Friday, 15 November 2019

Woolwich Contemporary Print Fair

On Saturday I went to the fourth edition of the Woolwich Contemporary Print Fair which took place in a warehouse space in one of the buildings within the Royal Woolwich Arsenal. It was a wonderfully inspiring fair where you can discover, and buy, the best in contemporary printmaking from over 500 international artists. The exhibition had been curated using hand-picked emerging talent as well as world-renowned names, represented through a selection of galleries and studios. On top of this, there was a programme of talks, tours, workshops and demonstrations. And all of the art was available to buy!

'Make Time to Make' is a great phrase and very important! Making and creating things is so rewarding. There were several areas in the show where you could try your hand at printing.

I gravitated towards these map prints with their fantastic over-printed neon pink typography.

The print fair was held in a lofty space which was perfect for showing off the prints. The upstairs mezzanine meant that you could look down at all the lovely prints on offer.

I loved the colours and design of this print of Central London postcodes.

I also gravitated towards the Eastern-inpsired prints. I especially liked the simple black and white kimono print.

I love a bit of spattered neon pink!

It was great to watch the print makers in the process of creating their prints. The man on the right was screen printing a finely detailed map of London. 

There was such a combination of styles and textures.

These two pieces were created on wood and included torn paper and collage.

Two fun prints included the mix tape print on the left, which took me back to my youth. And on the right, a cheeky take on the 'Chinese Girl' painting by Vladimir Tretchikoff - below.

Thursday, 7 November 2019

Sausage dogs

Each item in my Cheeky Leopard shop has been hand made by me and I love the whole creative process from start to finish. I start with the fun part of choosing the fabrics and finding the perfect lining to match it. Each piece is cut out using pattern templates and then I assemble them on the sewing machine.

Even the cutting of the fabric is a satisfying process for me and I love the sound of scissors cutting through the fabric - see above. This sausage dog fabric has been really popular, but I still hate cutting through the dogs! 

For the cosmetic bag below, I use a fleece between the outer fabric and lining to give it some padding. I machine sew this onto the outer fabric, as you can see above.

Each cosmetic bag is fully lined and has a fitted zipper that has been carefully sewn into the bag. In this case I used a black zipper to match the dogs and the black and white lining.

This sausage dog purse is perfect for storing makeup and toiletries in and is machine washable.

It could also be used as a travel bag or as a handbag organiser to keep small items together in your handbag.

There are quite a few sausage dog items in my store and they make great gift sets for that dachshund lover in your life, like this matching coin purse.

Monday, 28 October 2019

Sketch London

Afternoon tea has become a very popular thing to do and I've done a few in my time! But I think my favourite experience was at Sketch recently. Housed in an 18th century townhouse, this quirky restaurant, tea room and cocktail bar is eclectically designed.

We had our afternoon tea in the pink dining room - a nod to the decadence of the 1930s.

The seats are upholstered in a soft pink velvet and modern art adorns the walls.

This lovely man in pink served us caviar on a pearl spoon!

The menu had a Victorian style to it and each sandwich and pastry had been  illustrated in a Victorian style.

After an amuse bouche of comte cheese soldiers dipped in a cheese mornay and served with caviar, this three-tiered wonder arrived! Savouries were on the bottom tier and included sandwiches such as coronation chicken and salmon and cucumber, as well as an egg gougere with watercress. Scrumptious sweet items were on the other two tiers and included passionfuit cheesecake, blueberry tart and blackberry marshmallow.

I liked the quote that I found at the bottom of my teacup. There were two pages of tea choices on the menu and an endless supply of any tea of your choice. I tried the English Breakfast tea, followed by rosebud tea and then finished with the lemongrass and ginger tea.

The toilets have to be visited! Each toilet is housed in an egg-shaped pod.

For a darker, more moody experience, a drink in the woodland-themed bar is a must.

Tuesday, 22 October 2019

Tim Walker: Wonderful Things

On Saturday I was transformed to the wonderful world of Tim Walker at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Tim is one of the world's leading fashion photographers and has photographed for Vogue for over a decade now, using extravagant staging and romantic motifs to characterise his style. This extensive exhibition is called Wonderful Things and shows his extraordinary creative process and explains some of the thoughts behind the images. The exhibition includes pictures, films, photographic sets and special installations.

