Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Beachcombing, Pretty Nostalgic Magazine, Issue 13

I've been absent from here for a while but I'm back and feeling inspired and excited for the summer. I have a new editorial feature out now in the latest issue of Pretty Nostalgic magazine (

I spent the day Beachcombing at Crosby with Beachcober and Maker, Kay Haskins and friends, where we unearthed a whole heap of delights amongst Crosby's dramatic shoreline.

Its a delightful 6 page feature filled with lots of information on the various things you can uncover on a sunny day at the beach. Next I want to plan some more nature inspired adventures...

Sunday, 12 January 2014

2014: Creative Wishes

With the new year arriving I wanted to think about things that I want to achieve this year, both work wise and personally so I'm putting my creative wishes for the year out there into the world wide web in the hope that it motivates me to see them materialise!

I have learnt over the years that I am truly happy when working on several creative things at once, be it photography, writing or crafting. 
Ever since I can remember I have been obsessed with art and making things. Many happy days and evenings were spent engrossed with a pencil and sketchbook, paintbrush, or embroidery needle, knitting needles and later, a camera.

Promise 1: DRAW OFTEN

For me photography became my medium of choice at aged 16 and other mediums like drawing became hobbies I never seem to have enough time to indulge nearly as much as I'd like to. I was discussing the fact that I used to be a regular and pretty decent drawer back in my school and college days with friends earlier on today and how nowadays I can barely draw a passable stick man. So this is my first promise to myself this year, to get back into drawing for pleasure, maybe I'll even take a class in life drawing!


Taking photographs on and off for the past however many years means I'm sometimes left feeling uninspired, or simply not always having the time to take the photographs I truly want to take.

So this year I have several plans to get back on track and taking more photos for personal projects alongside commissioned/magazine documentary based work.

Firstly, I've signed up for the Redeye 52WKS project which I completed my first entry for yesterday. Each week there will be a title of a book which I have to respond to with a photograph or series of photos in relation to that title. You are able to submit pre existing work but where's the challenge in that when the whole point of the project is to spark creativity?!

See my photography website for info on this and my weekly posts of entries in response to each brief.


Secondly, I want to embark on a series of ambitious photo stories/bodies of work based on ideas and things that have been inspiring me for years. These will be theatrical, staged photographs based on my love of fairytales, literature and cinematography with a hint of darkness. I will continue working on my documentary photography and work for publications but I feel there is a whole world bursting to get out of me and its time to set about taking my work to the next level. This may be slow going as the ideas I have are elaborate, heavily styled, with lots of things to make and scenes to devise but I will succeed, slowly but surely!

Promise 4: WRITE MORE

Aside from writing a diary on and off regularly since I was around 7 years old, the only writing I did up until the past two years ago was essay writing which can turn even the most hardened of writers off writing for life! But when I started working for Pretty Nostalgic magazine I soon found I had the ability to write more than essays, and since then have developed a passion and I would like to think a flair for writing which I never knew was in me.

I want to build on this by doing regular daily doses of writing, so tonight I started working through a creative writing book, doing some writing activities to see if I can improve and build on my strengths as a writer.
I have decided to put some of the work I do for this on an entirely separate blog to this one and my photography website.

That should give me plenty to work on for the next 12 months. Somehow I will also need to hold down my day job, my magazine work and organise our 2015 wedding, but I do love to keep busy!

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Pretty Nostalgic In Aid of Charity & this Sundays Vintage Village, Stockport

This weekend I will be at Vintage Village, in Stockport's Historic Market Hall between 10am and 4pm.

As its their special Hats fair, I'll be donning my best hat and manning the Pretty Nostalgic stand.

From the stall you will be able to take out a subscription to the magazine, as well as purchase back issues, along with our newest issue 10! Jam packed full of cosy winter features and lots of festive inspiration.

If you have been considering a subscription to the magazine, now is definitely the time to do it. Not only will you get your hands on issues for 25% less than the cover price, and straight through your letter box fresh from the printers, but Pretty Nostalgic will make a £12 donation for every subscription they receive to either BBC Children in Need or Alzheimer's Society, you choose at the time of taking out your subscription.

