New Ribbon
Slide 1


For spring/summer 2015, PPQ presented clothes to wear to 'the coolest party of the fashion season', finished with high gloss hair taken to a creative extreme READ MORE...
Slide 3


Knitwear designers studying in Italy are invited to enter the Knitting for Juliet competition launched by Fashion Ground Academy of Italian Design READ MORE...
Slide 3


It was not possible to walk past Nicholas Rose's luminous, contoured lamp shades at 100% Design the other week, I felt like a moth drawn to a flame. READ MORE...
Slide 3


think we could all use a dose of soft, pretty and innocent right now. Paul Costelloe brought his unabashed femininity to the runway READ MORE...
Slide 3


Carmen Dell’Orefice...if this is what being in your 80s looks like then I'm looking forward to it! The legendary model, who once declared to Vanity Fair, “If I die, it will be with my high heels on”, is set READ MORE...
Slide 3


The film series, #UnlockArt, produced by Tate and supported by Le Meridien, concluded with the release of the last of eight films, What's So Funny?, decided by an online poll READ MORE...
Slide 1


The Design and Craft Fair, MADE LONDON, returns to One Marylebone 24-26 October to present the very best in contemporary craft and design. Showcasing over 120 READ MORE...
Example Frame

October 23, 2014



I order meat regularly online. I also support my neighbourhood butchers. However, the shop closest to me is limited in its range of meats and cuts, so while I do drop in regularly to support the local independents, I tend to use online butchers to buy more adventurous options, and it's also handy for stocking up when times are hectic. So when I was offered a review of, an online butcher offering artisan, British farm-assured meats and poultry, I jumped on it.

When the box arrived I noticed how compact it was - no unnecessary over-sized packing or gel packs to dispose of - and the meat was cold, not cool, but properly cold. It contained two well-marbled, ribeye steaks; 1/2lb of unsmoked, rindless bacon; 9 luxury pork sausages, 3 large chicken breasts, and 2 1/4lb steak burgers. I can say that the quality of all of it was excellent, and I had no problem believing that their producers supply the top London restaurants. This is the same meat but much more affordable (though unfortunately no Michelin-starred chef turns up to cook it for you). Most notably, the burgers and steaks were especially juicy and flavourful, and the chicken got a good testing. I used it in a stirfry, a dish where I tend to overcook the chicken slightly because I have a habit of cutting up my veg while the chicken is cooking instead of doing all the prep before. (I always think I'll be faster this time.) But when it came time to eat I was surprised at how tender it was. So bonus points on the chicken. 

(Why don't I have any pictures of the meat? Because for some reason I didn't think of it when I opened up the paper, and when I cook I make a mess and go slightly mental trying to time everything and so I tend not to go near my camera, but now I feel a bit silly for not getting a shot. Trust me, it looks good.)

Another big plus for going with Meat Porter is that they'll deliver nationwide next day (make sure to order by 3pm) for free on weekdays, so you don't have to plan far in advance like you do with other sites that can take up to two weeks to deliver. (I've had that happen many times with others, and you don't know the earliest delivery date until you go to check out which is a real pain. And it's not free on weekdays either!) 

As for the actual ordering, the site is so clean and easy to navigate and you're not bombarded with pictures of meat coming at you from everywhere. In other words, it reflects the high end quality of the product. You have three options. You can build your own box using their list of meats and poultry (nice and streamlined, you don't have to jump around pages and risk missing something), choose one of three set boxes including Meat for a Month, or take one of the 'surprise me' options and see what goodies turn up (which also saves you about 10% off the cost of ordering individually). 

Meat Porter also offers venison, pork loin steaks and tenderloin, Barbary and Gressingham duck, lamb, and Gressingham guinea fowl. There's a lot of choice to keep your menu varied and interesting, yet it's a nicely focussed selection that makes shopping quick and easy. 

Will I order from Meat Porter? Yes I will, definitely. I'm looking at the site right now. I'm in the mood for shredded duck with Asian spices. 

September 25, 2014

My Perfect Cozy Autumn Sunday Brunch


While I love the idea of going out to eat and catching up with friends, and having everything taken care of for you, there's nothing more enjoyable than creating your own wonderful Sunday brunch at home, just the way you like it.

Sundays are meant for relaxing. So, while it can be a nice thing to prepare an elaborate brunch for guests, when it's for yourself or a couple friends or family, you want it to be simple and quick so you can sit down and enjoy it. But that doesn't mean you have to compromise on the menu! I've chosen my favourite at-home Sunday brunch recipes (from Sweet Paul), with the autumn season in mind, that are delicious, healthy and easy to make.

ParmesanfrenchtoastSavoury Parmesan French Toast with Spinach 


Serves 4

6 eggs
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup grated parmesan + extra for serving
8 thick slices of good crusty country style bread
butter for frying
fresh spinach
olive oil

1. In a bowl beat together eggs, milk, parmesan and pepper.
2. Pour the batter onto a plate and dip the bread on each side.
3. Sprinkle a little extra parmesan on each side.
4. Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat and fry the bread on both sides until golden.
5. Place on plates and serve with spinach, extra parmesan and an olive oil drizzle on top.

I like using this recipe to make a decadent sandwich for lunch sometimes. Add parma ham and rocket between two slices of the parmesan french toast with a smear of dijon for a posh ham and cheese toastie!


Breakfast bowl

Breakfast Bowl with Ramps, Asparagus & Lemon Herb Sauce

Serves 4

4 thick slices of country style bread, cubed (or substitute with cherry tomatoes like I do for a healthier dish)

12 stalks mini asparagus, cut in 3
12 ramps (leeks or spring onions can be substituted)
4 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
1/2 bunch fresh parsley
1/2 bunch fresh mint
1 tablespoon toasted pine nuts + extra for serving
juice from 1 lemon
grated zest from 1 lemon
pinch of red chili flakes
1/2 cup Olive oil
4 eggs

1. Preheat oven to 380F.
2. Place the bread (or tomatoes), asparagus and ramps on a baking tray and drizzle with oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
3. Bake until golden, about 12 minutes. (While waiting you can start dessert, see below.)
4. Place herbs, pine nuts, lemon, chili and oil in a blender and blend until smooth. If it's too thick just add a little more oil.
5. Bring a pot of water to the boil and add a little vinegar, poach the eggs for 3 minutes.
6. In a bowl start with the bread, then asparagus and ramps, then the egg, pine nuts and finish off with the lemon herb sauce.

Ricotta-honeyRicotta & Honey

Serves 4

2 cups of fresh ricotta
1 honeycomb or regular honey
flowering herbs to garnish

1. Place a large scoop of fresh ricotta in a bowl and top with a piece of honeycomb.
2. Sprinkle with flowering herbs.

I like to add fresh berries and mint if I have them. Lately I've been grabbing a few blackberries off the neighbour's bush that is growing through our fence - no complaints here!

