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Iconic Swedish photographer JH Engström is currently exhibiting 'From Back Home' in Berlin, a collection of images tracing his childhood memories back to the province of Värmland READ MORE...
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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! READ MORE...
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"Three friends taking pictures of themselves in a photo-booth as they go off to Glastonbury festival''. This was the brief John Galliano (remember him?!) gave to Nick Knight READ MORE...
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As an amateur photographer, I'm fascinated by the universe of possibilities we can explore in creating images with our digital camera - why limit ourselves? I read a debate a while ago READ MORE...
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Since 2007, Montreal photographer Nicolas Ruel has been refining an in-camera double exposure technique, where with a quick swivelling motion of his device, a second plan is overlaid on a main READ MORE...
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Lula is about to pretty up Japan even further this October with its unique mix of memoir, philosophy and fantasy, as interpreted by editor Kazuo Sazuki READ MORE...
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April 08, 2014

JH Engström Exhibits: "From Back Home"


Iconic Swedish photographer JH Engström is currently exhibiting 'From Back Home' in Berlin, a collection of images tracing his childhood memories back to the province of Värmland, in the west of Sweden. Together with his friend, the internationally acclaimed photographer Anders Petersen, the Paris-based Engström revisited his native land to pay tribute to the people, light and landscapes. He says: "I can only make photographs of what I feel, of what results from my encounters with people. In this regard, my work is completely subjective. At the same time, I am interested in objectivity, in the fact that since you take photographs, you always deal with reality. And in this respect, I am not interested in subjectivity. It‘s a paradox”. 

From Back Home is a large series of work spanning 2001 to 2008 of about a hundred portraits, landscapes, still lifes, close-ups and aerial shots in fading colors and black and white. Engström's book From Back Home (Max Ström, 2009) was awarded the book prize at Les Rencontres d’Arles. The images are united by a sense of spontaneity, an ephemeral tone that lends them an air of tenderness. These are works of intimacy and loss, exploring questions of time, memory and the possibility of return; sentiments we can all relate to. 

JH Engström: From Back Home shows until May 10 at Grundemark Nilsson Gallery, Swedish Photography, Karl-Marx-Allee 62, 10243 Berlin-Friedrichshain. 

JH Engström_Collage_2_©Swedish Photography


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. 

April 04, 2014

Gemma, Lily and Lindsay's Photo Booth Fun for Dior


"Three friends taking pictures of themselves in a photo-booth as they go off to Glastonbury festival''. This was the brief John Galliano (remember him?!) gave to Nick Knight a decade ago to follow in creating the imagery for Dior's Spring/Summer 2005 collection.  These are the first of a series of unseen images Knight is releasing featuring clothes from the collection; you can follow them as they are posted here. The photos take us back to 2004 and remind us of the faces from that era of models. Gemma Ward was my favourite, and here she is at 17 years old but looking even younger. (She left modelling in 2008 when Heath Ledger died, he was her boyfriend at the time. She's still greatly missed.) Joining her is Lily Donaldson and Lindsay Ellingson. (I'm assuming once they get to Glasto they would swap their chunky floral heels for Hunter wellies. But that's not very Galliano, is it? And certainly not Dior.)




Photos: Showstudio

March 26, 2014

DIY a Fab New Chair at Ministry of Upholstery


I have spent more than a few moments giving the side-eye to an armchair we have. It has good bones but there's a part on one of the arms where the fabric is kind of slouchy and it bothers me to no end. Apparently staring at it with a menacing glare doesn't fix it, so it needs to be reupholstered. If I lived closer to Manchester I'd be loading up that chair and heading over to the Ministry of Upholstery to get it back into shape. Yes, there is actually a place where you can learn to do your own upholstery, in fact it's dedicated to teaching even complete novices how to make a perfect piece of furniture. If you live in or near the area and you're interested in seeing what it's all about, they're having an open day on Sunday 6th April 11.00-3.00 at Ministry of Upholstery, 122 Water Street, Manchester, M4 2JJ.

It’s free to attend and they will be offering the opportunity to meet the team, find out about their courses, check out their facilities, watch demonstrations of various upholstery and furniture renovation techniques, and you can talk to and watch existing students at work. 

