This week… balloons, bobbins and The Blitz

Summer’s over, hello autumn. September is a glorious month with nature turning slowly into golden chestnut and mellow amber. Every acorn and conker bring a sense of childhood delight and the promise of dark twinkling skies, cosy casserole suppers, and earthy red wines.

That sense of the seasons turning is so evocative. In autumn it’s the ‘back to school’ feeling of anticipation and excitement that we enjoy. It’s a part of our DNA. We are intimately connected to nature and at a primal level the sensuous changes that each season brings makes us feel alive.

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Review: Out Of The Blue at The Arc

In the beginning there was Terence Conran, Ossie Clark, Celia Birtwell, Mary Quant, to name but a few of the innovative mid-century designers, and Tricia Guild. The Designers Guild began in 1970 with Guild opening in a small section of a shop in Chelsea’s King’s Road in 1974. It quickly became synonymous with cutting-edge design, the brand a byword for stylish living. The Guild’s fabrics were decidedly covetable and bestowed a certain je ne sais quoi.

Out Of The Blue, exploring the Designers Guild, first debuted at the Fashion and Textile Museum in London in February 2020 and subsequently closed due to the pandemic. The good news is that the exhibition, showcasing several exhibits not previously displayed, opened last week at The Arc in the historic city of Winchester.

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Italian Fashion Brand: Max Mara Art Prize For Women

The biannual Max Mara Art Prize for Women makes me wish I was talented artistically. Not only does the winner get to spend time in Reggio Emilia, Catania and Rome, researching classical mythology, but also explore textile craftsmanship, permaculture and the myriad historic sites and institutions. Having minored in Classical Studies at University, six months spent in this way sounds to me like the quintessential gift from the gods.

Emma Talbot is the winner of the 8th Max Mara Prize which began in 2005 and supports UK-based female artists, and specifically those who have not previously had a major solo show. The award presents the opportunity for a fully-funded, bespoke Italian residency, followed by a solo exhibition of a new body of work, both in the UK and Italy.

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Review. Extraordinary Everyday: The Art & Design of Eric Ravilious and Turn and Return by Dierdre Wood

Maybe it’s the non-stop disturbing news from around the world, or the long dark winter and the recent wild storms (including Storm Eunice which carried a Red Alert warning) but I just haven’t been feeling the love. The year has felt slow in getting started.

This week I visited a new exhibition at The Arc in the historic city of Winchester, to explore the work of Eric Ravilious. It is the first time I have experienced Ravilious’ work up close. A display of stunning woven textiles by weaver, Deirdre Wood outside The Gallery was an added bonus. The intensity of colourful art proved inspirational and I’m back at my laptop with the first blog in a few weeks.

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Paul Joyce exhibition

Review. Paul Joyce: A Life Behind The Lens

What did Paul Joyce, filmmaker, writer, photographer and painter, make of Jane Fonda? Why did Joyce and David Hockney fall out? And which of his photographs did Sophia Loren choose as a personal gift?

Paul Joyce (credits include director and producer of four series of Dr Who, 1981) spent his childhood in Winchester so it seems entirely fitting that a city gallery is hosting an exhibition celebrating his life and work, now in his 80th year. Paul Joyce: A Life Behind the Lens features a selection of well-known faces, as well as photographic landscape works and paintings from the past five decades. Many images are accompanied by some blunt commentary from Joyce.

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Review. Frans Hals: The Male Portrait at the Wallace Museum

A stunning new display of over 12 works by Frans Hals, one of the greatest masters of the Dutch Golden Age, offers a unique perspective on 17th century masculinity and sense of style. In a breakaway from the male gaze upon the female form, Hals fixes his painterly eye upon his male contemporaries. The portraits are displayed against a dark background, with subtle gallery lighting except for spotlights on each painting. It is a sexy, elegant and theatrical setting, and I fell in love with every single one.

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Exploring Britain: Cowdray Heritage Ruins

The history of one of the most important early Tudor houses in the UK is threaded through a Civil War, Henry VIII’s Reformation, and a devastating fire which all but destroyed the beautiful Cowdray House in 1793. This week I joined a tour around the ruins and ventured up the 70-odd spiral steps of the Kitchen Tower, the only part of the building still intact. Walking in the footsteps of history is always a slightly spooky experience and brings out the goosebumps.

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This week… pizza, photography and life on Mars

A glorious spring week with longer days of sunshine as everything starts slowly warming up, including me. As I write this I have Abba blasting in the background and I have to keep stopping to dance around the living room. The news remains up and down but I’m definitely feeling upbeat. It’s been awhile. Hello optimism.

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This week… pillows, puddings, and very important pooches

It’s been a busy week. Surely everyone is longing for release from the tensions and uncertainty of the pandemic and lockdown. The Christmas season really kicks off as we all seek some fun and laughter. In the UK we wait to hear whether we’ll be able to spend time with our loved ones over the holiday. In the meantime, lockdown is an experience that has highlighted the importance of human connection and we need to take every opportunity to connect.

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This week… ode to autumn

Autumn is in the air. You can feel it first thing in the morning and late at night. There’s a particular earthy smell in the cool breeze. Leaves are beginning to turn here and there as the sap falls, and the trees prepare for hibernation once again. I’m hopeful that there will be one or two more days of sunshine but they will be fleeting dog days.

The seasons for me are marked in part by food, and at this time of year my taste buds change. Instead of eating unseasonal salads, this week I begin to make rich vegetable soups and spicy curries. I’m looking forward to English apples cooked with cider and cinammon, and fresh green walnuts.

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