a sideways glance

corner of my eye

I have a lot of faith in the corner of my eye. The other day, having just heard that a grandson would love – but how? – to learn the drums, something blue and shiny caught my attention as I drove down the hill. A sign was propped up. I read the words ‘Take Me’ leaning against what was in fact a more or less new drum set!  Four drums, pedals, cymbals, sticks – how could I resist? Stopping to look, a lady emerged from a likely front door. ‘Yours?’ said I. ‘No, but they’ve only just this minute appeared. You’re lucky.’ I persuaded a passing schoolboy to help me load them into the car – where they had to stay for a couple of weeks until a space was found! We were lucky.


This week is the blog’s first birthday – 27 postings and over 20,000 views – so a huge thank you to everyone who has looked, commented, supported, contributed and enjoyed. And thanks to Joe and Rohan for making it possible at all. So on we go. I love writing and illustrating it – and am constantly surprised at the turns it takes once I start.  In celebration of this first blog year there are plans afoot for a little show to display some of the paintings and new work, and to sign some books too.

palm treeOn my way to Livingstone Studio to discuss this exciting Maytime exhibition venture (of which details will follow) I noticed a removal van with a palm tree in the back. It was parked outside a block of flats – the same block I’m planning to move into quite soon – in fact I recognised the actual palm tree from the very flat in which I hope to be living next month….


I’ve been lucky enough to have had several opportunities to celebrate Susan’s and my working past this last few days – meeting the Fischbachers at Chelsea Harbour‘s design week gave me the chance to mull over again the adventure that was Cote d’Azur and the Six Views Collection of 1984. And a talk to students at Morley College was fun with a lightning review of our life’s work, a lot of chat about the pleasures and advantages of painting with gouache as well as the demands of making good repeats.

Ikat sketch


viv on bike

Early one morning on the way across the river to deliver a new stock of cards to Joss Graham I saw a cyclist whose interesting bright geranium red clothes naturally took my eye. As I passed I noticed a tiny shock of acid orange hair – Dame Vivienne pedalling to work!  And at the Selvedge Spring Fair Jane, welcoming, looked fab in scarlet and Roxy made a colourful entrance wearing our specially painted Spotted Creatures scarf.



The evening before had seen the opening of Kaffe Fassett‘s retrospective exhibition ‘A Life in Colour’ at the FTM. What a great generous burst of colour, pattern, stitchery and painting – a fitting fanfare for a lifetime’s work devoted to making and loving textiles. At The Wool House Cristian Zunzunga‘s (what a fabulous name) Infinity Carpet was a pathway of colour for us to meander along. In these snowy slushy days I’m thankful for my yellow boots and Turkish socks to keep me warm, dry and cheerful. This tribe of colour-mongers is making itself known.



The streets are full of art. These teeny paintings are made by an artist in North London – he decorates the chewing-gum stains on the pavements! In Stockwell this vine was planted and grew on a series of dreary walls and bloomed there for about 15 minutes before the council cleaners screeched up and re-gloomed them with brown paint.


The tradition of temporary decorations on the ground is an old one; an Indian lady is drawing with sand, and this gentleman is laying out his lines with little stones.




………A just-seen poster in the tube made me smile, and gave my mind an echo of the sound of the musical lift in the RFH as it glides up and down scaling the heights of the building.


Thinking about music in the street I’m reminded of a song on an old Pete Seeger record about an inebriate who finally collapses in the gutter in the company of a pig. A passing lady remarks ‘You can tell a man who boozes by the company he chooses’ The last line of the song always makes me laugh:  ‘And the pig got up and slowly walked away.’


Thanks to Alan, Molly and Stafford for the chewing gum art.

blog pics

25 thoughts on “a sideways glance

  1. Pingback: mudlarking on my mind’s beach | Sarah Campbell Designs

      • Dear Sarah – another lovely treat this month (Susan would once have said ‘snoody’) so thankyou. Am about to send Mary Schoeser some Bocquet and Freeman cuttings, as arranged with her assistant at your book launch, Mary having been away for a fair stretch since then. NB Polly launched her book this week – The Politics of Washing, Real Life in Venice – a v good read, do try it!
        do hope to see you soon, love Sally

      • Thanks Sally – glad you’re investigating Bocquet and Freeman – I look forward to more news from that. Yes, I’ve seen news of Polly’s book – I must get a copy.x

  2. Always enjoy your blog and send it on to my arty friends we have been painting mandalas in gouache.
    April (from your workshop at the FTM that time)

  3. A joy to read as usual Sarah! And you look so well and happy in that photo… I have heard about this chewing gum artist and would love to see it for myself. The pavements are so clean and polished here in Singapore! I’m looking forward to being back in London in a few weeks for some of that creative chaos! And I will be sure to pop by the FTM…thanks for the tip! Love, eva x

  4. You pay attention to things with an artist’s eye, Sarah, and never cease to inspire me. The tiny painting on the piece of pavement gum made me so happy – I kept clicking on the image for the chance to see more detail! And the vine painted on the side of the building . . . not only did you notice it, but commented on it in a way that made it that much more meaningful. Now, how about those drums?? You find the beauty and value in the old and the used, giving them new life and a vibrancy previously unnoticed. Thank you. And keep us posted on your very exciting move!
    Much love,

  5. Great post, I’ve ordered you beautiful book. My world is about colour too. I smiled when you mentioned the gouache, I’m a graphic designer and gouache was my only painting medium for layouts when I first started, I loved using it, now the computer has taken over, it’s much faster but no where near the fun. Love your socks and boots. I had the fortune to meet Kaffe when he came to Australia, I attended a two day workshop of his and came away, dizzy with ideas, he truly is a master of his trade.

    • Thanks Ro – great to hear from the other side of the world. For me painting is still much faster than the computer! You’re right – Kaffe and Brandon are masters of their craft.

  6. Just love the frank crumit pig song and your illustration to go with it is enchanting.
    Congratulations on a year of treasures Sarah X

  7. A usual you transform the mundane into colourful magic BUT what is this I read, a move into a block of apartments? How exciting to move and transform your life? Well done.

Post a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s