Monday, 29 June 2009

Ghandi's Paper - Kalamkhush


I made this exciting discovery on the last day of my visit to Ahmedabad back in the spring. Ghandhi's philosophies on hand spinning and weaving cotton are well known, but it is perhaps a little less known that he also encouraged the hand making of paper. This small factory opposite the Ghandhi Ashram on the outskirts of Ahmedabad uses waste products such as textile scraps to create it's fabulous artisan papers .


The site itself is inspiring a campus of ancient warehouses that seem to date from Victorian times, you are free to wander from building to building witnessing huge piles and washing lines of drying papers.



Finally walking through another industrial loft, wishing I could transport it back to London to create my own often dreamt of live/work space, I came to the shop. Of course I could have easily bought up half the stock, but realizing that my case was well over weight. I had to be satisfied with a few writing pads and some cute files !

Fair Dinkum - Some Details


A few detail shots from Carter's Steam Fair - taken in isolation they look like a strange combination of 30's cartoons and modern textile prints. A sort of 'Flash Gordon wears Versace' aesthetic perhaps...? 





Saturday, 27 June 2009

Fair Dinkum

I hate to be a killjoy - but I've never been a fan of funfairs.  Being violently thrown around by a selection of garish machines specifically designed to induce nausea? Being forced to listen to an endless loop of Whigfield's 'Saturday Night' whilst queuing for a rancid hot dog? Not really my cup of tea, thanks. 

Last Saturday, however, I was forced to re evaluate my position. Had I been putting the 'unfair' into funfair? (Ouch. Sorry, I just couldn't resist it). If anything was going to persuade me, it was the magnificence of Carter's Steam Fair. 


Thirty years ago, John Carter started collecting unloved and discarded funfair rides and restoring them to their former glory. The result is an amazing working museum, filled with the most wonderful classic fairground attractions. Walking in, you're immediately transported back to a time where candy floss was an exotic novelty and a man could prove his mettle at the coconut shy. There's a civilised, 'old school' feel to the fair, with nothing more violent or extreme than the dodgems (although I must say that the 'hook-a-duck' booth did look somewhat perilous.)


Every inch of the Carter rides are filled with traditional fairground art - and it's all gorgeous - from surreal merry-go-round figures, to celebrations of turn of the century soldiers - it's an glorious tribute to the past. The dedication and attention to detail brought by the Carter team is extraordinary - even the ice cream van is a thing of beauty.


There was so much great stuff at Carters that you'll probably be seeing a few more posts over the coming days - but for the time being, here's a taster of all the fun of the fair.




Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Sumptuous Saris


I found these sari lengths on my recent trip to India, I was taken to a shop that sold only cotton printed saris, they are printed on almost transparent cotton. Amid the myriad of designs I was particularly taken by these almost 70's style prints, some reminiscent of prints found on cleaning cloths in the west, others like some synthetic design from a small town timewarp dress fabric shop. What makes them really fresh and modern is the fine cotton they're printed from. They come highly starched and are almost like great folded sheets of wrapping paper, and each has a small contrast piece to make the traditional 'Choli' blouse always worn under a sari. I am hoping to develop a range of lanterns from them !




Sunday, 21 June 2009



Here at The Curious Eye, we would never be so vulgar as to discuss money. But we hear that there seems to be some sort of 'crisis' happening at the moment, and that there's less of it around. Bummer.

Luckily we have the perfect solution. If you really want a never ending fountain of cash, there's one available. And it's guarded by two very stylish lions.


They're part of an incredible collection of 50's sculptures by Donald Gilbert that originally formed part of the facade of the Bank of England building in the City of London. Unmistakably of their era - they're a great combination of classical British imagery and mid-century modern style. 


Appropriate to their original destination, the sculptures shamelessly celebrate wealth. Some even eroticise it. This fella really gives a new meaning to the phrase 'horn of plenty'.


So, if you're a big fan of Mammon - these could be the just the right ornaments for your own personal bank vault.

