Gallery

Notebooks and Bookplates for P&H

These gorgeous faux finish notebooks and box files with their contrasting book cloth bindings have exceeded my expectations and I could never imagine that the letterpress book plates I had printed would be such a match made in heaven. Sadly, I am unable to sell these wholesale. Happily, they are available exclusively at Pentreath & Hall.

Drawings & Doodlings on the Studio Wall.

Cutting out & Collage at Home

Prototype Lacquered Brush Boxes

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Finishing off some lacquered brush box prototypes this week. I’ve been making up the construction as I go along and have learnt everything I can off this small batch. Not perfect but still special we’ll have a little sale of these at Pentreath & Hall within the next week. Keep your eyes peeled.

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‘ad Meliora’ – Towards better things

These vases were decorated in an exercise to see what could be achieved with paint and light. They were displayed in June 2019 at Masterpiece London. They aren’t perfect but they are special so, we are selling them in a special sale at Pentreath & Hall 

As a painted prototype, it has been sealed but this vase cannot be guaranteed to hold water without risking the stability of the paint; we found that filling large poly bags with water to be a very successful solution; they sat within the vessel to hold the most glorious foxgloves and cow parsley. Please contact Pentreath & Hall for more details. Don’t miss out!

 

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Creative Visual Content Co-Ordinator Wanted

We are seeking a reliable, enthusiastic and friendly person to create still-life and lifestyle product photographs for our website, social media channels and press image library.

Our ideal candidate will be a motivated and thoughtful creator with a dedicated attitude to work; someone that can carefully follow and understand a clear, directive brief to create high quality images that best represent the Pentreath & Hall and Bridie Hall brands.

Autonomous, flexible and efficient with creative flair, the job calls for a self-contained person with the ability to prioritise workload in a methodical and organised way.

Based on site at our small, friendly shop and studio in Bloomsbury, this integral position would suit someone with an appreciation and keen interest in interiors, photography, product and aesthetics.

Excellent attention to detail is a must.

We anticipate the role would be two/three days per month.

Daily rate £200 p/d

How to apply:

Email CV and covering letter to: info@bridiehall.com

My House in House & Garden

A year to the day I’d moved into my house, the photographer from House & Garden magazine came around to photograph it. Here is a small selection of the pictures they took. Read the full article on the H&G website here.

Part-time Production Assistant Wanted

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Part Time Production Assistant Wanted for Bridie Hall Ltd

£13.50/hour.

Bridie Hall Ltd is currently looking for a part time workshop assistant for four days a week. They will be required to help with the preparation and finishing of products along with maintaining a neat and tidy spray workshop. Read the rest of this entry »

Furniture and Decorative Accessory Spray Painter Wanted

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We are looking for an experienced spray painter to join our East London workshop. You will have skills ranging from basic product preparation, spraying and finishing. To high spec spray lacquer finishing and polishing. We are a creative multi-discipline workshop and are looking for someone who can apply themselves to this workload accordingly.

Ideally, you will have additional painting skills that will broaden our young workshops horizons and opportunities for product development and who will work well within a small east and central London based atelier.

£25,000 – £27,000 per annum.

Please send your C.V. and any image examples of your work to info@bridiehall.com

Deadline: Monday 20th May 2019.

Interviews week commencing: 27th May 2019.

New Patterned Papers

So inspired by the Opus Sectile (a practice dating back to antiquity) marble floors of St Mark’s Basilica in Venice, Bridie drew variations of her own. Unlike the Byzantines, she was fundamentally lacking in access to great quantities of precious marbles from the sacred and civic buildings of the Eastern Roman Empire, so she’s printed her collection out as a range of patterned papers instead! 

Printed in England.
Dimensions: Length 70cm x Width 48cm.

Double Shadowed Hellenic Meander

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Venetian Diamond Grid

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Byzantine Geometric

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Venetian Box Grid

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Venetian Stud

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Shadowed Hellenic Meander

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Greek Key

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Attic Hammer Frieze

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Greek Fret

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New Alphabet Brush Pot Colourway

We like to keep things special so new colour ways don’t come along very often!

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An update to my open letter to the CEO of H&M

Since posting my open letter to the CEO of H&M on Monday evening I have been completely overwhelmed by the reception its received and the support that I have been shown. I have also been shocked to be told over and over again at how common an occurrence this is.

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Earlier today I received this email from Camilla Henriksson, the Head of Marketing and Communications at H&M Home.

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I am really happy to have heard from them. It was the response I was hoping for and more. I think I’ll leave it to  my reply describes best how I feel, 

“Dear Camilla,

Thank you for your reply and for going some way to answering the question in my letter. I can see that you recognised that it wasn’t written or sent lightly and that you have reacted accordingly in your apology and product recall. I can appreciate that this is a big undertaking and for this, I thank you.

I too use the world as inspiration when working on new ideas and I find this to be one of the greatest joys of doing what I get to do. And I also work hard on avoiding treading on anyone’s toes, I think we can both agree, it is a fine line to walk at times and a very well recognised and well-worn one too!

Issuing this letter openly has been an overwhelming experience, the show of support I have received has been extraordinary. But the number of similar stories shared by other small designers seeing their ideas seemingly stolen out from under them and feeling utterly hopeless and helpless to do anything and sadly fearful of the repercussions if they did, was totally unexpected.

It took me a lot of courage to do and I am glad my letter has shone a light on this.

To me the design world is a place where I can feel like we can all work together to try to make things better (in an aesthetic sense) and I hope moving forward we all can and look out for each other with this in mind as we do.

Yours sincerely,

Bridie Hall”

H & Ouch!

An open letter to the CEO of H&M                                                           

Dear Karl-Johan Persson,

It is deeply upsetting to learn that H&M have produced and are selling as its own, a product copied directly from my range of Alphabet Brush Pots.

 

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I designed these in 2014 and have been making them in London with a small, skilled and dedicated staff since 2015. They have been very popular and sell into a number of the most prestigious interior, design and department stores in London and around the world. Something I have worked immensely hard on and am very proud of.

To see H&M producing a poorly watered-down version to pass of as its own design in the form of a candle votive (votive made in China, candle poured in Vietnam), is not only disappointing from the perspective of witnessing an enormous multi-national company yet again stealing a design from a tiny independent designer and profiting from it.  But it’s method of production also flies in the face of everything I work hard to promote and practice – locally assembled, handmade, sustainable, high quality.

It puts under threat the relationships I have built between my company and my stockists and compromises my reputation with my customers, who will recognise this design as mine and think that I had a part to play in its compromised design and method of mass production. 

As well as being (totally) unethical, by directly copying my design there is an obvious detrimental financial implication to my business as customers and the wider public will be purchasing your copy of my design instead of my original product. (Your company has completely diluted my product’s exclusivity.) The damaging effect upon our own sales may be lasting and is a cause of great stress for a small business like ours.

I have visited the H&M website and read your values and guidelines manifesto ‘The H&M Way’ which is aimed towards your staff, customers, suppliers, shareholders and business partners. Throughout this the words – quality, respect, openness, ethically, straightforwardness, honesty and responsibly, are repeatedly used and that you ‘continually encourage our suppliers and other business partners to do the same.’

I want to ask you; do you not feel that these values and guidelines should not also be extended towards the wider design community and the treatment of their intellectual property?

Yours faithfully,

Bridie Hall

Ancient Roman Urn Greeting Cards

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Rainbow Roman Emperor Intaglio Cases

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Curating Christie’s for Classic’s Week

Late last summer I was overjoyed to be asked to contribute to Christie’s Classics week, the biggest week in the Christie’s calendar, by curating my very own space in Antiquities. For weeks, I agonised over what i was going to do. Would it be a domestic setting? Would I create a Cabinet of Curiosities? Then I realised it had been staring me in the face all along. I made up a Rainbow Roman Emperor Intaglio wall, we painted the wall the most sublime ‘Orange Aurora’ colour from the Little Greene Paint Company and I chose the biggest fragments of Roman statues to display in front of it, to create my own little tribute to the British Museum.

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Greek Key Frieze Print

Imagery of classical subject matter is a strong theme that runs through Bridie’s work. From using imagery from her vast archive photographs taken at the British Museum emerges a colourful take on an ancient greek key frieze. Image Dimensions: 39cm x 18.5cm. Signed and numbered edition of 50. Giclee print on 310gsm Hahnemükle photo rag paper.

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The Bath House, Stratford Upon Avon

Desperate for a break from city life I visited the Landmark Trust website for a daydream and ended up booking a weekend at The Bath House just outside of Stratford Upon Avon. Arriving via a off road track through a pitch black woodland on a dark and stormy Friday night, was the most welcoming accommodation I have ever had the good fortune to visit. Everything is comfortably at arms length in the most perfectly restored octagonal folly that sits a top its very own fresh water spring fed, roman style bathroom. Of course I had to take the icy, yet invigorating,  plunge very early morning, before running up endless stairs to fortify myself in the ready waiting hot bath. It was magic and I’ve tried to keep up ending my morning shower with a blast of the cold ever since, with mixed results if I’m honest. Do book a stay, you will not regret it. You can read more about it here

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Athena Domestic Goddess Mug

Athena was the goddess of many things, pottery being one of them and now perhaps generous cups of tea. Bridie is thrilled to introduce the Athena mug. Proudly made in Stoke On Trent.

Dimensions: Height 9cm, Diameter 8.5cm.

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A year in the life of my studio

Looking through my dreadfully organised photo archives, there are ever increasing numbers of pictures of projects or products happening in my studio to wade through. A lot passes through this tiny space. I thought it might be fun to share a fraction of a year in the life of the Roque Map of London. The most ambient of backdrops. 

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Editioned Giclee Prints

Imagery of classical subject matter is a strong theme that runs through Bridie’s work. From using imagery from her vast archive of antique prints for decoupage emerges a colourful take on an Ancient Greek Vase.
Unframed. Printed in London. Signed and numbered edition of 50. Giclee print on 310gsm Hahnemükle Bamboo paper. Random selection of edition order.

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Wedgwood Wonderland

Every couple of years I take a trip up to Stoke-on-Trent to look in on pottery projects that are in the pipeline and always manage to fix a visit to the Wedgwood Museum. It’s a Disneyland for adults. I am struck every time that this collection was on the brink of going to auction a few years ago when the company was sold to a private equity firm.

Every display holds the most precious pieces of pottery that were once a part of the everyday. I’m always saddened to think that this kind of quality of craftsmanship is now deemed too labour intensive to viably produce and can’t help but think that this attitude in some way contributes to fanning the flames in no longer valuing domestic objects that are built to last a lifetime. Buy cheap, buy twice I say! Bring back quality pottery!

Speaking of quality, please excuse the quality of the pictures. I was so involved in properly gawking at everything, when it came to composition composure, there wasn’t any!

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Pride Intaglio Lamp

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Glenn Brown & Rembrandt at the BM

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Rosenberg Palace, Copenhagen

Visiting the Rosenberg Palace while in the middle of reading Rose Tremain’s “Silence and Music” had to be one of the most truly enchanting experiences in terms of bringing a book to life. In quiet corners I could picture her characters inhabiting the grandness. 

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Perhaps he’s trying to tell us something? Read the rest of this entry »

The Thorvaldsen Museum, Copenhagen.

For years I’d been yearning to visit the Thorvaldsen Museum in Copenhagen. I’ve always felt it’s pull, a calling almost, from a kindred spirit of another time. It exceeded all my greatest expectations and came away inspired and also mildly depressed I did not live in the Thorvaldsen Museum in Copenhagen. To tell the truth, I feel like that when I visit any good museum.

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End of Day Confetti Lamps

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La Specola in Firenze

I’ve fulfilled my lifelong dream to visit the world’s first Natural History Museum ‘La Specola’ in Florence. I’ve had a copy of the book Encyclopaedia Anatomica since I can remember and for whatever reason have pawed over the images of the anatomical wax models, and the rather racy silk pillows and silver fringed shrouds they are kept on. They did not disappoint. 

This was a few small rooms of the complete museum. First up was the geology section and the main body was room after room of taxidermy, few labels, an air of benign neglect and absolutely perfect. Everything just being what it is and dished out in the way it was as it opened in the 18th century. It must have been mind blowing. 

I lament the updating of museums to include ‘experiences’ and wish the air of quiet respect and revery were still the flavour of the day.

A panther made of Jasper with eyes of Citrine quartz circa 16th century with a 17th century silver base.
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New Decoupage!

