Monday 29 October 2018

Scriptum Oxford

On a recent visit to Oxford for my birthday I discovered an utter gem of a shop. From outside this small shop housed down a quiet street hints at the treasure which waits within. As an avid fountain pen collector the instant I saw a quill in the window I was heading for the door.

Inside an utter treasure trove of glorious things awaited. Italian quills and dip pens in all sorts of shapes and sizes lay delicately on a table as you walked in. The brass of hand shaped clips, letter openers and magnifying glass rims twinkled in the light as I surveyed the scene of a pen lovers dream. Sealing wax and seals sat neatly in rows waiting to be adored. Halloween eyeball marbles displayed in a miniature bath, what could be finer?

I caught sight of what is always the greatest temptation in life; the glass cabinet. With lines of beautiful pens standing to attention and given an exotic flair by the addition of ornate oriental fans I searched to see what was on offer. Much to my joy my favourite pen manufacturer Kaweco took pride of place in centre front.

Upstairs the walls were lined with notebooks, parchment and everything you could want to accompany your favourite pen. Marbled paper, papyrus and illuminated manuscripts sat waiting for a keen owner to give them a lease of life. Puppets and prints lined the staircase in a colourful display of character and fun, ensuring every available inch is packed with sights guaranteed to stir the senses. The entire place was a cornucopia of everything I love, ancient looking globes, phrenology heads, beautiful binding, an eclectic array of objects which largely exist in times gone by only.

The shop was nothing short of incredible and a real credit to its owner who has on offer some of the finest selection of objects, both useful and ornamental I have seen in a shop for a long time. If like me you somehow seem to find you live your life almost in another century to the majority of other people don't hesitate to visit Scriptum next time you're near by, its nothing short of delightful and utterly glorious. Or if your a little more 21st century check out their wares online:

Tuesday 16 October 2018

Le Palais Idéal

When researching some places to visit off the beaten track on our European Roadrip I stumbled upon the Le Palais Idéal on Atlas Obscura and it was instantly added to the must see list of weird and wonderful places.

Upon leaving Lyon to head for Marseillan we took a minor detour to the village of Hauterives to find this magnificent marvel, where 139 years ago a French Postman started on his lifes mission to create the place of his dreams. What Ferdinand Cheval created was a temple to imagination, nature and the wonders of the world. It stands today as an incredible testament to the hard work and determination of one man over the course of 33 years.

The Palais is truly a wonder to behold. It rises from the ground like some eruption of organic mass. Like the ultimate life size sandcastle this mammoth monument is a feast for the eyes. Everywhere can be see plants, coral, animals, people all merging, growing and flowing. The Palais is not the typical structure you would expect to find in the middle of a rural French village. It has clear exotic influences from a variety of different cultures. And this was no accident. On his postal rounds Cheval saw the wonders of the world outside his home through publications magazines and postcards he was delivering. All of these elements fed into the aesthetics and final design of of the Le Palais Idéal.

As utterly awe inspiring and breath taking as the structure is, equally moving was the story of Ferdinand Cheval himself. A modest, hard working man who one day was inspired in the most unlikely of ways; by a stone. He looked at this strange stone shaped by nature and felt compelled to build. He collected stones to build with on his postal rounds, initially in his pockets, then a basket and finally his famous wheelbarrow, which gives an idea of the growth of his ideas and the development of the scale of the project. Chevals building took on a life of its own as he poured dreams, inspiration and determination into its building. He faced great ridicule and was mocked for his venture, yet he persevered and completed the incredible monument we see today. I felt incredibly moved by the idea that if you work long and hard enough your dreams can come true. It was a very sobering, moving experience.

Nothing can quite prepare you for the experience of seeing this incredible sculptured structure. If you are ever in the region I urge you to visit this incredible testament to one mans vision. For more information please visit:

Wednesday 3 October 2018

The Alchemy Series

Recently I have been hard at work on the sometimes painfully detailed Alchemy series. While I think quite easily I could keep on going with this series and dreaming up more weird and wacky designs and picking even more of my favourite creatures to feature I decided to call a halt on it at 6, as its a nice round number and a number of different eco-systems and creatures have been covered.

Originally the Alchemy series was born out of the twisted take on the idea of being a creator. My idea of some ancient fellow using mysterious magic and methods long lost to modern man to create these curious creatures prevailed throughout the series and often led me to pursue some of the more bizarre creations nature has to offer. Each creature sits inert in the bottle of their birth, surveying their surroundings and place in the world. This mere man, a magician or a deity depending on your perspective, has unleashed these curious creatures upon us through the power of his alchemic practice. Does his ancient practice make him a god? Or are all those whose imagination knows no bounds capable of creation?

The series was a truly mammoth undertaking with over 130 hours work creating the final pieces and countless hours of photoshop work preparing them for print.

The Alchemy series is available to buy as a set of A4 prints, or individually, to check them out Click here!