If you want to make your own ricotta in advance, it's not difficult at all. In fact, it's practically fool-proof. All you need is whole milk, heavy cream, fresh lemon juice or white vinegar, a large pan (a preserving pan is ideal), a candy thermometer, cheesecloth, a sieve and bowl. Curious? You can get the recipe here. If you want a lighter version, you can make cottage cheese by using 2% milk and leaving out the cream, and using the vinegar instead of lemon juice. 

Brew yourself some great coffee or get your pots of tea ready and your brunch is served! 

But what are you wearing? For me, the best match for a comfort meal is a comfortable outfit. However, I still want to feel put together, and the perfect place for clothes that feel as good as they look is Hush. I'm all about easy pieces that move with you (especially after an indulgent brunch!) so I've chosen layers because I love that look, and it's also a very wise way to dress when you live on the coast of the North Sea (or the UK in general, really, as chills seem to be always looming around the corner). I kept with a mostly monochromatic look because there's something serene about greys, while whites feel clean and black is just the most versatile when it comes to accessories. But I do love this cosy cardigan in pinks and purples to brighten things up, and it works beautifully with the grey panelled t-shirt dress. The zip leggings are the ideal Sunday choice as they're super comfy but far more stylish than your standard pair.


The day is not yet over - it's only early afternoon! A nice thing to do after your lovely Sunday brunch is to take a walk. Not only will you feel a bit lighter in the tummy but it will clear your head as well and prepare you for the week ahead. All ready in my layered outfit, all I'd have to do to go from comfy to cool (but still comfy!) is pull on some biker ankle boots and a hat, (yes, I'm a hat girl but I have to be sure it's not too windy before I step out with one of my favourites), a messenger bag and something for my neck which is almost a must-have for a walk by the sea at this time of year - I love this black and white twisted snood with the mixed cardi for a fun complement to the blacks and greys. 


I hope my perfect autumn cozy Sunday brunch ideas inspire you to make a great day for yourself. Or add a little something here and there during the week to make ordinary days a bit more special, too!

September 23, 2014

Review: Five Guys Burgers and Fries in Covent Garden

The-swelle-life-1 (1 of 1)

On my way out of London on Saturday, I stopped by Five Guys in Covent Garden around 2pm to review their famous burgers and fries. I'd never been as we don't have a location up in Newcastle, but I knew of their reputation for serving up some of the best American comfort food, so I was curious to see how they measured up. I was greeted at the door by smiling hostess Ilaria - yes there is a door person to manage the queues that form outside - and then manager Zsolt welcomed me in and told me that this year-old location is the busiest of the more than one thousand Five Guys around the world. Not hard to believe after see the thick queue outside! (You can, however, order ahead if you're taking it away, and there's even an app.)

Zsolt took me downstairs to the dining area and offered me a choice of where to sit. Although I would have liked to have eaten in the main room to experience the vibe of the place at one of its most buzzing times, I opted for one of the private booths. (It was the most considerate thing to do to spare the public of having to watch me eat. Apparently I'm still learning how and usually end up wearing part of my lunch.) The booths can accommodate six people and offer a quiet place away from the crowds, though you'll still have the energetic American rock blaring through the speakers to entertain you throughout your meal.  

The-swelle-life-4 (1 of 1)

I had a quick browse of the straightforward menu of burgers, dogs, sandwiches and fries, with a choice of any or all of 15 toppings, but knew in advance what I wanted. A simple cheeseburger with ketchup and mustard and the cajun-spiced fries I've heard so much about. (I told myself I'd have salad later at home. I didn't.) Although I have quite an adventurous palate, when it comes to the classic beef burger, I go for basic. I want to taste the meat. Zsolt brought me my food in paper bags which included their regular fries as well as the spiced, both handcut and cooked in peanut oil which is actually one of the healthiest cooking oils, and tastier, too. 

First I dug into the fries, alternating between both cartons like a fiend. I liked the cajun, but next time I would opt for the regular - it seems I'm a purist when it comes to the fries, too; when they're fresh cut you don't need anything to help the taste along. Then I opened up the burger and it looked exactly as I wanted it to, which was slightly sloppy. I could see the melted cheese all over that thing, one between the two patties and a second on top. The fresh-baked sesame bun was just slightly greased which is another thing I look for - who wants dry buns? There are no freezers to be found at Five Guys, so the ground beef is fresh with each burger cooked to order, in full view of the customers; there are no secrets here. 

Oddly, halfway through eating the burger, I noticed it got tastier. Like, way tastier. Then I figured out why. Eating a few handfuls of the cajun fries beforehand kind of blocked my tastebuds for the meat, but then I got full of fries and had to stop, and a few bites later I was able to taste the burger properly. Maybe that's just me and my crazy buds, but still I would recommend that if you go for the cajun fries, eat them after the burger so you get the full flavour, because it's pretty good. I also notice when you eat a freshly made, high quality burger that's juicy and not full of filler, you don't feel too heavy after, even when it's a substantial size like this one.  

The-swelle-life-3 (1 of 1)

You can help yourself to some peanuts in the shell while you wait. (I didn't partake because peanuts make me full very quickly and I didn't want anything spoiling my lunch.) 

The-swelle-life-2 (1 of 1)

One thing that really stood out to me, which was very surprising considering that this restaurant is located in the heart of one of the busiest tourist areas in London, not to mention the busiest Five Guys in the world - is how spotlessly clean it was. Like, really, really clean. Nothing out of place, no spilled salt or ketchup globs to be seen, all surfaces were sparkling. Before leaving I popped into the washroom, and again, the tile and stainless steel looked brand new and could not have been cleaner. It even smelled clean. My stunned reaction made me realise how rare a sight this actually is, even for high end establishments. This level of cleanliness almost looked out of place! Heck, I've been in high street fitting rooms that looked like dirty bathrooms (there's no excuse at all for that, is there?!), so I was especially impressed with the pride that is taken in all aspects of running this restaurant. 

The-swelle-life-5 (1 of 1)

I haven't mentioned the drinks yet. I ordered a Diet Coke and was told that refills are always free which are self-serve from a neat machine that has...a hundred different drinks? Did I hear correctly? I couldn't name 20! There are flavours of Coke I'd never even heard of. (I admit my second drink, which I got just to try the machine, was another Diet Coke.) 

The final verdict? Loved the cheeseburger and fries which are far superior to those from the burger giants (not even a contest as this was actual food). So, yes, I would happily go back to Five Guys. And in the end, I didn't even spill anything on myself. I must have picked up on the squeaky clean vibes. I am still in awe of that. 