The Bank of England Statuary Collection is now for sale at Westland London.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Illustrated book of the week - The School Prints


We at The Curious Eye love a bit of nostalgia, a fact that most of our regular readers will have spotted by now. So the content of this weeks Illustrated book of the week will come as no surprise.
I discovered the book appropriately in Margret Howell who always has a wonderful selection of books ripe with mid-century nostalgia. The book traces the output of a company called School Prints Ltd set up in the 1930's with the aim of 'bringing art to children who' by virtue of their background, would be unlikely to visit rather grand awe-inspiring galleries.' This high minded project has provided us with a collection of heart-warming prints that take us back to school days with memories of half pint milk bottles, nature tables and singing hymns in assembly. I can almost smell the mashed potatoes and steamed sponge pudding!




The School Prints - A Romantic Project, written and published by Ruth Artmonsky, tells the human story behind this publishing house, the book and selected prints from a stash of originals are available from The School Prints

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Backstreet Art - Shacklewell Lane

Like most of East London, Dalston is a study in contrasts. The roughest urban grit meets the most daring creative spirits. Overdressed fashion students share caf├ęs with Turkish construction workers. Clubs filled with Yardies exist side by side with 'alternative art spaces' - catering to retro hungry bisexual trendies. It's dizzying and dirty and fascinating.


Nothing sums this up to me like this art piece. Hidden down a side street in Shacklewell, an ancient advertising hoarding has been hi-jacked. The frame is almost as fascinating as its contents - dirty, forgotten and falling apart - not much of a temptation to any modern advertiser - it's transformed by the work of an anonymous artist.


Fittingly, the image seems to make a comment about urban blight. A Victorian lovely enjoys her verdant surroundings, while an industrial plant in the background pours waste into the river. 

An image that shows us the origins of industrial ugliness becomes something that now beautifies an ugly industrial area - how appropriate.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Wall Plates


This fabulous wall painting on plates is by my talented friend Paula Juchem, Hello Paula !
Check out her website for more examples of her exciting work

Monday, 8 June 2009

Chelseas' plastic garden


There was a bit of a scandal at the Chelsea Flower Show this year ! Someone had dared to present a garden with not a single sign of organic growth in the whole lot. Judges feathers were ruffled, other exhibitors protested, but the general public seamed quite fascinated.


The garden was created as part of a documentary series about the history of toys presented by James May . It was in fact entirely modeled from Plasticine, and turned out to be a massive group effort, with contributors including, school children, Chelsea pensioners, housewives, and of course the odd professional model maker like those from Wallace and Gromit creators and Teletubbies design team.





The garden was so well made and all its' details so fascinating that it was of course a wild success, and put a smile on all but the staunchest of Chelsea's' fuddy duddy faces.


Saturday, 6 June 2009

Saloni Di Mobile - Richard Ginori


This will be the last of my 'Milano' posts but it's worth the wait! It was my most enjoyable event at the fair and a lot of other people felt the same way ! I've borrowed the description from the cool hunting blog as I couldn't have put it better my self.


The esteemed porcelain manufacturer Richard Ginori, an Italian company with roots dating back to 1735, mounted the most remarkable and talked about installation in the Zona Tortona this year. Conceived by the MIlanese designer Paola Navone, she set the awe-inspiring installation within the Tortona's loftiest warehouse space, a massive volume bathed in resplendent natural light by the soaring skylights overhead.

The sweeping installation, which marries life-size images of the Ginori factory with meticulously-styled vignettes, manages to convey a deep reverence for the company without coming across conceited. At the far end of the warehouse space, Otto design, the team responsible for set up, installed a towering mosaic of hand-painted Ginori plates that suggests a cathedral's stained glass windows.




The final stroke of genius was transforming the latter half of the warehouse space into an ad-hoc cafe. The frenzy of the Tortona district faded away as we lingered amongst a grouping of lacquered dining tables (each with its own monumental Ginori centerpiece) to nibble on some biscuits, cheese and prosciutto—if this is the Ginori lifestyle, we're ready to live it.