During my latest trip to London I was able to visit the ‘Fashioned from Nature‘ exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum. I was excited to see the display for several reasons, I have a degree in textile design, a love of nature and many years’ experience working with natural science collections in the museum sector, so an exhibition that combines these passions was always going to be at the top of my list. But the display is not just an incredible collection of objects, it tells a complex story of the relationship between the fashion industry and nature from 1600 to the present day. It shows how the beauty of the natural world has inspired fashion designers, how natural materials are processed to create fabrics and used to adorn garments and it illustrates clearly the negative impact that the fashion industry and we as consumers continue to make on the natural world. The exhibition is powerful and inspiring, and I will certainly be thinking more about my fashion choices in the future.
Group of flowers modelled in wax from nature. John Haynes Mintorn (1824-88) London, about 1875. Wax, wire and cloth
‘Russia Collection’ evening gown. Jean Paul Gaultier (b.1952) Paris, 1997. Taffeta with beads simulating leopard fur and rhinestone claws
X-ray showing hat and starling. Hat – Modes du Louvre, Paris about 1885. X-ray photography by Nick Veasey 2016
Fan. Britain 1880-1900. Turtle shell, ostrich feathers probably from South Africa and silk.
‘Floral Helmet’ Philip Treacy (b.1967) London, 2016. Cotton, velvet, silk, and waxed flowers
Engraved clear Perspex handbag, possibly made in France, early 1950s
Earrings. Brazil, about 1875. Male red-legged honeycreeper
Dress. Britain 1868-9. Cotton, gilded metal thread and Indian jewel beetles. Over 5000 beetle wings were used to decorate this dress
‘Bird-witched’ shoes. Masaya Kushino (b.1982) Japan, 2014. Nile crocodile, gilded metal and cockerel feathers
At the end of 2017 the foundations were dug and building work started on my new garden art studio. The build took longer than expected with delays over the winter months because of the wet and snowy weather. The Beast from the East and Storm Emma came and went, then when the weather finally dried up in March, my sliding glass doors were fitted. Since then I’ve painted the walls and the floor, moved my furniture in and organised all my art materials and books. I have a tiny wood burning stove called ‘The Hobbit’ inside the studio which belts out the heat on the cold days and a rain chain water feature outside under the eaves which makes the wet days more fun!
There are still some things to do, shelves to put up and the garden to rebuild but when that’s all complete I’ll be having an official opening celebration with family and friends. It’s a beautiful bright space where I feel inspired to create new things. I couldn’t be happier with it and I’m looking forward to many happy years of working here.
I’m pleased to announce that my artwork is now on sale at the stunning Michelin recommended, Paris House Restaurant in Bedfordshire. I had the pleasure of delivering my work in person and meeting the owner and executive chef, Phil Fanning, who told me about the incredible history of the Tudor style building, which was originally constructed for the Paris International Exhibition in 1878. The 9th Duke of Bedford, who fell in love with Paris House, had it dismantled and shipped back to the Woburn estate, where it now sits in 22 acres of deer parkland. The restaurant has recently been refurbished and features an art wall that showcases a seasonal edit of food related art by some exceptional makers. The restaurant team chose my wax fungi dioramas and bee etchings for their display and we have further plans to create bespoke artwork based upon leaves collected in the park grounds.
I’ve been to Kew on many occasions to work in the herbarium with the curatorial staff or visit the collections behind the scenes, but the schedule has always been tight and there has never been enough spare time for me to take a good look around the gardens. That’s why I was delighted to visit again last week for the Handmade at Kew 2017 show which took place in the Kew Palace Lawn Pavilion. It was a chance to see some world class contemporary crafts and an opportunity to meet the talented makers and talk about the influences and processes behind their work. The show coincided with the final few days of the Sculpt at Kew exhibition, with 30 artists presenting figurative, abstract and modern sculptures in an outdoor trail throughout the beautiful gardens.
I was also able to spend time exploring the fabulous rain forest plants and iconic Victorian architecture of the Palm House, the ten different environments in the Princess of Wales Conservatory and the 17 foot tall multi-sensory bee experience called The Hive.
Kew Gardens has the largest and most diverse collection of living plants in the world, so I’ve still only seen the smallest part of it and I’d love to see more. I’ll have to visit again soon!
This weekend we installed and opened my solo exhibition ‘Etched Entomology’ at the new Waterloo Teahouse in Lakeside, Cardiff as part of the madeinroath 2017 Arts Festival.
The exhibition is on until 31st October and you can find Waterloo Tea at 17-19 Clearwater way, Lakeside, Cardiff, CF236DL, just opposite the Discovery pub.
It has late night opening on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and is a lovely place to stop off for a tea or coffee and of course.. a slice of cake!