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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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A floored obsession – Sonya Marish

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Sometimes we become a little bit obsessed with decorating our walls and dressing windows and kind of forget about the floor.  Maybe we will throw down a rug, but rarely is there as much excitement about the flooring as the walls or a piece of furniture. A few years ago I stumbled upon an article about a store which has evolved from the passion of Byron Bay based designer Sonya Marish.

Sonya has the most amazing range of antique and reproduction tiles which have been sourced from her travels around the globe.

“Forever searching for those rarities, I was over the moon when I stumbled across some beautiful antique tiles that I had to have. Their history, beauty and imperfections were exactly what I was looking for.” Sonya Marish, Jatana Interiors.

Sonya began her hunt for the perfect tiles when she commenced styling her own bathroom.  From here an obsession started which grew into her business in Byron Bay Jatana Interiors….So if there is such a thing as tile porn then this is a good place to get your fix and who says that you have to stick to tiling the floor….. Let me know your thoughts.

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My favourite has to be when they are all mixed up to create a colourful festival…who says you have to stick to conformity.

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Which is your favourite?….. Meanwhile on with the colourful adventure…..

 

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Day dream kind of day

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Every now and again (well probably more often than not) my mind sets in to daydream mode….. and today is just one of those many days.  So I thought I would honour the occasion with the best dreamy hanging beds to put my daydreaming into its full state of usefulness.

Which one is your favourite?

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I am loving the added inspiration wall, boxes and books……creativity heaven!

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I am half expecting a cloaked prince to come out of the mist…. but I am not quite sure how you would turn the lamp on, maybe he could help!

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All white……..Maybe a little too bright for a relaxing daydream….Not to mention the stress of keeping everything so whitey white!! Now grey on the other hand I could do grey….

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Or you could do dual purpose, below would double up as the perfect outdoor dining table ( and you would not even need a separate table cloth!)

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Have a great weekend….. happy daydreaming….. meanwhile on with the colourful adventure x

(all images sourced from Pinterest)

 
 

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Distorting the Masters – An Interior Collaboration

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I am feeling a little bit like a stalker at the moment of the British designers Young and Battaglia.  I recently posted on their faux cowhide rugs which I love, they have now taken this to a new dimension, working together with American conceptual artist and designer Chad Wys, to create their classics revisited collection.

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The collection includes the Pastoral cow hide rug (Below), which is taken from Chad’s “American Tapestry” collection, and a series of cushions which take inspiration from Chad’s “Nocturnes” Portfolio collection.

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I love how the artist and designers have taken something from the past and bought it into the present, or is it perhaps taking the present into the past?  Let me know your thoughts.

Below are Chad’s prints followed by the Cushions with the Y&B touch…. oh and a little bit of influence from Cluedo me thinks…….

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Nocturne 109 – Chad Wys

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General Mustard Cushion

Nocturne 64

Nocturne 64 – Chad Wys

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Lord White – Cushion

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Tom Green Cushion

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Lady Peacock Cushion

 

On with the colourful adventure…………..

 

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Flockhart – The inspiration of Grandparents

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Have you noticed that whenever you watch a talent show on TV, the acts that grab the most attention generally have a story to tell, a history and reason as to how they were inspired to push forward with their talents and ideas.  Well this is not exactly a post on “The Voice”, but I tend to find that I get drawn to designs or objects which have a little bit of a story, or history attached – giving it a little bit more soul and heart.

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Eileen Flockart and George Kennethson

One such story is the revival of a Flockhart Fabrics in the UK.  Flockhart was created by the painter Eileen Guthrie in the 1930s. Eileen took inspiration from the nature of Northamptonshire, Dorset and Berkshire that she and her husband sculptor George Kennethson so loved.  They hand printed their designs from lino blocks and silk screens which still exist today, along with many beautiful original pieces of fabric.

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Eileen’s Sketches

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Original Lino Cuts

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The arrival of five sons and George taking a career change in the 1950s meant that Flockhart Fabrics got tucked away in boxes and took second place to family.  On her death in 2006, Eileen left behind an archive of designs that, thanks to her granddaughter, Lucy Mackenzie, have now been bought back to life through Flockhart Fabrics. The designs from the 1940s and 50s fit so well into the present, with the retro and Scandanavian trends withe the simple hello blue and grey palette.

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Current Prints – Flockhart Fabrics

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Let me know your thoughts… meanwhile on with the colourful adventure……..

 
3 Comments

Posted by on April 29, 2013 in Art, Fabric, Interior Design, UK designers

 

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Creatively Speaking – Coulson Macleod

Hannah Macleod & Mark Coulson

It’s Friday and time for another interview with one of the fab creatives that I have featured on my little blog.  Mark Coulson and Hannah Macleod, AKA Coulson Macleod kindly agreed to have a little chat, so grab a cuppa and enjoy. Oh, and if you are stuck for what to cook for dinner then they have some fab recipes which are perfect for us Aussies just starting to come into Autumn!

How would you describe your work and style?

Simple design that reflects our own taste. We’re not into overly fussy stuff. We also love texture, hence why we use a lot of reclaimed wood. The gnarlier the wood the better. If you buy a Coulson Macleod don’t expect shiny & new (apart from our paper prints, which have to be presented in a neat & clean style).

'Freeze Freeze Thou #A376F3

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What, where and/or who inspires you?