September 09, 2014

#UnlockArt Film Series Ends on a Humorous Note


The film series, #UnlockArt, produced by Tate and supported by Le Meridien, concluded with the release of the last of eight films, What's So Funny?, decided by an online poll.  It was a lighthearted end (though humour was present in each narrative) to a series that achieved exactly what it set out to do. Sharp-witted writers, charismatic presenters we all know, first class production and astute directors addressed topics such as How to Buy Art, Where are the Women? and Pop Art, making high art easy to understand and enjoyable. 

Clearly, I'm a huge fan of the series, I really can't say enough about it. I spent four years in university studying art and art history, and I thought performance art was, well, kind of rubbish to be honest. Misguided weirdos wanting attention and calling it art. That's how I saw it because I didn't understand it. Usually I take the attitude that something shouldn't be dismissed unless you do your part in trying to wrap your head around it, but in this case I felt my assertion was valid. It so happened that the debut film in the series addressed this very subject, and in a matter of five minutes I finally understood what I hadn't been able to get my head around for years. Performance art still isn't my thing, but I get it now, I've made friends with it, and I can appreciate its cultural influence and the place it holds in art history. What a great way to begin. 

And here is the room where the #UnlockArt series officially wrapped up, in Le Meridien's opulent, violet-tinged, Adams Room where all eight films ran on a loop on the wall, providing the backdrop to a fantastic, #UnlockArt-themed dinner, created by Chef de Cuisne Michael Dutnall:


Franz served up his delicious cocktails, some of the molecular variety: 




LM-8Le Meridien's Chef de Cuisine Michael Dutnall 

LM-8 (2)


Our sorbet palate cleansers (in this case it could be palette as well?) were served in mini shopping bags marked SOLD to tie in with the film How to Buy Art. 

Theswellelife-lm-final-4 (1 of 1)

Theswellelife-lm-final-3 (1 of 1)

Dessert was served in a themed box, mine being...can you guess? Pop Art, of course.

KAPOW! to my glucose levels indeed, look what was inside:  


I was too full to even think about dessert (I left out a couple courses in the photos because sweets and tiny food present a lot nicer than meat), but there was no way I was leaving it behind, so this box of goodies came back to my room and I got into it when I woke up. 

Want to know more about Humour in Art? Let's take the last of the tours that art historian and author Linda Bolton (how we will miss her!) designed to explore works associated with the film topic. Here's a selection from the works we saw at Tate Modern earlier that day, which illustrate how humour comes in many different forms, in Linda's words:

Niki de Saint Phalle – Shooting picture, 1961

She did what? Shoot stuff? That was her thing. Niki de St Phalle said she was angry. In her zip fronted white leather cat suit and hard attitude, she told everyone in her sexy French accent that she was angry with everyone and everything. She wanted to shoot everything and everyone. Niki made shooting paintings: she put liquid paint in a bag, sealed the bag, pinned it to the canvas and covered it in plaster. Plaster dried, she shot the plaster, punctured the bag below and the colour bled down the picture. 


 Makingshootingpicture (1)

Thomas Hirschhorn – Candelabra with heads, 2006

Hirschhorn is known for his sculptures and installations made from everyday materials such as cardboard, plastic and paper, bound together with brown packing tape. This work was originally part of an exhibition called Concretions, a term from geology and medicine that suggests the gradual growth of a solid mass. Hirschhorn related the theme to a broader social and spiritual petrification. Here the faces of mannequins seem to be emerging from – or submerged into – larger biomorphic forms.

Thomas Hirschhorn – Candelabra with heads 2006

(I have to admit that every time I see this work I feel crampy. I don't need to explain why, do I?)

Stanley Spencer – The Centurion’s Servant, 1914

As we looked at this painting, Linda told us the humorous story (to us, but surely not him) of how Spencer fell in love with a lady called Patricia Preece, married her, yet took his ex-wife Hilda Carline on honeymoon with him. Preece began to manage Spencer’s finances and slowly duped him of his money, even though she refused to consummate their marriage. Stan really didn't play that one right. Find out more here.


David Shrigley – I’m Dead

David Shrigley's art is almost always humorous. His Leisure Centre is a funny play on words and concept, as is his I'm Dead placard-holding taxidermy dog.

David Shrigley – I’m Dead

Bruce Nauman – Run from fear fun from rear, 1941

Bruce Nauman makes a fun word play in his neon work. It's a bright, post-pop shout-out for irreverent fun.


Roy Lichtenstein – Mustard on White, 1963

Roy Lichtenstein makes an art joke in his Mustard on White. The great pop artist makes fun of the American abstract expressionists here. The pairing of colours sounds like the title of an abstract work and at the same time jokingly refers to a condiment on white bread.


And before we go, here's something I found kind of funny from one of Franz's magic molecular demonstrations at the Terrace Grill and Bar - when he lifted the cloche after scent-infusing the cocktails, his head seemed to disappear into a delicious-smelling iquid nitrogen cloud:

TheSwelleLife-Le-Meridien-Franz-fog-2 (1 of 1)

TheSwelleLife-Le-Meridien-Franz-fog (1 of 1)Photos © Dave Watts unless otherwise credited

A huge thank you to Le Meridien for providing what is hands down the most fun and exciting learning experience I have ever had. Sure beats university! (At least the one I went to.) If you want to see posts on the preceding films scroll down here, and to view the entire series of films you can visit the Unlock Art site

Part of Le Méridien’s ethos is to support emerging artists. It furthers this commitment through its Unlock Art™ Programme, which offers Le Méridien guests complimentary access to forward thinking cultural institutions around the world. These partnerships allow guests to explore a local, inspiring cultural experience, simply by presenting the Unlock Art™ room key. Le Méridien’s Unlock Art™ partner in the UK is TATE Modern and TATE Britain

Tate is a family of four galleries: Tate Britain, Tate Modern, Tate Liverpool and Tate St Ives.  Tate is responsible for the National Collection of British art from 1500 and international modern and contemporary art from 1900. Tate's Collection of over 66,000 works of art embraces all media from painting, drawing, sculpture and prints, to photography, video and film, installation and performance.  The Collection is displayed at Tate's four galleries and through loans to temporary national and international exhibitions and long loans. 

July 18, 2014

Sibling Gives the Jacob's Tin a Fashion Makeover


Designer collaboration is the way forward for brands who want to inject style into their products, and now baked snack maker Jacob’s has teamed up with British knitwear design trio, SIBLING, to create a limited edition cracker tin that will fit nicely in any fashionista’s kitchen cupboard. (I kind of love the idea of food brands working with high-end designers to bring their packaging into another realm.)

SIBLING, who are well known for their strong use of colour and love of traditional knitting techniques, have used their unique knitwear designs as inspiration for their redesign of the traditional Jacob’s Cream Cracker tin.