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Love at first sight cc – tapis handmade rugs at Maison & Objet

Nothing enlivens a room quite like an exciting rug, I often dream about designing the most outlandish rugs in terrific colour ways.

It was love at first sight last Friday when I came across the cc-tapis stand at Maison & Objet in Paris. It looks like they’ve been working with that brief all along. What a thrill to find cc-tapis. Now I can dream about designing rugs for them.

 

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Smythson Styling

 

It’s wonderful to see my End of Day Confetti lamp and Classical Urn decoupage tray used in Smythson’s Christmas campaign. What a thrill to see them in such good company. 

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20” Square Shell Decoupage Tray

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Developments in Alphabet Brush Pot Land

It’s full steam ahead in the studio from now until Christmas, keeping on top of orders and making sure everything makes it to it’s destination in time. Amongst the hustle and bustle I still find the time to come up with a new colourway for the Alphabet Brush Pots. Realistically, I can’t see these being available this side of 2017 but they’re something to look forward to in early 2018! WATCH THIS SPACE!

 
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Oak leaf motif

My weekends have been spent collecting and drawing oak leaves. This weekend I took it a step further and started to cut them out, eventually coming up with my own motif I could happily see as a wallpaper.

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We are recruiting!

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Part Time Production Assistant Wanted for Bridie Hall Ltd.

Bridie Hall is currently looking for a part time studio assistant for four days a week. They will be required to help out with the preparation and finishing of products along with maintaining a neat and tidy studio.

The studio assistant would ideally have a design, painting background with a basic understanding of gesso, gilding, lacquering, though not essential.  They will be working with a broad range of products, decoupage plates, intaglio boxes, geometric shapes, scented candles. Photography and styling know how would be an added advantage. The more skill they are willing to pick up and assist with the more work there will be going forward.

The candidate must be conscientious, meticulous, capable of listening to and following instructions carefully, have excellent attention to detail, be capable of prioritising their workload and able to be confidently left alone to carry out their work. A tidy and methodical approach to work is of upmost importance.

The studio is based in Bloomsbury, Central London, alongside interiors store Pentreath & Hall

Please email c.v. and anything you may think relevant to info@bridiehall.com

Application deadline: 31st August 2017 – Interviewing first week in September with immediate start.

 

Paid Internship for Bridie Hall Ltd.

Bridie Hall Ltd is offering a part-time paid internship running from September – December 2017.

The role is to be of assistance to Bridie Hall and Pentreath & Hall.

Working hours are 10am – 6pm from Tuesday – Friday.

Primarily operations focused. From packing and tracking orders to helping out on the shop floor during busy periods.

 A ‘can-do’ attitude is a must as tasks will be many and varied; prepare to roll your sleeves up!

Principally overseeing wholesale orders dispatched from Bridie Hall Ltd.

For more information, email: info@bridiehall.com with C.V. attached.

Application deadline: 31st August 2017 – Interviewing first week in September with immediate start.

 

 

Francois Halard: A Visual Education

 

Having bought the Francois Halard book months ago and have it sit unopened next to my desk and all the while it’s filled with the interiors of my dreams.

 

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PULSE LONDON TALK. “As maker and retailer – the things I have learned”

 

As both co-owner of Pentreath & Hall and being a decorative artist with a commercial homeware range, I was asked by Pulse London to give a talk last Sunday about what it was like making the transition from being a maker to a retailer. So I presented the following and thought it worth sharing with you too.

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I’ve been asked to talk about my experience of being a maker and how that evolved into then becoming a retailer. But the two have evolved quite naturally together over time, there hasn’t really been any kind of linear progression, it’s been more a case of just going with the flow. I’ll start at the beginning, from when the shop opened and then I’d love to share with you a few things that I’ve learnt over my time.

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Production Assistant Wanted

 

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Bridie Hall Ltd is expanding! We are looking for a Production Assistant. The candidate must have a background in art or design and experience in making with a wide range of art materials along with an understanding of the fundamentals of production and time management. An eye for detail is crucial.

 

Starting part-time – Tuesday – Friday 9am – 6pm with a view to becoming full time in due course.

 

Please send your C.V. to info@bridiehall.com along with images of examples of your work.

 

Deadline: Monday 31st July.

 

 

Decoupage New and Exclusive to Harvey Nichols

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End Of Day Confetti Turned Column Lamp

 

 

Colour is at the very heart of everything Bridie produces. Formerly a specialist painter of interiors, she has continued to keep up the practice through her homeware range. The latest of which are the hand painted End of Day Confetti turned column lamp bases.

The lamp is fitted with a bayonet light fitting . The base sits perfectly with the 18” Linen Splatter Lampshade (pictured) made in collaboration with Melodi Horne.

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Portraiture In Clay And Marveling At Marble

 

Eventually admitting defeat to myself that I am never going to be a draughtsman I finally looked to what has been staring me plainly in the face all these years – going three dimensional. I don’t know why I forget that for my graduation show for painting was all sculpture. Dead birds cast in wax if you’re asking.

So, over Summer I attended a ten week portraiture in clay course at City Lit. Working with clay and collecting pottery is a passion so I was excited to be learning a new way to create with it as it’s always been more a conventional utilitarian practice for me. It was also fascinating to learn to see in a different, more anatomical way. Being taught to look through the models skin and into their skull, building up the layers of muscle before applying the skin, I find this endlessly interesting. The process completely sucked me in, although the progress is by no means instant.

I’m looking forward to working on portraiture in this way and have set myself the rather ambitious task of sculpting the Roman Emperors portraits. I’ve been visiting the British Museum regularly to study their collection of marble busts, a completely different technique and medium but the aesthetic I am aiming for. They are so pure and perfect. I have a feeling at some point I’ll be spending a lot of time working on and perfecting the bases they will be displayed on. Oh and faux marble finish them – that could be a happy disaster!

 

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Pediment Mirror

The pediment mirror is made from Ash wood and lacquered to a high gloss finish. The antiqued mirror is framed within the larger lacquer by a thin gilded bevelled fillet. The mirror measures Width 38.5xm Height 60cm, Depth (at its deepest) 6cm. Made in England.

Other colours coming soon.

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Paid Internship Offered at Bridie Hall Limited

 

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Bridie Hall Ltd is offering a part-time paid internship running from September – December 2016.

The role is to be of assistance to Bridie Hall and Pentreath & Hall.

Working hours are 10am – 5pm from Tuesday – Friday.

From packing and tracking orders to helping out on the shop floor during busy periods.

A ‘can-do’ attitude is a must as tasks will be many and varied; prepare to roll your sleeves up!

Principally overseeing wholesale orders dispatched from Bridie Hall Ltd.

For more information email: info@bridiehall.com with C.V. attached.

Nothing is Original.

“Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery – celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: “It’s not where you take things from – it’s where you take them to.”

[MovieMaker Magazine #53 – Winter, January 22, 2004 ]”
― Jim Jarmusch

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We shape our buildings, and afterwards our buildings shape us – WINSTON CHURCHILL

 

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End Of Day Confetti Lamps

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Colour is at the very heart of everything Bridie produces. Formerly a specialist painter of interiors, she has continued to keep up the practice through her homeware range. The latest of which are the glass & brass column lamp bases.
The strengthened glass columns are painted by bridie then assembled with unfinished brass top and bottom plates. Over time the brass, if left unpolished, will develop a mellow patina making the colour of the column all the richer.
The lamp is fitted with a bayonet light fitting and a brown silk flex. A 14” empire lampshade is recommended.

Roman Emperor Intaglio Cases

Roman Emperor Intaglio Cases in every colour combination under the sun will be available from my pop-up shop from July. One won’t be enough.

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Finding the ‘Flow’ before surrendering to the ‘Fear’

Oohh this title sounds so ‘self-help’!

I like to empty my mind and set to a task that re-connect my hands with my brain in the quest for the flow.

According to Wikipedia, the Flow is this;

“In positive psychology, flow, also known as the zone, is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, flow is characterized by complete absorption in what one does. Named by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, the concept has been widely referenced across a variety of fields (and has an especially big recognition in occupational therapy), though has existed for thousands of years under other guises, notably in some Eastern religions.[1] Achieving flow is often colloquially referred to as being in the zone.
According to Csikszentmihályi, flow is completely focused motivation. It is a single-minded immersion and represents perhaps the ultimate experience in harnessing the emotions in the service of performing and learning. In flow, the emotions are not just contained and channeled, but positive, energized, and aligned with the task at hand. The hallmark of flow is a feeling of spontaneous joy, even rapture, while performing a task, although flow is also described as a deep focus on nothing but the activity – not even oneself or one’s emotions.”

This week I’ve been building polyhedrons out of card while watching repeats of Mrs Marple. It takes a lot of mental preparation to build up to surrendering hours and hours to something like this. The dog is normally well walked and the house spotless and fridge re-ordered before I settle down.

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A cuckoo blew on my BBQ

At present I’m savouring the Netflix series ‘Chefs Table’. Composed of six episodes profiling six different chefs from around the globe. I’ve been eeking them out so have yet to watch them all. I have found each programme to be an inspiring look into each chefs approach as to how they express themselves. They are so connected to their land and seasons, which is hardly surprising, to see how they deliver their ethos or message on a plate I have found quite extraordinary.

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Can you say the alphabet backwards?

It has been astonishing but not wholly surprising to see the Alphabet brush pots being such a success, what a wonderfully fun thing to have produced. Making these has taught me a few good lessons in production logistics and bought me into contact with some brilliant people, long may it last. And I am bursting with pride to say that they are handmade in London (aside from the glass which is of course the finest blown crystal from Slovakia).

It gives me great pleasure to launch the new range of colours based on flowers. Carnation, Lilac, Cowslip, Bean Shoot, Peony and Periwinkle. 

Available now at Pentreath & Hall

 

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Painting is self-discovery. Every good artist paints what he is – Jackson Pollock

 

Going by the quote if I am any good as an artist then I am indeed a white room!

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It’s better to light a candle than curse the darkness – Roosevelt

 

It was such a pleasure to commission a series of illustrations to go along with the wonderfully evocative descriptions that make up my collection of scented candles. Each scent is based on a room in a grand country house. With the help of graphic designer extraordinaire Connie Dickson, we found the perfect illustrator for the job, Columbian based Randy Mora.  It was by no means a straight forward process, I’m sure we had Randy pulling his hair out on more that one occasion – probably every single time we spoke to him, but the finished product could not be better. Fun and totally surreal. You will now find a small handsome pack of cards in every candle box telling you the story of each scent and the ever important candle burning instructions about how to get the best out of your candle

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Everything you can imagine is real – Picasso

I have been obsessed with this article from a 1988 edition of World of Interiors since I came across it a couple of years ago. It is the C17th château of Bernard Picasso, the grandson of the great man himself who had also lived there throughout the thirties. Bernard had given decorators Elizabeth Garouste and Mattia Bonetti carte blanche to redecorate. Considering the provenance I find what they chose to do quite bold and incredibly charming. It has a feeling of playfulness and fun through the use of colour which I imagine makes living there very comfortable. I’m also in huge favour of the appliquéd curtains with patchwork borders.  The thing that really does it for me is the ultraviolet cabinet fitted with green glass. How can I get something like this in my life? Are there good coloured glass manufacturers in the UK that can make my dreams come true?

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Profile in ‘The London Magazine’

 

I had a lovely day with the folks from The London Magazine photographing the house. It’s always interesting to see the rooms I live in everyday through some one else’s eyes. It’s also a good excuse to get something hung on the walls and give everything a good tidy up! Including myself, I have to admit to finding getting my portrait taken is a special kind of hell but I’ve learnt to ask the photographer and whoever else is with them to shout directions at me about how to poise myself and am no longer afraid to ask them to make me look thin and tall.

 

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We allow no geniuses around our studio – Walt Disney

As I ever so slowly line my studio walls with hessian (it’s all about brown now, brown everything, I hope it still is by the time I finish) I couldn’t help but notice and love the cork wall in Yves St Laurent’s studio along with his tidy and inspiring glass topped trestle. Why does it take so much effort for work spaces to look this good in real life? I will persevere, an Autumn project to get everything into shape. I already have the dog with its head in the bin.
 

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A garden is only as good as its watering can.

Spring is all around and I’m looking forward to having an irrigation system installed in the garden tomorrow so I will hopefully no longer feel like a failure when yet again all the plants dry up and die under the shade of the three huge Sycamores that literally seem to suck the life out of everything. I had an epiphany while we were away on holiday in Morocco, lots of plants can grow in shade its the dryness they can’t cope with…..get an irrigation system installed. Pretty straight forward.

