“Is that what the kids are calling it these days?” a friend messaged me in response to my “weekend working on the floor with my husband.” Despite distractions, including mould and moths, our renovation is moving along. We now have reclaimed terracotta roof tiles for flooring in a parquet pattern in our kitchen and hall.
If like me, you’re also struggling with moths – have you tried essential oils or filling sachets with dried mint or lavender?
Before herringbone terracotta started tiling up everywhere, including a Matchesfashion.com newsletter this week, I first fell for them when Salvo Code member Natural Stone Consulting listed them on SalvoWEB a few years ago. I adored the raw elegance of the colours and textural story hinting at their past life as roof tiles. One of the many benefits of designing with reclaimed materials is even when something is trending, your iteration will still stand out from the crowd. The finish you want to achieve can be equally unique, so after having the tiles laid we are gradually finishing the job ourselves.
Step one was sealing them. We were ready to say goodbye to brick dust, as we were living in the flat throughout the project, yet we wanted to maintain the dusty pink shade of the tiles in their natural state, so we opted for a barely-there sealant. But it was there and we did the water dropper test – where you check that the liquid remains on the surface rather than seeping in to prove it. The terracotta tiles from Natural Stone Consulting were salvaged from derelict rural farmhouses and outhouses in Europe so we wanted to show off the time-worn character which dates back to around 1860. If you choose terracotta or another porous stone then it’s worth doing a quick water drop test every year or so in areas like kitchens to check that your protection is still holding up.
Step two was mixing the subtlest sandy grout before applying a second coat of sealer. We had the tiles laid as close as possible, as initially, we were considering going groutless. However, reclaimed terracotta tiles aren’t like laying traditional timber parquet, and they varied in size, so we made a high sand content grout that would blend well with the warm tones of the terracotta.
I’m not going to lie, tilers were in high demand when we embarked on the project, and ours wasn’t attracting the same quantity of interest as quick regular tiling jobs. So although we didn’t lay the tiles, our hours spent on the floor are totting up to more than our builders’. Step three was sourcing a model makers’ kit of tiny tools to attach to our drill and smooth out signs of our floor layers’ learning curve. It was their first time working with reclaimed tiles.
So my friend wasn’t wrong, my husband and I are sharing bonding sessions on our floor, and the earplugs he bought us for raves have come in handy to drown out the drilling. I hear that’s what the kids are using them for these days; house music.
Art and design have the enviable ability to break down barriers that traditionally divide cultures. The universality of interiors that involve and speak to people around the world is surely something worth celebrating, so why was I nervous to talk about Tribal Art? My fashion background and thrill in finding antique textiles has given me the chance to see rare tribal pieces over the years. However, like many people attracted to Tribal Art, I have a knowledge gap that can make buying or even discussing the topic intimidating.
The creative cohesion we find when people blend different periods with contemporary pieces or different styles arguably defines our time. Some of the most exciting spaces are a reflection of many cultures, as people seek to research their heritage or look for connection through pieces from places that keep craft skills alive out of human necessity. Artefacts like this provide a stark contrast to the consumer culture that exists across the world.
Both Ian Shaw and Anthony Hepworth are experienced collectors so if you are captivated by tribal objects, but conscious of appropriation in design then their memorable discoveries and tips for finding true Tribal Art are a good place to start.
Ian Shaw, the man behind Tribal Arts & Textiles encapsulates the nuances of cultural appropriation early into our conversation with a lovely picture of his wife with her niece, who are both Ashante from Ghana. They are wearing textiles of the Ewe people so they had to ask permission before wearing them for the photo. “Cultural appropriation isn’t just relevant to Europeans, it is relevant to the indigenous population also because these are religious objects within their own spheres,” he says.
Staying safely in the realms of appreciation rather than appropriation, African weaving artistry can be celebrated through interior design and the daily enjoyment for people from different cultures. For example, Ian tells me that some of the textiles work well as personal pieces like bedspreads as they are very durable.