Twenty of the limited edition leopard print tins are now on sale on eBay, with all proceeds going to FareShare, the UK’s largest food redistribution charity. 

I had the opportunity to interview SIBLING Joe Bates (wearing the great hat, right) about the project and his own work:

TSL: Sibling is an 'in the know', unique, high fashion brand; not the typical choice for collaboration for such a ubiquitous company such as Jacob's - someone there knows their fashion! When you were first approached with the idea did you see it as an opportunity to introduce Sibling to a wider market?

JB: SIBLING are always keen to reach as broad an audience as possible. We get approached by many companies to collaborate so we have to be very careful who we choose to partner with. Jacobs came with a fun proposal that made us choice made.

TSL: You referenced Jacob's packaging colours for your striking argyle and leopard print tin design - was this combination an obvious choice or did you try other patterns and textures first?

JB: Colour is a fundamental to the SIBLING DNA, we embrace it wholeheartedly so utilising the Jacobs livery was not a challenge we couldn't meet. The patternation was based on our usual play on historical and traditional knitting, then we put that together with a bit of rebel spirit.


TSL: What is it like designing as a trio?

JB: Lovely, it means there's always someone to confer with which makes it great for expanding ideas very quickly. 

TSL: I hear Sibling are big snack fans - what is your favourite Jacob's snack? 

JB: The Cream Cracker of course, the original and the best. 

TSL: Where do you take inspiration from for your designs?

JB: Most often the inspiration will start from a single image. Being very passionate about reportage photography means that it is normally a single photographic portrait that will really fire things off. 

Sibling_finale_ss15TSL: What is your favourite piece you’ve ever created?

JB: The most recent is the finale piece from S/S15 SIBLING menswear catwalk show. It's a giant raffia piece, a real show stopper in red raffia, it was representative of the feeling of being 'cock of the walk' when you're dressed to the nines in your youthful rebellion stage. 

TSL: Who would you most like to wear your clothing?

JB: We have a litany of celebrities who have worn SIBLING, in fact some of our real heroes, Debbie Harry bought a SIBLING dress when she played Manchester, you can't top that in our book. 

TSL: Any words of wisdom to share with aspiring designers?

JB: Work hard and be nice to people. 

What great advice. Thank you, Joe! 

You can buy your own Sibling-designed Jacob's cracker tin here, and keep up with Jacob's at #SnackHappy.

FareShare is a unique charity fighting hunger and its underlying causes by  providing food to more than 1,290 local charities and community organisations across the UK, including homeless shelters, children’s breakfast clubs, women’s refuge centres and luncheon clubs for the elderly, helping to feed 62,200 people every day. 

May 16, 2014

Review: Wonderful Pistachios live up to their name

Wonderful-pistachios-2 (1 of 1)

I love pistachios. My favourite ice cream since I was a kid, even when I didn't even know where the flavour came from (I just asked for 'the green one'), has always been pistachio. So when Wonderful Pistachios offered to send me some of their new Sweet Chili flavour of the green-fleshed nut, I was very excited to try them. They arrived along with other flavours such as Salt and Pepper, Roasted and Salted, and Roasted No Salt. Needless to say, I was in pistachio heaven. Or was about to be. I first ripped open the Sweet Chili bag, popped one of the shells in my mouth and was delighted to find that the flavour was more savoury than sweet, no artificial taste whatsoever (which some crisp brands can't seem to avoid in their versions of sweet chili seasoning), and spiced perfectly. I became instantly addicted and thought I was going to have to drop them at the neighbour's to keep me from devouring the entire bag at once. They were a hit with the family as well and they went so quickly that I didn't have a chance to photograph them! (Above, in the dish, are the Roasted No Salt.) My second favourites were the Salt and Pepper which adds an extra dimension to the usual salted variety. But what counts most is the nut itself. I found the Wonderful pistachios to be fresh, with a crisp, creamy texture, and superior to what you find in grocery store brands and the bulk variety, both of which I've found to be bland in flavour and texture in comparison. Wonderful sources their pistachios and almonds (I got some of those too and loved them just as much) from Paramount farms, the largest grower of both nuts, in the San Joaquin valley of California. Now I admit I would eat just as much of them regardless, but pistachios happen to be quite nutritious, packed with fibre and vitamins B1 and B6. (You can find out more about the health benefits of pistachios here.) And Wonderful Pistachios come in at just 3 calories a nut which makes them a healthier alternative to crisps and other snacks, with no compromise on flavour. And it doesn't take a lot to feel full with pistachios, they're dense and hearty little things. (But somehow that doesn't stop me from being gluttonous.) 

You can pick up a bag of Wonderful Pistachios from Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and Tesco for £3.19 for 250g. They're worth it. 


April 07, 2014

Review: 'Treat Petite' by Fiona Pearce

Treat-Petite_1 (1 of 1)

There's something so irresistible about miniature food, the treats we love made into tiny packages you can just pop into your mouth - virtually guilt-free! (Unless you're me and can't help but eat your weight in them.) Fiona Pearce, owner of Icing Bliss in London where she specialises in vintage-inspired cakes, knows the 'Alice-in-Wonderland' charm of little delectables and has brought us 42 recipes for mini bakes and bites in her second book, Treat Petite. The sweets cover everything including sponges, meringues, chocolate, pastry, choux, and biscuits, while the savoury section begins with a lesson in making perfect puff pastry, followed by seven recipes for tasty, bite-sized canapes. 

What I love most about this book is the simplicity of the recipes so anyone can make them, regardless of baking experience. It's also great for introducing novices to certain dishes that may otherwise be intimidating. You can start off small - quite literally! - and master your technique before attempting the full version - if that still holds any interest after going tiny! And you can have lots of fun playing with presentation, arranging Micro-meringue Kisses, Mini Dacquoise Towers, and Pistachio and White Chocolate Florentines (one of many possibilities) on pretty plates to wow your family or guests - or yourself! And it may inspire you to experiment with your own creations - I'm beginning to imagine everything I cook in its scaled-down version.

Treat Petite is published by Ivy Press and is available to purchase at Amazon (£12.99).

Here's a peek inside the book, packed with beautiful photos of every recipe and detailed, easy-to-follow instructions: 

Treat-Petite_Earl-grey-madeleines (1 of 1)

I love madeleines and can't wait to try this even smaller version, flavoured with freshly ground Earl Grey tea leaves and glazed with sugar, honey and orange. 

Treat-Petite_coffee-bean-biscuits (1 of 1)

Coffee Bean Biscuits are made with fragrant coffee shortbread to resemble the real thing - wouldn't that make a charming and delicious accompaniment to your cup of Java? 

