Pia Östlund & London Craft Week

Alice went to hear Printmaker Pia Östlund talk during London Craft Week.

London Craft Week ran from 9th-13th May this year, and there was a plethora of exhibitions, talks and activities taking place all over London. You could design your own loafers with TOD's, make a Turkish Iznik tile at the Yunus Emre Institute, watch a demonstration by the Little Globe Company (they make little globes), and even visit a Georgian-inspired kitchen designed by HOWE and Plain English. There was so much making taking place.A number of events caught my eye, and I was sad to miss out on glassmaker Jochen Holz talking at about his exhibition Superficies at Flow Gallery; and Michael Ruh talking about his collaboration 'Edition' with Another Country - take a look at their beautiful 'Cob Decanter' (I have a thing for hand-blown glass, it is just so incredible).Another event I was intrigued by was Dan Cox and The Room Service, in which he spoke about the ceramics he has made for his new restaurant Crocadon (they are super, Paul Mossman made the ceramics, and Dan Cox created the glaze).  And I am now just so so very excited about the launch of The Room Service - essentially an online platform which sells the beautiful items you often spot in hotels and restaurants - and having gone home and hunted high and low for on the inter web, can never ever find. The Room Service may well have them, go and have a look.One event I really wanted to go to, was a talk and demonstration by printmaker Pia Östlund, all about her journey into the lost art of nature printing. It took place on Friday evening, and I got rather a lot of friendly disbelief (you are going to a nature printing workshop and not straight to the pub with us?!).However I stood firm, and at 6.30pm last Friday, found myself on the top floor of Daylesford on the Pimlico Road, surrounded by a number of ladies of a certain age, who had all been enjoying a day out in London, and who happen to be incredibly keen on printing.And I am just so pleased that I went along.Pia, who is Swedish, was wonderful. She was so warm and friendly, and after everyone had finally got the correct cup of tea, gotten over the confusion of what exactly the talk was to be about (nature printing, not flower pressing) and taken a seat - she began.Pia is a printmaker and graphic designer, and has spent 3 years developing her own version of nature printing. She had discovered a book in the Chelsea Physic Garden library containing prints using a process she did not recognise. Delving deeper, she made her way back to the Victorian era and to Bradbury Wilkinson and Company who had used this specific method of printing (having acquired it from Vienna). At that date it had been used extensively for the printing of plants - the Victorians were super keen on their ferns. However, other than this history and the book she had, there was very little further information on the actual printing process itself.So Pia set out to try and recreate this process. She spent two years working with lead, with numerous visits to lead factories. She even went on a trip with The British Pteridological Society, to collect ferns to work with. Eventually finding lead just too soft a material, she ventured to Vienna, where, amazingly, someone dug up some uncategorised copper plates in the Botanic Library - which turned out to be the very ones used to make the prints in the book from the Chelsea Physic Garden. So she turned to copper, and after a period trying out all sorts of processes using metals, has since been producing incredibly beautiful prints of foliage and flora.I really enjoyed Pia's talk, and fear I haven't really done it justice (she has written a book with Simon Prett if you want more detailed info). It was amazing to hear her talk about her journey into re-discovering this lost art of nature printing, her love for her work, the ups and the downs, and her perseverance with it.After the talk, and another cup of tea, we all had a go at a earlier form of printing, recreating the finest details of leaves in oil paint. It was incredibly satisfying, and so easy to do, once you have the right materials.It was such a fun evening, and I am so happy to have spent my Friday learning all about nature printing.Thank you Pia!Alice xxx

Collect 2018, Luxury British Craft

Alice went to Collect, to see all things handmade and collectable at the Saatchi Gallery.