I haven’t felt particularly refreshed since coming back from holiday which is a shame, I did get my copper pans back from the re-tinners and they monogrammed them for me. A little bit of me feel like my life is just beginning.

 

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Not everyone is smart, but everyone can be S.M.A.R.T.

Over the weekend I was talking about a problem with someone and trying to work out how best to approach it. ‘Approach it the S.M.A.R.T way’ they said and proceeded to explain what S.M.A.R.T. was. I’d never heard of it before and the more it was explained the more I felt like the clouds were parting.

In a nutshell, S.M.A.R.T. is a mnemonic acronym, giving criteria to guide in the setting of objectives.

Specific – being specific – who, what, where, when. 

Measurable – making it measurable – how will I know when it’s been accomplished?

Attainable –  how and what can I do to make this start to happen?

Realistic – setting small goals create an objective with which you are willing and able to work at the same time each goal should mark substantial progress

Timescale – by grounding everything within a time frame you set your subconscious into motion.  

It helped me immediately realise my method of trying to deal with most things was by attempting to get it all done in one go and that maybe it was time to try things the S.M.A.R.T. way. So I thought of a fun thing to apply it to which in turn can help address a small problem I have at the same time. 

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A part of my massive but lovely notebook problem.

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As easy as ABC!

 

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It has been so much fun developing this range of brush pots. Of course it hasn’t been without it’s challenges, but I couldn’t be happier with the outcome. I even had a good time writing the copy for them, they’ve been popular from the very get go and I’m really looking forward to seeing some pictures of them in their newfound homes.

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A happy and thankful week in pictures

Going through my the photo library on my phone makes me realise how lucky I am given what I do in my day to day life, well it hasn’t been without a ton of hard work. I’ve been doing a lot of styling in the shop recently and having some sets of beautiful antique prints framed ready for hanging. It’s looking so beautiful. I thought I’d share the last week in pictures. I’m particularly pleased with how the Alphabet Brush Pots have come out, the latest addition to the Bridie Hall at Home range and due for sale online within the next day or so… watch this space!  I’ve even found time to squeeze in getting a (successful) passport photo, very rarely do I do a selfie.

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Give me a museum and I’ll fill it – Pablo Picasso

As a child, I was actively encouraged by my grandmother to collect salt and pepper shakers and keep a scrapbook, mainly with pictures of Princess Diana. Unquestioning, it just became something that I did. Decades later I look at my life and my work and I am literally surrounded by collections. I have become a collector of collections. Ebay is the source of the nile when it comes to laying ones hands on a ready made collection these days, all the hard work was done sometime last century. It makes me sad to think of them being sold in such a way but also happy they can be united with the kindred spirits of their creators from another time.

There is no doubt they provide an important and bottomless source of ideas and inspiration to me and are also a touch stone to the not to distant past I feel I have to have a physical link with. Undoubtedly the days of building a collection as a hobby are all but gone, time is too precious to flounder about along coastlines searching for shells or fossils and stones and the resources are no longer so abundant. Early C20th collectors could be seen to have ruined the party for others, egg collectors went a little of the rails for example. I treasure the rocks and minerals, the shells, the eggs and the corals I have. I know I won’t hold onto them forever but while they are with me they will be loved, and looked at and wondered over again and again.

It’s not only the victorian hobbyist who’s collections I admire, these daffodils displayed (of course collections and displays go hand on hand – two of my favourite things) at the Chelsea Flower Show a couple of years ago still make my heart sing. The Wedgwood bowls help.

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Workroom Profile V: Melodi Horne Soft Furnishings

I am sitting down with Melina Blaxland-Horne, newly installed in unit 17a Rugby Street here in Bloomsbury, surrounded by her beautiful silk ikat lampshades and cushions. The first question I have to ask her is “Where did the name Melodi Horne come from?”

A smile spreads across her face “Ok but don’t laugh.  No one has ever known this until now.  Me. Lo. Di.  Melina. Loves. Dimitri.” Dimitri, her husband, is sitting to my left “That’s right” he says “This is all about love.”

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To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often – Winston Churchill

Applying the vein of my last blog post to life couldn’t meaningfully start until we got Christmas out of the way. Since then I have found mindfulness and the act of rationalising come from the most curious place. The end of last year saw me back in the operating theatre having having another knee operation, a year of being pretty much out of the kind of action I like to be in left me unkindly out of shape, physically and mentally. I’m still a way off any form of high impact exercise but remembering  the ancient adage “70% of rock hard abs happens in the kitchen” I decided to reach out to a nutritionist to see what might be an appropriate dietary path for me to take. We settled on the Metabolic Balance programme and I have to say in the short period of time I have been doing it I have been astonished at how it has proved more than effective at shaving a few inches off the waistline but has also thoroughly swept all of the cobwebs out of my addled mind, recharged my extremely fatigued batteries and given me a new focus on what and how much I put into my body over the course of a day and what else I put into the day for that matter. It’s flipped everything upside down and returned me to the values of simple and productive living. It’s slowed things down and seen me applying myself to one thing at a time so much more effectively than I have been able to do for so long, which in turn has made my time incredibly productive. I’m feeling good!

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Starting my day as I mean to go on.

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Good things come

I want to say I’m going through a phase, but maybe I should say I’m emerging out of one that has dominated the way I have thought about consuming for the best part of my adult life. By consuming, I mean first and foremost the way I spend my money and what I spend it on but perhaps it can be applied to all areas of consumption in my life. 

It started earlier this year when I had had been thinking long and hard about my dressing habits. I liked clothes but had no idea how to shop for them or my body shape or dress in a way that conveyed who I was and/or wanted to be. My normal shopping routine was scroll through ASOS click on what I wanted, guess the size and proceed to the checkout. 8 times out of 10 the garment was wroooooong and as it was so cheap instead of going to the trouble to return it, it would stay in my wardrobe with its tags still on until it would be taken to the charity shop. My thinking being at least I had a good feeling someone less fortunate than me would be getting a bargin.

I had a little savings I could have some fun with so I researched personal shopper/stylists/wardrobe consultants until I found one who understood what the brief was. To say it wasn’t emotional would be and understatement. I was surprised at the feelings it stirred up inside me about how I saw my size and body shape and also at the items we chose together that I never would have dreamed of wearing in a million years. These have become my favourites and make me feel like a million dollars. The most interesting thing I took away from the experience is that each item was of premium quality, beautifully made and therefore beautifully fitted. I have found the saying ‘the clothes maketh the man’ definitely applies. Not only have I felt a lot more confident in myself, I have a beautiful wardrobe I like to take care of and a lot less tat cluttering up my life. I now approach clothes shopping in a more considered way where I identify what might be missing or what might want updating and research the best pieces that can fill the gap. More often than not I’ll need to save up and in doing this I treat it with more care than I would normally, which in turn again makes me feel good! I’ll admit in moments of boredom I’ve fallen off the wagon and found myself with an unwanted acrylic white bikini and wooden soled clog ankle booties, but all in all I’m learning that the value I place on my clothes comes out in the value that I place on myself. Now I know this isn’t going a great way to save the Whales and minimise the global carbon footprint, or maybe in a very round about way it is? The point is I’m spending less but getting so much more. 

A few weeks ago I had another knee operation which turned out to be a lot more complicated than initially thought and kept me housebound for two weeks. Then ready to go back to work, my face swelled up so I looked like a hamster, another week at home. The swelling is starting to go down but the cabin fever is at an all time high. A very thoughtful friend sent through a link to the New York Times ‘T Magazine’ latest profile on one of my and Ben’s favourite interior decorators/shop keepers and friend Robert Kime. It profiled the flat above his shop in Bloomsbury and his cottage in rural Cumbria. Reading the article and looking at these images reminded me of what I have trying to apply to my consumption habit  all over again. Why not wait for the best and make do until you get it? No more ‘that’ll do’ no more ‘if it breaks I’ll just get a new one’. Why not focus more on bringing fewer things into your life that are beautiful and that you want to take care of forever, which in turn will take care of you by becoming a part of your living aesthetic. Again, it’s not saving Whales, but I can think of fewer nicer things than starting the day with a good coffee out of your most favoured coffee can, or bringing in some freshly cut flowers to go in the prettiest vase you had ever seen. Using your best everyday because everyday should be the best. Do you know what I mean?

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Bridie Hall at Home Pop-Up Shop

 

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Bridie Hall at Home Pop-Up Shop

 

I’m excited to announce the opening of  the Bridie Hall at Home September Pop-Up Shop at 17a Rugby Street, London WC1N.

We’ve been working day and night preparing new candles and decoupage, obelisks, coral, quilts, crystals and much much more. Do come by and see us and if you are able drop by for a drink on Tuesday 16th September.

I’ll be posting lots of pictures for those of you who won’t be able to make it and of course everything will be available online.

Wish us luck!

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It was a dark and volcanoey bathroom.

 

I’m so pleased to see House & Garden sharing a picture of my bathroom that didn’t make it into the March issue featuring my house. Paintings of Volcanoes and faux coral on brackets add a firey pop of colour to this dark and cosy haven. Read more about it here.

 

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Workroom Profile on Ed Kluz

 

Read my latest workroom profile on the artist ed Kluz here.

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 Do join us for the Bawden, Ravilious and Ed Kluz Private View at 17 Rugby Street this Thursday 3rd July.

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Workroom Profiles at Pentreath & Hall

 

I’ve begun profiling our shop suppliers on the blog. Find out about my recent visit to our ‘Master Plaster Caster, Peter Hone’ here.

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Workroom Profile Series

 

After a monumentally awful bout of ‘Blog Block’ I’ve finally written up my first workroom profile over on the Pentreath & Hall website. To ease into it I have blogged about my own studio. If you haven’t seen my other venture then please do take a look. The plan for the Workroom Profile series is to feature all the specialist suppliers we stock in the shop to give everyone a insight into who we source our products from. I’m really looking forward to sharing these visits with you.

In the meantime to tempt you over to the first Workroom Profile, here are some shots of my studio I took yesterday.

Max in his kingdom.

Max in his kingdom.

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As seen in Urbis Magazine!

 

Checking my Instagram feed this morning I was as surprised as anyone to see a picture of myself staring back. My lovely cousin Kimberly had posted an excerpt from an interview with me in the March issue of Urbis magazine. She then took a picture of every page  and emailed them to me so I could zoom in on the text and read it, which she kindly did (nice duvet Kimberly :).

I’m so delighted to be recognised and  featured in a magazine from New Zealand I have read and admired since it started. I can’t help but notice what a contrast my style is to the rest of the pages!

Time for a new profile picture.

Pick up your copy today and if you have a spare, send it to me please!

 

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Calling All Merchants!

 

There are a lot of exciting new products in the pipe line and we would love to spread these out the width and breadth of the country and beyond. We’re also not adverse to the odd exciting collaboration, any ideas?

If you would like to find out more about becoming a stockist do drop us a line at info@bridiehall.com.

 

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A time to try something new.

 

I’m obsessed with all ceramics and pottery, so much so I regularly take pictures of it in magazines as something to ‘save and enjoy later’.

My work mate Luke told me about a pottery class he took late last year that he really hated when it dawned on me. I AM GOING TO TAKE THAT POTTERY CLASS! And love it, and maybe make a pottery salami like in the picture below. Oh it will be fun. I can’t wait to start and share what I make. 

Luke, meanwhile, has decided he’d quite like to learn to violin, so any willing teachers based around Bloomsbury, do get in touch.

 

 

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I told the Doctor I broke my leg in two places, he told me to stop going to those places!

 

Earlier this month, the first time in my life I had an operation and became a patient.

An old knee injury from a skiing accident (my first ever ski lesson saw me tabogganed off the mountain – embarrassing).  I’d never really done much about it but it made life a misery. I finally had it looked at late last autumn and it turned out I’d been getting around for the last four years with no anterior cruciate ligament and very badly torn cartilage – duh. So it was off to hospital to get it sorted out.

I’ve always had a fear of general anesthetic, so much so, during the walk home from work the night before the operation I was so pre-occupied about dying I crossed a road without looking and got hit by a cyclist. He managed to slow down enough so the impact didn’t hurt. Being called a “f***ing idiot” did, but I had crossed the road without looking so I guess I had been.

Here is a picture of my leg before the operation. The doctor draws a big arrow in big black felt tip pen on the correct leg so he won’t make a mistake. Because it is so hard to wash after the operation, it stays there for a couple of weeks as a ‘fun reminder’ that there is always a possibility they might get the wrong leg.

