Thursday, 26 July 2012

PLACES ~ Beside The Sea!

This sunny weather has made us long to be beside the sea. We are off to Agatha Christie and Daphne Maurier country to spend some time with our family hunting seashells and rocks, sipping drinks by the pier and maybe, just maybe doing some vintage shopping in Dartmouth or Totnes.

I love this oil painting, it is called 'Children Playing on the Beach', painted in 1890 and is by Edward Percy Moran an American painter. But it reminds us of St Ives in Cornwall, one of our favourite places.

The Kreative Blogger Award

Thank you to Sharon over at the Bluebells and Lavender Interiors Blog for bestowing upon us the Kreative Blogger Award. We are all most grateful. Mrs Black wanted to keep it in her basket with her catnip mouse, but we insisted it get posted on the blog instead.

Upon acceptance of such award it is tradition that the recipients carry out the following instruction. We are to share with you 10 things which you may not have previously known about us, and to recommend 10 blogs which are worthy of the Kreative Award.

10 Things about us you might not know:

I) When we were little we had a pet Iguana named Bad Bart!

II) We sold jewelry, scarves and vintage clothes at flea markets when we were teenagers.

III) Once upon a time we had a gift shop in San Francisco called The Lion & The Unicorn.

IV) We used to own a red 1969 Jaguar E Type.

V) We have played Pooh Sticks at Pooh Bridge. 

VI) We collect dragons and owls in all guises.

VII) We love castles and our favourite is Hampton Court Palace which we used to live quite near. 

VIII) Henry VIII is one of our ancestors.

IX) We are looking for larger shop premises so that we can sell bigger items!

Alice shot by Annie Liebovitz and published in Vogue,

X) We have never owned a white cat, but there is still time.

10 blogs we recommend:

It is the age of communication and thanks to Mercury we are witnessing in our time that the world has magically been made smaller and more accessible to anyone with an internet connection. There is much beauty and wisdom on the net - and many opportunities to make friends, enjoy, and share.

We have tried to chose 10 lesser known blogs to recommend here for your enjoyment. We also noticed that a very similar award called The Sunshine Award is being gifted to blogs as well, and some of those we read have just won that! Well done everyone and thank you for enriching our lives. 

One Time One Meeting
Snowwhite lives in Japan and writes about her country, it's beauty and traditions.
This is perfectly illustrated by her delightful photographs. The text is so lovingly written it is like poetry such is her way with words. It is a joy to read.

The Hermitage
Artist and storyteller extraordinaire Rima Staines lives on magical mystical Dartmoor and her art is inspired by her surroundings. Her creations are very unique to her way of looking at the world, and so beautiful we want them all! She has an Etsy shop (you can access from her blog) where you can explore her work.

Jane the booklady - The Life of an Eccentric English Booklady
Listen, you can never have too many books! Being a total anglophile I have always admired the way that being eccentric is not just accepted in England but celebrated. I love this blog !

Domythic Bliss
This is a new blog which we are enjoying a lot. Grace writes about subjects dear to our hearts, as she herself says: 'fairytale, mythic, and otherwise enchanted decorating'!

An English Travel Writer
Jenny Woolf creates this blog. As she says, she casts an eye on London, Europe and places nearby. And it's delightful! We love reading about her adventures and her photos are lovely.

Stitch and bake
Jacqui Wise writes about crafts, life, cooking and things she loves. It's inspirational and a beautifully presented blog- as William Morris said,  'beautiful and useful'!

Ashdown House
Nicola wirtes this blog about our favourite National Trust property, the enchanting Ashdown House set in such a stunning landscape. She trained as a historian and writes for a living. She works as a volunteer at Ashdown House. Her knowledge, passion and devotion to history and this amazing house shine in this blog. We want to live here!

Pingere Antiques
Essie lives in The Cotswolds, a part of England most dear to our hearts, with her family and collie Mo Mo. She runs Pingere Antiques from the  Station Mill Antiques & Interiors in Chipping Norton. She has a great eye for beautiful things! (Please see Footnote below, Essie already has a Kreative Blogger Award and so, we get to give another one to someone else!!!!!) But we can still love her blog.

