“The bird a nest, the spider a web, man friendship.”

bean room

I’ve been thinking about William Blake’s idea that the natural home we build for ourselves is constructed of friendship rather than bricks and mortar. I like it.

I was very taken with this (edible) room I saw recently – hung on a frame of bean strings, a table and chairs set in the middle. Ramshackle and airy, it was both permeable and solid, wittily offering food and shelter in a there/not-there sort of way. It reminded me of Jeppe Hein’s fountain at London’s SouthBank – the one where walls of water suddenly shoot up and subside creating temporary and unexpected rooms, and a lot of happy damp visitors.


As with some friendships the beanery and the fountain make places to be, but not necessarily as one might expect them – within and without, waxing and waning, nourishing and with a challenge.


7 types of loveThe SouthBank is running a summer Festival of Love, and at the start of it
Roman Krznaric, from whom the inspiration came, gave a talk defining some of the different aspects of love. Interesting. A chance to explore each of the seven loves he spoke of (the ancient Greeks actually defined 33 I believe) was offered through participations with artists and poets – from the weaving of a huge friendship bracelet to private readings of saucy verse.sophie herxheimer

The subject of philautia – the proper self-respecting love of ones own being – was the domain of Sophie; over the two days she collected dozens of stories from people willing to share what it is that makes them feel the best, the essence, of themselves. Valuing this love gives us the only real basis for loving others. Interestingly a recurring theme was that of feeling most oneself amongst the trees.

‘Love is the only answer to mankind’s problems.’ Martin Luther King


While one niece was seated at the RFH, a nephew was showing his newly designed chair – the Flatjack – at the first Grow London show on Hampstead Heath. A fluently constructed deck chair, nattily cut from one sheet of birch ply, it was being shown in the ‘best of the new’ section. Needless to say I am very proud of Oliver, and not a little chuffed with one of the seat fabrics he’s chosen…

flatjack chair

trowelIn the adjacent booth I fell for Sneeboer’s elegant garden tools, especially the trowel like a folded heart-shaped leaf, and loved watching Peter Dibble weave his willow baskets. It was a brief visit, but a very enjoyable one.




On Sunday, at this weekend’s Love Supreme Jazz festival I really enjoyed the Matua Sessions timber-built enclosure and Brooks Williams jangling guitar – listen here. Great to hear Courtney Pine and his pals too, and Curtis Stigers’ silky tones. Being keen on textiles, I was pleased to spot these dashing appliquéd hangings at the Coconut Shy, though I risked being the (completely unmissable) target as I took the pics!


Happily that was a mostly sunny day; the very busy festival up the road at Crystal Palace was somewhat marred by the downpours typical of our English summer.


I’ve been looking at this photo of us children on holiday c1950 – me in my best sunsuit! The family would all squeeze into a stifling leather-smelling car, put our big suitcase in the boot, and be driven to Dovercourt Bay, the nearest sea-side spot, for our two-week summer holiday. For a few years that was the regular annual outing. One of the most exciting attractions was the roller-skating rink, where we would hire wheels and wobble about until we re-got the hang of it.

family picture

One year I took my newly-acquired autograph album – do people still have these? I was rather proud of it. There was always an old man who seemed to sit grumpily alone in the lounge of the Cliff Hotel; I thought an invitation to be the first to leave his signature somewhere upon my round-cornered pastel pages would surely cheer him up. I offered him the delightful choice: he turned to the last page and in the very last spot he carefully wrote ‘As usual I am the last.’ I was flabbergasted! It struck me then that there was no pleasing some people – that he wanted to be a lonely old grouch! It was only much later that I saw the joke, though like many such there’s an element of the truth within it.


From these reminiscences I jumped into the ‘now’ at the pounding end of year fashion show put on by the BTec students at school. They gave a confident cheeky display in the newly built theatre there – congratulations to them all, and good luck to the leavers, staff and students. The Symposium at Canterbury UCA was also bang up to the minute in its thought-provoking discussions about creativity in this digital age – meaning, use, development. The debate continues, very importantly, in so many areas of our lives – politics – poetry – privacy. Within it all the personal, the direct face-to-face, remains at the heart of our experience.

Meanwhile I have acquired this app, Paper 53…

Paper 53

Writing lesson plans is a bit of a new thing for me – I’m doing three at the moment: for the workshop at the FTM on August 7th where we’ll be making our own papercut Papel Picados garlands; for the workshop for young people at the V&A on November 15th where we’ll be looking at designs and painting directly onto fabric, link coming soon.

fabric experiments

And for a two-day course I’ll be teaching at Morley College on the last two fridays of next February. I hope some of you or your families will join me… And I’m greatly looking forward to being a judge for this year’s Texprint awards this coming week.


A reader has given me a kind nudge about next year’s calendar – when and if etc – earlier even than my brother’s annual enquiry; actually my doing the calendar was his idea and the first one was to his specific commission. There will certainly be a 2015 edition, hopefully produced in good time. There are still a few 2014s left in the shop should you wish to brighten up the rest of this year or treat yourself to a ‘collector’s item’ at a summer sale price!

July 2014

Thanks to Molly, Steve, Peter B for introducing me to the privet elephant and to Peter N for its portrait – and for being an unwitting Flatjack model. It’s rather a neat date today – 7-7-14 – and here’s a stop press announcement about some fun to be had in the summer hols ℅ Sophie!


15 thoughts on ““The bird a nest, the spider a web, man friendship.”

  1. Pingback: from my window | Sarah Campbell Designs

  2. Such interesting reading, Sarah! I am working with people who suffer from the disease of addiction and the absence of philautia is something that they all share as part of their condition and as you say in turn impacts on their love/relationships with others. Love the “bean house”, we are making a garden and could incorporate a hot climate version! Oh, and I also invited a grumpy old man to write a comment in my autograph book and suffered a similar disappointment, except he wrote on the front page which I had left blank because it was a lovely lilac colour! XXXXXXXXXXXX B.

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 )

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s