Sydney is full of interesting and exciting independent shops without the mass of high street chain shops thet we have here in the UK. One Thursday morning I visited a shop I have wanted to visit for a long time: The Society Inc, stylist and author Sibella Court’s shop at 18 Stewart Street, Paddington. With time restrictions on us, my husband and son went off with the camera to Deus Ex Machina, a shop he has been lusting at from afar for a long time too, and I headed to Sibella’s store with our daughter, armed only with my iPhone to take snaps (so please excuse the quality).
Having viewed the shop online from London it was a treat to visit, a treasure trove of curiosities and useful every day handy items. It was a small shop packed to the rafters with interesting bits and bobs, a combination of vintage, utility and sparkly. Everywhere your eye turned a new goodie was spotted. There was also a beautiful selection of paint designed by The Society Inc for Murobond, colours changing each quarter to transport you to different ‘societies’. I chatted with lovely Hannah in the store who kindly let me take these photos.
Sibella is a stylist and author whose work I admire and her books, Etcetera, Nomad and Bowerbird, are a joy to look through and a pleasure to have on my shelves, now even more so after visiting her gorgeous shop. If you are ever in Sydney do drop by.
Of course I came home wih a few treats, including a sparkly item that now sits on my mantlepiece glinting in the sun. I think I must be part magpie, part bowerbird.
April 25, 2013 in inspiring places
We are back home after having had the most fantastic time in Australia. We spent the first week in Sydney visiting friends and it was truly wonderful to catch up with them all. We saw many of the sights: the Rocks, the Bridge, the Opera House, the Botanical Gardens, Anish Kapoor at the Museum of Contemporary Art (which we all loved) and many more. I managed to fit in a browse around some of the shops, but there were so many more I would have loved to visit. The weather was beautiful and we spent as much time on the beach as we did exploring the city. My son started surfing and if we weren’t on the beach, he was asking when we would be. Bondi became our local and we also walked to Bronte, had sushi at Watson’s Bay and took the ferry to Manly.
I took these photos as I wandered around Paddington and Woollahra with my camera, close to the lovely house where we stayed. These late 19th Century buildings were beautiful, the iron work like lace and the patterned shadows they created so delicate. Now gentrified and fashionable, the area has a creative and stylish feel. The architectural planting and satin silver house numbers made the Victorian homes contemporary rather than twee, and the newer colour choices were all dark, moody and sublime and the few coloured facades had faded to dusky tones. I could have walked around the area for hours more.
I found myself photographing the details, tones and patterns created by these homes but I hope this gives you a little feel for this beautiful part of Sydney.
February 3, 2013 in inspiring places
One freezing morning last month, I caught an early train out of London to look at a location for a magazine shoot I have been working on. The countryside was covered in frost and the fields whizzed before my eyes. I love how the landscape became pastel, the colours watered down by the layer of frost. Trees disappeared, fading into the distance, becoming ghostly in the damp, foggy air. I took these images through the window of the train, capturing fleeting moments of time on a chilly English morning.
Taking photos through windows and abstracting the landscape has become a regular thing I do on long journeys now. It began through the car window whilst visiting Tate Modern one rainy day and from the train on my family trip to Edinburgh last October. I have some more images through the windows of a boat, taken on a family day trip over Christmas, that I will post soon too.
Every year I decorate my tree in a mixture of these charming handmade Croatian decorations called ‘licitar’. This year is no different with the children helping me to hang them, carefully placing the galloping horses around the bottom branches of the tree. The top of the tree, where the children cannot reach, is hung with the smaller hearts, all slightly different, bought and collected over the years as our trees have grown to fit the spaces we live in. I have bought more of these gorgeous decorations every time I visit Zagreb.
They remind me of my childhood too. We always decorated the tree on Christmas Eve to the sound of Croatian carol singing and these decorations are unique to the Zagreb area. I love their homemade, naive and folkloric quality and I have not seen anything quite the same anywhere else. They are made from a type of honey dough, dipped in a red glaze and intricately decorated with fine piped icing, mirrors added for a little sparkle and sometimes a touch of découpage too. I painted this freehand Christmas tree on to a blank canvas for a bit of fun and to make it a feature.