The artwork that introduces each chapter is so wonderful and fun:

Treat-Petite_biscuits (1 of 1)

Gilded Caramel Shortbread Squares and Chocolate Ganache-filled Tartlets with chocolate pastry - yum!


A savoury-sweet burst of flavour in a single bite, these Caramelised Onion Galettes with Goat's Cheese would be hard to walk away from after just one:

Treat-Petite_Carmelised-onion-tarts-mini (1 of 1)

 How delicious do these Caesar Salad Bites sound, with garlic butter-infused bread tart, crispy bacon, parmesan cheese and half a quail's egg? Add Mini Blini Stacks with Smoked Salmon for a very special brunch. 


In addition to running Icing Bliss, Fiona Pearce also teaches cake decorating classes at Cakeology in South-west London. Her first book, Cake Craft Made Easy, was published in 2013. 

March 11, 2014

Unlock Art: A Short History of Art Undressed

NakedorNudeClick to view on the Unlock Art website

"The nude is a painting of a man or woman who looks at ease and confident. If they look vulnerable or embarrassed then they're naked. Not nude anymore." -  So said the 18th century critics to keep artists from being accused of 'ungodly behaviour'. This is from A Short History of Art Undressed, the fifth film in the Tate Unlock Art series, supported by Le Meridien. As with all art prior to the 20th century, it was no coincidence that its subjects fell into a narrow range of categories, and even more restricted was how they were allowed to be presented. This film looks at nudes throughout history and their reasons for being. The rules have changed now, but is the change enough? I talk about this a bit further down in our meeting in London last month with author Frances Borzello

Before we get into the heavy, I can't not show a little bit of the treats from our wonderful day. I'm always excited to see what our 'greeting' cocktail at Le Meridien Piccadilly will be and how it will tie in with the theme of the film. This time Franz created for us the 'Undress Lady’, a fresh and fruity virgin cocktail made with peach juice puree, lime juice and apple juice, garnished with the physalis fruit as decoration, the leaves opened up to reveal the 'naked' fruit: 


We later came back to a really lovely afternoon tea at Le Meridien Piccadilly, and since we're already talking about the goodies I'll get to that right now, and it includes our talk with Frances which leads into our tour of nudes at Tate Modern.

Theswellelife_desserts (1 of 1)

We indulged in all kinds of sweet and savoury delectables and I went back and forth between them before I decided I should stop before I burst. And on our way out we were given a box of three eclairs made for the film - the eclair is the new macaron! - with silhouettes of nudes in chocolate dust on each. I don't have a photo because I was on my way to the train station but I can tell you they were very rich and delicious. 

As mentioned, we had a special guest, Frances Borzello, who is the author of the book The Naked Nude (Thames & Hudson, 2012). We were each given a hardback copy to take home which also came in handy for the intriguing discussion we had over our tea with Frances. Frances told us that the book is dedicated to her grandchildren - who aren't allowed to look at it! Frances is such a lovely person, very warm and approachable, and later when she was asking each of us about our blogs it came out that she was once a fashion editor for the Chicago Sun-Times! (I'd mentioned to someone that day that Le Meridien has connected us with so many talented, intelligent and truly delightful people connected to the Unlock Art project either directly or indirectly - author and art historian Linda Bolton, art critic and writer Jessica Lack, director and producer Susan Doyan, artist Olivia Plender, and now Frances - and that I'd just realised that they've all been women.  Well I recognised that each was a woman of course! But I mean I eventually clued in that the collective has been all women, razor sharp and contributing good, meaningful things to the world.)

Anyway! Frances spoke about what prompted the book, which began when she was asked to respond to Kenneth Clark’s The Nude of 1956 in which he said the nude was a category - like portrait or landscape - cleaned up for art. Not so much anymore, as some of the more recent works cited in The Naked Nude prove, with no modesty to be found. I'm not showing any here, but you can google Jenny Saville for examples of nudity at its most raw and emotional (she paints with a Bacon-like brush). Frances raised a fascinating point, that being the fact that we don't have a way of looking at such rawness, these direct and provocative expressions of nudes. You realise immediately that she's right and it's an observation that slips by the rest of us because we take our recoiling for granted; it's natural so therefore it's the right response. But is it? There's no code like there was in the past when nudes were used to illustrate religious or mythical stories, and women were idealised as nudes, presented as passive or motherly and never looking directly at you so it was ok. There was a framework entered into and so the viewer was safe, but this began to be challenged, from Manet's Olympia to Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, and today we've got strangers' private parts coming at our faces - sometimes not even the ones we expect - and what do we do?! This opens a fascinating discussion; if we can resist the urge to say 'ew'  and look away, interesting things can happen. As Frances points out, the artists are asking questions. They don't have the answers, they just want you to consider what's in front of you. She thinks that's a good thing. I think being able to do this has a lot to do with acceptance of ourselves and others, naked. For now, it seems most of us just don't want to know. 

Theswellelife_frances (1 of 1)Frances Borzello hosting our afternoon tea at Le Meridien Piccadilly

Earlier, when we arrived at Tate Modern we found ourselves on the southwest side and noticed this unusually structured building going up right behind the museum:  

TheSwelleLife_Tate_Modern_Changing_works (1 of 1)

It turns out it's going to be an extension of Tate Modern, and this is what it's going to look like:

TheSwelleLife_Tate_Modern_Changing (1 of 1)

The day before we visited Tate Modern, it served as a London Fashion Week venue for the Topshop Unique show - a first for both. The video of the collection was running on a screen in one of the common areas, but my focus was on the people in the shot:

TheSwelleLife_unique (1 of 1)

And now we start the tour that Linda Bolton created for us - you know her from the previous Unlock Art posts - that takes us through the ways in which nudes were used to tell stories and express ideas and emotions:


The KissRodin. 1901-1904

"The Greeks sculpted them. So did the Romans. In renaissance Italy the idealised nude was the top subject but made respectable by choosing the subjects from the bible or classical mythology. We’ve got an over life-size idealised nude in Rodin’s Kiss made at the beginning of the 20th century." 

TheSwelleLife_three_dancers_picasso (1 of 1)

The Three Dancers, Picasso. 1925

(continuing on from above) "But around that point vanguard artists were painting the nude in a different way. The jagged forms of Three Dancers convey an explosion of energy. The image is filled with Picasso’s personal recollections of a triangular affair, which resulted in the heart-broken suicide of his friend Carlos Casagemas. Love, sex and death are linked in an ecstatic dance. Her face relates to a mask from Torres Strait, New Guinea, owned by the artist and points to Picasso’s association of ‘primitive’ forms with expressiveness and sexuality. Picasso didn’t ever go completely abstract. Even though this painting is slightly abstract, you can still make out exactly what it is. The painting depicts three girls dancing in what is apparently a hotel room – you can see blue skies and a balcony in the background giving the impression of joy, celebration. The wallpaper symbols reflect Russian text, which translates into a joyful word. The painting also gives the impression of bullet wounds in places, with jagged edges and shapes that are far from beautiful. Perhaps these negative connotations further portray the triangular affair and the heart broken suicide of Picasso’s friend by gun shot." 