 

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Here is a picture after the operation.

The surgeon said the first I would know about whether they had managed to save the cartilage or cut it out would be upon waking, to either a full leg brace (its been saved) or not (its been cut out). When I woke up I went into complete shaking shock and panic and started shouting at the poor poor recovery nurse to ‘straighten my leg out so I could get the hell out of there and get me a drink because I was very thirsty’ we battled over the oxygen mask for a while. I’d pull it off, he’d put it back on, again and again and again until he put one of those ones that goes right up your nose and told me firmly that if I didn’t calm down I wouldn’t be leaving the recovery room, so I was in there for an hour or so.

Meanwhile, a patient was wheeled in beside me and I swear to god, he came around and took a big deep breath in and then out and said ‘aaaaahhhhhhh! it’s so clever how you do that, I feel great’ and then got wheeled straight out. At same time I was trying to pull my paper gown off and escape.

 

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I didn’t realise I had a full leg brace on for a few hours and I didn’t realise I would be wearing it and on crutches for nine weeks. Still if it means I have a full set of cartilage, I can persevere with this. (I’ve got five or six weeks to go now and I don’t think I can persevere with it) and it will never be worse than my knee spontaneously popping out. 

This was my first meal after the operation. It had been a full 18 HOURS since my last meal. I had to photograph it and share it with everybody, it was so good and I was wasted.

 

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When I was discharged the next day, I went home and recuperated in bed for another three or four days. My dog Max felt sympathetic and lay with me a lot.

 

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As both pets quickly learnt I was lame and no longer good as a source for food (though left long enough I probably would have become a source OF food to them) they basically abandoned me, seeking me out only when in need of warmth and always, ALWAYS managing to jump and then lie right on top of the spot of the operation and occasionally play fight on top of it too.

 

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Two weeks passed and I was finally able enough to dress myself and walk to the roadside and wait to be picked up by a taxi. So I did and got out at my destination and sat down at this table with my friend Jane (who’s birthday it happened to be) and we ate oysters and steak frites and drank a little Rose and finished it off with these profiteroles, oh and it that an empty glass of dessert wine too? What a joyous few hours of freedom.

 

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Back to work and back to the surgeons office to get my stitches removed and talk about my surgery and ‘watch the video together’!!!???? When did that start to happen? I marvelled at how pure and white the inside of my knee is and I thought I would share a picture of my donor ligament too. Just look how shiny and strong it is! In a couple of months time this baby will be taking all sorts of strain and I’ll try not to wreck it on the ski slopes next winter.

 

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I just don’t fit in the box.

 

But my 6 3/4 oz scented candles do! 

I’ve finally been able to have boxes made to fit this size candle and I couldn’t be happier with the result. With thanks to the wonderful Sheffield box makers M. M. Bell & Sons Ltd. This is the go to company when you have certain box making criterion that needs fulfilling.

If you would like to stock these and any other Bridie Hall at Home products please email info@bridiehall.com for more information.

 

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Sale now on! Enjoy 20% off Candles & Decoupage.

 

Sale now on at Pentreath-Hall.com! Enjoy 20% off all decoupage and scented candles at Pentreath & Hall until 30th January.

 

Sale now on

The Complete Universe of Fornasetti

 

Whenever I’m in the need for a certain kind of inspiration, I need look no further than one of my favourite books, ‘Fornasetti, The Complete Universe’ published by Rizzoli. I urge you to do the same.

 

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 I never fail to be overwhelmed by the skill of his hand and the sheer prolificness of output. Not to mention fun he makes everything seems to be. Piero Fornasetti may look like a serious kind of bank teller type but I think absolutely every single thing he put his hand to points to the very fact that he was anything but.

 

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I’ve picked out a few images to show what I find so inspiring about his work and I urge you to read an ‘Interview with Piero Fornasetti, 1987 by Shara Wasserman’

 

To the Fornasetti

 

 

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Faux Bois, faux bois, faux bois – one day I will make up my very own faux bois, but when I look at Fornasetti’s I think ‘why bother’

 

Gorgeous Drawing

 

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Its his sketch book in the foreground of his insanely beautiful room that really gets me here, but check out that rug!

 

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After this particular sift through the ‘universe’ I was moved to steal the sample of Osborne & Little Malachite pattern wallpaper we have in the office and overlay it with a blown up print I have of blossoms by Batty Langley. I’m trying to make up my own Malachite pattern as well. I think this may be a life long process.

 

 

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During the same quest for inspiration I did come up with this cute design for a 6″ Round plate, I called it ‘House & Altas’ and it’s available to order here.

 

 

 

Is your muff big enough?

 

I spent a couple of hours at Miss Pokeno’s HQ exhibition a couple of Saturdays ago slowly and carefully burning nasty things that had been said to me over my life time along with the 100’s and 1000’s of others on a large oak dining table. It was quite an eye opener.

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I don’t think I could have the concept of the show better than the journalist Bidisha for the HuffPostCulture blog. 

“Over the last three years, Miss Pokeno has been working on a new creative enterprise, launching in a couple of weeks: a collaboration with a (possibly fictional, definitely enigmatic) militant feminist activist group, the Sisters of Perpetual Resistance. Think of the Sisters as both the embodiment and the source of bold, fiery and beautiful art, culminating in the exhibition, which is called HQ. Opening in a South London space, the works in HQ have been created in response to a brief to “glorify that which is too ugly for words”.

The works combine an intricate, polished Victoriana beauty with the zealous confidence of the Suffragists and the brash, vocal energy of our current age of global protest. There’s a seven foot round Ikea Hefner/Stringfellow type sleazo bed covered in satin, velvet flowers and bluebirds protesting bad and clichéd sex, a barricade of eight brightly coloured Slut Riot chairs celebrating young militant women and a tailored marching coat with pockets concealing glass hammers and silver plated wrecking bars. For the aesthetically-minded militant like me, who appreciates fine materials and good craft along with my pain and rage, there are some gorgeous emu eggs filled with gold paint for throwing, a red velvetFuck The Fucking Fuckers banner and Too Ugly for Words, a large oak school table that has been inscribed by visiting women (and will continue to be inscribed) with all the misogynist insults we’ve had hurled into our faces, “from skunt to toxic fanny to cunt like a sewer to sad sloppy menopausal mess”, surrounded by tall chairs (the chairs of the boys’ club) covered in black bags of shame which also represent the shadowiness of women’s absence, our shrouding and erasure from public life and from all tables of power.

HQ is a blazing, committed, politically fervent and exquisitely crafted show, the meeting point of gentility and profanity, skill and ardour. You can give no finer tribute than to visit, approach the table and carve your own insult.

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HQ by Miss Pokeno and the Sisters of Perpetual Resistance will be showing at 1 Doyce Street, London SE1 0EU. HQ opens on November 14th for private views by appointment and will be open to the public on Fridays and Saturdays from 10am to 5pm until 13th December 2013.”

Bridie Hall speaks for Apartment Therapy

 

I have to admit to hiding under a table while I write this, so strong is the feeling I have against ever seeing myself on film (in fact this is the first time I’ve ever seen myself on video, do we call it video these days?). I still want to share with you the presentation I gave at the Design Evening at Design Junction for London Design Week which happened in mid September. It was for the go-to online interiors tome  Apartment Therapy.

They’d surveyed their readership asking ‘Who are the most interesting and important young British Designers right now?” It turned out that I am one of them! The other nine nominees and myself were asked to give a speech talking about what we were up too and where we were coming from. I thought it was a good idea to talk about where I came from, which you can learn about watching my speech. You’ll see I’m extremely nervous. Even if you knew half the story, it had been one hell of a day for me. 

I hope you enjoy.

 

A Radical Flower Movement in Bloomsbury 2013

 

Looking back to the days when families living in Bloomsbury slums were encouraged by Haddon Parks to grow geraniums in window boxes, to improve polluted air quality. He then showcased them in a festival that would inspire the visitors to make a positive change in their own lives, resulting in a glorious atmosphere.

I had the idea to recreate this in the shop window with specially designed Floral decoupage plates for the Bloomsbury Festival that happened a couple of weeks ago. Next year we plan to get the whole street involved. The results might be riotous on the eyes. 

 

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Introducing Pentreath & Hall Patterned Papers

I was watching Crufts earlier this year and playing around with patterns I’d taken out of Batty Langley’s ‘Treasury of Design’, tiling them together  and colouring them in. When the idea came to me that perhaps Ben and I could turn them into wrapping papers.

For a while we’d been wanting a project to do together but we weren’t quite sure what it was, we knew it would be called Pentreath & Hall. We thought we might start an antique shop, which looking back now seems crazy. I guess it was a round about and necessary thought process to go through to reach the conclusion, in May (the weekend I stayed in Dorset and we visited the Bluebell Wood) that we would go into business together.

It was staring us in the face really, I would buy a half share of the shop. A project we were already doing together. And we would start our own little range of products, the first being the Pentreath & Hall Patterned Papers. After months of carefully laying out our partnership agreement and endlessly colouring in and working out colour ways. In mid September we became business partners and paper traders.

 

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Hours were spent colouring in, a bit of a chore but worth it for all the felt tips we got to buy.

 

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Colouring in would get pretty manic, more than once we’d step away with burgeoning migraines. 

 

The end result! Four patterns with three colour ways.

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If you are interested in stocking our papers, do email me at bridie.hall@pentreath-hall.com to request a set of sample papers and a price list.

Behold! The papers in my new studio!!!!

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Private View: Wednesday 23rd October, 6pm.

London Curiosity

Calling all Detail Freaks!

Part Time Studio Assistant Wanted for Bridie Hall at Home

Bridie Hall is currently looking for a part time studio assistant for 1-2 days a week. They will be required to help out with the preparation and finishing of products along with maintaining a neat and tidy studio.

The studio assistant would ideally have a design/painting background with a basic understanding of gesso, gilding, lacquering, though not essential. They will be working with a broad range of products, decouapge plates, intaglio boxes, geometric shapes, scented candles. Photography and styling know how would be an added advantage. The more skill they are willing to pick up and assist with the more work there will be going forward.

The candidate must be meticulous, listen to and follow instruction carefully, have excellent attention to detail, be capable of prioritising their workload and able to be confidently left alone to carry out their work. A tidy and methodical approach to work is of upmost importance.

The studio is based in Bloomsbury, Central London, alongside interiors store Ben Pentreath Ltd.

Hourly rate £7.00/hour

Please email c.v. and anything you may think relevant to info@bridiehall.com

Available to start immediately.

 

 

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The measure of a life, after all, is not its duration, but its donation.

Does anyone need reminding about opting into organ donation? It can be done online (I’ve only given a link for the UK, but you can google Organ Donation + your country to do it wherever in the world you are).

Easy peasy and extraordinarily important. Click here to do something you’ve been meaning to do for years. I’ve seen first hand how dramatically it can improve a persons life. It is SO SO worth it, that heart you never thought you had could more than make up for it a second time around!

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When One is tired of London….Episode 1 ‘The Drowned Man’

I can say I have been tired recently but certainly not of London. In fact I would say this has been the first Summer in a very long time that I have made the most of what’s on offer in this great city. Largley due to having energetic and interested house guests, but also due to the fact I have been holed up for some time now and have finally found the need to shake it off and remind myself of who and where I am.

Having missed (forgotten) to take photographs of what Ben would call ‘blogortunitites’ over the last couple of weeks due to being so involved in what I was doing I thought I’d skim some images courtesy of the kind people of the internet to share with you. So thank you kind people with foresight and cameras. Let me know if you have any objections to me using your images IF you can prove they are in fact yours yeah?

The first cultural event I want to blog about that I never thought I’d see myself going to was a production by the immersive theatre group Punchdrunk and their latest theatrical adventure ‘The Drowned Man’ ( I ended up seeing it twice!). I’m normally the LAST person to put their hand up to volunteer attending any theatre. I find live performance pretty, I dunno, in your face? Theatrical? Performancy? Self conscious for sure. People pretending to be other people anywhere other than on the telly have always made little sense to me. Puppets are OK, because people are pretending to be an inanimate object and that makes perfect sense. Call me uncultured, I really don’t mind. Educate me, if you want to put in the time I’m happy to do the crime. PLEASE!

