New York in the summertime is really hot. Not just sunny and warm but hot and humid. Everyday we woke and the weather was the same.. It was a real summer in the city.
We spent many hours sitting in different parks eating pizza slices.. We took the subway lots to Brooklyn and discovered new neighbourhoods.. We went to bookshops and drank iced coffee. The best bit of all these activities was people watching. New York is full of contradictions and extremes and the people reflect this. Here are some of my drawings of people that stuck in my brain.
We went to Coney Island yesterday.. The beach is the noisiest and craziest beach I have ever been to. There are stereos blaring, tiny swimsuits on big ladies and tons of street hawkers peddling every refreshment you could imagine- including cotton candy and carved mangoes.
We played Skeeball, ate fried food and rode the Wonder Wheel.
There were good hand painted signs(including Steve Powers) everywhere..
We go to Rye at least once a year to stay on the nature reserve in Rye Harbour. Its a beautiful bleak landscape- flat and windswept and home to many different bird species. We spend our weekends here birdwatching and walking. We eat fish and chips and spend the evenings watching junk on tv in our static caravan.
One of the speakers at our talk was a tutor at the Art and Design school. The school is aimed at students after school and before university. It is a vast old hospital building with a large beautiful courtyard and cafe. The college itself has over 35 crafts that it teaches its students. We were overwhelmed by the workshops for enamelling and stained glass.
The photos here are all taken at the college.
A few weeks later we attended the degree show at Brighton. We visited the fine art painting show, illustration and 3D art amongst others.. What was apparent as with every year we visit is that it seems that these young graduates are seeming to run before they can walk. There is a very apparent lack of technical and academic training to these degrees. Students are seeming to attempt to conceptualise and stylise before they have honed their skills. It is like trying to write your autobiography when you are 21. I didn’t do a degree but if I had gone I would have liked to have learnt many new skills and it to have been treated as a trade. I would have liked to have been taught how to etch, weld, fire clay, spent hours drawing life models.
I went to art college and did a BTEC when I was 18 and I was being encouraged to apply for a degree in art at one of the notorious London colleges. I didn’t go as I didn’t feel ready and didn’t know what I wanted to do. I spent many years doing minimum wage jobs while writing, drawing and reading- either while doing my shifts or in my free time. I never lost my creativity during this time or my mindset and I ended up doing what I am doing now.
I was also very fortunate to have my dad who is a traditional draftsman. He worked as a political cartoonist/illustrator and had studied fine art painting. He taught me how to draw and see and helped me enormously with the technical elements.
We have a sceptical approach to contemporary art in this country but maybe as well as its elitism and alienating of the average person it also is exempt of skill. With art being cut more and more from school syllabus’s wouldn’t it be good to teach it like other subjects.. Learning how to mix colours and draw figuratively? Show its true and real value to the cynics.
I suppose there is a seeming indulgence to the final work at degree shows- which is nothing unusual in the mind sight of a 20 year old however I do believe if it was more skill based the student would then have a grounding to develop with a stronger beginning.. Because surely a degree is just the start not the end?
Roomservice Design Talk..
We recently started working with a new stockist in Barcelona- Roomservice Design. Its a beautifully curated shop with a likeminded ethos to design. We were very happy when they asked us to visit them and take part in a talk. The panel included the Spanish design press and a lecturer from the Art and Design School. The panel spoke about our work and the thoughts behind what we do- they explained the duality and playfulness to our designs. They also discussed our modest approach to working, how this is the future of design as we all reconsider treating furniture as trend/throwaway and begin to invest in buying pieces to keep forever in our homes like our parents did. It was an inspiring trip with interesting and generous people who understand what we do..
I like paintings of faces, cakes and mundane items. I also like precise and badly painted/drawn pictures. So this trio I found in a gallery in Italy tick all the boxes..
Rome and its stuff..
There is so much history in Rome you almost become desensitised after seeing another view/ruin/church.. There are the key places the tourists go- such as the Vatican and the Colosseum but in these places I saw more tourists than I had ever seen in my life(and selfie sticks). What was confirmed for me was is its always the path less trodden that becomes the most inspiring and memorable.. The hidden gems where you have time to think and process are always the best. I liked the little squares with churches, restaurants, bars and bookshops the best.. getting lost is where when you find the empty botanical garden and the cafe with the best cheese..
To celebrate my mums recovery from a brain tumour and a thank you present from her to my brother and I we booked a trip for the three of us to Rome. My mother is half Italian and catholic, so it seemed the perfect place to go. However she was not well enough to go on the trip in the end as her medication was still being altered and a hot and busy trip would not have been good for her. However she still wanted my brother and I to go.. Living at different ends of the country and with families, pets and work we rarely get time together on our own anymore. It was so good to have some time together to walk, drink, eat and put the world to rights..
Polly Morgan/Horniman Museum..
We made a day trip to the Horniman Museum to see the Polly Morgan exhibits. It was a small selection but it was a joy- as ever to see the mass of cabinets of stuffed creatures that makes up the museums permanent collection. In many ways a equally macabre and beautiful as Polly Morgans work.. A perfect combination..
Thank you for attending..
Last week we stood on our legs from 10am-9pm for three days in a disused building for Clerkenwell Design Week. Each evening we had a mini beer festival with the other exhibitors from our floor. It was really good fun and extremely tiring. We saw lots of faces we knew and met lots of new ones.
Thank you for coming and saying hello and showing your support.
Clerkenwell Design Week 2015.. Register Now.
