Thursday, 8 October 2015

What Autumn means to me...

I thought I'd share a little post about what Autumn means to me, and the things I'd like to add to my home and life when the weather turns and the days get shorter....

I always get a bit melancholy this time of year...I find that my energy levels drops and the high octane full throttle creativity that defines my summer routines ebbs a bit..
In the words of one of my favorite singer's Ane Brun...maybe I'm just "too Scandinavian".

So I tend to revel a bit in the ascending darkness of Autumn, and instead of fighting it, this year I'd like to surround my self with cosyness...or "hygge" as the Danish say!

Being Norwegian, I like to live with the mantra: "There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothes" although it may be getting wet and windy outside, I'll still brave the elements and head outdoors:

Wellies, waterproofs and woolly jumpers at the ready...

Makes it all the more nicer when you finally get inside, shivering, wet and cheeks red from the blistering rain.....

Experience has taught me that nothing clears my melancholy head like a brisk walk...

In Norway they have a therm for people who like to enjoy life to the max: "Livs nyter" (:leaves neeter), and I recently realized that I am a "livs nyter" trapped in a workaholic's body....
This Autumn I am planning on working on this, and start living the life I actually want...
So I welcome Autumn, with all it's melancholy and darkness: This time I'll be ready!!

There is beauty and joy to be found in all seasons...and on cold, clear Autumn evenings, I'd love to spend some time in the garden , lighting the fire pit and using the storm kettle to boil up water for a cowboy brew in my Chemex, cuddling up on my sheepskin covered garden chair with Little Miss Moo , trying to spot bats flying around in the dark, eating freshly baked cinnamon muffins....these are the things memories are made of...

So, here's a few of my outdoors Autumn essentials:

Hunter wellies, rain coat and a back pack for Autumnal countryside walks....
And Outdoor party lightsstorm kettleSheepskin and firepit for cosy evenings outdoors.

I find that the chilly darkness of Autumn is tangible to my senses, preparing me for the even darker winter months ahead...and I hope that actually acknowledging these changes in me ,will help me find a comfort and happiness in a way that only Autumn can...

And that spending time outdoors, will  me appreciate all the more the comfy confinements of our home...

So I am stocking up on Blankets and throws...

...candles and books..

To set the mood for cosy evenings spent with music and a warm cup of Chai Latte...(or wine..LOL)...

I would love one of these Cashmere throws to snuggle up in with one of my favorite authors' Frode Grytten's book "The shadow in the river" ...Sipping a cup of homemade chai latte on a stormy Autumn evening, by the soft glow of traditionally handmade bees wax church candles from Watts and co...pulling on some slipper socks before heading to a bed with freshly washed sheets...

Then waking up on a blustering Autumnal Sunday morning, drinking copious amounts of fresh coffee and reading in bed for hours...

But the truth is, it doesn't always pan out like that, and I very rarely find the time to live this idyllic life I set myself up for....but at least I'm all set should the moment arrive and I should ever get an opportunity to spend a day in bed...

Autumn...I'm ready!

Tuesday, 6 October 2015


Jessalli Handmade Homewares
When I was invited to attend the Handmade Fair, I was in two minds about going...I've always thought that this was a little too twee for my liking, but I was also curious to see what it was like.
As it was a beautiful and sunny day, I made my way down to Hampton Court green two Sundays ago, and actually I was pleasantly surprised with the wast array of things on show....and not everything was twee:

Like this wire art from Lucy Elizabeth...definitely NOT twee!

....These colorful and funky storage baskets from the basket room...

...These fun and funky printed tea-towels by Ben Rothery illustrator....

And these macrame plant hangers from my favorite stand at the fair: Geo Fleur:

I loved their little geometric planters and terrariums as well...

And these beautiful handcrafted blankets from Felin Fach made from locally sourced rare-breed wool caught my eye....

Of course, it being the Handmade fair and all, there was also a lot of craft supply stalls....and I felt inspired by the sights of the vast array of fabrics, tools and craft supplies on offer:

Like these tactile spools of hand spun yarn by Blacker Yarns....

...These geometric hand printed Ola Oli fabrics from Maud's Fabric Finds....

...and this tray full of shiny sharp scissors by Ernest Wright

And there was also a wast array of DIY kits in various shapes and forms...

This funky little fellow from The Toft alpaca shop being my favorite! Isn't he just so cool??

