the Ecospot Eco Gift Guide 2016 – day 4 – Mr Popple’s Chocolate

‘Tis the season of eating, drinking and generally being merry, but it is also a time where you can indulge in something rather special. Chocolate is another seasonal staple, but not all chocolate is made equal. A shiny foil wrapper is not the designator of high quality, as we all know. We are seeking out the unusual flavours, unexpected combinations and highly ethical ingredients. It’s Day 4 on our Eco Gift Guide and we would like some of Mr Popple’s Chocolate please.


Made by hand using organic raw cacao and ethically sourced ingredients (by someone actually called Mr Popple), this is probably as good as you will get from a bar of chocolate. With tasty, intriguing flavours, from Stong Dark to Euphoric Orange and even Flower Power, which is filled with rose oil and dried flowers. The chocolate is also packaged in lovely 100% recycled board sleeves with coloured prints over.

eco-gift-guide-day-4-mr-popples-chocolate-1It also has some rather lovely benefits…

Raw cacao has several stimulating qualities to it, and causes feelings of well being – like normal chocolate – but many, many times stronger, and without the energy crash that comes later. Because Mr Popple does not roast his cacao beans, lots of nutrients that normally get destroyed by roasting are left intact. Some of the nutritional compounds in Mr Popple’s raw chocolate bars can cause pleasant psychoactive effects.’

Ooh er.



We would be delighted to find this in our stockings this year, especially the rather incredible Amazin’ Fennel and Raisin…


Find them in various stockists in the UK through their website, or buy online from £3.49 per bar, with different bulk buy combination discounts too. Can you really just go for one bar? It’s healthy. It really is.

(images via Mr Popple’s Chocolate)

Eco Easter Eggs…

This is it. The weekend were we can (legitimately) wake up and consume chocolate before 9am if we so desire. Easter, or Ostara to give the festival it’s pagan name, is all about fertility and new beginnings. This is why we have eggs delivered by the rabbit which is well famed for it’s ability to reproduce faster than you can shout ‘fairtrade chocolate please’. But, with so much crap chocolate out there, we have picked our top 5 eggs that we would be happy to find in a hunt.

Montezumas Eco easter egg
£7.99 from Montezuma’s Chocolate

1 – First up is the Eco Egg from Montezuma’s Chocolate. Organic chocolate with bits of butterscotch all enclosed in a completely plastic free packaging option. Eat the egg, compost or recycle the packaging. Perfect.

Montezumas Eco easter egg 2
also £7.99 from Montezuma’s Chocolate

2 – Okay – this is technically the dark chocolate version of the one above, but hey. It’s a different egg, still encased in the eco packaging and this time complete with cocoa nibs. Tasty.

Divine Easter Egg
£3.99 from Ethical Superstore

3 – Next up is the fairtrade milk chocolate egg from Divine, with Toffee and Sea Salt. As well as being a good ethical choice for your chocolate fix, this egg also has a great absence of plastic in it’s packaging too. Get yours from the Ethical Superstore.

Half a Dozen Praline-filled Hen's Eggs
£25 for half a dozen – Rococo Chocolate

4 – Fancy something a bit fancier? How about the half a dozen praline filled hens eggs from specialist chocolatiers Rococo? Presented in their trademark patterned packaging nestled in a coloured egg box, these are something special.

£6.59 – Green & Black’s

5 – and lastly we are going dark and minty with the Green And Blacks Organic Mint Chocolate Egg. One for the grown ups, and a mint chocolate egg that tastes stunning and not like toothpaste. And look. No plastic either.

So. Our top five Easter Eggs. Let’s hope we will find a couple hidden in the garden this weekend…

(images via links)

Picture Organic Clothing – recycled and responsible snow apparel…

One thing about being a designer is that you are continually researching and noticing stuff. Everywhere. We barely switch off. Which is why last week, whilst in the mountains snowboarding, something caught my eye… Someone was sitting at a bar at 2300m above sea level with a jacket sporting the universal ‘recycling’ logo. Then I saw another. And another. Picture Organic Clothing was all over the mountain on snowboarders and skiers of all ages. I was very excited indeed and became quite a Picture spotter over the six days.


