Scandinavian home craft

Lotta Jansdotter has a worldwide reputation for handprinting patterns which are used on textiles, notebooks and household interiors.

“Can’t find what you want?  Make it!  Don’t know how?  Learn it!” is how her website describes her pragmatic approach, much of her printing based on simple potato cut prints, in repeating patterns.

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Her fabrics are stocked by Windham Fabrics but you can learn the techniques of handprinting fabrics in workshops – this year, she ran several in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Brooklyn.

She is planning a source trip to Japan in 2018, and if you’d like join up with her in Tokyo for a workshop, her website are taking names and email addresses for contacting.

On the other hand, if she’s still off your beaten track, any library or good bookshop is likely to be able to quickly source one of her books, where she shows you how to print fabric, make it into a cushion cover or apron, with simple sewing skills.

If you like this Scandinavian style, you might also enjoy the graphic drawings of “children’s” book characters the Moomins.  There’s a immersive exhibition of the Moomins just opened today in the South Bank Centre, London.  The exhibition is obviously geared towards families with kids – but the Moomins (written by Tove Jansson) have an appeal and iconic status for adults also.

Exhibition details at:


Another Way of Looking

Tatsuya Tanaka has been shaping everyday things into landscapes with miniature people figures…. this video is silent (why not have fun trying different background music to it).

See for more, many more, and there is a fresh picture daily.  The maker has been publishing a new one daily, so far for 4 years and counting.  It has become a regular project, running in public.

I wonder if there is some little fun creative thing you do which people like – could it become a daily challenge?  Repetition forces you to think outside the box, and look for new ways of doing something similar.

Think small. It may be beautiful.



When the cinema comes to you….

If you live on a Scottish island – how long does it take to travel to see a film in a cinema?  Well, it depends if the cinema is on wheels and coming your way.

The Screen Machine, supported by Creative Scotland and Lottery Funds, is a truck which transforms into a cinema.  It tours the Highlands and Islands for most of the year to give an easy chance for people in farflung places to see recent films.

Fresh from a refit, the truck/cinema has just gone back on the road, to service farflung communities.  This video celebrates its return and gives a literal insight into what it’s like as an experience.

“Our audience numbers, year by year have never dropped below what we had in the first excitement of the first couple of years – if you think, we launched the year the DVD was commercially launched!  We’ve had Netflix and Amazon and all the other streaming and online systems – and people are still that keen to come together to see a film in their own community.”  – Robert Livingston, Director, Regional Screen Scotland



Fashion as culture

Here’s a hashtag you might want to look out for, if textiles and fashion are your thing: #WeWearCulture – it’s being used by Google Arts & Culture to flag up new short videos on world fashion history.


Having seen this introductory video, I was excited to see what the videos looked like – but now that I’ve seen them, I’m a bit disappointed.  I don’t feel they deliver at the high level of entertaining information that this intro led me to expect.

In their search to use technology, some of the video images produced are very shallow and wide, so to compensate, the screen is filled with exactly the same screen shown twice, one above the other – which I personally find disorientating and distracting.  Sorry, Google – please just narrow the width of the screen so the one picture fills it – and I will be better able to see closer up the detail on what I want to see – the actual dress itself.  Shot widescreen, it seems miles away.  This is an impressive big picture idea – to show the scope of fashion and culture, across the world, across the millennia – bold and daring.  The hashtag promises much but the delivery style is not quite there.

Compare the Google coverage of the history of the Little Black dress:


with a brief one and a half minute video by the English newspaper, The Telegraph – unfortunately, there is a 30 second advert which you have to let play through first (but you can mute the sound and roll your eyes heavenwards and that helps get through the boredom)


The Google Arts and Culture channel seem to have had a rethink on the style and presentation – and jumped abruptly from classic, informative and restrained to a yoof (ie youth) orientated presentation with a Youtuber fashionista with a visual style which jumps around restlessly, shows the presenter pulling exaggerated faces and features her relentlessly as the focus of interest – the more-important fashion images are reduced to blink-and-you’ll-miss-it length, sadly.   The audio delivery is frantically fast, also.  There are interesting points made – but they fly past your ears and on to the next without time to consider.  These are just my opinion, of course.  Thoughts?


I come from…. we are poets

If you like your poetry gritty, real – then you will likely enjoy this 3 minute video poem – which was shown on the opening night of the 48th Poetry International Festival (currently ongoing in Rotterdam).  Evenings’ performances are uploaded to Youtube as they go.

film by
Alex Ramseyer-Bache & Daniel Lucchesi

New/old music in Manchester

A new piece of classical music is to premiere in Manchester Cathedral on 8th June as part of Manchester Cameratas’ “The Playoff”.  The piece was written partly to celebrate the 300th anniversary of Bach’s Cello Suites – written in happier times before the recent explosion.  Colin Riley is the composer, and his two soloist cellos (so to speak) went to the same School of Music in Manchester – Guy Johnston and Gabriella Swallow.  Here they are, at rehearsals.

Caution: watching this video is likely to lead to booking tickets for the concert….

Daily Discipline of an artist

Henri Matisse was a prolific artist – his firm daily discipline during his time at Riviera was:

dawn: Club Nautique: row in canoe for 2 hours

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9 a.m. start painting.  Work 3 hours.

Lunchbreak.  Nap.  Then write correspondence – family and friends.

4 pm Restart painting, paint til daylight fades

Draw with pencil by artificial light


(6 days a week)

(from Richard E Grant’s BBC programme: “The Riviera – A History in Pictures)

This may sound surprising to people who believe the cliche that artists are irresponsible, lazy over-emotional characters.  But when you look at someone who made great art, often, during their lifetime, they are actually hardworkers.  It was that regular turning up at the easel, putting in the hours, making a great deal of art – and destroying much of it which they felt didn’t work out – gave them space to experiment but rigorously edit out all but the best, to keep enough successes to make a dent in Art History.

Float to stay alive

This RNLI brief video makes a point of what to do if you unexpectedly fall into cold water.  It makes me consider that some of this may also apply to sudden, shocking psychological events and swift changes in life – first float, steady, catch your breath before planning what next.

28,000 days

Enda O’Doherty (the gent fundraising for mental health help by carrying a fridge up Kilimanjaro) – lives life in challenging ways, as he is an alcoholic:


“I’m far more afraid of not living. I don’t want to spend my time just sitting eating take away pizza and looking at Netflix thinking that I’m living life. Given my hardships in the past, I’m so grateful for happy days, for adventures, and my good health. I really appreciate it.


“I told someone once that I live life like I’m terminally ill. And they reacted with shock that they didn’t know I was ill. But that’s not it. Of course I’m not. No more than anyone else. We all have 28,000 days on average. So, what are you going to do with them?

Fascinating.  There’s an old bit in the bible (somewhere around Psalm 90)  “Teach us Lord to number our days that we may apply our hearts onto wisdom”  – now, putting this with Enda’s quote is thought-provoking: what if each day we asked ourselves at the end of the day: what have I done today?  Anything positive counts: even trying something new, giving someone else a smile, stretching that talent I don’t use enough, finding something amazing and sharing it on social media, becoming a little more loving, helping someone, getting over that disappointment quicker, making a good health choice……. and then continuing this daily, living with the expectation that at the end of the day I will ask myself “So what did you do with today?”.

It may be wise.