My first theatrical experience was seeing CATS in Auckland in 1990 (same year as the Auckland Commonwealth Games, which was/is still OUR London Olympic Summer!) when I was 12. The tickets cost my mother a fortune and she made me a waistcoat with a tiger print/face pattern especially for the evening, she’d seen it a few years before in Sydney and didn’t want me to miss the dazzle. There was so much anticipation and SO much riding on it being amazing for me. I think I ended up being so nervous I forgot to actually enjoy it! ( Or perhaps seeing fully grown men and women pouncing around in leotards painted up as cats singing renditions of Barbara Streisands’ ‘Memories’ makes you automatically block/hate all theatre?)

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 Back to The Drowned Man…I was offered a ticket a few weeks ago almost last minute by a friend which I couldn’t make, that same weekend I was given a second spare ticket a chance I figured the gods were telling me something so I went. I took a group of six the week after that.

The Drowned Man - Punchdrunk production

 The Drowned Man is a completely different experience. Set over four or five floors (200,000 sq ft) in an old postal sorting office in Paddington, two stories of love gone wrong are played out and it is up to each individual audience member to decide which storyline or actor they want to follow. We were given masks upon entering and told to remain completely silent throughout but encouraged to explore, leave no stone unturned if we so felt the need. The staging is vast. I spent the first visit mostly wandering around wondering how they’d managed it and only getting glimpses of the action. The second time I decided I wanted to follow the story more closely and it was pretty extraordinary. I’m aware there is an unwritten code that punchdrunk fans don’t reveal any plot line so I’m not going to spoil it for anyone other than to say, its a three hour performance and the first lot of friends I went with who were experienced in punchdrunk said ‘there will be a point where you want to start looking for the secret bar, find it and odds are we will be there or not far behind’ I can tell you both times this happens approximately two hours in and the last hour is spent happily in a replica 60’s Hollywood club where you drink and fall in love with the man singing Blue Valentine perfectly dressed in a white tuxedo and all the girls walking around on floor length sequined gowns whispering sweet nothings in punters (who can’t believe their luck) ears.

What I loved about The Drowned Man was how it was so different to regular theatre. Things I struggle with i.e. the self-consciousness, when everyone around you is laughing so hard/reacting so strongly to something that you think is utter crap. You then need to proceed to judge the entire audience, especially the friends that invited you (entire friendships needs to be fully re-evaluated), its stressful. If you really hate it you can walk away and visit the bar. If you really love it you can secretly weep and get swept away with it because you are wearing a mask and have lost your mates and are anonymous. I can’t possibly comment on the quality of the dancing or acting I have zero knowledge of it but at least I can now say I say I have a burgeoning interest.

The Drowned Man runs until the 30th December in London’s Paddington, tickets and dates available here. I urge you to experience it for yourself and if you have any recommendations I’d love to hear them. Having shared mine I’m now far more interested in hearing about your first foray into the theatre.

 

World’s most depressing shop front found in Ontario, California.

Worlds most depressing shop front

First Rule of Fight Club

The sweetest of all sounds is praise.

When setting out to design the range of scented candles a couple of years ago along with working with the perfumer Hiram Green to ensure the scent was of exceptional quality, I wanted to get the look of the votive spot on. I designed the boxes with antique cloth bound books in mind and loved the idea of  getting a kind of book plate printed as the label. 

The boys at SORT (The Society of Revisionist Typographers) were just the fellas to take on the job and turned it around in great time. I’ve just had them print the labels for the latest scent – Pavilion: out now. As always job well done boys.

Here is the mission statement on their website that I like very much.

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 And the labels for the latest candle – Pavilion

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Pavilion Candle

New Decoupage

New Decoupage hot out of the hot hot hot studio.

The designs for a Royal Pavilion are rather apt don’t you think? Fit for a Prince?

Design for a Royal Pavilion RedRoyal Pavilion Tray

 

Hallway

 

Snake Plate

The new is not revealed to those whose eyes are fastened in worship upon the old

 

When was the last time you were greeted with an image that sets the hairs on the back of your neck on end? I spend a lot of time looking for things, looking at things, I like to see things I’ve never seen before. It can be anything, so long as it’s coming from somewhere and inspired. Sometimes I find myself bored, dismissive when nothing seems to hit the spot. I went to see Baz Lurhmans ‘The Great Gatsby’ today which is a case in point. I thought the story very sad and everything very beautiful but hmm not as mind blowing as I was expecting, perhaps its the era its set in, I’m never keen on the 20’s style. Poor Gatsby’s house was a bit of a horror. Anyway, I was stopped in my tracks the other day when I had my attention bought to Toilet Paper magazine. Have you seen it before? This erotic, spine-tingling magazine is the lovechild of infamous image-makers Maurizio Cattelan, my favourite artist, and Pierpaolo Ferrari, and is one of the most unique publications being created today. In its published hardback form it is not cheap starting at £50 back issues go into the 100’s, well worth it if you can afford it.

If not the website is as eye opening, insane, inspiring, original as any you are going to find today. If you are familiar with Maurizio Cattelan’s work you’ll know what kind of road you’re going to be driven down but if you don’t I almost envy you getting to see it all for the first time.

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Conviction of Blair

 

Well, if ever there was a woman I hoped to be when I grow up, it’s got to be a lady like this….

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Pavilion scented candle…….. coming soon.

Capturing those heady notes of Orange Blossom on a warm spring afternoon.

 

Pavilion Scented Candle

Oh! Roses and Lilies are fair to see; But the wild Bluebell is the flower for me.

 

After a pretty cold but fun day watching the second day of the test match between New Zealand and England at Lords on Friday, I was happy to catch the train to Dorset to meet Ben in time for lunch on Saturday and spend the rest of the sunny afternoon melting into the lawn. It was unexpected sunshine, I was happy that we had little to do other than enjoy it. I’m always spoilt when I go to visit Dorset, when Ben asked me if I’d like to do anything, I said that I really wanted to see a Bluebell Wood.

A friend was recently telling me about the one he walks through of a weekend and I realised we’ve been having this conversation at the same time every year for about the last six years and every year I think it sounds amazing and every year I fail to do anything about it. I’ve had an awareness of Bluebell Woods since I first arrived in the U.K. 12 years ago. I had landed my first job at the perfumers, Penhaligons. They have a Bluebell perfume and every time someone would try it they would close their eyes and say ‘Oh, isn’t just like being in the middle of a Bluebell Wood? It’s extraordinary’. ‘Yes, isn’t it?’ I would blankly reply, ‘available in 50ml & 250ml, soaps, talc, bath oil….’ I had NO IDEA what a Bluebell Wood was, I’d not seen one Bluebell in New Zealand let alone a woodland of them, I don’t even think we have woodland in New Zealand I think its bush. I have a couple that pop up in my garden every year and every year I pull them out, I find them ugly on their own and not really at home in my London garden.

I really liked the smell of the perfume (the Queen’s personal fave BTW) when I worked at Penhaligons and couldn’t grapple with the notion that nature could replicate it for real (I mean viceversa). It was the weekend I was in the countryside, it was THE weekend of the Bluebell I did not want to miss out. Miss out I did not. Ben had been told about an RSPB reserve at Garston, it was five star rated (I love it) and it was breath taking.

The first part we walked through had a lot of flowering wild garlic mixed through the Bluebells, the further we went into the reserve the denser the Bluebells became.

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Sunshine of late afternoon, on the glass tray…

 

And it is glass trays that I bring you. I have had a mild obsession looking for the perfect tray for ages, something useful but also decorative. It should be at home on the ottoman holding a votive candle, coasters, maybe a small vase of flowers and also look good loaded up with canapes or being put to use as a mini bar on a side table. I looked and looked until the little lightbulb went off above my head, the moment I realised I could make the tray if my dreams.

I don’t think there is ‘a’ tray I think there are many and I have only just begun…

 

Large Panoramic View of London largeegyptianbombe largeegyptianpenche LargejungleIndia largemonstreltray largePlaceQuinze largesomersethouse

Just getting a few things ready and feeling a little nervous

Recently I’ve been doing a lot of things, I’ve been spending a lot of time on a lot of  things, I’ve been calculating a lot of things, I’ve been experimenting on a lot of things and I’ve been spending a lot of money on a lot of things. The things are things I completely believe in. I do feel like I’m in nomads land at the moment where it’s just work work work work and then take a look around and I’m just alone except for a small kitten sitting on top of a model house licking itself. 

Looking for a little online distraction, I found it here on Black*Eiffel. A great pep talk to make you smile and send you back to the work of basically being awesome.

Anyway, we’re nearly there with some improvements to the website and a lot of new designs, I can’t wait to share them with everyone. 

It’s Bouquet! B-U-C-K-E-T!

 

“Richard a little decorum please, that is not the sort of behaviour one would expect from a person with a reservation for a quailty cruise.” I’m keeping up appearances this week and honouring the Hyacinth, one of my favourite spring flowers.

 

Here Comes the Sun du du du du

 

I love the set up of this picture from the paper yesterday. The (waxwork) Beatles on the street in Blokker at the beginning of a tour of the Netherlands before taking up residence at the Madame Tussauds in Amsterdam.

 

 

What I actually love the most is the look that John Lennon is totally rocking, white on white on textured white. So much so I’m going to attempt to work a Spring/Summer 2013 wardrobe in the same vein. You heard me, I’m going to channel John Lennon through clothing and maybe glasses. Vintage mens belts are notoriously hard to get hold of because they are rarely put back into circulation when finished with they are inherited (which is apparently the case for all good vintage mens clothing, a mens ware designer told me once) where do I look for a white single breasted tuxedo jacket and how can I pull it off like John?

 

 

New Decoupage

I’m so pleased with how the first of a new collection of decoupage has turned out. There is so much more to come, this is just the tip of the iceberg. I’m scouring the globe for antique prints and finding some real treasure. More if which I will share with you just as soon as I can make them!

All are available online at Ben Pentreath Ltd >>

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Michael Stubbs – Artist

 

A couple of week ago in my blog ‘Taste is the Common Sense of Genius’, I mentioned that I had attended the private view of artist Michael Stubbs – Solo Exhibition at the Cass Gallery in Whitechapel. The so called tagline to the show goes, ‘This exhibition contextualises Stubbs’ painting practice alongside his rarely seen paper works’. I had only ever seen his paintings so I was very curious to see where they came from and how they evolved.

Being a friend of Mike and an admirer of his work I invited myself to his studio last week hoping to gain more of an insight into where his work comes from and how it’s produced and lets face it, who doesn’t like having a nosy at how and where people work. As a maker and painter it is easy for me to see that his understanding of paint, colour and technique is absolutely expert. Using household paints and tinted varnishes with ready made graphic stencils, I wanted to see how he executed this.

‘BB Beat EF, 2004, household paint and tinted floor varnish on MDF, 198 x 198 cm

 Upon entering the studio the first thing you can’t help but notice is the immaculate white walls and paint caked floor, immediately I took my camera out and started to take pictures of it “I knew you would do that”, said Mike, “Everybody does”. And why wouldn’t they?

The Studio Floor

 

A new board being prepared against the floor of the studio. Talk about brilliant contrast.

 

 Mike works leaning over his paintings where they are on the ground. He says he works quickly, spending only a couple of hours at a time in the studio, applying a layer of paint as a pour or in a stencil and then leaving it to dry and contemplating his next move.

Three of the six boards Mike is about to start working on being prepared. The back has the same number of coats of paint that the front does.

 

A multi-purpose medium

  

A well used stencil motif becoming an object in itself.

 

Paint trays.

 

Rolls of stencils.

 

A potential palette for a new series of paintings.

 

The Artists uniform

 

Ingenious use of stacked tables as shelves. A moment of monochrome on the back wall and a sneak peak of whats to come.

 

I know what I love about these paintings, first and foremost and as I mentioned earlier is the expertise Mike exhibits with the paint. The contrast of the thickly applied eggshell or gloss paint to the multiple layers of tinted varnish along with the free form of the pours against the strict confines of the stencils interplay with one another pleasingly. The sheer scale of the paintings, like a confined explosion is staggering. It’s the recognisable motifs, a stylised Lichtenstein brush mark, sign writers lettering, which cause me to think that it’s time to learn more about what is going on within them.

Mike explains, “Technique and making is only the means, not the end. What’s equally important (if not more so) is the context the paintings operate within. Like when a DJ plays two tracks and mixes them to make a new tune, I combine genres of Abstraction and Pop Art to make a third language in painting” So far so good, “What you get from the painting is a sensation, which arguably resists meaning and interpretation” I agree, “However, painting is always framed within the history of its particular language. When you combine this with say, the flat of the digital screen, you end up with a clash of methods and interpretation.” I have to admit I’m lost at the last line. 

