Posts tagged “inspiration

How To Hang Wall Art, Grinling Gibbons & My Afto Coffee On The Beach

When I was about ten years old, I attended a local school in Nottingham, England. It was an experimental school, we did a lot of art, crafts and drama, and I loved it.  My favourite teacher was the craft teacher, a lady born before her time. She insisted on using what we had at home for lessons and never asked us to buy anything for the class. We used breakfast cereal packets as cardboard to make cards and boiled egg shells to make mosaics. She herself always brought wonderful things into the class for us to use: scraps of material, old wallpaper rolls, wool etc.  I learnt a lot from that wonderful teacher , but one lesson in particular haunts me even now! It set the bar so high, that if I succumb, it is actually the bane of my life….

……….and that lesson was called Grinling Gibbons.

My fave teacher had taken us for a school trip where we visited a huge cathedral, unfortunately I don’t remember where.  There was a lot of renovation work going on at the time so some of the wooden furniture had been pulled away from the walls. So far as I remember, she showed us how to do brass rubbing and had a fun time.  When we were done, the teacher gathered us in front of a beautifully carved wooden choir stall and told us all about its creator, the great Grinling Gibbons.

Finely carved cravat imitating Venetian needlepoint lace by the master woodworking artist, Grinling Gibbons

Grinling Gibbons the sculptor,  whose wood carvings took your breath away because they were simply out of this world, indescribably beautiful, an absolute feast for the eyes.

I mean just look at this…it’s a lace cravat carved out of limewood and shows each individual stitched thread. Now in the V&A, London, it once belonged to Horace Walpole who greeted French visitors at the gate of Strawberry Hill, his neo-Gothic villa in Twickenham, wearing this.  Sadly the wearing of the piece probably accounted for some damage around picots on the lower edge

To continue on with my story, my craft teacher told the class to look carefully at the front of the choir stall before taking us to look carefully at the back of the choir stall.  Then she took us all to the front again and  asked us if there was any difference between the back and the front of the stall….and we realised that the back was just as perfect as the front!   She told us that even though he knew that the back would most likely never be seen, he still put effort into making it as perfect as the front.

“The sign of a true craftsman” she said.

“The sign of a true artist” she enthused.

She didn’t say…he’s too much of a perfectionist………….

…and I had a major artistic epiphany!

The result of all this is that there are times when I can’t see the wood for the trees and I get bogged down in minor details instead of seeing the whole picture and getting on with things.

Anyways, the point is that I just spent way too much time making and experimenting with various hanging sleeves and tabs that will be attached TO THE BACK of screen printed wall hangings.

They aren’t difficult to make and actually won’t be seen anyways (!) but…you know…I wanted them to be perfect.

Hand sewing hanging tabs onto wall hanging

Hand sewing hanging tabs onto wall hanging

When I finished and rubbed the visions of perfectly carved wood from my eyes…… I took myself off and sat on the beach with a thermos of coffee and watched the sunset.

beach 1

Really…enough is enough.   Get thee behind me Grinling!!!

It’s not my fault!!!  Blame Gibbons!




Design Inspiration from the Victoria & Albert Museum, London.

London is an amazing city, I’ve been so busy I’ve hardly have time to post anything!… but it’s time to share some inspiration ……… these pics are from the Victoria & Albert Museum, one of my favourite places, bursting with wonderful patterns and colour.

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My Aegean Travelogue

I spend a lot of time traveling to and from Milos, my island home, mostly on ferryboats.   The voyages are usually 4 to 8 hours long,  depending on the age of the vessel ( yes!!!  :-O ), the weather,  and the number of islands the ferryboat stops at before reaching Milos.   Now although these voyages are potentially seriously boring, they provide the most amazing opportunity for ‘people watching’………observing the human condition ….. pencil and paper sneakily in hand!

