The Extraordinarium

“The Extraordinarium, a place, a home for extraodinary little beings to gather and where extraordinary things happen.

Herbert, he is an extraordinary little being, has seen many centuries come and go and has watched his beloved walled garden and the contents therein slowly decline. What was once a thriving country house, slowly fell into disrepair, the sons were called up to fight and never returned, the same went for all workers on the estate and slowly everything came to a halt. The owners died as much of a broken heart as old age and the house fell into total decline. Herbert of course always found something to eat from the rampant grasses, berries and seeds that grew wild everywhere but he yearned for the day when his beloved walled garden could be bought back to life

it came to him in a dream, he didn’t know it then, but this was to be the beginning of something quite extraordinary ! dream trees .”

I have started to put together the books for my little creatures, the characterful beings that are drawn to “The Extraordinarium”

the sketches below are ideas for the dream tree, a very rare specie. I am intending to make one, probably cut paper, shaped and curved to form three dimensional image just like my flowers and shoes, or a moulded paper clay that I can actually model and place in a perspex case. Early stages yet, but all my creatures are made and the individual stories are coming together. These will all be for sale, where I dont know or when, but soon

Inspired

Just back from Pembrokeshire my third visit this year. Just glorious weather, blue skies, rugged coastlines and foxgloves everywhere. So colourful, pink flowers everywhere and when looking closely in the hedgerows up the lane pretty wild orchids. Even bought a magnificent plate by Pembrokeshire ceramicist Jonathon Cox, large 40cms dia, lustre painted design depicting the local flora. Came home just so full of ideas !!

Mind is working overtime as usual, in my head I am creating so many things that my hand cannot write and sketch them down in my book quick enough. I dont know about you all out there, but my sketch book is full of notes, mindmaps as well as the obvious drawing stuff. I have many and variety of sizes and formats, landscape, square and portrait and I find it somewhat chaotic at times because I forget which one I have been working in and spend ages looking for the “right one”

My extraordinary creatures are coming to life, all their characters are beginning to take shape. Right now I have three more made waiting for their clothing, a goat with the most amazing set of horns, more dramatic than his friend the painter, he holds great presence and power. A delicate little whippet, definitely feminine and a seated hare. Talking of seats I purchased a beautiful little chair, you can see below two little friiends looking comfy.

I have also just taken delivery off a stack of vintage and linen off cuts, all 100% natural linen and very pleased with them indeed as some show obvious wear which I love. Have replenished my wool stocks, all natural colours and English and Welsh breads, even some Herdwick, the breed that Beatrix Potter bought back to life in the Lake District back in the early 1900’s, Its all very exciting as there is so much more that I am carrying out on this project, eventually everything will be for sale . These are one off totally handmade art creatures their clothes hand stitched and most have removable clothing, They are collectables suitable as family heirlooms. These are not toys as they delicate, needle felted wool over an aluminium wire armature, but I see them as story telling characters to inspire and ignite imagination and creativity in all ages.

Along side all this each character will eventually have handmade art story books to accompany them. The Narrative contains something really special and this item will be available as a paper sculpture

Please watch this space for further anouncements

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A path well trodden, but how much longer will it be?

Coming here to the North of Kefalonia  it always felt like I was coming home, arriving at the airport, the warm moist air enveloping me as I take the first step from the air conditioned cabin. The familiar face of Makis greeting me and taking my case to the taxi, the breathtaking views as we climb north driving ever higher.   I have been coming twice a year now for 6 years, a long time for me but for others I have met here this is nothing, Some people have been coming to Kefalonia for 16-20 years or more.    The farmhouse always held me, its wild gardens, olive groves, views across the ionian seas to Ithica, the wildlife,  the chickens and goats, this was a sanctuary away from the deadlines and constant pressure that hounded me  when back in the uk.   Now that the pressure is off  I wondered if returning to Kefalonia this time would feel different as I am no longer fleeing the pressure of trying to spin all the plates in the air, run a home, a business, staff, family issues and so on.  Its doubly hard when there is nobody to share this burden with me.  Designing interiors, mixing colours and textures, choosing original artworks, designing my own furniture pieces it gave me the  best feeling in the world and I was in my element, but the procurement  and installation , working along side architects, and building contractors and the male dominated construction industry who wouldnt know good design if it bit on the bum, all this side of designing took away that feeling completely.  Even though I won awards and various accolades it just wasnt enough to keep me fighting the design battles anymore.

So her  I am and  pleased to say that the feelings, even though the first two weeks have been in the coldest ever apparently, haven’t changed a bit,  I still love the island, well the norther part anyway, south more built up and busier.   Guess the one thing that has changed  is the longing to live here.  For one ,I do not like the fierce summer heat, so July and August would be a definite no no for me and two, I have found the uk version of northern Kefalonia, its wildness, rugged cliffs and coves, forest and quiet windy roads where I feel drawn to make my permanent home.   Still visiting Evreti, Kefalonia for 2-3 months each year I can have the best of both worlds, and still continue to travel and explore the uk and of course spend time manifesting creative objects into the world.