What does he mean if you combine the pure sensation you get from the painting with the flat of the digital screen? Is this depicted by the gloss black in many of his pictures?  Or when you view paintings through a computer screen? What are the clash of methods he refers to? I can see the different methods of painting…..

All good art leaves the viewer asking questions and searching for answers, much the same way the artist is lead into a painting in the first place. information about domain . I guess it’s thrill of the chase so to speak. 

A corner of ‘Hot Steppa’, 2011, household paint and tinted floor varnish on MDF, 122 x 305 cm

 

‘Snowblind’, 2002, household paint and tinted floor varnish on MDF, 198 x 260 cm

 

I leave you with this brilliant Short Studio Film: Michael Stubbs in conversation with John Shilver from Tamazin Devereux. A wonderful look at how Mike paints in his studio and his work in his words.

 

And if you can, I urge you to get along to the Cass Gallery in Whitechapel this week, the final week of his show.

Details here:  Michael Stubbs – Solo Show, The Cass Gallery.

Visit www.michaelstubbs.org to see and read more about Mike’s paintings on his website.

Visit Laurent Delaye to see more by the artist.

Taste is the common sense of Genius

 

I found a few unlikely things caught my eye that surprised me last week.

On Wednesday we went to newly reopened ‘The Quality Chop House’ in Clerkenwell for dinner. The staff were completely charming and very good looking as they all seem to be these days (or is that what getting older does to you? Failing vision?). The set menu was good as were the wine matches, the £170 bill for two was pretty choppy, this was down to the wine by the glass per course, a bit off putting for a bite to eat on the way home from work on a Wednesday. It’s Nandos next time. The reason I wanted to go there was the interior, it has one of those Pie & Mash Shop interiors, all booths with punishing bench seats, lovely wooden panelling, cream paintwork, black & white checker board floors with a bit of brass thrown around for good measure. Totally up my street. What surprised me was that I was quite taken by the cut glass tealight holder that was on our table. So taken I had to take a picture of it. 

 

Looking at it now, maybe the lack of light and the pair of sexy silver Salt & Pepper Mills were bringing it up a bit? I’m can’t quite believe myself when I say that I like it. But I do! A cut glass tealight holder – whatever next?

 

Michael Stubbs, ‘Virus Drawing #34’, 2009, vinyl and ink on watercolour on paper

 

On Thursday night we went to the opening of Mike Stubbs latest exhibition of drawings at the Cass Gallery on Whitechapel High Street, which I thoroughly recommend going to see. Afterwards we went for a drink and caught up with some friends. One of which was rocking this Shearling Jacket, Pink Shirt, School Tie combo, which again, I was completely taken with. See for yourself.

 

 

 

Do you see what I mean? Totally works. Is this surprising?

The third surprise of the week was when I was watching Murder Mystery Solving Duo Rosemary & Thyme (I’m not even embarrassed about it), there was a scene where they were in the most beautiful garden, it looked a lot like Rosemary Verey’s garden at Barnsley House but it wasn’t, filled with clusters of pink Dahlias, so I ordered 100 pink dahlia bulbs and now I can’t wait for the sun to come out and begin planning where to put them in my garden.

If the bullet that killed the Colonel doesn’t match Redding’s gun, I’ll eat my handcuffs.

 

Over these winter weekends, rather than venture out or do anything virtuous, my boyfriend and I have taken to watching Agatha Christie’s Marple during the afternoons. Being feature length and being the later part of the afternoon I’m not sure either one of us has stayed awake during an entire episode, rather we tag in and out as he or I nod off for half an hour or so and then catch the other one up once rested, not once have we guessed whodunnit. We tried Poirot but both of us feel asleep instantly and for two full hours. No offence intended Monsieur Poirot we obviously needed the rest!

I am reminded of this as I spent some of this morning leafing through one of my most recent (well, December) book purchases, Barbara Jones’s 1974, Grottoes & Follies. What better place to find a murdered body half covered with ivy in a Marple murder mystery than in a Grotto?  I dream of  having a Grotto or Folly of my own to stash bodies in one day. I could say I nearly have one, having commissioned artist Ed Kluz to build Winston the Tortiose a rather grand house, but it’s a house. Perhaps we’ll have to think about adding something to the grounds once its complete and we’ve both had a good look through Grottoes & Follies together….. once I send him some rather crucial measurements I just remembered now!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A reason for Lunching

I came across this simple lunch idea a little while ago through Esther Walker’s twitter site, she writes the rather witty Recipe Rifle, which makes me laugh quite a bit and I do admire the manner in which she writes. Since starting this blogging I’ve begun to take notice of peoples writing ‘voices’. I’m not confident I’ve found mine yet but am sure with persistence I WILL FIND IT and life will be marginally better or at least blogs will be easier to write.

Anyway, a reason for taking a little break out of the day today was to put this little doozey together. I don’t know where Esther got this idea from, she just had a picture with a brief description (being twittter and a tweet, duh) or if I’m even making it properly but it works and it’s DELICIOUS.

 

Toasted Sourdough with Lumpfish Caviar & Yoghurt.

Take a couple of pieces of Sourdough bread, rub with a little raw garlic and toast. Once toasted spread with greek yoghurt then lumpfish caviar. Top with chopped parsley and a dash of olive oil and lemon juice. Hey Presto….lunch. Two slices of this with a little snappy salad set me up finely for the rest of the day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s the 31st of January and what do I spy!?

You & Me – SOJA

 

My favourite song of the moment. I wish the video was as good!

 

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The Curio Q&A with Bridie Hall

 

Fabulous new interiors magazine Curio, headed by Editor in Chief Tara Germain, features a Q&A with Yours Truly today. Click on the magazine cover to be taken to the link.

 

I am at heart a gentleman – Marlene Dietrich

New Decoupage coming soon.

Merry Christmas

 

Wishing you a Joyous Holiday Season

and A Very Happy and Peaceful New Year.

Pass the Salt please…

 

 Largely ignored and only really given thought when stocks are low and more needs to be added to the shopping list. Used everyday, (in my house anyway) integral to balance and enhance the flavouring of nearly every meal I cook. Salt & Pepper, barely a flicker of recognition given when taking a pinch or two to add to cooking, almost an after thought, but without which I think nearly all meals would miss a great deal of flavour and depth.

Ground pepper has been used since antiquity for both flavor and it’s capacity as a medicine. Black pepper is the world’s most traded spice. One of the most common spices added to food. It may be found on nearly every dinner table in the industrialized world, alongside….. table salt.

Salt, essential for animal life in small quantities, but harmful in excess. You’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t. What a dull place life would be without salt. One of the oldest, most ubiquitous food seasonings. The taste of salt (saltiness) a basic human taste

Until recently, my Maldon was stuck in its box and Pepper was ground out of one of those cheap ready packaged grinder deals you pick up at the supermarket. Nothing wrong with either, until the day I brought a little coffee grinder and ground the peppercorns in that, what a revelation. Although now I am tempted to get one of those really heavy mortor and pestles, the one that you don’t need to try very hard with but they get the job done.

A fascination with table salts started. Salt piled up in mounds catches the light in a pretty wondrous way, the texture and feel as a pinch is sprinkled over anything is a lovely thing. If you are going to put the salt in something pretty you can’t leave out the pepper, they the brother and sister of Spice World.

I noticed the other day I have quite a little collection of salt and pepper cellars now. Cheap and cheerful or a little more fancy, they are a joy to look at and use as a part of the cooking ritual or at the table for dinner. I think they give a little dignity and show some respect to two of the most used and vital ingredients of the house.

 

 

 

 

 

New Decoupage!

My fingers have been worked to the bone after this weekends work. My wrists hurt, my skin is cracked and chapped and my fingernails are aching.

Here are a few pictures of some of the new decoupage designs I’ve been working on, with more in the pipeline/on the production line to come.

I love it when things are on a roll, when there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done, to bounce out of bed each morning excited about getting on with the tasks ahead, it almost makes me forget about the horrible weather going on outside.

Available Now at Ben Pentreath Ltd. >>

 

 

 

 

 

 

The World According to…….Me!

 

Interior blogger Charlotte Minty has written the nicest profile featuring Moi, I’m chuffed.

Click on the image to be taken to the page.

 

The World According to………Us!

 

The LivingEtc blog Life.Style.etc asked Ben and I a few questions about the way the world goes. Click on the image below to see what we thought.

 

The Rorschach Ink Blot Test

 

Combing through the stalls at Spitalfields Market a week or so or go, I was quite taken with this Ink Blot Test Kit. First printed in 1921, this edition was printed in 1948. 

I can’t help but wonder who V.G. Hood was and who these ink blot plates may have been held up too? What it is they may have seen within them? Would the answers have determined their fate as to whether it was off to the mad house or high doses of Lithium? So intriguing!

I’ve tested myself and can’t help but feel my answers are rather benign, thankfully. They are at the bottom of the post if you want to take a look at them.

Why not try the test yourself?

 

 

 

 

 

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IV. 

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 VIII.

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 X.

 

 

My Ink Blot Test Answers;

I. Vampire Bat. 

II. Face with an open mouth.

III. African Women Drumming.

IV. A Giant Anteater standing over you.

V. Another Bat flying.

VI. An Animal Hide.

VII. Punch from ‘Punch and Judy’ mirrored.

VIII. Two Red Chameleons Mounted on a Verterbrate

IX. Laughing Jesters facing each other.

X. A lot of Tropical Sea Life.

Sing a Rainbow II

 

Nan Kemper and those tulip planters had better watch out.

 

There’s ‘People’ at the National Theatre

I’m not sure it’s something I should go around shouting about but I’m certainly not ashamed of the fact that I prefer visiting the shop at most cultural institutions over whatever is going on inside them. Art galleries are all right but if touching the Jeff Koons at the Serpentine Gallery circa 2009 is such a problem then I will just go and and wait in the shop (note to Serpentine Gallery staff – EVERYBODY was touching them the WHOLE time). I’ve been to the Tate Modern a dozen times over the last year, couldn’t tell you who was showing in the galleries. I went to Sadler’s Wells last year to see some dancing, it was ok, whoever was dancing (Sylvie Guillem someone..;)  I found it way more fun at the bar watching everyone hell bent on getting as much prosecco down their gullets pre, during & post performance than the show itself, THAT was a performance. It is well known to my friends that if we are meeting to go for a walk I like to have the Cream Tea before setting out because that is the main reason I have left the house and it might rain and the only motivation I have had to go to the the Frieze Art Fair six years in a row has been its cafe and book shop. The same goes for all of Paris.

There is a new play by Alan Bennett on at the National Theatre called ‘People’. I know this and I’m delighted that I do because the wonderful ‘people’ from the NT shop got in touch with me about stocking the Bridie Hall at Home scented candles and decoupage. When I went to visit last Friday I met Richard Woolley -the NT shop buyer, he explained how they are taking a departure from how the shop has been stocked up until now, with a book shop and merchandise of plays shown at the NT, to dedicating areas to a particular performance or writer and stocking it with items that have the feel of the pieces instead. I love this. In the area dedicated to War Horse there were plaid blankets, flasks and enamel mugs. Alan Bennett’s corner was not only dedicated to ‘People‘ but to what looked like his whole back catalogue. Lucky Richard said they got to raid the NT props department to set the mood for each area and the wares are choice. I didn’t leave empty handed…..

I bought this flask..

 

 

And this GOLD BAR notepad..

 

 

And these silly glasses with cartoon pictures of pole dancers on them as a house warming gift for a friend. You can just make them out on the shelf…

 

 

Here are a couple of other pictures of the shop. Please excuse them for being so terrible. I decided ages ago I only wanted to use my phone to take photo’s for the blog, they’ve  never been great but at least it fits in my pocket, on the way to the theatre waiting at the bus stop I dropped my phone and it kind of smashed apart so the pictures are worse than usual. It did prompt me to buy a new compact little camera and I now have a new phone, so all is not lost, we might have better photo’s from now on.

I had a wonderful time at the National Theatre and am now dying to do a collaboration with them AND have booked tickets to go and see ‘People’ which I just realised I have forgotten to outline here but if you click on any link that says ‘People’ you’ll see all you need to on the National Theatre website.

Here are my candles on display! I forgot to take one of the decoupage on sale, I was too busy shopping and having a coffee with Richard.

 

 

And Ben’s book ‘English Decoration’ is for sale too (in the distance, on the coffee table). They really do know what they are doing at the National Theatre.

