1. My mum introduced me to Golden Monkey Tea Shop in Warwick this week where you can buy a fabulous range of loose tea from Mocha Rocha Rooibos to Ginger Black – I’ve never been so excited by tea! It’s a really cute little shop and also sells lots of teaware and tea-making gadgets, and a selection of handmade goodies by Poppy Treffry, like this one which I fell in love with immediately.
2. News that Jelly, an arts organisation in Reading, is launching an exciting new project Reading Is The Gallery. I love the unexpected nature of this idea, that we will see artworks pop up in unusual spaces and in different ways. People of Reading: keep your eyes open!
3. The One Show featured my favourite group of graffiti knitters last night, Knit The City. Watch the knitters in action here (about 09.48 in), and visit their website to read about their latest yarnbombs. This pic (Squishy Banksy Rat Stencil) is taken from one of their recent projects Permission to Yarnstorm: Tate Britain Unexpected Artworks, which shows what happens when two sneaky stitchers were let loose with a bag of wool in one of London’s biggest Art Museums, Tate Britain.
With the release last week of the Henley Review of Cultural Education, I was pleased to hear this Call In: You And Yours debate on BBC Radio 4. Ahead of the review, Culture Minister Ed Vaizey announced, “All young people should have opportunities to take part in performance and visual arts, and learn about the UK’s cultural, architectural and film heritage”. I cherish and feel very lucky to have enjoyed a culture-filled upbringing complete with violin lessons, circus skills and eurythmy dance incorporated into my education at a small Steiner School in Berkshire. Growing up in such a cultural community means that I often take my arts education for granted, but having experienced the benefits first hand I can vouch for the power of embedding creative practice in every subject across the curriculum. The logic of using the arts as a tool to educate makes sense – figures show that children who engage in creativity achieve more academically. Academic and creative education go hand in hand, so why do they always seem to compete?
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Check out this video of a fantastic animation I saw at Montréal En Lumière festival, projected onto the façade of the Maison du Festival Rio Tinto Alcan building in the city centre. The animation entitled À propos de Stern is a creation by Geodezik and Marc Leclair. Using video-mapping techniques it transformed and brought to life the building every night during the festival. Featuring graphic objects, characters and movement, animated figures clambered out of the windows and giant balls bumped against the edges of the walls as if contained by the parameters of the building – an amazing visual adventure which had everyone glued to the spot each time it was played!
Check out these murals I came across in the city of Montréal. It’s a great place to hang out in cafés people watching and soaking up the atmosphere and there are some really interesting buildings too. When I came across these outdoor artworks I couldn’t help taking a quick snap and sharing them on here – enjoy.
One of my favourite things about visiting Canada was the number of winter festivals that were happening all over the place. I went to Toronto, Ottawa and Montréal and was able to catch both Winterlude and Montréal En Lumière. Winterlude is a fantastic two-weekend celebration in Ottawa city with ice-skating on the canal, lots of arts activities and ice sculptures. Artists and sculptors come from all over the world to take part in the challenge and create amazing works of art out of the ice. Check out this timelapse video of an ice-sculpture being created – film by Canadian photographer Robert Fisher.
I love this super-effective and economic way of advertising, this one was on a lamp-post in downtown Toronto. I came across a lot of these handmade signs tacked to the noticeboards in hostels, but really they can be used in any situation to advertise just about anything. I remember seeing a lot of similar posters in Prague advertising concerts for that evening – it’s one of the best ways to reach a large tourist or shopping audience. It’s really easy to DIY – all you need is a simple eye-catching poster design, with the important info marked into tear-off slips along the bottom. One of the best things about this form of advertising is you can see how many people have taken your info slip, which is always exciting. It could be worth investing in some kind of waterproof protection though, as a soggy sign isn’t going to attract anybody’s attention!
On a visit to Niagara Falls, we stopped in Niagara-On-The-Lake where the Doug Forsythe Gallery sits along the main street. It’s a great space – bright, light and white showing artworks by well-known Canadian artist and printmaker Doug Forsythe as well as etchings by his wife Marsha Forsythe. Doug’s work covers a broad range of media from intaglio printmaking, monotype, serigraphy, mixed media, watercolour, oil and acrylics. Marsha’s delicate etchings of nature inspired by her surroundings are extremely detailed, perfectly formed and a real treat to see up close (you’ll have to visit to experience them for yourself). The presentation of the artworks in the gallery is perfect in every way, a neutral platform for the variety of work it holds, there’s plenty to browse.
