Archives for category: interiors

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I LOVE everything about flowers! I cannot live without them. I can’t resist photographing them and they are essential in my home.  I have my favourites, big blousy peonies, wild English roses, sweet smelling jasmine, hyacinths that arrive with the spring, glorious gardenias and hydrangeas, reminding me of my childhood and my Nanna.

Flower paintings have always been a favourite too, from the intricate detail of the Dutch masters to the broader strokes of the oversized blooms painted by Georgia O’Keefe.

Today I spoke to Matthew Usmar Lauder about his passion for flowers and his beautiful flower paintings. Matthew’s flower paintings move me, each stroke is passionate.

20171206-IMG_0022 snakedsmall Matthew what is it about flowers?

‘I love flowers, I consider them to be some of nature’s greatest art. I also love their perfume, especially the rose, gardenia, and orange blossom.

What’s a favourite flower?

I adore the hydrangea. I didn’t get it when I was young, I’d see them and think of dull British suburban gardens or clinging to the sterile walls of care homes. But when I looked a little closer I got them.

They are magnificent, ballsy, robust and ever so subtle in their glorious colour. They are a joy to paint their drama and sculptural dynamic is inspiring.

Is your approach to flower painting different to other subject matter?

I paint each subject in a way I instinctively feel is right. I find nature to be everything between chaos and effective balance, with that in mind I throw myself and my paint right in the middle.

You are now producing prints of your fab flowers, what made you decide to do that?

I made that decision based partly upon demand. In the past, I have sold practically every flower painting I’ve painted, (and some individual pieces I could have literally sold two or three times such was their popularity).

Also, I have a love of printmaking which started as child when I was introduced to screen printing. Then later, after completing my Degree in fine art painting, I chose to do a Masters in fine art print making.

The print reproductions I am having made now utilise the best of modern technology, which is thrilling because they are as close to the original as possible.

Follow If you would love one of Matthews beautiful prints on your wall CLICK HERE and take a look. There are a variety available in different sizes.

Follow Matthew on Instagram @offthebrush

 

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The inspiration of a ceramic bowl took me on a journey to Tasmania to meet a complete stranger and photograph his beautiful work.

Last December I found a ceramic bowl in a small gift shop in Sydney’s, Potts Point. There were in fact two, an identical smaller bowl was hidden inside the larger one that had caught my eye. I was drawn to their simplicity. I was also drawn to their perfect proportions and weight. They felt sturdy in my hands, they also felt precious.

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I decided on the smaller one as a gift for a friend and had it wrapped. I thought about the larger bowl for next few days and made the decision that if it was still in the shop on my next visit I would buy it. Thankfully it had waited on the shelf for my return.

The lovely shop assistant remembered me and gave me some written information on the ceramicist Zsolt Faludi. She told me he worked in Tasmania but he did not have a website.

On the way home to my apartment I made two decisions. One, I would be looking for an alternative gift for my friend and two, I would be going to Tasmania to meet the man who made the bowls.

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I found Zsolt’s Facebook page at 5pm on New Year’s Eve and decided to send him a private message telling him how inspired I was by my purchases. I asked him if I could come and meet him and take some photos of him, his work and his studio. I was completely taken aback when he messaged me back within a few hours saying yes, it made my New Year’s evening. I then began preparations for my first trip to Tasmania.

Meeting the man himself was a treat he was so welcoming as was his partner, Nanna Bayer. Their home and studio are set in a beautiful part of Tasmania outside Hobart called Glen Huon. They invited me to eat with, them and we sat around and chatted for some time before Zsolt took me on a tour of studio Zona.

Zsolt is originally from Hungary and moved to Tasmania in 1984, he is a bear of a man with a cheeky sense of humour. The strength of his personality is reflected in the work he creates. The proportions of each piece are perfect and feel solid and purposeful.

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He met Nanna, who is from Finland in 2010 when they were both attending a ceramics conference in Gulgong NSW. Nanna’s ceramics are beautiful, they are more feminine and delicate. Studio Zona is the result of Zsolt and Nanna coming together, a perfect fit.

I am so thrilled to have found the bowls that not only lead me to the man but also to his equally talented partner.

I love the idea that curiosity and being inspired by something small can take you on an adventure. One beautiful object led me to take a trip into the unknown.

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Thank you Zsolt for answering my message last New Year’s Eve and thank you and Nanna for being so welcoming. To see more work by Zsolt and Nanna go to their Facebook by clicking HERE. 

Follow what inspires you for it can take you everywhere.

The first time I saw a photo of Gin Head I was completely blown away and so it seems was Scottish photographer Albert Watson. His first spotted it 20 years ago, when he was photographing at Tantallon Castle. He was intrigued by the way the then active research centre sat on its own promontory. It’s hard not only drawn to the 1943 buildings, significant survivors of the Admiralty base but also to the dramatic landscape that surrounds it.