If you keep missing, get closer to the basket
Ian has done his research and explains “there are not that many people that will attempt to deal in (antique) African baskets.” He points out that there are many of them around and people try to fake it but especially “the Tutsi, Chokwe and the Kuba peoples have special techniques for making these baskets that no one can replicate. Only the local women know how to make these and that’s been handed down from generation to generation.”
Both keen runners, Ian met his wife at the National Stadium training. She was a police officer at the time as well as an international runner for Ghana. However, it was long before Ian met his wife, back in 1989 when he was introduced to Tribal Art by friends. Two Glasgow artists dragged him to the Museum of Mankind in London. He describes eyeing huge Easter Island figures whilst ascending a big marble staircase before entering a large room full of Yoruba carvings from Nigeria. “Walking into that room, I didn’t know anything about the images that were there. Even with no knowledge, you had to be impressed by the sculptural quality, it was just incredible.”
You never forget your first
Ian was off on his journey with learnings from friends about art history and the powerful influence on painters such as Matisse and Modigliani, who had big collections of African Tribal Art. Eight years later, a lovely Yoruba kola nut bowl carved as a chicken was Ian’s first purchase, and objects he could never part with include an extremely rare Yoruba Geledi mask. Before you buy a tribal piece it is essential to ask questions, so meeting dealers at longstanding fairs like Bath Decorative is a good first move. Find out about the provenance so that you know what you have is genuine and that your intended purpose is in tune with trustworthy knowledge of what it is.
Although Ian focuses on textiles of West Africa, he recently discovered a piece from Scandinavia that he will bring to Bath. “Not normally my area, but I do have a smattering of knowledge of these things and this is a really beautiful Norwegian church tapestry.” We muse about the story of how it got here and relate over the joyous moment when particularly textiles just speak to you.
An Eclectic Eye
Anthony Hepworth’s eye for pairing Tribal Art with Modern British Painting and Sculpture can be traced to the ‘70s from art college to the start of his career for the British Museum.
“A museum by its very nature has all of these different cultures, different ages all together. The departments can be quite insular, but when they put on shows all of these things come together.” He recalls a library show with “big glass cases, and at one time they had fabulous Oceanic objects in a cabinet and then they had an African object, and then some Greek objects. That’s what set me off.”
Anthony Hepworth Fine Art was established in Bath in 1989 with locations in London and their own returning exhibition ‘An Eclectic Eye’ held over the years. Today they represent Scottish artist Peter Seal and you can see their dual passions collide at fairs with Anthony’s specialism in Modern British and Post-War Painting and Sculpture with African and Oceanic Tribal Art.
“We used to spend ages, I mean two days arranging the things, and that’s how I live in my house…So at the moment, I am sitting in a room with a 16th-century carving next to a 1958 painting with some African objects surrounded by Japanese bronzes to the right and then I’ve got some Greek antiquities to the left and a Hawaiian bowl, and then pre-Columbian pieces and 18th-century glass next to a little Henry Moore. It’s just fun. It’s a pleasure to live in this way.”
The cherry on top of this storied setting is that Anthony lives in a reclaimed house, having swapped their Bath townhouse for a bungalow built by the city architect from reclaimed Cotswold stone with a Cotswold stone roof and a bell tower.
Provenance is incredibly important to him, and the stand at Bath will feature things like Oceanic clubs and paddles. “Genuinely old things that were made by a tribal person, for a tribal person’s use. That’s how we define Tribal Art or objects.” Anthony touches on how things have changed and how the TV show Frasier affected the market in the ‘90s with the apartment filled with tribal objects and the “decorator influence.”
Sometimes it feels like the respectful line that art or comedy must tread has become more complex, but for me, Anthony simplifies it beautifully as “professionalism.” It is not about ‘get the look’ it’s about the feeling of truly Tribal Art.
See Tribal Arts & Textiles and Anthony Hepworth Fine Art at the Bath Decorative Antiques Fair. Get your tickets here
Bath Decorative Antiques Fair Date: 1-3 April 2022 TRADE PREVIEW Thursday 31 March Venue: The Pavilion, North Parade Road, Bath, BA2 4EU
My new flat is the equivalent of workout leggings. It’s comfortable and a little styling goes a long way, but I am anxious that renovating at a slow pace will be the home equivalent of a hard transition out of trousers with an elasticated waist.
