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Monthly Archives: June 2013

Creatively Speaking – Barbara Keal

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I recently posted on felt designer Barbera Keal and her fantastical headwear… the envy of every child’s dressing up box. Barbara has kindly agreed to an interview to tell us a little about herself and her influences.  So sit back have a cuppa (and a slice of the chocolate cake below!)…Have a great weekend

How would you describe your work and style?

My work as a feltmaker mainly consists of tranformative animal headwear – hats. The hats feel very genuinely animal because they are made from animal hair (sheeps wool and alpaca fleece) in natural colours, I love this material and do all that I can to allow it to maintain its original qualities. There is a tension in the work between gritty realism and fairytale beauty.

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What, where and/or who inspires you?

What inspires me is the desire to make work that can help a person feel more fully alive.  My local “Malling Hill”, part of the Sussex downs is where I most frequently experience that aliveness I want to share. Something about the hill’s plump gravity, the dumb meeting with a cow, the ecstatic rising song of the skylark gives me a sharp realisation of my place as one amongst the community of all creatures. It is also home to the sheep whose fleeces I used for my first feltmaking.

Barbara on Malling Hill

Which is your favorite personal project and why?


Oh, I don’t really have a favourite. Most of my years since graduating from art school have been spent making “live art”, within that context the making of the animal hats from simple to hugely elaborate has all been part of one rather ongoing project. If however I look specifically at my work as a feltmaker there are myriad works.The project which brought me to feltmaking was the making of a dress for myself from the fleeces of the sheep on Malling Hill. The skirts of the dress were huge, I used working horses to help me with the felting. In the end the dress was like a cave which could hold an audience of 10 people, to whom I sang wordless improvied songs through resonant clay vessels I had hand buit for the purpose. In another respect I was most deeply moved by making a felt shroud for my aunt, luscious soft white wool, a winter lanscape with a large white spirit dog running across it’s barren expanse.

Barbara and her Cave Dress

Barbara and her Cave Dress

What has been the most exciting point in your career to date and why?

I don’t know that I really have a career as such. Somehow that word implies a definite trajectory in a predecided direction. I came to feltmaking through the search for meaning and  aliveness that was, and still is my “art work”. Felt making and the animal “hats” in particular has taken me to some interesting places, places I never desired nor expected to visit. Shepperton Film studios, Kanye West’s London studio, Rockerfeller centre – New York, Paris, Somerset House or Nantes. All these places are extremely curious to see. I never made my work thinking of a career and even now regard the whole thing as a suprising journey. The most wonderful opportunity I have been offered was that of working together with my husband Richard to make a large installation for the gallery space in anthropologie’s Rockerfeller centre store, simply because it was so good to work together in such a sustained way on a large piece – A wall torn from our imaginations, made solid in wood, wool, slate and clay.

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If you could have your work displayed anywhere in the world, where would you like it to be displayed?

On the heads of every person in London! I grew up in that huge impersonal city and would love to see it inhabited by a million animals for one day in winter. (Not that my body could rise to the challenge of felting all those hats!)

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If someone were coming to visit your home town where would be the must stop place or places to visit (this could be a place, restaurant, cafe, etc).
Of course my Malling Hill! To meet the wild rugged sheep, look at the town from above and if they are lucky glimpse the sea on the horizon.

Describe your perfect day
A long, happy hill walk on a warm day – rain, cloud or sun. Singing, whistleing on the way and ending with a swim in the sea.

If you were to board Noah’s Ark and were told that you could take three things with you. What would they be? 
I must say I love the idea of being on Noahs Ark. Clay, felting needles and a guitar (i’d already be wearing my hat). I’m assuming I could get hold of some fleece on board!

Now as much as I love your work, I love cooking and am always eager to find out a new recipe… what is your favorite dish to cook??….Would I be able to ask for the recipe?..
Well, I doubt if I can offer a recipe you’ve never heard of but I can offer a mega cake challenge! Every year my eldest son Isaiah tells me what sort of birthday cake he would like – from an orangutan driving a dumper truck to alpaca’s grazing the Andes mountains. Here’s a recipe for chocolate and meringue Andes mountains with marzipan alpacas.

Choc cake:

10oz self raising flour

3oz cocoa powder

4oz brown sugar

4oz unbleached castor sugar

6oz butter

4 egg yolks

2 whole eggs

Rub butter into flour, brown sugar and cocoa, beat eggs and castor sugar add to butter and flour mix very well ( add a bit of milk if super stiff)

Heap the mix into centre of baking tin. Bake at 180.