I had a lovely time at Collect again this year. Held at the Saatchi Gallery, and organised by the Crafts Council, it calls itself 'The International Art Fair for Contemporary Objects'. 40 galleries from 4 continents display the latest work by their 'makers'.  I really like this fair as there are all sorts of works, ranging from beautiful yet simple ceramics to entirely bizarre metalwork, handmade by contemporary makers.High end craft is quite a thing at the moment, we seem to be hankering after unique (often unattainably expensive) handmade works, in a rejection of the mass produced and machine-made, often cheaper stuff.There is also a very blurry line between what is 'craft' and what is 'art'. Some people define it by the materials used - textiles, ceramics and glass, versus pencil and paint; or the use of the object - craft often has a more practical use, art is to be displayed and admired. Possibly it is the way a maker or artist has learnt their skill, or maybe it is merely their intention when making a work, art is usually obliged to express something, craft is free of this prerequisite.But perhaps the rise of craft to a higher level - no longer is the skilled craftsman just replicating the templates of the designer, the craftsman is now also the designer - means that there does not need to be a distinction.Craft or art, or both, I very much like the objects on display at Collect. This year I went straight upstairs to see the exhibits in Collect Open, 'exploratory and risk' taking work by both established and emerging designers, chosen this year by Jay Osgerby, and was delighted with what I found.I will admit I was on a bit of a ceramics hunt, I have such a love for handmade ceramics, and this year I flitted through the rooms at a quicker pace, recognising some favourites from last year (ceramics by Valeria Nascimento and Domitilla Biondi's bas-reliefs carved into paper).However my absolute favourite display was Jilly Edwards' hand-woven tapestry. In a array of beautiful colours, she had chosen to display it on a plinth rather than the wall, to allow the viewer to engage with and explore the work further. Perhaps it was partly meeting Jilly that made this work even more special, but it really was captivating, I had to come back upstairs a second time to see it again.

Below I are my 5 top works by British makers at Collect, and I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

Alice xxx

Jilly Edwards

It was so lovely to meet Jilly, and speak with her about her work. The way she weaves the different colours to create a painterly effect is absolutely amazing, and I love the arrangement of this work, with bright reds and yellows placed next to creamy whites and strong blacks.  She draws and paints her designs first, and then hand-weaves them. She also keeps every thread she uses, with the off-cuts being turned into incredibly satisfying small scale square tapestries. I loved this piece so much, the detail and the colour combinations, and it made me think about weaving in a completely new light.

Amy Douglas' works are super fun. She produces and re-configures 19th Century Staffordshire ceramics under the name 'The Art of Salmagundi'. Salmagundi is an old French and middle English word relating to a 'hodgepodge' of things - a mixture or variety of ingredients. Each of the Staffordshire figures she works with has a unique break or loss in the body, and Amy restores them with a twist, often using old folk tales and modern mythologies as inspiration. I love this work, and I love it's Title possibly even more.

Sue Doggett

I love the beautiful colours of this book cover. In Henry Holland's original drawings for the 'Hunting of the Snark', the ocean chart used by the 'sailors' was famously blank. Inspired by this, Sue Doggett has represented each of these 10 'sailors' by a directionless compass. The book is leather bound, using a three part construction. Natural goatskin has been dyed and painted with acrylic, and the boards and spine have been machine embroidered.  The paper doublures are hand-painted, and the end-papers are both painted and machine embroidered.

Lucie Rie

This tea set by Lucy Rie is part of the 'Masters of British Studio Pottery' display - co-created with the Fitzwilliam Museum - the aim of which is to recognise and celebrate the rise of collectable modern and contemporary ceramics.  I absolutely love Lucie Rie's work, she was primarily concerned with producing practical and functional wares, and her works feature 's'graffito' - inlaid lines - and thick textures applied with a course brush, coating very delicate pieces. This tea set is wonderful with it's washed finish in a white glaze and l love the curved shape to each piece and darker coloured edges. So beautiful!

Anna Barlow

I love this so much, a stack of incredibly real looking sweet treats made from earthenware and porcelain - the detail is amazing.  Anna Barlow combines different materials and techniques to create 'visual edibility' - capturing the way certain foods melt and ooze - with high-fired porcelain for the wafers and ice cream cones;  and opaque earthenware glaze for dripping ice cream.

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Designers to Watch, London Fashion Week 2018

London Fashion Week has started today, and I am always so excited to see the marvellous creations sauntering down the catwalk each season.  Below I have chosen my favourite looks from SS18 – some are big names, others just starting out, and all of them are featuring in London over the next couple of days.  I am always drawn to bright colours, clean cut patterns and clothes I might actually wear - I can rarely get on board with creations that are just so obviously never meant to be worn by anyone.I am particularly excited for the shows of Tata Naka - last season they created snappy dresses in bold prints; Emilio De La Morena - last season his collection was just SO fun, bright colours with a Clueless touch; Merchant Archive with their incredible gowns; Harman Grubisa for their colour clashing contrasts, Baia bags as they are just so beautiful (purple suede, yes please), Sevda’s butterfly print  leather backpacks, Lui Mei and their wonderful pastel outfits and of course Jamie Wei Huang’s colour popping pompom accessories :-D. And I haven’t included some of my favourites, Rejina Pyo, Sophia Webster, Fyodor Golan and Peter Pilotto but can’t wait to see what they have in store this season.Below are some outfits which I think are fun, and wearable, and a few that have been styled so well that even if you wouldn’t wear them every day, they are super outfit inspirations 😊.