So, why was I so excited? Picture, who were founded in France in 2008, are the forerunners of truly sustainable snow / surf / skate wear – making all their kit from recycled or recovered or organic raw materials, from cottons to polyesters. Whilst many brands do use some recycled or even organic content, this is often a bit of lip-service to the ‘eco’ section of their brand. With Picture, it is their whole brand.


And I was also excited because of the volumes of people I saw wearing it. Often ‘eco’ products are hailed as being ‘for all’ yet actually target a very niche set of people, be it aesthetically or cost wise. Picture proudly display their credentials literally on their sleeves, but even through the style is very distinct (bold and geometric), there is no stereotypical wearer. They sit very stylishly on the mountain. Picture products are responsible and desirable.


They are also comparable cost wise to other brands, so the sometimes argument of responsible products being out of the price range of consumers also does not apply. Yes, we are talking about a lot of money for a jacket (in three figures), but any good quality snowboard jacket will set you back this amount.

Sans titre-1

Of course, when we think about sustainable products, the best option is to keep what you already have, but it is fantastic that when it does come the time to replace it, you have the best possible option available – a well considered product made from recycled or reclaimed materials.

An interesting feature of some of the Picture products is also their inbuilt ‘second life’ features, such as rucksacks that can be cut apart at the end of their usable life and transformed by the owner into everything from pencil cases to laptop bags.

As well as encouraging reuse through this ‘second-life’ option, Picture jackets also feature internal sections that are made from the offcuts of the making process, minimising wastage of precious materials on the factory floor. And if a piece of apparel does truly end it’s life, then Picture will take it into their own recycling system for recovery, reuse or donation. With a 95% same material content, the Welcome Jacket is the first 100% recyclable technical jacket on the market.

It is so great – and so exciting to see a brand that cares deeply, and is really thinking through the issues with truly sustainable apparel design. It is even more exciting to see it going from strength to strength and being adopted on a huge scale. People really do care. 

So – when my current kit runs out, guess what brand’s kit I will be wearing as I hammer down the slopes on my board?

(all images via Picture)

***REVIEW*** Brighton Fashion Week 2015 – part 1…

Talk about sustainability, and haute couture fashion is often not the first thing that springs to mind, but with a commitment to all things ethical and sustainable, the Brighton Fashion Week 2015, which was held on 15-17 October certainly put this straight. All this week we will be looking at the activities and shows – starting with our Photo Special of the Showreel Design Competition, sponsored by Bolli Darling.

Located in All Saints Church, Hove, the last of the catwalk shows was actually a design competition, where designers, artists and creatives created one outfit from a ‘Beauty from Waste’ brief for a showcase of fashion, art and performance. It was rather spectacular too… starting with an incredible construction from competition sponsor and costumer extraordinaire, Bolli Darling…

Bolli Darling BFW copyright Claire Potter 2015 the ecospot

And so, here are a few of the entries.

Elpida Hadiz-Vasilva – Gunna – chicken skin and recycled cotton combine to explore the notions of beauty and elegance… This dress was as delicate as paper – and was modelled beautifully.

Elpida Hadiz-Vasileva BFW copyright Claire Potter 2015 the ecospotElpida Hadiz-Vasileva 2 BFW copyright Claire Potter 2015 the ecospotElpida Hadiz-Vasileva 3 BFW copyright Claire Potter 2015 the ecospotGenieve Couture – Rags to Riches  – a dress created from 58 recycled garments, showing how post-consumer waste could be reimagined… A stunning, flowing dress that felt almost mermaid like, with a huge trailing tail of material. This was one dress where the origins of the material could be seen clearly.

Genieve Couture BFW copyright Claire Potter 2015 the ecospotGenieve Couture 2 BFW copyright Claire Potter 2015 the ecospotGenieve Couture 3 BFW copyright Claire Potter 2015 the ecospotAnne Sophie Cochevelou – Glorious Junk – tribal inspired costume made from waste… This was a performance – with each model adorned in jewel like creations of material, plastic and metal. The opulence was incredible in these stunning pieces.