They can be bought in various shapes and sizes such as hearts, horses, horseshoes, boots, birds, cherries and wreathes, and although they are sometimes referred to as gingerbread they don’t in fact contain any ginger.
Amazingly their origin dates back to the 16th century where decorated cakes were made in convents, in intricately carved moulds, and were sold in fairs and church festivals. In 2010 this style of Croatian craft was added to a UNESCO heritage list in order to help preserve its cultural significance. Nowadays the heart shapes are also given at Valentine’s Day and ‘volim te’ means ‘I love you’ in Croatian.
I hope you like them as much as I do, they really are one of my favourite things.
Sretan Božić! (HappyChristmas!)
We usually try to get away for a city break during autumn half term to recharge and and gain inspiration from a change of scene. One of the reasons (or excuses!) for our recent trip to Edinburgh was to visit my lovely friend, photographer Uli Schade and her husband Andrew Dick, who have just re-located there from London. It is Andrew’s home town and since the summer they have been busy bees, designing and opening a new destination menswear, accessories and home wares shop at number 3, North West Circus Place in Stockbridge, a beautiful Georgian terrace on a cobbled street in one of Edinburgh’s smartest areas. It is now open and they celebrated with a launch party this week. Please say hello to Dick’s.
All the clothes are sourced with care from all over the world and chosen for a reason, all the companies have a story and a background. Not the usual well-known brands but more interesting small companies, featuring high quality, handmade classic styles for men. Just some of the collection includes hand frame-knitted Shetland Isle jumpers by Laurence J Smith, flannel and chambray shirts from the New England Shirt Company, Dick’s own specification varsity jackets by Golden Bear and Tellason selvedge denim jeans from San Francisco, raincoats by Stutterheim in Sweden, classic Breton tops from France, brogues and boots by Tricker’s and Eastland and superb polos and t-shirts by Sunspel, both from England. It was perfect for my husband who loved it and bought lots. There is much more in the store and they are considering introducing some womenswear in the future too. I look forward to that!
And it’s not just for boys. The accessories and home wares include notebooks made in Paris by La Compagnie du Kraft – “The most unproductive makers of notebooks in the Western world”, incense by Paine’s of Maine, ceramics by Makkum Tichelaar – designed by Atelier NL and made from local Dutch clays (Uli made a fun animated video of them on their Facebook page here). They have leather wallets, pencil cases and footballs made by Sonnenleder in southern Germany, classic canvas bags by Brady, kitchen knives by French company Opinel and Windmuehlenmesser from Germany. There are handmade wooden crows by Mikael Nilsson in Sweden and woodblock letter prints by Chris Sleath, a local printmaker based in Edinburgh, hand-printed especially for Dick’s.
We also had a sneak peak of some fab wooden sledges that will be available for Christmas – the perfect toy for big and little kids!
I have worked with Uli on many occasions over the years, most recently on my Elle Decoration story. She took the images at the top of the post and is continuing to work as a photographer, travelling to London for shoots, but will also now be able to work for companies in Scotland. I also took a few snaps of my own when we visited the shop.
Andrew and Uli have renovated the Georgian shop and basement into a simple and stylish interior – grey plaster walls, washed wooden floor and utilitarian steel and wooden fittings – that allows the beautiful clothes to breath, and the carefully selected home ware items are a perfect complement to the space. The store is only a 10 minute walk from Prince’s Street in the centre through the New Town, at 3 North West Circus Place, Edinburgh EH3 6ST (Tel 0131 226 6220). See map here.
So if you ever visit Edinburgh do pop by and say hello to Andrew and Uli and have a browse in Dick’s. There are perfect things for the men in your life and you can pick up a little something for yourself too!
