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6 posts from August 2010

25 August 2010

Divine Design

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At Ottery St Mary Church last night, one of the most beautiful parish churches in England (mentioned in "England's 1000 Best Churches" by Sir Simon Jenkins) to listen to the Chamber Philharmonia Cologne. Wonderfully uplifting, bright music played by a frisky ensemble in a fascinating building. Can't help but wonder "how did they do that?" when marvelling at the intricately carved Beer stone that forms these groin vaults.

17 August 2010

Writers in Residence

I'm often asked for advice on developing colour schemes to which my response is often just "look around you". Perhaps on the surface not very helpful so, to be more specific, drawing and painting from life are well-recognised ways of honing observational skills. 

With practice one most certainly becomes very much more aware of spontaneous colour "palettes". Here are two I came across recently - both perfect portraits of great writers.

In the portrait of Agatha Christie (photographer: Lord Snowdon) I love the combination of her royal blue dress, coral necklace, mustard and dusty pink all grounded by the rich colour of well-worn wood.

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And in the portrait of P.D. James (Photographer: Spencer Murphy) the palette is not dissimilar - perhaps slightly softer - with the addition of two of my favourite colours: the pale green of the walls and the splash of turquoise in the painted portrait above.

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Note also the effective use of good jewellery by these ladies. A far better investment than botox.

10 August 2010

Mole Valley Farmers

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Like a hardware store - which always gets me excited - but even better because it's got even more useful, well-priced stuff, where staff are incredibly helpful and kind, and a shopping trip can be prefaced by perhaps the best bacon sandwich in the south west, courtesy of the Kenniford Farm hog roast van just outside. I never thought I'd enjoy dining in a car park quite so much. 

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And just look at what you can buy without ever knowing this is just what you've been looking. The perfect thing to sit in front of my desk. 

And if you can't make it to one of their stores there's always the website. www.molevalleyfarmers.com Enjoy!


 

07 August 2010

Wildly Romantic

If you want to go to the most perfect English Country House Hotel, one that isn't the least bit pretentious, where staff literally greet you like an old friend but not in an unctuous, over-familiar way, where the food is - well - just perfect and fresh and straight from the kitchen garden or fellow fields (all 3,000 acres of them) or shores, as it should be, and where the interiors - the interiors literally made me weep they were so beautiful then you must go to the Combe House Hotel. www.combehousedevon.com. 

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My snaps (this a gloss black painted alcove applied with pressed ferns and paint) are a bit rubbish but I guarantee it will bring you tears of joy!

And if you're down in Devon do go to A La Ronde (www.nationaltrust.org.uk/main/w-alaronde), which all the girlies seem to be talking about these days.

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The attendants are kind and informed but far too chatty for my liking, especially if you have a child with you, now we live in a world where it's impossible to go to a museum or gallery or site of historical or scientific interest without being forced to engage in an "interactive experience". But perhaps if you act like you don't actually understand English you will be left to absorb the absolute charm of this place in relative peace.

The New Decor

You must, must, must go and see The New Decor, at The Hayward Gallery, London. The text in the catalogue and in the exhibition is rather "art pretentious" - why is the language of art a language almost apart? - but it is worth slicing through to enjoy some provocative, dirty/pretty gems, just like the exhibits themselves, reminding us to challenge our relationship with the objects we surround ourselves with. 

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As the catalogue text implies the principle thought behind this kind of art - that which sits between art and furniture - is not in fact "new" - e.g. Marcel Duchamp, Robert Rauschenburg - but it's important that artists remind us from time to time not to be enslaved by designers - though it's arguable that what these artists are doing when they are thinking and making is "designing" their art piece. This could run and run.......

Talking of anarchy I'm looking forward to the www.antidesignfestival.com. The last time belts were tightened - back in the early 90's - there was a flowering of creativity which was then all too quickly suffocated by a tastefully designed, terribly modern merino wool blanket of beige, at least at the money end of the market, countered by a smug type of cute. Its time the moths of creative mirth got stuck in. Pass the sauce.

05 August 2010

Prize for Design

The Stirling Prize shortlist has recently been announced and, I'm sorry, but I can't help but be pretty proud that I have not just one, but two mates – and girls too (yes, sorry again but these things make a difference still) – whose names are on the "brass plates" listed. In alphabetical order we have De Rijke Marsh Morgan (dRMM) and DSDHA. Take a shifty at http://www.architecture.com/Awards/RIBAStirlingPrize/RIBAStirlingPrize.aspx. Go girls!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

More prize-winning design is to be had right now at London’s Design Museum in the form of the Brit Insurance Designs of the Year – the “Turner Prize of Design”, which I had the honour of presenting last year and have finally caught up with the exhibition this.

And it’s another gloriously thick slice of design in all its forms, from communications – such as the brilliant Trillion Dollar Campaign for outlawed-by-loathsome Mugabe “The Zimbabwean” newspaper – to architecture, and one of my favourite projects from last year, the galleries at Raven Row by 6a architects, a deeply felt restoration of Georgian townhouses reconceived for contemplative pleasure.

Plus the usual sprinkling of cleverly manufactured, but very uncomfortable looking, seating. (Maybe these design boy’s bums work slightly differently to mine, and most other people’s I know?)

Min-Kyi Choi is the design boy who won top prize for his folding plug – and a most fitting winner. As Marcus Fairs of Dezeen www.dezeen.com commented “Designer’s don’t spend enough time trying to improve the little niggly everyday things that really affect our quality of life.” But I’m afraid such an occasional void in product design is as much the fault of manufacturers and consumer demand, as it is of often frustrated designers.

Last year Shepherd Fairey - rather predictably in the midst of Obama-fever - won for his Communist Russia-style posters idolising the big O. It would be interesting to know what Fairey and his cohorts think of their "Hero for Hope" now?