Antiques & Antiquing, Art, Inspiration, Interior Style, Nature & the Coast

Pottery love

This month we availed of the fairly new route with AerLingus … Dublin to Newquay. Cornwall has been a beloved holiday destination of mine for about 20 years but it can be quite a trek, so to have hopped on a sweet little plane after a brunch in Dublin airport and in just over an hour to be in taxi whizzing through windy roads the tiny little village of Portloe was a delightful revelation.

Anyhow my ‘thing’ when I travel is to buy ceramics, something you can use when you get home and nod to fond memories as you sup your tea or look for the right vessel to best enhance the latest blooms from the garden.

My latest grá is for painterly ceramics – each piece is unique, a 3D painting really so what an affordable way to collect! Each piece adds colour and pattern to the room they’re in whether they are on the kitchen table, on a window sill or in pride of place on a shelf.

I try and keep a record of who has made them also. Above there are pieces by Kevin Warren, bottom left while top left is by David Garland and the little pot by the boxing hare is fish pye pottery.

If you go to Cornwall, I would recommend a visit to The Sandpiper Gallery in Mousehole where new owner Celia has curated a delicious mix of colours & textures in the dreamy setting of an airy room overlooking the harbour.

In St Ives – which is synonymous with art & studio pottery,  there is a hidden gem St Ives Ceramics which has an informal shop but as you sink deeper in to the depths of the building it takes on a museum like quality as the most fantastic collection of Japanese & British pottery (including plenty of Bernard Leach pieces) spanning a century, these are behind glass so there is no worries about knocking anything over with your giant handbag (that’s me). That part of the shop would be for the avid collectors and perhaps not a starting point. Buy something that catches your eye – that you want to cradle in your hands, wrapped carefully it will travel back nestled in your suitcase – unpacking becomes a joy as you unwrap the pieces and see them immediately brighten up their new surroundings.

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Antiques & Antiquing, Art, Inspiration, Interior Style, Nature & the Coast

The Natural Showhome – part 2

On we go upstairs – a large scale antique patchwork wall hanging in the stairwell is contemporary while also bringing texture and gravitas to the space.

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The stairway leads up to one of my favourite places in the house – the spacious landing.

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I commissioned fellow Wicklow based craftsman James Carroll to make a bench for this particular space. The seat has been made from Elm, the legs from Ash with inset details in Walnut – all grown in Wicklow.

Glimpse in to one of the rooms leading off here and we see a gorgeous little etching / aquatint called ‘Cloud: Half formed’ by Niamh Flanagan.

 

In to the first bedroom which has a balcony looking out to the hills.

There is crisp white linen, a felt wool upholstered headboard, a quilted cotton bedspread and herringbone throw all set off by the restful blue of the walls. Loving the seagulls flying above the bed.

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Next we have the family bathroom – the wall tiles here remind me of distressed metal. They are warmed up by the solid oak bathroom accessories. It is all very simple in here. As with all the bathrooms in the house, there are lots of clean lines and plenty of places to put everything, be it decorative or functional.

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Down the passageway to two more bedrooms..

 

 

We are now in the guest bedroom with en-suite, a room that I think could easily be an alternative master bedroom.

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Across the hallway a door leads in to the twin room.

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I think twin beds are really versatile in a home. I spent a lot of time in other peoples’ homes and I am increasingly finding that children love sharing a room with their siblings – creating a lifelong bond. I was also thinking of the house being full of visitors and twin beds in a guest room is so much more versatile for overnight guests.

 

Right, off in to the master bedroom

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This is a very serene and opulent room with dusty pink velvets and linens, inspired by the botanic etching on the wall by Marta Wakula-Mac.

 

 

There is a walk thru wardrobe in a fantastic finish resembling the tones in wet cement. Here there is a dramatic mirror reflecting the light from the bedroom window

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A stunning etching by Maev Lenaghan ‘La Vie en Rose’ sits beautifully in the dressing room.

All the artworks in the house were acquired through my Home Curation Service and were intrinsic to the colours and feel of every room.

 

This atmospheric vestibule leads through to the most fabulous en-suite, it feels like this room goes on forever. Here the porcelain tiles resemble slate, creating a rich contrast with the oak and white. LOVE it.

 

Thus concludes the tour of Cluain Mara nestled in the hill above the beautiful harbour town of Kinsale. I have hugely enjoyed being given free reign to create a home that is rich in atmosphere and decorative detail, inspired by the colours and textures of its surrounds.

 

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Art, Nature & the Coast

Wicklow Hills

For my latest etching, I went up to the nearby hills and sat in a very old graveyard, where I could get the best view and sketched away what quickly crept on to the next page of my panoramic sketchbook. I wanted to capture the gentle slopes of the hills, dotted with livestock while the farm below nestled in the dip before the undulations, while in the distance the faint hills and glimpse of the bay were a reminder of where you were.

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In order to achieve the myriad tones on the plate I spent many hours in the basement of the Graphic Studio aquatinting and etching with the acid ….

