Once upon a time I'm sure that setting fire to stuff was the great skill people still pretend. Truth is, matches and fire-lighters have made the process pretty straight forward. This week I've found out all efforts are futile when the wind's heaving right down the chimney. But then who in their right mind would want a cosy fire during a storm?
Although throwing pots was much more fun, I spent a fair amount of last year slip-casting too. Regrettably we had to stop wholesaling our owl figurine when demand outstripped production and enquiries for outsourcing came to nil (I'd love to transcribe the conversations, but let's just say the death of UK industry is sometimes no surprise).
This weekend I'll be selling some of the quality seconds beneath the Westway at Great Western's Open Studio event. The remaining stock proper will be available at Elphick's or via us online soon. This cat was set to be our next figurine but we only got as far as the prototype. I'd really love a kiln... but where to put it?
Christmas Open Studios 2011, Great Western Studios 65 Alfred Road, London W2 5EU Sat 3rd & Sun 4th December, 12 noon - 6pm both days Café open both days, Admission free
Barcelona based illustrator Kavel Rafferty often makes sketches in series, finding meaning through difference, repetition and the accumulation of objects. While shoes, records, cranes and signage are all charmingly collated and catalogued in her work, it's the images of childhood and nostalgia that are somehow more telling.
Freud would reckon on the collector's indexical drive arising from the need to find order in chaos, abate the passage of time and guard against loss. Or maybe collecting stuff is just good ol' geeky fun. Either way, you can decide for yourself as Kavel spreads her archive fever to East London, curating an exhibition of Risographic prints by collectors, artists, photographers and designers at East London's Mill Co. Project. With all the work up for grabs, they may start collecting your pennies too!
• Images courtesy of another of Kavel's exhaustive side projects, Record Envelope. Collectionistas, 26 Nov, 12 noon-7pm The Mill Co. Project, Lime Wharf Vyner Street, London E2
Ladybirds are something I'd usually associate with high-summer but it's been a bumper year for these beguiling little bugs and they're still hanging around now, thrown into relief on the black wood of our garden studio, deep into November.
• Illustrations are by Ed Emberley from Judy Hawes' embarrassingly good Ladybird, Ladybird, Fly Away Home (Adam & Charles Black, London, 1967/1970)
Around this time of year I just can't help thinking of Josef Sudek's spectacularly miserable mid-1950s studies, 'From the Window of my Studio'. Maybe that's why I'm especially happy taking a working break this weekend and joining the irrepressible Alice Tait alongside another 30-odd vendors at the Hampstead Holiday Market. If you're the tombola type, find raffles just-the-ticket or are simply in the market for some bargains... come along!
12 noon until 5pm Saturday 12 November 2011 Rosslyn Hill Unitarian Chapel Hampstead High Street, London
There's no such thing as a bad stockist, some fire-off automated orders while others become friends, some places I've known for years while others I'll likely never visit. One place I'd love to go is also our latest stockist, The VitraHaus shop of the Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein.
Depending on how you view it, Vitra Campus is either the Disneyland of architectural design or a town planner's nightmare: with a Buckminster Fuller dome; Jean Prouvé petrol station; Zaha Hadid fire station; Jasper Morrison bus shelter and Nicholas Grimshaw factory, but no Waitrose.
Showing recently at the gallery annexe of the Vitra Design Museum was the enamel work of Post Modern polymath, Ettore Sottsass. Vitra Campus is also, curiously, the resting place of the original Eames office. Now, ready to book that trip?
• VitraHaus, Herzog & de Meuron, 2006
• Vitra Design Museum, Frank Gehry, 1989
• Ettore Sottsass, Enamelled copper vases on wooden bases
In the city I never needed an alarm clock, of course I had one but the neighbourhood noise would usually get me first. These days I need a battery of them and they'll all need changing come Sunday when BST (British Summer Time) or DST (Daylight Saving Time) ends and the clocks go back. Here ends the public service announcement.
Popped into Hauser & Wirth, Piccadilly, to see Phyllida Barlow's RIG last week. Always an interesting space to visit with those beautiful oval and circular windows in the stairwell but, for me, the show's strongest pieces glower in the gloom of the gallery's basement bank vault.