 

The Artists of Spitalfields Life

 

Coldbuster to the Rescue

It seem as though half of London has been afflicted with the same nasty chesty throaty thing that’s kept me in bed for the past couple of days. Now I can only go so far with a Lemsip (aren’t they grim?) and feeling half normal this morning, I peeled myself out of bed and went for a bracing walk with the dog. Out to collect lemons and honey and a little bunch of rosemary to make by far the best cold cure I have ever come across. It’s the Coldbuster from Allegra McEvedy’s Leon cookbook. I swear by it and now many of my friends do too. I like to add a little sprinkle of dried chilli flakes, a friend adds a whole jar of Manuka honey.

It never fails to make me feel better.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 You’ll have to excuse the ropey photographs, I’m not that well.

 

A little boost

I can’t tell you how pleased I was to see Ben Pentreath Ltd being listed as one of British Vogue’s “Top 100 Online Stores”. The honorable mention made my day!

I can sing a Rainbow

And so could Nan Kemper, through the medium of her impeccably organised gargantuan wardrobe. I thought the pictures of the tulips in the Netherlands were awe inspiring but they have nothing on Nan…

 

 

 

Company formation .

The Harsh Clear Light.

Ever since Captain Cook’s artists were captivated by capturing the ‘harshclear light’ of New Zealand, each and every single nz art student has not been allowed to forget about it. Well, I did until recently.

I’m spending a little time here for now and some of it has been out doors (mostly indoors watching this) and I must say even in the late winter/early spring and after spending 44 seasons in the UK, I think I can finally agree with Captain Cook’s artists. Never has a morning stroll with a couple of girlfriends along a beach blown the cobwebs out and reawakened the senses.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who knew.

Words of wisdom

From a wonderful woman. I love coming across this quote from Ms. V. S-W. It always pops up at the right time.

Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what’s for lunch. – Orson Welles

I’ve had a lot of work to do over the last few months, well of course I have, I’m running Ben Pentreath Ltd along with starting my own business. At the moment I am working three days a week, Tuesday to Thursday at the shop with the remainder of the week working on designing and producing my range. I have to admit I’m finding the work work balance a little tricky to get the hang of. By the end of three most enjoyable days working at the shop, I’m normally chomping at the bit to get on with making more candles, applying a couple more layers of lacquer to the Intaglio Boxes and gessoing, well, everything and also wanting to get started on turning a new idea into something tangible. I can blast on with that for four days happy to be lost in my world of Bridie Hall at Home only to return to other work on Tuesday totally spent because I didn’t have a weekend. Although it’s tough I am willing to accept that this is the way it is going to be for the foreseeable future, I’m not such a weekendy person anyway. My solution, as I think I may have mentioned in a couple of my other blogs is a decent lunch. This I consider my weekend, my mini break if you will, once possibly twice a week for a couple of hours I go somewhere, normally Brindisia (get there at noon for a table) in Borough Market, Ottolenghi or Pips Dish Pop Up on Upper Street or the Marquess Tavern near where I live in Islington and get stuck in. A couple of glasses of wine along with the full three courses if I’m on my own, loads of small things to share if I’m with a friend and just….. relax. Sometimes there is a little more wine and a little less food, the company is always excellent, I’m quite easy going about it all going on for a little longer if it has too. That’s when I consider it a holiday. This, normally followed by a short afternoon nap (I have it down to a perfect 40 mins) and I’m back refreshed and rearing to go.

In the last couple of weeks I have eaten the following at the Marquess Tavern.

 

Potted Shrimp on Toast

 

Ham Hock Terinne – If I was stuck on a desert island this would be my luxury

 

Warm Goats cheese with lentils & Beetroot

 

 

And this from Pips Dish on Upper Street

Beetroot and Hamhock Terrine was just the beginning!!!

 

 And also over the last couple of weeks I have managed to start production on a couple of new images and patterns for trays. They look like this.

 

16″ Camellia Tray – They are HUGE and gorgeous.

 

Caning pattern tray – the first prototype!

 

So, I guess it’s a Work Lunch balance that I’ve perfected. How does everybody else do it?

I feel like I do everything at the wrong time. I like to garden first thing in the morning before I go to work so it’s normally all in order all the time. I like to go to bed quite early on Friday and Saturday nights because I really like waking up really early on Saturday and Sundays to get stuck into Bridie Hall work and I don’t really like going anywhere any other time ha!

CONSUME CONSUME

I LOVE YOU ALL. EVERY SINGLE LAST ONE OF YOU.

The only text in what is possibly my favourite website. CONSUME CONSUME is a regularly updated site of photographs sourced from God knows where, everywhere! Whoever compiles CONSUME CONSUME has a fairly unique view of the world and succeeds brilliantly & wordlessly in sharing this. Images span the sublime to the ridiculous, some are shocking, some completely awe inspiring, most make me laugh out loud. All remind me of what a world of contrasts and randomness we live in and how funny life is.

Here are a few of my favourite. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Doesn’t this make you smile?

I would love to be able to walk past something like this everyday. Mehmet Ali Uysal’s Clothespin Art. Located in Belgium’s Park Chaudfontaine.

 

Bravo Bijan!

Do you ever wonder what the uber rich might spend their money on or never wonder about the mega rich but like to find slightly crazy/eccentric designer websites? I do. Well look no further than The House of Bijan. It really cheers me up. Especially the crazy music that accompanies it.

Established in 1976 by designer Bijan Pakzard, starting out in men’s tailoring and going on to so much more, fragrances, cars, you name it Bijan had a go at designing it.

Sadly, Bijan is now no longer with us, but what a legacy he has left. I have to admit the contents of his store isn’t totally up my street but I do love to see what someone can achieve at their absolute best and Bijan absolutely did that.

I think his website is hilarious and I like to think he was too. I am posting about him really because I wanted to share these pictures of his garden. Over the top? Probably. But I think wonderfully original and great to see something thought out on such a large scale executed so well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Putting down the Ritz

Last Friday as a farewell treat to my dear friend who has been helping me out for the last month we went for High Tea at The Ritz. Have you ever been for High Tea at The Ritz? The rooms are spectacular, a nod to the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee with some strategically placed Union Jacks, a stroke of genius. The people were a complete let down (sorry people) or rather the women, groups and groups of women of a certain age with a certain style of dress playing make believe at The Ritz before, no doubt, heading off to a matinee. It was so disappointing and I was rather ashamed that I was one of their number (is it wrong to say that?). So while we enjoyed our tasty little sandwiches, scones, creme caramel, strawberry flan, petit fours and litres of tea (all perfectly fine) after taking in the grandness of the Palm Court there was very little left to look at and it got quite boring quite quickly. I suppose I had been hoping it was going to be filled with people that actually stay at The Ritz and that Joan Collins would be there and the people watching would be out of this world, instead it was women slipping out of their high heels and into their more comfortable homely pumps, smuggling the menus into handbags even though they were allowed to keep them, I started to calculate how many of those menus must now be displayed on the sideboard in peoples homes across the nation, it was so boring I started costing out how much revenue I thought the Palm Court would take in a day and concluded it is probably The Ritz’s bread and butter, that’s how little there was to watch. Before long (maybe a half an hour longer than I would have preferred) it was time to go and I was glad, not before noticing the carpet on the stairwell going down to the loos, simply perfect, I wish the people could have been as much fun as the carpet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jubilation

We’re feeling it because we’ve reached the end of a mammoth weekend of watching the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee footage on T.V. Deciding, due to the poor weather, not to leave the house in search of bunting, hordes and beacons but taking the same approach we take to Christmas (if we don’t leave the country) and fill the stores, invite friends around, cook endlessly, eat endlessly, drink gin cocktails inappropriately early, fall asleep at the table, wake up to repeat the process all the while keeping up with the Royals on the telly. They wore us out! We can’t imagine how they must be feeling, I can’t help but feel Prince Philip had it sown up when it came to getting his Hall pass.

Although we were holed up we did not stop making things all weekend long….

Rose made the best newspaper papal hats we’ve seen.

 

Belinda regaled us with the most patriotic of sponge cakes (yes that is a watermelon in the background, we have a rather spontaneous approach to events like this ).

 

And I made some Chicken pie love – finally getting using my Pie Bird!

 

Spare us some Asparagus

It was a welcome sight visiting Borough Market on Friday to find the asparagus hailing from Norfolk instead of North Africa. I have to admit, I notice the difference in taste when air miles enter the equation with asparagus. I prefer to enjoy it for the few weeks of the spring growing season in the U.K. and leave it at that. So I was happy to buy myself a bunch (is there an official term for a bunch of asparagus?), and along with a loaf of Sourdough from Neal’s Yard Dairy, lunchtimes were sorted for the weekend.

Sometimes heaven is a poached egg with asparagus & shaved Parmesan on a slice of grilled sourdough.

 

 

 

A Diamond Jubilee in Black & White

When Ben and I we were discussing the design and layout of the Diamond Jubilee Decoupage plate we were making mock ups in black & white. I made one for Ben and one for myself. Then I made five more and now they are for sale. I think they are the more serious older cousin of the other more playful pastel four.

 

 

 

Available now while stocks lasts at Ben Pentreath Ltd

The Scholar’s Set

I am so delighted with this new addition to the Bridie Hall range. 

The Scholar’s Set

The Platonic solids have been known since antiquity. Ornamented models of them can be found among the carved stone balls created by the late Neolithic people of Scotland at least 1000 years before Plato. Dice go back to the dawn of civilization with shapes that augured formal charting of Platonic solids.

In Euclidean geometry, a Platonic solid is a regular, convex polyhedron. The faces are congruent, regular polygons, with the same number of faces meeting at each vertex. There are five Platonic solids; their names are derived from their numbers of faces, the Tetrahedron, Hexahedron, Octahedron, Dodecahedron & Icosahedron.

Made from folded card layered in gesso, sanded and waxed to a fine bone like finish. The Scholar’s Set is an elegant and accurate representation of the five primary geometric solids.

Dimensions: Between approx. 10cm – 13cm

 

 

 

 

Available now at Ben Pentreath Ltd

 

The perfect evening.

 

 

 

Productivity Explosion

Having taken the last week off from the shop there has been an explosion of productivity with my range. Not to mention a few pretty good lunches. I’ll share all soon.

A trip to the book store

 

Since I’ve spent the past few months putting together a little library in the conservatory, I’ve found it a good excuse to add to it gathering inspiration at the same time.

These are my top four recent reads.

1. SanctuaryBritain’s artists and their Studios

2. Fern Fever : The Story of Pteridomania

3. Celia Birtwell

4. The Art of InstructionVintage Educational Charts from the 19th and 20th Centuries

What have you recently picked up? Any recommendations?

Theatre Britannica by Ed Kluz

We celebrated the opening of ‘Theatre Britannica‘, a selling exhibition of Ed Kluz’s work at the shop last Wednesday night. There was a reprieve with the weather (it’s oddly always fine when we host parties) and an excellent turn out of guests who all enjoyed the artwork and wine.  It was one of those evenings where the joviality was infectious, so wonderful to see such a positive response to Ed’s work and to meet a lot of his friends. 

I felt rather lucky on Thursday morning arriving to work to find the print ‘Newby Hall’ hadn’t yet sold, so to celebrate all of our hard work in preparation for the show, I decided to treat myself to it. To see more work featured in ‘Theatre Britannica’ click here.

 

 

 

The window display of Ed’s fabric patterns produced by St Jude’s was a show stopper.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The ‘Newby Hall’ print coming home with Bridie Hall. It makes me so happy!

Sunday breakfast

What a promising start to the day. We’ve just finished our first breakfast in our newly decorated conservatory, on our new table, sitting on our new chairs, using the new tray and drinking coffee out of our new/old china set. It’s a really good feeling!

It’s taken so long to get this room together, it’s so pleasing it’s finally working. All I have left to do is artfully arrange the books & objects in the shelves and put up the wall sconces, then it will be fit for a blog of it’s own. Before and after pictures, sourcing & everything.

No time today, first I’m sowing some vegetable seeds then off to the shop to help hang the ‘Theatre Britannica’ exhibition with Ed Kluz and Robin, after that walking to the Southbank for a late lunch/early dinner with Alannah.

Tomorrow I will be finishing off the latest batch of increasingly popular Jubilee plates and making up the first “Scholars Set” of platonic solids to become a part of my Grand Tour Collection. After a repeat of this mornings breakfast no doubt, maybe bacon instead of porridge.

Have a relaxing Bank holiday.

 

 

 

A sweet still life

A few weeks ago a dear friend sent me a book on flower arranging for inspiration……since then I’ve collected all of my vases together in one place and thinking about the different flowers and foliage I can fill them with in interesting ways. 

