I’ve been watching The Block on Amazon – an interior design competition set in Australia. The idea is 5 teams of two renovate a high end apartment each before flogging them at auction, any profit they make is their’s to keep, plus there’s additional prize money for the biggest winner. The programme originally started in the UK where it was a flop, then the Aussies grabbed it, injected some real money, upped the style criteria and produced a winner – I started at the 2015 series and was mightily impressed – considering it was five years old, all the decisions still stood the test of time. What makes it superior to other interior competitions is the authenticity and attention to detail – the contestants are given some serious wonga and are working on a genuine building site where their rooms have to pass code, overseen by structural engineers, foremen and architects; there are no glue guns allowed here. The addition of strict deadlines makes for a tense work environment between couples, between builders, between teams – it’s a rich soup of happenings and creativity that makes for compulsive viewing. I’m now on the 2016 series, where based on the building’s age the rooms are calling for art deco and Hollywood glamour, these were some of playing-along-fantasy-sofa-surfing-inspiration-picks…
Be still my beating heart….
Laters, Kate x
As someone fascinated by life and society, I’m always intrigued by change and what drives it as I genuinely believe that sometimes change is wrong – that there are things that have reached their peak and can’t be improved upon and that sometimes we push growth without thinking of the long term consequences. But that doesn’t mean that all change is wrong – one only needs to look at this new collab between Ben Penreath, the creative, architect and interior designer and William Morris to see how great eyes can bring new life.
My joy explodeth over.
laters, Kate xxx
Have you seen Home on Apple TV? Property porn for the discerning palate, it’s a series that steps out of the shadow of commercial bling to present homes with heart, soul and integrity. I’m only on episode 2. But I think I’ll stay there a while, smelling the air and savouring the view, because I have a new design icon: Theaster Gates from Chicago. The man is an onion – multi layered, multi talented, he defies description in the best possible way.
He says, ‘I am interested in not only found objects but also in discarded knowledge.’ And I think it is this heart that pulls all his work together, whether it is sculpture, pots or interiors. He takes his subject and embraces it’s original essence, unleashing the spirit within.
But even rarer, he doesn’t hoard this spirit – most of his work is on behalf of the community making and re-making community centres, cafes, communal art studios – He touches these places with gold and passes them on. His joy is seeing the connections they make and watching the creative seeds he plants grow.
To see a building taken back to it’s bones and that skeleton, age becoming a work of art in it’s own right is a beautiful thing.
To be in a building with a printing press at one end, an library in another, a potters studio in between and a record collection nestled somewhere else is to be in heaven.
(All pics Pinterest)
This man is an inspiration in its purest form.
Laters, Kate x
I have a few creative projects on the go – This is the first one that’s come to fruition – and it starts with a lockdown story that began roughly eleven years ago……
A pregnant infertility survivor and a pro natural birth obstetrics consultant at a high risk pregnancy unit meet to discuss a birth plan. The infertility survivor would like a c-section; she now has a lack of trust in herself and wants to hand over responsibility to the doctors. The consultant wants to convince her to believe in herself and her innate capabilities. The infertility survivor hands over a print out of poems, describing the pain of her infertile years and the agony of her recurrent miscarriages. They talk. The consultant even uses two of the poems in a book she’s publishing. The infertility survivor has a successful c-section…..and my son Charlie is born.
Over a decade later, in lockdown, the Consultant, Dr Susan Bewley, finds my poems again and gets in contact. The poems are pulled out of a drawer and we agree that they are still as relevant today as they were all those years ago. So, with the help from Dr Bewley, they’ve been edited into a book….I took the decision that as they were poetry, they’d never get published down normal routes. So today, Songs For My Unborn Children has been self-published via Amazon and now they’re available to buy!
Doing it this way also means I get a say in all the art work, from the cover to the supporting instagram account.
So they’re out in the big wide world: Part memoir, all poetry, they cover the complete arc of infertility, from the pain of waiting, the grief of miscarriage to hospital visits, treatments, IVF, and finally the joy of a successful birth.
In the foreword, Dr Bewley writes:
‘Years ago, I was privileged to be given an early version of Songs to my Unborn Child from Kate during the course of her pregnancy, and to be allowed to use some for a book on Reproductive Ageing. She opened my eyes to the long, complex shadow that infertility, miscarriage and medicalised conception cast way beyond the immediate experiences. Doctors don’t bring ‘meaning’ to our everyday routines that clash with each patient’s exquisite vulnerability; it’s not a strong part of our skill set. But Kate provides another route to compassionate understanding. Few artists can paint pain, but this poetess succinctly describes the emotional roller coaster of suffering, endurance and recovery that will resonate for women who’ve experienced it, and induce empathy from those who haven’t. She gives voice to Everywoman’s shame and taboos. Even though she was one of the lucky ones for whom IVF did work, for most it does not. Every million cute IVF babies celebrated in the news and advertisements are accompanied by another several millions of futile cycles, chemical pregnancies, miscarriages and wounded souls. And emptier pockets. Although a proud mother now, Kate wears her scars. She doesn’t gloat or forget her trauma, or the ‘sisters in suffering’ who follow her. They might, or might not, take a similar journey to eventual peace but will recognize themselves. Read, cry, learn, repeat.’