Ministry of Upholstery is led by upholsterer Anthony Devine. Anthony has been passionate about interiors since an early age and has worked in the furniture and upholstery industry for the past seventeen years. Beginning his career as an apprentice, he then went on to produce and install hand-made furniture for Rocco Forte, The QE2, Forte Hotels, Harvey Nichols and Crowne Plaza Hotels. Anthony’s passion and experience has been the catalyst for opening up his workshop to those looking to gain practical, hands-on experience while learning about the craftsmanship of upholstery in a workshop environment.

What a cool skill to have, don't you think?  

March 25, 2014

My Kitchen Remodel: First Look at Floors

This orangerie is very similar to what we're doing, including the open entrance from the kitchen. You can see how installing the same flooring throughout creates a flow from one room to the other. This is helpful in maximising how open your space feels and is especially effective in smaller homes.

I've written quite a bit about different types of flooring, but this time I'm looking at a particular type for our kitchen. And the rest of our house. I think. The extension we're about to begin building, which will be an orangerie (like you see above), will be off the kitchen, so we'd like to start there and continue the flooring all the way through to the upstairs, if that makes sense once we think about it a bit further. (Always give major decisions time so you're sure of your direction, it will save a few heart palpitations during the installation.) So the flooring is going to be another significant investment, and therefore we have to make the right choice. At the moment, we have a real mish-mash of things under our feet. Charcoal grey ceramic tile takes you from the front entrance and hall into the kitchen, and off the hall is a living room with maple hardwood. Up the stairs and into the bedrooms is the horrible grey carpet I've previously alluded to that was put in by the sellers, and although brand new when we moved in,  is so thin that it looked a decade old after a week, and I'm not exaggerating. (Never mind the sloppy staples that stick out and assault unsuspecting heels!) We would have replaced the carpet if time and money weren't lacking when we took possession, though we did manage to get the maple into the living room which made a huge difference. 

So, I've mentioned we're looking at a particular type of flooring. Judging by how many dings the maple has accumulated in just a few years (mostly from me dropping the remote, I have to admit), and considering the cost of solid wood for an entire house which winds up being way out of our budget, we're looking at laminate. There are some very high quality options that sound and feel similar to hardwood, and look it as well. I've read quite a bit about what owners of laminate floors have to say, and although there is a great divide over whether it's suitable for bathrooms (we'll probably stick with tile), it seems sound for kitchens. If it's sealed properly, any spills shouldn't be a problem as they sit on top of the sealant. Hardwood can be repaired more easily than laminate, but let's face it - we would never get around to that unless we dropped a bowling ball on it or something. (We don't have one of those so it will be fine!) 

Now for choosing the colour. This part is tough because it sets the tone for your home and creates an immediate impression as soon as you walk through the door, and there are so many great looks. For years I've dreamed about having a house full of white plank. There are some gorgeous white laminate flooring options that look and feel like the real thing, and the effect is so light and airy and lends well to living by the sea. Ours is not a typical 'beach house' by any means, but maybe it could feel like a bit like one? 

Modern-Rustic_kitchenWhite gloss flooring lightens the look of this rustic kitchen and keeps the visual focus on the stone walls and exposed beam ceiling

If not the look of white plank, there are all kinds of other ways to go in terms of colour, texture of the grain, wide or narrow, or some other kind of floor altogether, though for our house I'm pretty sold on the look of wood. Dark woods are gorgeous, but in a climate that taunts us with what seems to be an eternal gloom at times, I think light will win out, whether it be white, blonde or maybe even contrasting tones.

The thing to remember when choosing flooring for your home, is that although it can go a long way to setting a stylistic tone in a space, it doesn't have to dictate what you do with the rest of the room. This is good news. A rustic decor, for example, doesn't need a matching floor, and in fact can be far more gorgeous when offset by minimalist foundations. And it works both ways; a floor in rich tones with a natural grain will do wonders for warming up a more austere decor and make it feel more welcoming.  This approach helps you create your own distinct style which can also make it more fluid in terms of changing things up every so often; you're not tied into a full-on look that you might grow tired of before you feel you've gotten your money's worth. 