Theswellelife_picasso_1 (1 of 1)

Nude Woman in a Red Armchair, Picasso. 1932 

"This work belongs to the remarkable sequence of portraits that Picasso made of Marie-Therese Walter at his country property at Boisgeloup. Marie-Therese is presented as a series of sensuous curves. Even the scrolling arms of the chair have been heightened and exaggerated to echo the rounded forms of her body. The face is a double or metamorphic image, the right side can also be seen as the face of a lover in profile kissing her on the lips. Her hands almost look like dove wings – giving an impression of beauty."

Theswellelife_picasso_1 (1 of 1)-2

Nude, Green Leaves and Bust, Picasso. 1932

"Another painting of Marie-Therese Walter in another flattering stance – she is presented in this painting as a series of pink curves once more."

Theswellelife_picasso_3 (1 of 1)

Nude Woman with NecklacePicasso. 1968

"This painting is somewhat different to Picasso’s paintings of Marie-Therese Walter. The subject is Jacqueline Roque, his second wife of which he is thought to have worshipped and resented for her youth and beauty. The painting presents crude connotations such as bodily fluids and flatulence and she is presented almost as the sum of her sexual parts. The green colour could also be seen as beast like – however it could even be suggested that Picasso was simply finding a contrasting colour to the red cushions. Picasso was in his 80s when he painted this picture." I will say that this painting is even more provocative - and not just a little bit gross - in person! 

Theswellelife_green_shirt (1 of 1)

Self Portrait, Christian Schad. 1927

"The nude can become disturbing, take a look at Christan Schad’s take on it. This self-portrait with the female nude is a good example of the new realism. Based in 1920s Berlin Schad looks back to traditional German art – check out his Renaissance-style sheer shirt, but it’s also a distinctly modern work. The nude in the background has a scary and alienated look. Her face is scarred with a brand, inflicted on Neapolitan women by their loves to make them theirs and unattractive to others. It is a startling emblem of the potential violence underlying male possession of the female body. We can also see an industrial scene in the background and a strange singular flower. The juxtaposition of objects present a negative outlook, although the nude itself is attractive and almost idealistic. Perhaps this painting presents a classical nude in the modern day." 

Theswellelife_pigeon_chested_man (1 of 1)

Agosta, the Pigeon chested man and Rasha, the Black Dove, Christian Schad. 1929

"This painting shows a deformed white man and a black woman – both ominous figures of this time in Berlin with the rise of the Nazis. These figures present non-idealistic nudes – the complete opposite to the idealistic Greek nudes we have seen. Both of the figures unerringly return our gaze – the figures were accustomed to scrutiny, earning their living as sideshow acts in Berlin funfairs. Unusually, this unsettling portrayal of the objectification of the body, voyeurism and social alienation is focused on the male as well as the female nude." 

Theswellelife_nnn (1 of 1)

Family Jules NNN (No Naked Niggahs), Barkley Hendricks, 1974

"This picture shows a relaxed nude where the pose and title are confronting the way representations of African American nudes have been received, feared and censored and directly tackles the widely accepted notion of the hyper-sexualised black body. His response seems to say ‘if this is what you expect, then this is what I am going to give you’. However, the spectacles and pipe give the man an intellectual presence, taking away from the initial thoughts of the picture and confusing it somewhat." 

After we discussed this work, we were told that the room it hangs in is offered for event bookings, such as dinners. And that more than a few times requests have been received to cover the painting or even remove it altogether. We all had the same reaction, that if you are going to book a room at Tate Modern, you get it as is - the art lives here after all! (Just to clarify, this request is always denied.) 

TheSwelleLife_deChirico (1 of 1)

The Uncertainty of the Poet, Giorgio de Chirico. 1913

"de Chirico’s quiet square evokes the classical world through a dream-like vision. A sculpture of Aphrodite’s torso is placed provocatively alongside a bunch of bananas. In the background a passing train suggests the sense of the contemporary and the immediate. de Chirico’s early works were hugely admired by the Surrealists, who saw them in a dream-like parallel existence." 

Theswellelife_dali (1 of 1)

Metamorphosis of Narcissus, Salvador Dali. 1937 (yes, there are nudes in there, a group of skinny ones in the middleground)

"The surrealists looked at the nude and played with the classical nude of Antiquity viewed through the lens of Freud’s investigations into the human psyche" - in other words, this is when nudes got risqué, and gave more than a little away about what was going in Dali's mind as well! 

Theswellelife_Linda_bolton (1 of 1)

As I've mentioned previously, the group just loves Linda, and her style has certainly not gone unnoticed so I couldn't resist snapping a photo of her very 'Linda' coat!

A huge thank you to Frances Borzello, Linda Bolton and as always, Le Meridien, for another eye-opening day of insights into art. 

‘Unlock Art’ is an exciting series of short films offering an imaginative, witty, and enriching introduction to the world of art.  Created by Tate in partnership with Le Méridien, Unlock Artfeatures eight short films that put art under the spotlight, with topics ranging from the history of the nude to humour, Performance to Pop Art, presenting all the need-to-know facts. Bold in approach and rich in content, the film series was conceived to make the arts more accessible to a wider audience. Marc Sands, Director of Media and Audiences Tate, said “Our goal is to promote public understanding and enjoyment of British, modern and contemporary art. This series of films launched will offer an entertaining, thought p rovoking yet witty approach to art. With an exciting roster of presenters, and the imaginative and creative content of the films, we want to connect people who might not have considered some of the subjects before with contemporary art.”

Part of Le Méridien’s ethos is to support emerging artists. It furthers this commitment through its Unlock Art™ Programme, which offers Le Méridien guests complimentary access to forward thinking cultural institutions around the world. These partnerships allow guests to explore a local, inspiring cultural experience, simply by presenting the Unlock Art™ room key. Le Méridien’s Unlock Art™ partner in the UK is TATE Modern and TATE Britain.

Photos © The Swelle Life

February 25, 2014

A New Health Drink that's Actually...Good for You?


