The ramblings of an Ex interior designer

Good morning folks

It’s been a long few months since I posted here.  Mostly my jottings are sporadic and I am always making promises to myself to post regularly, but I don’t.  Partly because I write “morning pages”, something I started after attending workshop at Alternatives many years back, all about the “Artists Way” given by the author of the said book whose name escapes me, and whom I cannot search as I am in the midst of a horrendous storm in the north of Kefalonia.  Usually I can see Ithaca, the home of Ulysses, but today its totally obscured by the rain soaked clouds that have descended.  It is also partly due to my mind being totally preoccupied with moving home, since closing down IDC to pursue this new part of my life with gusto I have been making plans to move away from Tunbridge Wells a place I made home when I married in 1969.  With all this going on The Extraordinairium and my little creatures are sitting happily in my studio and have not ventured any further, although they have grown a little with a couple of additions and the nearer I became to selling them I realised I couldn’t part with them, so selling I am not sure at this juncture.  Although I have always said I would not make to commission, in this instance maybe I shall so that my current family can stay intact.

Moving home, which I may add when I moved to this home, now over 20 years ago, it was to be my last ever move.  At that time my ex husband and I shared an old fisherman’s/beach hut on a deserted beach at Shellness on the weekends, a great place next to RSPB land, no costa, Starbucks or Pret.  Sharing alternate weekends it was a haven away from the pressures of running my own company, with only a one-ring gas picnic stove, no running water and toilet that needed to be emptied, I loved it.  To go to sleep with sound of the sea lapping up on the beach, waking to an ever changing seascape and walks along the shore to see what flotsam and jetsam had been washed up over night, buying a fresh sea bass from fisherman on the beach and pan frying immediately downed with a chunk of bread and lashings of butter, it was heaven.  Sadly my ex sold it over one winter without telling me or giving me the opportunity to purchase it myself for the family, that was a very sad moment not only for his deceit which I should have known, but no longer would I have an outside space to call my own as I specifically chose a flat without a garden as the beach home was to be a family preserve and given to our children.  Ever since then I have hankered to be close the sea.  At last now I have the opportunity, my thoughts have changed a little with the news of the first small town by the sea in wales to be actually decommissioned, meaning in two years time all the utilities will be cut off and the town will not be included in the councils remit, so it will just go into decline, a ghost town.  How can this be? How can you just stop serving a community of people who have paid their taxes over the years, no compensation is being offered, its beyond callous, its brutal.  So decided with the way our planet is heading I would like an elevated view rolling countryside and a distant sea view.

First I followed the call of the wild, visited north Pembrokeshire, Strumble Head to be precise and fell in love with a farmhouse there.  With holiday cottages as part of the sale which initially attracted me, after coming back to earth I realised all the work involved was something I did not want to take on, at 70 I wanted to spend time developing my own creative pursuits. Now people don’t worry about getting older, I have never been happier and the prospect of this new life of no paid work, new home and freedom just fills me with excitement.    Despite constant searching for “the view” I couldn’t find anything similar unless very badly “modernised” or derelict.  Great idea, I would have thought  20 years ago but I don’t want that large undertaking now.  Also my kids thought it was rather a long way away from everything I have known, in the cold light of day I came to the conclusion that in the last decades of my life I want to be near them and not distance myself from them.  For the last 30 years I have been totally absorbed by my love of interiors, and the building pressure of ever larger projects being undertaken, working with huge construction contractors like Wates and Balfour Beatty it just took every ounce of my energy to keep everything on track.  Now I want to be the person that was lost many years ago, the person who had time “to be”, to find enjoyment in the mundane, the simple pleasure of living with the seasons, growing flowers, fruit and vegetable, preserving, cooking and baking and of course “making”.

My search for home with a view took me all along south coast, I have now found that home with a perfect view and my offer was accepted the day before I journeyed here.

Slowing down from the fast pace life of running my own design business, staff issues and so on, standing back now it makes me realise just how shallow the whole lifestyle design thing has become.  I know I played a role in this “Luxury” for the masses syndrome that has consumed everyone since those early TV programmes from the 90’s, I too was sucked into must have latest colour and trend, went to all the trade fairs, Maison Objet in Paris being my all time favourite.  However, increasingly over the past years I found the whole trend based design to be particularly irksome where absolutely everything in the industry is monetized, not only the so called trend and colour forecasters but the people who feel they must have the latest at whatever cost and just discarding perfectly good kitchens, bathrooms, furniture, lighting just because someone somewhere has said this colour or style is not cool anymore.  Just this morning I was listening to a podcast of two rather “prominent” women in the design world putting across the latest sound bytes of design info whilst there insincere laughter at each others tittle tattle left me cold.  Why is it these people are so popular?  Haven’t we minds of our own, can’t we use our intuition to choose a colour/style that feeds our souls and can bring us joy and not be “told” by someone who is going to make money out of us by vloging, blogging and podcasts and so on.  All on the make, all trying to attract big business to sponsor them, give discounts on sales and so on.  I don’t know about you reading this, but I feel like I am full to the brim, just cannot take all this over consumption anymore.  The world is bloated, oversaturated with “stuff”.  We have been force fed too much in the belief it will make our lives better, what a total lie we have been telling ourselves. 

