I’ve fallen in love with the photography of Alex Prager. Self-taught through trial and error and operating as a one-woman show, styling and designing the sets, her photography is compelling and massively impressive. Influenced (clearly) by film (David Lynch and Alfred Hitchcock in particular) her images tell of mysterious tales and of beautiful and disturbed females. I was really fighting the urge to put all her images on here. She titles her photographs after names of girls, inviting us to get to know these beautiful creatures. Alex Prager has recently made a short film. You can view Despair here.
The highlight of Exhibition #3 at the Museum of Everything is Ted Willcox’s tapestries. This ex-serviceman learnt how to sew in hospital while recovering from injuries. He created embroideries of pin-up girls and his unique version of Alice in Wonderland. I highly recommend checking Exhibition #3 out. Other highlights were Walter Potter’s dioramas (love this) and Arthur Windley’s miniature funfair (which he turned on every morning in his garage).
I urge everyone to have an afternoon of discovery. The exhibition is on until Dec 24th.
For entertaining, Seletti has a robust offering of products in their World Map series. I love the placemats best. It is sold in packs of 50 with a selection of city maps from London, New York, Tokyo and Paris.
Seletii also has ceramic world map dinnerware for sale. The placemats remind me of these lovely wrapping paper sold in Magma which is probably the next best thing to wrap presents in after plain brown paper. I was in New York recently and the conversation at dinner turn towards maps. Liam mentioned a map on race and ethnicity in New York City he’d seen.
This led me to Frank Jacobs’ Strange Maps. I like the Gridding of London and the Nightclub Map of Harlem produced at the end of the Prohibition charting funtimes. Frank Jacobs has since been published and his book Strange Maps can be bought here
If my dreams were made of scarves, Lucy Jay’s scarves would easily furnish them. Her cool little collection of scarves named Bryan, Claire, Patrick, Irene and Lucy are anything but ordinary. The motifs are almost graphical analysis of Alejandro Jodorowsky’s films in eye-popping colours on silk.
The Patrick print is a bit of a cyclops. I love this and I find this amusing and wish more of my scarves had character. Lucy’s lookbook show you that her scarves aren’t just scarves. Check the number of ways you can tie these silk scarves.
The Lucy scarf makes a nice bandeau, perfect for the balmy days we’ve been experiencing in London.
My personal favourite. What a fabulous way with long tresses. Lucy Jay. She’s one to look out for. She’s a bit of a rising star and a lovely, lovely girl with an abundance of talent.
After what felt like months of traveling, I feel settled in London again. And what a wondeful time to be in London, with the sun out to play most days. I was very lucky to have been in Seoul for work recently. What is especially lucky about this is that Seoul is a city that doesn’t sleep. Good for after work exploring, bad for getting enough sleep.
Nonetheless in about ten days, these are my favourite things about this World Design Capital 2010 are (in no particular order):
I’d heard a lot of people say that Seoul is like what Tokyo used to be like. Having only been in Tokyo for a few hours, I know not if this is truth. I do know that I enjoyed the city. I found it challenging not being able to read the script and not being able to speak the language but I got around fairly easily and found that once Koreans knew you were lost and understood where you were supposed to be, they would take the trouble to take you to the right place. Even women in high heel shoes.
The strangest experience and definitely one to be had is to go to a traditional Korean spa and get a full body scrub by an ajumma. Trust me you will find it the most surreal experience ever.
My favourite hang out place was easily the AA Design Cafe. Part museum, part furniture shop and part cafe. Unfortunately for me, the museum was shut when I was there. I still managed to get a peek and checked out some of the chairs on display. Check out the photos from If It’s Hip, It’s Here. Look! Even the cappucino is a friendly crafty creature!
Coolest place to shop was A Land found in various parts of the city. It stocks A.P.C., vintage clothes, Korean designers and is a treasure trove of crazy accessories and more importantly the place that I first noticed Milimeter/Miligram, a wonderful design company. This is where I picked up my “watch” in all three colours (black, electric blue and pink). It tells the time the way I want it to: “It is not too late”. I went wild for all the products. The general vibe is not unlike Magma in the UK. Milimeter/Miligram is wonderful because it is humorous. I mean just look at these spacemen cards. Check their expressions out!
