Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Ella Robinson Art

 And now for something a little different over here at PJTM.  

With Valentines day fast approaching, I was keen to feature the work of a super talented artist, Ella Robinson, who I always associate with hearts..... hearts and colour!  I'm very excited that Ella agreed to be featured on PJTM, and took some time out to answer a few questions.  Ella is a total colour mistress and her clothes style is very unique. She is a fellow charity shop aficionado and I would love her to do a 'what I wore post' on the blog.  Anyhow, i'm running away with myself here lets get back to Ella's beautiful Shop.

First up thank you so much for taking part. I love the fact you work with 'unwanted and discarded items' from the sea, why are they appealing to you?

Thank you! I think that they are appealing on a number of levels. Firstly, by collecting them up it removes harmful plastic from the sea and away from any animals that may try to ingest them. When I lived in Brighton it deeply frustrated me that people would come down to enjoy the seaside and then leave all of their rubbish behind. In summer especially it seemed that a lot of groups left numerous beer bottles, BBQs, plastic bags and packaging/ wrapping. I’m not sure what they thought was going to happen to it after they left it behind but it made me really angry that they were so inconsiderate to the environment and disrespectful to Brighton in general. By collecting up fragments of plastic I feel that I am, in my own small way, helping to clean up Brighton and protect the sea from yet more harmful rubbish.

On a more personal level, I just love to “find things”, it’s like going out hunting for treasure, you never know what you’re going to come across and you’ll need to search very carefully if you want to spot everything. Plus, I love a freebie so it’s great to go out and see what can be found. I prefer to work with found items rather than to go out and buy brand new materials. It feels great to search for a nice piece of driftwood, take it home, wash and dry it, plan a design, drill and then stitch it, making something completely different to its first form, whilst at the same time being sympathetic to its original characteristics.

 Why is the heart motif so special to you?

In a similar way to how you feel about your daughter wearing pink, I used to hate “pink” and “hearts”, I thought that they were gross, “girly” and not something I ever wanted in my life.

When I was initially experimenting with drilling and stitching through driftwood (during the second year of my MA at the Royal College of Art) I worked on a few very simple designs, which included two arrows, a straight line, a diamond and a heart. By using these motifs I was just testing out the new techniques and materials. After graduating I exhibited at the Knit and Stitch show in Harrogate and I had some of these samples on display. An elderly couple came over and the gentleman asked to buy my driftwood heart (for his wife). I declined as it was the “original” and I didn't particularly want to part with it. Before they left the show they came past again and asked if I’d changed my mind, unfortunately I hadn't. However this situation made me think that perhaps I was onto something with this simple design.

Since then my opinion regarding hearts (and pink) has changed a lot, in fact I even have a brightly coloured Hama bead heart garland hanging above my bed, who’d have thought?! I see that hearts are a simple, and clear, way to demonstrate love, whilst at the same time being a great graphic motif. I imagine that they mean various things to different people but women in general seem to be drawn to them. In regards to my Driftwood Hearts, I enjoy the contrast of the soft, stitched heart image against the surface of well-worn driftwood.

Frieda has a colourful pair of heart trousers that I actually call 'her Ella Robinson trousers!' because they remind me so much of you.

You found a Lego Dragon from the 1997 container spill, what does the future hold for the dragon?

At present it is in a lovely, found Kilner jar (rescued from someone’s recycling in Tring) hanging out with the other children’s toys that I have found whilst beachcombing and walking the streets. I collect these with the aim of one day making them into a Framed Collection but I think I need to find a few more before this can happen.

You are no longer Brighton based what do you miss about the seaside?

Of course I miss just being beside the sea, to be able to go for walks (in all seasons) and see people enjoying themselves on the coast, and to just soak up the atmosphere (and the sunshine if there is any!). The thing I miss the most though is being able to pop out for a spot of beachcombing if I’m experiencing a creative block whilst working, it was always a good way of being productive whilst having a break from what I was working on. In a similar sense, if there had been stormy weather then I would always try and head out as this is when lots of things get washed up. Living away from the seaside means that I still head back to Brighton to beach comb but it has to be planned a bit further in advance, it’s not so accessible any more.

What does beachcombing mean to you?

