The Wrap Paper

May 7, 2012 § 1 Comment

WRAP is one of those ideas that you wish you’d had yourself. A beautifully designed limited edition journal printed in large format, it is dedicated to showcasing the best in up and coming design in the widest sense – be it illustration, textiles, food or anything that captures the editorial interest. Indepth interviews are informed and erudite, revealing the inspiration behind designers’ work, the processes they use and quirks and curiosities that you won’t have read about elsewhere.

On the reverse of the editorial are sublime double page litho prints intended for reuse as wrapping paper (no staples or stitching!). This cleverly furthers awareness of the creatives with print information detailed on a little pop out gift tag found on the back cover. In this way, Wrap extends its readership reach and awareness of talent to those it might not have otherwise reached.

The magazine itself is so beautifully put together, its a collectors item in itself so it seems almost sacriligeous to pull it apart and with sound commitment to sustainable design (printed with vegetable based inks on 100% recycled and FSC certified paper) this really is coffee table reading with a conscience! Keep an eye on their website as future aspirations include a homewares line. Here’s a peek at the latest issue:



September 13, 2011 § Leave a comment

Where have I been you ask? Distracted. Pontificating and contemplating life in every sense as it grows within me, every day a moment closer to the moment when a satellite spins off of ourselves. Daunting. Beautiful. Exciting.

But here we are together again on the cusp of autumn and in my world, the approach of a paper wedding anniversary. Naturally I have been been seeking the perfect memento for my beloved ~ a bookish and imaginative fellow who has recently published the second in what will be a trilogy of ethereal, deeply spellbinding word craft stories ~ more of which later. He certainly inspires the unusual and one-off when it comes to presents.

Paper craft has been a long fascination of mine; a childhood of polish wycinanki (see above) and hours spent in my bedroom with mother’s nail scissors cutting bright mosaic paper collages of various creatures, which now hang somewhat forgotten in my parents home. So when I came across Helen Musselwhite’s work, I found all of the above requirements magically nesting in one of her beautiful cloche domes. Her bold,  folkish and graphic work is bursting with wild forests, foxes and owls.

Beautiful Wood, Helen Musselwhite

Very different is the ephemeral ephemera of Scottish artist Georgia Russell, whose work I first saw in a little gallery called England & Co (by whom she is represented), where we both gawped at her slashed and scalpelled curios some of which disturbed as much as delighted. Cut paper is so much more then a folkart or craft medium. It is also contemporary artistry ~ Georgia’s work has been bought by the V&A which a higher accolade than Charles Saatchi in my books. There isn’t a lot I wouldn’t do to own one of her de-re-constructed antique books. Perfect for book romancers and those with extraordinary imaginations.


   Lolita / English to Hindustani Dictionary / The Music Room, 2009, Georgia Russell / A Room of Ones Own

Su Blackwell is another renound paper artist, creating paper kingdoms which you want to melt into. Some such as her Children’s Study installation below, exhibited at the Bronte Parsonage Museum in 2010, have actually jumped out of the book and come to life. Soldiers scaling antique dressers looking for war. Where is Alice’s shrinking potion when I need it? At the Rose Theatre of course, where you can see Su’s work on a giant scale with her set design and art direction of Hans Christierson Anderson’s Snow Queen.

My first book-sculpture was ‘The Quiet American’. I cut moths from the book with a craft-knife. The piece was inspired by a Chinese legend, about two lovers whose souls re-emerge from burnt ashes in the shape of two Moths. I began working with paper, because of its connection to spiritual rituals that I encountered in South East Asia, and this in turn led me to work with books, and fairy tales.  Su Blackwell

Guilloche is new word of the month for me and in the words of Wikipedia, a decorative engraving technique in which a very precise intricate repetitive pattern or design is mechanically engraved into an underlying material with fine detail. Think bank notes, spirographs, Faberge eggs and watch movements and you’ll begin to get the picture. Tahiti Pehrson however, achieves filigree precision by hand and not machine. You can see a selection of his work at Ever Gold gallery in San Francisco. Re-birth of Venus, pictured below, is my favourite.

