Knitting and Stitching Show

7819610_assocImage_3This weekend it is the Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace in London, 10th -13th October.  If you need a little inspiration to make, do and mend, explore a new hobby, or advance an old one there is plenty on offer.  There are exhibits from some of the leading names in textiles, as well as taster workshops for the amateur and plenty of supplies available for to get you going.

Carefully curated would be heading for the Upcycling Academy,  headed by Barley Massey of Fabrications. and joined by TRAID, War on Want and Craftivist Collective.  There will be all manner of creative avenues for old cast-offs from rosette making to knitting with waste fabric, plus lots of customisation and ideas!

A hearty appetiser before Wool Week starts on Monday.

We protect what we love – exhibition opening

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The exhibition, “We protect what we love”, opens tonight at the Tabernacle, 35 Powis Square, W11 2AY  in West London.  The artist and campaigner Celia Gregory will present her latest body of work.  The exhibition includes mosaics, a selection of photography and video art from the Marine Foundation,  ‘Living sculptures in the sea’ and a series of light box installations,  artworks and artefacts made from natural items collected from beaches around the world.

Celia is an accomplished mosaic artist and sculptor, who founded the Marine Foundation not long after seeing, and feeling, the effects of dynamite fishing while diving in Bali.  Combining her artistic and creative talents with a powerful conservation message, and collaborating with a team of marine experts, is the Marine Foundation.

Supported by the Roddick Foundation, the Marine Foundation uses art as a catalyst for marine conservation, sustainable resource management and social change.  Working with their clients, the Marine Foundation combines art, marine management and artificial reef science to create underwater art installations that support and regenerate their surrounding marine ecosystem.

Celia’s work is inspired by nature, and inspires in the viewer a connection with nature.  Two of her works from last year’s exhibition are pictured below.  The exhibition is only until Saturday 5th October.

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And to echo my last entry with this, I offer a Maori Meditation, called ‘Finding God’ from Celia’s on the Marine Foundation website:

Sermons say read the bible To know god

Kneel and pray To know god

Obey the commandments To know god

But yesterday I saw a butterfly

Land on a withered leaf Just before sunset

And at that moment

I knew god…


Department of Seaweed


After Materials Moulded by Environments, I was uplifted by a sneak peak into the studio of Julia Lohmann, V&A Designer in Residence and Head of the Department of Seaweed.   The studio is a magical space with long tendrils of  seaweed drying overhead, rattan skeletons awaiting their seaweed sheath hanging from other bigger sculptures in progress and a selection of artefacts from masks and handbags to stained ‘glass’ and Urushi lacquerware.   The Japanese influences are evidence of Julia’s long residency in Sapporo Japan.

Julia’s research is exploring seaweed’s potential as a sustainable alternative to manmade materials such as plastic and glass or leather.  The Oki Naganode installation currently on display in Gallery 108 at the V&A shows seaweed’s potential as a design material.  This huge installation has been made from Naga Kombu, Japanese seaweed, hand stretched over a cane frame and fused into position.  The material qualities of the marine plant vary, but the wonderful warm colours, and textures are inviting to the touch.  The lampshades created from crinoline rattan cages covered in seaweed that has been cut with a delicate filigree cast a gentle glow.  During her current residency at the V&A, Julia is able to compare seaweed’s qualities of colour, texture, tensile strength, malleability and stability with other materials  and artefacts in the V& A’s collection, and analogies in creative and technical processes used to turn materials into objects.

Julia currently imports the seaweed she is working with from Japan where it is cultivated on a commercial scale for the food industry.  The research process requires a consistent standard of material in order to replicate techniques, however Julia uses co-design processes to create her work, and is promoting open-design strategies to further share her research and work processes with craftsmen from other disciplines, and ultimately geographies.  So, in time Julia’s techniques could be shared with other seafaring communities to explore their craft heritage and techniques in this medium.  As I swim off the coast of the British Isles, I will look upon the seaweed fields swaying in the currents with a renewed appreciation next summer!  What a wonderful substance that slippery seaweed it.

There are further open studio sessions this week, and a seminar on Friday 20th September, as part of the London Design Festival.


Too good to eat?


Butterflies are the product of a remarkable transformation and the same is true of the decorative flair given to vintage tableware by designer Melanie Roseveare, the designer who started Melody Rose.  Vintage ceramics are refired with new and vintage images to create quirky, bite-size pieces of art, some of which can even go in the dishwasher.  The butterfly plate I bought is too beautiful to eat off, and is hung on the wall in my daughter’s bedroom.

After much success upcycling vintage tableware, Melody Rose has introduced a range of new fine bone china tableware, manufactured in Stoke-on-Trent.  Pieces are gilded by hand and fired with designs from the Melody Rose collections.

Priced from £30, the products are available to buy online or at select markets and events, next up will be Tent London, which is running 19th -22nd September 2013, Old Truman Brewery, Hanbury Street, London, E1.


New Designers 2013


New Designers 2013 was the biggest yet with over 18,000 people visiting. We were part of the thronging crowd absorbing the wares of over 3,000 new design graduates from around the UK.  It was sensory overload.  As I was under some time pressure, it was a supermarket sweep approach, but those that caught my eye included:

  • Isatu Hyde’s No Excuse Foods A ceramicist, Isatu has fused her beautiful vessels with all the additional resources the enthusiastic amateur forager needs to create the No Excuse Foods concept.  The simple, sensual flasks  are made of glass and porcelain, with either cork or silicone bungs and labelled with clearly illustrated how to guide to make seasonal drinks from local edible resources, wild or other!hyde
  • I loved ‘Lux’, the hybrid solar light from Tom Elsmore that would shine sunlight (via a solar concentrator and fibre-optic cable) into the darkness of my study, even capturing the colours at sunset, and compensating with LEDs when the sun has set.  The steam-bent ash light stand is elegant too.
  • For the space constrained, I liked the humour and practicality of Joseph Kennedy’s range of artefacts (his word), that can be be hung off the wall when not in use.  The wobble stool would be a far more aesthetically pleasing replacement to the Swiss ball I use as my office chair.

While I was hunting for carefullycurated, my husband and youngest daughter had their portrait stitched by Harriett Riddell, one of those selected to be part of “One Year On at New Designers 2013”, essentially the best of the previous crop who are in their first year of business.  Here take on the troublesome two: