song and dance

I’ve remarked before how often it seems that people are drawn to each other by the similarities of their clothing – the colour, pattern or textures.

It’s a sort of instinctive pairing, a flocking together. The other day I saw a striking instance of this at a restaurant: two lone women, short grey hair, at two separate but symmetrical tables echoed each other. They both sat exactly alike, legs crossed, one elbow resting and one hand turning pages, each wearing a different but similar brightly printed floral long-sleeved top and plain linen trousers. Were they part of a secret seated chorus line – would they soon get up, join forces and give us a song in their matching outfits?

polish singers

A group of Polish singers gave us some eerily mysterious and haunting music at the Battersea Art Centre a couple of weeks ago; the troupe of six, Song of the Goat – led in by a swarthy piper – sang a capella a set of Gaelic songs they’d collected in the Scottish islands in a performance called Return to the Voice. Melodies and words, mostly unknowable in their native tongue, swirled and swelled like mists amongst the hills, waves of the oceans; the currents of lament, love, loss were heightened by the drama of the costumes and choreography. Listen here for a taste. 

polish singers 2

The theatre of black was demonstrated when a few weeks ago a determined poet took to the stage at an open mic reading and began to accompany himself on his accordian. He contrived to play far longer than his allotted time – lucky for me and my pen!


As ever I’ve been entertained a lot lately by the radio; a programme I really enjoy is Private Passions on BBCRadio 3. When I was a little girl I remarked to my dad that, by listening carefully, you can hear the change when the water running from the tap turns from cold to hot. In Sunday 31st’s episode the physicist Mark Miodovnik explained this phenomenon (molecules) – the first time I’d ever heard someone else talk about it. He also kindly explained about the nature of paper – its strength and resiliance is another particular favourite subject of mine – and how it is that it can so obligingly be used to wrap presents without breaking and disintegrating (molecules again). Most timely – I was at that very moment creasing, folding, and fitting some round a birthday present ready to go to an annual family picnic.


Mark fell in love with his wife when he heard her playing the saw – a particular favourite subject of his – listen here for his description. I wish the full episodes lasted online for longer than only a week. Michael Berkeley’s guest yesterday was the remarkable choreographer Gillian Lynne, a person who came across as both romantic and very practical. At one time she and Dudley Moore were working together on a musical production – he composing, she choreographing; Michael cheerfully persuaded her to reveal the rather naughty name that he gave to one of his jokey postscript compositions – Coda Cunnilingus! I remember my ma describing Dudley as a dormouse – she said he could fall asleep anywhere and was once found snuggled and snoring between the rows of theatre seats at a rehearsal. He was quite a small man.


And on the radio too, BBCradio4 this time, we witnessed the opening of the 612nd (and last) cardboard carton of Andy Warhol’s collection. box11In Time Regained we learnt a little about this strange gathering into boxes of the ephemera and substance of his life, from artworks to wigs, toenails to tickets, dead bugs to used condoms, packed and dated from 1974 until his death in ’87. The moment of opening the last Time Capsule was a performance in itself – the opportunity beng auctioned off to raise income for the Andy Warhol museum in Pittsburgh. Click here to open box 21.


Cardboard boxes feature quite highly in my own life too, filled with papers, paintings and fabric, fabric, fabric. I even went to Ikea (along with goodness knows how many thousands) this Sunday to get some underbed storage boxes in an attempt at organisation. Though I have a strong visual memory, for me one of the challenges is to recall what’s where so that I can quickly get my hands on whatever it is – not an issue for Andy and his sealed history. This last week opening a box revealed some precious note-books I feared had been lost, or worse, stolen, during a move: Susan’s and my earliest design recording note-books. I was so happy to find them again.


But it’s always good to leave the past in its place, and a walk with friends is a great way to be in the present. I’ve only stepped a very few miles along the Capital Ring Walk, and one rainy day got pleasantly soaked on the section between Falconwood and Grove Park when I joined a group of pals who for the most part have walked nearly the whole route. The moated Eltham Palace was a welcome drying-out point at lunch time, and certainly worth a visit in its own right. I felt the need to get back to work (it was a weekday) so peeled off early, squelching past blackberries and a field of a dozen donkeys and down a little woodland path to the station. I left behind, through the mizzle, a spectacular view over south and east London. The next leg of the walk goes right past my door I believe…

Screen Shot 2014-09-15 at 09.32.13

On the studio table that I was rushing back to was a new palette of blues in mid mix. The colours completed and the work started when off I went to the last day of the Making Colour exhibition at the National Gallery, where the first colour to be explored in depth was – blue. There’s more to say about this – so next time…

blue paints

As for other work – the samples of our new cushions have arrived; they’re printed on cotton, both face and reverse, and have simple envelope backs – here’s a little look so far.


habitatAnd I’m looking forward to the events celebrating Habitat’s 50th anniversary – still time to book a place to come along to join in at Platform this week. The rug is for sale now both in-store and online

The workshop, on the 15th November, for 13-15 year-olds at the V&A is also now bookable here and will be quite an ambitious day… 

Talking of naming children (which we weren’t, though it does come up on The Archers currently) – I was forced to conclude on a recent noisy coach journey that the moniker Angel is an unfortunate choice for a bumptious five-year-old!

And the conkers are now ripe….

conkersThanks to Molly and Steve.



10 thoughts on “song and dance

  1. Hi Sarah,
    I love to read your post and when I see one pop up its la moment I enjoy and savour, always interesting in a lovely chatty way. I enjoyed your post earlier in the year about painting a cloth for a friend and you inspired me, I have just finished painting and making a skirt covered in sunflowers.
    Looking forward to more of your post.

  2. Loved the art work Sarah and wondered whether the two ladies could have been identical twins, who clearly need separate tables but otherwise think alike and dress alike and act alike?

    What time will we see you at the Courtauld Insitute of Art in the afternoon of Monday 29th September – we are going on to to Golden Square, Soho to meet up with Rebecca and Sophie at 6.30pm – if you fancy a little walk?

    Love Dave and Haze xx

  3. Lovely, informative as ever, those precious notebooks mirror mine that hold so many memories of those early days. Love them. A shiny conker was the first thing I saw when I got off the bus from the airport today. I knew then I was home and back to the start of an English autumn. X

  4. HI Sarah, another wonderful blog post which brightened up my computer! I caught the Andy Warhol programme by accident – truly fascinating. I am also a huge fan of boxes. I think I use them to keep my life in order (it doesn’t work!) I also enjoyed the Colour exhibition at the NG – it was a different way of looking at familiar paintings.
    I love the new cushions. Will they be from West Elm, or from your own web shop?
    I went conkering with my twin boys last weekend. It’s another bumper year. We ended up with 82 (I could hardly carry my handbag home!!) There’s something about conkers that takes me right back to childhood: I can’t resist their rich brown shiny coats!
    I think your Habitat is really beautiful. I wish I could justify buying it! I am planning to come to the talk on Friday 19th.
    Finally, will you be designing/selling any Christmas cards this year? I would love to be able to send Sarah Campbell cards to all my friends!
    Best wishes, Olivia x

    • Well I think you win the comments prize Olivia, thanks!
      To answer your questions – the cushions are ‘ours’ and will be available from our webshop. We will be doing some new cards for Christmas time, and a calendar for the new year; there are quite a good selection of merry cards in our shop at the moment too.
      Finally – I look forward to seeing you on Friday if you make it. x

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