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Environmental Art

September 21, 2016

It’s funny how everything in life goes in circles…

When I started writing this blog five years ago one of the first posts I published was called Art for a Sunny Day. It was about a few gardens and parks that have become home for interesting contemporary sculptures. This post got one like. Today, it feels like it’s a new beginning – after such a long absence it’s really hard to get back into the swing of it all… But I’m doing this anyway and the subject I chose is environmental art. Have you heard of it?

A while ago I told you about my BIG project, that is supposed to be turned into a SUPER garden over the next hmm… hundred years? The thing is that I’d love to have some sculptures there (it’s probably too early to think about sculptures at this stage, I should be better investing in more plants, but I’m a stubborn dreamer), so I started looking into all possible options. It would definitely be too expensive to hire proper artists or gifted craftsmen, so I need something different. What’s that so called different? Maybe just a fresh idea or, in other words, something handmade using inexpensive materials that would still look spectacular…

If money wasn’t a problem I’d go for David Annand’s deer or Toby Winterbourn’s cow parsley.

Deer Leap by David Annand, Dundee Technology Park in Dundee (Scotland) (photograph was found here)

Deer Leap by David Annand, Dundee Technology Park in Dundee (Scotland) (photograph was found here)

 

Large Cow Parsley by Toby Winterbourn (photograph found here)

Large Cow Parsley by Toby Winterbourn (photograph was found here)

And here’s the so called different

Eat for England (photograph can be found here)

Eat for England by Bob Budd (photograph was found here)

But lets get back to environmental art. What is it? Wikipedia provides this definition – environmental art is a range of artistic practices encompassing both historical approaches to nature in art and more recent ecological and politically motivated types of works.

“It can be argued that environmental art began with the Paleolithic cave paintings of our ancestors. (…) More modern examples of environmental art stem from landscape painting and representation (…), yet such art as a “movement” started growing only in the late 1960s or the 1970s. In its early phases it was most associated with sculpture—especially Site-specific art, Land art and Arte povera—having arisen out of mounting criticism of traditional sculptural forms and practices which were increasingly seen as outmoded and potentially out of harmony with the natural environment.”

Environmental artists rather than depiciting the landscape engage in it. They escape the confines of galleries leaving the cities and going out into Nature. Their pieces are either too large or too unwieldy to be collected; they can be represented only by photographs, which of course means the artwork can’t be acquired. (You can read about it more here.)

Well… I was thinking that I could provide some space for proper environmental artists or… come up with something myself. Have a look at a few of my favourite pieces – it shouldn’t be that expensive to make something like that. What do you think?

Parasol by Jaakko Pernu (photograph was found here)

Parasol by Jaakko Pernu (photograph was found here)

 

Willow Lady by Trevor Leat (photograph was found here)

Willow Lady by Trevor Leat (photograph was found here)

 

by Cornelia Konrads (photograph was found here)

Schleudersitz by Cornelia Konrads (photograph was found here)


It seems I’ve nearly convinced myself that anything is possible and that my garden sculptures aren’t as impossible as one might think, yet I still need that fresh idea…

The Creative Home

September 14, 2016

You must have noticed my addiction to books by now. Book shops are the only places where I feel at a loss, just because I can never decide what to go for – a novel by a well know author or something completely new, a good review or a book cover I simply find appealing… And then I get to the Home and Garden section… and I get really anxious! Why? Because I want them ALL to be neatly lined up on my overcrowded shelves. Yes, it is an addiction and books are my weakness, but so are beautiful gardens and interiors… I bet you can imagine what my reaction was when I saw the quote Red magazine came up with to describe this season’s novelty The Creative Home:

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“Anyone intimidated by an empty expanse just crying out for decoration has a new heroine: Geraldine James.”

I trust them (and I already have a few of her books), so I decided it was my autumn’s “must-have”.
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I spent HOURS slowly turning the pages trying to take in every detail, gathering ideas that I can later on use decorating my own space. I absolutely loved the fact that the featured interiors are full of unique objects, mostly vintage finds, and, lets not forget, – artwork: loads of paintings, photographs, textiles and ceramics! (Inspiration I’ve been waiting for finally reached me.)

 

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In the author’s opinion “style is a completely personal thing – you just have to be confident in letting it shine in your home”. She has definitely chosen brilliant examples to illustrate all five main chapters of her book – Cook and Eat, Relax and Socialize, Work and Create, Sleep and Bathe, Store and Display. Such colourful/rich (I have in mind fresh and unexpected solutions) interiors must have been created by really interesting and brave individuals.

 

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Yes, I did say brave. Just like Sylvia Plath believed that “the worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt”, Geraldine James says that “the important thing is to believe in your choices”. You can go for a casual mismatch, mix together periods and styles and achieve great effect. The owners of the featured interiors have proven that even complete opposites, for e.g. neutral and dark tones, old and new things, can happily live together.

 

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So… there are no rules, everything’s allowed – all you have to do is be bold and make your style shine.

