Indian Palace Ornament

On my trip to Rajasthan in February we visited a lot of palaces and temples as well as seeing craft producers. Everywhere we went there was fascinating architecture and amazing decoration. The Maharajas who lived in the palaces were not into minimalist interior design, every surface was covered in rich and sumptuous decoration. This surface ornamentation varied from the breathtakingly beautiful to the frankly tasteless but it was never dull. My camera should have been red-hot with the number of shots I took. The few photographs I present to you here are just a taste of the ornamentation found in a number of Rajasthan palaces.rajasthan palace interior decorationDeprived of real power by the British, the Indian princes put much of their
great wealth into building these deliberately impressive palaces and filling
them with extravagant objects. It is not really clear who was meant to be
impressed, whether the subjects of these princes, their foreign overlords, or if they
were simply trying to convince themselves of their own greatness, but there was
certainly a lot of effort put into the enterprise.exhuberant interior decoration

While these palaces do have a distinctive style of their own, I was struck by how many of the decorative motifs used were not particularly Indian in feeling and were in fact vaguely familiar. It took a while before I realised that a good deal of the decoration could have been taken directly from “The Grammar of Ornament” by Owen Jones. The style of decoration in these palaces appears to be drawn, not just from the Indian tradition but from a Victorian British aesthetic as well.painted-wall-decoration

Owen Jones was a Victorian architect and designer who published his major work “The Grammar of Ornament” in 1856. This classic work was a great influence on successive generations of designers and provided both inspiration and source material for major Arts and Crafts figures such as William Morris and William De Morgan. The book is still available in print today.
“The Grammar of Ornament” was an investigation into the design motifs of varied cultures and periods but Owen, by a process of selection and subtle transformation, managed to transform all his sources until they looked unmistakeably Victorian.

Owen Jones Pompeian plate no. 2 (detail)

Art In Action

I spent last weekend at the Art in Action show held in Waterperry Gardens, near Oxford. This annual festival of visual arts has been running since 1977 and is still going strong. Hundreds of artists and craftsmen came together to display their creations, demonstrate their techniques, and discuss their inspirations. Luckily, the weekend was gloriously sunny, the atmosphere was fun and energetic, and I had a really fantastic couple of days.

Out of all the displays, I found the ceramics marquee and the glass marquee to be the most exciting – some works were fun and quirky, and some were incredibly beautiful in form and colour.

Here are some photographs showing just a few of the many interesting things that caught my eye.

Linda Dangoor, ceramics.

Ceramics by Linda Dangoor

Tim Boswell, glass.
Glass works by Tim Boswell

Ali Yanya, ‘Souk,’ watercolour.

"Souk" - Watercolour by Ali Yanya

John Stroomer, ceramics.
Ceramics by John Stroomer

If you get a chance, Waterperry Gardens are also well worth a visit. Established by the formidable Miss Havergal (believed to be the inspiration for Roald Dahl’s Miss Trunchbull), the gardens feature beautiful herbaceous borders and some lovely old trees as well as a gallery, garden centre and café.

Cornwall Sunsets at last!

Those of you who follow this blog regularly will know that I love to get out with my camera when there is a beautiful sunset around. Sadly, this summer we have barely seen the sun at any time of day. This has all changed in the last week however, and I was able to get some spectacular photographs the other night. Enjoy!
Spectacular Cornish sunsetSpectacular Cornish sunset number 2Spectacular Cornish sunset number 3Spectacular Cornish sunset number 4
Related posts: Sunset at Widemouth Bay; More Cornish Mornings;

Some Textile Work as a Break from Making Textiles!

Those of you who are familiar with my work will have figured out that my process for making textile art pieces is quite meticulous and painstaking. This suits me fine and I love what I do but still I enjoy a change of pace now and again. This often involves dressmaking (I have made a few Indian style shirts since my trip to Rajasthan in February.) Recently I decided to make some bags for a change. I had material lying around that I could not find another use for and it seemed like a quick, fun project.

One of the new bags I made

One of the new bags I made (this one has velvet handles)

The material was heavyweight curtain/cushion fabric with nice hand embroidery on it. Add to this some bits of velvet and wool for straps and trimming plus some cotton/polyester lining material (both also lying around in my ridiculously large material stocks) and I was all set to go bag making.