Alice xxx

British Brands We're Loving Right Now

Alice takes a look at some British brands, and recommends her favourite pieces.

Blessed London

I love everything by Blessed London, jewellery in bright colours and fun designs, all hand made in London. 10% of every online sale goes to Caudwell Children, a UK charity that provides family support services, equipment and therapies for disabled children.  I love these Queen Bee Tassel Earrings, they are really light making them easy to wear all evening.

Octo Chocolate

I was very kindly given a box of these Craft Raw Coconut Chocolate Covered Hazelnuts recently, and have to admit the idea didn't hugely appeal. However when the cupboard was bare of all types of unhealthy chocolate, my eyes turned to these (a chocolate fix is a chocolate fix, after all), and I have to say I was more than pleasantly surprised, they are quite delicious. So much so, that I can't wait to get my hands on another box. It turns out 'healthy' chocolate can taste good too - YES Octo Chocolate.

William Waterhouse

I am still totally in love with William Waterhouse's mobiles, he now makes a range of combinations, and I have this one very happily hanging from my (just about still living) palm plant.  They are rather magical, although Max assures me he could knock one up in about 10 minutes, I have yet to witness this. So for now, I may be buying another one to add to my collection... and do also have a look at Louisa Loakes' super designs once you've finished perusing mobiles.

Sarah Fennell

I really like Sarah Fennell's designs, beautiful bold brushstrokes of colours, I particularly like her lampshades, perfect for brightening up a room. Each lampshade is first stencilled and then screen printed onto linen using water based inks, and each one is completely unique.  So happy making, I really like this Melba Lampshade, her cushions are fun too.

Milk Tops

Now this isn't something I am currently needing (no babies on the way), but lots of my friends are producing offspring at a rapid rate and Milk Tops does exactly what it says kind of... Essentially they make nice clothes, clothes you actually want to wear, clothes you can wear and look tidy in, when you are breastfeeding. The designs are really nice, I really like their skater dress.

Joanna Cave

Always earrings. I love Joanna Cave's whimsical jewellery, I like that her pieces are often big, with very intricate, delicate looking designs. They remind me of Jan Pienkowski's silhouettes from his book 'The Necklace of Raindrops' - they would definitely be worn by a princess in a fairy take. I like these, Kalysta B, but she does all sorts, necklaces and rings too, do go have a look.

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FAULT Magazine, Fiorucci & Five Guys

Wednesday evening this week Emily, Max and I donned our 'trendiest but not trying too hard' outfits and crossed the river into Central London.Our main destination was the FAULT magazine 10 year anniversary party - very trendy indeed as FAULT are all about collaborating with the world's leading artists in film, fashion and music - have a look at their recent photo shoot with Paloma Faith on the day the Sahara Desert turned London's sky orange 👌👌.  The party was great fun, no canapés but Bull Dog Gin gin & tonics, ice lollies by Beltane & Pop and lots of art from the magazine to keep us entertained including a picture of Barbie wearing a Burqa.  The night ended in Mahiki, which terrified me slightly, but off we went and had a lovely time, who knew but Mahiki does great food, not just overpriced cocktails.Prior to having a super night with FAULT we decided to check out Fiorucci's fairly new shop on Brewer Street in Soho as we were venturing into London proper.  Someone had alerted me to prospect of purchasing a glitter latte - yes yes, I know - as Fiorucci are currently collaborating with Palm Vaults, a coffee shop in Hackney that serves pink lattes..Off we went to enjoy the excitement of the Fiorucci shop. Fiorucci was originally founded in 1967 by Elio Fiorucci, with the first store in Milan and the first 'overseas' store opened on the King's Road in London in 1975. Fiorucci invented the stretch jean, allegedly after he saw some girls emerging from the sea in soaking wet jeans and decided a close fit was necessary.  The brand was sold in 2015 and relaunched this year and I love everything about it.  WWD described their launch party as "The kind of party that many brands would kill for: achingly cool, outrageously oversubscribed and lots of fun". The shop lives up to all expectations, it's just fun - with rails of brightly coloured clothing in vintage styles - there was a strong 80s vibe - with wet look jeans in electric blue, puffa style jackets and velour skirts in jewel colours - basically I want everything and even more I want to have an 80s party and Fiorucci to lend me all their clothes. The whole shop seems to be staffed by models, however they were very nice and let us try on some of these wonderful creations.  The least exciting part was the glitter latte, it was fairly glittery, but it was expensive and I really would not recommend opting for the Rose Velvet latte, pretty unpleasant - just stick to a flat white (Palm Vaults I still love you.) Max was utterly bemused by the entire experience - what is this place and what are we doing here...😂In between we stopped for a burger at Five Guys - I like this place, super speedy and the spicy chips are excellent. You order a basic burger or hotdog for £7.25 (bit more expensive than Maccy D's) and then you have the choice of 15 topping - 15!  Such fun.It was a lovely evening all in all, and thank you so much FAULT for having us.