My current sense of urgency is fighting my better judgment and past experience, which proves that slow design enables more reuse because it gives you time to see existing potential and consider possibilities that you might have otherwise missed. To reuse as much as possible and work with antique and salvaged materials is our priority, but this reclaimed reno is more intensive than my last and includes a big (by London standards) bathroom, a kitchen, 2 bedrooms, floors and a possible extension to do.
We need to pace ourselves budget-wise so we just started with the flooring in the hall and kitchen. This was good because consciously planning an area at a time was conducive to more reuse. However, a delay in work on our kitchen means that most of this space will take shape in phase two, which means our flat is starting to look like a salvage yard with a sink here, a copper fire hood there… But as Dolly Parton put it “if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.”
The trouble with not doing everything at once is that your memory is fresh enough to remember the dust that comes with a renovation. We are still discovering dust inside cupboards that we didn’t know existed from reno round one. I’m excited to share our reclaimed herringbone terracotta tiled floor once we have finished grinding and sealing, but I need to work on our lighting because the cold coloured surgical-like kitchen downlighters are countering what should be a characterful floor of pink and orange tones. With the kitchen as it is our vegetables aren’t so much chopped but dissected.
There has been a flurry of home renovations over the last two years, so I am curious to hear your experiences. Has the WFH lifestyle made it easier to keep a closer eye on your design projects or have you found the lack of opportunity to escape ongoing building work more challenging?
Week three wfh and I am ready to be wild from home. The highlight of my weekend was singing Nirvana’s Teen Spirit whilst dancing around the lounge with my husband. “You call that wild? You need to get out more” I hear you say. Yes, I do. And one day I will. We all will. But until then I’m making my own conditioner with organic dried marshmallow root.
Ardingly Antiques & Collectors Fair showed its mettle (albeit disguised as petals )this week, as a major fair that continues to attract a strong following of dealers, designers and private buyers. It could have been the sunny start and morning light hitting the showground, but the architectural and decorative antiques looked especially pretty, like the first daffs in March.
My highlights included Mangan Antiques’ marbeled apothecary pots circa 1870 from southern Italy, coloured to signify the herbs they originally held. A floral telephone chair also caught my fancy for its fringing detail and so did numerous painted reclaimed doors.
This late Victorian stained glass panel rescued from Birmingham by Smiths of Stratford, and the ‘60s bag bursting with flowers were under the same roof at Ardingly and could arguably both be considered romantic gestures🌹.
The next Ardingly Fair will be held on Tuesday 23rd and Wednesday 24th April 2019 at the South of England Showground near Haywards Heath (as usual).
Had I not already left my heart in San Francisco in 2015 when I met the man I would marry seven months later, Love Street Vintage would have stolen it. Sustainable gems are dotted in many neighbourhoods, but High on a hill, Haight Street calls if you are after a single destination to explore vintage and pre-loved fashion. Berkeley is a must for Ohmega Salvage if you’re into reclaimed interiors. If time allows, I thoroughly recommend crossing the Golden Gate Bridge to Marin County for giant redwood trees and environmentally conscious communities. I had the vegan sausage of my life at Gestalt Haus in the town of Fairfax. But enough about my love life. Here’s some ethical and vintage finds to start your own love affair with the SF Bay Area.
Marina District – 2110 Chestnut St, San Francisco, CA 94123, USA. Plus more Amour Vert stores to explore in numerous neighbourhoods in the Bay Area…
Starting with green love. These sustainable staples are what you would expect to find if you raided the wardrobe of a chic French woman: classic tees, great silk blouses, a boyfriend blazer, relaxed sweaters, a slinky jumpsuit. AND then added free-spirited prints; this is after all San Francisco, where 97% of Amour Vert’s clothing is made (within just a few miles of the brand’s head office).Natural, quality fabrics are arguably the building blocks behind both French and Californian style, which Amour Vert translates beautifully with eco-friendly materials like GOTS certified organic cotton, Mulberry silk and modal.
