Marcella Wylie


A few days ago we spotted this beautiful cushion cover and had to investigate further!

The design is by an artist called Marcella Wylie, who produces as well as beautiful illustrations and paintings (many of which can be bought as prints), printed items like phone cases, plates, bags, scarves and, of course, cushion covers. Most designs feature flowers and/or animals and use really vividly coloured inks to create striking images. We loved the contrast of the bright realism of the  orchids with the black and white flower outlines and the splash of, err, leopard print. (Because they are leopard orchids, right? We know!)

Marcella’s gorgeous designs are available on items from her Etsy shop. And that lovely cushion is only £50, which considering they are handmade to order, seems like very good value indeed! What a pity it’s still too early to think about Christmas…

A Morris Moment

Embed from Getty Images

We’ve recently noticed that William Morris, iconic designer of prints like those above and associate of the Pre-Raphaelites,  is having a bit of a moment – a minor Morris moment, if you will! He is the man who said ‘have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful’ – which is a fine principle to follow.

You know how we firmly believe House of Hackney prints to be beautiful? Well, they have brought out a range of prints in collaboration with the William Morris Gallery, taking three original patterns (Peacock and Dragon, Hyacinth and Blackthorn) and developing an entirely new one: Artemis.  This is the lovely Hyacinth wallpaper in teal (it come in a range of colours):


And this is the stunning Artemis wallpaper in grape (also comes in a range of other colours):


As well as wallpapers, the prints are also featured in House of Hackney’s soft furnishing and clothing ranges. (Please note that House of Hackney own all copyright in the two pictures of its wallpaper above).

But it’s not just House of Hackney. Barbour have just brought out a range of jackets lined with Morris prints! Here is the Ruskin jacket, lined with the Acanthus print (one of the original working drawings for Acanthus is shown on the left in the picture at the top of this post):


We love the way the lining is also let into the sleeve:


Useful and beautiful indeed!

After The Kelpies, a Puppy

You might remember that we recently visited The Kelpies. We seem to have a it of an animal theme  as Our Man In Bilbao recently  took this picture of Jeff Koon’s Puppy outside the Guggenheim:

photo 4

Puppy is a 13 metre tall steel West Highland Terrier, covered in growing plants. It was originally created to stand outside a castle in Germany in 1992. In 1995, it was dismantled and recreated in Australia at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney Harbour. Two years later, it was bought by the Solomon R Guggenheim Foundation and placed outside the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. (When it was first placed there a plot was foiled to use it as a cover for explosive-filled flowerpots, sadly leading to the death of a police officer called Jose María Aguirre – the square that Puppy stands in is now named after him.)

Jeff Koons said that the purpose of the piece was to create optimism, and to instil  “confidence and security.” And who doesn’t feel a bit better for seeing a flower-covered puppy?

Puppy is a permanent exhibit but there is a Jeff Koons retrospective at the Guggenheim Bilbao until September 27 2015.

A visit to The Kelpies

A kelpie is a Scottish water spirit, who usually appears as a horse. But Andy Scott’s Kelpies are a pair of sculptures that since April 2014 have stood 30 metres above the entrance to the Forth and Clyde Canal in Falkirk, Scotland. You can glimpse them from the road nearby, but that doesn’t really do them justice. Up close (and you can walk right up to  them and even, on a guided tour, inside them) they are spectacular.

Andy Scott is a Scottish sculptor who specialises in public art and his work can be seen in England, Northern Ireland and Australia as well as Scotland. The Kelpies’ maquettes (smaller, preliminary works – in this case 1:10 scale) have also been exhibited in the US, most recently in Bryant Park, NYC. Interestingly, he was given the title ‘The Kelpies’ to work with right at the start of the project, rather than it being something decided retrospectively. Andy then developed the idea from its beginning in mythology to something which encompasses the idea of the horse as the driving force of the early industrial revolution – including of course the heavy horses that pulled the canal boats when the canals first opened. (Two Clydesdale horses called Duke and Baron were the actual models.) Each sculpture weighs 300 tonnes and is made of 990 stainless steel plates.


The Kelpies are not without  their detractors. Jonathan Jones writing in The Guardian (22/4/14) called them ‘banal and obvious’, saying that they are ‘neither well observed nor powerfully imagined’. But if we may be so bold (and you know that we are not usually controversial), we think that he is missing the point as he sees them as sculptures of horses.  But they are not horses, they are kelpies and they say something  about our relationships with water, earth and industry. We think they do it very well indeed.


Do you remember Cecelia? The Dan Hillier print we bought a while ago? (Here is a link to the post about it).


Well, we finally got round to taking her to the framing shop.