When I'm asked if I want to review a product, I check that it's something I'll probably like before I agree, and if it's food I don't want to promote something that isn't good for us. I like to think I'm savvy when it comes to ingredients lists and can't be tricked. So when I was offered Alibi to try, I looked into its claims of being a health drink: "Made with fruit juice, spring water and absolutely nothing artificial, contains a total of 19 nutrients in each can, including 100% of the recommended daily allowance of essential vitamins such as vitamin C, D, B12". This sounded good, but what I really wanted to know was did it contain sugar or artificial sweetener. I've had enough of foods and drinks (the same goes for skincare) that claim to be good for you when those healthy ingredients are actually negated by some pretty bad ones. The answer is Alibi contains no refined sugar and it's sweetened with Stevia,  not artificial sweetener. And it has no stimulants such as caffeine. I have to stay away from refined sugar and I'm also no fan of artificial sweeteners, and I'm not looking for something in a can to make me run off at the mouth and climb the walls, so this was all good news. It does contain natural sugars, fructose from the fruit puree, so if you don't drink juice for this reason you'll want to know this, though it is in small amounts. (I liken it to having a few sips of juice rather than indulging in a full glass, which is how I take my juice, rather crudely from the carton because you can't really pour a sip, can you?). I'd heard of Stevia but didn't know much about it, other than that it's a natural sweetener derived from a plant and has zero calories. I did my research and I was fine with it; it's a far more appealing alternative to refined sugar and artificial sweeteners for many reasons. 

So I received a case that included two flavours: sparkling citrus and sparkling pomegranate. Both are flavours I would naturally gravitate toward, so that was a good start. But the real test is how they taste - would I actually want to drink a can? I was sure the drinks were going to taste weird because, well, with everything else being in place it just would just be my luck that I didn't like it. I first tried the pomegranate flavour and kind of braced myself. Surprisingly, it tasted really good. I waited for an odd aftertaste that didn't materialise. I took a few more sips and again waited for something offensive to happen, and couldn't believe it when it didn't. I let my daughter try the citrus flavour - I have never let her have pop before, she actually didn't know how to open the can - and she loved it, and later my husband tried both and agreed the taste was very good ("it would be great with vodka, very refreshing" - but we won't talk about that further). So it would appear that Alibi have managed to come up with a formula that doesn't compromise on taste, and it just happens to be exactly as I like anything sweet, which is 'not too'. (I have to admit I didn't think that was possible in Britain where I find most things to be so sweet as to be inedible). Unlike colas, I find that I don't feel heavy after drinking Alibi, which tells me it's not as much the CO2 as it is some of the nasty ingredients (probably that syrupy caramel stuff) that makes you feel bloated.  

I should mention that Alibi continually changes their formula to incorporate the latest health ingredients while balancing that with taste, and right now their formula includes Fruit Up, an all-natural fruit extract that has a low glycemic index, and Wellmune beta glucan which is a natural immune system booster (again, I did my research and was fine with this). 

I think this makes a great alternative to pop if you have an addiction to that cola, either full-sugar or diet because we know both do very bad things to you. With Alibi, you get your fizzy fix but without the sugar or artificial sweetener, and the bonus of vitamins, minerals and herbal extracts. And it tastes really good, probably the best fizzy drink I've had. I would buy it and have already had requests at home to do so!

So I'd say, yes, it's good to have an Alibi. 

Alibi Health Drink can be purchased nationally in Waitrose, Holland & Barratt and Whistlestop stores. Ocado and Amazon also stock Alibi online. Prices range from £1.40 to £2.00.

February 17, 2014

'Where are the Women?' #UnlockArt Film Explains


"Where are the women in art?" is a question that largely goes unasked; we're so used to the idea of women being overshadowed by men in the art world that most of us assume that's just the way it is, that there really are, and were, so few great women artists. Well, that's not the case at all, actually!

In the fourth Unlock Art film released last month, Jemima Kirke - an artist and actor you may know from the HBO TV series Girls - reveals herself from beneath a gorilla mask and utters these words "...there have always been women who were artists. But it was men who wrote the history books, and somehow, they just forgot to mention that." (Pause to let steam blow out of my ears.) In under six minutes, Jessica Lack, the writer of the film (and most of the Unlock Art series) manages to do more to give artists who are women the recognition they deserve, both collectively and some individually, and clear up this tragic omission, then anything most of us will have ever encountered. Because it's simply not a priority; it's not on the agenda. It's seen as a 'fringe' topic. As an art student, I was taught about the major women artists, not necessarily always with the 'women artist' label, but of course Frida Kahlo and Georgia O'Keeffe were hailed as important artists....hmm....Cindy Sherman figured in there....Dorothea Tanning the Surrealist painter got a brief mention... actually there were lots of women Surrealists but you have to read many books about the movement to find out who they were, and even so they're usually positioned as 'girlfriend of'. Add maybe a handful more names and you got the sense it was a comprehensive list. I mean, you'd have thought women must not have been interested in, or have been capable of, painting in an abstract expressionist style! But they were. Lee Krasner - who? Elaine de Kooning - yes her last name is familiar but what did she do...  And they weren't the only ones. And if you focussed on women artists as the subject of a paper or project you were branded a feminist - not that there's anything wrong with that! But hey, maybe you just thought it was brilliant art. 

Watch the film to find out which 17th century painting hanging in the Louvre was wrongly attributed to a man. (Oh there's so much jaw-dropping stuff in there I want to give it all away - you really must see it.) 

After the film we had a fascinating discussion with Jessica and Berlin-based British artist Olivia Plender also joined (more on her below). I think it was Jessica who pointed out, 'Women appreciate the art, men collect it.' (I asked if the gender breakdown of practising artists is known and was told that 75% of British art school graduates are women. So it must be that these few male artists are just so amazing, then? Not so fast. It's largely men who have the money to buy the art, men who own the galleries and choose their potential stars - essentially continuing to write the history books with a gender-skewed view of great art.  With this on my mind since our talk, I couldn't help but notice that of the bidders in an auction of dollhouses designed by well-known architects who were named, all were men. But about 30% of the artists that the architects collaborated with were women, which is as much as double the usual representation of galleries and museums, even the major ones! However, it should be noted that later in the day, Linda Bolton would inform us of how the volume of women’s artwork in the Tate galleries has increased to 1/5th of the collection these days - that's 20%. It's an improvement. 

Speaking of Tate and women in art, when we were at Tate Modern back in September for the debut of the Unlock Art film series, an exhibition of an artist named Mira Schendel (1919-1988) was running. She is one of Latin America’s most important and prolific post-war artists but not commonly known elsewhere. It was the first international full-scale survey of her work -  250 paintings, drawings and sculptures exploring "universal ideas of faith, self-understanding and existence" (and it all just looked so cool). I can honestly say I've never enjoyed viewing a collection as much as I have hers. The variety of media was rich - I loved her use of transparency - and jaw-dropping large-scale installations had me asking - who was this woman and why did I not know her? And how many other great women artists are out there? 