Another version (this one with blue-green woollen handles)

Another version (this one with blue-green woollen handles)

The end result was three nice new bags, each with slight variations in size, proportion and strap design. A good use of materials I had at hand and a nice change from fiddly embroidery.

The third bag (this one with a red woollen shoulder strap)

The third bag (this one with a red woollen shoulder strap)

To finish the new bags off I had some wooden buttons made based on my brooch designs.

Wooden button based on my brooch design

Wooden button based on my brooch design

I have made lots of bags over the years. Here is one I made for my daughter several years ago.

A bag I made several years ago

A bag I made several years ago (designed with two alternative fronts)

The other side of the same bag

The other side of the same bag

Moths in the Night

Our house backs onto farmland. When the bathroom window is open and the light is turned on after dark we will often get the odd moth stumbling in. This year, for some reason, there seem to be many more moths and a much wider variety of species – or maybe it’s just that I have started to pay attention to them! Here are photographs of a few that stayed still long enough for me to grab my camera.

Big-Golden-Yellow-MothThe colours, forms and surface qualities of these creatures fascinate me. A few years ago I made a series of brooches and earrings that were regularly referred to as being moth-like, though no direct reference was intended. Perhaps the combination of crisp forms with soft, richly textured surfaces echoes the effects that I aspire to in my work.Dark-Grey-MothSpeckled-White-MothGrey-Brown-MothSmall Yellow MothI’m afraid I haven’t made any effort to identify these beautiful creatures so If someone wants to take a stab at naming them then please go ahead!

Inspiring market stalls

I love shopping at outdoor markets and places where shops have street displays. Even the most mundane fruit and vegetables can look much more colourful and inviting there than they ever do in a pristine supermarket display. When I travel abroad I particularly enjoy wandering around local markets and taking in all the colour. Here are a few photographs from my trips to India, plus an old favourite from China.

Outdoor market in Jaipur

Outdoor market in Jaipur

Local street market in Rajasthan

Local street market in Rajasthan

Umbrellas for sale lying beside a market stall

Umbrellas for sale lying beside a market stall

Stall selling Festival flowers - South India

Stall selling Festival flowers – South India

Stall selling Festival dyes - South India

Stall selling Festival dyes – South India

Beautiful dried fruit display - Dunhuang, China

Beautiful dried fruit display – Dunhuang, China

Time for a Review

This blog has now been running for exactly four months and I thought that now might be the time for a bit of a round-up! Over the past four months the blog has featured 90 posts, received nearly 1500 likes, 12,500 site views and is now edging towards 300 followers. I don’t really have much idea of what these statistics mean, as I haven’t anything to compare them to, but I can say that the blog has become a major feature in my life and in that of my whole family.

One of my textile brooches

One of my textile brooches

I’m also going to take this moment to make a few confessions – this blog is not entirely a one person production, which has no doubt been obvious from day one for those who know me personally! For one, my standard of English is at times a bit shaky, so my daughter Isla is the go-to girl for language and editing (any posts where the English standard slips a bit are ones that Isla was unavailable to check!). My son Greg and his girlfriend Emma have also been a fantastic help – they were the ones who convinced me that I should start a blog in the first place, and Greg set everything up for me and gave me lessons so I could get things started.
And of course there’s my husband Alex: my partner in business and in life, and now my partner in blogging. He talks through the ideas for all the posts with me, and helps me brainstorm lists of upcoming ideas to keep us going. He is also the one in charge of sorting out photos and making sure that everything is ready to publish.

The beautiful landscape near my home

The beautiful landscape near my home (click on images to view full size)

When this blog started I had no clear idea what it would be about apart from that it would be a place for me to share something about my textile work. I didn’t really know what I had to say or what people wanted to hear, and I’m sure that I’ve broken lots of rules about good blogging! Four months in, I’ve decided that this blog is quite simply about a) my work and b) those things that excite and inspire me.
Hopefully this means that I’ll continue connecting with all of you who have similar interests and that I can pass a little inspiration along!

I never fail to be inspired by the sea near my home

I never fail to be inspired by the sea near my home

Lastly, I can say that the regular work of producing this blog has made me re-examine all the things in life that fascinate me. In looking for things to share with others, I have regained my appreciation of how lucky I am in what I do and in the wonderful place that I live in (despite the appalling weather!)

A misty morning close to my home

A misty morning close to my home

The form of this brooch was originally inspired by drawings of the Cornish landscape

The form of this brooch was originally inspired by drawings of the Cornish landscape