Gin Head was a 1940’s radar station, a culturally significant landmark which sits in the wild and wonderful landscape of a cliff edged promontory. It is situated 30 miles from Edinburgh in North Berwick and has rare heritage, history and sweeping views over the Firth of Fourth. It provides a sea front view of East Lothian’s most stirring landscapes. Gin Head’s nearest neighbour is the magnificent Tantallon Castle, perched on the cliff top to the east just 300 meters away. Directly in front of Gin Head is the Bass Rock, an enormous barnacled knuckle of rock that thrusts a hundred meters up from the sea, it’s a world nature reserve and home to the largest colony of gannets in the world.

albert watson, christie turlington, clint eastwood,sade Albert WatsonChristy Turlington photographed by Albert Watson for Harpers Bazaar, fashion editor, Joanna Hillman.

GIN HEAD 7 TANTALLON CASTLE 2b crop snaked Gin Head 

albert watson, christie turlington, clint eastwood,sade2 Clint Eastwood and Sade photographed by Albert Watson

Through recent marketing of Gin Head, we have connected with four serious buyers, all of whom have marveled at the awe-inspiring landscape of natural forces. They each have their own take on the best way to use and adapt the approved plans and are busy completing their pre-purchase investigations.

Among the potential purchasers – a Scot who has known and coveted Gin Head for many years – is one of the world’s pre-eminent fine art, fashion and commercial photographers.  His photographs have always inspired me. Albert Watson’s images of Alfred Hitchcock, Clint Eastwood and Steve Jobs are defining images from a four-decade career containing a wealth of distinctive work. Watson spotted the potential of Gin Head more than 20 years ago and has visionary ideas for establishing a photographic foundation incorporating gallery, workshop, archive and residential components.  The creative brilliance of a globally renowned photographer combined with the elemental natural forces of the East Lothian surroundings is a delectable prospect. Whoever succeeds in acquiring Gin Head and applying their vision to such a wild and wonderful environment, will take their place in Scotland’s rich architectural heritage.

THE BASS ROCK snaked The Bass Rock

How did I come to own part of Scottish heritage?

About 10 years ago I was at a friend’s dinner party in Scotland where I was introduced to a hearty Scot named Robin. He and his wife arrived late to the dinner dressed head to toe in insect costumes. I can’t remember now exactly why they were dressed this way but I do remember enjoying the madness of it all. At the time I had no idea that our meeting would lead me to Gin Head.

Not long after the dinner party and meeting, Robin contacted me, he was eager to hear more about my new apartment, a large project I had recently completed in London. I love building projects and designing beautiful, light living spaces. My new home was constructed on the rooftop of an old printing factory in Clerkenwell, in London’s East End. I had bought the air space and created one large lateral living space. Robin was impressed by my London home and asked me if I would be interested in doing something similar in Scotland.

About a year after our initial conversation Robin contacted me to say a property he had been interested in for years had become available and wanted to run it by me. That property was Gin Head and when I saw the photos I immediately understood his enthusiasm for it. This visually compelling and breathtaking site hooked me too and I joined forces with Robin and his partner Peter to acquired it. I was now, part owner of 5 acres of great natural beauty and a custodian of Scottish history.

TANTALLON CASTLE b snaked Tantallon Castle

We chose architects Lazzarini Pickering from Rome for their international reputation as cutting-edge world class practitioners and their ethos of sensitivity towards the landscape. Carl and Claudio are also dear friends so I knew they would appreciate the site and love the brief. The brief was ‘Tracy Island meets James Bond’

With Lazzarini Pickering superb scheme we now have full planning permission for the conversion of the existing buildings to a spectacular modern fortress. Carl and Claudio’s extraordinary vision, has created a building of grand spaces, expansive staircases, magnificent reception rooms, massive skylights, great sheets of glass that look out on internal courtyards offering wrap-around transparency. This is idealized 3rd millennium living, with reference to Inigo Jones, Palladio. The approved plans are spectacular – 26,000 sq. ft. of beautiful, flexible real estate set in five acres of rugged coastal landscape.  Simply breathtaking.

Since my first meeting with Robin much time has passed and our lives have changed. I sold my London penthouse to Dame Zaha Hadid, who lived in it until her recent death. I now live between Sydney, London and the Greek island of Lesvos. Robin too has moved on discarding his insect costume and thrown himself into something Scots are very keen on, golf. He was Captain at Muirfield from 2013 until 2015 and in his own words ‘now in glorious retirement.’

There is one thing however that has not changed, that is the culturally significant landmark, Gin Head. For more information on Gin Head click HERE

GIN HEAD &THE BASS ROCK bsnaked Gin Head and The Bass Rock

GIN HEAD & TANTALLON CASTLE CROP bsnaked Gin Head and Tantallon Castle

 

Spring has been far to long coming this year. The only hint is the blossom decorating the fruit trees. Stealing from trees that are just awakening from the long harsh winter months seems almost cruel although placing these pretty budding stems into found glass bottles brings the house to life. I love the way they fit so beautifully in front of the dynamic landscape painted by Matthew Usmar Lauder you can go here to purchase this landscape, a taste of our Greek Island Home.

untitled shoot-7993-6 Landscape by Matthew Usmar Lauder

 