During our rousing discussion about the film we had to be reminded lunch was waiting for us upstairs in the Terrace Grill and Bar restaurant, and the theme was, of course, thoughtfully tied in with the film thanks to head chef Michael Dutnall:

TheSwelleLife_WomenChefMenu (1 of 1)

And those 'women in kitchens' would be:

TheSwelleLife_chefs (1 of 1)

We had to match the chef with the course and I think everyone got all three correct - each has such a distinct signature style that it wasn't hard to identify who created the dish. My favourite of the three was Anjum Anand's vivid dessert of poached plums with sweet saffron Sabayon, toasted almonds, pistachio and lemon:

TheSwelleLife_Dessert (1 of 1)

And then there were the drinks. Let me backtrack to the first of what was served before the film, a delicious, non-alcoholic concoction called The Masterpiece created as a tribute to Olivia Plender's comic book:

TheSwelleLife_TheMasterpiece (1 of 1)

And the cocktail we were served on our way into lunch was called ‘Lady Blender’ in honour of Rachel Barrie, a master mixologist. It's a twist on her favourite cocktail, Blood & Sand with Auchentoshan 3 wood whisky, Antica Formula, cherry herring, hibiscus and blackcurrant tea, and dry curacao to enhance the citrusy flavours. Franz says it’s a great aperitif, well balanced, with a great finish and I would concur!

TheSwelleLife_whisky (1 of 1)

Next we were off to Tate Britain for another insightful, bespoke tour by author and art historian Linda Bolton (who I can safely say has the hearts of everyone in the group):

TheSwelleLife_Anya_Gallacio (1 of 1)

Here we are (well not me, I'm behind the camera) in front of Anya Gallaccio's preserve ‘beauty’ (1991-2003), made with 2000 gerberas, glass, metal and rubber. As Linda tells us, Gallaccio is known for her work with organic materials such as ice, flowers, fruits and sugar. Her installations change over time. In this work, gerberas are sandwiched between huge panes of glass and left to wither and rot. Gallaccio has described gerberas as a ‘disposable commodity’ mass produced all year round. When the flowers were installed at Tate Britain they were colourful and bright, almost vulgar they were so beautiful. The flowers have now slowly died, illustrating what happens over the passage of time. Linda suggested that the piece is meant to depict a sense of life – from being vibrant and very much alive, to death. The decomposing flowers have also started to bleed in a sense, down the wall, giving an impression of blood - you can see this effect on the skirting board. It's quite a powerful piece. 


This painting from 1857 was especially moving. It's called Nameless and Friendless, and was painted by Emily Mary Osborn. Linda explained how this is a great case for the women artist in example and output. It shows a vulnerable woman trying to support herself by selling her paintings. Behind her, two gents look up from looking at pictures of scantily-clad ballet dancers to check her out. It’s a beautifully subtle illustration of the plight of an unmarried woman. The woman is with a boy, perhaps her son or younger brother. They appear to be middle class, yet fallen on hard times. She just looks so vulnerable and is clearly at the mercy of the shop owner whose demeaner indicates he's likely to be stingy in his appraisal. 

TheSwelleLife_Sylvia Pankhurst (1 of 1)Sylvia Pankhurst in her studio, c. 1904-05

I promised more on Olivia Plender. She curated the important exhibition Sylvia Pankhurst: The Suffragette as a Militant Artist (2013) showing at Tate Britain. Linda describes it as 'Art meets agitation': Sylvia Pankhurst was an artist and campaigner for women’s rights at the beginning of the 20th century. Art that she and other suffragettes made was designed to push the women’s cause. It’s something that gains momentum over the 20th century – this intermixing of art and politics. Olivia explained how this curated work came out of a project at the London Metropolitan University library; she wondered why this work wasn’t represented in galleries. The movement used violence against private property to publicise their cause – rather than violence to people. To them, art was a great symbol of private property, so this was one of the key tactics they used. Mary Rogers for example, famously axed a painting in the National Gallery. Linda also showed us a WSPU tea set which was created by Olivia and used at suffragette tea parties, often to celebrate the release of a prisoner of a cause. This illustrates how the movement stayed together, almost as a family, to protest. The group was mainly made up of upper middle class women and it’s often easily forgotten that these women would have been marginalised from normal society for fighting for the cause and their rights – other women who did not believe in the cause would have most likely disowned them as acquaintances.

TheSwelleLife_WSPU_teaset (1 of 1)Pieces from the WSPU tea set

And this is what Tate Britain tells us about the militant artist:

Sylvia Pankhurst 1882- 1960 made a profound impact on the fight for women’s rights as both an artist and campaigner. Trained at the Manchester Minicipal School of Art and the Royal College of Art, she was a key figure in the work of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) set up with her mother Emmeline and sister Christabel in 1903, using her artistic skills to further the cause. Pankhurst’s lifelong interest was the rights for working women, in 1907 she spent several months touring industrial communities, documenting the working and living conditions of women workers. Her combination of artworks with written accounts provided a vivid picture of the lives of women workers and made a powerful argument for the improvement in working conditions and pay equality with men. Pankhurst designed badges, banners and fliers for with WSPU her symbolic ‘angel of freedom’ was essential to the visual image of the campaign alongside the WSPU colours of purple white and green. As the suffrage campaign intensified, she struggled to balance her artistic and political work, and in 1912 she gave up art to devote herself to the East London federation of suffragettes, the organisation she founded to ensure working class women were represented in the suffrage campaign. Pankhurst was one of many women artists involved in creating designs for the suffrage campaign and active in militant protest. Suffragette attacks on artwork are examined in the exhibition ‘art under attack’ at Tate Britain.

The Sylvia Pankhurst work is displayed next to work by Margaret Harrison, Kay Hunt and Mary Kelly who conducted a detailed study of women who worked in a metal box factory in Bermondsey. The artists collected a vast amount of data through interviews, archival research and observation:

TheSwelleLife_Women_at_Work (1 of 1)

And I could go on with more incredible art from the day but I'll leave it here. Thank you to Le Meridien for another fascinating day of discovering; this was my favourite so far. I think all of us were saying we now see things differently, for the better. And in a few hours I'll be screening the next film in the series, Naked or Nude? A Short History of Art Undressed.

Unlock Art’is an exciting series of short films offering an imaginative, witty, and enriching introduction to the world of art.  Created by Tate in partnership with Le Méridien, Unlock Art features eight short films that put art under the spotlight, with topics ranging from the history of the nude to humour, Performance to Pop Art, presenting all the need-to-know facts. Bold in approach and rich in content, the film series was conceived to make the arts more accessible to a wider audience. 


PORTER Magazine issue 5 now available at NET-A-PORTER.COM

Cupcake Monday!

Interiors & Exteriors

Floral Friday

London Fashion Week

Fashion Illustrator Series

Artist Series

Paris & Cities

Painted Houses Project

Colour Colour 



  • Creative Commons License