At Ever Gold, Tahiti Pehrson

Today’s final paper cut offering comes from Houston based Natasha Bowdoin, an adept at reimagining literature texts into layered intricate paper organisms that seem to be in a process of metamorphisis. She recently solo exhibited at the Bryan Miller Gallery  but its her early work that really captivates and inspires me ~ make sure to explore her website on my word!

Detail from ‘untitled’ 2008, Natasha Bowdoin

Tulgeywood, 2009, Natasha Bowdoin

Sadly I haven’t been able to procure a creation available in time for the 17th September, so in the meantime, this paper inspired post is a dedication to my beloved as well as a ode to his mistress Anna and her Juniper dog. She is one cool cat, so I don’t really mind the time he spends with her.

Written by Geoff Cox, illustrated by Rohan Eason, scored by Martin Roman Rebelski and published by art|music|publishing imprint Blackmaps, Anna and the Juniper Dog follows on from the captivating Anna and the Witch’s Bottle. Anna and Boy travel through intertwined yet seperate existences, encountering strange episodes and mythical beasts. Geoff Cox’s wordspin is thicker than the gloopiest molasses of the first book, with so many intriguing dark happenings, beautiful mysterious beasts, aged relics and rusty embellishements in just one sentence, that I could reread each fifty times over and still discover something new. Words that make your head rush as if travelling at light speed through the most glittering cosmic starspace or on an opium high. Not that I’d know…but if I found myself in possession of the Witch’s Bottle, I wouldn’t hesitate to sip from its surreal and inky contents.  Matched in tempo by Eason’s monochromatic pen drawings which need no words and Rebelski’s gently haunting instrumentals that float in and around, this clothbound ephiphany crosses the murky border between adult and child consciousness and is a unique collaboration that shows what can beautifully explode between exceeding talents. Mystical.

The Juniper Dog strained its twisted roots against an ember red sky, snarling out swarms of night moths, barking flocks of owls from its splintery jaws. It howled the sea. Spat stars…

Tropical Modern Metamorphosis

June 8, 2011 § 2 Comments

Brazil is somewhere I have wanted to go for a long time. But this week, tropicana has been trailing me rather than the reverse – in various guises, all beautiful and inspiring.

Featuring at the 2009 Cannes film festival, Heitor Dahlia’s ‘A Deriva‘, set in 80s Brazil was a whispered find and a surefire hit in this household. The story is one of family metamorphosis that is superbly acted with Vincent Cassel and Laura Neiva the leading lights. But the real deal is the alluring and visually dreamy cinematography. Muted soft tones and faded tropical landscapes dotted with striking modernist architecture setting the background for unravelling and redefined relationships. Sounds pretentious? Well, the film its no doubt an easy target for the same kind of criticism levelled at A Single Man – style over substance. But a marriage of style and substance? Sounds dreamy.

Brazilian composer Antonio Pinto’s film score is another treasure gratefully uncovered. Ausencia Praia is the main theme tune ‘knitted’ into the story and as absorbing and captivating as the film itself. There is an interview with Pinto, who also scored City of God with his partner Ed Cortes at The Creator’s Project and you can listen to the composition for yourself here.

No suprise then that this FAI armchair on 1st DIBS caught my eye or more truthfully my heart. Crafted from Jacaranda brazilian rosewood, it blends variagated deep hues with browny red. Although Jacaranda is now an endangered wood under threat of extinction and new products banned from export, antique pieces such as this, although rare to find in Europe, can be tracked down. Pounce as soon as you find one….it won’t be around for long and you won’t regret it.

