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Sunday, 14 August 2016

Car Boot Treasures

Early morning sunshine drew me to the nearby car boot sale today. I often try to avoid going because I don't need more clutter - you know the feeling - but then what if I miss something? - and today was a good one and each item I bought was £1. Above is a silk Braque/Picasso inspired scarf in good nick. It's going in the box of potential presents. 

Then I found some little silk hankerchieves that look 1930's so I bought four of those.

They really are a dainty size and I thought I'd use them to wrap small presents, but folded on the cross they do reach round the neck and can be knotted so I could wear them - well I'm definitely not going to be blowing my nose into them!

I think this one might be my favourite because I like the mark making as if it's been coloured with pastel crayons.

CAR BOOT FIND OF THE DAY - Feeling lucky! - I couldn't come home without my Zoltar the Gypsy Lottery Fortune Teller also for £1.  Do click play as the image resolution sharpens in play. Listen to him roll the R in Thunderball, I love his accent and will definitely be taking his advice!
(sorry this doesn't seem to appear on ipad - had a week of techy nightares so I wont attempt to resolve, but it's on my instagram page)


I think all my time in the Penny Arcades at Dingles Heritage Fairground awoke my eyes to him. I was just playing the machine below a few days ago.

Occasionally you win! and I won 20p on one of these which is loud tumbling out as 10 x 2p pieces and that means 10 more plays - all good fun and I'm happy that all the fairground's winnings will go to preserving the collection of rides and machines. They are currently fund raising the buy and restore this Moonrocket - I can't wait to go on it.

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Happy Distractions

 To cheer myself up since the Brexit vote I've been looking at the twitter account of the lynx who escaped from Dartmoor Zoo (Zexit?) a week ago; very amusing.

Flaviu the escaped lynx, photo copyright Dartmoor Zoo

They say he's stayed near the zoo but it's a little way from where I am and there were helicopters circling here the other evening. I hadn't realised that the story of the owner of this zoo is what the movie 'I bought a zoo' with Matt Damon is based on.
Another great antidote to the tumultuous political weeks has been to take some of my summer guests to Dingles Fairground Heritage Centre - my 3rd visit this season and one of my favourite places on earth. We always go on the dodgems twice; as their slogan says "everyone's favourite ride".

And I loved the spelling mistake below on the Super Sonic Skid!

Wednesday, 29 June 2016


The Channel Tunnel     Photo from Bechtel.com

I thought the Channel Tunnel was one of the modern wonders of the world when it was built. Travel to mainland Europe without having to fly and in just a few hours is fantastic. I have often gone to Paris just for the day to scour flea markets for treasures for my work. It's unlikely it would be built now as the spirit in which it was built was tied up with unity of the European countries. I grieve for the loss of that spirit. My heart feels heavy like someone's died when I see ordinary British people interviewed and they start talking about fishing (quota problems etc, yes the EU is not perfect) and then go on to say they should send all the foreigners home! I am ashamed to be associated with these people, I do not want to be a little Englander.
By chance I watched the best ever antidote to my misery and anxiety about what lies ahead. It was Coldlplay at Glastonbury, didn't know I was a fan but watching a massive crowd of different people come together (in the cold and mud) and find common ground in a song they all knew all the words to was so moving, overwhelming. The band were so generous in giving a great show including my favourite ever Bee Gee song with Barry Gibb (Stayin' Alive - I put this on in my studio to get me going on a grey day). Also the tribute to Viola Beach, the young band who all died when their van crashed was such a beautiful idea. Do watch it - it restored my faith in humanity and reminded me that my community are still out there.

Friday, 24 June 2016

Lovely Immigrant

My father came here from France as a baby in the 1920's. He grew up to become a really talented architect. I'm glad he didn't live to see the outcome of the vote today. Anything that gets the thumbs up from Trump and Putin has got to be a bad thing hasn't it! let alone our home grown xenophobes. I am absolutely shocked to learn what I learned today about the island I live on. I consider myself lucky to have friends here from all over the world.

Friday, 17 June 2016


Clear and white 8 Cup Chandelier

I finally got round to photographing my clear chandeliers against a black back ground. The switch to digital definitely made photography easier; back in the day I had a range of flood lights with 1000's of watts, had to blackout the daylight and shoot on slide film over-exposing by 2 and 2.5 stops. I'd then get the film processed in Soho, edit them and press into slide frames. Then I'd post them to magazines etc. That seems so elaborate and lengthy now but I used to really enjoy the analogue way and was a really late adopter of digital - no going back now!

Friday, 20 May 2016

Andrews Restaurant

This beautiful, old style cafe on the Grays Inn Road (near Theobalds Rd crossroads) is guess what? Yes - under threat of being knocked down and replaced with luxury flats. Are there any developers out there who aren't bonkers? I mean even the people who move into London's new flats might still like a bit of texture, character and places to go to.