Alice xxx

Fiorucci

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Chocolate Judging with Bean to Bar Britain

Now I have a very very sweet tooth, and I do like chocolate.  I sometimes think my specialised subject on Mastermind would be chocolate bars - from Cadbury's Boost to Nestle's Yorkie, Rococo's Violet Chocolate Bar to Bendick's Bittermints, Lindt's Dark Chilli Chocolate to Willie's Cacao Luscious Orange, I am a fan of chocolate in all shapes, sizes and flavours.And, as this week is Chocolate Week (it really is, look it up), it seemed an appropriate time to seek out some new sweet stuff.So off I trundled to the Bean to Bar Britain pop-up shop in Southwark which is open for just this week.I was particularly interested in this pop-up as it is dedicated to raising the profile of craft chocolate makers in the UK, so all the chocolate is made in Britain, with some very familiar names including Willie's Cacao, to others I had never heard of such as Dormouse chocolate.The pop-up shop is tucked away just off Marshalsea Road, and I was completely enchanted. Matthew Lindley has put the shop together himself, and prior to this week he has travelled all over the UK visiting chocolate makers, learning about their particular craft. For this week he is selling their chocolate in the shop and hosting chocolate themed events.I went along for the 'Just For Fun Judging' event in which we tried 12 anonymous squares of award winning chocolate from different makers, and rated them one by one on their appearance, aroma, texture, finish and most importantly flavour.It was great fun, and Matt is hugely knowledgeable, he explained all about tasting chocolate, and what you should be looking for whilst judging, and we all got into the swing of it.  I loved the anonymous element to it, with no pre-concieved judgements on a brand, we tried all sorts from bitter darks, to carmelly milk chocolate, to a delicious unroasted dark bar.  The only information he gave us was whether it was a milk or dark, if it was over 80%, if it was 'unroasted' and if it had had flavours specifically added to it, ie coffee or mint.We judged and with lots of discussion decided as a group whether each chocolate was worthy of a bronze, silver or gold award and at the end Matt gave us some surprising results - our palettes are perhaps not yet as finely tuned as the official chocolate judgers!  My favourite was the 85% Porcelana bar by Chocolate Tree, a really (I think!) smooth dark chocolate bar, which is made in Scotland.The shop is open for this weekend, so do pop along, you will learn lots! There are lots of chocolate bars to buy and they have hot chocolate on offer too, so there is something for everyone.Thank you very much for having me along Matt!Alice xxx

The pop-up is at 14 Marshalsea Road, London SE1 1HL

@beantobarbritain

Art Exhibitions, May & June

There is lots of exciting art on show in London at the moment, and I thought I would share four exhibitions featuring British artists I will be visiting during May and June.Alice xxx

Christopher Brown

Michal Parkin Fine Art at the Art Workers' Guild

6 Queen Square, Bloomsbury, London

24th - 27th May 2017

I am a big fan of Christopher Brown's linocuts, and an archive of his work is currently being exhibited at the Art Workers' Guild.  Christopher studied at the Royal College of Art, where he met and later assisted Edward Bawden.  I love his fun, often quirky , and always amusing images in sharp black and white linocut.  There is so much to see in this exhibition and original prints to buy - and the Art Workers' Guild is a really fascinating place to visit.  Definitely pop in!

Jo Vollers

54 The Gallery

54 Shepherd Market, Mayfair, London

22nd - 27th May

Jo paints beautifully vibrant works in acrylic and oil, her paintings sit between figurative and abstraction - I absolutely love her use of colour.  She is exhibiting at 54 the Gallery until Saturday 27th May.

Nina Baxter

Royal Arts Prize at La Galleria Pall Mall

 5b Pall Mall Street, Royal Opera Arcade

30th May - 10th June

Nina Baxter paints the most incredible large scale, painstakingly detailed geometric abstract works in harmonious colours.  Nina's work will be on the show at La Galleria Pall Mall as part of the Royal Arts Prize, her works draw inspiration from landscape, architecture, photography and music.  Pop along to see her new works and get lost in these amazing interactions of shape and colour.

