturday, 12 October 2013

Wonderful Jan Svankmajer exhibition

Tower of armadillos.

Last night I attended the opening of the Jan Svankmajer exhibition at the University of Brighton Gallery. 

When I was an undergraduate, Svankmajer's surreal, stop-motion animated films were a big influence on my fellow students, along with the macabre folk art/surrealism of Struwwelpeter, but I had never seen Svankmajer's assemblages (mostly models for the films) or his beautiful etchings before. This exhibition really blew me away, there was far too much to take in one one visit so I will certainly be going back.

Wooden boy.

I have become increasingly interested in  the idea of Surrealism beyond Dalí in recent years – in particular thorough reading biographies of Lee Miller and Jean Cocteau and visiting Edward James' collection of Surrealist art at Pallant House, Chichester – as well as Svankmajer's own inspiration, the Cabinet of Curiosities of Rudolf II, so this was well-timed for me and full of inspiration. 

Feathered suit.
My phone photographs really don't do the exhibits justice, seen in the evening light, after coming in from the deluge, they were magical, inventive and a more than a little bit disturbing.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

New prints ahoy!

I may have been quiet but I have not been idle. Tomorrow, I will be finishing off some Push Me Pull You prints and bringing home some reprints of my new Pageboy prints! 

Push Me Pull You.

The technicalities of printing on a wallpaper which was designed to be wiped clean means that it has to be printed in a particular way and drying time is very long.

With the deadline for Christmas Open Houses looming, I have more prints up my sleeve (well not literally up my sleeve, nor in an actual pipeline, but you know what I mean) so expect more to come during October and November.

The Age of Aquarius.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Vintage specs

Great selection of vintage specs at the flea market this morning! I almost bought yet another pair, but stepped away...


Saturday, 21 September 2013

Satisfied customer

A happy customer emailed me a photo of my 'Fast & Louche' print in situ in his house. Shame the photo doesn't show any of the actual house for context but, all the same, I'm glad he's pleased.

'Fast & Louche' finds a new home.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Reclaim the Forgotten

Reclaim the Forgotten
Cherish the Neglected
Treasure the Abandoned
Encourage the Overlooked
Adore the Unfashionable
Re-invent the Unwanted
Champion the Unloved
Value the Rejected

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Sunday, Sunday…

Beat the weather to the market and then the vintage fair today.

The fleamarket yielded six (yes, six) DVDs to keep the kids happy and 'Jimmy Smith Plays the Standards' on vinyl. Time was, it would have bothered me that "DALE" has written his name in biro across the album sleeve.)

1950s print cotton dress and Jimmy Smith Plays the Standards LP on vinyl.

Wallpaper sample book.

I wonder what Dale's up to now...

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Yours, Astonished of St Leonards on Sea

We took the train along the coast to St Leonards on Sea today for a long-overdue visit to my old friend Erica. 

We did the usual mooching about, stopping to be introduced to friends of hers in the street, drinking coffee etc. Then, as we headed towards the sea, she stopped, waved though a window and rang at the doorbell of an unassuming building. We were let inside on condition that the kids were "kept under control" and wow! The place was FULL of fairground illuminations. 

The owner wanted us to see the workshop where they rewired the lights, but I was more interested in the engraved glass "Gramophone Room" doors on the way in.

I wish I had not obeyed the signs saying not to take any photos – these are all from the site of their – lovely, but less jaw-dropping – shop on Norman Road,

I now covet metre-high illuminated letters shouting "HELLO" over my front door. And a very big electricity bill to match.

More info on the quirky shops and cafés of the area can be found at

Thursday, 12 September 2013

New prints!

I managed to squeeze in a new two-colour print on wallpaper this morning. Vintage wallpaper is getting hard to come by and can be very expensive, but I picked up some good stuff over the summer and have a few new designs ready to get onto screens.
This is the print I did today (without the lettering).
I used the artwork a couple of months ago for this advert for my prints on Etsy.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Out of sight, out of mind

Girl's dress, to fit age 9 years.
It's taken me weeks to get to this point, but I'm in the thick of sorting and selling the contents of the third archive box from my friend's mother, a lifelong hoarder. Box 3 is full of clothes, dating from the 1950s to the 1970s, cut out and ready to sew. 

There are dresses to fit a girl of 7-9 years (these photos show two I sewed up earlier this week) and my friend is nearly 50 now!

Girl's tunic, to fit age 7 years.