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Here is the result, a panoramic landscape complete with a tumultuous sky!

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‘Wicklow Hills’

etching & aquatint

edition of 125

plate size 70mm x 340mm

paper size 220mm x 490mm

 

Feel free to contact me if you would like to buy one.

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Antiques & Antiquing, Art, Inspiration, Interior Style

A restoration of colour

I am sitting in the sunshine writing this, casting my mind back to the Winter months when I began consulting on an early Victorian house restoration in Dublin. The new owners had a fab sense of style but really wanted to do justice to this, their forever home. It had been broken in to flats in its previous existence and now needed to be brought back to life in a new chapter of becoming a home for a young family.

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I came in at the stage where paint colours were being chosen and decorative details were being considered

I remember we were numb with the cold, walking around trying to imagine how it was all going to look  as all the windows had been taken out.

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The owners were great, they wanted to push the boundaries with their choices of colour and be brave. They understood that how they painted their walls was going to dictate the atmosphere of each room. This was their chance to put their own mark on the house.

Spring has come and the house is now a home….

The outer entrance hall is a fresh pale green echoing the vert de gris in the reclaimed coach lantern.

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The entrance hall is a deep and dramatic colour.

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…. with the owner’s quirky papier maché deer head to greet visitors with his tongue firmly in his cheek.

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This leads to a lighter hall, stairs and landing with all the architraves becoming features by being painted in a darker hue to the walls. The owners fell in love with this painting  a few years ago after seeing it in a bidding raffle. I think they were destined to have it.

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A mirror with gorgeous mercuried glass waits to be hung

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The newly built boot room fulfills its function but is also a nice place to sit. The graphic poster advertising a sheep auction dating back to 1919 is a favourite of the owners and sits well in the ‘downstairs’ space.

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In fact all the artwork already owned by the family has found a place that seems right for it – throughout the house, the family’s personality shines through.

The dining room, which is mostly used in the evenings, is richly atmospheric with the artful details popping out of the rich clay colour of the walls.

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The chandelier has unexpected copper shades.

When viewing the house at its skeletal phase, the doorway from the hall was being closed off, I suggested creating a butlers alcove in the dining room keeping the bricks of the doorway exposed and using reclaimed planks as shelves, the terracotta adding warmth to the room, but also the feature is reminder of how far the house has come. This now houses a gorgeous copper & silver cloche bought by the owner for a song!

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The dining room leads to a sunny kitchen with airy high ceilings

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This fine gentleman observes life from above, he was sourced from Enniskerry Antiques through my Emporium of Decorative Detail  The ladder was sourced by the owners from Drew Pritchard architectural antiques

 

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Upstairs in one of the bedrooms, a beautiful little oil is the star.

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The new greys from Lilttle Greene work fabulously with the textures of the wooden mirror and the concrete tiles.

 

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When considering paint colours there was always a thought to how rooms would look as they lead to the next

 

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The guest room is pale and fresh – a haven for visitors to feel spoiled with a very thoughtful peg rail for their overnight things.

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The round mirror came from the previous home and fits in with the style of the new.

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A pale pink echoes plaster in the children’s room.

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When it came to moving in stage, I came back for the fun bit – to curate where the decorative pieces and artworks would go, the final piece of the jigsaw. It is these details that set off the carefully considered hues.

The house feels fresh and very now, while it has an awareness of it’s past. It is grand yet homely and quirky, therefore very much a home to relax and entertain while a young family have room to grow and enjoy it with friends.

A colour consultation is very worthwhile in making sure you really make the most of a space and the atmosphere there is the possibility to create.

For your own consultation focusing on either paint colours or decorative details, I can be contacted on niamhtheprintmaker@gmail.com or tel: + 353 (0) 87 911 8236

 

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Ham House from The East Garden

‘Ham House from The East Garden’
Etching & Aquatint
printed on Rosapina Avorio Bianco
plate size: H18.5cm x W17.5cm
paper size: H35.5cm x W33.5cm
It is the same size as ‘The View with Cow Parsley’
Available to pre-order directly from me now and will be in stock in my English gallery outlets from the beginning of May.

Art, Floral & Gardens

Ham House from The East Garden

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Art, Floral & Gardens, Nature & the Coast

The View from Richmond Hill

I am in the middle of working on a series of new etchings based on both here and my second home of Richmond.

Here is the first one

from the sketchbook ……

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to the plate…

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‘The View with Cow Parsley’

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It is everyone’s favourite view from Richmond Hill looking down on the Thames where I love to row.

This view is famous as it is the only view in England that is protected by an Act of Parliament which was passed in 1902  “to protect the land on and below Richmond Hill and thus preserve the fine foreground views to the west and south”

it is available to pre-order directly from me now: niamhtheprintmaker@gmail.com

and will be in stock in my English gallery outlets from the beginning of May. Its quite big for me!

It is an etching & aquatint

Plate size: H18.5cm x W17.5cm

Paper size: H35.5cm x W33.5cm

printed on Rosapina Avorio bianco

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Antiques & Antiquing, Art, DIY, Interior Style

From moodboard to moody room….