Anne Sophie Cochevelou BFW copyright Claire Potter 2015 the ecospotAnne Sophie Cochevelou 2 BFW copyright Claire Potter 2015 the ecospotAnne Sophie Cochevelou 3 BFW copyright Claire Potter 2015 the ecospotAfton Ayache – Les couleurs d’Afrique Recycler – inspired by a heartfelt story of selflessness and appreciation for what we have, waste was used to create these African prints… Beautiful prints, with structure and flow.

Afton Ayache BFW copyright Claire Potter 2015 the ecospotAfton Ayache 2 BFW copyright Claire Potter 2015 the ecospotHayley Trezise – Raggedy – Rebirth- A design which explores confidence and the process of being reincarnated or born again… Another performance piece, with a cloaked ‘crawler’ adding pieces to the long tail of the dress, which itself was highly textured.

Hayley Trezise Raggedy BFW copyright Claire Potter 2015 the ecospotHayley Trezise Raggedy 2 BFW copyright Claire Potter 2015 the ecospotHayley Trezise Raggedy 3 BFW copyright Claire Potter 2015 the ecospotKumiko Tani – Evening Coffee – couture dresses created from upcycled materials that explores our desire to dress up… A dress that was clearly constructed from waste, but that was well conceived in design.

Kumiko Tani 2 BFW copyright Claire Potter 2015 the ecospot Kumiko Tani BFW copyright Claire Potter 2015 the ecospot

Freya Von Bulow – Flow of Nature – a technical gown designed to raise awareness of production and efficient recycling techniques… This dress was very structured and featured interesting pieces, like the clothes pegs in the neck section.

Freya Von Bulow 2 BFW copyright Claire Potter 2015 the ecospot

Juliette Simon – American Dream – a journey through the dark side of the American Dream… Very American Beauty, this dress told a clear story of waste and consumerism.

Juliette Simon 2 BFW copyright Claire Potter 2015 the ecospot Juliette Simon BFW copyright Claire Potter 2015 the ecospot

We were blown away by the creative theatre of each of the costumes, but after lots of deliberation, the judges awarded Afton Ayache the £1000 prize, courtesy of Veolia.

Afton Ayache 3 BFW copyright Claire Potter 2015 the ecospot

A fantastic competition, showing the wealth of talent out there – and we will be staying with Brighton Fashion Week 2015 for the rest of the week, with the Zeitgeist and Sustain shows, plus a look at the debates…

(all images copyright Claire Potter)

Pecha Kucha Brighton – Volume 22 – Good Grub…

The Pecha Kucha format is something that has to be experienced. It is a quick fire set of presentations, usually formed around a theme, where the speakers are limited to 20 slides, with 20 seconds per slide. Each one flicks on automatically, so if you are behind in your talk, you are in trouble. This is a brilliantly entertaining way to learn something exciting in a concise way, and we are delighted to announce that we will be taking part in the next Pecha Kucha in Brighton.

Volume 22 of Pecha Kucha Brighton on 22nd November will be around the theme of ‘Good Grub’, with a great line up of speakers talking about food in a variety of ways, from typography to crochet. Claire will be speaking about Urban Foraging and the rewilding of the city and it’s inhabitants, based on our Edible City escapades.

Tickets are £15 (+ booking fee) and include a light dinner at Silo, the venue for the evening, and Silo founder Dougie McMaster will also be talking about the philosophy behind the project – which is incredible both in concept and practice.

But even though the event is just over a month away, tickets are selling like zero waste organic hot cakes, so if you fancy it, head to the Pecha Kucha Brighton site sooner rather than later!

(image via Pecha Kucha Brighton)

Monday Musings – glyphosate and radical transparency…

It is becoming ever clearer that we really do not know what is actually in the things we use, wear or eat. Not a day appears to go by without a product, formula or chemical being revealed as being ‘possibly detrimental to human health’ (note the possible, and the limitations on ‘human’). We live in a world of complicated concoctions with often untraceable foundations. But, for many, ignorance is bliss. What you don’t know won’t harm you. Well, quite possibly it will.


Glyphosate has long been outlawed by organic gardeners for the fierceness and obliterating chemical qualities it has on everything it comes into contact with, but a report issued this week from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), an arm of the World Health Organisation (WHO), has categorised the chemical as a ‘probable carcinogen’.