This week another friend came around with a bunch of Peonies and another of Eucalyptus…….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Your Rainbow Panorama.

I came across these pretty beautiful images of ‘Your Rainbow Panorama’ designed and built by Olafur Eliasson on the rooftop of the Aros museum in Aarhus, Denmark today.

I’m adding making a visit to my list of things I should do but may never get around too. I wonder how the different colours reacting with the weather or the time of day affect the view? Would you be filled with awe or nausea? I wonder what it would be like to ride around and around it on a bicycle? I wonder if you would get there and just think ‘meh’?

 

 

 

 

 

Too much weather & a drastic measure.

The recent wet London weather has really been getting to me. I think I have physically felt my vitamin D levels deplete, whatever that feels like. The sky has been grey for as long as I can remember- am I living inside a Tupperware container? Last week, I had to do something about it.To down tools, stop checking the weather forecast, stop moaning about it, stop swearing at the sky asking it if it knew where Spring was. If Spring wasn’t coming to me, then I was going to go find it.

There aren’t many times in life, when all a girl can do is log on to a travel website and book a trip to St Tropez, but this was one of them.

 I found the charming Hotel Pastis online (the main reason we ended up in St Tropez), booked four nights and two flights and away we went, with  nothing more on the agenda than to read, sleep, eat & be in the sun. I cannot tell you how restorative the sunshine was after such a long spell without. 

I felt my mind clear and I found peace. I was greatly inspired. I designed and drew out a new range of trays and all of my packaging labels.

I read a short, useful book called “You are what you wear”, and when I came home I emptied my wardrobe of everything I have never worn which was one of the best feelings.

I was reminded of how simple the Mediterranean diet is, so since I have been back I have carried on eating fish with mozzarella and tomato salads for dinner.

And if I feel the weather blues creeping back, I close my eyes and imagine the feeling of the sun on my face poolside and start planning my next escape.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How dinner has been since we’ve been back. 

 

 

Of course all was forgiven. On the way to work the first morning back I walked through this small park as I normally do where it was raining blossom petals.

 

I say Tamarillo, you say Tree Tomato

Easter is always a bit of a topsy turvy time for me in the U.K. I get that Christmas is mid-winter here and I prefer it that way, but Easter always feels like it should be Autumn. It’s just a temporary seasonal holiday thing that has stuck with me. I consider a hot-cross bun to be an Autumn food, so when I eat them, it feels like Autumn.

At Maltby Stree Market I found a fruit unquestionably Autumnal (it had been flown up from the Southern Hemisphere), the Tamarillo, such a rare treat to find I bought a few to take home and make a pudding with.  

This is my mum’s all time favourite and when I sent her a picture of what I had made quick as a flash she responded, “Absolutely my favourite dessert when done properly with plenty of sugar. Hiding in the kitchen crouched on the floor so no-one sees you licking the bowl stuff.”

When I read that I was taken back to our family kitchen, thinking about all the times as a kid I’d snuck open the fridge while everyone else was in the lounge watching TV, I would be ramming syrupy spoonfuls this ambrosia down my throat. It seems I wasn’t the only one! There was always plenty left over because Mum believed it tasted better the next day. 

The recipe could not be easier. Take however many Tamarillos you have to hand, blanch to peel the skins off, slice widthways and spread out on a platter, cover in sugar, more than you think is morally acceptable and leave for as long as possible. The sugar works drawing out the juices of the fruit to create a deep, rich syrup. Sweet at the same time tart. Serve with Vanilla Ice cream. The easiest most sophisticated dessert I know.

Having only had three Tamarillos to work with (they were £1 each eek!) and we didn’t get the chance to see how it tasted the next day as my rather enthusiastic dinner companion helped himself to four servings and I had three.

The Humble Tree Tomato

 

 

Blanch and slice, spread out on a plate

 

 

The hard part, cover in sugar

 

One hour

 

 

Seven hours

 

Best served with Vanilla Ice cream

 

 

 

 

Fin!

 

 

40 Maltby Street

As a food lover and enthusiastic cook I am interested in all things gastronomic. Although I  like cooking at home for friends more than eating out, as everybody is so busy these days, I get to do the latter more. A place where I’ve managed to combine the two for the last few years is Borough Market by London Bridge. Regularly on a Friday, I will trundle along to meet a friend for an early lunch at Brindisia; we normally talk each other through current projects, then I browse the stalls picking out whatever seasonal specialty catches my eye to take home and experiment with over the weekend.

Borough Market is no locals’ secret and acts like honey to the bee for tourists. In recent times, I have found the difficulty navigating through the crowds acting as a deterrent to having a real good root around. The popularity has also had a direct consequence for the traders, with increased crowds and growing competition leading to an increase in rents. Many of the original traders have decided to up sticks and decamp to Maltby Street, which is about a fifteen minute walk away in Bermondsey.  

For months I’d been hearing about Maltby St Market and recently managed to make it along to lunch, where the traders set up in and alongside railway arches. My hoped for peaceful shopping was, of course, nothing but a pipe dream. This new market’s cover had been blown long ago. However, with an insider’s knowledge to get there early (before noon) to eat we headed straight to 40 Maltby Street and pulled up bar stools around a palette of wine cases acting as a makeshift table. We ordered a bottle of vino and most of the menu. One of my favourite things to do.

 

This is what the website says. I love how understated they are.

“Located in the warehouse of Gergovie Wines we sell wines produced by a handful of wine-makers who eschew the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides in favour of letting the land and the grape speak. At our warehouse you can buy these wines to take home or to drink by the glass or bottle at our bar. We have a small kitchen serving food through the evening on a Thursday and Friday and all day on a Saturday.” 

 

The menu was what I guess you would call Italian Tapas. Served up with good Sourdough bread and cold salty butter. Lunch, the actual act of eating minus the waiting and wine drinking, lasted approximately five minutes. In fact I was annoying everybody as I made them wait extra seconds so I could take pictures of the dishes.

I’m not going to critique the food as I am all too aware of the armies of pseudo food critics out there doing just that right now. What I am going to say is that it was refreshing and exciting to visit a place that was just doing what it was doing really well. Making well thought out meals using the ingredients of the season. The tiny box of a kitchen at the end of the bar was quietly getting on with turning out dish after dish of excellent food to groups of people delighted to be getting it. The waiters and bar staff seemed to really care about what they were doing; our waiter was passionate about the wines they stocked and helped us make a really nice selection. 

Egg Mayonaise

 

Romanesco and Parmesan


Smoked Cods Roe on Monksbeard and Bottarga

 

Spelt, Kid, Artichoke and Wild Garlic


Tongue and Lentils

 

Our happy table.

 

Afterwards, a little hazy after some pre-noon libation we wandered the rest of the market and took a look through Lassco which is also on the street. Definitely worth a repeat and further exploration.

Celebrating Queen Elizabeth ER II

For a bit of fun last year, we produced a tea towel to celebrate the Royal Wedding. Then suddenly everyone else got serious and they flew out the door and around the globe. The response was immense, as were the amount of stories and photographs people sent back to us letting us know how they were using them. One lovely lady in Australia contacted us to say she and her friends were all sitting around watching the wedding and waving them at the telly, and at the same time apologising for the poor dress sense of her Prime Minister, dearest Julia.

This year, we’ve designed another tea towel for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and back in January Ben and I also came up with the idea of a Jubilee decoupage plate, while waiting to catch the Eurostar back to London after a mad day buying at Maison & Objet in Paris. Ben’s been madly busy working on things other than plates, and I’ve been bugging him about it ever since. 

Finally all the bugging paid off, and last week he presented me with these four beautiful designs. I’ve spent the last few days practicing the dark art of decoupage on the images, to turn them into commemoration plates worthy of such a sparkling celebration and hey presto! May I present our very own set of Royal Souvenirs to collect and keep. Each plate is made in my studio and is backed with a highly lacquered C18th map of London. I do hope they please Ma’am as much as they do us.

My favourite has to be the one with the purple band and the pink inner. What’s yours?

 Buy one or collect them all. Available now at Ben Pentreath Ltd 

A Moment of Mimosa

Walking to work I pass this Mimosa bush, currently showing in the full technicolour HD version. The yellow is like nothing else so I had to take a picture to log it and hopefully pull it out for use at some point in the future.

Spring and a few of my favourite things.

Hay-fever has struck with a vengeance and the clocks jumped forward an hour last night – the final nails hammering the change of season into place in London,. There is a freshness and brightness (and a lot pollen) in the air that is unmistakably Spring.

I know I’m not alone in loving this time of year and I don’t think I need to go too deeply into the reasons why. Unlike Summer and Winter, where the changes over these two seasons are immense, Spring always makes me feel excited and optimistic. Autumn makes me feel much the same, although a little more reflective

I enjoy watching the seasons pass in my garden.  In three months time the seedlings that I am planting now will be plants spending all of their energy producing flowers/fruits/vegetables for Summer, and then spent by Autumn they’ll seed and begin to break down, returning to the soil for the shortest days of Winter.

Anyway, let’s not think so much about things finishing right now  and focus on things beginning. LIKE SPRING! For now Spring is my favourite time of year (this may change dependent on how the season goes) and as it is my favourite season, I want to list my five favourite things about it.

In no particular order they are:

1. Cowslips in my Garden

I planted a small cluster of Cowslips three years ago. They’ve naturalised and are looking good – at the moment I would say they are making me as happy as Daffodils do.

  

 

Cowslips I bought three years ago, naturalised and look’n good.

 
 

2. Vintage Jenaer Glaswerk Picnic Glasses

It’s the canework baskets that do it for me, just lovely. I’ve been watching these glasses on ebay for about two months and my finger hovers over the ‘Buy it now’ button every time I look at them. What’s stopping me? The fact there are only three. But I can taste the too strong Gin & Tonic they are holding and smell the freshly cut lawn I am drinking it on when I gaze at them.

 

  

I’m watching these on ebay.

 

3. Bright Light and Spring Cleaning

These go hand in hand. You look up one day and notice the windows are filthy, so you clean them, the room is brighter, you can see! There is no longer time for curling up and eating cheese and mashed potato, there is work to do. Rugs need beating, furniture needs re-arranging, mountains need moving!

 

4. A Quilt Project

Another spotting on ebay was this vintage patchwork quilt, I love vintage patchwork.

The industriousness of the women who made these at a time when nothing went to waste never fails to make me well up with pride and lament these lost times (although I quickly remember what dentistry must have been like and well up over how far we’ve come). The quilt I have pictured below was attributed to an African American so most probably originates from the early 19th century during the time of slavery. I would love to find out more.

The most beautiful quilt I think I have ever seen.

 

 

I am completely floored by the complexity of pattern and layout of colours not to mention the hours and endless hours of hand work that must have gone into it – remember these are scraps!

I like to think a group of women got together to make it, after long days work, providing a small opportunity to catch up  and take comfort in each other’s company while keeping the mind and hands busy.

I want to start making my own quilt this Spring and am going to use this as my inspiration. I’m not kidding myself, the pattern is going to be very simple, but the palette will be informed by this beautiful example and I will think of the women from the past who made theirs, while I make mine.

5. Longer Lighter Evenings

Gardening after work, sparking up the beloved BBQ , enjoying dinner or a drink outdoors with friends. I simply cannot wait for this. Especially since I have two very dear friends coming to stay and work with me for a month or so shortly.

Maybe that’s why I should buy the three Jenaer Glasses, for us to enjoy a well earned drink at the end of a long hard day’s work, in the garden by the cluster of Cowslips, perhaps with a little piece work to hand.

 

 

And we have lift off!

 

Bridie Hall at Home is now official! We had a soft launch last autumn as a little warm up but Wednesday just gone was the big day when we made it official by launching to the press. 

 

We had the beautiful invites made by the Hand & Eye Letterpress

The shop looked wonderful, we filled the window with a set of Geometric Solids, a Trav Chair and bunches of exquisite Green Orchids from our local florist Dawsons.

I’d never given green Orchids a second glance before but in buckets en masse out on the street they spoke to me.  They go so well with the tan of the leather and the bone white of the geometric solids. 

Anyway, I could not have been happier with the turn out and the reception, not to mention the best coffee ever provided by The Espresso Room. So much good feed back and positivity, I feel like all of the effort was rewarded. It also made me realise there is no rest now, this is merely the beginning, so I’d better get back to the grindstone and get making. Writing the content for the rest of the website is first on the list! 

It’s the beginning!

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