We will be making our debut Clerkenwell Design Week debut in May. They will be exhibiting at the Design Factory in The Farmiloe Building, a hub of CDW, known for its leading showcase of furniture, lighting and product design from around the world.
Register now .. http://www.clerkenwelldesignweek.com/
The Walpole, Margate.
Not wanting our weekend to end we decided to finish our stay with an afternoon tea in the Walpole Hotel. It is very established in Margate and visited by new visitors as well as the older residents of the town. It has maintained all its quirks and seems fairly unchanged from its original decor. We arrived at the end of lunch service where large tables were still uncleared and the debris of cheese boards could be seen. We had to place our order for scones and biscuits at the reception. We waited a long time but this gave us time to go and explore the rest of the hotel..
We went to Margate with some friends for the weekend last week.. We visited the Shell Grotto, the Turner Contemporary, the beach, ate seafood, drank in proper pubs and looked in junk shops. We also bought a penguin from a funfair amusement.
We had a sunny Sunday at the Barbican to visit the Magnificent Obsessions exhibition the other weekend.
I love the space of 1960s architecture.. There are plenty of areas left unaccounted for which gives you space to move and allows for emptiness, something that is becoming a rarer idea in public spaces.
My childhood weekends were spent on my nan’s estate- The Worlds End in Chelsea which is a housing complex made up of high and low rise flats. There was a nursery and primary school, playgrounds and an arcade of shops including the first delicatessen I had ever seen and whose cured pungent meats hanging up used to terrify me. We had endless corridors to run around and lifts to race each other to various floors. As a teenager we spent all our time at the Southbank where we had a similar feeling of space as we wasted hours around this neglected concrete structure. This was when the Southbank was fairly disregarded so you could climb the stairwells to all sorts of unused and forgotten areas. When the weather was too cold and we had run out of money for cider we would hang around in the National Theatres nooks and were never found by grown ups.
Now that every public space has to include areas to buy coffee and residential buildings have small windows and fake balconies the buildings of the 1960s seem almost decadent.
We were really chuffed to see our new Rocker featured in the Sunday Times Home section this weekend.
SB03-4 Rocker in Kvadrat fabric and London Plane wood. Price £1,950.
Our new furniture. Part 1.
Our SB02 is now available..
Influenced by the pew bench seating of churches, this seating is designed to maximise space by creating a versatile piece of furniture that can be used in lobbies, as well as working well with dining tables in a restaurant. There are various options within the range such as the addition of a back, a choice of 2 seats or 3 seats and finishes ranging from raw to bold colour stains. A Pew chair is also available.
To view these please email to visit our workshop or come and see us at Clerkenwell Design Week in May in the Farmiloe Building.
Fieldwork was set up Curtis James to help businesses understand how they work and to see if there are ways of improving this. We have worked with them on various projects in the past and so it was really great to be asked by Fieldwork to illustrate their DIY kits which they send out to clients.
Stanley James Press designed and made the kits and I was commissioned to draw some illustrations and also for more projects for Fieldwork in the future.
The results are very considered and beautifully made.
We look forward to working with Fieldwork and Stanley James Press on many more projects..
I have talked before about some of my favourite artists before such as the work from the Alleged Gallery- Steve Powers, Margaret Kilgallen and Barry McGee. I love reading and writing and any art form that manages to incorporate clever words and imagery is something I am interested in. I never tire of the primitive yet heartfelt Mexican Votive paintings or the power of Barbara Krueger’s bold and graphic work.
I think this is why I read so many graphic novels- Drawn and Quarterly publications are always a good read and something I revisit constantly to keep me sane. I am fascinated by the combination of these two arts forms working alongside each other.
However I am becoming increasingly mystified by popular poster art that is available in most contemporary shops. These are simple typographic play on words that range from motivational slogans to a one word ‘jolly’.
As screen-printing has become ever more popular combined with the use of computers for graphic art there has been a cold collision of the two. Screen prints are so accurate and precise in their form they might as well have been digitally printed. I was once using a shared studio to screen print and saw the man next to me print an exact replica of a digital image he had created. What is the point?
The beauty of methods is surely in the effect they create? We see this all the time with furniture too- why would you not want wood to look like wood?
As well as the finished technique there is the content to these typographic pieces. When I was little our local bakers and chip shop were filled with signs ‘please don’t ask for credit as this often offends’ or ‘you don’t have to be mad to work here but it helps’. Now our computer world is filled with social media streams of self help and motivational slogans. Contemporary and accessible art prints are all happy slogans to put up on our walls to not offend the children. Every retail outlet is full of greeting cards of a similar bland agenda.
It seems our brains have been zapped of a capacity to ponder anything for longer than three seconds anymore.
Our homes are ridiculously clean and clutter free with bright simple prints on the wall.
I like to think as a designer we make things to make our world more enjoyable but I am also quite happy surrounded by dusty books and pets and stuff and I like my home and art to make me think- it’s a home that generates ideas even without pictures of my family everywhere and ‘Love’ hanging off every door handle.
Our new designs are coming along and we are pleased as always to work on collaborations with other good people..
We have made a dining table for a friend.. Have some new retailers including Devoted to.. At the Redbrick Mill(pictured here) and Kukka. More are in the pipeline and to be announced soon..
Our bespoke/interiors work is continuing as well as press coverage for design work we completed for the zero waste restaurant Silo.
We have new screen prints and wallpaper and more designs launching at Clerkenwell Design week in May which we are really excited to be taking part in.
Fingers crossed for a fun and exciting year ahead..