There was a fabulous full-skirted '50s dress which went to a very good home yesterday. Having been stored away from the light all these years, the fabric was still crisp and bright – quite odd when you're used to soft and faded vintage clothes... It seems sad that so many projects were left unfinished. At least if they finally get out into the world, her time wasn't wasted after all. 

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

It's getting there...

...slowly, but it is getting there. For the second summer, I have been working on the broken crockery mosaic in my garden. (Yes, we do break a lot of crockery; quite embarrassing really.)

Last year, central section started.

Anyway, the reason it's taking so long is the weather. I am tiling straight onto the unsightly, discoloured concrete breeze blocks that make up the raised beds, so I can only work in three day spells of dry weather – one dry day before and after I do the tiling and then I have to leave it until the following day until I can grout it.

This year I had to spend at least a day repairing weather damage to parts of last year's work. Hopefully, if it's all grouted this year, the frost won't get behind the tiles and that won't happen again.

This year, central section extended at both sides, ready for grouting.

I have done the end section, now I have the sides to finish, which are not as clearly visible due to the planting. One more final push and it will be done.

Then what will I do with all the cups we break?

Monday, 9 September 2013

A surreal afternoon at Paradise Park

I am no stranger to the peculiar charms of the UK's tourist attractions, but my first visit to the woefully misnamed Paradise Park yesterday really blew my mind!

Picture an industrial estate in Denton, Newhaven – a downbeat area of a run-down industrial port on the south coast. A large garden centre lies low behind a mega Sainsburys, an electricity pylon towers overhead. Inside, choose left for the garden centre or turn right ring a bell to access Paradise Park.

A door into a dark corridor is opened for you, leading into very detailed exhibits of fossils, rocks and crystals, mostly hand-lettered looking like they may have been traced from the Letraset book. The info on fossil discoveries in Sussex and the Weald leads onto anamatronic dinosaurs (one of which my small son is so scared of he won't even walk past it). All of a sudden – what's this – a Pharoah's tomb? Then – just as abruptly – back to the evolution of man, an explanation of creationism, more rocks, more anamatronic dinosaurs. 

Then outside a big cactus garden, a pond full of the most beautiful carp, scale models of Sussex landmarks and a train ride past a sculpture of Diana The Huntress inexplicably placed next to a scarecrow and a flat cut-out of a dog.

I had to go for a cup of tea after all that – only because they didn't have anything stronger.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

New print in progress

I've long hand a "thing" about big hair and have often produced pictures on this theme – sometimes hair morphs into towering shapes, maybe a Carmen Miranda fruit baskets or even a Christmas tree!

I have now started working on an idea for "Birds' Nest Hair". I have plans to bring together a Beardsley influence, Grecian vases and Olaf Hajek– I just have to work out how to squeeze wallpaper into there...

Saturday, 9 March 2013

The Browless Student

Wow! What a treasure today has brought me. 

I found a fabulous pair of vintage tortoiseshell specs in one of my regular haunts (it pays to look in ALL those cabinets). One the inside of one arms they are labelled "Welby's AL Browless Student."

 Of COURSE I'm going to wear them, how could you even ask?!

Before I send them off to have prescription lenses put in them, I contacted Dead Men's Spex to ask their help in dating the frames and the very helpful Darren replied with the following:

"A nice pair of reading frames.
I would say they date to the mid 1960's - early 1970's.
They are made of cellulose acetate.
It is a supra frame - the top is held in by a nylon cord in a groove in the lens - and this didn't come into manufacture until 1955 at the earliest.
Probably a European manufacturer as supra frames were not popular in the USA.
The joints are pinned not heat inserted and are multi barreled making them not later than the early 1970's.
The "AL" is the colour Autumn Leaf
Seeing the way the name is hand written in white on it I would suggest that it was probably a salesman's sample from a local prescription house, I have seen frames from sales boxes marked this way before (maybe based at Welby just outside Grantham or the proprietors were called Welby - there is no reference that I know of to a manufacturer of frames called Welby)."

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Spot the theme!

Following on from last Saturday's post, you know that saying that we all keep on buying things we already have in our wardrobes? Err, well...

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Almost there!

Second coat of Liquid Gold. Foam block, calico seat cover and seat fabric in place.

Just the back and underside to do and there will be no more photos of chairs, I promise. (Until I find my next 'project' in the street!)

Blue chair then and now.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

How many?

Pause the story of the chair restoration to consider just how many pairs of vintage snake-effect shoes a person needs.

Well three and counting is fair enough, I'd say.