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I am lucky to have met so many wonderful like-minded and creative people on my journey through life, people who inspire me. It’s a real privilege to be the author of two books, Sensual Living published by Conran Octopus and My Greek Island Home by published by Penguin Lantern and Clearview Books. Working on these books has led to my meeting some really fab people.Recently I met author Karen McCartney. Her latest book published by Julie Gibbs at Penguin Lantern is called Superhouse; it showcases houses that have a strong connection with nature. I met with Karen for lunch and she told me about the house her and her husband, David built The Dangar Island House, on the Hawkesbury River. I immediately too a look at the website http://www.thedangarislandhouse.com and could not wait to book in. Matthew and I were in need of a few days away from our hectic Sydney schedule and this was the perfect retreat. The house was stunning, large, simple and light, nestled high up in the trees surrounded by gums, ferns and native plants. It was like living in a tree house. There was no need for music as we were serenaded by continuous birdsong. The views of the water and the sunrise were stunning. We connected with nature immediately. Matthew and I spent our time drawing, painting, reading and exploring this small island, a perfect mini holiday. Thank you Karen and David for the inspiration and for sharing your beautiful retreat with us. We came back with renewed creativity and completely invigorated. I hope you enjoy some details from inside the house that caught my eye. Happy 2015!

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I love peaking into other people’s homes. I don’t mind if they are old or new, occupied or abandoned. When I lived in London I always found it a pleasure to explore the local area by foot, especially on summer evenings. I delighted in the glimpses I got through open curtains and shutters into peoples lives. I have to admit to getting huge enjoyment from viewing property with estate agents. I  also had lots of fab, opportunities to see beautiful homes when I worked for The World of Interiors magazine, a real treat.  For me the best properties are the most neglected ones. I long to mend them and make them simple and beautiful. This I have done with many properties in London, Sydney and more recently in Greece. You can check some of them out here. Besides taking photos, making light, simple, serene spaces is my passion. Here on the Greek island of Lesvos there are many beautiful houses in need of love attention and I can’t help but want each and every one of them and if I could I would have them all but, I must be realistic. Recently I took a trip with some gorgeous Turkish friends to a nearby village where we checked out some houses. The local barber who I had met a few years ago when photographing for my book My Greek Island Home, see here, kindly showed us around one house. Below are a few details that grabbed me. Enjoy!

IMG_3605 The local barber. I’m loving the combination of  geometrical shapes and checks      

copyright Claire Lloyd

IMG_3608 A simple bedroom. The houses here all have little shelves usually displaying an icon or three     

copyright Claire Lloyd

IMG_3654 Striped cotton fabric is stretched over a window for privacy     

copyright Claire Lloyd

IMG_3615 I just LOVE the way this fabric has it’s own natural flow and looks so etherial back lit

copyright Claire Lloyd

IMG_3620 Everything here sits in it’s place untouched for I wonder how long

copyright Claire Lloyd

IMG_3617 A simple detail 

copyright Claire Lloyd

IMG_3655 Signs of life highlighted by back lighting

copyright Claire Lloyd

IMG_3636 My favourite detail, delicate fabric lit from behind and tied with a colour co-ordinated ribbon

copyright Claire Lloyd

IMG_3633 The green of the window and the duvet work with the soft colour of the hanging curtain

copyright Claire Lloyd

 

 

I photographed a little peak of Matthew and my life here on the island of Lesvos for You Magazine a couple of months ago and here it is. Thank you  Clare Nolan for loving our lifestyle and Fiona McCarthy for  your kind words. Greece is the word 1

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What a great article on our village life in the August issue of  UK House & Garden  magazine. Beautifully written by Ros Byam Shaw and fabulous photos taken by Paul Massey. Thanks for coming to My Greek Island Home and sharing some of  our favourite things. My Greek Island Home published in the UK by Clearview Books.

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HANNAH LAYOUT FOR BLOG

 

 

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My niece, Hannah came to visit on My Greek Island Home recently. The summer afternoon light was perfect in my bedroom and I could not resist using her as my muse. Thank you Hannah I hope you enjoyed My Greek Island Home.

 

There are so many small chapels scattered around the island of Lesvos and some of them are to be found in the most unlikely places. Many are up high on top of mountains some are tucked away along remote dirt tracks. There are at least eight that I know of in and around our village but it would not surprise me if there were more. I was invited to a memorial service in one of theses hidden gems about five years ago and it was a challenging little chapel to find. I walked out of the village along a dirt track and down down into a valley. Negotiating my way through thistles and shrubs it was difficult to imagine I would ever reach my destination. After what seemed to be a rather long trek I arrived at the small chapel, set amongst trees in the prettiest location next to a stream. I watched old yia yia’s (grandmothers)  making their way down the hill, some using sticks for stability as they treked across the uneven ground, I was impressed at their stamina, strength and determination. Papa (the priest) was last to arrive and he had with him his assistant, a grumpy bearded woman carrying a small suitcase containing all the necessities for the simple service. Candles were lit and prayers were recited and incense burnt as we stood shoulder to shoulder and prayed for Nick, it was a lovely simple service. Last week I visited another small chapel set in a rock beside the sea. Walking in from the strong midday sun it took a little while for my eyes to adjust to the caves darkness. Here are my snapshots from the chapel in the cave.

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