Why not treat a friend or loved one to a subscription or bundle of issues for Christmas? 

See you Sunday! 

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Buy Art Fair, Spinningfields, Manchester, Sunday 29th September 2013

Each year the Buy Art Fair comes to Manchester. It's a welcome addition to the arts event calendar and an opportunity for normal folk like me purchase art and generally see what independent British galleries have to offer.

After a few hours of Sunday morning pottering and general procrastination off I went in the direction of Spinningfields. Minus the little mix up of heading to the fairs past two sites, I soon found its new spot on Hardman Boulevard and was heading inside the sun filled white marquee. A security guard stopped and asked what I was doing as I was entering through the entrance, despite it being marked 'entrance' and other people going in through the door. Then the rather concerned way another lady looked at me and asked 'are you alright?' made me wonder if I was having a nose bleed I was unaware of, or had mascara streaming all down my face! Maybe I had a particularly gormless expression on my face which unsettled them! 

Entrance hiccups aside, I had soon registered and was off, heading straight for the Art Republic stand which is a favourite of mine since visiting the gallery space in Brighton a few years ago and later receiving a framed print from Liam as a gift. 

This year in particular there seemed to be far more pieces that I was tempted by. I usually just go to window shop, generally admire the work and look for potential artists for future features, but I soon found myself eyeing up potential purchases before reminding myself of the fact that we are currently trying to fork out for our wedding!       

First to leave me lingering on the ArtDog London stand a little too long were these fun screen printed animals dressed as fashionable gents by an artist called Kelly Eggleston. 

They reminded me of Charlotte Cory's work, who I absolutely love. She superimposes images of taxidermy animals onto Victorian portrait photographs to create characterful little fellows.(Charlotte Cory, Gentleman Badger, below)

Several of the stands had those interactive Smartphone icons for you to scan to find out more information about the pieces and their artists. With a bit of assistance from a nice lady on the DegreeArt stand I had downloaded a QR Reader and was happily collecting a list of pieces I liked on my iPhone...

I thought this pencil illustration by Illustrator Lucy Mortimer was particularly cute, with a nice touch of humour. But since getting home I've viewed her website and there are lots more great pieces on there, with a certain nostalgic feel to them. (

I really appreciated the textural quality and sumptuous colours of Sophie Derrick's photographic portraits with oil paint slathered on top of them. The overlaying of the thick paint created three-dimensional surfaces on the images. There was a real fluid quality to the pieces as though the paint was still wet, and I really liked the fusion of photography and painting together. (

I chatted to a nice chap on the Antlers stand; a nomadic gallery based in Bristol ( who had some superb illustrations by Rebecca Hiscocks ( on display. 

They had a macabre anatomical feel to them whilst being delicately beautiful, with soft pinks running through them to create a sensual feminine quality juxtaposed with the deathly subject matter of skulls, hearts and skeletons. 

I was captivated by a diptych of photographs by Charles Emerson ( and stood there for some time staring at them and trying to figure out how they had been done (a flaw that comes with being a curious fellow photographer - though I'm ridiculously inferior in talent compared with this guy) One of them, in the image below, with a muted dusky peach and grey palette looked as though it had been set on fire and was delicately smoking away. The guy on the stand explained to me the series were done by suspending flowers in water and ink. They had a deeply fragile quality to them with the rose also being a symbol of mortality. Again like Sophie Derrick's work, I liked the way that painting and photography had been fused together. 

Someone whose work had a similarly delicate quality that I absolutely loved (and was very tempted to make a purchase of) was Beth Nicholas, ( whose work was on display on the Curious Duke Stand. Some were more abstract paintings of water, with a beautiful fluid quality. Others like the one below were adorned with deer and birds, and each furnished with gold leaf.

