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Arty East Dulwich

Stephane Godec

East Dulwich is now renowned as one of London’s up and coming areas, this formerly dowdy corner of South East London boasts broad leafy streeets and burgeoning high streets. Property prices are rising a higher rate here than anywhere else in London and this ‘gentrification’ bemoaned by some old timers, has resulted in an upsurge of trendy restaurants, design-led shops and personal trainers in every green space. Of course, the past inhabitants of East Dulwich (formerly known to many as part of ‘Peckham’) were those drawn to a cheap area of London to live in, and voila, a community of creatives emerged. The Camberwell and Goldsmith’s Schools of Art are within easy reach, so many ex-art students have remained in the area, growing careers and families in this leafy corner of South East London. ‘Incomers’ have been attracted by great transport links to the City, Docklands and the West End, bringing a whole new demographic to the area.

Jeannie Avent gallery

Jeannie Avent Gallery

 

The Dulwich festival incorporates the Artists’ Open House event, two weekends when the local artists literally open their homes and studios to the public, and this is a fantastic opportunity to see how artists work and live. As an artist, I know how much pleasure comes from the opportunity of meeting like-minded people, getting face to face reaction and feedback to new work, and chatting about art and design. This melting pot of artists and designers spreads over the ‘Dulwich’ corner of South East London and I love the opportunity of seeing, not only what these creative souls have been working on over the past year, but taking a sneaky look behind the facades of the Georgian and Victorian streets into other people’s homes! A stroll around the back streets is punctuated by the Artists’ Open House signs posted outside the participating properties, some front doors are left open, (Something unimaginable in this area twenty years ago!) some doorbells need to be rung, but in either case a warm welcome, often with the offer of a glass of wine, and snacks is always to be had, so don’t be shy, go out there and see what there is on offer!

This weekend we made the most of a blisteringly hot day to visit a few of the open houses around the Lordship Lane and Bellenden Road area, and the artists have kindly agreed to me sharing a few images of their work, of course this is only the tip of the iceberg as there are in all over 150 homes or studios open for the event, which runs over next weekend, the 14 – 15th May.

Tig Sutton Has been working on expressive brush marks, gloriously free in their movement, the subtleties of colour have been enhanced in their translation ito fine art prints, this is a bold move forward from his monochromatic prints of fine linear expressive drawings last year.

Ceramicist Sacha Tanyar ( Twitter handle @bansheeplum) is showing her gorgeous ceramics with friends illustrator Angus Robertson and painter Louise Hardy. A little foray into the back yard unveils cute hand painted bird boxes created by Sacha’s partner too; a real family affair!

bird box

hand painted bird box

David Hopkins

David Hopkins. Portraits

The home of David Hopkins is that of the archetypal artist, canvasses stacked against the walls, paintings covering every surface, portraits gazing around every corner, and occasional lighthearted looks at patisserie and foodstuffs. It was a delight to talk with the softly spoken David, who explained that his portrait subjects’rarely look directly at the viewer as he finds it disconcerting, and sees this as a tribute to Velazquez who also avoided the direct gaze of his subjects.

Sarah Kier

Sarah Kier

Scenic artist, Sarah Kier has been working on a series of paintings exploring the maps showing bomb damage to streets in the Blitz. The maps have been stencilled onto canvas and painted using scene painting techniques that she has used in her work for shows such as War Horse. Sarah is currently working with the National Theatre.

Ellen Hanceri

Ellen Hanceri 

Printmaker Ellen Hanceri has translated her block printed designs onto textiles, ceramics and homeware. Simple printed images tessellate in a style reminiscent of the woodcut designs of the 1940’s. Ellen is showing her work alongside ceramicist Ben Swift who has recently been developing a body of work that explores the torus form. I, however was instantly captivated by a display of his mini ceramic animals and a mantlepiece crammed with small cylindrical vessels before looking around the front room with the beautiful collection of suspended torus’ (or should that be torii?) along the walls!

Staying with the Liliputian theme, my next visit was to the front room of Stephane Godec who works under the label NoBookEnds. Stephan creates fantastical worlds from cut and folded paper using vintage books. He transports us from the city to the seaside with his little row of beach huts emerging from an old book, and his meticulous paper cuts are also shown as framed pieces of multi layered collages.

No Book Ends

No Book Ends. Intricate paper cuts from vintage books by Stephane Godec 

My final visit this weekend was to the workshop of Richard Wood who makes bespoke furniture. Richard’s pieces are refined, simple and elegant with a lightness of touch that is truly contemporary, the aroma of wood shavings permeates the workshop, and instantly transported me to my childhood, watching my grandfather turning wooden bowls on his lathe in the garage – happy days!!

If you happen to have the opportunity of wandering the streets of Dulwich next weekend, I would thoroughly recommend it, you never know what treasures you might find behind those front doors!

A niche in the sun

A recent sojourn in France made me appreciate all those little corners of tranquility in our still unfinished renovation project. Despite the uneven surfaces, occasional damp, and never quite straight or square architectural idiosyncracies of a French farm house, I do love revisiting those little corners so often suffused with sunlight.

