Little tree with B & W monogram


Little tree with B & W monogram (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

There’s nothing like a dose of flu at the backend of winter to lay you low for longer than you’d like. Lying in bed makes for such empty days, even though you’re pretty much unconscious as to the passage of real time. Big decisions concern things like when and whether  to roll over on to your other side, how to restore just a little softness to the pillow beneath and how many syllable a reply to give to some kind soul who pop their head round the door with a bright and considerate question.

B & W monogram (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

All this at the same time as having two sets of guests, one directly after the other! To be fair, both sets were most welcome and had booked in their visits months before. The first pair, my husband’s son and daughter-in-law, just got on with exploring Cheltenham and came back with news of as yet undiscovered(by us) second hand book shops and places to have delicious bits to eat. Our second guests had come from Los Angeles, diverting to Cheltenham en route to Sicily where they were to be leading an academic tour. I was up and about for our second couple and we all pounded the pavements together, visiting the The Wilson, Holst’s Birthplace, the newly discovered bookshop and – retracing of our steps –  the Ivy in the Montpellier Rotunda for lunch  (including a glass or two of champagne which helped to put a bit of a spring in my step).

Emery and Cie’s fabric panel with tree design

In many ways with the races on, Cheltenham was not quite itself. Pubs, bars and cafés were overflowing with people dressed as I’ve never seen them before. Checked jackets and checked suits, complete with waistcoats were the norm – all rather Somerville and Ross’s Irish RM, though thankfully without the bowler hats. (Oh I did enjoy the TV adaptations in the mid 1980s with Peter Bowles as the English Resident Magistrate – the RM of the title – and Bryan Murray as Flurry Knox, his Irish nemesis.) My husband’s first Gold  Cup experience was back in the seventies when the peace in his museum office above Clarence Street was suddenly interrupted by the noise of what could only have been animals herded to market. But no, Mass at the Catholic church having finished, the herd was human and a morning with things eternal was about to be replaced by the worship of Mammon at the racetrack. Not so sure how many attend Mass nowadays

C.F.A.Voysey’s design for the cover of The Studio Magazine, 1893

This little monogram I made for our American guests’ daughter and new husband. Little trees are good motifs with associations of growth, branching and flourishing – you need only look at the delightful Art and Crafts examples which accompany this blog. I am also very taken with Emery and Cie’s little tree design for a diaphanous curtain. A Belgian company, Emery and Cie produce big bold wallpapers, fabrics tiles and ironwork in glorious colours in historically literate designs with a modern twist.

As I look back over these pictures, I’m now wondering whether to make my tree trunk a bit longer …

William Morris and Co. Kelmscott Tree Fabric.

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More Mary Fedden little soft lions

Emma Bridgewater catalogue, March 2018 with 3 of Mary Fedden’s little soft lions

When people Mary Fedden knew had babies, she made them little soft  lions as a present. I mentioned them here when I was saying how much I enjoyed reading Christopher Andrae’s Mary Fedden: Enigmas and Variations (Lund Humphries, pbk. 2014)  and I reproduced the 4 photographs of the soft toys that appeared in the book.

Emma Bridgewater catalogue 2018 : Mary Fedden design on a mug and 2 of Mary Fedden’s little soft lions

Pat Albeck died at 87 last September. The designer of wonderful fabric prints from the 1950s onwards (Horrockses, National Trust tea towels, and latterly floral paper cuts)  she will be sorely missed. In newspaper and magazine articles she always looks like someone you’d like to have known. Big, immaculate, white hair, huge spectacles and colourful clothes (often accompanied by big clunky necklaces, made to look like things such as Liquorice Allsorts, crystallised ginger or half of a wild flower meadow)  – you feel you could have sat down and had a good laugh about life with her. Oh, and did I mention, she was Emma Bridgewater’s mother-in-law.

Emma Bridgewater catalogue March 2018 and another of Mary Fedden’s little soft lions.

Anyway, what I’m going the long way about saying is that I did a bit of internet research on Pat her after her death and in a photograph, there in the background were some of Mary Fedden’s little soft lions. Of course now I can no longer find the photograph! But, then last week the latest Emma Bridgewater catalogue landed on the door mat and there alongside one of Emma’s new designs for a mug with a Mary Fedden lion were 3 lons of the little soft variety.  (Now I think these were for Emma’s children, in which case where is the fourth but let’s not be too curious, it was probably loved to destruction and it’s joy enough to see the three we’re treated to.) A bit of me feels it would be wonderful if someone tracked down all the little lions that Mary Fedden ever made and photograph them in a book, but then another bit of me feels that each one was so personal, made for one very specific individual, we should let them stay unknown to all except those for whom they were lovingly made. So, thanks, Emma for giving us sight of your 3 special little soft lions.

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