On a recent return journey to Milos on the F/B Prevelis, I was surrounded by dull orange, rounded, padded chairs that now and again contained people in all kinds of positions.  Through the windows cool blue “sea light” came pouring in until the sun began to set and then the light slowly warmed to subtle orange hues..perfectly echoing the chairs.  It was really, really lovely…and my time passed quickly in the company of my sketch book.

Basking in the warm orange light I decided I should actually start seriously working on all the flimsy sketches I’ve done over the years….some of them done on pages of my current diary at the time…and I’ve kept them all!   So…I’m tearing out and organizing  all the images and throwing away (recycling!) the old diaries and notebooks.  It may take a while though as I often end up reading them…you know the way you do when you are tidying up and find old magazines and newspapers.  DON’T say you don’t ’cause everybody does that!  LOL!

After working on the sketches I plan to make a series of prints and I think the series will be called “Journey’ or “Journeys”

Here is one of the most recent sketches done on the F/B Prevelis which sailed directly to Milos before sailing on to Crete.

Pencil with Derwent “Inktense” pencils on 300gsm cold pressed paper

Craft Exhibition on Milos

Summer is a busy time here on Milos and I haven’t had time to post about the wonderful exhibition here on Milos in which I am taking part.  It’s taking place at the Cultural and Social Association of Milos – Μορφωτικός και Κοινωνικός Σύλλογος Μήλου in Plaka, and is part of the Milos Festival 2013.                                           English link here.            Greek link here

The exhibition is a treasure trove of local color and craftsmanship, displaying everything from to paintings on wood to stone and wooden sculpture, to lights made from gourds, and of course  wooden boats made in many different ways.    I can’t post anything about individual artists or crafts-persons, as I don’t have their permission and that is always a tricky subject.

The president of the cultural association Angeliki Dagielli-Vitali (Αγγελική Δαγιέλλη-Βιτάλη) worked tirelessly to make sure everything was in order so she deserves a lot of thanks!

#1 exhib

The exhibition is open from 7 – 11 every evening and is being looked after by this lovely lady, Ευτυχία Σταυροπούλου, whose work can also be seen in the exhibition.

Here is a piece from my exhibit which was inspired partly by our studio cat, and partly by a friend of my daughter.  She is studying Play Therapy,  which I consider amazing,  and so I decided to make something fun and practical for parents and children who have to (or should) include play in their everyday life.

So this is a prototype of a screen printed series “Play” in which I aim is combine elements of “play” in everyday objects such as bags and clothes.  Here the Love Cat is a hand puppet which can be removed from behind the front pocket.

The Greek quote on the bag is by the Greek philosopher


Η ζωή πρέπει να παρθεί ως παιχνίδι”

   and is translated as

“Life must be lived as play” 

This is one of my most favourite quotes ever!

   If you are visiting Milos a visit to Plaka and the exhibition is thoroughly recommended!!!

I will post more pics soon.


The sun and the sky walked out this evening…sky put on her prettiest dress



Sunset on Milos with Light Painted Clouds

Such a beautiful still evening here on the island,  with colours that just fill your eyes.  Such inspiration!

Design Inspiration From The Sea And The Dilemma Of The Pretty-Ugly Fish Pattern

Living on Milos it’s easy to be inspired by the sea and I have always wanted to manipulate a piece of fabric to look like the sea …mostly because I think it might be nice to wear its waves and hidden power.   So lately I have been experimenting and working  with the Shibori dye technique and so far I’m pleased that I have managed to create a sea-like background for printing.    These are wrap-around skirts,  but my daughter has suggested not putting “anything fishy” near them as she didn’t think fish could look nice on a skirt.

I accepted the challenge but …………

The bottom of the skirt is dip or ombre dyed

I think the darker shade at the bottom will be more flattering on the body

        …………maybe spent too long on the design…….

Stylized fish design

…so now it’s time to put my money where my mouth is….so to speak!!!     Anyone else up to the challenge of nice fish designs??