Fire mantle before & after

When we moved into our house a few years ago the lounge room had an original fire mantle in front of a boarded-up fireplace. As part of our on-going house renovations we decided to try and restore the fire mantle....
Fire mantle - before
First of all we stripped it all back to reveal the original timber, and gave it a really good sand and polish. Although it looked lovely after stripping it back sadly it no longer went with the rest of the room post reno's (especially since we opened up the original fireplace). Instead of getting rid of it we decided not to waste our hard work but to find other uses for it....
Fire mantle - after

Part of the mantle legs created a wide shelf in the exposed fireplace, we knocked out the centre panel and replaced the wood backing with mirror to create a mirror in our hallway, and finally we used the top of the mantle to create a shelf above the old stove in our kitchen!

It's lovely to be able to re-use something that was originally part of the house and recycle into 'new' furniture.

Beryl Cook's 'New York'

Another trip to the charity shops yeilded a great purchase of this book by fantastic British painter Beryl Cook in fabulous condition! Beryl Cook's 'New York' depicts everyday people, scenes and daily life she witnessed in New York during a holiday in 1983 - all painted in her trademark humerous and flamboyant style.

'Tango' detail

Beryl's paintings always bring a smile to my face, it's the mix of her always larger-than-life and buxom characters, and her ability to capture everyday encounters of ordinary people in such an amusing manner!

'Lunch in the Gardens' - detail

Beryl has been quoted saying 'I don't know how my pictures happen, they just do. They exist, but for the life of me I can't explain them'.

However she created them I think they are wonderful and love how she captures the British sense of humour perfectly through these naive and quirky paintings, with a great eye for capturing the humour in everyday life of ordinary people.

I can't seem to find the New York book for sale on-line as a new copy, but you can buy 'The World of Beryl Cook' and other titles (inc used versions) here.

Wood engraving & lino prints

Whilst much of my own artwork is painterly and spontaneous, I'm often drawn to quite graphic and 'structured' work with a particular fondness for hand-printed woodblock and linoprints.

Angie Lewin
'Moonlit Loch' (t)
'Scarista' (m)
'Moonlight' detail (b)
Richard Bawden 'Sasha'
Robert Tavener

I like the graphic nature of the prints, but also like that the prints retain drawn qualities and imperfections evident of a hand-made process.

These are some cards I've collected featuring the gorgeous work of English printmakers Angie Lewin, Richard Bawden and Robert Tavener.


I've made it a new years resolution to get back into sketching, drawing and painting on a more regular basis - and I've been feeling inspired now I have lots of colourful and patterned vintage china and kitcheny things around me.

I'm trying not to think too much about what I'm painting, but just to 'let go' and get back into the swing of drawing in a more expressive manner.

I find it takes me a while to losen up, and not make everything too perfect or 'finished'. Often the design / illustration work I'm commissioned to produce requires for more realistic artwork, so with these sketches I'm doing just for me I want to get back to not worrying about how realisitc the drawings are and just have some fun with painting.

The sketches seen here are a mix of watercolours, line and wash, quink ink and gouache.

Little golden books (part 2) - Scuffy the Tugboat

Following on from my little profile on 'Tootle' I wanted to share another favourite second-hand Little Golden Book story that i picked up recently - 'Scuffy The Tugboat'. It was so lovely to revisit the story of Scuffy and the adorable naive illustrations - which I can remember so clearly from my childhood!
Scuffy is the story about a toy tugboat in a toy shop, who wishes for "bigger things" than sailing in the owners bathtub. So the toystore owner (the man who wears a polkadot tie) and his son take Scuffy to a small brook in a pasture, and soon the current carries him away. At first Scuffy is happy on his adventure - but very soon the brook turns into a stream, which turns into a river heading out to sea.

Just as he is about to sailout into the ocean he is rescued by the man in the polkadot tie and is happy to be returned to the bathtub!

The books is written and illustrated by the same people who wrote and illustreated Tootle and was originally published in 1946

UK shipment of china!

I had the best Christmas present arrive on Christmas eve - the shipment of china and books that I picked up from the UK last September! As usual everything was picked up from second-hand shops and local markets (mainly in London and in Bristol) - and I am constantly amazed at what is being thrown out!
The gorgeous turquoise and olive coffee pot, sugar bowl and creamer is a G&J Meakin featuring their popular Studio shape (introduced in the mid 1960's) I just love the tall elegant shape - it's timeless!

The teapot (top) with the large rose pattern I don't know anything about as there is no backstamp - but I just loved the unusual diamond shape to the body and triangular handle. These strong angular shapes are a perfect contrast to the traditional rose pattern.

The teacup and plate trio (left) is a Midwinter design on their fashion shape and I picked this up from the fabulous Spitalfields market in the East End of London.

I am hoping to start drawing and painting some of these soon as well as making some new wall-plates!

New Year ponderings....

6pm New Years Eve - a lovely way to see out 2009 at our favourite beach
7pm New Years Eve
7.30pm New Years Eve

Well, here we are in 2010.

A new decade and I’m wondering what the next year - and next decade will have in store.... The last decade saw me move half way around the world to make the transition from home in England to home in Australia.

And last year I made the big (and maybe crazy) decision to leave my job to try and make a living running my own business being creative.

2010 has a lot to live up to! I’m currently sitting here trying to get organised with what to focus on for the next few months..... I’m sure it’s a common problem for creative people, but I find I have so many projects I want to work on – that I just don’t know what to prioritise! I like having several things to work on at any one time, but this can also be frustrating as I don’t achieve anything because I have too many jumbled ideas.

So, I’m starting my new year putting some key goals and plans in place to remind myself what it is I’m working towards.....oh and of course a never ending list of ideas, projects and new things to work on!!