There were lots to see, including workshops and talks, but I only managed to squeeze in  One before I made my way home to spend the rest of the Sunday with my daughter:

And I am so happy I caught Lindsey James from Photocraft's talk on styling and photographing products, as I found her advise both down to earth and very informative:

In short, here's her top 10 tips for styling and photographing products:

1: Always use a camera tripod
2: First decide the angle of view of the product, then set the scene around the shot.
3:  Use mobile backdrops to fake the background environment to suit the product.
4: Photograph near the window with the natural light coming in from behind or to the side of the product.
5: Level Up. Make sure any horizontal lines are straight and Don't get too close with your camera, but  stand back and zoom in instead.
6: Only add Relevant props to set the scene: Start with the main item, then feed in props to fill in the frame as you see it through the lens, building the scene through the lens. Add props that show off the scale of your product and that has different them so they "point" to the main object.
7: Turn off all artificial lights in the room and set your camera to Auto white balance.
8: Use a sheet of white card to reflect light from the opposite side of the light source to make your shot "come alive".
9: Clean the lens.
10: Just shoot, experiment and have fun with it....your skills will get better with practice. 

I'm sure you'll all agree, this is sound advice from someone who is renowned for creating beautiful commercial photography.
Lindsay James runs styling and photography e-courses for bloggers and people who make and sell lovely things....and I may treat myself to one very soon (as, I'm not afraid to say: this is one of the skills I know I really need to work on)...or put it on my Christmas wishlist!
(OMG...I said the C-word....)

Anyway...short and sweet today...I'll be back with a post about my essential Autumn life updates later this week...and finally next week, I 'll be reporting fro Design Junction!

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Mindfulness for creativity...

A little more than a book review

About a month ago I was contacted by the publishers of Dr. Danny Penman's new book, Mindfulness for creativity and asked if I'd be interested in writing a review of the book, I thought "Yes" that sounds like a book I'd like to read: 
A book that was especially written to help enhance creativity and improving decision making and happiness at work and home, sounded like it would be exactly what I needed, after what has been a very challenging year for me personally....

But I must admit: I struggled getting into this book at first...found the language difficult and repetitive, and the concept of using breathing techniques and meditation to improve creativity both far fetched and alien....

Still, I persevered, and although, cynical as I am, I'm still not convinced about the benefits of the meditation exercises described in the book, on creativity and productivity
....however the author described some situations that I could really relate to, like my seemingly inability to live in the present...always dwelling on the past or planning for the future....

And I've embraced the "habit releaser" exercises from the book: Making small and regular changes to my routine, to break up my habits and make more time to appreciate the here and now....

Taking the time to go for a walk, somewhere new, appreciate my surroundings and appreciate my senses and take note of my feelings...

And, I've found that giving my mind these little breathing spaces, has, like Dr. Penman states: "given me clarity of thought" and "anchored my awareness"...making me more aware of the purposes of my daily life and in turn, helped me open up to new opportunities and ideas...

Little exercises, like THE COFFEE MEDITATION, where you are encouraged to take the time to truly focus on the experience of something as simple as making and drinking a cup of coffee: Making a mental note of the smells and tastes and sensations involved, also appealed to me.... taking such an everyday experience and elevating it to a sensory revelation, not only seemed manageable, but also felt grounded enough for the cynic in me to take on board...

And applying this mindset to more of my daily tasks has made me more focused on what I am actually doing, not just going through the motions of getting things done...

I may not be ready, at this moment in time, to truly embrace the level of mindfulness that this book is trying to teach, but no doubt, it's got me thinking more about the benefits of being more present in the moment and sometimes slowing down to truly appreciate life...

And as for boosting my creativity, I concur with the authors sentiment that hushing down the "noise in my mind", the endless rotation of thoughts and planning that seems to occupy my mental state at all times, would be beneficial to allowing new ideas and thus creativity to blossom:

"To be truly creative you need to master 3 skills: Firstly you need an open and disciplined mind that can gather and then integrate new ideas and information....Secondly , you need to actually notice new ideas as they emerge from the noisy background of your mind....thirdly, you need the courage to follow your ideas wherever they should lead and the resilience to cope with the inevitable setbacks and criticism."

If anything, this book has at the very least made me aware of how I am , on a daily basis, sabotaging my creative life, by being too busy to listen out for the new ideas, that a simple walk in the woods and living in the moment can reveal....

So, maybe I will give Dr. Penman's meditation and breathing exercises another chance...and if you are a little less cynical than me, you may find this book a big help in managing the everyday stresses and boosting your creativity...
It's worth a try? No?