Love Street Vintage
Haight & Ashbury neighbourhood – 1506 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117, USA
Visit the kaleidoscopic corner of Haight and Ashbury and absorb the setting of 1967’s Summer of Love and then explore bohemian sixties and seventies fashion at Love Street Vintage. From paper-doll-making childhood days spent cutting out Sears catalogs to setting up this dress-up heaven, the owner edits beautiful clothing for women and men alongside accessories that date back to the twenties. Discover new jewellery made in California and antique Native American turquoise pieces.
Haight & Ashbury neighbourhood – 1764 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117, USA
Caution: one may leave Static Vintage wanting to paint one’s walls a ‘90s shade of lime green. There is a lot to look at with painted walls decorated with women’s and men’s fashion. Stock ranges from reasonably priced rare pieces to cabinets reserved for vintage Vuitton luggage, designer jewellery and bags by the likes of Gucci and Chanel. Other accessories include lots of ties and shoes, which range from secondhand so-wrong-they’re-right to vintage Yves Saint Laurent. Rails are packed so it’s a good place if you are in the mood for a rummage. Take intermittent breaks in the brown teddybear chair.
Decades of Fashion
Haight & Ashbury neighbourhood – 1653 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117, USA
As the name suggests, here you can shop by the decade of fashion that takes your fancy. Most pieces fall between the thirties to the eighties, but the collection spans 100 years from the 1890s. I’ve shopped everyday attire, but it’s particularly good for party-wear. Sadly I don’t drink champagne everyday like the late Cilla Black was said to, but on my last visit I was tempted by a pair of ‘80s champagne bottle and coupe earrings (that would be a perfect blind-date identifier). Don’t worry if you’re not reading this from the UK or you were born after 1995 and these Blind Date jokes are lost on you because if you’re into vintage then Decades of Fashion definitely won’t be.
Haight & Ashbury neighbourhood – 1660 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117, USA
There’s nothing like a good window display to make you appreciate the pleasure that is unique to visiting a shop built with bricks instead of clicks. In fact the whole store front of Wasteland’s San Francisco location is worthy of a minute or two before you dive past Art Deco tiles to discover pre-loved fashion peppered with vintage. Expect high-end and contemporary designers, and when I last visited there was practically a cabinet dedicated to collectable Prada accessories. Of course stock changes quickly, but men’s clothes and accessories always maintain a healthy share of the space.
Eden & Eden
North Beach neighbourhood – 560 Jackson St, San Francisco, CA 94133, USA
Not everything in Eden & Eden is sustainable, but the store and staff exhibit such respect for both new and vintage that it is truly a place to shop forever pieces. Eden & Eden’s vintage clothes and jewellery is so well-edited that it could even convert people that don’t usually do vintage. They also exhibit in A Current Affair, an event for premier vintage retailers and private dealers that comes to the Bay twice a year.
Inner Richmond neighbourhood – 212 Clement St, San Francisco, CA 94118, USA
Step inside Seedstore and you feel a flowering spectrum of the sustainable fashion scene – ranging from local labels with collections made in California to independent brands from around the globe that nurture traditional in-country techniques. A pop-up of ‘80s and ‘90s vintage by WRN FRSH, a local SF label that also sells their own non-binary cut and sewn collection made of recycled denim sits well in this store of mainly new wardrobe staples for women and men and gifty goods.
Gravel & Gold
Mission District – 3266 21st St, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA
Let’s just say they had me at the doormat welcome message.
Gravel & Gold is home to an independent, woman-owned design collective and is mainly stocked with things the women make themselves including clothing, accessories and gifts featuring their handmade prints. Joyfully crafted items for your own home dome include stained glass shaka signs and unusual sculptures and ceramics. Expect a multi-sensory experience with warm, cruelty-free Californian scents from the likes of Fiele Fragrances.
Mission District – 914 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA. One of Ref’s two locations in SF.