So, pay them a visit and ask for the petition they keep behind the counter and sign it. Fingers crossed! A mug of tea and toasted cheese, tomato and onion sandwich was £3.50 - central London, that's lunch for less than a fiver. You can also drink in the atmosphere and character or sit outside and admire the mosaic frontage.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016


Arriving at the car boot sale in Devon shortly after the rain made shopping easy - most people had packed away, so a with a quick look round I found a nicely tarnished metal filigree dish for £1, it was probably more before the rain, and a collection of old pulleys for £2.50. I wonder of I'd have found these in a large sea of bric-a-brac. 
I use pulleys for my candle only chandeliers (scroll down) but I've never been keen to with electrical cable because of any movement in the connections, however it is perfectly possible if you use the right fixtures and you can buy electrical cable that also has a support cable in it to take weight.
I may use these for industrial effect rather than hoisting, I absolutely love all useful looking fixtures even if I haven't a clue what they do!

Saturday, 30 April 2016

Credit Where Due

Are you watching Thicker Than Water on More 4? I love this Swedish series from the Walter Presents selection. It's a gripping story with great mix of characters, I love the teenagers, location, photography and music; it concludes next Thursday but you can watch it all here on 4 on Demand. I love the opening sequence with the credits and the music throughout which goes from jaunty with a banjo to very dark and suits the series perfectly. I wanted to know who the music was by but it's not credited on any of the sites about the programme - how mad is that!! So I kept looking at the opening sequence to write it down, when I paused the screen it showed a still advert so I had to keep re running it until I had it all down and found out it is by a group called Flaskkvartetten - Fleshquartet in English. It turns out they did the music for Wallander too and that's available but Thicker Than Water doesn't seem to be yet.
This reminded me of Pia Jane Bijkerk's campaign poster for crediting image makers on the net.
Poster by Pia Jane Bijkerk

If I cant find who to credit an image to for Pinterest then I wont pin it. It really annoys me that the creators can be so easily dismissed. It happens all the time on TV - have you noticed how they shrink the credits to a corner to run a trailer and there's no chance of catching who the costume designer was. It's so unfair to all the talent and effort that went into the making. I know there's alot of image re-use without credit which is why Pia started the campaign, but it surprises me because I would have thought it normal to want to credit artists rather than just thieve - surely!!!   Really recommend that series - enjoy!

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Stuff Matters

I finally started reading Stuff Matters by Mark Miodownik. Having heard him speak at Making Futures conference last year I had his book on my to read list and bought it here. One fantastic thing about it is that it's written in easy to understand English - not always so amongst academics. I've just read about the structure of metals and it is SO fascinating presumably because it's written by someone who is fascinated by how materials behave. 

I hadn't bothered to stop and think where we might be without the discovery of metals - back in the stone age using flint, wood and bone - so I'll just take a moment to honour the ancestors who discovered metal ore which lead to my massive collection of tin and aluminium treasures.

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Cobalt blue, Jade green, etc.

 I love putting the colour mixes together.  The great thing about colours is what they do to each other.

Friday, 4 March 2016

Upcyclisted Directory

I'm very happy to be included in Upcyclist's DirectoryUpcyclisted.  Antonia wrote one of the best books on upcycling that I've seen. Each time I look through it I see something I didn't notice before so I'll never be finished with looking at it. I particularly love the furniture by Italian company Manoteca, one of the 48 featured artists in her book.

The play with proportions in this dressing table called Ephemera makes it stand out against most furniture I've seen, this is daring but not loud which I find really aesthetically pleasing.

And I love this ingenious work table called Windoor that folds away. Isn't great when you see something and love every decision the artist made and wouldn't change a thing.

Monday, 22 February 2016

All the Fun of the Fair and More

In the world of visual art it's often Folk Art that moves me more than other genres. I was so thrilled to discover Dingles Fairground Heritage Centre in Devon. Since I'm split between Devon and London I've so missed the buzz and culture of London when in the west country, (I made a studio here to be near my old mum since her stroke) then happily via the blogosphere I found Dingles on The British Bible of Taste - Thank you! which in turn I had found following a link from Jo Waterhouse's fantastic, witty blog Toot as in Foot
Devon is huge and luckily Dingles is only a 40 minute drive from here - I only recently learned to drive, not so easy in middle age but very necessary in the countryside - so, great to let rip on the dodgems on arrival!

This is a collection of vintage, working rides; carousel, ghost train, waltzers etc housed in one of two large farm sheds. Also there are a collection of working one armed bandits, a hall of mirrors and penny arcade games - take 1p, 2p and 10p pieces.

We had fun on all the rides and the dodgems twice but really the second barn was my favourite, housing a huge collection of absolutely stunning fairground art - I thought I'd died and gone to heaven here, it really is like somewhere that only exists in your dreams.