 

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If all of the above got your creative juices flowing you should also remember the magic word – upcycling. Once again, be brave and “look at something with a fresh eye – forget its original use and explore its new possibilities”. What do you think to this French barn exterior door which has been turned into a table? I love it!

 

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In just a few words – Geraldine James encourages to experiment with colour, materials and arrangements; she certainly has quite a few exciting recipes how to decorate your home. I believe that this book, just like intended, will fire up to play “until what you see is a true reflection of you and what you love”. Is the author my new heroine? Yes, she certainly is.
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The Creative Home by Geraldine James, published by CICO Books. Photography by Andrew Wood © CICO Books.

Living Retro

July 26, 2016

I’m so excited! I can once again introduce you to a wonderful new book. This time I’m saying – lets travel around the World RETRO style.

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I’ll be honest, I’m not a big fan of retro (bulky hand-held cellphones? 1970s patterned wallpapers? nah, not for me…). I’m also not into anything modern. I guess I’d rather have a mixture of rustic and chabby chic, also a mishmash of boho and vintage in my house; I’m sure you understand that this has nothing to do with our recent past. Nevertheless I was nicely surprised by Living Retro by Andrew Weaving.

 

My definition of retro must have been pretty narrow (anything that’s out of date basically…), which of course made me imagine boring and oldfashioned interiors, that could even scare me I’ve accidently traveled back in time! According to Andrew Weaving “living retro is a multi-faceted look that ranges from sophisticated glamour to paired-down chic, allowing its followers to cherry-pick their favourite pieces from the cream of twentieth-century design”. Of course this definition is much better, it gives freedom to create interiors that are not TOO retro, if you know what I mean.

 

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All you need is “a passion for vintage furniture and an understanding of the very best of twentieth-century design”. Does this sound complicated? Then you should learn some more and the best (and probably the easiest) way to do this is to analyse some retro interiors traveling around the world. Andrew Weaving and photographer Andrew Wood collected 18 inspiring locations! London, Paris, Copenhagen, Palm Springs…

 

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I would have never believed that retro interiors could be so different. In this book you will find perfect simplicity, funky fifties and even discreet charm and sophisticated glamour.

 

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Apparently, “those who choose to live retro generally fall into one of three main cetegories”. We have “the purists – perfectionists who seek to recreate a specific moment in time in their home, and to put together an interior that is entirely faithful to the building that houses it”. We also have retro lovers who “have a certain signature style  of their own … this trademark look is stamped upon their home, no matter how often they move or where they go”. And the last category… “the maximalists – magpies who have a passion for collecting vintage pieces and playfully … displaying their favourite finds”. Do you recognise yourself?

 

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Living Retro is a beautifully published journey into our recent past. It is very informative and very inspiring. If before I said I wasn’t into anything retro, now I can honestly say I’ve changed my mind. I haven’t turned into a purist of course, but I could easily join people who don’t enjoy playing by the rules and try to develope their own signature style. (By the way, at the end of this book you will find a great suppliers list, so if you become a retro fan you can start your own Living Retro project right away!)

 

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Living Retro by Andrew Weaving, published by Ryland Peters & Small. Photography by Andrew Wood © Ryland Peters & Small

 

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Live the Life

July 19, 2016
The last time I tried to send out my message to the World I thought that being away for a month is a terrible sin, so have a guess how I feel now. Two months… Two long months!!! May must have somehow unnoticebly turned into June and then June into July… Has this happened to you as well? Please tell me it has. (I bet that next I won’t notice how July will turn into December and then… we will have to start everything all over again.)

The first half of summer is behind our backs, yet I can’t say I had a rest. Why? I’ve taken on a MASSIVE project, which consumes probably about 80% of my time (the rest is for sleeping and all other insignificant chores). This project is called MY very own Garden (I say this with a very proud intonation, so please go back and read this sentence once again, this time do it pro-per-ly). I can assure you it’s very exciting, but also very tireing…

I know what MY Garden has to look like  – you must have seen these pretty English cottage gardens with plenty of green hideaways and huge French hydrangeas next to a field of lavander, and perfectly neat German vegetable rows with crops molded to fit all EU regulations, right? So something along these lines. But there’s a slight hmm… I wouldn’t call it a problem, maybe just a little disadvantage – I’m starting everything from an absolute zero! Basically a meadow has to magically be transformed into an award winning estate.

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There’s no electricity, BUT we have a lovely pond and a watering can. I also have a few spades, a rake and a pitch fork. You must admit , I’m really optimistic these days! Joking aside, working there feels like we are the very first settlers somewhere in the Wild Wild West – conquering new territories (you should see me in my cowboy hat… and muddy pink wellies).