For some, this is no great surprise, but for many this has come as quite a shock, especially as retailers were quick to announce the removal of the products from their shelves. Given that glyphosate is the active ingredient in the majority of weedkillers, including Monsanto’s Roundup, it is far more common an ingredient than you may think, meaning that many gardeners and farmworkers are exposing themselves to the probable carcinogen each year.

So – will glyphosate be banned? Possibly not. There is (of course) a bit of an uproar from Monsanto (what a surprise), plus other European research groups have declared it safe for use, but this poses an interesting question. If there is some risk, is it worth it?

This same question is raised in ‘Ecological Intelligence – the coming age of radical transparency‘ by Daniel Goleman. An empowered consumer is one with the facts, so if there is risk, or a possibility of harm, that consumer may decide the risk is just not worth taking – even if the findings are disputed by others.

This is probably why the big box retailers acted so quickly and publicly when the report was issued on glypsophate. Even if there was the tiniest chance of risk, they certainly do not want to be seen to putting their customers in the firing line.

And what can we do, as the everyday consumer? Well, we can respond in the way that hits the brands the most. We switch brands and make it clear that we are not willing to take on the risk, however small. If we have a choice (and there are natural alternatives to weedkillers, like digging the blighters up), then we are in a position to affect a change. The safe and ethical brands will rise to the top and the Monsanto’s of the world will begin to sink.

Legislation is one thing, but for some, profits shout the loudest. Hit them where it hurts.

2014 recap – October – first Eco Open House weekend…

2014 was a big year for us in many ways – including completing the building of our new studio in Brighton, which we have converted from an old public toilet into an industrially styled, eclectic space. And in October, we opened our studio to the first visitors on the Eco Open Houses tour weekend, whilst we were still finishing it up…

first published 21st October 2014…

We have been a little bit quiet over here on the ecospot over the last week or so. There are many reasons for this – for one, we were having a bit of a major design overhaul (and we hope you like the new look!) and as well as having a digital redesign we were working in the physical too – trying to complete our new studio in time for the first Brighton and Hove Eco Open Houses tour weekend on 18th / 19th October. Long days, long nights and lots of goings on. But, we are nearly there on both respects, and it was with delight that we opened our doors to the public for the very first time on Sunday morning…

studio loo front

We are not completely there, but very nearly and there was loads of stuff that we could say about the project to explain to people where we had started from, where we were and where we will be when we open again on Saturday 25th.

studio spider chandelier small

It was fantastic. We had put notes on a lot of the key areas of the rebuild and conversion from old public toilet to design studio and it was not long before our pen had nearly run out. From our Celotex insulation to locally sourced plants, recycled paint from REBORN paints to upcycled cabinets from local charity Emmaus, we spoke about a different side to the eco buildings in the city.

studio plants small

We do not have our solar panels on our roof yet, but our electricity is supplied by Ecotricity and we have used A+ appliances throughout and energy saving bulbs. Plants also feature heavily in the studio to not only create a nice environment but to act as air cleaners – removing the toxins which will be given out by our printer, computers and even as we breathe.

labels on the wall

And despite not being completely finished, we were delighted at the comments that people gave us when they visited. Some people had travelled specifically to see our studio, others were doing as many of the Eco Open Houses as possible and others were just walking along the road and happened upon us. All in all, we had just over 60 visitors, which we were most chuffed about.

reborn paints small

But, as soon as the last visitors had gone, the building materials were back in and we were back at the works, with the flooring, front door and tiling set to be finished off this week. I have the job of putting in the hanging planters that I was speaking to people about as well…

neon green flex. grey and copper

So – if you are about, pop by and say hello this weekend – we are at 201 Portland Road in Hove and will be open on Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th between 10-1 and 2-5. And we can highly recommend the cafe along the road, Pelican on Portland for all things tasty, lovely and delicious.

