Monday, October 31, 2011

Searching for beauty in imperfection at Rough Luxe Hotel, London

I wanted to bring to you something themed a little spooky, old and inhabited by ghosts tonight as we are celebrating Halloween already in the Southern hemisphere and I came across a fabulous video clip about a hotel in London.

The London hotel is called Rough Luxe in WC1, it's a beautiful curiosity, part art, part history, part part..

The architect/designer Rabih Hage explains that his achievements are deliberate, all planned and that what you see is his vision.  Artists and interior designers have collaborated to great effect. The result is a hotel where you may feel you've booked into an art installation.

Take a look...

Enjoy your Halloween...


Friday, October 28, 2011

Shadow Art and Puppetry with Lior

I discovered a delightful example of shadow art and puppetry with this song by Lior.


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Halloween fast approaching

With Halloween the next big date on the calendar I've seen lots of festive pumpkins displayed everywhere I go. Young master Finley is really excited about this scary date on Monday and is looking forward to trick or treating. So to get us in the mood but of course, with a nautical nod, I've found an image or two that celebrate ghosts on board.

This Malibu Boats (@MalibuBoats) Wakesetter 21 is sitting in Tim McHales driveway for their 9th annual Halloween Party. The last 3 years they used their Wakesetter as a prop. Tim writes, "What you miss in the photo is the captain of the boat talking to you, the cannon fires with lights and smoke, and the constant smoke to set the fog on the seas"

Thank you Tim for sharing this cool and spooky photo of your Wakesetter.

And Jack the pirate pumpkin appears courtesy of 

What many of you won't know is that immediately following Halloween on 31st is Melbourne Cup day, when the race that stops a nation will be taking place on the 1st Tuesday in November.

All of Australia will break at race time and sit glued to a telly screen with a betting slip or sweepstake stub in their hand, wishing their nag across the 1500metre finish line. This year I'll be at the office get-together, a glass of bubbly in one hand and morsel of sushi in the other. Hopefully with the winning ticket too.

In the meantime I'm getting into the Halloween spirit and shall add a new piece to my art arsenal tomorrow featuring my favourite of the moment, skulls. Talking of which I shall finish with my wishlist piece... this magnificent Alexander McQueen clutch, one of many clutch bag variations at the haut couture label. Love Love Love it...

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Memories are made of this

I'm so happy with the way this video clip of ours turned out. Hubby did a great job of laying down the tracks to the video. It captures all the preparation for a lovely relaxing day on the water.

I hope you all enjoy it too.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Chevrons and geometric

I'm giving pinterest and houzz a go today and shall share a few of my favourite chevron inspired designs here.


Monday, October 17, 2011

Recent treasuries, pictures and a lucky winner

Ahoy there

I thought you might like to see some treasuries that feature my prints and a couple of photos of my art prints in situ as a little inspiration. Lisa in Melbourne sent me this picture which shows a lovely bright bedroom with the Vintage flags spelling out BEN on the wall. Thanks Lisa.

Jumbo Jet aircraft elevation as seen in this treasury.

The Pirate Promise is here in the scurvy treasury.

I love this Navy inspired treasury.

Congratulations go out to Annie who has been picked as the lucky winner of's giveaway of an Empressionista $50 gift card. I shall be emailing this to you in the next day or two.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Messing about on the water

Sunday saw us out on the boat for the first time this Spring. It was a lovely sunny day with a slight wind. Children were out in the lazers learning to sail and even the dog walkers were throwing the ball into the water for their dogs to chase after.

Heading out from Newport.

Arriving at our sheltered bay out of the direct wind and close to the beach.

Its a great place to fish, snorkel, read the Sunday Papers and ponder the scenery.

Finley loves to swim ashore and find some playmates.

Then when he's hungry and I might add, only when he's hungry does he make his way back for some sushi!

Alas the fish weren't biting but we had a fabulous relaxing time.


Saturday, October 15, 2011

Cabinet of Curiosities in London

My days of living in London are far behind me now, but I remember my walk in the mornings to catch the tube from Angel to the City where I used to work in Swan Street at an investment bank. My strolls used to take me through a lesser known and idyllic area of London known as Bloomsbury. It's a locale where chic meets old worlde, with small single lane streets, Victorian and Regency mews, very quiet corner pubs etc.

In recent years a number of bijoux shops have opened up there and one in particular which I discovered via the net today, by the name of Ben Penreath. Ben specialises in architectural design, decoration and interiors. The shop is full of wonderful curios all with a coastal old world atmosphere, plus he has an online presence too.

The plaster cast cameos by Peter Hone are wonderful. I love using plaster of Paris and should get to create more items with it.

