Monday, February 28, 2011


In his beautiful book Subtraction, Clinton Friedman  shares his passion for the beautiful botanicals that grow wild in Africa.

Inspired by the mysterious, twisted and bruised forms he found being sold as 'muti' at traditional medicine stalls in Kwazulu Natal, the photographer set out to document their evocative beauty.

Each image is a restoration.

A burst of life as art, before the healing begins...

xxx elle

Sandra's Cottage

Sandra Foster, transformed a little Victorian hunting cabin into the ultimate romantic retreat.

How inspiring to think that all this romance and whimsy, was achieved with the most humble of budgets.

The chandelier hanging over the sitting area cost a mere $15 at a local flea market, and many of Sandra's other treasures are old and abandoned cast offs, given new life with a lick of paint and a little elbow grease.

A stream runs between the cottage and the trailer-home, that Sandra and her husband Todd share on the 14 acre property, and so all the furnishings had to be light weight enough to be carried over it!

The glorious shabby-chic sleeping alcove is only accessed with a loft ladder, making it the perfect secret hideaway.

xxx elle

found at The New York Times

Please be seated

When Stacey Harwood realised that her white upholstered chair had little chance of preserving its pristine hue, she thought of a charming pre-emptive solution.

Guests were offered a colourful selection of permanent markers, and asked to sign their name.

And they did.

It helps that Ms Harwood's husband David Lehman, is the editor of The Best American Poetry. and so any bottom lucky enough to find itself seated there, would be sitting on some of America's finest writers and poets.

Who would you get to sign your guest chair?

xxx elle

Found on The Improvised Life

Friday, February 25, 2011

Edwyn Collins.

This is Edwyn Collins, singer and songwriter for the band Orange Juice.

Next to him is his manager, wife, helpmate and muse, Grace Maxwell.

I discovered these two extraordinary people in my quest to find yet another roll of wallpaper, destined to lie unused in a cupboard for years to come!

In 2005 Edwyn suffered a near fatal brain haemorrhage, which left him completely debilitated. He was semi paralysed, unable to speak or feed himself, and aphasia made it impossible for him to understand language.

After six months in hospital Grace took him home, and the real rehabilitation began.

As Grace so poignantly recalls in her book 'Falling and Laughing: The restoration of Edwyn Collins':
'I am composed of my thoughts. Imagine it. Suddenly there are no more thoughts. Your brain doesn't work properly. The damage is such that you barely know who you are, the nature of your existence. The loss of your intellect, your wit, doesn't begin to describe it.'

During the intense period of rehabilitation which Grace oversaw, (what she describes as a daily 'stimulus overload') Edwyn began to restore.

As part of his recovery program, Edwyn painstakingly drew a series of bird studies with the use of his left hand.

These exquisitely rendered drawings have been turned into wallpaper.

A symbol of hope and perseverance to beautify your home.

Find them here and feel the human spirit endure.

xxx elle

Thursday, February 24, 2011

all mapped out

I am always anxious at auctions.

 I keep thinking that I will impulsively raise my hand at an inappropriate time, and find myself purchasing a ghastly objet that costs a kings ransom!

For this reason I always take reinforcements, so my daughter Erin joined me at Rudd's recent auction of the Finnerin collection. That way, there is someone around to keep an eye on any errant hand movements!

Amongst the beautiful pieces painstakingly collected by the Finnerins over a lifetime, were a selection of beautiful  maps.

 I am fascinated by the art of cartography.

I find the stories they tell intriguing, they speak to me of the known and the unknown, of destiny and possibility. They are at once a window into the past and the present...

John Noble Wilford in his book 'The Mapmakers' speaks of maps as a ' very human story of heroics and everyday routine, of personal and national rivalries, of imfluential mistakes and brilliant insights, of technologcal innovation, and a passion to explore and understand Earth and the universe...'

The American artist Joyce Kozoff a painter commonly associated with the Pattern and Decoration movement of the 1970's, uses her work to explore map making and the human narratives that are hidden within them.

Kotzoff creates a hybrid of diverse elements using imagery from recipes, books, popular art and cinema to construct her topography. In this way the artist hopes to make sense of the flood of images which bombard all our lives.

Argentinian artist Guillermo Kuitca uses maps to suggest isolation, dislocation and with his almost always figureless works, a haunting sense of loneliness.

The fact that maps often become obsolete as a result of reallignments in power, adds to this feeling of vulnerability.

Kuitca has made use of many objects on which to project his art, and none are more arresting then these small children's mattresses which with their tangled, disjointed streets, map out a forlorn claustrophobic pathway.

Kuitca recalls that he used to wander into shops selling old maps and gather up any that caught his eye, Belgium, Honduras, remote areas of China. 'Then,' says Kuitca ' I got the idea that I was looking at the map to get lost, not to get orientated.' And it becomes clear that his works so theatrical in nature, seem to ask the same existential questions that we all do about 'where we are'.

 Elizabeth Lecourt constructs delicate garments out of the maps she finds

In the same way as the cartographer depicts a map in order to understand the world we are living in, Lecourt tries to access the wearer through the garment she inhabits.

 This work is entitled trust fund girl, naturally using only the very best streets in the neighbourhood.

And so of course, we bring evidence of our own journey, our personal sometimes prejudicial map making to the reading of each work.

 Here, a tiny bird is constructed from a vintage map.

 Delicate and fragile it speaks of a world in flux...

xxx elle