Minty Sainsbury

Minty Sainsbury will also be exhibiting as part of the Royal Arts Prize - her architectural drawings are really splendid 😍 🙏.

Jill Barklem

The Illustration Cupboard

 22 Bury Street, St James's, London

10th May - 3rd June

A little trip down memory lane, The Illustration Cupboard are currently displaying the original artwork by Jill Barklem for the Brambley Hedge books.  There are also many many beautiful illustrations in the this jam packed gallery, many from favourite childrens books, absolutely worth a visit.

SAKE, Art Show by Muddy Yard

Yesterday I had a sneak preview of Muddy Yard's new show SAKE.  Muddy Yard is an artist-led project space in south London - and their second group show includes new and very exciting works centred on the theme of 'purpose'.The main ideas behind the show are, 'What is the point to our every day existence without a purpose?'  And 'Is making art a self-prescribed purpose pill?'  Purpose is very important, it gives life meaning, and apparently it has been scientifically proven that you live longer if you have a purpose. So purpose is good, but behind the optimism of living a fulfilling purposeful life as an artist, there are darker questions - it is becoming increasingly harder to make art whilst living in London.  Many of these artists are at the beginning of their careers, forging a path for themselves, whilst also trying to sustain life in London.  Others are well-known in their field, but feeling the pressures of 'producing' a certain type of art to pay the bills.On show are some really fascinating works, each with it's own little story, I am particularly intrigued by Isabelle Southwood's piece, a planter containing the soil she wants to be buried in, Alex McNamee's video of unpurposeful work, and Holly Hendry's beautiful sculpture.  The making process that has gone into each is fascinating and there is a wide variety of mediums.  The band Pleasure Complex will also be playing a rolling set for part of the night.  There is lots of see, and lots to learn, and it is such a fun interesting space.This evening Muddy Yard, is opening it's doors to display these new artworks, and giving us a glimpse into how each of the artists understands their art to be the purpose of their life.The private view is being held this evening, 6pm til late. RSVP: alex@muddypr.com if you would like to attend.Alice xxx

Jamie Stiby Harris

The Other Art Fair London

I went to The Other Art Fair last week for the first time.  It was greatly enjoyable and there were lots of very affordable works of art by artists in all sorts of mediums.  I picked up a number of artist's business cards, my eyes always seem to wander to the brightly coloured ones, and decided that they were so pretty and fun, they deserved some hanging time of their own.  So I made a collage and stuck them onto the wall 😍.  Below you can see the names of the artists and what I thought about some of them (Sorry for the slightly erratic numbering!!)Alice xxx

1.

1. Michael Wallner, 2.Robynne Limoges, 3.Vicky Barranguet, 4.Emma Rose, 12.Rennie Pilgrem, 14. Lucia Moran Giracca

13. Sandy Dooley

Sandy paints with acrylic on canvas and I really love her use of colour - her studio is based in her garden in Kent, and the colours and themes of her paintings tend to follow the seasons, and she paints outdoors as much as she can which I think is wonderful 😃.

2.

5.Joanne Hummel-Newall, 6. Cecile Van Hanja, 7.Marit Geraldine Bostad, 8.Joanne Hummel-Newall, 9. Gillian Hyland, 20. Tammy Mackay

11.John Hainsworth

I really like John Hainsworth's very small scale paintings of unusual architectural forms in abstract landscapes all in muted tones.  They were all hung closely together and looked superb, he does large paintings too.

3.

15.Gillian Hyland, 16.Aliette Bretal, 17. Bridget Davies, 28.Cecile Van Hanja, 29.Minty Sainsbury, 30.Louise Fairchild, 31.Victoria Topping, 32. Geraldine Swayne

27.Fei Alexeli

I am a big fan of Fei Alexeli's work - both her collages, in which palm trees have made it into outer space, and her slightly otherworldly photography.

4.

18.Hermione Carline, 19. Valentina Loffredo, 20.Tim Fowler, 22.Stephen Anthony Davids, 23a.Nadia Attura, 23b.Augusti Viladesau, 24. Etienne Clement, 25. Tim Fowler

26.Minty Sainsbury

Minty's drawings were some of my favourite in the show.  She initially trained as an architect, and l absolutely love her detailed drawings of buildings and monuments.

Artists altogether 😊

And some photos from the show with Graeme Messer's works ✌️