Mindfulness for creativity, "how to adapt, create and thrive in a frantic world" by Dr. Danny Penman is out tomorrow , for sale in all good bookshops.

Thursday, 24 September 2015



We have all seen the iconic picture of little Aylan (3) on a beach in Turkey. Photographer Nilufer Demir made a statement by choosing to capture this sad sight...And it changed everything!!,
Suddenly the world realized the humanity of the desperate situation these Refugee's are in and the consequences of the war and it's subsequent crisis happening RIGHT NOW all over Europe!
Where are these people supposed to go?
Or in the words of Aylan's father:

I am not usually one to get involved with politics and I have never before posted about such matters here on Nostalgiecat....But I have been hinting at this for the last couple of weeks, as this is a project very close to my heart, and will probably be THE most important project I will ever do:

In the municipalities of Fjell and Sund in  Norway, where I am from, the response to the refugee crisis in Syria and the surrounding areas has been overwhelming. 
So head of culture in Fjell, Lennart Fjell set up an initiative to raise money to help the refugees through this most difficult time: Using our privileged cultural resources, like music and Art...
Or, like he put's it: 
" using the power of culture to make a difference"

WHAT WILL THE WORLD DO NOW is an initiative to help the victims of the current refugee crisis all over Europe. We are organizing concerts and Art exhibitions with auctions, to raise money for THE RED CROSS and the NORWEGIAN REFUGEE COUNCIL to help with the practical aid they are providing in the affected areas...and we hope to encourage others to follow our example. We urge you to give a concert, organize an auction of art or set up a play at your local theater. 
Create the feeling of community, solidarity and join us in funding different refugee-organizations dealing with this catastrophe!

This is a way that YOU can make a difference - wherever you are! Culture knows no limits, and culture is powerful!

Caricature drawing especially made for WHAT WILL THE WORLD DO NOW 
   by the world renowned caricature artist Hani Abbas.
Regardless of your views on the matter of immigration, this is surely not a political issue, but a matter of compassion and solidarity .
We're all part of the greater community of planet earth, and surely, if we can, we should help those who have fallen on hard is a matter of morality!

These people are fleeing from war, conflict and poverty ,their lives are in danger and they have lost everything...their only hope for survival and a future for their children is to escape . On a daily basis more than 5000 people risk their lives to cross the Mediterranean to the safety of Europe.
The journey is treacherous, and , as we all sadly know, not everybody makes it, and the ones that do HAVE NOTHING!

Organisations, like The Red Cross is working hard to provide practical assistance in the places where the ones lucky enough to make it end up... They are working with the various governments in the nearest countries to set up shelters the refugees can stay in and to better the facilities and conditions in the temporary refugee camps. They provide much needed psychological help for the people as well as help them reconnect with lost family members etc.
They're present all over Europe, providing vital medical Aid, medicines and hygiene essentials , water and food, clothes and blankets, baby equipment and care for the pregnant, elderly and ill or injured.
Without this help, these people, that have already been through so much, would not survive.

So here's how I've been getting involved with WHAT WILL THE WORLD DO NOW:
I have been working hard these last few weeks contacting Designers and Artists, asking them to donate some work for the Auction...and the response has been fantastic:
So today I want to showcase some of the art and design, the makers themselves have so generously donated to the cause:



Large Chunky handknitted cushion by Aphelia Opus in Limited edition colors: Grey and mustard
100% UK grown Cheviot wool
Hand dyed
Aphelia Opus is a contemporary new designer based in Northumberland, UK, who uses locally sourced wool, that is custom hand dyed, then hand knitted using giant knitting needles. 
Their current collection is all about geometrics.


Ruby Lewis strives to capture the universal and emotional connections to landscape that are embedded within our memories. To create a feeling of nostalgia and escape. A seductive reminiscence and metamorphosis of imagined landscapes and forgotten memories.
She mostly paints using oil on gesso panel, a surface that has been used for hundreds of years. 
Ruby Lewis studied at Chelsea College of Art and went on to exhibit in London, Hertfordshire, Oxford, Sicily and Barcelona. Has a passion for landscape and it's changing forms. Often find inspiration by taking long walks and just breathing in the beauty, colour and rawness of nature.


"MARIE" art print
"Josephine" art print
"Gaston" art print
Philippe Debongnie is a Belgium Illustrator and artist. 
He love depicting the human shapes an humanity in a nostalgic way.
These prints are from his current project called THE FAMILY, where he's exploring the diversity of the human family, by blurring the lines of reality and fantasy: Making the viewer question: What's old, what's real and what's added? You have the old photographs, the prints and patterns, the colours and the animal heads...the artwork is meant to confuse in an endearing way.


