My mum..

For a number of years we have been trying to comprehend my mothers increasingly baffling behaviour. This has ranged from rudeness to ignoring friends and family, incontinence, loss of interest in her favourite pastimes, loss of inhibitions and most recently a general lack of empathy or emotion and inability to carry out day to day tasks such as cleaning, hygiene and eating properly.

That’s the list that I have repeated over and over again to medical professionals but who lack the insight into my mum and who she was. She was my best friend in the whole world, we would talk and see each other most days and never run out of stuff to talk about. She read voraciously sometimes 4 or 5 books a week. She was extremely stylish and would spend hours shopping and talking about clothes and aesthetics. She was sharp as a knife and witty. She would character assassinate someone within minutes of meeting them. I was always so proud she was my mum because she was so different from the other mothers, she taught me to think differently and to have interests and to contradict and conflict my ideas and aesthetics. She was unpretentious but cultured.
When my daughter was born 6 years ago they formed a strong bond, which despite all this is still apparent when they are together even though my mum is not able to look after as she once did.

The changes have happened slowly over the years, with moments of her seeming okay and this is why it has baffled and frustrated us. It has been difficult to pinpoint when it begun and often the symptoms would fluctuate and with these bazaar changes have come our feelings of sometimes anger, embarrassment and frustration. Muddled with years of no diagnosis or reason we have spent so many days and sleepless nights going over the possibilities of what it could be. It is hard to not feel immense hurt after crying and pleading at her to be better and to try. These were the hardest times as she would show no emotion to our upset.

It is so exhausting to go various medical appointments and be told she has depression or worse old age. One of my lowest points was taking her to see a counsellor- a referral from our GP and the councillor told me she was just getting older. I walked home, shut the front door and actually screamed the house down. This is a memory that still reduces me to tears now. I was so angry that he saw her as the messy, bland woman in front of him and had dismissed my letter beforehand telling him all about my mother.

Two huge results of this illness were firstly my mum lost her job of over 10 years as a bookshop manager, they understood that she was ill and were sympathetic but at her last meeting before she was dismissed I sat with her as they listed all the basic tasks she had been unable to carry out over the last few years. She just talked about our GP being related to a famous puppeteer.
The other big change was after 40 years of marriage to my father they separated. To some this may seem mean but my father had lived for many years with a person who could not give him any love, affection and minimal interaction and there didn’t seem to be concrete reason why. I don’t think it is possible to understand what it is to live like that.

So finally after many, many years and referrals, set backs and lost appointments my mum received a brain scan which showed a large tumour in her frontal lobe- a benign meningioma. This is a slow growing, non-cancerous brain tumour.
She will be undergoing brain surgery tomorrow.
The risks are minimal but the outcome is not clear. It is unlikely to get worse but whether any of her old self comes back is a matter of a very slow recovery and patience. These wart-like growths cause lots of scarring over the years and the damage they do is irreversible.

There is a sense of relief now we know what it is and now we can access services to help assist with her day to day care.
However nothing will ever bring her back completely and I have had to mourn the loss of my favourite woman every day. It has pushed our family to the limits at times when we have taken our frustrations and hurt out on each other.

So I will continue to keep a picture of my beautiful mother by my bed to remind me what she was before and I will continue to fight every day for her to make sure she has a decent life because that was what she did for me and my brother, she fought for us. She was our passionate and feisty Italian mother and nonna.

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Holiday Time..

Being self employed makes having a holiday really tricky, you have to plan time off and its very difficult when lots of the work you do is reliant on other peoples schedules. You can be sure that a job you have been waiting on will finally be ready to commence around the time you’ve booked your holiday.
This got me thinking about the pros and cons of being self employed and some of it specifically in the furniture/interiors industry..

Cons..
You can’t just ‘take time off’.. For births and deaths in our family Steve has been working. In significant times if there is a deadline and/or you really need to finish a job to get paid to pay a bill then you have to work, whatever the situation.

Making new designs costs money- There is a great demand to always be producing new ideas but this takes time and money to do. New designs can take days and days to make(labour costs) and money to buy the materials. Often if you are working alongside a manufacture such as printers there is a minimum order so you often have quite large overheads before your designs are even launched. Then photographed, publicised etc..

