that time of year

DSC08181There’s a symmetry in nature – as the days dramatically shorten and the sun’s level lowers the leaves obligingly fall from the trees to allow us the best of what light there is.

At times we may all feel like hibernating; up the road in the Dulwich woods a marvellous bug hotel is being constructed from a patchwork of offcuts, logs, sticks, bricks and blocks. In Crystal Palace park the trees stand magnificent in their bare structures.


To write, illustrate and post this blog takes about 7 hours in all; more importantly it needs some mental space too. Their coincidence have eluded me during the last few weeks – hence this longer than usual gap between posts. I have been busy with several exciting and thought-provoking projects. Along with my continuing and mind-stretching special relationship with WestElm I’ve been working with two or three new customers on some specific new products. Very fun times, which of course (confidentiality) I can’t share with you – yet.

studio table

Alongside all of that is the design and making of new products for our own growing online shop – the 2015 calendar, new cards, cushions, and newly hand-painted creatures which this year includes some perky reindeers and cats.


calendarNext year’s calendar comes with its own sheet of special-occasion stickers to mark your high days and holidays as well as simply reminding you about the spring cleaning…

santa card

We’ve made some concessions to the season and included a gang of very merry santas in our new card assortment, as well as a new collection of little hand-painted hanging tree decorations – each one unique; we’ll be adding to this line as the days go on, so keep an eye out for them on Twitter and Facebook as well as our website.tree decorations

And, all being well, from next week we’ll have a small first edition of our special newly printed pure wool shawl online too: aptly named ‘Celebration’ it’s a metre square, fringed, with fabulous colour to cheer up these dark months.  The hand-painted chiffon scarves remain a very popular and personal choice.

celebration scarf

There’s still plenty of time to order and this weekend we have a special offer for blog-readers – enter the word BLOG when you order for a 15% discount. This offer stands until midnight Monday 8th December.

blog coupon

For those of you in South London the annual Christmas Open House in Balham is on the 13th and 14th December – hosted by the gorgeous Bantam Knits. Come along, it’d be great to see you there. 


Screen Shot 2014-12-04 at 16.31.17

That’s a lot of shop talk!

This does seem a time for reflection and the BBCradio4 programme about art schools was an interesting listen – a reminder of an education when opening doors was more important than ticking boxes. I was a lucky student, coming rather innocently from a highly academic school, to an art school with first-rate tutors who were there and available in rooms where the space really felt like ours to use. The point about creative exploration is that it doesn’t fit in a box!27-Chelsea-School-of-Art-Manresa-Road,-London,-SW3__large

Seeing the new David Hockney documentary film made by Randall Wright also brought back my earlier adult-hood and the excitement of the new. It was good to see again his constant interest in new ways of seeing and showing us the world. The live interview with David in L.A. at the end of the film seemed like a good idea, but I think was a wasted opportunity: it never really gelled, and his theories about reverse perspective with which he is properly concerned at present, were hard to follow.

David Hockney photo

The film had its sadnesses too, not least of which was the memory of the swathes of (mostly) young men cut down in the first years of the AIDS epidemic. We ourselves lost, among others, that great design director Bob Burger, a man with foresight and unfailing design instinct. I think it was the huge loss of so many creative people that gave so much power to the accountants and bottom-liners who began to dominate our design industries – no wonder banal and re-iterative imagery have become so ubiquitous! I’m for generosity and creative risk, maximalism and the hand-painted mark – you may have noticed!


My two recent workshops – one to raise money for The Artroom charity, and one with young people as part of the V&A Create series – are proof enough that there’s never any shortage of imagination when it comes to it – though it often needs a little rock and roll to get going! 

the art room

And I’ve written before about the Texprint graduates – I have really enjoyed being involved in the curation of the new EDITS collection with Surface View and that project is nearly ready to go live – next week with any luck. The work of five new young designers will be featured over a range of different products from lampshades to wall panels – exciting!

scuffleAnother project well worth supporting is Scuffle – a magazine written for and by young people to reflect current issues, political and social – a serious and considered voice in this rather worryingly empty space. To get going they’re seeking crowdfunding through Kickstarter – please contribute to them if you can, and not just because one of the founders is my dear great-niece Rosa! They have until the 16th December to raise their whole amount – watch their video here – help them to make a difference.

libertyLooking forward and looking back – for the latter there’s a lovely tiny glimpse of Susan, with I think Blair Pride, on the recent TV programme about Liberty. It starts 30 minutes in and has some quaint footage about the famous Liberty prints of the times – if you can bear the adverts!liberty floral

There’s still time to catch the current exhibition at Marsden Woo Gallery – and enjoy Jaqui Poncelet’s luminous gouache paintings.

Screen Shot 2014-12-04 at 16.42.48

Thanks to Molly, Steve and James Balston for the bug hotel tip-off.

cushion xmas tree

And don’t forget our fresh-as-a-daisy Calico Birds cushion collection….

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