Wolves at the Door
Perth Australia
Nadya writes a very interesting blog, has many idea I feel inspired by, her photographs are lovely and she sells through a Cartel store.

This blog is  written from a stone house between two ponds in the Pacific Northwest. She writes lovingly of her beautiful surroundings, family, friends and animals. She has many intrests, less time and a large heart which she wears on her sleeve.

A BIG Footnote:   It was very hard to chose just 10 blogs to award and it took me ages. And now I realise that Pingere Antiques has been awarded this twice as Sharon at Bluebells and Lavender Interiors also gave Essie the award. I can only say that the lovely summer sun must be getting to my head .... or it might be The Pimms!

Sooooo, I think I am allowed to bestow the award upon an 11th (technically, as Pingere already have one). But Sharon may say she has won it twice! : ~ )

We would like to present The Kreative Blogger Award to another fabulous blog we stumbled across called The Custards. This picture really does it no kind of justice at all and does not show you that this blog is overflowing with vintage items, fantastic ideas, pretty photographs and lots and lots of Objects Of Desire!

You can find The Custards Here:

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

STORYTELLER ~ Old Wardrobes

We prefer living in old cottages and houses but there are a few problems you must overcome if you are a collector of many things. The main stumbling block is storage, unless you are lucky enough to find an affordable cottage which is larger than the norm. Old houses rarely have built in wardrobes or bookcases and many do not have the space to build them either. So my life has been scattered with a lot of Lion, Witch and Wardrobe moments with ancient quirky pieces of furniture stuck in hallways and corners in which to store our belongings. 

A lovely bedroom, but hardly room for the books let alone the clothes!
I've always been fascinated by old wardrobes even before I had read the story, and ever since there lurks the possibility that such a piece of furniture might just be a portal to another world, even if only because it contains a treasured outfit with the magical ability to transform yourself once worn.

When we lived in a  large house we possessed several of these beauties which had to be sold when we downsized. One of them is hard to part with though and sits in my studio, full of fabric and clothes waiting to be transformed into something more useful than what they are. I know I ought really let it go so it might become a portal for someone who can fit it into the house. It is kind of sad in the studio. But then after all the Narnia wardrobe was shut off in an attic.

To invoke Narnia and other wonderful lands a wardrobe must possess certain qualities. heavily carved, most likely dark wood and maybe a Green Man hiding in the carving. Large, probably without a mirror (well, that would be Through The Looking Glass surely?) As much as we love the shabby chic Rachel Ashwell, slightly French look of this one it does not stir the imagination towards Narnia. Versailles and certain Kings perhaps.

An open drawer is not the same kind of invitation as an open door. Nice as this chest of drawers is, and it even has a Lion for drawer handles.

This one has so many more possibilities.
And this one, well .... it is of course the REAL one.

I guess with summer being such a non event my thoughts seem to already be turning to my favourite seasons, Autumn and Winter. Isn't that naughty? Old heavy wood carved wardrobes seem to belong to the colder days and nights. While mine is still stuffed full of summer clothes that will not now be worn in this rainy deluge I am thinking perhaps it is time to get it ready for a good season by clearing it out and wallpapering it inside. In a paper covered with trees, like a dense wood.

Like this one. Currently starring on tv in Once Upon A Time in Grannies Cafe.
It's by Graham and Green.
Or maybe this one would be better for Narnia,
do not want to get our legends mixed up.
By Cole & Son.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

JEWEL BOX ~ Winged Things

I saw Butterflies in the garden this week. A Peacock, some Brimstone and a small brightly coloured one that I could not identify. The Peacock nearly landed on me while I stood and admired it. Then it was gone, off over the houses towards the fields of wildfowers and grasses. Last year our village was full of so many Butterflies of all size and colour that we were inspired to fill in an online survey to count them in the United Kingdom.

I love all of them, even the Brimstone and whites which are considered common and somewhat of a pest as their caterpillars will devour brassicas in no time at all. Really there is nothing common about a Brimstone these days, even they are threatened and in decline. Their wing colour can vary greatly from very  pale, almost silver to a bright rich yellow. Their caterpillars decimated the brussel sprouts we were growing, but I forgave them.