Inspiration comes from everywhere. Magazines (our office walls are lined with shelves & shelves of magazines), blogs, & books. We also try to visit as many interior/gift shops as we can to get ideas on packaging & display ideas. Obviously shops are the best places to see what is actually being sold to your potential customers. Blogs are a place to immerse yourself in design trends, but it’s the high-street shop that will stock our art. We try to travel to towns across the UK to visit shops & combine it with an overnight stay in a boutique hotel (all in the name of research of course!). Recently we’ve visited Shrewsbury (amazing architecture) & Brighton (amazing restaurants). Trade shows can also be inspiring as you get to be the first to see the latest designs & trends. Although this does mean that you lose the ‘wow’ factor when you go browsing in shops as we’ve seen it all before.

Shrewsbury Square - Source mytoolkit.co.uk

Shrewsbury Square – Source mytoolkit.co.uk

Hannah I read a lot of travel writing. Totally admire the explorer’s fearless approach to life & their level of curiosity.

Mark I alternate between fiction & business books. The only problem with reading a great book in bed is that I then lie there all night with my brain buzzing with either the story or business ideas.

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

Being awarded Creative Business of the Year was pretty exciting. Selling a print to one of the richest men in the world was a buzz too. Sadly his PA said we couldn’t name him. Boo! But this guy could buy (& does apparently) any piece of art he likes. And he bought one of ours. This happened in the early days of our business, which meant we knew we were on the right path.

Do you have any major projects in the pipeline at the moment? Can you share these with us?

It’s not so much a project, but an order from a large department store chain in Switzerland has given us a big morale boost. They describe themselves as the Harrods of Switzerland. With 14 stores we can safely say we have Switzerland covered. It’s been a steep learning curve – suddenly we realized how little we knew about exporting, pallet shipments, & all sorts of boring legal stuff. Another growth spurt for Coulson Macleod & our collective knowledge.

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

'Flamingoes'

We always joke that our art is far better traveled than we are & ends up in homes all over the world. Some of the addresses that we ship to are pretty fancy (sometimes we spot our prints on the walls of swoon-worthy homes that feature in the press). So our art goes to places that we’ll never get to in person. We could do with more stockists in Australia (at the time of writing we only have one) so if anyone reading this can help…

What would be your dream commission?

An order from Kate & William would be rather beneficial. Anything Kate (Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge) buys has a huge impact. She has to support British made, so surely it’s only a matter of time before she becomes a Coulson Macleod customer.

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Perhaps Kate can unleash her wild child (BCD)

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…or perhaps a gift from Kate to Wills….

 

Describe your perfect day

We got married last summer; it was a perfect day. Wish we could recreate it every year. The sun shone (this in itself was pretty remarkable as it rained practically every other day). Surrounded by friends & family, eating amazing Italian food, drinking Pimms, crying happy tears & lots of dancing.

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If you were to board Noah’s Ark and were told that you could take three things with you.  What would they be?

Presuming our three children were already aboard then it would be

Our collection of magazines that we’ve flicked through but not had time to read

Suncream. We’re totally paranoid about burning & spend all summer slathering it over the kids. European kids are all bronzed & healthy-looking, ours are ghostly-white from being covered in titanium dioxide.

A Kindle. We don’t own one, preferring the look, feel, & smell of proper books lining our shelves, but seeing as we can only take three things.

What is your favorite dish to cook?

We cook a lot, so it’s hard to pick out just one recipe. We have favourite dishes for warm weather, but seeing as we mainly have cold weather here, it would have to be sausages & lentils. It’s one of those super easy one-pot wonders that everyone loves. Plus it uses bacon & bacon reigns supreme. Serves four…

Sausage Bacon and Lentil Hotpot

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8 x sausages

250g smoked bacon

200g Puy lentils (we tend to throw in more than this)

1 clove garlic crushed

1 chopped onion

1 tsp tomato paste

sprig thyme

1 bay leaf

1 litre chicken stock

Brown the sausages, fry the bacon until crispy then throw into one pot & cook until lentils are soft. Better if you can simmer for longer as the taste improves. Serve with crusty bread.

Polenta Cake

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For pudding it would be polenta cake (our recipe is scribbled on a bit of scrap paper).

7 oz butter

7 oz sugar

8 oz ground almonds

3 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

4 oz polenta

zest of 3 lemons

1 tbs baking powder

Dust your cake tin with polenta (use extra polenta, not from the 8 oz). Cream butter & sugar. Add almonds, vanilla, eggs & polenta. Mix with zest. Add baking powder. Bake for 45 mins on 180. Serve warm with a big dollop of mascarpone.

Want to see more?

Coulson Macleod are exhibiting at the following venues in the UK for 2013.

Pulse (London Earl’s Court) 12-14th May.

Home & Gift Harrogate 14-17th July.

Top Drawer (London Olympia) 15-17th September.

 

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Aston Martin – 007 eat your heart out….or cake out!

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It is fair to say that my husband has to be one of the hardest people to buy presents for..although I think that has to be men in general… the months preceding the event I try to drop hints, get just a smidgeon of inspiration and well the only thing I can get out of his is that he would love an Aston Martin… to which I cannot print how I responded!!!

One to face a challenge ,I thought I would have a go at giving him the next best thing…and Aston Martin car cake……..so apologies if this is slowly becoming a blog on my latest collection of cake making ventures, but I thought I would share my adventure with you…. because I have a feeling this may be my last for a while!

From the Red Velvet Interior!……At this moment I was thinking we may have a car accident cake…..

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The icing.. the moment I wished I was born with multiple arms…. so no close up shots….

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…and the reason why i should never become a spray painter…. on goes the edible silver spray…and a little bit of detailing starts ( yes I have all the lingo!)

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…..let me know what you think!! Meanwhile on with the colourful adventure!…………

 
6 Comments

Posted by on April 24, 2013 in Art, Cookery

 

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