 If you're into specimen boxes, delightfully detailed botanical prints and sconces, you'll find plenty here.

Architecture is his forte, and you can go online to buy directly from the shop, there's an exciting variety of Victorian pieces coupled with antiques and marine specimens. With unique items and accessories for all areas of your house this is definitely a "must try".

I really love the the sconces I have a pair of old spanish oak sconces in my place with rich ivy carving on which sits a little blue indian incense canister.

Charming candles and crockery plus a miriad of printed gift wraps are there to tantilise.

 Originally the front room of a house,this section of the shop faces the street and I would definitely make a detour inside to get my fill of inspiration.

Images via Wee Birdy.

The specimens below are from The specimen box on etsy, based in Fernandina Beach, Florida their stunning collection of hand made specimen boxes share a likeness with those in Ben Penreath's London shop.

Have a great weekend.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Love, Love, Love - Love is all you need

Having recently written a post about Ringo Starr and Barbara Bach pictured below, I was happy to see that the other remaining Beetle, Sir Paul McCartney is in the news today.

Sir Paul just got married yesterday Sunday 9th October in an intimate ceremony held at Old Marylebone Town Hall in London, not far from his North London home.

His new wife US heiress, Nancy Shevell's wedding dress was a beautifully tailored design from daughter Stella McCartney and looked perfect.

The London tabloid's had been expecting the wedding was imminent as a marquee was being set up at Paul's london resident in St. John's Wood, just up the road.

Hundreds of fans joined well wishers to greet the happy couple outside. Macca chose yesterday to tie the knot as it was former Beetle, John Lennon's birthday, he would have turned 71. Amongst the guests were David Gilmour of Pink Floyd, Ronnie Wood of the Rolling Stones, former model Twiggy, US cousin to Nancy Shevell broadcaster Barbara Walters, Jools Holland OBE formerly of Squeeze and Sir David Frost.

Last night's marquee reception was held at his North London home attended by 100 guests.

Paul McCartney married his first wife Linda Eastman also at Old Marylebone Town Hall, which is about one mile from the location of this album cover picture. That's EMI Records' head office at 20 Manchester Square, London W1. I know I worked there for three years on the floor above where the Beetles stand. Such fond memories!!

McCartney gave his bride a vintage-style Neil Lane diamond eternity band featuring 5-carats of square cut diamonds set in platinum. (The singer proposed with a 5-plus carat, flawless diamond art deco ring, also from the celebrity jeweler.)

Wishing the newly weds many years of happiness together.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

There's an angel I'm watching over - The Spirit of Ecstasy

I have totally fallen in love

it's a love of an angel

an angel so elegant

an angel of the 1920's

an angel of silver, of gold and bronze

whose wings catch the wind

8 versions were created
the sixth version resides here 
she was sculpted by Charles Sykes

and adorns the bonnets of a Great British icon

On the Rolls Royce Corniche

On the Rolls Royce Silver Ghost

On the Rolls Royce Phantom

And the Silver Seraph

This sculpted lady leaning forwards with arms outstretched behind her, capturing the wind billowing in cloth sleeves, resembling wings has stood atop the Rolls Royce for 100 years.

The Spirit of Ecstasy, also called "Emily", "Silver Lady" or "Flying Lady", was designed by Charles Robinson Sykes and carries with it a story about a secret passion between John Walter Edward Douglas-Scott-Montagu, (second Lord Montagu of Beaulieu after 1905, a pioneer of the automobile movement, and editor of The Car Illustrated magazine from 1902) and his secret love and the model for the emblem, Eleanor Velasco Thornton. Eleanor was John Walter's secretary, and their love was to remain hidden, limited to their circle of friends, for more than a decade. The reason for the secrecy was Eleanor's impoverished social and economic status, which was an obstacle to their love. John-Walter, succumbing to family pressures, married Lady Cecil Victoria Constance, but the secret love affair continued.

Eleanor died on 30 December 1915, going down with the SS Persia, when the ship was torpedoed off Crete by a German submarine, whilst she accompanied Lord Montagu on his journey to India, four years after she had been immortalized by her bereaved lover.

When Montagu commissioned his friend Sykes to sculpt a personal mascot for the bonnet of his Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost, Sykes chose Eleanor Thornton as his model. Sykes originally crafted a figurine of her in fluttering robes, pressing a finger against her lips - to symbolise the secrets of their love. The figurine was consequently named The Whisper and is on display at theNational Motor Museum, Beaulieu along with other Spirit of Ecstasy figurines.