In my head I came up with an idea for a ‘rustic ambient dining room inspired by the Wicklow Mountains in Autumn.

I visualised all my ideas here: http://www.pinterest.com/niamhmacgowan/rustic-dining-space/

and when it came to creating the space from a white 12sqM box at the Colortrend Interior Design Forum last weekend here are lots of shots of how it manifested itself…..

Imagea stunning landscape by Robert Russell and intricate etching by Jean Bardon are picked up by the ambient light

 

Imagethe pop of orange from the handmade cushion that I bought on etsy is echoed in the nasturtiums painting by Brien Vahey

 

Imagea string of lights set off the wall colour beautifully and I painted out my granny’s old kitchen shelves to really display the antique bits and bobs and rows of houses on them

 

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The table was set for an Autumn supper, with rustic ceramics by Crannmor Pottery and place mats made especially by James Carroll teamed with antique wine glasses dating back to 1870 from my antique dealer on the hill in Enniskerry Village – more about him in a later post!. The handblown glasses were engraved with ferns – a detail following trough from all the nods to nature elsewhere on the set…

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An antique décanter housed some port ready for supping from some of my vintage glasses all set off by an old lace cloth that belonged to my Mum that I brought to life again by dyeing it an antique grey.

 

ImageMy framers made this mirror with pretty detail, here it reflects the oil landscape by Brien Vahey

 

Imagemy antique dealer had some old fallow deer antlers which sat very neatly with this new mirror

 

Imageso I hope you have enjoyed this little tour of what happens when ideas from the drawing board come to life …..

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Art, Interior Style

Painted Rows of Houses

I have been working on some new rows of houses over the last couple of weeks. As in my printmaking and paintings I have a thing for bockety houses and  I can’t resist using lots of colours just as houses in rural irish villages & towns are painted to this day.

They are carved from offcuts from the local shed builder  – he gives me firewood but I am always on the lookout for pieces of wood that could make good miniature buildings.

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After marking out on the pieces of wood what could go where, they are carved and the chimneys are added.

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Then I paint them, each house individually with three coats with tones of terracotta for the chimneys.

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and finally the details are painted – the doors and every single window pane

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There are a few available at the moment:

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this row of three houses: measuring approx 12cm in length and 4cm in height, cost £50 + p&p

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this row of eight #2: measuring approx 29cm in length and 5cm in height, cost £125 + p&p

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row of five: measuring approx 18cm in length and 5cm in height, cost £75 + p&p

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this row of eight #1: measuring approx 29cm in length and 5cm in height, cost £125 + p&p

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detail of row of eight #2

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Think of them as 3D original paintings, that can sit on shelves or ledges or door surrounds or they are so light they can be just blu-tacked to the wall or even put in a box frame.

 

some new ones…..

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Antiques & Antiquing, Art, Inspiration

What a difference a frame makes

A frame can make or break a painting. It is there to encase, protect and enhance but in a very subtle way. If a frame is working your eye should be drawn immediately to the image. Its hard for me as a curator as bad frames really annoy me! When you get it right …ooh!

But here I am asking you to focus on the frames…..

I acquired this wonderful oil sketch of Wicklow by George Campbell RHA (1917-1979) from a bric -a-brac shop last month

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but even though the frame was new it just wasn’t right for me. So I painted the outer part in off black by Farrow & ball – a lovely chalky finish.

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much better!

Then there was this beautiful oil of Richmond Park by Lee Campbell in a simple wooden frame. (Just realised by pure coincidence she has the same surname as previous artist!)

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The frame was fine, not detracting from the picture, but I wanted to pull out those lovely shadows Lee has painted so I re-framed it in a more substantial darker frame with hints of dulled gold around the edges enhancing the light dancing on the summer grasses – now I feel like I am there when I look in to the painting!

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and lastly my painting of Coliemore Harbour by Brien Vahey. Here he is signing it for me

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I have framed this in a heavy frame also – in keeping with the style of my sitting room. I had it framed in a gold frame but found the gold too yellow so last night I added a black/brown chalky wash on the curved part, this has calmed it down and again pulls out Brien’s shadowy strokes. am delighted with it and it hangs happily with the Lee Campbell beneath.

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So sometimes you can improve a frame yourself with a tester tin of paint

Or you may not see it, but some of the artwork on you walls that you are not too enamoured with, may be just because the frame is not doing it’s job.

Part of my Home Curation Service entails home visits where I can help you rethink how old paintings are framed as well as how they are hung.

more info see: http://niamhmacgowan.com/interior/framingService.php

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Art, Lifestyle

Coliemore Harbour

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I love that this tiny little harbour located in County Dublin. It has remained untouched by the bustling world around it. It is a favourite place of mine to stop and look out over Dublin Bay and Dalkey Island – preferably with an ice cream! The sea in the harbour is always translucent  but the hues change – sometimes turquoise sometimes teal, sometimes a deep indigo…. such inspirational colours….

 

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