It’s taken longer than I ever anticipated, but I’ve finally finished the design for the pod; there’s such a freedom to be able to design something for yourself, but when, barring council restrictions and budget, the sky is the limit, choices can be overwhelming. But bit by bit, by concentrating on what is allowed and what would benefit the space available, I think I’ve got there. The main inspiration is this garden studio above – I love the simple shape, but there’s also beautiful and subtle detailing that suitably elevates and adds vital character.
I would love to have the more elongated, pagoda style roof, but the width of our garden won’t allow it. But there will be a hint. Unlike the inspiration, we will have a green roof and I hope to encourage plants both to grow up and hang down. The driving consideration behind the design is because we don’t have a panoramic view to frame, why not go with private, enclosed, quiet and chapel like? A secret, hidden space for gently moving light and contemplation. So the doors will be Georgian panels, the overhang shaded and the design understated.
The plan is for planting to cover and encroach, from the sides, from above, from below and even inside the overhang, to create a blur between garden and building.
The overhang will also protect from the sun and act as a privacy screen. In ours will be fitted the salvaged stained glass panels, to cast colours and patterns and draw people out.
The whole building will be painted a bronzey brown as a foil to the plants and to visually push it back into it’s environment.
The overhang will be wide enough to contain a swing chair positioned to catch the last of the evening light. And if space allows, I would love a dramatic porch light.
Now for the inside….
Laters, Kate x
My Black Lives Matter post last week was weak; an expansive gesture hiding behind art and it’s many interpretations. Part of the reason is because for me to talk about racism is to hold extra large cartons of organic ducks eggs, one in each hand, whilst attempting to ride a unicycle for the first time; it’s bound to end in a privileged mess. Instead I have watched and listened, and it seems to me, the strongest way forward is through education, re-education, thinking, reading and more listening. Below is a list of available resources, the first three being personal to me – articles and documentaries that first opened my eyes.
Jane Elliott is an American schoolteacher, anti-racism activist, and educator. She is known for her “Blue eyes–Brown eyes” exercise. She first conducted this famous exercise for her class on April 5, 1968, the day after Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated; she wanted her pupils to feel the pain of racism. I don’t know when I first watched this documentary – maybe it was shown in a social science class at my secondary school – I do know I have carried it with me ever since. It wasn’t just the shock of segregation along seemingly inconsequential lines, it was the shock that people (in this case children) would not only go along with it, but it would influence their behaviour outside the classroom. It was a brilliant and brutal showcase of human failing, exposing our ever constant need to conform to a perceived power source and the contagion of group think.
White Privilege, ‘Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack’ by Peggy McIntosh, first written in 1989, is an article I only read in the last couple of years. Again, it had a profound effect. Whilst’s Jane’s exercise was about conscious discrimination, this was about the unconscious discrimination we allow without thinking because we just don’t see it, because to notice has been conditioned out of us. She informed me, the word is not equal and there is no thing as meritocracy.
Notice anything about my education? White and female…
There’s not enough space to fill the books, words and videos of Maya Angelou. But with her brilliance, strength, wit and wonder, she remains a huge influence. My Grandmother gave me my first copy of a book by her – I know why the cages bird sings – and I can see it as I type this.