As odd as it sounds I can’t explain what it feels like when I’m beachcombing, I just know that I absolutely love it. It’s almost as though I go into some kind of a trance and focus as much attention as possible on finding items and fragments amongst the stones and washed up seaweed. My brain goes off and has strange conversations with itself whilst I comb the shore, ever hopeful to find a colourful Smarties lid, driftwood block or child’s toy.

I guess it could be considered as therapeutic. It can be hard work, in both the winter and summer, and if I’ve collected a lot of stuff then it’s very heavy and I spend a lot of time bending over to pick various finds up. I’m not very good at feeding myself when I beachcomb as I want to spend as much time as possible searching (especially during the winter when we have less daylight hours), which makes me tired (and very hungry!).

Aside from your etsy shop where else can we find your work?

I sell my Driftwood Hearts (both free-standing and framed) at the MOSTYN (gallery) shop in Llandudno, North Wales and I've just taken a new bach of un-framed hearts to flow Gallery in Notting Hill after their recent refurbishment. Excitingly, I also have a new retailer close to me in Hertfordshire; a lovely, colourful gallery called ART at 88, in Berkhamsted. Shortly I will also be making and sending some pieces to the very friendly Heart Gallery in Hebden Bridge (West Yorkshire).  

I will also be exhibiting, for the first time ever, at The Contemporary Craft Festival in Bovey Tracey, Devon, between 5-7th June this year. I will be displaying a broad selection of my Decorative Objects and Framed Collections, including larger pieces. Other shows will be coming up as the year progresses.

Lastly, do you celebrate Valentines day yourself?

Hah, good question! Over the years I have had a love/ hate relationship with Valentine’s Day. I think it’s important that we show our loved ones how we feel about them, but I don’t believe that it needs to be done on one particular day (that is dictated to us). I don’t think that it should be just about our partners, but more about everyone who is special to us; including our parents, siblings and friends.

I don’t need the retail world to tell me that on a certain day I should buy my boyfriend a card/ gift/ flowers and take him out to dinner to demonstrate that I love him. I should probably be showing him this every day! Personally, I wouldn't choose to go out to a restaurant on Valentine’s Day.

Funnily enough, last year (the first Valentine’s Day with my boyfriend) I knew that the day meant something to him so I decided to put my negativity aside and make an effort. I made him a LOVE TREE and framed it nicely. He loved his gift but hadn't got me anything as he knew I wasn't so fussed!

I eagerly await to hear if you celebrated Valentines Day this year. Thank you Ella it's been super fun sharing my little space with someone else. You can find Ella at the below links. All the shiny colourful photos are the work of Ella and must not be used without her permission.

Artist's facebook page -


Thursday, 15 January 2015

What I wore - Christmas outfit

And so I appear to have become a blogger who does 'what I wore' posts, a sentence that would have brought me out in a cold sweat a year ago.  But do you know what?  i'm now hooked.  I find it quite liberating. So anyway here we go.  This is the outfit I wore on Christmas day and to a few other things over Christmas.


Dress - Homemade 1940's - Sue Ryder Vintage and Retro shop in Peterborough
Coat - Vintage Laura Ashley - A birthday present from my mum - Mauds in Bexhill
Hat - 1960's repro 1920's style - A Christmas present from my partner - Mauds in Bexhill
Shoes - 2nd hand primark - Cancer Research

Sue Ryder Vintage and Retro shop in Peterborough
I must just mention that the Sue Ryder Vintage and Retro shop in Peterborough is the absolute bomb!!! I don't want to offend anyone but Peterborough is not one of my favourite cities, but this shop, oh this shop. I would urge you to visit Peterborough on the strength of this shop.  Fun items, sensible prices, great music and a quirky interior.  The teenagers that serve you look like they are having so much fun.  It's definitely the place where the cool kids go to do their work experience.  I have dreams of one day becoming their manager. Coming from a corner of the South East where vintage is pretty much the main stream, I often feel priced out of vintage it's a real treat when you find a shop with really accessible prices.

Mauds in Bexhill
Mauds is also one of my favourite vintage shops but it is slightly more pricey. It's more of a 'grown up' sort of vintage shop.  It's usually reserved for birthday and Christmas treats.  My partner told me that it's closing down and I feel very sad about this.  I always pop in when I visit this seaside town.