(all photos by claire potter)

december wish list day 16 – Montezuma’s Chocolate…

If there is one time of year when you can legitimately eat mince pies and chocolate for breakfast – and nobody can say anything at all, it is Christmas. But, the fussy ones that we are, we do not want any old chocolate – we want chocolate that is organic and has strange flavours. We would like Montezuma’s Chocolate please…

Dark with Orange & Geranium

Based in West Sussex, Montezuma’s Chocolate started with one shop in Brighton in 2000 (and I actually happened to be in town that very day – and got to sample one of the best truffles I have ever tasted). Since then, Montezuma’s Chocolate has grown – and their bars can now be found in multiple locations as well as in Waitrose and other selected stores (like hiSbe) – which is an excellent thing indeed.

Treacle Tart

With flavours ranging from the standard milk, white and dark to orange and geranium, chilli and lime and treacle tart, these are certainly chocolate bars to be savoured. But, at around £2.49 or so a bar, they will not break the bank and are the absolute perfect treat for a Christmas stocking.

Sea Dog

Which one will we be hoping for? The Sea Dog – a mix of dark chocolate, lime and sea salt. Pretty much perfect…

So, if you can’t make it to one of their shops to sample the full range of buttons, truffles and other delicacies, head to one of their other stockists and grab the bars…

(images via Montezuma’s Chocolate)

december wish list day 7 – anything from Hiut Denim…

Ok. So we are being a bit self indulgent for our latest december wish list post, but if anyone wants to buy us clothes this Christmas, we are putting anything from the rather fantastic Hiut Denim on the list. For even though in their words, they ‘only make jeans’, they make the most wonderful jeans, in the most wonderful way.

Many people (including us) didn’t know that the little Welsh town of Cardigan was once a powerhouse of the denim jean industry, with 400 locals creating in the region of 35,000 pairs a week – enough to clothe the residents of the town about nine times over every seven days or so, for 40 years. Which is incredible. However, one day, the factory was closed and the production stopped.

Fortunately, David and Clare Hieatt, (who also founded another studio favourite – Howies) thought that this was wrong, and realising that the skills and expertise were still in the town, reopened the factory as Hiut Denim. So, once more, the jeans are produced from marvellous denims in the little Welsh town.

This is wonderful. A beautiful story – but this is not where the story ends. Actually, this is just the starting point for the stories as each pair of jeans comes with its own ‘History Tag’ – a code that is logged and is unique to the pair. And instead of this being a static record of the piece of clothing, you are encouraged to engage with your History Tag and upload information – pictures, places and memories – to your tag, so the jeans are able to digitally store their history as well as physically, with the little bumps and scratches that they will build up over the years.

This type of personal, or emotional attachment is very interesting to explore with products. If we feel ‘attached’ to an item, are we less likely to throw it away? Will we retain it for longer? And if we do give it away, can another user access the stories that we have attributed to the jeans? We have probably all stroked the arm of an antique wood chair and pondered on the people who have sat on it, touched it. Wondered about how old it was, who made it and where it has travelled. These stories we can fill in ourselves, but what if we were able to really understand the life of an object? Would it cease to be an ‘object’ and be something of more value?

Anyway. We digress into another area of studio obsession. But day 7 of our wish list belongs distinctly to Hiut Denim. Wonderful.

(image via Hiut Denim)

weekend colour inspiration – natural brown and brights…

There is something rather satisfying about brown paper and manilla card. Something raw and honest. And of course, natural. But a mass of brown can be rather unappetising, in both an interior or product basis, so it needs a bit of a pop. You can pair natural brown with both black and white very successfully, but we have a bit of a thing for natural brown and brights…

Chocolate branding - beautiful.

Hello again! (yep – that is one large and long picture!) Ok – where were we – oh yes, natural brown and brights. This picture is a fantastic example of how natural brown can be paired with bright colours to give a bit more of a contemporary feel and slightly less of the ‘farmers market’ feel which you get from black and white.

Created by Isabela Rodrigues from Sweety Branding Studio in Brazil, the concept for Hnina, an organic chocolate brand was created to reflect the care, love and attention that goes into the actual chocolate itself.

As far as printing goes, this is not a cheap process at all, as to get that ‘pop’ of colour, the colour has to be on a white base, so multiple ink layers, but this kind of colour pairing can be taken into an interior design with ease. Think about raw woods with bright colours instead…

So – natural browns and brights – create a contemporary natural fee.

