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my website Madeleine Boulesteix Chandeliers

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Lilac, Gold and Red

One of the things I love about big cities is the endless supply of visual feasts and contrasts in colour, forms, style, scale and age. Autumn and winter sunshine always enhance the views.

Tokyo is the place more full of contrasts than anywhere I've ever been with tiny old, wooden buildings next to new, high blocks, bright signs, traditional costume, millions of potted plants next to air conditioner outlets - I could go on. I've been there twice and both times barely slept in the fortnight because my eyes were overstuffed from the daily feasts.

The drinks machines punctuate and light up the city by night. I went in autumn and took a trip out of town where the red and orange maples are similarly overwhelming. One day I would love to go back in spring to see the blossom.

Monday, 11 January 2016

Is there life on Mars?

Brixton Pound

There can't be an artist in the world who has not in some way been affected by David Bowie; stunning innovator and originator.  If I had to choose my favourite era it's Ziggy Stardust and that one legged lurex outfit - what a Man!  
I also love this little played song appropriately called "My Death", a beautiful take on a Jaques Brel song.  Have a listen to this and admire the breadth of the man.

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Christmas Tree Decorations

I usually use branches to make a festive tree and I've managed to accumulate decorations over the years so that I have a curious collection by now. The oldest is a little antique Santa and the most modern a 3D printed mesh bauble with a reindeer inside.

This bauble was given to me by the artist Lucy Casson, it's one of two from a collection she found in a charity shop years ago. We were both exhibiting on the recycling scene (before the word upcycling was used) around the year 2000 and she knew I'd appreciate the making. The above is made from washing liquid nozzles, plastic beads and a ring of spikes from a dismantled plastic flower - ingenius!

And strangely the maker - or someone - had labelled it 'Floral Spikes 1974', how curious, it's like an anthropologists label from Pitt Rivers Museum.

This is the other one, a green lady from foil wrappers with a button for a collar and small buttons for hands and feet.

This knitted tree is a real favourite. I bought it from Emmaus charity shop in Portslade on the outskirts of Brighton some years ago.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

New Collection?

Ever walked into a shop and the only staff present is a cat? It seems I've started a photo collection....

Don't look at me like that and yes we are open.....

Yeah have a look around, but you're not getting anything wrapped in this tissue paper...
You can often see this market cat at Cornercopia in the Granville Arcade (always hated the new name Brixton Village!) Brixton Market.

Friday, 11 December 2015

The Survivor Sofa Story

I'm very much looking forward to this on Monday;

A documentary about pioneering design and recycling on Monday 14th December at 10pm on the Community Channel but if you're busy you can watch it here. It features my friends the lovely Urban Uphostery. See the trailer here.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Fat Cucumbers

Just because they look great....

This cucumber batch have not been digitally enhanced! Doesn't it make you want to get out some paints and crayons and draw them. Brixton market never fails to be a feast for the eyes.

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Case Study

 I bought this suitcase from a charity shop recently.  I haven't fallen for those styled stacks you see as I always thought it would be annoying to have to keep unstacking them every time you were looking for something. I just liked this object. I think I'll keep fabric in it.

It has some really nice labels on it and a tartan type paper lining. I always found those authentic travel labels so lovely, though Waterloo to Staines is not that exotic! You used to see suitcases like that in old films that they never show on TV anymore, why don't they show Jean Harlow or Marx Brothers movies?, I love the dresses from the 30's best - such lovely draping and fabrics. Ever seen anyone pack a case properly in the movies? No it's practically non-existent, they throw things in all crumpled in a frenzy then squash the lid down with a tail hanging out.

I'd like to know this case's stories; it seems to be hiding the fact it's been to Singapore. When I was a teenager I bought the tin below in a junk shop.

And more recently I couldn't resist this little one, it's a money box for skinny coins.

I love the colours and graphics on this and the little key works.

 I bought it at Spitalfields Antique Market ( see 2 posts ago) for £10.

And here's Otis with suitcase all ready for social cleansing (!) before eviction day last year.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Open Studios

I'm very excited to be taking part in these Open Studios next weekend - see you there!

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Spitalfields Antique Market

 I knew about this Thursday market for years before I visited - sometimes I need to avoid temptation - but it's a great day out as you can meet a pal there for lunch and the market is there all day. I managed to come away with just 2 purchases - both for my work; glass drops and little tin moulds.

Last time I came here I bought a little tin suitcase money box which I'll show you in another post soon, you definitely find your favourite stalls here where the dealer has a good eye.