Wednesday, 7 January 2015

My daughter may not be a feminist

(An outfit of yesteryear) 

My daughter and I no longer see eye to eye on matters of clothing style.  In my head there would be Mary Jane T bar shoes in sensible colours, corduroy pinafores (lot's of corduroy), brightly coloured tunics, spots and stripes, and dungarees......sort of like a mini me.  In her head there is pink...... a bit more pink and there are these funny scratchy cartoon animal motifs. There is most definitely not any corduroy  *sobs onto the computer*.  
I should be celebrating the fact that I have raised a confident, independent little girl who knows what she likes.  But I can't help but try and win her round to my way of thinking.  'Gosh look at this dress, it's amazing....such a great colour... mummy would like to wear a dress like this.....shall we try it on?' It usually always ends in a firm  'no, I want to wear pretty pink trousers mummy.'  One can but try.  I had a realisation this week that me and my daughter will probably never see eye to eye on matters of clothing ever again.  For yes she is now her own person and not an extension of me! Please stay a baby just a little bit longer.

This is not to say I don't like pink.  I do.  In fact I found it a useful colour during the androgynous, no hair, early baby days.  I found it saved embarrassment at mother and baby groups.  I found it easier to put a pink tee shirt on my daughter than explain, in my sleep deprived, hormonal, socially anxious state, to a stranger, that he was in fact a she.

Two weeks before my daughter was born I moved into a house that was painted pink inside. Two weeks after daughter was born the walls were covered with little pink congratulations cards and pink parcels arrived through the letter box.  And I remember thinking there must be another colour, this can't be the only colour choice for the next ten years, my daughter must have options, she must not be prescribed to like this! 
So I set to work. In the last two years I have painted over the pink walls and I have tried to introduce my daughter to a wide range of colours toys and experiences and to a wide range of ideas about womanhood, femininity and gender roles.  I have changed words in nursery rhymes, I have avoided television adverts, and banned certain books and cartoons. I realise that I sound like a control freak.  Yes maybe I am.  I am, however, incredibly laid back about her external environment she goes to nursery and various play groups and hangs out with some relatives.  When the cats away the Disney princesses may come out to play......who knows!  

So yes, I have a little girl who, in terms of her clothes, wants to adhere to gender stereotypes but she did tell me the other day that she was a Doctor so I do still have some glimmer of hope.


Sunday, 4 January 2015

New Year

Happy new year friends! I rarely feel the urge to make resolutions in January. In fact I rarely view January as the start of something new. I have never grown out of the school term calendar and it’s usually in September, after a few weeks off in August, that I start hatching plans for the forthcoming year. This year, however, January 2015 really feels like the start of a new year for me. Having a couple of weeks off work over Christmas seemed to punctuate the year nicely and i’m also ready for change.

I love change, I thrive on it. Last year, however, after an eventful 2013, (newish job, new house, new town and a baby) I wanted stability, I craved consistency and I didn't want to push myself. So 2014 was the year I settled into a rhythm in my new home town as a family of 3. It was a fairly quiet year (as quiet as years are with toddlers). It was a good year, I started this little blog, friendships were cemented and my daughter achieved a fair few firsts. There have been a few wobbles, mainly about space and money but we have always got over them, realising that these things really are not that important in the grand scheme of things.

I don’t make resolutions; I would never put that much pressure on myself. I am, however, ready for a few changes this year. I am feeling brave and would like to push my self forward a little in 2015. I would like 2015 to be a productive year. Before I became a mother I didn't always trust my abilities and would sometimes hold myself back. I no longer feel like this and after a restful 2014, 2015 is the year to release my wings a little.

With regards to Peggy Jobbins, Thrift Mistress; I hope to continue to make lovely connections with like minded souls, I wanted to try some new crafts made from recycled materials and I will continue on my slow fashion journey.

Thank you to everyone who reads PJTM. I really have loved making connections with you lovely folk and my blog has been part of the reason why 2014 was such a good year. It’s been really great to have an outlet for my ramblings.  

Thursday, 1 January 2015

December Reflections Catch up

December Reflections - Day 21 - Sparkle

Day 22 - Last minute Christmas cards

Day 23 - On the mantle piece 

We finished our Wonky Button advent calender slightly early this year!

Day 24 - Last minute Christmas shopping

Day 25 - Christmas Dolly

Day 26 - Christmas outfits

Day 27 - Scotland!

Day 28 - Seaside 

Day 29 - Beautiful St Andrews

Day 30 - Hiding 

Day 31 - Driving home from Christmas

© Peggy Jobbins' Little Big Adventure. All rights reserved.