Yorkshire based (!) Brazilia Interiors specialises in re-editioning classic furniture designed by tropical modernists such as Sergio Rodriguez, Carlos Motta and architect Oscar Niemeyer – finding brazilian modernist furniture in Europe is not a simple task! I particularly liked this 50s Dinamarquesa sucupira wood armchair by Jorge Zalszupin although I should add here that anything to do with manufacturing from tropical hardwoods makes me shiver, but Brasilia has a watertight policy on recycling and only uses FSC certified wood – a key indicator to look for if you want to purchase ethically.

If this has all really captured your imagination and you want to read more, go to the Etel Interiors ‘XYLOTHEQUE’ – a succinct write up of the characteristics of FSC certified brasilian wood used in their expensive but inspiring catalogue.

Signing off with the ray of sunshine that is Brazilian artist Beatriz Milhazes and her ‘Coisa Lina’ {meaning ‘beautiful thing’}. Stephen Friedman Gallery is home to her art in London and where you can read more about her geometric and kaleidoscopic creations.

Emery & Cie

May 9, 2011 § Leave a comment

I think that I must have fallen into painting as soon as I was born! 
Agnes Emery

I’m brimming with excitement about this post ~ perhaps because my favourite colour is green or maybe because the designer behind it all is a refreshing original; an eccentric lady with a talent for combining colours into deep absinthian hues, the makeup of deep dreaming and heady intoxication.

Agnes Emery, a belgian architect and designer spinning gold out of her Brussels town house, is the protagonist of today’s hallucinatory journey and who’s inspiration stems from art nouveau and Arts and Crafts to a worldly Asia, India, Morocco and 18th century Europe. Her visions are channeled into a distinctive offering of Emery & Cie tiles, wallcoverings, rugs, ironworks, textiles, paints and pottery with folky undertones and imbued with spirits of the forest.

The location of her magical showrooms themselves is poignant and intended to be so. In Antwerp and Brussels which I haven’t had the chance to visit, but also in Paris, at the heart of Faubourg Saint-Antoine, an area historically filled with ateliers and craft led workshops. The settings becomes part of her story as she explains, ” its historic roots in the craft furniture trade, and also because of the dynamism and energy generated by the uncertainty of a district undergoing radical change. –  since the 13th century cacophony of the 13th century carpenters, cabinetmakers, blacksmiths and ironworkers nearby.”

In London, Emery’s magic cavern sits in a secret 1st floor corner of Retrouvius the NW10 architectural salvage specialist, which in itself warrants a storyboard. Filled with curiosities, the space is used to reimagine and reawaken a soul in unwanted and abandoned wooden furniture and quirky one-offs, orphans of demolition, as well as modernist classics. An unmapable jumble of corridors and  stairs, in which to stumble upon Emery’s colour blast of offering is akin to finding the heart of middle earth after a long and enchanted adventure.


The origins and properties of sourced materials are important to Agnes and beautifully expressed on her portal which is filled with stories that imbue her creations with the culture of distant lands and indigenous people. The affectionate expression in and around her creations is the antithesis of today’s mass produced soul-dead goods and a clear heralding of the values base of the ancient and skilled artisans. At times a lament.

“One can certainly regret it, but in the meantime, the mere fact that such an anachronistic production survived till this day, while so many other wonderful crafts disappeared, turns it into some kind of treasure. It’s a magical shred of the past times, but unlike those circulating on the antiques market, this one’s still alive … at least, as long as we keep buying it ! …”

Agnes Emery – an old soul  that not only fell into a painting but down a rabbit hole and never came back. I for one am grateful for that.

Back from Denmark

April 13, 2011 § Leave a comment

Night after night, we’ve spent the last 2 weeks and 20 hours projecting The Killing onto a big white wall in our London cocoon. Avidly watching Sarah Lund obsessively skit around Copenhagen; east to gramaphones and west to green hued family portraits, perhaps thrown off the scent, again and again, by the crackling fireplace beneath her. But finally we have closure; now that we know who killed Nanna Birk Larsen life is slowly returning to normal, but try as I might, echos of Sarah, Troels, Theis Pernille and Meyer are still lurking in the shadows of our flat. I miss them.

