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Yesterday I was lucky enough to be invited to the press preview of ‘Rembrandt: The Late Works’ at The National Gallery which opens to the public today.

Each time I visit one of our city’s beautiful museums I never fail to be astounded by the sheer grandeur and rich detail of our galleries. The National Gallery looks out onto the cinematic vista of Trafalgar Square, which as Londoners we are quick to dismiss as a busy tourist trap, but it is a tourist trap with astonishingly good reason as witnessed from the gallery steps.

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Inside, intricate floor mosaics and striking palatial architecture is mixed seamlessly with modern details as the galleries expand.

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But back to the exhibition. Dutch painter Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn is generally considered one of the greatest painters and printmakers in European art and the most important in Dutch history.

Interested in capturing the world around him without prejudice, his works recorded the ordinary people, places and things he would have seen every day in Amsterdam.

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Having already suffered the early loss of his wife and three of their children, Rembrandt’s later years were burdened with bankruptcy, acrimonious legal proceedings with a former lover, and the loss of his common-law wife and only remaining son.

However, far from diminishing as he aged, Rembrandt’s creativity gathered new energy. The once-in-a-lifetime exhibition explores Rembrandt’s final years of painting when he achieved ultimate greatness.

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Quietly breathtaking, the exhibition comprises of approximately 40 paintings, 20 drawings and 30 prints, revelling in Rembrandt’s iconic use of combined light and shadow.

From the moment you step into the hush of the first room filled with luminous self-portraits chronicling the last decade of Rembrandt’s life –  and his exceptional honesty in recording his own features as he aged – you are ensnared [it is worth visiting for just this room].

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Drawn further and further into his expressions of intimacy, contemplation, conflict and reconciliation, I felt as though I was gazing upon familiar friends as I sat mesmerised by the tender depictions of the ‘Old Woman Reading a Book’ and ‘A Woman Bathing in a Stream’ and even ‘The Anatomy Lesson of Dr Joan Deyman’ and I am itching to go back and sit with them again.

My photographs do none of the great artist’s luminous, multilayered and expressive masterpieces any justice so please go visit and gaze upon their spine-tingling beauty for yourselves.

Rembrandt, The Late Works
The National Gallery
Sainsbury Wing
15 October 2014 – 18 January 2015

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Exhibition  TheAnatomyLesson

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The spiralling popularity of succulents in the interiors and fashion world seems in part down to their sculptural appeal and in part down to the fact that they are hard to kill even for the blackest of thumbs.

Nevertheless without finger pointing [you know who you are] I can attest to the fact that there are some ‘charred thumbs’ out there that can do a lot of damage to even the toughest of plants! For those hapless customers I was excited to discover a new trend for extremely lifelike faux succulents that will always look perfect and are risk free!

Online home decor brand Nordic House‘s faux flower collection includes large succulent rosettes that can feature as striking table decorations or still life displays around your home.

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Berkshire based Beaux Faux gives new life to vintage books using them as planters for whimsical displays of artificial succulents. These would make such a beautiful gift!

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And Etsy has a plethora of succulent designs from felt succulents by Ordinary Mommy  and Miasole to artificial components to create your own elaborate and maintenance free displays.

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October is hands down my favourite month, in my opinion it’s the most definitive transitioning of seasons, in Britain at least – September is still too warm, November already has its foot in winter. There is a thrill in the October air, which resonates with narratives, the promise of spooky happenings, cosy autumnal outings and the cracking of the spines of new books to hunker down with.

For sure the biggest reason October is my favourite month is because of Halloween. To get us into the Halloween spirit in every possible way I have hunted down 10 digital wallpapers for your iphone, ipad and desktop to give your tech a seasonal update!

Click through to the links below the images to download your wallpaper.

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Via Tidy Mom

 

imbreannarose.com

Via Im Breanne Rose

thefoxisblack.com

Via The Fox Is Black

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Via The Fox is Black

thegoodtwin

Via Design Love Fest

meredith-sadler-wallpaper-blog

Via The Fox is Black

Color-Blocked-Pumpkins-Ciera-Design-2560x1440

Via Whimsey Box

nolan-pelletier-wallpaper-blog

Via  The Fox Is Black

Free People

Via Design Love Fest

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Via The Fox is Black

Navigating London Design Festival with a four month old baby on the blistering September city streets was no mean feat, but hell bent on getting my design fix during the design worlds version of fashion week, I was determined to make it work! Here are my highlights from the week’s festivities.

Newbie Taiwanese Studio IF ‘s striking chandeliers immediately caught my eye at Tent London with its simple and intuitive beauty. Delicate copper and glass combined to create ethereal clouds of bubbles which when used with a pulley system lit up in a whimsical sequence.

British designer Sue Pryke launched a covetable collection of hand-carved Oak chopping boards with leather details in collaboration with outdoorsy brand Wild and Wood, I love their stylish simplicity.  Prices start from £30.

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Cute contemporary hand mirrors by Croatian brand Oaza.

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I wrote about being taken by illustrator Louise Wilkinson’s work last year when she had just launched her first collection, so it was lovely to rediscover her again at Tent. She exhibited a beautiful range of patterned textiles with a fun folksy feel which on closer inspection contained witty narratives hidden within!

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Whilst I sort through my piles of business cards and press packs from the London Design Festival to bring you my pick of design talent, here is some eye-candy from the week to whet your appetite.

Following an exciting online presence and two pop-up shops, The New Craftsmen, a hub for British craft finally moved its physical outfit into a 19th-century building in Mayfair earlier this year. Dedicated to working with Britain’s finest craft makers to showcase the materials, skills and craft products of the British Isle, the shop houses a retail space and atelier which hosted several events during this past week of design.

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Founded by Mark Henderson, Catherine Lock and Natalie Melton the trio have taken it upon themselves to preserve and champion Britain’s knowledge and expertise in crafts. The concept took root during product developer Catherine Lock’s road-trip around Britain exploring its indigenous craft skills.

Visiting everything from workshops left over from the Sheffield steel industry to basket makers in Orkney, Lock discovered that despite extraordinary expertise in crafts some of these artisans could barely make a living – inspiring the founders to come up with The New Craftsmen concept and work towards preserving the skills that are so much a part of Britain’s cultural heritage.

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The charming space boasts a carefully selected and styled range of products from hand dyed and woven textiles to handcrafted furniture, covetable ceramics and exquisite jewellery.

The atelier features a relaxed studio area and inspired pull out drawers dedicated to each maker, serving as a sensory portfolio of their skills - enabling customers, interior designers and architects to customise, commission and collaborate.

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The New Craftsmen
34 North Row
Mayfair, London
W1K 6DG

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