I can see why Seoul is Design Capital. Everywhere you go, it’s a feast for those who love all aspects of design. This is a bit of a lazy post. I really just wanted to share the wonderful world of Milimeter/Miligram with the world.
Let me introduce you to my faithful friend, a little man named Hank. He has been my travel companion in a bit of a journey, a scenic route from Milan to London. He is faceless, but he stuck with me all through this adventure. I wonder if he is faceless because sailors are the forgotten faces that passed through the ports.
I was in Milan for work. I left on Sunday night and was scheduled to be back on Thursday morning, straight into work. And then the sky produced a spectacular sunset and the volcanic ash cloud, a real black cloud covered the UK and quickly all over Europe changing the course I would take to head home.
Easyjet put me on a coach with some other passengers and we were taken to the magical Lago Maggiore, just outside Milan. During the hour long journey, I was in a queue to speak to Easyjet and to organise a new flight home. After the 3rd attempt I got through and was told that I could be put on a flight home the next evening. That’s when we arrived in Lago Maggiore. And it was breathtakingly beautiful.
I was torn. I did not know whether I was upset that I’d woken up at 5am to catch this early flight that had been cancelled or that this was an unexpected opportunity to see a new place and not be in the office! I had no idea where I was and it seem like nobody knew either. The scenery left me speechless.
So I decided to go with my natural holiday spirit and to drop the bags and sit in the sun, soaking in the scenery.
I checked into the Hotel Villa Carlotta. My room had a balcony and was lake-facing. Up to this point, I still had no idea where I was. Not having much geographical knowledge, I had to ask before I found out. I was more muddled about the name of the town because when I went out to explore that Thursday afternoon, I asked for a map and was given one for Stresa. So that’s where I thought we were. And it wasn’t until after not being able to find any of the roads or landmarks on the map that with more enquiries, I realised it was the little stretch called Belgirate.
I went in search for the attractions in the area. I found an old church on the top of the hill, resting higher than the train tracks. It was such a lovely day. The skies were blue and not a cloud in sight! By this time, I’d rearranged my plans and was now flying into Paris on Sunday and catching the first available Eurostar on Tuesday. I thought that I was going to be more than fine. I was giving myself two days to reach Paris should my flight end up being cancelled. So, on with this hill trek. I will find this church, I will enjoy this. I mean, what views! It’s the Swiss alps, check that snow out!
And by this church, a quiet cemetery. I thought to myself that this was not a bad place to rest in the afterlife.
I quickly found out that I’d covered the one major attraction. I was feeling a little bored and mainly anxious as this black cloud of ash looked like it was going to be more trouble than everyone had expected. I was glued to the news, waiting for updates constantly. I went for walks. And I found roses. I took photos.
Squint and you will see the Swiss alps, covered in snow like a cool icey dessert. Look at what’s in front of you. Without the rose-tinted glasses, reality hit me hard.
My flight to Paris was supposed to be on Sunday morning. On Saturday, I panicked. I even went a bit hysterical. I’d slept badly the last few nights because my sleep was fueled by nervous energy and my dreams, were anxiety driven. I had to go. I felt that I’d come under the spell of Lago Maggiore. The tranquility, a welcome break after being in Milan during the Salone was now turning eerie. I started to believe that if I did not make a run for it, I could end up living here forever.
I left. I went to Stresa and it was very pretty there too. But I’d broken the spell. I was no longer interested. I was single-minded. I wanted to survive. I wanted to be home. Both homes. I wanted to be back in London home and I also wanted to be back by Wednesday for my trip back to Malaysia.
After an unsuccessful Saturday evening of queuing up for over two hours in Centrale, only to be told by the unhelpful lady that all trains to Paris were booked until May and a dash to the bus terminal, only to find it as chaotic as the train station. Ticket holders were fighting with each other to get onto coaches.
I felt broken. I was in tears. I had had enough. I wanted to be back. Urged to stay calm, and with another night’s bad sleep, a new plan had been hatched. Guy had been thinking about it and thought that I was to find a way into France, Lyon perhaps. And make my way to Paris.
Sunday morning, I woke up at 6 something from worry. I headed to Centrale again. I queued for about an hour (easy, after the day before). This time I was told they could offer me Nice and that was it.