In an effort to fill the void, I will be keeping myself occupied with the following delights over the next few weeks:

15 April – 13 May – Tinsmiths’ Printmakers show, Ledbury, Hertfordshire

If you can make it to this then you won’t be disappointed – a showcase of works by printmakers Sarah Chrisp, Paul Farrell, John Richardson and Sarah Young. The image below is of the lovely limited edition letterpress invitation to the opening. Illustrated with “The Liverton Fox” by John Richardson you can get a copy by emailing Tinsmiths directly.

Sunday 1st May – Wills-Moody jumble sale

Rummaging. Three generations of 1980s polkadotties were very very good at this and dedicated to rising at the crack of dawn on Saturday mornings and heading for the nearest jumble sale – local church hall, school, garage, you name it, we were there. The Wills-Moody take place at St Aloysius social club for the last time before {hopefully} relocating to a new spot. Go seek bargains and vintage delights. And if you don’t get lucky, eat cake.


Friday 13th May – Museums at Night

The UK’s version of the parisian nuit blanche, here is a chance to explore London’s museums and galleries after hours. I’m keeping an eye on the listing but an unmissable takes place on the Friday night when you’ll find me creeping around the John Soane museum by flickering candlelight!

Sunday 15th May – Midcentury Modern comes to St John’s Wood!

I’ve never made it to Midcentury Modern, THE place to source modernist furniture and homewares. Usually held at Dulwich College, us northerners are being graced with the grand affair in the Lords Cricket Ground. Back to Denmark then on the hunt for an Arne Jacobsen ant chair or 1950s german toucan lamp. If you want to cheat, you can get one at Sable and Co, but don’t tell me, because I’ll be very very jealous.

17-22 May –  Kettles Yard Pop up

Kettles Yard, the home of modern art in Cambridge will be popping up in the Brompton Design District in May. I’m going for Paul Klee but there will also be an auction one-off artworks, found objects, textiles, ceramics and crafts in-store event to raise funds for the gallery’s development appeal.

The pop-up store will be at The Brompton Garage, 1 North Terrace, London SW3 2BA.

Dream City by Paul Klee

19-22 May – Made in Clerkenwell at Crafts Central

Made in Clerkenwell takes place at Craft Central in Farringdon and is a weekend of open studios. I’m hoping to pickup a Vivienne Ivory Necklace made by Miwako Yoshioka of Bark Jewellery, but you’ll find everything from handmade cards to ceramics here and well as an insight into a warren of boutique artisan studios.

ICA – Strange attractor salon

Strange Attractor is an unusual organisation that prides itself on ‘celebrating unpopular culture’. Undefinable yet the pure definition of curiosity, the mystics have installed themselves in salon at the ICA until the 12th May where you’ll find an excellent program of talks, film and music. Frankenheimer’s ‘The Island of Dr Moreau’ is showing on the 21st April – a film adaptaion of H G Well’s story of a scientist trying to turn animals into people. If you’ve ever wished you could talk with your dog (am I alone?!) then this might be for you.

Letterpress love at Harrington & Squires

March 29, 2011 § 3 Comments

A long love of all things Letterpress recently led me to seek out an inspiring location in which to gain some hands on experience of this ancient artisanal skill. Last Wednesday, a fusion of synchronicity and inky threads led me to the door of 136a Fortess Road in Tufnell Park; the home of Harrington & Squires, a small and very special private press hidden away in leafy north London.

Set up in 2002 by graphic designers Chrissie Charlton and Vicky Fullick – my teachers for the day, the H&H hideaway is akin to entering a magic alphabet kingdom at the top of a Papyrus tree. Found a to z carved letters sit like broken jigsaw pieces in floor to ceiling plan chests; dripping ink pots stand piled under wooden work benches abord which beautiful red glistening Adana letterpresses wait patiently for their next master crafter – in this case, me.