It is increasingly rare to find a brand that you can’t get on home ground, so if you’re not based in San Francisco, New York or LA, Reformation calls for some revelling. Tech-savvy stores invite shoppers to add items to the fitting room from a monitor, but as a Brit usually restricted to viewing Reformation’s sexy strand of sustainable from behind a screen, I preferred to cruise the gallery-like display. Save your upper-arm workout for another time because unlike stores with jam-packed rails, Reformation dresses theirs with just one of each item. Then you can test sizes across bottoms, dresses and tops ready for future screen-shopping.
Berkeley – 2400 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94702, USA
Exploring Ohmega Salvage is a happy excursion to inspire interestingly dressed interiors. This place is a staple of community for reuse with unusual objects that fit a need and tell a story. It’s a given that you will eye-up salvage bigger than your suitcase could carry; which in my case was a trough sink circa 1960, but there are smaller shoppable items too (like the glass pendant light shades pictured). It’s also fun to look at different architectural elements and furniture that you don’t find back home.
Fairfax in Marin County – 9 Bolinas Rd, Fairfax, CA 94930, USA
Mystic Rose is a new jewel to the treasure town that is Fairfax. Stepping inside is like entering a fortune tellers cabin with vintage clothes and ‘90s iridescent Moschino boots waiting to tell you about the life you could have if you choose them. This store has trinkets galore, gifts and great American vintage accessories for women and men. I saw mostly one-offs on my visit, apart from this trolley out front holding deadstock handbags from the seventies. It’s well worth crossing the Golden Gate Bridge for a taste of intentional living here.
This edit sums up my mood for the month ahead. It’s that time of year when your pinkie ring should give you super powers and you can cloak your face and your body in pillows [when not showing off that you’re capable of dancing in white whilst eating cranberry canapés].
Is it me or are haircare ads stuck in the 1950s? Can the contents of one plastic bottle really deliver on all of those promises? And are we even looking for those things at the end of a good shampooing?
Hair diaries of women with great locks usually involve a lotta steps and it is easy to succumb to the idea that we need a complicated routine to achieve the hair of our dreams. I just discovered a shampoo that needs no conditioner step, which is quite a significant discovery for my habitual hair routine. So could zero waste be the philosophy that actually delivers the haircare promise without a long, product heavy process?
Having heard that I was working to overhaul my beauty routine, Olivia of ethical homeware and accessories brand Nido Collective introduced me to Hanna of Acala, who offered to let me sample zero waste shampoo called Beauty Kubes.
Fellow member of Ethical Writers & Creatives, Hanna Pumfrey created her online store Acala to empower people with easy sustainable alternatives.Expect natural, organic and vegan health and beauty. But before you click to discover Acala’s plastic-freedom, let me spoil the end with the promise that I am a zero waste haircare convert.
My Acala delivery arrived in reusable packaging by RePack, which I was almost equally intrigued by so I put the whole thing in my weekender ready for my night away in Paris.
Good timing for a hair treat trial, I chose shampoo cubes for normal to dry hair, as living in the city I tend to wash my hair a lot and my lengths get dry. Plus I’m a sucker for anything rose or grapefruit and this formula is infused with rose extract, a blend of organic palmarosa, orange and grapefruit essential oils.
If you are less than thrilled about taking plastic bottles into the shower, but quite like an escape to the Cornish Riviera then Beauty Kubes could be for you too. Made in Cornwall, the product and packaging is 100% biodegradable. The cubes are cruelty free and free from palm oil, sulphates, and packed with vitamin E and pro vitamin B5 to promote growth, a healthy scalp and hair.
Apart from an unfortunate purple Halloween hair-in-can incident when I was about eleven, I do not dye my hair and I am particular about what I subject it to. It took me a moment to balance the right amount of water to shampoo cube – whilst sussing out how to work the shower in my hotel – but back home I perfected the crumbling technique. In the palm of your hand you gradually work it into a paste and a pleasing lather. If you’re accustomed to equating lather with cleanliness then it will take some getting used to natural shampoo, but honestly my hair feels clarified and cleaner.