First step was to chose a mount – easier said than done. Our first thought was that it should be a pale grey, but in practice all the greys were too dark and actually looked more like blues against the print. Luckily the shop had a range of different colours:


But even opting for white mean that there were still decisions to take – some of the whites looked too yellow or too pink against the print. And the one that was the brightest white…well, it looked too white! Eventually we chose the one on the left in this picture:


That one is called ‘French White’, which has a suitably sophisticated ring to it! (Please note that it is not Ice White, Goosedown, Polar White, Spanish White, Matte White, Igloo, Frost, Fairfield White, Cobblestone, Almond or Photo White – and those are just the ‘white’ colours from the same manufacturer. There are others, with different colours of white mount card!

But the colour of the card wasn’t the only decision to be made about the mount. We also had to decide whether to have the print window mounted, or float mounted. Window mounted is the more traditional of the two – the print sits behind the mount, which has a ‘window’ cut out so that the print can be seen through it. Float mounting puts the print on top of the mount so that the edge of the print is visible. It’s usually used with a box frame so that there is some physical depth to the finished picture. We went for window mounting for two reasons. One is that the edge of the print is just a straight cut and not particularly interesting in itself. The other is that Cecelia’s headress (or is it her hair? Or her feathers?) fills the top of the print and we didn’t want to take away from that affect. That’s also why we chose to have the mount go straight up to the edge of the image rather than leave a few millimetres  of the paper outside the print showing. The borders will be slightly narrower at the sides than they are at the top and the bottom.

So finally, the frame.  Once again, there was quite a choice:


The plan was to get something plainish, but not too plain, with a silver-gilt colour. With some help we settled on this one:


So that’s all the decisions made and now we just have to wait 7-10 days until she is ready for collection. Thank you very much, Framework Picture Framers, for all your help and advice!

Gravely Gorgeous


You know we are all about lovely things – sometimes ‘lovely’ is in the eye of the beholder.

This is Magz the Guardian Dragon. She’s based on a pair of dragons that guard the doors of St Margaret’s Episcopal Church in Leith, Edinburgh. And she’s made by a company called Gravely Gorgeous, which produces wall art based on gargoyles and   grotesques found in Edinburgh. They make them from jesmonite, which uses real stone to make a composite material which looks like stone and is safer than fibreglass and lighter than concrete. Jesmonite is also suitable for outdoor use – and Magz is destined for a wall in South Yorkshire (we hope she enjoys the move south of the border and doesn’t feel the need to breathe fire on anyone).

The man behind Gravely Gorgeous is Philip Obermarck, a visual artist and sculptor who was born in the US but now lives in Scotland. A lot of his work other than for Gravely Gorgeous has quite a dark aspect to it, but Magz looks quite friendly – for a dragon.

Gravely Gorgeous sells online and ships internationally.

Dan Hillier


This is ‘Cecelia Huntress’ and as soon as she has a suitable frame she will be gracing our walls! She’s the work of Dan Hillier and we first saw her round the corner from Dennis Severs’ House, at the Sunday Upmarket in Brick Lane.

A lot of Dan’s work combines Victorian images with animal features – usually fur, feathers, tentacles or claws and there is often something surreal, dark and strange about them. Other images are influenced by iconography, travel and spiritual experiences. He has exhibited in London, Paris, New York and Turin in both solo and group shows.

Limited edition prints are available direct from Dan’s website.

Trevor Jones

Last week, we went to the Edinburgh Art Fair, which is Scotland’s largest annual art show. One of the highlights was seeing the work of (and getting to meet) Trevor Jones, a Canadian artist who lives and works in Edinburgh and whose work combines oil painting and augmented reality. Scan a painting with a special, free, app (Junaio) and a whole other world is revealed. So, for example, scan the cherry blossoms on his business card with a phone or an iPad and a slightly unsettling walk through the Edinburgh Botanic Gardens unfolds. Scan the painting of the mechanism of the Eiffel Tower and the see in action the mechanism that takes the cars to the viewing platforms.

It’s a bit difficult to explain, but visit his website to see the work in action. Trevor uses technology to enhance the viewer’s experience of his art, but his work isn’t technology-led. He has a degree in fine art and teaches drawing and painting at the Leith School of Art. His slogan is ‘where art meets technology’ and it is clearly art that comes first, with the technological aspect helping to explore what we really see in front of us. The paintings are beautiful in their own right rather than just being a vehicle (and check out the lovely tree drawings on the site).

So it’s exciting stuff and we are looking forward to seeing where Trevor’s art takes him. He takes commissions, so if your decor is missing a truly original artwork, he might be the man to help!