There is a constant pattern of evolving decor in our little house, and these changes are often led by new finds from the local French Brocante markets, or objects collected on country walks. We started by painting everything white in an attempt to rid the house of the ‘beige, dust and tobacco’ colour scheme of the previous inhabitants! Major construction work has necessitated minimal decoration until now, but we are constantly seeking inspiration  for that next exciting phase when we actually get to add more colour to the space. Drawers full of colour chips and wallpaper samples have built up over the years and files of inspirational magazine cuttings and colour reference images show our changing tastes over the incredibly long journey to this point. We have moved from minimal white to ‘holiday home’ colours; lobster pink, mediterranean blue, apple green. These have given way to natural clay paints, traditional ‘French grey’ woodwork and antique whites contrasted with a rich metallic sheen bronze wall covering, deep red walls and raw pink plasterwork in our cosy dining room, inspired by an ancient flocked velvet picture frame.

 

I was delighted to find that the Paint and Paper Library has been relaunched with a whole new gamut of colours, what bliss, a whole new opportunity to re-colour our house!

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Paint and Paper Library. New colour card

 

The card is made up of two distinct palettes, for easy use. The top half is of what they call ‘Architectural Colours’, essentially variations on the theme of white, these are designed to complement the 85 ‘Original Colours’ by either simply moving down the column of colours for monochromatic schemes, or by contrasting with a diagonal shift across the spectrum.

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Our bread oven serves as a perfect wine store and cookery book shelf.

Our kitchen has a fantastic old brick dome bread oven as it’s feature, it holds a pretty constant cool temperature and we use it to store wine and soft drinks, not chilled, but cool to the palate in the summer months. We have been searching for a soft, but contemporary white to complement the natural exposed stone, I think we might just find it in this collection, the architect’s emulsion is matt, flat and washable; perfect for a busy country kitchen.

Our house is overrun with mini corners of curiosities, collections of heart shaped stones, seeds or dried leaves, boxes full of pretty birds nests, brocante finds and odd shaped pieces of wood or branches. It would be easy to clutter the house with all this, so we are on a strict rotation, rearranging  and sorting with every season, and each time we rediscover our treasures it’s like meeting up with old friends.

 

In an attempt to keep as many original features as possible in the house, we have retained the original windows and doors where possible. Decades of paint have stories to tell, and I love the way that the old drips and layers of paint are apparent even through our top coat of gloss. I’m sure interior decorators will be throwing up their hands in horror, but I’m proud of the rustic story behind our walls!

One of my greatest pleasures is the transformation of a very dirty old attic into our spacious bedroom, the quality of light is pure bliss, and we have deliberately kept the space clean and open. However I am tempted to bring a little warmth to the colour scheme, and love the Paint and Paper Library’s combination of cool teal ‘Spur’ with the warmth of their ‘Plaster V’, so maybe a little area of warmth in the bedroom might be a good move with the next decorating splurge.

London Design Week Trends

London’s Chelsea Harbour Design Centre was celebrating London Design week with the crème de la crème of London’s interior textile showrooms launching their new fabric and wallpaper collections to the trade.  From an overwhelming array of design inspiration I have picked out some themes that  emerged as I made my way through champagne sipping, canapé nibbling, interior designers and buyers in the pristine showrooms!

A return to nature was evident across many collections, including Sanderson where the design studio has been busy out in the countryside sketching woodland plants and creatures for their new ‘Woodland Walk’ collection! Embroidered feathers wafted gently across silk in the Osborne and Little showroom on the King’s Road, as if just shed by a passing bird to form a swirl of plumes, and Manuel Canovas had stylised feathers in their collection too. The delicately painted floral design in the Harlequin showroom, whilst not typically ‘English’ in its flower forms, certainly gives the feel of a soft frosted tangle of wayside flowers.

Hedgerow fragmentshedgerow fragments

Cole & Son Wallpapers led the trend for design inspired by mineral surfaces and formations, Their stunning ‘Quartz’ design was inspired by the 2009 Turner prize nominee Roger Hiorns’ crystal encrusted south London Flat, whilst the sequinned embroidery of Sahco Hesslein evokes seams of precious minerals across rich grey silk. Osborne and Little have joined the current trend for rich velvets, producing a sumptuous printed malachite effect  which is contrasted by the industrial chic metallic surfaces of Harlequin’s wallpaper collection.

Mineral Elements

Elements and Minerals

The blowsy florals of the 1950’s are resurfacing with a vengeance in the home furnishings world. Designer’s Guild have launched a new collection of ‘Couture Rose’ designs, comprising of windblown Rose stems, Orchids and Irises. The mid-century glamour is epitomised by the loose brushwork of the Designers Guild signature style. Long recognised as the home of beautiful floral prints, Sanderson has revisited some of it’s classic designs in its ‘Vintage 2 ‘collection, bouquets of Sweet Williams and classic pink roses against a stark black and white stripe, hark back to the classic designs of Sanderson’s origins. Jean-Paul Gaultier has created a floral design inspired by the masters of botanical floral art. The photographic reproduction of old masters are mixed with his signature sailor stripe in a clever envelope cushion design.

Windblown floralswindblown florals

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