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Meeting the Batemans

The trustees of the Mrs and Mr Bateman estate have once again curated a stunning experience showcasing a collection of artists, craftspeople and designers. Set to become an annual landmark in the world of design, the “I am Bateman” show on Blenheim Crescent, just off the Portobello Road in London runs until May 11th.

 

Mr Bateman's house of cards

Mr Bateman’s House of Cards

This year the show celebrates The Batemans and their relations. The installation journeys through the fantastical world of Mrs & Mr Bateman; comprised of seven vignettes depicting the individual stories and peculiarities of various relations. As the visitor travels through the installation, they are given insight into each persona through literal & abstract intimations; their interpretation allowing them to personally create the story that unfolds. The visitor becomes the voyeur. A concept dreamed up by the creative team of Natalie Tredgett, Clemmie Myers and Selena Baudry.

Painting by Selena Baudry

Dreamscape: ” Mrs Bateman discovered she had a love of space. She contemplated it by creating miniature paper rooms. Painting by Selena Baudry

Interior designer Natalie Tredgett, is renowned for her striking interiors, full of colour and light, she says “Living in colour! Both through my work and in my day to day life, I can’t imagine doing anything else.” Natalie has styled the interior of the Batemans imaginary world using signature colours created by Vanessa Konig especially for the event, beautifully crafted chairs using vintage fabrics, contemporary textiles and embroidery from amongst others Minnie Kemp and Pink House by Rebecca Cole. Each of the chairs represents a period in the Bateman family story.

Chairs by Natalie Tredgett

Mrs Bateman’s slipper chairs. “Whilst on her travels in Istanbul Mrs Bateman Stumbled upon this Pink House by Rebecca Cole Design.. she felt compelled to immortalise it in the form of her chair. Twinned with embroidered scenes by Minnie Kemp depicting the life of Mrs Bateman’s bull-fighting Great Grandmother, Conchita Limone.

The things they left behind

The things they left behind… “In a furious rage, Vincent ripped up her beloved clothing…. later he had his interior designer re-upholster a chair out of the remnants”

A new addition to the Bateman cast is The Groomsman. Enigmatically beautiful, his persona idolises Mr Bateman, and a fraction of his secret life is displayed as a room set in the show. fantastic wallpapers designed by Otteline Devries surround The Groomsman’s personal effects; art by Ian Vail, rugs by Emmy Elle Design and embellished garments from Nathalie Ballout

The Groomsman

“He saw himself in two parts: there was the side he showed to the world, and the side he hid from it…”

Mrs Bateman’s wardrobe has informed many of the style choices in the Batemans world, stunning vintage couture garments sourced by Lime Green Bow, who also have a boutique on the Portobello Road add a touch of glamour to the scene, enhanced by Sarah Hendler’s beautiful jewellery and millinery created by Jess Collett.

Mrs Bateman's jewels

Mrs Bateman’s jewels

Mrs Batemans fascinator

Mrs Bateman’s Fascinator. Jess Collett Millinery

Featured creatives:

Jenny Baines
Nathalie Ballout
Selena Beaudry
Dara Caponigro for Shumacher
Pink House byRebecca Cole
Jess Collett
Emmy Ellison
William Ellyard
Nannette de Gaspé
James Graham-Stewart
Paola Gratsos
Iva Gueorguieva
Sarah Hendler
Patrick Hughes
Zoe Jordan
Minnie Kemp
Karina Kochejeva
Vanessa Konig
Lily Lewis
Clemmie Myers
Nicole Myers
Lisa Penny
Clio Peppiatt
John-Paul Pietrus
Phoebe Rolls
Nathalie Seiller Dejean
Birgit Tabbarah
Barbara Campbell Thomas
Brad Thomas
Natalie Tredgett
Ian Vail
Frederike Von Cranach
Ottoline de Vries
Alice Walton
Margit Wittig

 

Indoor gardening

I revisited one of my favourite art venues this weekend in the Cotswold town of Cirencester. The Brewery Arts Centre was one of the pioneers in encouraging designer makers to set up workshops and studios in their purpose built hub.For the past 40 years the Cirencester Workshops’ aim has been to ‘give the public good quality crafts, provide craftspeople with a fair rent and encourage them to produce creative work of a high standard, and to put the enterprise on a sound financial basis’.  I have been priveleged to witness the evolution of this centre over the years and have always enjoyed popping in to see what’s on in the gallery or peep into the workshops to witness some really stunning works being created. (Not to mention the fab coffee!)