Finding a retailer. This is one of the most difficult aspects as it is very hard to find stockists. Even when you have worked with a retailer it does mean that the relationship is a continuos one. Some don’t even acknowledge an email and you may have even had meetings and sold with them before.
Retailers also work on a ‘trend’ basis which can be tricky as this isn’t usually how a designer works.

People ripping you off.. Don’t ask..

Being poor.. We have been so terribly poor at times that we have had to rely on family to help pay bills. Any self employed person will tell you that an invoice is rarely paid on time.. This can be crippling.

When we argue we still have to work/eat dinner together.

Pros..
Doing what you love.. There is nothing we would rather be doing.

We get to talk about what we like all the time. Our job is a way of fulfilling what we are interested in.

We don’t have to go to ‘nonsense’ meetings for health and safety/team building etc.

Most of the time we get to pick who we work with.

We don’t have to go on work ‘dos’.

Get to work with my best friend.

So even though it can be really really tough sometimes and difficult not to take it personally when its your own business..
We know what we want to make and have a strong vision and many ideas which we hope will stand the test of time.

So we are off on holidays on Friday and to catch up with some good people. As with every year we go away the last few days are fraught trying to finish work, until the long drive west is done and the first sip of alcohol is had.

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New Workshop and Studio..

Our new workshop and studio space is finally taking shape.. After many many months of paperwork and solicitors we moved into our empty shell and set to work building a studio mezzanine level for office, storage and screen printing. Downstairs we have a large space for making furniture.
It has been many months of stress but we are finally getting there..
We shall be having an opening party soon so make sure you are on our mailing list to receive your invite!

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Our Catalogue..

Our catalogue is now ready to be posted out to you. It has our full range of products including new ones!
Please email fricker@bainesandfricker.net if you would like to receive a copy.

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Atelier Brancusi..

Next to the Pompidou Centre is a replica of Constantin Brancusi’s studio. When he died he left everything to the French state.
It was a really beautiful and inspiring space. His work is clean and and simple but with many different materials. I am often as interested in the artists studio as their work and it is a good insight into the processes, particularly when the work could appear quite sterile in a gallery setting. I liked the mass/collection of works and would like to see this way of presenting work with different artists.

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Shops in Paris..

There were lots of small interesting shops. We found some great secondhand stationers and toy shops.
One of our favourite finds was a small architect led furniture shop LdeO&Co which had some simple but beautiful pieces.

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Our friends in Paris..

We really like cats and were pleased to hear about a cat hotel opening in Paris. The owner Gauthier has designed the hotel and considered all details. As well as great design he has worked closely with a cat behaviourist to make sure that all the cats are happy who stay there.
It was great to see our wallpaper in the hotel and to meet all the cats.

We also visited The Collection, one of stockists and Merci.

http://www.aristide-leblog.com/

http://www.thecollection.fr/

http://www.merci-merci.com/en/

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We went to Paris..

England has embraced all the rubbish of American culture. A long conservative government in the eighties encouraged individualism and consumerism on such a scale that people bought in to buying on a huge scale from out of town supermarkets and cheap clothing stores. There was an encouragement to buy more than we need and cheaply. Where England was once at the forefront of interesting fashions we have now been swamped by high street fashion where the individual is lost to the mass of disposable fashion. Small independent shops for fresh produce are few and far between. We are obsessed with property and prices and the lure of houses with gardens in the suburbs.
We chose to bring up our family in central Brighton. I have talked before about the love of living in a lively neighbourhood with small shops and conveniences. We love living in a flat and the more equal existence this creates.

Paris was full of cafes and fresh food. It was refreshing to see street markets and bakeries selling good food. The dress sense was more conservative but it was also simple and considered. Less is more..

We have just come back from a few days in Paris.. We went to see our stockists, walk the streets and eat nice food.
We had a very nice time indeed and here are favourite bits..

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Clerkenwell Design Week..

Here are our favourite things from Clerkenwell Design week.. As always the Knoll shop was a calm oasis of beautiful luxury.
We really loved the Vestre outdoor furniture which was a lively approach to municipal seating. The Arad Tom Vac chair exhibition in Vitra was good fun. We had just read a great interview with Ron Arad who talked about making things for love “To be honest, I don’t really think commercially. This is how we work – we want to do the best we can; it’s not about world domination.” Which I think is the only downside of some of the designers who seem to go for the ‘contract pound’ leaving designs feeling rather cold.

