the last months since November have been packed full with all manner of things, visit to Wales. Fabulous lunch at The Greenhouse. London museums and gallery visits, the Oceania exhibition at the Royal Academy being one of the most inspirational I have seen in a long while. Firle church and an evening of music, words, dance and ceremony with Carolyn Hilllyer to see in the solstiice, and on the solstice a wonderful evening organised by a good friend Ali, journeying to sounds of a Mongolian throat singer and gong bath. Then of course Christmas and the handmade presents I usually do, this year it was books, hand made and hand bound. A new skill learnt which I love the precision of the bindings themselves. Sourdough breadmaking course at the Bicycle Bakery, which I made many tasty loaves Then it was needle felting families of dreaming mice, each one had a prayer for manifesting peace and serenity in all areas of life and then a fabulous sleepy dreaming bunny, this has now grown into a rabbit figure which has conjured up clothes, characters and a book. A fabulous christmas lunch of Haunch of Venison cooked to perfection by my daughter and an illuminated walk at Bedgebury which was quite spectacular All the while though there has been my daily practice, patterns and watercolour and collage.
Oh and of course it was my 70th birthday last Friday. I had a fabulous couple of days, so many lovely cards, flowers and messages. A gift from daughter and her partner, one for for each decade, so seven beautiful gifts including a poem that bought tears to my eyes. I also spent a lovely evening and breakfast walk along the seafront at Hastings after a night at The Laindons which I thoroughly recommend.
What it is like being 70? the best feeling in the world, freedom to do and be who you like, fabulous.
Here are a few glimpses of the past weeks
I am now on a new journey, a journey where I can devote my time to a creative daily practice of my own.
My days of designing interiors are now over, cannot believe I ran my own successful company for so long. My only sadness it that my mother died just weeks before it all began, she never saw me put my creative skills to good use, I know she would have been so very happy for me. There are many challenges in starting a business and the first few years were extremely tough, many times I was close to giving up but thankfully that strong will of mine saw me through. My mums words “where there is a will there is way” constantly rang through my head. I also also lived through the dawning of the digital age, apple mac was my first computer in the early 90’s with my first mobile phone and over the years the working practice of a designer became totally computer driven. Out went the drawing boards and the source library an in came drawing packages, illustrator, Cad and so on. Together with a great team we have designed, procured and installed projects the length and breadth of the country.
Will I miss it all? Right in this moment in time, I would say no definitely not, interior design sounds great but it comes with massive pressure, constant deadlines and right now I am so happy to leave it al behind. Will I miss it in the future, who knows, possibly, but I know that my own creative skills have taken a back seat for so long thats its time now for this to be the main part of my day.
just a few of the ways I have been expressing myself of late.
Friday a really sunny day and took myself of to Hastings and my usual ritual of brunch at the Jerwood Gallery. Sitting outside on the terrace looking out to sea, the sun streaming down felt relaxed and far away from work related issues. Great food, great view and of course the paintings which I always come away from feeling energised with all kinds of inspired thoughts and feelings
This time I came back with a fish, a fresh caught sole for my dinner, amazing price of £2, together with some asparagus, home made hollandaise, plenty of lemon, delicious !!
Here are some colours I especially like, one of the them by Duncan Grant, all have some association with the local area and all the colour combination will have been absorbed like a sponge and then squeezed out into my next project.
Klimt, Kaffe und Kuchen in that order. This is how my long weekend in Vienna panned out. The city made a great impact on my senses, although very humid and hot my daughter and I walked to all the shrines to the master painter Gustav Klimt. I have seen many of his works ten years ago at the Tate Liverpool exhibition, but seeing the Beethoven frieze in situ within the Secession building in Vienna gave me goosebumps. I think it’s not only the works of art, it’s the history, the art nouveau period, the lifestyle, the history of some of the paintings belonging to wealthy jewish families and then stolen by the Nazis.
