Category Archives: Places

Cheerful decorations for a dull winter’s day

Given the grim winter weather this week I thought I’d share these festive images. OK, so Christmas is over but the festive decorations at Le Printemps department store in Paris  were so charming that they merit being seen even after the event.

Le Printemps window display. Photo by Caroline Banks Le Printemps window display. Photo by Caroline Banks Le Printemps window display. Photo by Caroline BanksCome on, who wouldn’t smile at the idea of meerkats in space? Le Printemps window display. Photo by Caroline Banks Le Printemps window display. Photo by Caroline Banks Le Printemps window display. Photo by Caroline BanksThe sunbathers with their foil neck reflectors at the bottom of this photo are a lovely touch Le Printemps window display. Photo by Caroline Banks

Marlborough House, London

Another discovery for me during Open House was Marlborough House on Pall Mall. Well I say on but pedestrians actually go through a little gateway and down an alley

before coming to this splendid entrance below. No photography was permitted inside as it is the headquarters of the Commonwealth of Nations and the seat of the Commonwealth Secretariat.

Built for Sarah Churchill, the Duchess of Marlborough and Queen Anne’s confidante, it remained the Dukes of Marlborough’s London residence for over a century. This grand palace backs on to the Mall – I’ve often seen the flags visible over the wall and wondered what they meant.

Now I know. Look at the size of it!

The flagpoles look tiny in this shot which gives you an idea of the scale

St James’s Palace is the next door neighbour seen here in the background, so convenient when Anne needed Sarah, which by all accounts was frequently.

and they even have a pet cemetery in a little glade.

The ladies’ powder room at Claridge’s hotel, London

Ah, Claridge’s! I was seduced by this hotel from the moment I stepped in and just had to share the glamour of this room, too grand to be just the loos and reminiscent of those black & white movies where the heroines retreat to powder their nose.

Claridges hotel. Photo by Caroline Banks

It’s an Art Deco joy with painted walls, plaster jewel-encrusted pillars, bevelled edge mirrors

Claridges hotel. Photo by Caroline Banks

marquetry toilet doors with glass handlesClaridges hotel. Photo by Caroline Banks

and the diffused lighting fixtures of Lalique.

Claridges hotel. Photo by Caroline Banks Claridges hotel. Photo by Caroline Banks

Royal Society of Chemistry, London

Open House London gives us, the public, the opportunity to visit buildings of all kinds not normally open to general view during the rest of the year.

One of the venues I visited this year was the Royal Society of Chemistry where I wasn’t expecting to find these two contemporary stained glass windows within the complex of Burlington House.

Designed by Laurence Lee (who also designed the windows for Coventry Cathedral) they are a memorial to Nobel Prize Laureate Cyril Hinshelwood and represent alchemy and chemistry. The four traditional elements: red for fire, clear for air, blue for water and green for earth are all there along with the many chemical variants and combinations.

Stained Glass Art at RSC. Photo Caroline Banks

Nobu Shoreditch hotel, London

I recently toured the newly opened Nobu Shoreditch, with interiors by StudioMica and  restaurant & bar by Studio PCH

The guest rooms are obviously a bit less accessible than the public areas so I’ll concentrate on them here.

The rooms share a combination of urban brutalism (concrete ceilings and exposed services such as sprinklers) from the Shoreditch location and Japanese aesthetics of Nobu, giving this place the feel of an oasis in the city centre. 

Judicious use of texture and lighting creates jewel-like points of focus. I confess to having a soft spot for the bathrooms; not only are they visually beautiful but really practical (as several guests have apparently pointed out you can tell they’ve been designed by a woman). The mirrors offer proper lighting with decent magnification and there is plenty of shelving for toiletries.

And who doesn’t love that washbasin?

This view of the courtyard garden from one of the suites gives an idea of the architecture concept by Ron Arad, implemented by Ben Adams

Artists at The Other Art Fair Bristol – 3 of 4

Still feeling inspired by artists I showed with at The Other Art Fair in Bristol. Here are more shots showing the wide variety of art as I whipped round before opening time.

Michelle Loa Kum Cheung’s landscapes,

Olivier Leger’s intricately detailed drawings, and Sara Dare’s suggestive abstract paintings.It’s not just me is it? The last post in this series follows next week.

Artists at The Other Art Fair Bristol – 2 of 4

There really is something for everyone at The Other Art Fair as, I hope, the following images and posts will show. It’s well worth a visit wherever it is.

From oil painted landscapes by Dawn Reader, another stand neighbour in Bristol,

to a new series of paintings by John Hainsworth ;meticulous still lives by Hisham Echafaki and large abstracts by Kate Williams More artists to follow…

The Other Art Fair Bristol – 1 of 4

Writing this as it rains outside, The Other Art Fair Bristol with sunbathers outside the Arnolfini Gallery now feels a long way off.

Every TOAF event has its communal displays with the ones here including The Colours of Bristol, an Instagram project created over 7 weeks with Bristol 247, @porthjess and @joyfulbristol – I saw it before opening time as you can see from the frenzied activity below. Next to my stand was the I,the Poet. You, The Poet project by Biba & Laurie Cole which was consistently busy as visitors drew images and thoughts with outsized pens and brushes.