Behind the Chariot Racer I spotted this workbench, I love to see work areas, here there is clearly a dedicated team restoring and maintaining the rides and artwork.

There is so much to feast your eyes on here, these photos are a tiny percentage, there is tons to see including penny arcade machines from different eras. There is also alot to hear with the old fairground organs playing traditional music, I shall definitely be going back to Dingles many times!

Amongst my favourite artwork were some large screens of boxers painted in the 1920's; apparently you could challenge the boxer and get in the ring with him, can't imagine that happening today.
Dingles is a good day out with a nice cafe and shop, good selection of postcards (not always the case is it!?) and an illustrated guide for £4, also disabled access so I will be taking my mum in her wheelchair to see the artwork, don't think I'll get her on a ride but you never know!

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Lilac, Gold and Red

One of the things I love about big cities is the endless supply of visual feasts and contrasts in colour, forms, style, scale and age. Autumn and winter sunshine always enhance the views.

Tokyo is the place more full of contrasts than anywhere I've ever been with tiny old, wooden buildings next to new, high blocks, bright signs, traditional costume, millions of potted plants next to air conditioner outlets - I could go on. I've been there twice and both times barely slept in the fortnight because my eyes were overstuffed from the daily feasts.

The drinks machines punctuate and light up the city by night. I went in autumn and took a trip out of town where the red and orange maples are similarly overwhelming. One day I would love to go back in spring to see the blossom.

Monday, 11 January 2016

Is there life on Mars?

Brixton Pound

There can't be an artist in the world who has not in some way been affected by David Bowie; stunning innovator and originator.  If I had to choose my favourite era it's Ziggy Stardust and that one legged lurex outfit - what a Man!  
I also love this little played song appropriately called "My Death", a beautiful take on a Jaques Brel song.  Have a listen to this and admire the breadth of the man.

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Christmas Tree Decorations

I usually use branches to make a festive tree and I've managed to accumulate decorations over the years so that I have a curious collection by now. The oldest is a little antique Santa and the most modern a 3D printed mesh bauble with a reindeer inside.

This bauble was given to me by the artist Lucy Casson, it's one of two from a collection she found in a charity shop years ago. We were both exhibiting on the recycling scene (before the word upcycling was used) around the year 2000 and she knew I'd appreciate the making. The above is made from washing liquid nozzles, plastic beads and a ring of spikes from a dismantled plastic flower - ingenius!

And strangely the maker - or someone - had labelled it 'Floral Spikes 1974', how curious, it's like an anthropologists label from Pitt Rivers Museum.

This is the other one, a green lady from foil wrappers with a button for a collar and small buttons for hands and feet.

This knitted tree is a real favourite. I bought it from Emmaus charity shop in Portslade on the outskirts of Brighton some years ago.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

New Collection?

Ever walked into a shop and the only staff present is a cat? It seems I've started a photo collection....

Don't look at me like that and yes we are open.....

Yeah have a look around, but you're not getting anything wrapped in this tissue paper...
You can often see this market cat at Cornercopia in the Granville Arcade (always hated the new name Brixton Village!) Brixton Market.

Friday, 11 December 2015

The Survivor Sofa Story

I'm very much looking forward to this on Monday;

A documentary about pioneering design and recycling on Monday 14th December at 10pm on the Community Channel but if you're busy you can watch it here. It features my friends the lovely Urban Uphostery. See the trailer here.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Fat Cucumbers

Just because they look great....

This cucumber batch have not been digitally enhanced! Doesn't it make you want to get out some paints and crayons and draw them. Brixton market never fails to be a feast for the eyes.

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Case Study

 I bought this suitcase from a charity shop recently.  I haven't fallen for those styled stacks you see as I always thought it would be annoying to have to keep unstacking them every time you were looking for something. I just liked this object. I think I'll keep fabric in it.

It has some really nice labels on it and a tartan type paper lining. I always found those authentic travel labels so lovely, though Waterloo to Staines is not that exotic! You used to see suitcases like that in old films that they never show on TV anymore, why don't they show Jean Harlow or Marx Brothers movies?, I love the dresses from the 30's best - such lovely draping and fabrics. Ever seen anyone pack a case properly in the movies? No it's practically non-existent, they throw things in all crumpled in a frenzy then squash the lid down with a tail hanging out.

I'd like to know this case's stories; it seems to be hiding the fact it's been to Singapore. When I was a teenager I bought the tin below in a junk shop.

And more recently I couldn't resist this little one, it's a money box for skinny coins.

I love the colours and graphics on this and the little key works.

 I bought it at Spitalfields Antique Market ( see 2 posts ago) for £10.

And here's Otis with suitcase all ready for social cleansing (!) before eviction day last year.
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