Anyway, at the moment everything seems really simple – the more I plant this year, the better my flower beds and vegetable patch will look next summer, so I’m putting loads of effort and energy into this project of mine. And, even if I don’t succeed (impossible!), I’m happy to be learning new things each day.
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I’ll leave all of you (and epecially my new followers, who decided to join me even though I wasn’t posting anything new – thank you!) with a piece of advice:

“Live the Life of Your Dreams.
When you start living the life of your dreams, there will always be obstacles, doubters, mistakes and setbacks along the way. But with hard work, perseverance and self-belief there is no limit to what you can achieve.”
― Roy T. Bennett

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Lets Make It a Month

May 16, 2016

Unbelievable, but… I’ve been away for a month. This away of mine is not a real away, if you know what I mean. I didn’t go anywhere, I just had too much on my hands and, sadly, on my mind. Blogging is (or should I say was?) one of my healthy habits, that I don’t avoid, but I’ve been running out of steam lately, so something had to give… (just like reading before bed, trying out new recipes, taking photographs, painting and experimenting in my so called studio).

Anyway… it’s been a month, a bad patch, that hopefully has come to an end.

How has your May been so far?

Our garden seems to have recovered well after the fierce winter spells (looking at it I’ll also have to once again pull myself together... inspiration has to be drawn from Nature at all times – it never gives up). I’m still not sure about a few roses, but everything else is thriving – even the lawn seems to be doing better than ever.

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I can already see that this is going to be a summer of cherries and apples.

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Buckets of mouthwatering fruit… and probably stomach ache, that follows if you forget how to stop. This happens every summer, we never learn. (By the way, I still have to think of a good way to scare the birds away before the cherries go ripe, if you have any ideas, please let me know.)

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I might have been caught up in a big obligations’ and responsibilities’ web, but who isn’t? Sometimes it gets worse, but it doesn’t stay this way forever and sooner or later you notice that something you’ve been working on has turned into… hmm… something? (I’m such a philosopher… Philosopher with a very small vocabulary.)

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Just look at my seedlings, that are ready to be moved into the big garden world out there. It’s hard to believe that once these were tiny tiny seeds!

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Basil

Colleus

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At the moment everything’s about colour, growth and quick changes. I’m trying to stay focused and work like a bee (I’ve finally started my very own garden, which is just a plowed meadow more or less; it will probably take me at least 10 years to turn it into a garden I imagine). Quite often it’s hard to find a gap for a short walk and an impromptu photoshoot, so I’m really glad I’m finally getting back to blogging.

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No more regrets. I promise to show you and tell you EVERYTHING I find extremely beautiful, exciting or clever. Hopefully you’re ready to hear me out after that month of silence.

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Bright & Pretty

April 12, 2016

Another unexpected two week break…

The prettiest month of the year has started and the weather has been far better than it usually is at the beginning of April (the temperatures are really weird – it was actually hot today!), but I’m in a really bad mood. This bad hides sadness and quickly spreading melancholy, so I really need good news, uplifting stories, bright colours and anything that I would find inspiring.

I’ll leave you with a bunch of brilliant paintings. If they can’t revoke positive emotions, then I don’t know what can…

American artist John Powell is a magician! (Make sure you visit his personal website.)

Bamboo and Autumn Orchids

John Powell – Bamboo and Autumn Orchids

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John Powell – Courtyard Haven

Primrose Pot

John Powell – Primrose Pot

Summer Peaches and Dragons

John Powell – Summer Peaches and Dragons

Mangos and Matilijas

John Powell – Mangos and Matilijas

Figs and Peonies

John Powell – Figs and Peonies

What do you think?

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#StudioStory – March

March 31, 2016

It seems this is my last chance to show you what I’ve been working on in March…. (Tomorrow starts the pretties month of the year, right?) I can’t believe that time can fly so fast – thirty one days went almost unnoticed; mostly waiting for warmer days, looking at gardening magazines and planning new landscapes (that in real life no doubt won’t look anything as pretty as they do in my imagination).

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Well, I disappeared from this virtual blog world for two weeks, but it doesn’t mean I was fiddling my thumbs! I have finally started working on some lino cuts. (I also have at least two new projects that are just one step away from being finished, so hopefully I’ll be showing these some time soon as well.) Anyway… I bought proper tools, lino and paint for printing probably more than a year ago (if not two…), but never had the chance to enjoy the whole process of slowly cutting out pretty things. This time I took my time.

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At first I did a few sketches.  I started with a pineapple, just because I thought it would be nice to use it for printing on fabric (one more project for summer!), and later on came up with more and more ideas… One of them was a bird cage.

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I didn’t risk putting a bird inside it, I was worried it would come out just like some blob, so it became an open cage with two flying feathers.

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After I made the first or you could say test prints I saw what could be improved, but this will have to wait… I also decided I would like to get red, blue and green printing ink/paint and probably a smaller roller. These feathers could be other colour than black, don’t you think? It would be easy enough to cover them in other colour with a smaller tool.

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As you can see I’m working on small pictures at the moment (right now I’m trying to come up with a lovely fox stamp, that I intend to give as a present to my friend whose surname happens to be Mr.Fox; you can have a sneak peek on Instagram). Hopefully my linocuts will get bigger and more complicated with time… or maybe I’ll even master wood cutting? Would be nice.

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