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
With the Covid restrictions allegedly pulling ever tighter (Am I the only one that thinks I can’t do any more than I’m doing which is just using plain, common sense? Back off Boris, you’re abusing my trust now; I shop locally, I haven’t been into central London, I rarely go out – I haven’t been to the cinema, the theatre, a sporting event – only the pub twice and an ice cream parlour. It’s not exactly living the high life, so pease put your threats of fines and the army away and just get track n trace and testing sorted. Pretty please. You’ve had 6 months. If you were an employee you’d have been sacked by now. So instead of hot air can I actually see the basics covered? You keep trying to fly when you can’t even walk. I’d prefer, at this point in time just to see a few, stable, confident steps, preferably ahead of the curve – but I know, with all your data that’s meant to give you such blinding insights, that’s asking a lot – because the thing with data, unless you’re prepared to follow what you don’t want to see, it actually has no use and is just a time suck away from what’s really important; I suspect you’re using it as a crutch – it helped you win Brexit, it helped you win the election – both things with a deadline. This is different. I wish you could see that. What’s needed now is clear and consistent. A bit like how a mother is with a toddler. Except I shouldn’t be feeling that you are the toddler as I watch you pick up things like toys – defence, the justice system, the civil service, the House of Lords, pull bits off them before discarding them again. What I am saying is you are destroying this country from the inside, the most valuable thing a society has is trust – what do you think makes money worth anything? What makes people stop at traffic lights, drive on the right side of the road, pay for goods and services, adhere to rules that are invisible? And yet because it is silent and can’t be seen, you don’t seem to be able to see it’s value. Shame on you. Please grow up. Quickly.) Rant over, deep breath, back to the start: With the Covid restrictions allegedly pulling ever tighter, here are some more of my favourite auditory escapes: This first one should be intravenously injected into number 10 – How to Fail by the gorgeous Elizabeth Day. Elizabeth has created a podcast that celebrates the things that haven’t gone right, because learning (shall I underline that word??) from your mistakes is ultimately what makes us stronger. A bit like Desert Island Discs, this is a treasure trove, dive in and discover interviews from people such as Gloria Steinem to Phoebe Waller Bridge to Alain de Bottom to Lean Sissay. Delicious.
The Stubborn Light of Things from Melissa Harrison is a calming, grounding reassuring presence, bringing the awe of nature to life. An antidote to anything toxic in your world. One to listen to at night, with the lights and sound turned low. A guaranteed good nights sleep.
Unlocking Us by Brene Brown is a multi-faceted joy. Brought to prominence by her famous Ted talk, Brene is an expert on shame and vulnerability. She covers the messiness and contradictions of what it is to be human. Listen for pearls of wisdom, listen for that Texas twang, listen to learn what it is to be brilliant and humble. Love her.
Enjoy and I’ll see you on the other side.
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
Style icon and new guilty pleasure – I’ve recently discovered Karen Britchick aka Karen Blanchard on Youtube – walking the streets of New York she eyes up the fashion, asking people about their outfits. The pleasure is multi-layered – first, it’s sitting on her shoulder, being in unfiltered New York, where you can see the steam and smell the energy. Then it’s that she doesn’t go for commercial outfits – everything is unusual, a progression, pushing a boundary, an art form, something different, unusual, which makes it exciting. And finally its the idea that style isn’t an expensive brand, it’s about passion, expression and understanding how things fit together. In fact, the less commercial, the better.
Get me to an oversized unstructured 80s blazer now.
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
Has anyone else watched Good Trouble on BBC iplayer? Easy binge watching, like an ever replacing tube of paprika Pringles. One of the main stories is following the trial of a black man shot by police. Prophetic when you think it was made in 2018. But not so when you think how many times a shooting of a black man by police has happened. But it’s the interiors that have stolen my heart. Set in an old movie theatre in the City of Angels – both elements a pleasant spin on the habitual backdrops of New York – the vibe is high ceilings, large spaces, gorgeous flaking period features, with the implication that taste is always more important than high spend, except this would obviously cost for those not in the know, except of course these people know, except they don’t, because it’s all so artful and effortless for them. There’s one particular room – other than the library, the kitchen and the pool – to die for. And that’s Malika’s bedroom – on the wall by the bed is black and gold geometric retro wallpaper, inspired by Art Deco, mixed with the swinging sixties and oozing the era of Biba and Barbara Hulanicki – and it’s singing a sweet song of ‘my time is coming again…’
In fact, Barbara Hulanicki has been designing in her signature style for Graham and Brown wallpaper.
(All pics Pinterest)
Black and gold, geometric patterns circa Biba. It will be a thing.
Laters, Kate x