For the following list, I want to thank the High Low podcast, it is the result of their research combine with others such as the New York Times. Please refer back to this link if any of the links below don’t work:
Why I Am No Longer Talking To White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge
I Am Not Your Baby Mother by Candice Brathwaite
White Fragility by Robin Diangelo
Between The World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
How To Be Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi
The Good Immigrant compiled by Nikesh Shukla
The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
Women Race and Class by Angela Davis
White Rage by Carol Anderson
Brit-ish by Afua Hirsch
My Name Is Why by Lemn Sissay
Slay In Your Lane by Elizabeth Uviebinené & Yomi Adegoke
A Burst of Light by Audre Lorde
Don’t Touch My Hair by Emma Dabiri
Taking Up Space: The Black Girls Manifesto For Change by Chelsea Kwakye & Ore Ogunbiyi
Me and White Supremacy by Layla F Saad
Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall
Natives: Race & Class in the Ruins of Empire by Akala
Aint I a Woman: Black Women & Feminism by bell hooks
Why You Need To Stop Saying “All Lives Matter” by Rachel Elizabeth Cargle for Harper’s Bazaar https://bit.ly/3gG8rgq
Ibram X. Kendi’s reading list for The New York Times https://nyti.ms/3gKL8lH
Beloved by Toni Morrison
The Colour Purple by Alice Walker
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi-Adichie
Such A Fun Age by Kiley Reid
Ordinary People by Diana Evans
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
On Beauty and White Teeth by Zadie Smith
Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Citizen: An American Life by Claudia Rankine
I know why the caged Bird sings by Maya Angelou
George Floyd’s Memorial Fund
Black Lives Matter
Black Protest Legal Support UK
Stop Hate UK
The Stephen Lawrence Trust
The Innocence Project
Show Racism The Red Card
Black Visions Collective
Girls Out Loud
Raising White Kids by Jennifer Harvey
All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold
Brad Meltzer’s Ordinary People Can Change The World series on Rosa Parks & Harriet Tubman
A Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
Petition to update GCSE reading list https://bit.ly/2U6foOl
1619 podcast by The NY Times
With thoughts and positivity, Kate x
With the lockdown starting to fray, we wanted the kids to experience the stillness of London before it’s officially bubbling again, so we biked through the virtually empty roads all the way to Trafalgar Square, a 20 km round route (I have saddle arse to prove it). The only thing to interrupt our peace were the all the gear, no fear mamil brigade, the blinkers of self-interest firmly down. I saw three almost accidents, their speed seemingly taking precedent over a slower decision maker ahead. Given the freedom of the roads, the nature of the situation, it felt greedy and uncalled for.
Trafalgar Square felt like a movie set from a post apocalyptical film. It wasn’t just that there were no people there, the pigeons had left as well.
The weather wasn’t great, so I painted inside. Since completing Carla Sonheim’s online class on flower portraits, I’ve become obsessed with painting all things plant.
I think I want to do a proper painting, a large one: The dark filtered light down below, the open sky above.
Can’t for the life of me think what it represents…
Laters, Kate x
The good news is my window boxes are the best they’ve ever been….It’s amazing what watering every day will do…
The bad news is I should’ve taken the picture before I watered them.
The good news is my climbing rose is chocka with an abundance of buds.
The bad news: Because of the mild winter, they’re covered in aphids…sad face emoji
Good news: Charlie and I planted a whole load of seeds.
Bad news: Three weeks later and I think we’re cultivating weeds.
Or they’ve died.
The good news: My plant delivery finally arrived!
Bad news: Why are they always so much smaller in reality?
Good news: Finally got the wall painted black.
Which is a good thing….as it distracts from the newly christened ‘Comb-over’ Tree.
Bad news: The husband ‘pruned’ it..it once was the luscious twin to this one climbing the wall..
The good news: It has a bud!
Bad news: It’s sorely needed…
The good news: The garden is becoming a haven.
The bad news: The barbecue has just collapsed.
But the good news? It’s a job for the husband…and might just keep him away from my plants….
Laters, Kate x
I was drawn to these photos of John Caudwell’s £250m London Mansion because they raised so many conflicting thoughts, like when is a home a home and when is it a hotel? When is a home a sanctuary and when is it an art installation? When does the line get crossed between just because you can, should you? And what about, just because it’s expensive, does it have value? The amount of money on view here is obscene: tens of hundreds of millions of pounds, we’re talking the best of everything. And yet…what went wrong?
(This was probably the room that blew my mind the most: All the space, all the choices…and it looks like a bad taste Las Vegas take out joint with no natural light, no ambiance, no thought about the vital need for people to get up, push their chairs back and move around. But hey, there’s a river running through it. With real fish)
Conference room or sitting room?
(All pics Pinterest)
Porn set or spa?
It makes you very grateful for what you have.
Laters, Kate x
A fan of the quirky and like a genuine re-cycle? For present inspiration, look no further than the London Transport Museum shop. and their vintage shop.
There’s a whole section dedicated to first edition posters at unframed, present friendly prices.
(All pics London Transport Museum)
Laters, Kate x
Iridescent turquoise bricks and art-deco-style cornice are not descriptions you expect from an industrial building in the heart of London. But the fact that the building is going to be the headquarters for Damien Hirst might explain it further…
Until you realise that Stiff and Trevillion, the architects, designed the building not knowing who would occupy it. Maybe the address being 30 Beak Street in vibrant, creative Soho is the final piece of the puzzle.
