Sunday, 25 April 2010


"Broadly, it's the aesthetic that finds beauty in imperfection and transcience: on buildings beaten by wind and rain, in rough-hewn objects that hint at their inevitable decay, on the asymmetrical chipped, off-kilter pottery used in the Japanese tea ceremony."

- Oliver Burkeman, This Column Will Change Your Life: The Beauty in Imperfection. Read the full article here.

Now, isn't that a wonderful concept?


Friday, 23 April 2010

Industrious and creative

Given the glorious sunshine, I have been sitting here is my little sun-trap reading the papers all afternoon ... sitting in the doorway of my shed like an old man on an allotment!

This means, however, that what I have not been doing is turning this lovely fabric - thrifted in Farnham, Hampshire, the day before Little Sister's wedding to Warrior Sahib and, yes, they're rapidly approaching their first anniversary - into cushion covers. Who wants to stay in and sew on such an afternoon?!

So, in lieu, here is a bit of something about a far more industrious and creative person than me...

Sianuska has been adding lots of lovely stuff to her Etsy shop: I have always especially loved the collages created from airmail envelopes, dress patterns and old photos, with their sweet retro feel and incredible attention to detail, and now they're available as prints. Hurrah!

And there's brand new bunting, just in time for summer garden parties, made from the whimsical Old Lady Swearwords design: fiddlesticks, indeed!

While you're there, there's some nice finds on her vintage shop: I covet the driving gloves but they're too small for these Lancashire mill worker hands of mine!

I've been making bunting too - very zeitgeisty - from origami paper and pretty saved scraps. Check out my super-pimped shed:

Well, it makes doing laundry a little bit pleasanter, so why not?

Hidden London life

I am taking a few days leave from work, in anticipation of the busy period looming ahead, in order to store up some relaxation credit in my energy bank.

The best thing about mid-week days off? Aside from the lovely feeling of playing truant, the lie-ins, the leisurely breakfasts, and the lack of commuting, of course... 

I'm talking about unexpected discoveries about the weekday existence of places more familiar in their weekend incarnations. It's like stumbling on a hidden enchanted land, the mysterious other life of a place that you imagine only exists on Saturday - an Enid Blyton "magic faraway tree" kind of feeling, as if it might cease to exist the minute you stop looking.

And it's very reassuring to know this interesting London life is all happening when you're stuck in an office from 9-5.

On Thursdays, Old Spitalfields hosts an antiques market rich in secondhand books, vintage cameras and typewriters, explorers suitcases, silvery candlesticks, and glamorous cut glass jewellery. Very different in character to the Sunday market, of fashion, trinkets and food, the vintage market had a relaxed, friendly feel.  It felt to me rather as Greenwich Market used to be, before it was polished up.

I treat myself - but of course! - to this beautiful cornflower pattern teapot.  Just imagine a gently steaming pot of fresh mint tea, made with homegrown mint harvested from the garden, and you're about there.

Oh, and can I just draw your attention to the flawless blue sky in the picture above? We've had over a week of this glorious weather now - London, when it chooses, can really do Spring!


Friday, 16 April 2010

I Heart London

Last night, at More London by Tower Bridge. Feels like a Richard Curtis film, doesn't it?


Sunday, 4 April 2010

Art Journalling

Threatening skies over London today, so that rules out gardening and ushers in some cutting-and-sticking: this is last summer's art journal, which I didn't post at the time for some reason. Art journalling concept totally nicked from ByBlanca, who has lovely collages over at Cuttings on a Blog.

Now, where did I put those scissors?

Update: the new one ...

Ahh, that feels better!


Friday, 2 April 2010

The Element

Originally uploaded by sleepwithbutterflies
I am thinking a lot about creativity at the moment.

I am wondering if paid work and creative fulfilment can be compatible – by this, I mean looking for a way in which to bring the “real me” and the “working me” together, and still pay the mortgage and keep the proverbial wolf from the door.
Of course, for this I need to know what the “real me” is – where my natural talents lie, how to connect more fully with the things that drive and inspire me.

I have a strong feeling of being more and more divorced from my core passions (whatever they are!), as I grow older and messy old life gets in the way.

Reading Ken Robinson’s book “The Element”, about finding where talent and passion meet, I’ve found a fair few things to think about.

Robinson makes a few interesting points:
  • The Western school system was designed at the time of growing industrialism, and principally works to churn out standardised workers. Therefore, the focus is on a hierarchy of key subjects – maths, sciences etc – to the exclusion and suffocation of creativity and natural talent.
  • Academic ability measures only a handful of limited types of intelligence: to illustrate, he relates the story that the IQ test was originally a scale of capability, not intelligence, but was hijacked by the eugenics movement to prove their theories.
  • The modern world favours standardised academic achievement but, in the future, as universal education grows, creativity will be more uncommon and more highly prized. Robinson foresees a creative economy arising from harnessing a synergy of human abilities rather than pigeonholing people.
  • He defines creativity as “applied imagination”: where imagination is thinking, creativity is doing, so creativity, like literacy, needs nurturing and developing.
  • The key, then, is cultivating non-linear thinking, and nurturing connections and analogies: To be fully aware, one must maximise chance opportunities, listen to your intuition and grow creativity through generating ideas and practising whatever is your talent, continuously evaluating and developing to improve.
Lots of lessons here for life, but how to apply them? My intelligences, I think, are around linguistic and interpersonal capabilities, but what to do? More thinking required, and I fear I‘m a little out of practice …

Watch Ken Robinson’s TED Talk for a neat summary of his ideas.


Thursday, 1 April 2010

Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote

Pinch, punch, first of the month…

Well, as the poet says, this month is all about sap rising and Spring springing:

Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote
The droghte of Marche hath perced to the roote,
And bathed every veyne in swich licour,
Of which vertu engendred is the flour

But today's theme seems to be tend more to biting gale force winds, so perhaps a little T.S.Eliot would be more apposite instead?

April is the cruellest month, breeding      
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing             
Memory and desire, stirring         
Dull roots with spring rain.          

Even so, talking of stirring dull roots, the plum tree in the garden is covered in dainty pale pink blossom. Ephemeral, perfect only in the moment of falling, as the Japanese see it, but beautiful and spring-like nonetheless. And therefore worthy of celebration!


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