As a side note, for comparison on the issue of whether to have continuous flooring throughout adjacent spaces, I found a home which appears to have a pine living room leading into a kitchen of white plank (above). While the width of the pine plank works visually with the slightly narrower white boards, and the soft tones are complementary, it still feels a bit abrupt, as if it disrupts an otherwise harmonious space. But it's personal preference, isn't it? And of course this approach may make perfect sense in the context of the rest of the house which we can't see.

For our new space and kitchen, I don't think this kind of visual separation is how I want to go. But it does require more consideration; who knows what options will present themselves once we really get into the kitchen planning! Watch this space....

March 23, 2014

Scream Editions Pops up with Affordable Art

Scream_Pakpoom Silaphan_Warhol on Pepsi_smlWarhol on Pepsi, Pakpoom Silaphan

Art just got a bit more accessible. Scream Editions is taking its newly launched online print gallery to the busy streets of Soho with an exciting pop-up. The online platform, which was launched by Jamie Wood (son of Rolling Stones' Ronnie, and owner of London’s popular Scream Gallery) is revolutionising the art world by offering people a chance to start their own art collection on an affordable budget, selling original prints from heavyweights such as Tracey Emin, Charming Baker, Pakpoom Silaphan, Lyle Owerko and Remi Rough.

Gallery visitors will be treated to an incredible programme of activities where they’ll get to see some of the UK’s hottest artists in action. Events will include:

• Several live screen printing events with a number of Scream Editions artists who will be signing prints on the day and inviting the public to participate in their print making process.

• Magda Archer unveiling her new collection of paintings and limited edition prints which will be available to buy during the pop-up.

• David Shillinglaw working live in the pop-up space to build an on-site installation based on his recent trip to Vietnam.

• On Saturday 22 March 2014, Shuby will be working live in the pop-up space to create an interactive wall piece using her signature paste-up style.

• Remi Rough releasing and signing his limited edition book which will be on sale at the pop-up.

• On Saturday 29 March and Sunday 30 March 2014, Jealous Print Studio and Gallery will be welcoming the public to take part in live printing an exclusive run of prints only available to purchase at the pop-up on the day.

The exhibition runs until 18 April, Monday to Saturday from 10am to 7pm, and Sunday from 12pm to 6pm at 20 Foubert's Place, Carnaby, London W1F 7PL. For up to the minute info visit carnaby.co.uk #Carnaby #ScreamEditions

To receive 10% OFF your first purchase at the pop-up head to ‘Join’ on the Scream Editions website.


Shape XV, Paulina Varregn

Scream Editions - Magda Archer My Life Is Crap

My Life is Crap, Magda Archer

Scream_ali punches on coke

Ali Punches on Coke, Pakpoom Silaphan

Scream_David Shillinglaw_Bottles

Bottles, David Shillinglaw 

Head-for-the-Clouds_Rob-SteelHead for the Clouds, Rob Steel

March 22, 2014

12 Stunning Photos that Capture the World

Valerie-LeonardValerie Leonard, France, Shortlist, Travel, Professional, 2014 Sony World Photography Awards

As an amateur photographer, I'm fascinated by the universe of possibilities we can explore in creating images with our digital camera - why limit ourselves? I read a debate a while ago which was prompted by the proliferation of photo filters on social media platforms, specifically the broad application of one-click treatments to anything and everything, which I happen to take issue with as well - blue-tinged lasagna just doesn't look appetising, now does it? And of course there's no reason everything must look like it was rummaged out of a dusty, old archive, especially when the event happened just five minutes ago. Those undiscerning filters can work well in adding character to a mediocre photo, but isn't it far more rewarding when we take control and produce beautiful pictures that are unique to our personal style of expression?  

A professional photographer involved in the debate made the claim that filters obscure the 'truth' of the subject. Well, that's where I have to disagree, simply because there is no absolute truth - in anything, really! When we make images we are presenting our own perspective on the subject, and that is the wonder and magic of photography. One hundred people snapping away at the same scene will produce one hundred distinct versions. Clever techniques and editing software allow for limitless creativity, but it all starts with the quality of the photo recorded in your most important tool, your camera. Sony's range of cameras offers something for every experience level while delivering professional quality photographs. The Sony α range or Cyber-shot™ camera puts precision, style and convenience in your hands to capture the moment in your own unique way. 