Of course with the advancing years, 70 last January, there is that little conumdrum of how much should I be spending?  how long will my money have to last, how long will I be walking in this world?  Something one never considers when younger, there is always decades to enjoy, thing to try out and if mistakes are made, plenty of time to put it right.  Now though decisions seem more important to make as not time left to rectify anything. Do I say to myself another 15 years, divide it up and spend the said sum each year?  Do I buy a house with an income, (holiday rental cottages} and run it as a small business?  Guess I am lucky that my business was successful and have these kind of issues to contend with.  I am not having the live on a uk state pension, the lowest in the whole of Europe!  Actually there was no luck, I gave my all to my company, blood sweat and tears to make it successful!  All I know is that this is whole new chapter in my life, one where for once I have the total freedom to choose, a real adventure awaits and I am very excited to watch each day unfolds and just where this path will take me

A few pics of the past weeks

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The journey continues

It has been awhile since I posted.  My life has been full and packed with inspiring visits, projects, cliff walks and so on.

North Wales and the Lake district beckoned, visiting friends, coming together on really sacred lands and holding ceremony to visiting Beatrix Potter’s first cottage by Lake Windermere.  This cottage, its warmth and love really resonated with me, my desire to move away from my large spaces and tall ceilings to a simple home, intimate, full of my own creations and a space that will feed my soul and where I can end my days here.

This desire was strengthened yet again when I visited Pembrokeshire, everything just opened up and there was the cottage I have been dreaming in came into real life, after viewing it I came away absolutely blown away with its detail, it was as if I had been walking around it in my dreams and the universe had manifested it for me.

North Pembrokhire is wild and rugged, the flora and fauna excellent and  the views tremendous from the coastal path, lovely sleepy little villages, NO costa, NO Starbucks, NO chains, in fact not much at all but what I love about the farmhouse I stay in Northern Kefalonia is right here in Wales,  I dont like hot sun and I dont go t to greece to roast on the sandy beaches,  so in a way it has everyting.  The only difference is NO swimming Pool.  Guess I will come a fan of wild swimming, should keep me fit and healthy.

So we shall see what transpires, taking my daughter to view the property again after easter.

Here are a few image of what I have been getting up to and the last one, homage to my lovely mum, 27 years ago she passed on to the next life. Happy Mother’s Day

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obsession or creativity

IMG_1564IMG_1555IMG_1556well I am at creature no.6 and and the need to keep creating the little forms seems to have no end.  Is this and obsession or it is just plain creative surge, both I guess.  When I have an idea that comes up in my head I just have to go with it, its like its not me manifesting these things but a force that is beyond my control, so I really have no choice but to keep “making” as the ideas flow and my sketchbook of ideas expands daily.  I know by past projects this will pass and try as I might to further develop and idea and stick with it appears not to happen for me in this way.  I so want to be able to progress a concept, try all avenues and really explore the possibilities and develop the forms into something that is really unique to my process.  Each time something downloads into my thoughts I think this is the one, this is my work, I can own and this and develop it fully, sadly though its hasn’t yet, perhaps this time maybe different.

My new creature is a really soft body little lamb  needlefelted onto a pipe cleaner armature.   Head is needlefelted too.  Everything handmade and hand stitched using found and vintage fabrics, laces and so on.  Such a sweet little face and demeanour, this is a real doll, can be cuddled and redressed if need be, unlike the others which have metal armatures.  She stands at about 10 1/2 inches

another creature comes to life, no.5

This is a strange journey for me because I am totally drawn in creating these adorable figures, just finished one and straight on to the next and have so many drawings and ideas for future creatures.  However, as I am creating them I am constantly asking myself, why am I doing this? what is the reason behind making what is essentially a doll.  They enchant me, each has a personality and a soul that didn’t exist before I started making them, but as the eyes are created something pulls me in and really touches me emotionally.    Is each one displaying a facet of me?  Painting, sketching and creating on paper  and with paper has always been my passion, so to find myself manifesting in this way is a complete surprise and in some way makes me feel somewhat uncomfortable, in fact some days it is so strong that I am telling myself to go back to painting, but I just cannot pull myself away.  This particular creative path right now will have a gift in it somewhere for sure, I must be doing this for a reason, so for now I shall just sit back and watch it all unfold and see where this journey takes me.

This particular doll is cloth, its arms and legs are jointed and his head is needle felted  from Welsh hill’s sheep wool.  The clothes are all hand stitched and hand knitted with vintage and found fabrics and hand dyed wool yarn.  It was a joy to make,  seeing it come to life in my hands was quite magical as it was if my little   Persian cats Lilly and Ferdy had been reincarnated.  Ferdy was a chinchilla and Lily Sealpoint,   Long gone now though, I miss them.

 

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now with ears!!

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Little creatures

Well this journey is travelling forward with great speed.  First rabbits and now a Fox and a Badger.  I have so many ideas jumping out at me that my sketchbook is full of animals and clothes styles…… loving it.    These are both on aluminium armatures, its great stuff, very flexible, light yet firm.  The wools slips and slides a bit when wrapping, but the more you do it the easier it becomes.  Felting the heads is now not as daunting as in the beginning, once you have the basic principals of felting and understand the different shapes that can build a face, with an image to hand its very easy build up the details and watch the little figure come to life.  They do really have their own characters and if never ceases to amaze me how “touched” I feel  by their presence.

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