We had a fairy like lodger over winter. She arrived one cool Autumn day and nestled herself in our garden greenhouse at the back of a shelf inside an empty terracotta pot. There she settled into a deep sleep to wait for Spring. I noticed her before winter came and all through the snows and storms I continued to check on her and ensure no frost came near, no fungus tarnished those soft wings and no spider wound a stealthy web over her.

My Sleeping Beauty rewarded me come the first sun. Out she flew and perched upon the red brick wall. Her wing edges were in tatters, wear and tear from her year as a Butterfly. Now all she had to do was find a bed of nettles, preferably in a wood where they will not be cut down until next Spring,  lay the eggs she had carried within her, and die. She had slept all winter just to provide her young with a future. Still cold from her deep sleep and exposed to the winds where she was sitting, she was in danger of failing in her mission. I took her and gently cupped her in my hands where she sat quietly for a few minutes. Suddenly she flapped those jeweled Peacock wings - and flew away. On that day, in the sun that was shining I felt sure that her offspring would be born and thrive. Now I am not so full of hope for her or the other Butterflies. I've seen almost none this year.

BBC Homes & Antiques August 2012 issue

Being a vintage dealer in England I like to watch the BBC Antiques Roadshow and read the magazine that they produce, BBC Homes & Antiques. The magazine has a balance of real antiques and vintage, and a very useful diary of events. It is filled with beautiful, real homes from all walks of life. I love the way it runs pieces on large and small antiques dealers, artists and home workers.
This month they have run a feature on Butterfly brooches. Long out of fashion they have now become quite collectable. There are some wonderful examples available, from the ornate and intricately made victorian jewel encrusted to simple enammelled, finely twisted silver and delicate gold. In all price ranges.

I remember as a little girl how fascinated I was by the giant brooches that my Grandmother liked to wear. I love them and often wear 2 or 3 together on a coat or a wool hat or scarf. Some are so beautiful that they can even be used to decorate a room, on a curtain tieback or a lampshade.

 These are available on ebay now, and I am very tempted.

Sterling silver & filigree enamel

great example of Czechoslovakian glass and gilt
I love this one, glass and daisies!
From the 1930s/40s
Perhaps the most beautiful one of all,
a tiny Millefiori from Italy

Earlier this month the Wiltshire illustrator, artist, sculptor and jewelry maker Joanne May (she is a multi tasking much talented lady) and I were wandering on one of our 'treasure quests' and we found ourselves in a most amazing antiques shop in Hungerford called Great Grooms. It is housed in a large red brick victorian house, of the grand design, and every room and staircase is decked in Objects of Desire.  We came across some works and jewels which we would not have expected to see outside of a museum. Joanne often paints the Fairy Realm in her work and always has an eye for a beautiful example of this art. This is what she found!

‘Prospero releasing Ariel from the tree.’ Arthur Bentley Connor 

Oil on canvas: 60x37 inc. (Frame: 67 x 44 Inc.) Signed & dated 1911 l/l
PRICE £28,000

"Commissioned by the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre the painting shows Prospero in his magic robes in act 5.1 of ‘The Tempest’ releasing Ariel from his prison inside a tree, before finally renouncing magic. The Dragonfly almost certainly represents one of the characters in Prospero’s circle, and Calaban as the toad.

Arthur Bentley Connor was a portrait painter from London who exhibited at the Royal Society of Portrait Painters and the Royal Academy from 1903-18.

Provenance: This fabulous painting was commissioned by the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre, Stratford –Upon-Avon for the production of ‘The Tempest’ by the Royal Shakespeare Company which opened July 31, 1911.
According to the artists daughter the painting was returned to her father for restoration after being damaged by a fire at the theatre. The Great War then took place and the painting remained in the artist’s possession and never returned to the theatre. The theatre was finally destroyed in the great fire of 6 March, 1926 (and not re-built until 1932).The picture remained with the artist until his death, and left to his daughter-Isabel Ward, née Conner. The painting was sold by Isabel Ward together with a note of provenance in 2002.The artists restoration to fire damage has since been carefully reversed and the painting conserved and restored using modern techniques to museum standards."