At the base, the hand-dipped glazed bricks are a deep blue, transitioning to the lighter blue as the building reaches higher.
( All pics Pinterest)
It’s enough of a statement to be shortlisted for the 2019 RIBA London Awards. And yet another reason to pay a visit to Soho.
Just wish this grim London weather would buck up…
Laters, Kate x
This morning I have two fruity magpies in the garden which proves that the days are pushing towards spring and that there has been enough time to retrospect the New Year. I’m not a great believer in resolutions, but I ‘ve found that organically something takes root each year, even if it’s unintentional. This years adaption has emerged like a fresh breeze, a feeling of wonder, a walk in the park: One day a week, usually a Wednesday, I take something that has intrigued or justified further exploration and follow it back to it’s roots, taking in the offshoots along the way. This week didn’t start with a person or a thought, but a podcast. There are so many out there, the only stipulation was it had to last ten minutes – the time it takes to tidy a kitchen. I found ‘The Psychology behind with Dr Linda Papadopoulas’ I listened, enjoyed and went back for more. That’s when I found her interview with Jordan Stephens from the Rizzle Kicks,(also to be found on Spotify) the cheeky scamps of British hiphop remembered with joy and mental connections of summer fun and lazy days. This was overlaid with the memory of a talk Jordan gave about toxic masculinity, a subject normally avoided by your average rapper. It paved the way for an inspirational interview that leaves you rewinding it in your head for a long time afterwards.
The next step back along the chain was the original Ted talk: Everyone loves an underdog, given by Jordan that inspired Linda to interview him. It’s the anti-hot house talk that many parents need to hear, how expectation can be a killer of growth. In it he mentions an ex-girlfriend, Cecilia Knapp who’s a writer, and you’re in the moment thinking what is this bed of creativity that bled, fed and made these attitudes? So you follow the story because Cecilia Knapp has made a Ted Talk too.
And I can only hope that by now you are as blown away as I was by her talent, performance skill and art, revelling in her silky words, caught in the rhythm of her mesmeric story telling.
The final step was to her website, to find she regularly gives performances – and that’s where this story will end – a trip to a poetry reading given by Cecilia Knapp, because I’ve never been to one before. But I couldn’t be more excited: There are times when the internet becomes a weapon of war, anger and destruction, but like most things, it has a flip side, a slip side where, with the slightest of pushes, a wondrous world of imagination awaits.
Laters, Kate x
This school year and certainly the start of 2018 has been tainted by the unavoidable: Our eldest facing the horror of Year 6 secondary school exams. A hideous time and one of the horrible consequences of living in London where there are too many children chasing too few places.
As a parent you can make the decision whether to join the pressure party or take a more fatalistic approach – for many reasons, our choice is the later. But even the choice of a relaxed attitude is not without it’s mental fuck ups: Guilt, doubt, even fear – We chose this school route for them – nobody put a gun to our heads – and when the kids are lining up to go into another exam it’s not easy to stand firm against a serious onslaught of questioning anxiety.
A shining light during this time has been our weekly cold water swims at the open air lido in Tooting. Started at the beginning of September as a conscious way to replicate and appreciate what the kids were going to go through, it was meant as a challenge – could the three of us swim through the year without wetsuits? We’ve watched the saturated colours of summer turn to the stark realisation of winter, leaves turn and mists fall.
We kept going, even when it meant swimming in the sea in October.
Each week is the unspoken question – is this the week we fail?
And each week, as we emerge newly pink it’s like we’ve been fitted with a new coat of bespoke armour ready to face the world: Bulletproof mate, bulletproof.
It’s been a joy, a pleasure, life affirming and life saving.
I swear our blood is a different colour now.
Laters, Kate x
Christmas season maybe fast approaching but even the sighting of that behemoth shouldn’t turn all thoughts to party clothes. Why? Because life needs to be lived and party clothes should be a reflection of every day. Such is the philosophy of Henrietta Rix and Orlagh McClosky, the founders of fashion label Rixo.
Their vision was to create vintage-inspired pieces for the modern woman to wear with confident style and effortless grace.
For the quality of the material – silk, the timeless nature of the clothes and the plus point of individuality, the price point sits happy on the purse.
(All pics Rixo)
These pieces sing dressing up is for daytime, floor length can be casual and style always transcends season.
I, for one, am in.
Laters, Kate x