These screen prints by Clare Johnson also caught my eye. She likes to indulge in 'urban hiking' and sources her inspiration from the urban, industrial landscape and vintage postcards (

Exhibiting alongside her was Orson Kartt. I wanted his Much Ado About Nothing mixed media book art print very much! and there were several others my eye was drawn to in the collection. (

The usual Peter Blake's and a few Damien Hirst's were on offer for those with a lot of cash to flash, but mostly I was impressed with the balance of affordable and more pricier pieces available. There seemed to be an awful lot of Pure Evil pieces on offer too. Aesthetically I'm drawn to them, and I love his use of colour, but essentially really he is just a modern day rip off of Warhol!

I also bumped into Kate Kelly, Pretty Nostalgic Book Group member and fabulously creative owner of Kaper ( who we have featured in the magazine. She was manning the Manchester Craft Centre stand which was looking fantastic and crammed full of goodies from the makers housed in its studios. (

Feeling a little naughty after making a top secret purchase on my way out the door, I aborted all plans to visit the Manchester Food and Drink festival for the sake of my bank balance! 

Saturday, 28 September 2013

The Independent Interiors Show, Saturday 28th September, 2022NQ, Manchester

I decided to stop off and check out the Independent Interiors Show on the way back from Yoga class this morning, held at 2022NQ.

They had a nice mix of exhibitors on show and an hour into opening it was already bustling with activity and demos. 

There were some gorgeous flamingo cushions made from antique tapestry which I wanted so badly from Eclectic Chair stand, which featured lots of uber kitsch vintage textile prints 

I also really liked the Caslon & Co stand. They make soft furnishings and linens using antique printing blocks with clean geometric patterning (

I bumped into one of the lovely contributors to the recent Pretty Nostalgic feature 'Let the Light In' who was showcasing her Radiance lighting collection (

And received a lovely wallpaper sample from Claire Murray (

There were some wonderful items on the Flitty Bird stand, including the most adorable ceramic bunny necklaces by And Mary ( not interior stuff I know but cute non the less!) I've since been looking at the Flitty Bird website and there are some great products and brands on there (

The highlight for me were the Helaina Sharpley wire sculptures in particular the impressive townscape that came of the wall. They had a beautifully fragile quality to them, and a certain vintage feel with the chosen subject matter of other pieces being teacups, spoons and clocks.


All in all a great event filled with wonderful local makers and designers! 

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Rosylee Tearooms, Northern Quarter, Manchester: NEW FAVE SPOT!

Tonight I finally got round to visiting the new Rosylee Tearooms in Stevenson Square and I have to say its a big thumbs up and quite possibly my new favourite place in town!

There is a hint of Parisian chic in the decor with its black and white chequerboard tiled flooring and the ambience created by the background music of jazz and swing.

As well as this there is a certain botanical influence which can be seen in both the menu design and the decor. In the main dining area there's an ivy covered ceiling, and bell jars filled with flowers and plants line the long tables bringing a bit of nature to the indoors.

The botanical inspiration feeds through into the impressive cocktail list which combines floral flavours like rose and violet, with both English and more exotic teas and hedgerow and garden fruits.

I was spoilt for choice but opted for one from the Hedgerow Slings menu, a Trellis and Briar, which was a fragrant fusion of rose, elderflower and cucumber.

On top of this espressos, vanilla Chai's and wine were consumed, before some lighter bites from the food menu including the most delicious Courgette Fritters.
We just kept on going, the menu too tempting to pass up on sampling the main courses too. 

I chose a beautifully presented take on the classic Caesar salad with Parmesan Crisp, the chicken filled with a wonderfully light Pancetta and Parsley mousse.

Everyone in our group couldn't praise the place highly enough, from the friendly service, to the decor and quality of the food and drink. Yes it was a little pricier than your average tea room but well worth it.

My only criticism was that I didn't get to sample any of the cake (!) but I'm already planning a trip back soon to indulge in the afternoon tea menu.

Here's hoping it doesn't get spoiled by the unsavoury characters that seem to be taking over our beloved Northern Quarter these days.