Art is all around us in the Lakes

Artists have been recording their reactions to the landscape of the Lake District for centuries. The early tourists were so over-awed by what they saw as a terrifying vista of hills and peaks that they wouldn’t look at them directly, and used mirrors, looking over their shoulders at the reflection as it was slightly less fearsome.

The pictures they painted subsequently were over-dramatised, the fells looking Alpine in height and shape. Later artists, such as the Heaton Coopers, faced the landscape head-on and produced work which more accurately reflected the shapes of the hills. (William Heaton Cooper really did face it head on, perching on ledges on rock faces to make drawings for the climbing guides to the area.)

Paintings, and later photographs, of the Lakes found their way onto picture postcards sent to family and friends. There will be many armchair mountaineers who have never climbed a hill but would recognise Striding Edge from a holiday postcard. (Will they survive the new world of communication? Is the Facebook generation still going to buy and send postcards, I wonder?)

striding edge by marilyn tordoff

Striding Edge from the summit of Helvellyn, by Marilyn Tordoff

Poets, from Wordsworth onwards, found their own voices to say what the landscape of the Lake District did for them. And now, in Keswick, an exhibition called ‘A Love Letter to the Lakeland Fells’ focuses on Alfred Wainwright, his drawing and mapping methods, and his passion for the unique atmosphere and scenery of the Lakes.

Raised in the Lake District and introduced at an early age to walking on the fells, I’ve always shared that passion. Even when I was studying and working in London, and later travelling around the world, I could still envisage the outlines of the fells. I saw them as Wainwright sketched them in his guidebooks, showing what could be seen on the horizon from the top of each hill.

I’ve put some outlines of those fells into my own designs, notably on cushions in the Love District range. Others are doing likewise, bringing together art and the landscape of the Lakes. Windermere-based painter, Marilyn Tordoff, is a good example. She’s an artist whose landscapes decorate the walls of many hotels around the region, as well as homes throughout the country, bought by people on holiday here.

It’s important to place and frame a picture in the correct manor. A single painting can be just as powerful as a collection of paintings, if it’s allowed to breathe, with the correct space and proportion of wall around it. The mount should never be mean, giving the painting proportion and plenty of focus on the art itself.

The wall colour that it sits on could be linked with the painting and turn the whole wall into a dramatic piece of art. The frame needs to reflect the required interior styling, i.e. minimal slim aluminium which virtually recedes into the background, or wide -even ‘over-wide’ –  and possibly carved, to add grandeur and texture. This doesn’t have to be old and stuffy. With a lick of coloured paints that suit the interior scheme, this can make for refreshing new take on an old favourite.

And here’s my own latest work, in creation and completion:

https://www.facebook.com/fidgetdesign/videos/1738108856308492/

alis big painting

 

 

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Goodbye man cave, hello she-shed

Ever since Katy Brown helped Calamity Jane to transform her cabin in the woods outside Deadwood City, women have been drawn to small spaces.

And yet the garden shed or summerhouse remains stubbornly a male accessory. How often do you see on TV property programmes the male partner enticed with the promise of his own man-cave at the bottom of the garden.

Why should it be only the man who needs an escape from the house? It’s not as if he needs a break from the household chores. According to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics, equality is not having much impact on the domestic front. Women still do more housework and childcare than men, especially between the ages of 26 and 35.The ONS said that, when it came to unpaid chores at home, women were doing almost 40% more than men on average. Men averaged 16 hours a week helping out at home compared with 26 by women, with those on maternity leave doing the most.

So it’s clearly women who actually NEED that refuge, that multi-purpose, multi-functional space at the end of the garden. It’s a woman-cave that needs to be designed.

And lo! Here is the Fidget Design Chic She-Shed coming up. It’s small but perfectly formed, a structure with a stargazing glass roof, sleeping deck, summer house, workshop, bike store and log store all in Eco SIPS panels*.

shed design

Here I will sit and gaze at the trees in the garden, like Japanese ‘Forest Bathing’. Close my eyes and listen to the bird song coming from the beech hedge. Create and paint my art canvases. Play my favourite tunes. Up-cycle my latest furniture-find into something of style and beauty (and make a big mess!).

forest bathing

I’ll sunbathe and read a book with a cool refreshing Mojito in hand. Escape on the bike into the hills and return to the warmth of the Biofuel Eco stove, switch on the LED mood lighting powered by the solar roof tiles, drink tea and eat nibbles, while watching the sun set, the trees turning into silhouettes and the bats flying. Snuggle up in a cosy down duvet on the sleep deck and watch the stars and space station fly over. Use my iPad to track the stars.

Yes, it’s only at the design stage. But hey, if you don’t have a dream, how you gonna have a dream come true?

 

*SIPS (Structural Insulated Panels) Eco Panels are an advanced form of pre-insulated frame that are an evolution of timber-frame, offering all of the benefits of a quick, off-site form of construction, with the solidity of other forms of construction.  SIPs are high quality, environmentally friendly, highly insulated and very quick to erect.

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