The very first Rolls-Royce motorcars did not feature radiator mascots; they simply carried the Rolls-Royce emblem. This, however, was not enough for their customers who believed that such a prestigious vehicle as a Rolls-Royce motorcar should have its own luxurious mascot, and by 1910 personal mascots had become the fashion of the day. Rolls-Royce were concerned to note that some owners were affixing "inappropriate" ornaments to their cars. Claude Johnson, then managing director of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, was asked to see to the commissioning of something more suitably dignified and graceful.

He turned to Charles Sykes, a young artist friend and a graduate of London's Royal College of Art, to produce a mascot which would adorn all future Rolls-Royce cars and become generic to the marque, with the specifications that it should convey "the spirit of the Rolls-Royce, namely, speed with silence, absence of vibration, the mysterious harnessing of great energy and a beautiful living organism of superb grace..."

Sykes' brief from Claude Johnson had been to evoke the spirit of mythical beauty, Nike, whose graceful image was admired in The Louvre, but Sykes was not impressed. He felt that a more feminine representation might be apt.

It was again Miss Thornton whom he had in mind. Sykes chose to modify ‘The Whisper’ into a version similar to today's; ‘The Spirit of Ecstasy’. He called this first model The Spirit of Speed. Later, Charles Sykes called it "A graceful little goddess, the Spirit of Ecstasy, who has selected road travel as her supreme delight and alighted on the prow of a Rolls-Royce motor car to revel in the freshness of the air and the musical sound of her fluttering draperies." He presented the mascot to the company in February 1911.

Claude Johnson devised the description of The Spirit of Ecstasy, he described how Sykes had sought to convey the image of "the spirit of ecstasy, who has selected road travel as her supreme delight......she is expressing her keen enjoyment, with her arms outstretched and her sight fixed upon the distance."

Royce was ill during the commissioning of the flying lady. He did not believe the figurine enhanced the cars, asserting that it impaired the driver's view, and was rarely seen driving one of his company's vehicles adorned with the mascot.

Sykes' signature appeared on the plinth and were either signed "Charles Sykes, February 1911" or "Feb 6, 1911" or "6.2.11". Even after Rolls-Royce took over the casting of the figures in 1948 each Spirit of Ecstasy continued to receive this inscription until 1951.

The Spirit of Ecstasy was also manufactured by the British firm Louis Lejeune for a number of years.

Royce made sure it was officially listed as an optional extra, but in practice it was fitted on almost all cars after that year, becoming a standard fitting in the early 1920s. Automobiles change with the times, and the Spirit of Ecstasy was no exception. It was silver plated from 1911 until 1914 when the mascot was made with nickel or chromealloy to dissuade theft. The only departure from this came in Paris at the competition for the most apposite mascot of 1920, where a gold-plated version won first place. Gold-plated versions were subsequently available at additional cost.

Although it seems unchanged, the mascot had eleven main variations in its life. Lowered height of coachwork forced subsequent reductions in the mascot size. Consequently, several alterations in the original design were made.

Sykes was once again commissioned by Rolls-Royce in the 1930s to make a lower version of the mascot to suit the sports saloons.
[edit]Kneeling version

The kneeling lady mascot was unveiled on 26 January 1934 (devised for the Phantom III of 1936-1939) and was as undeniably a reflection of Eleanor as it was a symbol of the Rolls-Royce. It also bore on the plynth the inscription "C. Sykes, 26.1.34", the date when the first piece was finished. This version was, however, discontinued after theSilver Wraith, the Silver Dawn andPhantom IV models, in favour of a smaller version of the original standing mascot, and so it remains to date.
[edit]The Flying Lady

In the United States the mascot is called The Flying Lady. The Flying Lady was a modified version of The Spirit of Ecstasy figurine to make it bow a little farther in order to protect the bonnet.
[edit]Modern Spirit of Ecstasy

Today's Spirit of Ecstasy from the Silver Seraph (and the Corniche of the same bodystyle) model onward stands at 3 inches and, for safety, is mounted on a spring-loaded mechanism designed to retract instantly into the radiator shell if struck from any direction. There is a button within the vehicle which can retract/extend the emblem when pressed. She can be made of highly polished stainless steel, or stainless with a sterling silver plate or 24-carat gold plate, the sterling silver and gold being optional extras.

The only two Rolls-Royces this mascot does not appear on currently is the first Phantom IV delivered to the then Princess Elizabeth in 1950, which carries the British Queen's mascot of St. George on horseback, slaying a dragon, designed by artist Edward Seago. However this mascot is interchangeable so it can be placed in any of the Royal fleet's cars.

On the other side, Princess Margaret chose Pegasus (by Louis Lejeune) as hood ornament for her 1954 Phantom IV.