As I was admiring the gallery and everything in it Marsha pointed out her clever display and presentation pieces. They are designed and manufactured by a Canadian company called Molo, co founded by Doug and Marsha’s daughter Stephanie Forsythe. Made out of special kraft paper and a super-strong honeycomb structure, Molo furniture provides a multi-functional, innovative and abstract design. In the gallery, Marsha uses a softseating natural kraft paper fanning stool as a small display table with cards on, and the white textile softwall as a screen in the window to create a neutral backdrop for her window display. The softwall would also work very well for dividing up a room or concealing mess – I was thinking of all those people turning empty shops into pop-up art spaces. Something stylish like this would be the perfect solution for hiding multiple sins in an empty shop space as well as having the flexibility to serve several purposes. I want one!
Visit the Doug Forsythe Gallery at 92 Picton Street, Niagara-On-The-Lake, Ontario, Canada. Check opening times and further info on the gallery website.
Check out this parking-meter style collection box I saw in Laguna Beach, California. It’s part of a scheme set up by a local organisation a few years ago to try to create change in the way people give to homeless people in the city. Four local artists were commissioned to decorate the boxes and make them attractive, and there are currently five situated on main streets around the city.
On the Fijian island of Matacawalevu I met Ruben – master in the art of weaving pretty much anything out of the leaves cut from a coconut tree. Ruben proudly admits that he learnt all he knows from his mother, and it’s quite rare for a man in Fiji to be such a keen and talented weaver! Traditionally the coconut leaves, which are in no short supply on the islands of Fiji, are used to make practical items such as bags, baskets and roofs on the village bures (huts). However these days with such a huge tourist population visiting Fiji year-round several Fijians including Ruben have taken to making special souvenir objects for the visitors to their communities. It was a regular occurrence whilst island-hopping to see fellow travellers sporting similar sun hats with varying degrees of decoration, some even carrying mini handbags!
The pictures below illustrate how Ruben created a beautiful sunhat for me and my friends, starting with freshly cut coconut branch and finishing up with a rather stylish woven sunhat.
For the last couple of years I have been thinking about getting a tattoo, and after talking and thinking it over (with numerous trials drawn on with a pen!), I decided to take the plunge in New Zealand. Finding a good tattooist was the next big challenge, which actually proved to be surprisingly easy. Barry my boyfriend spotted a tattoo shop as we arrived in Rotorua in the North Island, so the next day we went in – me slightly nervously! I was immediately put at ease by the two friendly owners Elton and Kellyrae Buchanan, who set up the shop nearly ten years ago after travelling and working with some of the top tattoo artists around the world.
The studio is set within a lovely big open space showing artworks created by Elton himself, and there’s a wealth of photographs and sketches for inspiration in a stack of books if you’ve still to decide. It was here that I found the tattoo design I had been searching for. Elton is incredibly talented, and speedily tweaked a section of an existing design into my dream tattoo. His skill and expertise made me realise the difference between a fine tattoo artist verses back street tattooist.
Barry had his slightly dodgy tattoos which had been done in a back-street tattoo shop in Reading re-done by Elton, who transformed a rather wobbly faded bird into a wonderfully crisp and clear flying swallow. I couldn’t believe my eyes as he worked free-hand to bring the bird to life by adding intricate details and shading. I now have a deep respect for tattoo art, which has pleased Barry no end as I now embrace his ideas for new tattoos!
If you have been dreaming of getting a tattoo for years, Globus is the place to get it done. The experience from start to finish was entirely different to any other tattoo shop I have ever visited. All brave customers get a special lolly afterwards, which I have to say feels really well deserved! I am in love with my new tattoo, it took me quite a while to stop staring at it and is a perfect reminder of the special time I spent being free travelling around New Zealand.
Globus Gallery & Tattoo Studio, 1114 Pukuatua St. Rotorua, New Zealand
Visit the website for more information.