As a bowerbird and avid collector of all things beautiful, eye-catching and, most importantly, intriguing, I can't help but gather together curios, mementos & elements that enrich my life and my work. These pieces are all part of my mind's extensive catalogue and each has its own place in my cabinet of curiosities. What better way to explore my stylist's palette than to tease it out in alphabetical order? So let's start at the very beginning, as it's a very good place to start...
A is for...
Rethink your notion of what constitutes wall art – it’s not just frames and canvases. An oversized Japanese abacus is a unique substitute for a bedhead that weaves a sense of history into your space. Layers of linen in serene indigo tones add to the textural feel of this bedroom’s focal point. Shop my collection of vintage Japanese 'sorobans' here.
To be shouted with a cupped hand announcing your arrival to shore (or anywhere really).
Amulets & talismans
Most cultures incorporate a dose of superstition into their daily lives, including a need for protection against the ever-present evil eye, I most certainly believe this and am not often found without amulets around my neck. For a while I flirted with antique Chinese children's clothes and although I didn't pursue this collection, I love the idea that if you dressed a child up in clothes that looked and smelt of animals (such as ears on hats and and tiger shoes with animal fur hidden within), the evil spirits would confuse it for an animal, and leave it to live a long, happy and prosperous life. As any good traveller knows, you need a little extra protection when embarking on a new adventure. I wear two amulets, both made from leather, with various items stitched inside them so they keep me out of harm’s way. Sew you amuletic bits & bobs on the inside of your clothes (and of those you love) to protect you from all evil deeds.
Antlers & trophies
Although I am very anti-hunting and concerned about extinction, I continue to have a somewhat romantic view of colonialism and hunting safaris. There’s nothing like the find of a shed antler while traversing the countryside. It feels such a score to cart home. I would love to be in the country of roaming elk and to one day stumble upon an elk’s antler, or even a pair! P.s. A papier-mâché menagerie makes a traditional room a little fun. Attach them high & low so each has room for its own personality, plus, no animals were harmed in the making. Shop my collection of papier mache animal heads here.
Pastel paints, inks and dyes: the joy of finding an old artists’ set of partly used colours. I love what the palette suggests of its previous owner; often the box or housing alone is enough to entice. I based one of my colour palettes entitled ‘Atelier’ on late nineteenth-century Paris, where a shop on rue de Seine in St Germain used to sell artists’ supplies. Known affectionately as Père Tanguy, the owner supplied the likes of Cézanne, Gaugin, Seurat and Van Gogh (who painted his portrait at least three times). I can just see his shop filled with apothecary jars full of ochres, aquamarine, pomegranate rinds, crushed-up shells, cochineal, matta, indigo, snail ink, gold leaf, shellac brushes, gesso, plinths, stools that twist and bottles of linseed oil. I have since been obsessed with all the unusual and necessary things you find in an artist’s studio.
Atlases, maps & dictionaries
I like to think of myself as a globetrotter, treasure seeker & explorer, and to be those things I need atlases, maps and dictionaries form other countries. I actively seek these out in flea and antique markets while travelling and love to find ones in other languages or so very out of date that you can see how the countries’ boundaries and borders have changed over time. I have a stack of linen-covered dictionaries: Icelandic, two English, Russian to English etc. I appreciate the different texts and sounds, and even the straight columns appeal to me. Stay tuned, as I catalogue all the pieces of my cabinet of curiosities in weekly posts.