“…this is our workshop – it is 1.2 metres wide by 3 storeys high. It smells of ink, white spirit and coffee. The ground floor is for typesetting, the middle floor for printing and the top floor has the computer, nipping press and little kitchen.”

In the company of the lovely Praise, a student graphic designer on secondment, we began by exploring the rings of our treehouse. After a welcome tea and biscuit upstairs we descended to the roots where we explored the different fonts on offer. I hadn’t any specific project in mind but was very quickly drawn to Bembo, a beautiful serif typeface originally cut by a 15th century Venetian punchcutter named Francesco Griffo. Contrasting with an 18 point Gill Sans – a well known sans-serif adopted by the BBC and London Underground, I began, with the aid of 2 composing sticks (handheld trays) to piece together a 2-colour design.

Here I reminisce about folding dough with Jane at Virtuous Bread and come to the sorry conclusion that I am all fingers! Arranging 12 point Bembo in a composing stick takes some getting use to and I found myself enviously watching the deft formation of beautifully arranged sentences by my mentors, but I persevered and with one line proudly completed, graduated on to lead spacing – the gaps between my lines.

Once finished, I happily transferred my work to the chase,  a metal frame housing the overall design, which I then had to pack out with ‘furniture’ and ‘quoins’ and tighten it all together to avoid a disastrous printers pie – the curious term that refers to the jumbled chaos that ensues when type unravels. Relieved that all talk of baking stopped there, I ascended with my masterpiece to the holy grail – the middle kingdom, home to the Adana 8×5.

These striking red machines are the REAL DEAL. Inked up, paper aligned and chase set I spend the following hour in a letterpress trance, churning out pink, blue, brown paper creations with my Polkadotty coordinates firmly, beautifully and colourfully stamped onto every bit of spare paper I could get my hands on.

And here are the results: In love. Buying a letterpress. This weekend.

{ Thanks to Chrissie and Vicky for a marvellous day }

Birds & Words

March 20, 2011 § Leave a comment

Talking of Flamingos {and you’ve probably long forgotten that I was – sorry!}, there is a rather friendly flock of them padding about our flat these days – Alain Grée’s arrived just last week. Sent by Noriko Oseko, enthusiastic Japanese collector of the french illustrator’s books, they were received with enormous excitement on my part. His work has only recently crossed my path but I’m already a bona fide fan with ‘Les Oiseaux’ and ‘Les Plantes’ patiently sitting on our book shelves waiting for future french tuition of mini-mes. You can get your hands on them at Noriko’s Belgian based website Ricobel.

The above are just two of an extensive selection of the now vintage children’s books published by Casterman and feature Grée’s distinctive graphics and words, teaching the little people about the world around them through a bold and colourful prism.

Making friends with the new additions are Charley Harper’s 1950s pink ladies, crown princesses of his exquisite compendium of illustrated feathered friends, ‘Birds and Words’. Silk screened creations that were originally created for the Ford Times {of the Ford Motor Company} they are pure inspiration on a grey winters day.

‘I didn’t see scapulars, auriculars, primaries, tail coverts, tarsi – none of that. I saw exciting shapes, colour combinations, patterns, textures, fascinating behaviour and endless possibilities for making interesting pictures. And so I have never counted the feathers in the wings, for that is not what my pictures are about. I just count the wings.’

Charley Harper, Birds & Words 2008

That leaves me with my final introduction – to John James Audubon’s Phoenicopterus Ruber Ruber, a fine hook-beaked fellow whom the celebrated artist and ornithologist spotted in 1830s Florida. Here he graces the front cover of Katrina Cook’s exquisite compendium of all things ‘Bird’, published by Quercus and which merits detailed pouring over during quiet Sunday evenings listening to Brian Eno’s Apollo. So there you go, you’ve met them all now – they send their best regards and hope to meet you soon.