Archives for category: art

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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.

As I sit at my local limani I am thinking how lucky I am to be here in spring on the island of Lesvos. Above me are piercing blue skies, all around me wildflowers carpet the surrounding fields and the Aegean Sea with its crystal waters stretches before me.

There is no better place to contemplate the months ahead. I am excited to think about where I will go, what I will learn and the new experiences I will have.

Last year I chose to do something I had never done before, something exciting and a little bit scary. I booked a photographic workshop, Intrepid Naples, hosted by my lovely friend Carla Coulson.  This was a very new experience for me and it left me feeling elated and more knowledgeable not just about photography but also about myself. Check out what I experienced and some of the photos I took HERE.

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This year I am once again tempted.  Carla’s 2017 workshop is in Puglia and is a story telling workshop. To see more about the workshop click HERE. Carla is a great teacher and just loves sharing her knowledge which she does generously and with huge enthusiasm. The opportunity to capture images in such a beautiful place whilst learning would be magical.

So, I suggest you give yourself the greatest gift of all, time to tap into your creativity and improve your photography in beautiful Puglia with Carla.

I will leave you with these tempting photographs by Carla Coulson whilst you consider if her workshop is the place for you this European summer.

Enjoy!

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Carla Coulson Puglia

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All Photos Copyright Carla Coulson

It’s spring here in Lesvos and a great time to hop on a boat and visit our nearest neighbour, Turkey. Three boats leave from the port at Mytilene at 9am for Ayvalik. The journey takes 1.5 hours unless you take the fast boat which gets you there in 30 minutes. You need to book the fast boat as it fills up quickly. The boats return at 6pm leaving you enough time to shop, eat and explore. Last Thursday we took some friends who were staying with us in Lesvos. We love showing friends around a place that is so dear to us. Thursday is market day and is our favourite day to visit. Market day is always lively and delicious produce is in abundance.  The Turkish people are gentle and warm. This week I was draw to the women. I’d like to thank the ones I photographed they were so open to me and the lens of my camera. Here I share with you their beauty. I also want to share some delicious produce and fantastic colours and patterns.Enjoy!

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I love the combinations of pattern and colour worn by this Turkish beauty. She is so relaxed in front of my lens and has such a beautiful open face. 

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The local produce is so fresh and  displayed  creatively, the bright colours of the fruit are reflected in the fabrics worn by  local women.

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Umbrellas and sheeting cover the fruit and vegetables protecting them from the strong sunlight. Sometimes this casts a hue that accentuates the colours of the fresh produce. I love the dappled light that falls randomly.

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Everyone has something to sell and there is something for everyone. Beautiful smiling faces are commonplace.

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Children are adored by friends, family and relatives. This little girl has the most amazing green eyes. Simple brushes are placed perfectly.

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Such beauty in this face that stares straight at me.  I love her style the way she has wrapped her head and neck in fabric and the wilting herbs tucked in the folds of the fabric.

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More beautiful carnations and this sweet little face.

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There are patterns everywhere I look. They even cover the tables in the cafes.

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Delicious warm freshly baked biscuits covered in sesame seeds must be eaten, yum.

 

 

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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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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My beautiful god-daughter and muse, Grace Bagot.

What a fantastic London spring night for great party! My Greek Island Home has now been published in the UK by, Clearview Books and was launched in London last Wednesday night. Despite the tube strike and Chelsea playing at home my trusty friends and followers turned up in droves. It was great to see friends both, old and new and also be introduced to some new faces. The venue was Nikki Tibbles Wild at Heart in Pimlico, a fantastic location. Nikki generously provided her beautiful shop overflowing with spring blooms and her and the girls, Ruth, Robyn, Sophie and Lucy were perfect hostesses. Domus Nova, Notting Hill’s best estate agent, very generously sponsored the event and kept everyone’s glasses topped up with prossecco, rose and white wine. The Grilling Greek parked his van outside and served up a feast, thrice-cooked chips, pita, hummus, olives and vegetarian souvlaki, it was all so yummy.Some of our Greek recue dogs, Robert, Maisy and April were able to make it to the evening which for me was the highlight .Clearview Books gave 10% of the money raised from the sale of the books to Nikki’s charity The Doghouse. ‘Want me’ t shirts designed by artist, Matthew Usmar Lauder to raise awareness and money for the rescue dogs were on sale too. I am blessed to have such great friends and supporters and thank you everyone for making the night a brilliant success.If you were not able to attend the night and would like to purchase a book you can go to Wild at Heart or online to amazon. It you want to support the dogs and would like a ‘want me’ t-shirt go to www.usmarstudio@bigcartel.com. Don’t forget to take a selfie in it and share. A shared selfie with the book would also be great.Below are some photos taken on the night by Rob Dawkins, thanks Rob!

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Living with dogs is a new thing for me. I had never had a dog until now, and I have gone from one extreme to another. As a child I begged my mother for a dog but she dug her heels in saying she had enough of us to look after without a dog. I now understand she was completely right and admire her for sticking to her guns especially even when I did my up most to sway her. Matthew and I have found ourselves taking care of many waifs and stray cats and dogs, that have made their way to our doorstep. We both find it curious the way we have become so fond of these furry friendsWe help them as much as we can but it’s very difficult as there are so many. As I write this we feed about sixteen cats, one of which has just has two of the sweetest kittens and six dogs, three of which need new homes. We only have a small garden so exercising the dogs is important. I usually do one long walk in the morning and Matthew another four around the village throughout the day. A couple of the cats like to join in the walks and our village friends are amused when they see the parade.

I dedicated a chapter in my book My Greek Island Home’ its called ‘Nature Nurture’. I write about some of the characters that have passed through our lives. One of my Greek friends, Vasillia has 25 rescue dogs in her care. She once told me that it was important to harden my heart otherwise it would be broken. It often is. We do our best and over the years have re-homed many four legged friends, especially dogs. A couple are now living happily in America, the others in the UK and Europe. We get help where we can and have been lucky to have very generous friends.

London florist Nikki Tibbles absolutely loves dogs and she has helped us with some of the financing and re homing of our four legged friends. We like have make contact with the potential new owners to get an idea if they are compatable with the dog. We have made some new friends along the way and also kept up with most of the dogs beautiful new lives. It’s hard work and expensive. There are the vet bills for injections, chipping and neutering together with the transportation costs, it all adds up. Matthew does the lion’s share of transportation dealing with the flights and the paper work which seems to change daily can be extremely time consuming and challenging.It’s always hard to say goodbye when they go off to their new lives, I sob but I know it’s for the best. When we see the lives these beautiful dogs are living now its so, so worth it.

Matthew has designed a t shirt to raise awareness and money for the dogs and cats we rescue, care for and re home. If you would like to be part of raising the awareness and helping the dogs and cats the ‘want me’ t shirt can be purchased on line www.usmarstudio.bigcartel.com And don’t forget to take a selfie in the t shirt and post it wherever you can. The t shirts will aslo be on sale at my London book launch on Wednesday night.

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