The Kiss, or at least a copy of it was bought for me on the occasion of my second wedding anniversary, I fell in love it as did thousands of others at the time 1971. I vowed then that one day I would visit Vienna, but I never though it would take me this long !!! Seeing the Kiss in the flesh, I cannot say it was a disappointment far from it, but because I have seen it everywhere for years it had slightly lost its allure, it still was amazing to see his mark making up close, it was not as fine as I had imagined but standing back from it, exquisite, they all were, including some landscapes, especially those at the Leopold Museum. This museum had a wondrous collection that we walked around for a long time, Picasso, Richter, Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, Munch and a small amount of Klimt’s sketches. From what I understand a lot of them are being prepared for and exhibition in london later this year.
The Vienna Riding school and the amazing arena setting, tall ceilings, huge tall columns and chandeliers. Horse and riders are so elegant. The large parks and squares, large wide streets along with interesting winding lanes, the winter palace with its splendid arches and sculptures, this is a city to remember, I would love to go back
After all the walking, 1300 steps each day I felt I deserved a treat so it was a trip to a Viennese coffee-house for Kaffe und Kuchen and it didn’t fail to delight
Came across this ring on Pintarest, (housed in the British Museum) what gem ! Beautifully carved red cornelian depicting a crouching cat within a gold setting. An ancient egyptian piece dating back to around 1070-712 BCE. Its the period known as the third intermediate age, that lasted around 350 years, starting at the death of Ramses XI.
The cat was revered in ancient egypt, the Goddess of cats Bastet, women especially gave offerings to, it was said that if you carried around an amulet of a cat with kittens, that eventually you would have as many children as would appear in your amulet. As cats were sacred to Bastet, cats were mummified along with their owners, and people were put to death if they accidentally killed one !
This precious ring was acquired by the Bristish museum in 1947 on the death of Gayer Anderson, famous collector of egyptian artefacts,
Maj Robert Grenville Gayer-Anderson (military/naval; collector; British; Male; 1881 – 1945)
British army surgeon, administrator and collector, given the title of Pasha by King Farouk in 1942 after giving his home Beit el-Kiridliya to the people of Egypt.
On the underside of the cat there is a carved Wadjet eye or the Eye of Horus, used as a protective amulet, and initially offered to Osirus by Horus. So powerful was its use that it restored him back to life ! these Wadjet eye amulets are found in vast quantities wrapped in the folds of the egyptian mummies.
With the last two weeks sitting around with my foot up ideas pop up and I record them, either stored in the mental filing cupboard or links and images put in the relevant files on my laptop, its never ending. So today instead of sitting in the window watching the world go by, I will use my crutches to get to the office and start organising our very hectic schedule for the coming months, first thing is to search for a new employee. Anyone out there with a good sense of spatial awareness, colour sense, good computer skills and above all can take on respsonsibillity with confidence and a will to succeed, please contact me.
Up early, first day back at work for two weeks. Since moving my offices I now only have about 100yds to get to work, what a blessing, not being able to drive my car at least until Feb 4th! its a godsend. Beside my home is a mews where the stables, blacksmith, and gardner’s cottage are located. These were there uses back in the 1800’s but now the gardner’s cottage is my office and design studio, the blacksmiths is now my own personal art studio and the area where there would have been greenhouses along the kitchen garden wall is now where I sit and have coffee when I need to take a break from the hectic schedule. It faces south and even in winter there are still days when the sky is blue and there are no clouds for the sun to hide behind, that I can sit out there, wrapped in scarves and gloves and hold a steaming hot cup of coffee and feel the sun warming my face…………….. just what is needed to calm the soul.
Being a designer can be very hectic in the “head” so much goes on in there !! and at times it never stops, the office day finishes around 6pm but my designing head never stops, always absorbing ideas, gaining inspiration from the world around me. I love getting up around 6am and just sitting there in the peace and stillness of the morning and watching the sun rise, although on these winter mornings it takes a long while for the sun to come up, today around 7.30. Meditation, writing my “morning pages” is a must, its how I achieve “internal space” for each new day to unfold in.
It is so exciting to have so many wonderful projects to be working on and I feel such gratitude to have abundance in this difficult climate.