(image via the dieline)

SPOTTED – the industrial interior of 25hrs hotel’s Bikini Berlin…

Yesterday on the Ecospot we took our first look at the rather delicious Bikini Berlin hotel by 25hrs under the banner of our Wednesday Walls post, but today we are taking a general look at the communal areas of the hotel, which are also rather special. If you are into industrial styled interiors, raw materials, a bit of graffiti and lush planting, then this hotel is for you. Needless to say, I wanted to move in forever.

bikini berlin lounge


The 3rd floor, which functions as the reception area and is accessible from a terrace which leads out to the roof of Bikini Berlin concept mall really sets the tone for the rest of the hotel. Bright, modular furniture is paired with mid twentieth century styled pieces in greens, greys and the odd orange and pink, with neon lighting acting as wayfinding.

bikini berlin bakery

Planting features heavily throughout the hotel to create the ‘urban jungle’ effect, so planted walls, hanging planters and huge floor plants are everywhere, softening the rawness of the exposed concrete and wood that is used throughout also. Exposed ducting is bright and polished and unashamedly on show – an aesthetic that we tend to adopt also, rather than hiding it behind a suspended ceiling which can just create a feeling of low flatness.

bikini berlin worklabs

As with lots of hotels, Bikini Berlin comes with a few ‘perks’ – namely the fact that you can borrow an iPad to use throughout your stay, take one of the hotel’s MINI’s out for a spin around Berlin, and even use one of the three workstations on the lounge floor. Each of the workstations can be enclosed with a curtain for privacy and continue the industrial aesthetic with bulkhead lighting.

bikini berlin bike

Another of the perks to Bikini Berlin is that they have teamed up with Two Wheels Good, who have supplied bikes to the hotel for use by those staying – again for free. I had one in my room, plus there were others dotted about on stair landings and in reception – all on wall racks to keep them off the floor.

bikini berlin wall bike rack

With the short handlebars turned on the angle, the bike actually didn’t take up a great deal of room at all, which was both surprising and excellent.

The last area to the main reception was the beautifully detailed newscorner, with the daily papers on racks, ready to be enjoyed with a cup of coffee and a pastry baked in the wood burning oven bakery behind. The white metro tiles are a pretty standard ingredient in the industrial interior aesthetic and they fit beautifully here with the neon lighting and raw concrete. Even though it was a rather roasty 25 degrees when I was there, I could certainly see the appeal of sitting here with a good book and the stove alight.

bikini berlin newscorner


There are places in this world that you will visit and enjoy, and there are places that you will visit and feel both instantly at home and as if you never, ever want to leave. For me, with that quirky yet comfortable industrial interior and all those internal plants, Bikini Berlin has actually stolen my heart.

(all photos by claire potter)

join us on our Chelsea Fringe edible city foraging walk this saturday…

Hello everyone. Apologies for the few posts that have disappeared over the past few days, we have been experiencing a bit of a tech melt down… but, we are still here (actually, we are in Berlin at present with Fixperts, but more of that next week) and we will also be getting ready for our Chelsea Fringe event this coming Saturday!

Chelsea Fringe 2014 Flyer merged

Last year, we ran a very popular guided foraging walk in Brighton, so we have decided to keep to the theme and are running another three – this time in the centre of Brighton, starting in the landscape behind Brighthelm on North Road. This will be a bit of an intro to what you can find in the city which can be easily foraged.

We will be starting at 11, with each walk taking about an hour, including a free foraged cordial drink at the end and a free copy of our very special and very new map of Brighton which you can customise yourself with the icon stickers…

Spaces on the walk are FREE but VERY limited, so please get in touch to reserve a space on one of the following time slots:

11.00 am walk / 1.00 walk / 3.00 walk – email us on to reserve a space, or use the booking form on the right of this page…

In between times, we will be at our little stand in Brighthelm selling copies of our Edible City pack (map and stickers), plus copies of our limited edition A-Z of British Apples prints, so please do pop by and say hello! If there are any spaces left on the day you will be welcome to join one of the walks but we cannot guarantee that there will be any left!