Please click on the pictures to enlarge..

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New Project..

This year we have been undertaking much larger design projects such as offices, restaurants and now our daughters school playground.
Her school is small and right in the middle of our city. There is some greenery but there is also a lot of tarmac/safety flooring. The old play equipment was broken and was recently removed.
In the existing flower beds the children love to dig for bugs and make things.
A friend works in North London for for the free play schemes.. We went to visit in the Easter Holiday and were staggered by the freeness and wild feel of these playgrounds despite being in the middle of housing estates.
I also recently visited the gardens on the top of Southbank which are also a great example of creating green spaces in the middle of an urban environment.

We are working on designs now to create a wild, free and imaginative space for children in the middle of a busy city.

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My Grandfather..

I have never met my grandfather. My dad has two memories of him and they both involve lavish gifts. Once his father bought him a puppy and the other time he arrived at their tiny flat in Shepherds Bush with a ride on carousel from Harrods that took up the whole living room. Neither of the two gifts were kept.

My grandfather was a jewellery thief in the 1950s and despite the glamourous nights out and gifts there was also a miserable side of police visits and unreliability that eventually led to his complete disappearance from my families lives. My grandmother then became a single parent in the 1950s and raised two small children all by herself. He never financially supported them and never got in touch again. We are unsure if anyone made a conscious decision over this.

We do not speak to my grandmother about it and so we only have snippets of information- they knew the Krays, they knew Ruth Ellis, he became a vet..

This is a photo of him and and my grandmother at the Hammersmith Palais.
My brother looks just like him.

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Our Favourite Place..

We recently returned for a long weekend to Rye, Dungeness and Hastings. The landscape always inspires us and the three of us love to walk/bird watch at the nature reserve, go to the junk shops in Rye and the amusements in Hastings. The last few months have been our busiest to date with many orders, bigger design projects and taking on a new workshop. This weekend of chips and cake was a well needed..

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New Products..

We have been extremely busy with a variety of projects such as a fitting a new media office and bedroom and dressing room for a residential property. We have also been designing and making our new designs.

These new products will be photographed the first week of May and we will then be sending out details to our mailing list. Please do sign up to be the first to receive news on these on our ‘contact’ page. There are some lovely new things coming very soon!

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Stephen Powers..

I have already spoken about one of massive inspirations being the artists from the Alleged Gallery in New York in the 90s.. One of our favourite artists is Stephen Powers who uses extracts of poetry and turns of phrase to create large scale typographic pieces on buildings. There is a vibrancy and movement to the work as well as being witty and tender.

His new book A Love Letter to the City is out now..

We have said it before but this excellent documentary Beautiful Losers about a group of artists is really worth watching. There are some really interesting arguments raised about the pressures of success once artists work is recognised and the commercial benefit recognised by large corporations.

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Subversive Design Exhibition..

We managed to catch the Subversive Design exhibition at the Brighton Art Museum and Gallery just before it closed. It was an exhibition about how artists and designers interpret the world around them. There was a mixture of materials on display from ceramics, fashion, furniture, jewellery and textiles. The tapestry pieces by Julien Walker were my favourite pieces and there was a very good documentary featuring some of the artists talking about how they produced their work..

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Subversive Design Exhibition..

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Subversive Design Exhibition..

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Subversive Design Exhibition..

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New HQ..

We are extremely excited to finally have found a shared studio and workshop for Baines&Fricker. We have spent a long time finding a space that was right for us both. We had always liked a building in Hove but for various reasons it was not feasible until now. It is great 1960s industrial building with large windows and lots of light. We will have a workshop for making furniture, screen printing space, studio, stockroom and showroom!
We have lots of work to do on it and I will post pictures as it develops..
We may even have a moving in party..

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Valentines..

This woman has been constantly wronged by the wrong man.. She has seen far too much but keeps on going.
There has to be a decent one out there..
All those songs were written for her and any man that can sing Hank Williams is one worth chasing..
Life is hard but she’s made it this far..

Tattoo Woman £50 by Eliza Fricker and Adam Sage. Available from our website.

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