Yep. It made me weep.
Songs is divided into five sections: Infertility, Miscarriage and IVF failure, Treatment, Afterwards and Pregnancy. It is ultimately a success story, but I hope the journey and the emotions will be recognised by all who have or who are walking this terrible path.
Please share, pass on to someone they might help, if you can’t buy – follow, anything to help get the word out, and I will be eternally grateful.
A big day.
Laters, Kate x
Podcasts are probably the weeds of the media world, growing in the gaps where we thought there were no spaces, except these gaps had rich, fertile soil which has now established these new comers as cornerstones to the garden. I know I resisted for a long time, I didn’t need yet another time sap. But there’s an invisible zeitgeist, an energy a new industry brings, a freedom of new voices being heard away from big business, corporate mouthpieces and I am hooked. Now, when there are jobs to be done, in my own time, at my own pace, I’ll be catching up with the latest offerings – in no particular order, these are a few of my favourites: The High Low – a weekly conversation between writers Dolly Alderton and Pandora Sykes, that covers highbrow and lowbrow culture. A friendship, an intellectual exploration, an authenticity, a zeal.
Have You Heard George’s Podcast? – George the poet is a London-born spoken word performer of Ugandan heritage whose innovative creativity sends you down the rabbit hole with fireworks and funk.
How Did We Get Here? – Claudia Winkleman and Professor Tanya Byron identify struggles faced by real-life parents and family members by inviting them in and hearing them in a one-time unscripted session. This is like unpaid for therapy, wrapped in love.
I was going to post more. But I think to do so would dilute the magnificence of the above….so I’ll continue with the rest in a post next week.
Laters, Kate x
A post in celebration of the joy that is Bethan Laura Wood, designer, icon and all round creative for her fearlessness, her individuality and her eagle sharp eye for character, form, proportion and colour combinations.
(All pics Pinterest)
A joy to behold, is this cultural appropriation, fusion or freedom?
For me it’s the freedom of a cultural fusion of joy. Simples.
Laters, Kate x
Every summer needs a project. Something that requires learning a skill, but nothing so taxing the chances of success always remain a once wished dream. I also believe tools and ingredients matter – low cost, simple and preferably eco friendly; I think this one gets A stars in all the right boxes – a crocheted rag rug.
The best instructions and most of these pics come from this brilliant website – My Poppet, and this youtube channel has easy crochet instructions. But the necessary bits are easy to gather – you need a good supply a jute string (you can you wool, I just believe the jute gives it a unifying look as well as being strong and sturdy), a crochet hook and lots of unwanted clothes and material scraps.
The idea of cutting up unwanted clothes, particularly the things the children have grown out of really appeals. It’s that feeling of history and memories and life continuing on. The aim is to cut the cloth into one inch strips, then roll them into useable balls. There’s different ideas about how to attach different strips together, some people like to sew the strips together, others just overlap the strips and crochet them together as and when.
The crochet required to make the rug is literally the most basic stitch you’ll ever need – this isn’t about doing anything complicated, but more about time and care and working in slow time.
The size you go is totally up to you. The one tip I’ve read over and over again, is when it starts getting big, crochet on a flat surface to keep the rug flat.
Circles of life.
Laters, Kate x
For the last week, autumn decided to roll into London instead of July: Grey, swollen clouds, heavy rain, a significant drop in temperature and most surprisingly, strong, bough wrenching winds. They say Thursday will mark the change back to summer again. I hope so. I would like some more summertime in the garden, particularly now we have a water feature.
This is ours, hidden in the lavender. We wanted moving water to cool the air on really hot days. And it helps that the birds are delighted with our choice, particularly Mr Robin.
Fingers crossed the sun will be back at the end of this week.
Laters, Kate x
Ebay is not a safe place for me at the best of times, but now with an official project – let me write that again with capital, authoritative letters – Official Project – as my cover, it is very dangerous; our kitchen is beginning to look like a reclamation yard. But oh, the pleasure! These are the stained glass panels I have snaffled – genuine Victorian, everything between £50 – £60 (which I think is good value, though they do need work). I have visions of them over the doors, at the back of the pod, even in the apex space between the roof. Who knows where their final resting place/places will be, but I am loving the colours – the pale pinks, the greens and then the contrast of the strong blues and reds. I can imagine sitting on something comfy with a cup of tea, looking at the garden, with the late afternoon light sliding through making patterns on the floor. The real bonus was finding painted centres as well – look! A duck!!
(little cough..I have three of these…all slightly different. All insanely gorgeous)
This is possibly my favourite – a caterpillar! Such a great metaphor for life, the universe and everything…
Little glowing bits of handmade, re-cycled, re-loved heaven.
Now for the lights…..hehe
Laters, Kate x