Use the 4 egg whites to make a giant meringue to put on top. Here’s a recipe:

http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/2445/ultimate-meringue

Once all has cooled whip ½ pint double cream the meringue goes on top of the choc cake.

For the puposes of brevity buy some marzipan and form it into alpacas of various sizes. Each alpaca can stand in a big drop of melted chocolate as it becomes nearly solid on the lower part of the mountain or in a dollop of cream at the top.

(BCD – This could take some time for me to create this one!!)

GOOD LUCK!

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Does my bottom look big in this…..? Model Shoot at San Diego Zoo

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Happy Monday…. sorry I could not resist, on our day at San Diego Zoo I desperately tried to get a shot of the Zebras, but alas in the true mantra of never work with children or animals, they were far more interested in their morning snack that me trying to be David Attenborough.  But not to be deterred I think I got a good pic of their bottoms!!!….. No I will never grow up it seems!

Fortunately a few of the other animals at the Zoo were a little more forthcoming!

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Eddie the Elephant did their hair specially for me, the straw look… The meerkat misplaced her bikini for the shoot so maintained a little modesty.

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Oh and starting them young with the baby wear shoot!

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It all got a bit much for Percy Polar bear…. but I was not going to argue with him if you know what I mean!

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I hope you have a great week…. meanwhile on with the colourful adventure

 
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Posted by on June 10, 2013 in Travel, United States

 

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La Jolla – A relaxing start, dispelling myths and meeting new friends

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One of the first stops on the journey was a quaint and beautiful little town in San Diego called La Jolla (pronounced La Hoya) yes I pronounced it like it was a little Jolly! – Apologies for all those that I offended! Although I did manage to get my own back when I was asked to throw another shrimp on the BBQ….. Much to my friends dismay I had to dispel the myth that Aussies call prawns “shrimps”….. Mr Paul Hogan was scripted purely for the American market I am afraid….. anyway I digress.

For those of you who love a quaint little town ,with an abundance of wild life then this is a must stop for you, where you are guaranteed to bump in to the odd seal lapping up the afternoon sun on the beach or peruse around The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego.

I am not really a travel writer, but love to take pictures so forgive me if I just stop with the words and give you the pictures!

Introducing my new friend Sammy!

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Obviously Sammy had the right idea and found a beach away from the crowds….

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Well hopefully you are nice and relaxed…. on with the colourful adventure…

 
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Posted by on June 7, 2013 in Art, Travel, United States

 

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Stumble upon – “Perish Trust” San Francisco

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On a windy San Francisco day I decided to explore a little bit out of the central city and stumbled upon Divisadero St and a little gem called “The Perish Trust”.  I am a sucker for curiosity and nick nacs, especially when they are displayed in such a gorgeous way.  So out came the camera for me to share with you…. Unfortunately excess baggage did not allow me to partake as I had already bout too many shoes and jeans at this point… but I am wishing I had bought those little moccasin’s now!

“Our mission is to diligently collect and curate antiques from the dead and dying industries. Perusing basements, boxes and personal stashes for the odd, obsolete and unusual. Hand picking artists from coast to coast to collaborate and showcasing it all in our gussied up little bunker.”

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On with the colourful adventure!………..

 

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British India – New Collection from Bethany Linz

Bethany Linz THE GREAT SHALIMAR

Before I begin my journey from San Diego to San Francisco, I thought I would keep you in suspense for a couple more days to share a little news from Sydney creative Bethany Linz, who’s beautiful work has featured in a couple of my posts. During my interview with Bethany (back in October) she mentioned that she would be releasing a range of wallpapers and textiles for Sparkk, and I am really excited to get a little sneak preview for you.

The collection, due to be released this month, is based on the theme of British India, and Beth explains why below.
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“The reason why I chose British India as the theme for my first collection was simply because I love all things victorian.

During the reign of Queen Victoria, Britain was discovering the treasures and culture of India, the Victorians as a result started to have a love affair with all things Indian and they began to decorate their houses with tropical plants and murals of exotic flowers and birds.
You wouldn’t think that two opposite worlds colliding together design-wise would work so harmoniously, but having bright green tropical foliage and exotic murals work so well next to the dark wooden furniture and victorian tiles.With this collection I wanted to capture that “new world meets old”, having a tropical collection whilst still keeping a classic British feel about it.”

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Calcutta wallpaper

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With winter making its way into Sydney, I could just see myself snuggled up with a little bit of an Indian Summer….let me know your thoughts…. meanwhile on with the colourful adventure.

 

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