I went for it. I had a ticket in my hand and I felt hope. A tgv train ticket from Nice to Paris was booked online. My wonderful friend Jess booked it for me. So I was off to Nice and Jess used to live there. I immediately felt like I was closer to home. I could see the light and I should celebrate!
I celebrated with Nutella on the go! It’s the perfect trainride snack. There is ice-tea in one corner, breadsticks and nutella. I even found the Sunday papers. I was all set! I listened to some music. I felt relaxed enough to enjoy and my journey out of Milan was sountracked by Floating Points’ XLR8R podcast. I sat in a compartment with four other travelers. A man who was wearing double denim, which I’ve read is oh so fashionable. He wasn’t even trying to be fashionable. You knew he’d been dressing this way since his youth. He had travelled from Vienna and was making his way to Avignon; a mother and daughter going on holiday and would have normally taken the train and a lovely lady from Stuttgart. Crystal was jolly. She was also determined not to let the ash cloud ruin her holiday. She had friends to see! So she’d been traveling for over 20 hours and had a car journey ahead of her. She was tired but we were both excited as we got on the train from Vingtimilla to Nice.
I reached Nice at night, it was dark but the route was so scenic. The weather was beautiful, but I was on a train. I could see the sea and it made me happy. I had to collect my ticket and this took another hour of queuing in the train station. The next morning, I woke up early. I wanted to see a bit Nice, I wanted to see what it was all about.
It was sun, sea and stripes! I was wearing stripes! I had Hank with me! I felt good. I was in France and I had a ticket in my fist for the 1035 to Gare du Lyon. And I saw this:
And yes. It was all going to be fine. I am going to make my Eurostar on Tuesday morning. And Hank was still with me. I have been very lucky. I was not left camping in airports and I wasn’t going to be stranded for much longer. This adventure only made me realise,that not unlike thinking about where your sausages and bacon comes from, modern travel has made us forget the actual miles between places. It is not until you move around countries to get to your final destination that you can really understand and appreciate that the quote about traveling being about the journey and not the destination has a lot of truth in it.
So I came home the scenic route, I met some interesting people, I felt loneliness, craziness and excitement too. I am glad to be back in London and I miss the sight of the lake and sea. And to be honest I’ve always wanted to take the train across Europe. I find train journeys old fashioned and romantic. And for all the hassle, for all the worry, I have returned with a story to tell. That’s not a bad thing at all.
One lazy weekend afternoon in March, we headed into Soho to view Alice Anderson‘s exhibition, Time Reversal. Walking on Beak Street, you will be struck by the odd sight of seeing hair falling over the front of this building in Soho like a heavy curtain. Like a supersized, modern version Rapunzel-esque tale, this installation draws you in.
Inside 1000s of metres of dolls’ hair shoot out from the fireplace and fill the room. The auburn hair catches the sunlight beautifully and you will end up standing and staring at this web of hair and admiring how beautiful and golden it looks in the sun.
It makes for a slightly eerie, and most definitely captivating sight. Like a freak show, you are invited to see the rest of the exhibition for a pound. Upstairs there are various sculptures featuring a doll theme and creep downstairs you can watch the 9 minute film which is part of the exhibition, The Day I Became A Doll.
For me, the exhibition’s biggest draw was the hair installation. The film with its references to gothic horror (which I love) and a study on the mother-daughter relationship, was a bit contrived. This exhibition runs until 24th April so catch it in the Riflemaker Gallery before it ends. Believe me, it makes a nice escape from the madness of the city centre being in a room of hair.
Speaking of escaping, I went to Kensington Palace for the Enchanted Palace exhibition. Drawn by its poster and by the designers involved including Vivienne Westwood, Boudicca and Stephen Jones, I took a bite. A poisoned apple it wasn’t, but it was slightly disappointing. Mainly because with magical fairytales, it is easy for the imagination to take over and reality, even with the help of digital projections and theater sets, will never match that of the mind!
Having said that, there were quite a few things I loved in the exhibition. The tear jars on display were magnificent and I left lusting after jewel-encrusted apple headband and the paper dress by Echo Morgan in the Room of the World
Photos below are via Style Bubble as photography was not allowed in the exhibition.
It still made for a fun afternoon which ended with a berry meringue served with thick cream and fresh berries in The Orangery.
London. I love how it’s so easy to disappear into a modern day fairytale here.