Recently, The World Photography Organisation announced its shortlist of the Sony 2014 World Photography Awards, selected from around 140,000 entries from 166 countries. Below are my favourites of a group chosen by the Sony Community, representing all four categories, which are, Professional, Open, Youth and Student Focus. They inspire me to push myself as a photographer, especially as not all of these photos were taken by professionals. Besides, the world is far too interesting and it's our job to show it. 

This is a Sponsored Post written by The Swelle Life

Sony_Adam-PrettyAdam Pretty, Australia, Shortlist, Sport, Professional, 2014 Sony World Photography Awards

Sony_alf-baileyAlf Bailey, United Kingdom, Shortlist, Panoramic, Open, 2014 Sony World Photography Awards

Sony_Chin-Boon-LengChin Boon Leng, Singapore, Shortlist, Nature & Wildlife, Open, 2014 Sony World Photography Awards

Sony_Kacper-KowalskiKacper Kowalski, Poland, Contemporary Issues, Professional, 2014 Sony World Photography Awards

Sony_Tor-Birk-TradsTor Birk Trads, Denmark, Finalist, Student Focus, 2014 Sony World Photography Awards

Sony_LiChen利陈(LiChen), China, Shortlist, Travel, Open, 2014 Sony World Photography Awards

Sony_Helga-UrbanHelga Urban, Hungary, Shortlist, Nature & Wildlife, Open, 2014 Sony World Photography Awards

Sony_Hasan-BaglarHasan Bağlar, Cyprus, Shortlist, Nature & Wildlife, Open, 2014 Sony World Photography Awards

Sony_Rahul-TalukderRahul Talukder, Bangladesh, Finalist, Student Focus, 2014 Sony World Photography Awards

Sony_Reuben-FoongReuben Foong, Singapore, Shortlist, Portraits, Youth, 2014 Sony World Photography Awards

Sony_Sophie-GamandSophie Gamand, France, Finalist, Portraiture, Professional, 2014 Sony World Photography Awards

Sony_russell-brunsRussell Bruns, South Africa, Finalist, Student Focus, 2014 Sony World Photography Awards

March 19, 2014

Nicolas Ruel Goes 'From Architecture to Fashion in 8 Seconds'


Since 2007, Montreal photographer Nicolas Ruel has been refining an in-camera double exposure technique, where with a quick swivelling motion of his device, a second plan is overlaid on a main subject, creating a new dimension. Ruel uses this process to capture an unseen urban look of the world, and to date this body of work - called 8 Seconds after the shutter speed used - spans an impressive sixty cities in forty countries. As you can see below, Ruel presents a very unique tour of the world's most fascinating places, demonstrating a knack for transferring the energy of the city to the viewer; the result is quite exhilarating and you don't want to stop looking. 

The originality of Ruel's work  struck Thierry-Maxime Loriot, Curator at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, who then asked him to set up a photo shoot in Jean Paul Gaultier's atelier in Paris. Ruel has been chosen to appear alongside famous artists and fashion photographers to showcase his work in the travelling international exhibition devoted to the French couturier, The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk, during its stop in London at the Barbican Art Centre from April 9th to August 25th, 2014. In this context, Ruel's double exposure technique pays tribute to the duality that prevails in the world of Jean Paul Gaultier.

"Nicolas Ruel has a young and refreshing eye that is very different from most photographers. His pictures have an artistic tone that goes beyond simple fashion photography. The quality of his work compares to the same level as those from Andy Warhol, Pierre and Giles or David Lachapelle that we selected for the exhibition," says Loriot.

Watch Jean Paul Gaultier speak about the exhibition and its stop in London, as only JPG can (email subscribers can click on the post title to watch this on the blog):


Here is a glimpse of Ruel's fashion work:



And now a mini tour of some of my favourites from Ruel's 8 Seconds project, of which there were a ton:



Tower Bridge, 2007


Time, 2011 


Canvas, 2009



Prologue, 2010


Nicolas_Ruel_ beijing

Maze, 2009


Nicolas_Ruel_ Pont-des-arts

Pont des Arts, 2013

Nicolas_Ruel_ boudoir_paris

Boudoir, 2013

Nicolas_Ruel_ Paris_2

Les Éclusiers, 2009

Nicolas_Ruel_ paris

Apparat, 2013



Equation, 2012


Nicolas_Ruel_ tokyo

Trend, 2009

Nicolas_Ruel_ tokyo_3

Fast Forward, 2009


Dori, 2009



Pace, 2009


Nicolas_Ruel_ Centrum_Amsterdam

Centrum, 2013 


Nicolas_Ruel_ toronto_3

Zenith, 2008

Nicolas_Ruel_ Toronto

Témoin, 2012

Nicolas_Ruel_ toronto_2

Yonge, 2012


Nicolas_Ruel_ Palais_Montreal

Palais, 2013

Nicolas_Ruel_ Montreal

Place de L'horloge, 2013




Martin Place, 2009


Look Right, 2009


Avalon, 2009

Photos © Nicolas Ruel 

Source: v2com

Pamela Love's Earthiness with an Edge


I don't know where I am with jewellery at the moment. I'm kind of in no man's land with what I like, and so I'm going out completely unadorned, not having the right piece to add to some place on my body, depending what the outfit dictates (I'm not one to pile it on). Looking at the contents of my accessories drawer, I can see what I'm not into right now - unfortunately that is just about everything in there! Like the rest of our wardrobe, our jewellery, costume or otherwise, reflects our style tastes from a specific time, and when that time has passed we either opt to revisit it or leave it behind for good in its velvet-lined home. 

How we adorn ourselves can say more about us than anything else we wear - I met a young blogger last week who wore a headband of pink pom-poms! She's making a statement with that piece and using it to stand apart from every other person on the street - even in London.  My equivalent to her elasticated string of pom-poms is elusive for the time being, that thing that says 'me', and this is why I choose to go without rather than throwing on something for the sake of it. It's funny though, we don't change as people, not at our core, yet how we express ourselves sartorially can vary wildly from year to year, or even season to season. I think that tends to be especially true with fashion followers, we're exposed to so much and so we become somewhat fluid in what we'll adopt as an extension of ourselves. We pull what we identify with most from the trends presented to us, though we tend to see it as us choosing it, rather than it choosing us. 

That long intro was to preface why I'm talking about Pamela Love's jewellery today. The native New Yorker's aesthetic is very earthy and spiritual, with influences from alchemy, astronomy, astronomy and botany, some American Southwest and even a bit of architectural elements from her big city home (you can see her inspirations on her Pinterest). I've never worn a 'philosphophy' before, in fact I usually stay away from anything associated with iconongraphy because it sends a bold message (I guess I prefer to use my mouth to send bold messages). But a pentagram cuff? I never thought I'd consider something like that (despite it's scary connotations it was used in ancient times as a Christian symbol for the five senses or the five wounds of Christ), but it does make a cool cage-like design around the forearm - is it ok to wear symbols for what they look like? It's up to you, I think. (Just be aware of its meaning first!) That's the neat thing about accessories; by simply slipping on a fashioned piece of metal you can step out of yourself and try on an alternate persona for a day and see how it feels. There's no commitment to it. However, you do want to choose pieces that are well made, so a little investment is worth considering. And these days there's no excuse to not support sustainable craft and local production. All of the gemstones and semiprecious stones used in Pamela Love's designs are ethically sourced and almost all metal is recycled. Her entire jewelry-making process, from design to sampling to full-scale production, is completed domestically with the majority of it done in-house at the Pamela Love studio in Manhattan. I love it when good people are behind a brand, it makes wearing them that much nicer. These are the keepers. 


March 17, 2014

Vinyl Love at 'Record Store Day' on Berwick Street

Record Shop Shot

Long live vinyl. The independent record stores of Berwick Street Soho are joining forces this Easter weekend to celebrate Record Store Day on Saturday, April 19.  The free outdoor gig will see seven artists perform on the Berwick Street main stage, with retailers hosting in-store activities throughout the day. The event promises some rare finds with limited edition vinyl and CDs to be released exclusively on this day, and many will only be available in Berwick Street’s record stores.  

And with great music goes good food. The traditional fruit & veg market will be open as usual with a variety of world street food traders, including Napoli style pizzas served by Pizza Pilgrims from the back of a converted Piaggio van, and freshly made falafel wraps from Jerusalem Falafel. 

For more information you can visit the Berwick Street website, or check for updates at #RecordStoreDay and @berwickstlondon.

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