In essence the whole issue of excessive consumerism can no longer be ignored, its not just about the items being “recyclable” as Hugh FT found out when he researched this issue on his recent TV programme and found our recycled goods rotting in Malaysia. It is about waking up and realising that we must look at the quantity of product we are purchasing, do we really need to discard last years velvet sofa for this years latest, yes we can give to charity shop or resell, but its still purchasing new which is something we all need to look at.  The Patriarchal Capitalist model of year on year profit and keeping shareholders happy is totally destroying our planet.  Everything has “money accumulation” written in and I mean almost everything, you cannot cough without someone making a buck of your likes and dislikes, look at how at much money is being made by data harvesting, how in fact this alone has changed the stability of the world I grew up in.  Its all quite sickening when the onus is put on the consumers alone, what about the companies who manufacture the goods, the companies who rape our planet for the raw materials.  People we must stop buying for trends sake and make wise choices for comfort, durability and longevity.

Well that is my ramble over, the island of Ithaca is still hidden, the rain is still coming down in torrents and the power has just gone down.

Until next time

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

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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Rabbits and bags and things

Very productive couple of days.  Daily practice completed, then on to manifesting my dream bunnies.  I just dont know why this has come to me now?  I had just had to make them, something told me to bring these animals into reality,  what I saw in my daydreaming, I made them real !

This last project which has been sitting around in my cupboard for far too long has been completed.  The crocheted shopper made from free plastic shopping bags.  Ocado bags come in all shades of grey, perfect.  Finished off and fixed on leather handles and its complete!

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feeling free

 

Another large project (day job)  has at last come to fruition and with that comes the release of feeling I can breathe again, no pressure……..  and even closer to  my goal of giving it all up for good.

today in my studio I tried out mono printing for the first time.    What a great way to work, I love it and cannot wait to get back down there again today.  Experimenting with inks, acrylics, alcohol, cutting stencils and the excitement of pulling the print, revealing such unexpected results.  I am ,looking out for some good printmaking weekend courses, if anyone knows of any please let me know.

I am also working on a large piece, acrylic underpainting and now layering in oils.  Intertwined shapes, at first large and as each subsequent layer they are becoming smaller and more defined, colours changing all the time.  Sometimes clashing  and full of vigour, sometimes much quieter and more sombre.  Almost like a weather gauge of emotions.   A journey I am enjoying

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compartments

Spent the afternoon in my studio, one to get away from the oppressive heat and two to calm my chaotic mind.  Last time I painted here it was a landscape, very tranquil with the sun just coming through the clouds after the rain.  Today, pouring out the chaos onto the canvas, at first it was fast and furious, then it slowed and as I kept standing back to look I could see lots of small compartments, all the different hats I wear I guess, and why there is often chaos going on.  Some cool and tranquil compartments, some hot, hot, fiery and overflowing but, and this surprised me, there is balance, that felt good.

Guess we all paint for different reasons and are drawn to different styles.  I don’t think I have yet found what really feeds my soul in terms of “style” and “content” of the painting, but just feeling and seeing the lucscuious colours oozing from the tubes, the buttery smoothness as the paint glides over the canvas, listening to loud, loud music, the movement of they body as the brush sweeps in wide arcs, this is why I paint, its so freeing, and exciting.

My sketch book is filling too and I know this is stirring something deep inside, its definitely a journey, and a daliy practice of creativity whatever it maybe certainly has its own momentum.

Moel Hirradug

This painting of Moel Hirradug has had several lives, three different attempts, one all green, one multicoloured and this one I think I like the best.  Still feel the need to try again though, next time might be acrylics and pastel.  This one is oil and it shows the iron age fort that sits atop.  I have it on my friend’s authority that the view from the top is amazing, sadly I didnt even attempt it.  Far too hot.  The painting also depicts the parched earth, no rain now for 54 days.IMG_9614