Upon return to London, I posted the RePack packaging, which is returned to its source for free and then cleaned and redistributed to brands and stores using the service (many of which offer incentives through RePack’s online community). Then I washed my hair. Beauty Kubes passed the was my head just happier in Paris? test and my hair still feels softer in London’s hard water.
[Cue shot of woman in urban jungle having sexual experience with freshly washed hair]
Wearing hair washed with Beauty Kubes in Paris with pre-loved fake snake trousers & hair washed with Beauty Kubes in London with a poppy print jumpsuit from People Tree for their collaboration with the V&A Museum. See the latest V&A collection here
I packed learnings of balance in my suitcase back from Berlin (alongside this Resolution organic cotton tee by Cruba).
I should have known it would be a knowledge excursion when I spotted my school history teacher on our flight over.Ms Hodson taught me everything I know about Berlin’s past, and I was about to learn about the future and significant hub the city has created for the international fashion crowd that likes their lewk sustainable.
I could share spring summer 2019 trends from the Greenshowroom, now rebranded NEONYT – a combination of the old Greek and Swedish words for new, but this isn’t a show that promotes out with the old, in with the new seasonal dressing.One could note hemp like you’ve never seen it; cullotes; the colours yellow, rose, summer black, and athleisure with a persuasion for tennis above all other sports, but the newness at NEONYT is more about optimism for a change in fashion for good. The designers showing here are about capsule wardrobes with considered additions and innovation like this clever cork bag by COSSAC.
This bag will beautifully balance summer essentials – beach towel + big book, which brings me back to the dressing lesson I’m taking back from Berlin – balance.
Even though the city was sweltering, Berliners struck the balance in summer-wear they felt comfortable in that didn’t look like it belonged at the beach.Sometimes it is tough in the city to get the right harmony of skin-on-show, shoes that are pavement or even cobble friendly, but aren’t sweaty and Berlin handled the heat perfectly.
My strategy was a lotta linen, like this ’80s Oscar de la Renta dress (above) and Noumenon shirt (below) with trainers or a wedge.
And a free and easy Etro wrap skirt from my local Mary’s Living and Giving Shop worn with a COSSAC t-shirt and a choker made from surplus furniture fabric by Noumenon, as before.
The other resolution I made, actually just before Berlin was to give up gel nail varnish.I’m ashamed to say that despite making an effort to live green, my make-up bag has RSVP’d, but is yet to attend the party.I’ve swapped all lipsticks for organic Ilia shades, but I am still working through things, so next up it’s nails.People in the clean beauty scene talk in the number of chemicals a nail polish is free from – the starting point being 3-free – meaning formulas with no formaldehyde, toluene or dibutyl phthalate.I love having long nails and gel polishes kept them strong and long, albeit unnaturally, so I was thrilled to find vegan non-toxic 10-free formulas by Kure Bazaar. The nail polishes are nourishing with 85% of the formulation derived of natural origin, such as wood pulp and potato.
I’m wearing them shorter in Beige Milk whilst they repair, but the collection is full of awesome spring summer 19 ready colours like Sunset (above).
*Content Beauty is currently offering a free base coat when you buy two Kure Bazaar nail polishes, so it’s a good time to buy if you’re trying to cure a gel mani addiction.
The Fresh Therapies remover is designed to retain the natural oil in your nails and all of the ingredients are biodegradable, plus it actually smells good (as if you’ve just been squeezing limes).
But as ever, when you commit to resolutions, there’s always more you can do. I’ve been a pescatarian since I was nine and in recent years I’ve removed more and more dairy from my diet. Agata, founder of COSSAC and Dena, founder of Noumenon invited me and my friend Rebecca for dinner with the team from Vegan Good Life magazine. By chance, we sat by dietary group with the meat eaters on one end, vegans on the other and me in the middle. There was no logic to our seating order as we were all sharing vegan plates at 1990 Vegan Living, which was, as billed, ‘hands down the best Vietnamese place.’
I’m not going vegan yet, but I’m thinking about it, and the Vegan Good Life special edition, Ethical Fashion Today is good fashion for thought.