I noticed this impressive carved skull because my friend the artist Gloria Carlos works with ornamenting animal skulls.  I don't do dead things in the home myself - look at the stuffed ducklings on the top stall, my heart sort of skipped a beat when I saw them.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Deco Mag and Breakfast

Many Thanks to Deco Mag for the feature on my work here.

You can sign up for their regular newsletter and stay in touch with all things eco and interior.

All Day Breakfast

Coffee and Croissant theme chandelier, I think it might be one of my favourites.

Monday, 5 October 2015

'Money for Nothing' on BBC

A chance glance at Rupert Blanchard's blog alerted me to this series of programmes; Money for Nothing on BBC iplayer. Hurry it's your last chance for the first one of fifteen episodes as that's available until 7th Oct 16.30pm, then each consecutive episode expires a day after the previous.

Sarah Moore intercepts things about to be dumped, gets artisans to revamp them and sells them on. Happily it's all done seriously well, not dabbling dilettante upcycling that there is so much of now, no this series uses some of our favourite talented artisans like Rupert Blanchard and The Rag and Bone Man. I don't like everything that gets done but some are great and having seen 3 episodes so far you really get the point about our wastefulness and neglect of potential use.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Art Auction

photos from Cancer Research UK website

I was lucky enough to be invited to an art auction at Christies last night. I've never been to a proper auction, only a more relaxed one at Pilchuck Glass School during a summer session, so I was really curious to see what these DNA form sculptures would go for. I hadn't seen this art trail in London but these sculptures were out and about before sale. All funds go Cancer Research UK at The Crick Institute due to open fully next year. So a great cause as this will be the largest facility in the world pursuing effective treatment for some awful diseases.
Two of these sculptures were by Ai Weiwei so I thought they would go for massive prices since he is a huge figure in the art world. They went for £32,000 and £30,000, I wondered if these were bargains. Of course if they were bought as investments and get resold I wonder if that profit can go to The Crick Institute?
Ai Weiwei has a major exhibition at the RA currently, I admire him as a political heavyweight but looking at his conceptual sculpture I couldn't respond to it without reading all the blurb.

It's definitely exciting to go to a big auction and watch the bidding, at Christies we were told to dress smart, the champagne was flowing and the canapes were top notch as you'd expect.

On the left: sculpture by Kindra Crick recreating the drawings of the workings out of the structure of DNA by her grandfather.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Making Futures

I just took part in the Making Futures conference in Plymouth organised by Plymouth College of Art and Design. The full title was Making Futures: craft and the (re)turn of the maker in a post-global sustainably aware society. What a treat it was to be around so many clever people who are thinking of solutions to our problems all the time and experimenting with materials and ideas to change our thinking about waste and beyond. The speakers were excellent and thankfully most presenters didn't speak in such strong academic language as their writing so I could understand alot more than I thought. It's not every day you meet a Professor of Materials and Society; listen to Mark Miodownik being interviewed here on his work and mixing up scientists with artists. With 80 delegate presenters there was alot going on here, if you're interested in participating they are every 2 years - this was the 4th - so you can keep your eye on Making Futures 2017 and the birth of it's sister conference next year Making Learning about education. The texts from the conference will be available on the Making Futures site early next year - do take a look at the previous one here.
Big Thanks to Devon Guild of Craftsmen for my bursary to take part!

Friday, 28 August 2015

LED Filament Bulbs

I was thrilled to find these LED filament bulbs at B&Q. Having always had one eye on the development of low energy bulbs waiting for those big clumsy white plastic ones to get replaced by more refined designs it's great news that LED bulbs have been getting better and better and are more easily available. This filament style are great for my chandeliers, are a warm tone with an A++ energy efficiency rating. They were about £5 or £7, can't remember exactly, but these are 4 watts and 2.2 watts so a great saving in electricity usage. I hope they'll make the candle style with a twist in the glass one day, it scatters light nicely.

Jelly Bowl Lantern with rusts, amber and pinks, 4 watt bulb (similar to 40 watts incandescant) 470 lumens.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Summer Snacks

Just because they look great - Runaway Cornets in Margate. Blue sauce?

I love food that's visually amazing but looks unappetising - though as a kid I loved toffee apples when the fair came to town. These looked like they'd melted and reset several times though and I wondered who would buy one.......so near to Dreamland.

Retro sauces.  Spotting all these foodstuffs was like visiting a sculpture park (to my eyes) I did have a swim in the sea in Margate amongst other explorations but nothing seemed as photogenic as these collections.

Monday, 27 July 2015

How much Wiggley Food do you eat?

Just a thought....

