Tag Archives: books

#BEDM Day 12: Collecting

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I am a hoarder. And a shopaholic. I love the finer things in life, pretty things, things that make me smile. My house is full of these things…it is actually an ongoing struggle to keep it reasonably ordered and even then, I often fail miserably! I’d love to have a beautifully minimalistic, modern Scandinavian aesthetic but I love pretty objects too much!

1. Books
I have 4 big bookshelves filled to the brim (plus another smaller one in my bedroom and a makeshift number housing my collection of cookbooks). I’ll read anything, as long as it catches my interest in some way – biographies of Marilyn Monroe, modern and post-cultural-revolution Chinese fiction, Scandinavian thrillers, horror, noir, retro cookbooks, novels set in pre-Haussmann Paris, the life and times of such historic figures as Josephine Bonaparte and Madame Tussaud…anything goes! If I had my way, I would have a home library complete with reading ‘nook’, where I imagine my prized Eames lounge chair would sit.

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2. Tea pots

Now this is a strange one for me, as I so rarely drink tea! I do adore a well turned out teapot though, anything from a traditional Japanese number worthy of a tea ceremony, quirky Alice in Wonderland inspired pots to minimalist Scandinavian curvaceous styles. Maybe it’s my Alice in Wonderland obsession but I love the look and feel of a beautiful tea pot…though seldom for holding tea!

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Note: these are not tea pots I own, but just beautiful tea pots I like the look of!

3. Design ‘porn’ books
I am a total design geek, anyone I meet gets this within moments of meeting me. I walk into the Conran Shop, Heals, Skandium, Republic of Fritz Hansen and the first thing I do is make a beeline for the design books. Not only do I love to see beautiful examples of lighting, furniture and product design ‘in the flesh’, but I’m also fascinated by the processes the designer went through to achieve the finished piece. I have an entire bookshelf devoted to design books, which can get a bit…pricy! I do console myself with the knowledge I’m building up a gorgeous library that I’ll love for years to come.

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4. Art
If I were rich and famous, my house would resemble an art gallery. Seriously, if I could afford it I’d have a home full of beautiful paintings and stunning sculptures! I wouldn’t say there’s a particular style I’m fixated on, though I’ve always been impressed by the symbolism behind Dutch realism and the freedom and open composition of impressionistic works. My favourite artists are Wilhelm Hammershoi (a Danish realist), Berthe Morisot (a rare female impressioniste), and the sculptress Camille Claudel (whose poignant bronze cast, L’Age mûr , is one of my favourite works of sculpture to this day). As far as more modern works go, I’m a huge fan of the use of light…not surprising from an aspiring lighting designer! I am lucky enough to own paintings by the super talented Canadian artist Emma Hesse (the one I have isn’t the one shown, but in the same series entitled ‘Slipstream’

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…and this one by the absolutely wonderful glaswegian artist Jackie Anderson, who uses a delicate transparent wash technique giving an ethereal quality to her work. I bought this painting, entitled ‘Ruth, waiting’ (detail only shown) when I first moved to Edinburgh. I hadn’t bought my flat yet at this point, lived in a tiny shared rental apartment with nowhere to hang it…but I loved it so much I kept it wrapped in storage until I had somewhere to display it! Isn’t it beautiful?!

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Her other works also show this stunning, almost other-worldly, ghostly quality to her figures which I’ve not seen in any other artist’s work! The subject matter may be ‘ordinary’ but few execution certainly is not.

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A few years ago I was fortunate enough to meet a very young but incredibly talented ceramic artist named Lauren Blakey at the One of a Kind Show at Exhibition Place in Toronto. Her work wasn’t the only art I picked up at the show, but I was so impressed (and disappointed I wasn’t able to bring more of her ‘cubes’ home in my already overflowing suitcase) that I emailed her the very next day to tell her how much I loved her work. She is inspired by nature, organic shapes, and the beauty in the unexpected (I believe one thing she’s referenced is the form and structure of seaweed). One day I will have a whole wall devoted to Lauren’s ‘cubes’!

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This next artist is one I’ve admired for years but have yet to own one of her works. I actually Claire Duguid
her in a local cocktail bar by chance, got to chatting to her before realising who she was! So talented, and a local Edinburgh lass. Her self portraits are to die for and her use of various lighting effects is unbelievable!

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I believe what you are drawn to collect shows so much about your personality. My ‘collections’ tell so much about me… 🙂

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Review: ‘Every last one’ (Anna Quindlen)

I have just finished reading a slew of Very Good Books recently.  The kind that I lose sleep over, staying up until silly o’clock to finish just one more chapter.  Lisa See’s “Dreams of Joy” and its prequel “Shanghai Girls” had me in tears.  Kristen Hannah’s “Night Road” was heartbreaking and impossible to put down.  I have a huge TBR pile, and last week I picked this little number up.

I felt in the mood for something with a plot, something fiction.  To be honest I was looking for something a bit more lighthearted, which this book is not. The narrative centers around Mary Beth Latham, a suburban housewife and mother of three teenagers.  On the surface things seem peachy…Mary Beth owns and runs a successful landscape gardensing company; she has a loving husband, twin teenaged boys, and a daughter about to go off to university.

To begin with, the plotline is reminiscent of Kirsten Hannah’s “Night Road”.  By the end of that book, I found it quite painful to read, because I knew the outcome.  I found myself still awake at 3am unable to put it down.  In some parts the plot was confusing – the author leads us to believe all through the beginning of the narrative that Mary Beth’s estrangement from her neighbour and former best friend Deborah was down to an affair, then later the “event” that set off the detoriation of their friendship was the tragic death of Deborah’s young son.  I found it disconcerting and anticlimactic to find out it was the affair that had set the chain of events in motion, as if taking away from the impact of the child’s death and replacing it with yet another ubiquitous bored suburban housewife’s affair.

I have to admit, I didn’t get into this book until quite near the end, after the catalyst leading to the total destruction of Mary Beth’s Stepford Life.  So though I knew the outcome, I found it difficult to stop reading.  Though I enjoyed reading it, I feel the author glossed over some aspects and spent a little too much time establishing Mary Beth’s “perfect” existence. The second part of this book deals almost enirely with Mary Beths feeling’s, with little to nothing in the way of actual events.  If you’re the type of reader who likes to find a neat conclusion at the end, this is probably not the book for you.  I don’t know if this will lead me to read other works by the same author.

I enjoyed reading this, though I have to admit if it hadn’t been on offer at Waterstones, I probably would never have chosen it for myself.

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