As we are approaching Valentine’s day I thought it might be nice to give you some romantic heart gifts  to make. They were originally published in a book called Hearts a book of Romantic Gifts by  Conran Octopus in 1992 and then republished as an ibook four years ago. I , Juliet Bawden,was the author and Debbie Patterson did the beautiful photography. Oliver Moxley transformed the original idea into an ibook.

The image of the heart is a potent one. Over the centuries it has evolved from a symbol of power to one of love and friendship.

It is principally with romance that people associate the heart as a symbol, and St Valentine’s day is a time when lovers exchange heart gifts or cards. Mid- February has been associated with love since Roman times, when the festival of Lupercalia celebrated Juno and marriage.

The projects shown below cover many different meanings of hearts, from the simply decorative to the deeply romantic. Some of the items are inspirational but most are practical projects for you to make up.

The fact that all the items are hand made and that time and care have been taken with them shows that they are all symbols of love and affection. Hopefully each item will bring you great pleasure and satisfaction, whether to make for yourself or to give to a loved one.

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As well as running a design business,  creating new products for print and online media, I run creative workshops with my partner in crime Amanda Russell at R&B Designs .com

We also like attending workshops  ourselves and have lucky enough to be to quite a few recently. We particularly loved the one on basketry run by Tanya. She is a talented basket maker herself and below are some examples of her own work. basketsBread basket

I love the different textures and materials that can be involved in what is essentially a simple technique of weaving in and out, very much like darning.  To get results like this involves patience and skill and  sore hands. You can be a purist and use natural materials such as cane, bamboo, sisal or you can be adventurous and add coloured string or plastic covered wire. The choice is yours. Basket with curly fronds    I love this competitive exhibition held every year at The National Portrait gallery.

Over the last forty years when emphasis in art schools has been on experimentation in many forms, but not so much on representational drawing and painting, I wonder where all these portrait artists come from. The work and style is extremely varied and the standard throughout is very high. So how do they choose a winner? For a start you choose very good judges, who this year included artist Jenny Saville and writer Alan Hollinghurst.

The winner of the £30,000 prize was a portrait called Girl in a Liberty Dress  by Clara Drummond  a 38 year old Cambridge based artist.

The judges were impressed by the artist’s skillful execution and the painting’s subtle and enigmatic qualities.

by Clara Drummond

Girl in a Liberty Dress

Each year as well as the first, second and third prizes there is also a BP Young Artist Award. This year the winner is Jamie Coreth,26. He wins for a portrait of his sculpture father, Mark Coreth.

Coreth says :’My father has influenced me greatly in my work and given that it is a relatively strange thing for a sculptor to raise a painter, I thought it could be an interesting father -son project to make portraits of one another at the same time.

The judges comments- Dad Sculpting Me.

‘ We were drawn to the timeless quality of the painting and its treatment of a father and son relationship through art. It is a generational painting of the artist’s father sculpting a portrait of the artist.’

Dad Sculpting me by Jamie Coreth

There is a Travel Award given, the sketchbooks and images of the artists concerned are often the most exciting in the show. The winner of the 2015 award is Magali Cazo who proposed to travel to a community of bronze-smelters in Bobo-Dioulasso in West Africa . There she lived with artists, apprentices and labourer’s whose lives revolve around the foundry.


Sketch book 9f

Having just finished reading James Rhodes harrowing autobiography Instrumental  a memoir of madness medication and Music, it was interesting to see his portrait in this show. If you get a chance this show is well worth a visit.

James Rhodes


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London is currently full of very interesting exhibitions. I have always been a fan of Calder’s work and so was delighted to catch this exhibition before it closed, at  Tate Modern .  We are so used to seeing mobiles in the twenty first century,but how amazing it must have been to see the first ones designed by American sculptor Alexander Calder.Screen Shot 2016-05-15 at 21.47.23

He travelled to Paris in the 1920s, having originally trained as an engineer, and by 1931 he had invented the mobile, a term coined by Duchamp to describe Calder’s sculptures which moved of their own accord. Much of the beauty of the work is to do with the careful and delicate balance of the shapes and the spaces between and the shadows  they make on the surrounding walls.

Performing Sculpture

Hercules and the lion 1928

Deal has become very trendy recently with plenty of bijou shops, restaurants and galleries. I visited last weekend and was taken to Deal museum which is full of navel and some quirky items. There is a ban on taking photo’s inside the museum so I took some in the yard between the front and the back .

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