Design: Warwick Red sky, digitally printed on 100% Organic cotton.
Lorna Syson is a pattern designer and printmaker that makes high quality home wares, from cushions to wall papers.She is inspired by Nostalgic memories of the UK nature and countryside..


Signed and numbered limited edition of 100, hand pulled screen print in pale blue , entitled "THE THIRD PHASE" by Two for Joy
"Taking inspiration from looking at the past, appreciating the present and looking towards the future."
Two for Joy is a paper cut artist and illustrator that dreams up charming stories, full of magic and adventure, for each of her creations.


 SPOT NECKLACE and bracelet set, acrylics and metal
A selection of acrylic spots in 2cm 
Inspired by Damian Hirsts spot paintings -share 'the joy of colour' - wear spots! 
This piece fits snugly round the neck sitting on ones clavicles.
Esa Evans is the designer and founder of Lady Muck of Whitstable, creating high-quality hand-made jewelry and accessories from her seaside studio on the North Kent coast. Esa studied Fine Art from Sheffield Hallam University.
Her fun an quirky designs, made from lazer cut, enameled metals or acrylics , add an exciting edge to day- as well as evening wear.


This is a one of a kind A/P artist proof print, in Olive green and copper.
Pulled screen print on 300gsm metallic art paper with 2 x varnishes, signed stamped and numbered.
Entitled "Beautiful world" it is an extension of Schoony's most iconic life cast sculpture “Boy Soldier” first unveiled outside the houses of parliament as an anti-war protest, is now a household name, featured in Hollywood blockbusters and collected internationally...
Schoony is a multi-talented urban artist whose unique aesthetic and technical brilliance has brought the art world by storm. His Hyperrealist sculptures question war, mortality and contemporary society.Schoony’s works has been exhibited widely throughout Europe and the US; he has permanent representation from the Guy Hepner Gallery in NY and from the Unit Gallery London. His work has won him critical acclaim from the Times, The Independent and ArtNet News, he is also featured on Artsy.


"Mr Jackdoor sits patiently on his base when not in use but can be tipped up in the flap of a wing to become a handy door wedge. The simple abstract bird shape is toy-like yet engaging, so people won’t want to hide him away even when not being used! Made on the Isle of Wight with ethically sourced beech and finished with beeswax polish from Mary Case - a renowned local beekeeper."
Espergaerde is a back catalog of projects by Philip Crewe, a London based designer/maker who spends his time peppering the world with curious things.

And lastly, my contributions to the Auction:


Medium handcast concrete bowl with copper leaf
Trio of Origami handcast concrete candlesticks with copper
I make rough and decorative, handcast, concrete home accessories.
 I use a variety of techniques, including origami, and love working with mixed materials. Each piece is individually made and unique.
My latest collection is juxtaposing the roughness of the concrete with the opulence of metallics.

This is just a fraction of what we've so far managed to get artist, designers and makers to donate to WHAT WILL THE WORLD DO NOW, and my colleagues in Norway has been working hard to set up 2 concerts and an exhibition featuring artwork from both Norway and the UK, with a simultaneous Live auction of all these donations , happening next week.
I am flying out to Norway on Tuesday morning with all the donations from here in the UK, so they can be featured in the exhibition and on big screens during the concerts, and all the proceeds from both ticket-sales for the concerts and what we manage to raise during the auction will go towards the cost of the RED CROSS's aid efforts around Europe.

We are painfully aware that this does not solve the problem about where these people should go, but whilst the European countries try to come up with a solution to this, the money we raise will help improve the living conditions in the temporary refugee camps and provide much needed practical help on the front line of this Crisis.

Without this help, these people, that have already been through so much, will have a very bleak future, and some may not survive.

If you can, do something to help....get creative: Let's start a movement...Lets show the world that humanity is still alive and that we are all in this together....
...Let's show everybody WHAT THE WORLD WILL DO NOW!

We are hoping to extend our efforts to help, by setting up a global online auction site for art and design, directly donated by the makers themselves....But this is still in very early planning stages, so I will keep you updated if we can make this the mean time, please support our efforts by following and sharing the
hashtag, and hopefully you, and many more will feel inspired to create your own cultural events to help raise money for people in crisis!

Or, you can donate money directly to the red cross to help fund their Aid resources here(the page is in Norwegian, but Google translate should fix you up, if needed)
and you will also find some great information about the work they do there.

Do it now - and make a difference!