Oh – if you have previously got in touch about reserving a space on the walks, please get in touch again – we have lost a lot of emails in our recent tech fail…

We look forward to seeing you!

Monday musings – this years Chelsea Fringe event announced…

Well, well, well. Where exactly has this year gone? We honestly cannot believe that it is a year since we did our Edible City foraging walk for the Chelsea Fringe festival last year. So – what are we planning on doing this year Another Edible City foraging walk, but this year, we are planning a few little extras, which we will be revealing over the next week or so…

Chelsea Fringe 2014 Flyer merged

Yep. A foraging walk, a free map and even a foraged drink at the end…

Extra details coming very soon…

SPOTTED – the Brighton Artist’s Open Houses – the Fiveways trail part 2

For our second part of our jaunt around the Fiveways section of the Brighton Artist’s Open Houses we found a lovely little selection of garden ceramics and illustration. In fact, so far we have found quite a few great examples of exterior ceramics this year – all taking references from seed heads or petal formations, but each with their own twist.

First up was the beautiful exterior ceramics of Frances Doherty, which are currently on show at 31 Havelock Road, number 9 on the Fiveways trail this year. They look like massively enlarged close ups of flowers, giving the ‘bugs eye view’ that Doherty looks for in the pieces she creates. The colours are intense and beautifully formed and would look great in a flower bed to give extended interest, particularly in the winter months. 
frances doherty 1

Next we tripped over to 28 Florence Road (which is actually part of the Beyond the Level trail, but hey ho) to see a wonderful range of both painting, illustration and sculpture. We were very taken with the printing and illustration of Jonny Hannah, which had a very voodoo type styling, playing with the iconography of tarot cards in bright and brash paintings. We loved the ‘welcome to dark town’ prints, which each had a different back illustration.

jonny hannah 1

The tarot style painted playing cards were displayed in a large grid formation above the fireplace, which, in itself was very striking, but each one is actually available to purchase individually. Framed up, these little cards would bring a real injection of colour and character to a tiny room. Stunning work and we had trouble choosing our favourite.

jonny hannah 2

Last up, we ventured into the garden, with our pot of fresh coffee and cardamom coffee cake and carrot lime cake (highly recommended!) and enjoyed sitting beneath a fully blossomed tree in the sun, taking in the view of the gorgeous walled garden and the sculptures that were on display from Si Unwins.

si unwins 1Taking another view of the stylised naturalistic, these sculptures were created using centres of carved wood with bent, verdigris patternated copper nails creating the main seed head elements of the piece. Available in a variety of sizes and styles, these sculptures both blended with the surrounding foliage and created a real impact once you spotted them.

A great set of garden ceramics and illustration and definitely something for everyone…Especially if you like cake too. Which we do.

Check back at SPOTTED next Tuesday for the next instalment in our travels around the Artist’s Open Houses in Brighton…

(photos by claire potter)


Monday musings – the new start of grow your own…

It appears as though we have been rather blessed with an early and sudden start to a hot spring. It has literally snuck up on us all, but wandering into the garden last week, we discovered that everything has woken up and is growing at the rate of knots. We also visited two different garden centres over the weekend – one to look at trees for a client and one to pick up a few seeds. Both were rammed.

grow your own

But we also spotted something very interesting. On both trips, in both the larger nursery and the standard DIY shed garden centre, there was a much bigger area given over to edible growing than ever before. Grow your own has taken over. 

Edible hedging, strips of vegetable seedlings, canes of berries, fruit trees of all sizes and a huge variety of seeds were there – and were very, very popular indeed. At one point we stood and watched as the traditional bedding plant area was pretty much bare of shoppers, but the fruit tree area could barely hold anyone else.

And we were part of the throng, purchasing violas (edible), bean seeds and a few extra varieties of mint. We also selected the trees we will be using in one of our schemes for our clients – a mix of apples, pears and a mulberry. We might even sneak in an almond.

So, for today, we really are having a bit of a musing. The mistrust of where our food comes from, plus the general increased interest in growing your own has filtered down to the DIY sheds who are fulfilling our desires for simple, semi self sufficiency with a bigger than ever range of grow your own products.

Which in our eyes, can only be a good thing. 

(image by claire potter)