The first room shows a rather conventional retrospective of his work, showing images of models used for Vogue as well as portraits of famous actors and musicians.

Margot Robbie

Nicole Kidman

Joanna Lumley

The V&A asked Walker to to explore their archives and select 10 items that excited him and then create photographic projects based on those items. The rest of the exhibition uses room sets, created by Shona Heath, that make you feel like you've stumbled into one of Walker's photographs.

Tim has always been seduced by the inky blackness and sexual confidence of Aubrey Beardsley's illustrations, and the museum houses hundreds of Beardsley's prints. This image, titled The Peacock Skirt, was one of Beardsley's illustrations for Oscar Wilde's translation of Salome. Tim's interpretation of the Beardlsey illustrations uses striking images in black and white. Some use models in black clothing on a stark white backdrop, other images use a negative effect of black and white.

This was my favourite image of this section where the model's feet have been elongated and she hangs onto a draped harp.

The next section was titled Cloud 9 and the photographs are inspired by the V&A's historical paintings from South Asia. Tim has always been drawn to India and these photographs celebrate the country's vibrancy and rich history of storytelling.

The next section was called Box of Delights and involves a room bedecked in pink. With club music playing, it is Tim's way of expressing the need for everyone to have a world where you can be whoever you want to be, such as in the London club scene.

The V&A has an amazing collection of intricately decorated snuffboxes and Tim saw one with a dragon on it. He visualised an empress walking her pet dragon at night and picking a flower that only blooms at full moon.

The 16th century lacquer snuff box with shell inlay and carved stones

The section titled The Land Of The Living Men shows all photographs of men. Tim wanted to magnify the male nude by making it as big as possible.The title is from a William Morris novel.

Handle With Care is a section of the exhibition that is a love letter to the conservators, curators and archivists at the museum. The dresses are exquisitely wrapped up and become beautiful ghosts. Tim imagines the characters in these photos coming to life in the museum.

Why Not Be Oneself is a section that uses portraits of Tilda Swinton who has inhabited the role of the poet, Dame Edith Sitwell. These pictures are a celebration of age and individuality.

The final section of the museum is called Soldiers Of Tomorrow and is inspired by a 65 metre long photo of the Bayeux Tapestry. Tim was inspired to create photographs that evoke both the chaos and the beauty of the tapestry. As the fashion industry can be very wasteful, Tim liked the idea of everything being recycled, home made and hand knitted for this shoot. Old ironing boards became shields and vacuum cleaners became mad medieval instruments. These modern soldiers are eco-warriors or tomorrow.

This stunning exhibition is on until 8th March 2020.

Sunday, 20 October 2019

Autumn at Anthropologie

It's that time of year when the days are getting shorter and the weather is getting cooler and it's a great time to forage around the shops and take in the beautiful autumn colours. Anthropologie is always a source of inspiration for me. As a textile designer, it's very inspiring and I love their use of pattern and colour. There were a lot of jewel tones on my recent visit as well as an interesting mix of fabrics.

This rayon top uses a loose floral style and is mixed with a dark geometric background that brings out the colours. It also has a gold woven dot running through it to add a bit of glitz to your outfit.

This top is a beautiful berry tone and has a 3D effect with pretty embroidered flowers.

A paisley is a classic design and can be coloured in an amazing array of colours that can radically change its look. This one uses quite a traditional palette, but has hints of hot pink.

This folk-inspired embroidery is on the sleeve of a rather simple black blouse. I love the isolation of a design to just one area of the garment - a nod to folk without being too folky!

I was drawn to this velvet chair that comes in amazing jewel tones. Quite a statement!

This stunning print was on a maxi dress. The black background really shows off the colours and design of this retro-inspired print.

These sequinned handbags were like little gems, with their soft pink and gold colourings.

Even the trainers were brightly coloured. I love the acid green, turquoise and grey colour combo and the addition of the grey and white speckled soles.

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