The current exhibition, “How does your garden grow?” has been curated by garden designer Geoff Carr. He has created an indoor garden design which features ceramics, sculpture, garden furniture and tools. Although I was not a great fan of the synthetic lino ’tiling’ which didn’t really do the works sitting upon it justice, I thoroughly approve of the concept behind the show. So often, garden design elements are shoved to the background, overshadowed by showy plants and flowers, but this exhibition gives us the opportunity to see gardening staples, such as terracotta flowerpots, trowels and bird boxes in a new light as bona-fide pieces of craft in their own right.

The sculptural qualities of woven willow are more apparent in a gallery setting, before they have been overgrown with the plants they are destined to support. The ceramic forms of Nigel Edmonson incorporate ‘landscape based abstraction that responds to the Lakeland fells’ that lie on his doorstep.

Karen Edwards also works in clay , exploring her interest in plants and landscape. The pieces are hand formed, using various techniques to create individual pieces which are then embellished, embossed or polished and glazed.

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Karen Edwards

 

The palatial clay birdboxes created by Peter Garrard are a fantastical journey into his world of fascination with Chinese, Medieval and Pre-Renaissance artefacts. Lavishly decorated and glazed these dwellings would be for the most discerning of feathered property tycoons!

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Peter Garrard

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Peter Garrard

 

A row of beach hut striped teracotta pots spans the width of the gallery and I love the idea of these colourful elements added to the simplest form of garden pottery. The humble flowerpot has been given special treatment by potter Simon Hulbert who works in Haye-on-Wye. Simon says;”My work has always been varied in scale and complexity- from the humble plant pot, simply thrown, through to the larger one-off pieces which are often monumental in scale.” I am so pleased that he has treated us to this display of ‘humble’ pots.

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Simon Hulbert

I seem to have focussed on the ceramic elements in my photographs but there was a range of other mediums on show, including some stunning steamed wood baskets from Jane Crisp

jane Crisp

And just in case you feel the need to get your hands dirty and actually plant something in your garden here are some really splendid bespoke tools from Implementations to adorn your garden shed walls!

 

Miniature jewels of India

Curve gallery, Imran Qureshi exhibition

The Curve Gallery at the Barbican Centre in London, has always been one of my favourite haunts. A chance encounter with the current exhibition of work by Imran Qureshi, considered to be the leader in contemporary Indian Miniature painting left me moved and fascinated.

The gallery has been painted with rich and deep grey walls, and these have been decorated with floral motifs taken from Qureshi’s paintings. If this sounds a little bit twee, don’t be misled, these flowers are exuberant splashes of sanguine colour, literally dripping down the gallery walls and splashed onto the floor. Slightly disconcerting on entering the exhibition,as one tends to walk around the painting on the floor, hesitating to defile an artwork, but very quickly the fascination with the minutiae of Qureshi’s paintings overcomes this hesitancy and  I quickly found myself stepping into these seeming bloody floral pools in order to approach the paintings for a closer look.

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Imran Qureshi.  The Curve at the Barbican Centre

The installation of the miniature paintings is an artwork in itself, and the ninety metre long Curve draws us in to Qureshi’s world. Recurring motifs of trees, fireflies and splashes of blood red ink across the landscapes put us in mind of the inherent violence in the natural world, encapsulated by the beauty and finesse of organic forms.

Imran Qureshi

Imran Qureshi. Barbican Curve Gallery

I was fascinated by the mastery of traditional miniature painting techniques, gold leaf work, fine watercolours and intricate drawings, all of these used to create truly modern pieces, and telling a contemporary story The arc horizon lines reflect the Indian miniature tradition, whilst the subversive violence of random splashes and drips bring the viewer dramatically into the present.