This painting is being sold by Thomas Fine Art, one of the dealera at Great Grooms.

A photo really does not do this justice, we felt very privileged to have seen it in person and hope someone buys this who will share it with the public. The painting has a long and interesting history which should be preserved. Look closely and you will the frog and dragonfly. It is really stunning, Aerial's wings are as delicate as can be, you can see through them. We were both delighted to find art which paid a small tribute to the beautiful wings of Butterflies.

Joanne is inspired by them in her own work where she sometimes gives her Fairies such wings. This is a detail from one of her paintings called Fairy Thief. We have a print of this for sale in Mrs Black's This n That at The Emporium in Hungerford.

Joanne is currently busy with work and is taking a summer break from blogger but this is her own site: Willow Treefox

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

SEASONAL ~ Impressions of Summer

by the artist Pir Tareen

I feel as if I have been living in an Impressionist painting this summer.

There is a mysterious light which tries to envelop us almost as if we are caught in twilight, daylight never quite breaks through. Everything has taken on a slightly misty, blurry look.

With all of the cold and rain we have had in Spring and now Summer, flowers here were slow to bloom and then when the days of sun came they burst into bloom all at once, as if they knew that summer days would not come this year and they had to make the most of those few moments of fame. They are now battered by the weather and insects, also desperate to grasp life. Gardens are faded, petals and leaves scattered across pavements and on lawns.

I love the way that nature usually prepares us for the splendor of summer by gradually building up to the ripening of blooms, colours, scents and tastes over a period of a few weeks and then it is there in all it's glory for a short time to overwhelm our senses.

That did not happen this year. This year instead of gentle awakening towards deep rich colours and scents the scent we have had is of water, and the colours are a blur of what they were intended to be. An odd mix of pale, muted and very dark and dusky, all at once.

Cats relish the days they get in gardens, to roll in the sunshine and hunt bugs in the grass.  As if I am wandering in an Elizabeth Blackadder painting, cats arrange themselves decoratively about me on my walks matching the gardens in which they chose to play and sleep. This wonderful orange and white tabby did not want to be disturbed. 

Our gardens were planted many years before we lived here. We thought about taking out the plants and putting in colours we preferred, but the hot jewel like quality of what is here has enchanted us, and they stay. 

Peonies were gone in little more than a day, petals strewn in the tall rain soaked grass. The rose buds either never opened, or if they did their heads bent down heavy with rain.

The huge blooms of the several Clematis have been nibbled this year by the falling rain, and yet there is still something majestic and other worldly about them.

Two more cats in their very own Elizabeth Blackadder landscapes. 

It has not been a vintage summer, and yet nature has given us it's own version of decadence and faded glamour. Gardens are not as beautiful this year as last, and yet .... there is a kind of melancholy there, a little regret lingers, love unrequited, or lost. Opportunities missed. There are no Hoverflies, few Bees, Butterflies are rare and the seed heads have come early this season.  Swifts, Swallows and House Martins will leave soon. 

Coco and Orchid
pencil and watercolour, signed and dated 1981
22 ½ x 29 ¾ inches

I love the way that Dame Elizabeth portrays flowers in a natural state, nature untouched, only slightly tamed. The randomness of her flowers fits perfectly with her cats who glide in and out of her paintings effortlessly. Cats and wild gardens go together.

I also love this scarf which combines scarlet and purple. A colour combination that works so well in nature but is rarely used by humans. It's wool - but then this is a cold summer!
Elizabeth Blackadder Anenomes Wool Scarf

available through the Royal Academy website:

Footnote: The wonderful painting at the top of this page of the vase of flowers with the intense light puring through it is by the artist Pir Tareen

A bio about him says this, and I agree, he is a master of light.

"Pir Tareen has a masterly touch in portraying the emotive power of light, colour and shade as shown in this work, part of his "Brisbane Summer" exhibition at Dabbles on Days Gallery, Grange. "I am a simple perfectionist... my main concerns are light, colour and shade" You don’t have to speak Italian to understand what Italy’s leading Art Critic meant when he described a Pir Tareen painting as “una pittura luminosa”. "
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