The kitchen utensils in the picture with the wooden painted handles - what are they for? cutting a wiggley edge on something - but what? It was whilst wondering this that I realised just how much of our food is created wiggley. Now some of it is obviously to create more crispy crust. I used a pastry cutter in the kitchen for the 1st time in my life recently!!! I made scones for a Devonshire cream teas. When I was growing up we just used a glass tumbler upside down; why have another object when an existing one can multi task?
Lots of pasta shapes are wiggley - I know this is designed to hold sauce, so the shapes hold more or less sauce in their ridges and folds, but then some of it must be purely decorative - like zig-zaggy edges on ravioli. I suppose ridges in brioches and cakes help you to cut even sized portions, is that why jelly bowls have ridges - for serving slices? If I was an academic I think I'd take on a PhD on this, what fun the research would be!

Monday, 20 July 2015


Thanks to Reloved magazine for including me in the editorial of their August issue.

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Slicker City

I always loved this tin church in Clapham, South London. Googling tin churches I found a great selection of pictures of more places like this here. I love corrugated iron as a material and rusted up in the countryside it is perfectly landscaped. I wish I'd photographed this palce before it was repainted too; it used to be more greeny. So many times I've kicked myself for not getting a photo of something that's struck me in London and then it's gone. This city is changing faster than ever.

And sure enough this place is supposed to be replaced at some point according to this article on the Brixton Society site. Of course the owners may be thrilled to get a new place - this looks hard to heat, but I'm a sucker for character and quirks and London is getting them ironed out at a rate of knots - how boring!!!!
I read a very sobering article on the changes in London here; 'London: the city that ate itself'. Very interesting and amongst other examples it tells how my previous studio provider ACAVA will have lost 200 studios to development. Most other providers are having similar losses. Hands up who's not under threat!?!

Included in that article is the sad tale of the A&C Continental Delicatessen on Atlantic Road in Brixton. Save the Arches is a massive campaign.

This is a lovely, much loved shop run by lovely people. They gave me a hug when I was in there one day feeling miserable that I was going to be evicted (them having no idea they were next) and my mum had had a stroke at the same time. It's a proper friendly, community shop that knows all it's customers. Go there now while you can before Pret a Manger crash in at quadruple the rent and where will we get all those lovely Mediterranean herbs and olives etc, and a slice of water melon on a hot day?

My former home in Brixton: I am proud of everything we achieved there as a housing co-operative. In How to be Bohemian (not sure which episode) Will Self mentions how Bohemia becomes commodified and then becomes hipsterdom and loses all edge....exactly what's happened to Brixton. It's significant that my chandeliers were born and nurtured in a self help co-op in an old building with tons of character and the scope to make our flats really our own environments.
Well I guess that the provinces will benefit from all this rapid change, partially squeezed out myself (split between several places now) I find the undeveloped corners of Plymouth - for example - really refreshing to see. Then in years/decades to come  I'm sure parts of London will be an urban wasteland again and we can all go and live in Billionaires Row (rotting mansions) or those luxury flats that are owned as investments and not lived in; in fact maybe ACAVA could run them as artists studios....

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Recent Treasures

These twin dogs called my name from a stall in Tavistock Market. How feeble is my attempt to not acquire too much more stuff.....but I'd never seen a pair like these, a fun variation on the classic Staffordshire spaniels. They were £15, again I thought maybe I'd give them as a present but actually they're not going anywhere!

I love the very straight legs of the little puppies.

More things from the same market, some from the £1 table, the little scissors I thought I'd use in a chandelier, the little fridge I just couldn't resist, might keep some earrings in it. The old jug has a little crack but beautiful fern engravings on it. And purely for my work so needing no justification 2 fantastic sets of pastry cutters £15 for the 2 large sets. They have mucky pastry on them still - just like the good old days of car booting (20 years back) when I found loads of this stuff and no-one else wanted it and thus the chandeliers could grow. And four of the 12 pressed punch cups I found - it's not always easy to find nice ones and these are a style I don't usually see.

From a Devon charity shop; Woodside animal rescue, for 50p I had to get this because of the accordion!

A boot sale sweep; old hooks and mature hinges all 20p each, hoping to use the hinges in a chandelier. Other odds for my work and then something I  really don't need - a lidded baking dish; I could become a Pyrex fanatic if I let myself because the design is so great. I love the lids on these dishes, they sit underneath well, and right way up or upside down on top or the lid can be a separate plate. It's the decoration on this one that appealed, I love those French style drawings of onions etc - this was £1 - so had to come with me.
I found 5 things in the house that can go to the charity shop so I've almost justified the recent haul.
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