Imran Qureshi at the Curve Gallery London

Imran Qureshi. Curve Gallery, Barbican centre

Barbican centre, Curve gallery

The curve. Barbican Centre

The exhibition runs until the 10th July 2016

The Age of Innocence

My recent visit to New York inspired me to revisit Edith Wharton’s 1921 Pulitzer Prize winning novel; The Age of Innocence. I first read this story of New York society too many years ago to admit to, and it’s commentary on the vagaries of upper class New York passed me by. It seemed to me, at the time, to be a superficial story of unrequited romance in a classic love triangle of frivolous emotion. My, how outlooks change as we get older!

The subtleties of a fragile new society in the recently established social whirl of 1870’s New York have a certain resonance now, and I find myself comparing todays larger American society with that of Newland Archer and May Welland. Fashion, as always, plays a part in forming opinion across society. Judgements are made based on modes of dress and etiquette, today, just as they were in the 19th century. Jenny Bevan was recently judged and found wanting by some of Hollywood’s elite, for her choice of outfit at the the Oscars ceremony. Rather than conforming to accepted ‘glamorous’ dress code for the ceremony, Ms Bevan chose to homage the Mad Max film for which she so brilliantly designed the costumes. As she said to Hollywood Reporter: ” I really would look ridiculous in a gown. What I was actually wearing at the Oscars was sort of an homage to Mad Max — a kind of biker outfit.”jenny bevanJenny Bevan as part of Marie Claire’s best moments of the 2016 oscars

In Edith Wharton’s New York, the Countess Olenska , on her return to America, is haunted by her infamous appearance at her coming-out ball in black satin, rather than the customary pale colours of innocence. Her return to New York is overshadowed by the scandal of her having left her husband in Europe, ostensibly in search of a divorce; something unheard of in polite New York society. This scandal accompanies her and is emphasised in Wharton’s writing by referencing the bohemian streak to her lifestyle, and commentary on her choice of dress; a shocking ’empire line’ navy dress, worn to the Opera. Her choice of home is also under judgement by the society ladies of New York.

As one gentleman says:” I should really like to take Louisa to see her, if the neighbourhood were not so unpleasant.” Newland is dangerously enchanted by the personal touch of the decor in what Countess Olenska calls her “funny house.” What he saw meanwhile, with the help of the lamp, was the faded shadowy charm of a room unlike any he had ever known…… the vague pervading perfume that was not what one put on handkerchiefs, but rather like the scent of some far-off bazaar, a smell made up of Turkish coffee and ambergris and dried roses.” This bohemian, artistic tendency is Archer’s downfall, and he is drawn into a complicated tug of emotions between accepted genteel etiquette personified by his sweet fiancé, May Welland to whom he sends a daily box of lilies-of-the-valley, and the untouchable temptations of Countess Olenska, to whom he sends yellow roses; ” He had never seen any as sun-golden before, and his first impulse was to send them to May instead of the lilies. But they did not look like her – there was something too rich, too strong in their fiery beauty”.

yellow roses

I leave it to you to discover the outcome to this story, but as you do so, do enjoy the word pictures painted by Edith Wharton of the restrained opulence of Upper class society and the richness of the’alternative’ lifestyle of Madame Olenska. personally I can just see her wearing this wonderful embroidered coat that I saw yesterday in the V&A museum!

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Impressions of Manhattan

It is all too easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer scale of central Manhattan. Skyscraping buildings, blinding electronic billboards and towering piles of food are what we assosciate with New York City. So on my recent visit I decided to concentrate on the details, and this brought a whole new dimension to a city that I have known and loved for many years.

It is funny how, once you decide to focus on one thing, examples pop up everywhere, and so it was that I started noticing the textures in stonework, and architectural details reflected in the products on offer in shops and art exhibitions too. I think it must have looked very strange to the locals seeing this strange person taking close-up pictures in Grand central station or at the Metropolitan Museum, rather than photographing the vast architectural expanses of New york!

The simplicity of embossing, and imprinted texture needs little embellishment through colour, and perfectly fits the New York fashion week’s neutral colour trend of muted candy pink and pale smokey blue which is already in evidence in the cities home decoration collections.

 

Of course I was spoilt for choice, but have grouped together some of my favourite images here; mixing up the art, architecture and design of Manhattan to show the emerging trend for embossed details and pattern in my world of decoration and design.

 

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