If you know anyone in or near Edinburgh there please share this page with them. A new Dick’s website and online shop is underway but in the meanwhile you can follow what’s happening and see more of what is on offer if you ‘like’ their Dick’s Facebook page.
I wish Uli and Andrew the very best of success with their new venture and look forward to a return visit soon! x
November 14, 2012 in inspiring places
Over the half term school holiday recently we took a family trip to visit my old stomping ground of Edinburgh. I lived there for three years while studying printed textiles at the art college and we decided to take a city break up in Scotland and visit some friends. The train journey from London to Edinburgh Waverley whizzed by in a flash, as the countryside did through the mud-splattered glass of the windows. I took a little time taking experimental shots out of the window playing with blur and focus, and as the views changed so did my abstracted countryside. It began to rain towards the end of the journey and turned grey and dark, but the rain on the window added another layer to my images and made us really quite pleased to be in a cosy carriage.
Edinburgh is made up of the most beautiful architecture. The old town is Medieval and the new town is Georgian. Everywhere you look the architecture of the buildings is either fairytale or grand and sophisticated and even the new builds are contemporary and architecturally interesting and seem to fit in. For such a large, old city the countryside and sea are so close. Arthur’s Seat, an extinct volcano, juts upwards from almost the centre of the city, the Scottish Parliament at its feet and giving you the most amazing 360 degree views from its peak.
The first morning we walked up Calton Hill where, as a student, I used to visit the Beltane Fire Festival which marks the beginning of summer. At night fire would be carried in procession, drums banged to a rhythm, dancers writhing between columns wearing next to nothing. A pagan celebration that was really quite ‘other worldly’ and magical. In the daytime, it is still an impressive place to visit with large monuments, an observatory and a great view over Edinburgh. When we reached the top, my children pointed straight across to Arthur’s Seat and said “come on Mum, let’s go!”, so this was the morning of two hills. The view from the volcano’s peak was even more staggering, you had a wonderful view of the sea and other surrounding hills and countryside. Wandering around the rest of the city we saw the statue of Greyfriars Bobby and I told my children the sweet tale of this Terrier who sat and guarded his master’s grave for 14 years. The masonry in this graveyard was rather gruesome though, but perfect as it was Halloween.
Another day we wandered through the New Town to Stockbridge, popping in to to see my friend Michelle at the Open Eye Gallery where there was a show of prints by Victor Pasmore, an artist I love. We then walked along the beautiful river of Leith through ancient villages to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art where it was the first day of the new S J Peploe exhibition, one of the Scottish Colourists who are a favourite of mine! It was a perfectly crisp sunny, autumn day and a perfect expedition to end a wonderful trip to Edinburgh.
Above is the view across the old town, with the Castle in the distance at the end of The Royal Mile. The Georgian grandeur of the adjacent New Town streets is gorgeous and virtually all of them retain their original windows and doors. Many still have the family name on a plaque on the front door which really gives the houses personality.
Below are the views from Calton Hill, across to Arthur’s Seat that we climbed, the countryside and out over the Firth of Forth estuary to the North Sea.
We also visited a jewellery designer friend at her home and some more friends who had opened a new shop a few days before we arrived, both of which are wonderful. I have those posts to finish and am looking forward to sharing them with you.
If you’ve never been to Edinburgh it’s a great place to visit, full of history and creativity, and you can walk almost everywhere. Just remember to wrap up warm or before you know it you’ll be popping in to one of the many pubs for a wee dram of whisky to warm you up.
Sania Pell is a freelance interior stylist, creative director and consultant based in London. She is a Contributing Stylist at Elle Decoration magazine, with whom she has worked for over 18 years, and is known for bringing a unique aspect to photographic shoots for national publications, leading international brands and retailers as well as style consultancy for top architecture practices and property development companies. She is the author of best-selling book The Homemade Home and The Homemade Home for Children. A trained, former textile designer, Sania is also involved in many multi-disciplinary creative projects.
To enquire about commissioning Sania for commercial or editorial projects, please use the contact form.