One season is certainly insufficient for transformation into domestic gods and goddesses. I'm used to toil on the allotment so the unchecked plenitude of fruit trees was overwhelming. Too busy to bake, most of the apples rotted on the ground and gave my guilt a vinegary piquance.
With 10 thousand of the UK's 61.838 million living in Ludlow, chances are you'll not be in Shropshire's beautiful market town this coming month. But, if you are, don't be surprised to feel the effects of some Unplanned Magic as Kate Gibb and Marcus Walters get together for twinned exhibitions at dual venues, Black Bough and Material.
Unplanned Magic, 8th Oct-5th Nov Black Bough, 2 Market Street, Ludlow SY8 1BP Material, 131 Corve Street, Ludlow SY8 2PG
Not only have the folk at Poundshop launched their online pop-up shop (i.e. it ain't there forever), during London Design Week they'll be filling a physical space with retail goodies too. Divided into £1, £5 and £10 categories from a host of top designers (including yours truly in the 'Liberty Picks'), it's worth braving the British weather for.
Alma Showroom 12-14 Greatorex Street London E1 5NF 16th-19th Sept, 12-6pm
Trade fairs tend not to be the most exciting venues but this week's Top Drawer came pretty close to fun; catching up with our favourite stockists and making a few friends. Our new print was well received too, especially by cat-crazy folk like the excellent illustrator, Helen Hancocks (evidenced below). Thanks to everyone who dropped by!
Forget hibernation, they'll bearly be time for a sandwich this weekend as we prepare for Top Drawer Autumn trade fair. Do come and visit if you can bear it, but look out for your lunch... hard work makes us extra-hungry!
Top Drawer Autumn/Winter 11-13 Sep 2011 Olympia Hammersmith Road London W14 8UX
Last week the British Library got in touch for a small biog, something to differentiate this Lisa Jones from all the others catalogued in their system. Seems they have copies of the books we illustrated for Joanna Skipwith's Silver Jungle, I Choose You! and I'd Chew You!
Above is a cheesy spread that never matured to selection.
Better than finding folding cash in an old coat pocket, searching for something unrelated this week I turned up a discarded illustration. Clearly dissatisfied with this fella when I filed him away, I'm quite keen now... mix some inks and tweak some colours and I may even have a new card design!
Seeing press shots of the post-riot clean-up campaign in London this week, it was great to see the broom brandished by crowds as symbol of repair and weapon of resistance against further social decay. I'm put in mind of the arch social sculptor himself, Joseph Beuys.
• Joseph Beuys, Silberbesen und Besen ohne Haare (Silver Broom and Brush with no Hair), 1972
• Joseph Beuys, Ausfegen (Sweeping Up), 1972
Topographically speaking Hackney Wick is no island, though, sandwiched between the A12 and the River Lea, it often feels like one. This week we finalised our tactical retreat from London and broke down the print studio... just as everybody else was setting up the weekend's Hackney WickED Festival. We've met more great people in the final few weeks than we did during the two years prior, making it especially difficult to leave. Occasionally popping to the Pearl for refreshments, we picked up some free papers as keepsakes. Issue 1 of The Hackney Wick skits on the vagaries of the area with cultural assessment from Iain Sinclair and local teens alike. The Cut is part of a broader project which takes an archival approach in mapping the area's socio-economic history (including Speedway, a few failed visions for the future and, ironically, Class War's resistance to gentrification) while simultaneously putting paid to the notion that successive generations obliterate the memory of their forebears.
You don't need to visit a museum to see the way humans invest objects with symbolic currency. An incorrigible hoarder, I've lately tried to penetrate layers of sentiment and see the useless tat beneath. The process puts me in mind of a 36-panel Chris Ware piece which tells the episodic, cyclical tale of a table lamp.
In the 18th century a literary style sprang up around this approach to objecthood, called It-Narratives. Anthropomorphic versions of these narratives tell the fiction "from the perspective of the objects themselves, others use them as hubs around which other characters’ stories are spun.".
• Chris Ware, Acme Novelty Library #2, summer 1994