Photographed by Carin Simon.
Scanned by Miss Peelpants from Cosmopolitan, March 1975.
Sarah Drummond talks to six talented people about their highly original hang-ups.
CHRISTINE MARTIN hangs shawls in her shop Razzmatazz (12 North End Rd, London W14, 01-603 0514) where she sells ‘Twenties and ‘Forties clothes, and also in her home. Both places are diminutive, but that doesn’t stop Christine from fanning shawls on walls, canopying them over lamp-shades, draping them as bed curtains. “I like shawls because they’re dramatic —but they can be overpowering, too; you must be careful. I like variety, which is why I change them about all the time. I like to make different moods. If someone comes to dinner for the second time, I’ll certainly swop the shawls about for them. I’ve never hung pictures—they’re too expensive. and too many other people hang them. My husband Christopher is an antique dealer specialising in icons so, of course. I hang them. I hang handbags sometimes. too.” Most of Christine’s shawl collection is nineteenth-century oriental, heavily embroidered, made in the East specifically for the European market, not to wear, but to cover pianos and tables. Christine also buys cut velvet shawls. “… and I’m just reaching the stage where if I really like something I don’t want to sell it.” Where do the Martins pick up their stock? “Oh anywhere, everywhere … we’re always tooting about in junk shops. I’ll pay up to £40 for a good shawl now I’ve got the bread.”
KAFFE FASSETT makes needlepoint hangings of magical intricacy and originality. If you see a handsome bearded young man doing petit point on the tube. it’s bound to be Kaffe. His creative energy is astonishing: currently he is working on an exhibition of his paintings to be held in New York, designing knits for Bill Gibb (a job he’s ‘done gloriously for the last six years) and for Ritva. And he’s doing knitting and tapestry designs and patterns for Women’s Home Industries and Tapestry Bazaar—and designing the needlepoint hangings which are made at Weatherall Workshops (Coleford 2102) in Gloucestershire. The day I saw Kaffe. a half-finished jacket was hanging pinned to his studio wall, chrome pins keeping an outstretched arm in place next to the body of the jacket, the pattern infinitely more complex than any piece of marbled paper, all plummy earthy tones. “I’m working it on fourteen needles: it’s good to see the balance of the design, feel how it’s going, and seeing it unfinished spurs me on to continue.” Kaffe is relatively new to actual needlework, though he’s been designing tapestries for some time. “Pamela Harlech who writes for Vogue asked me to design some slippers for her, and they looked great stitched up. Suddenly I thought I’d have a go. I’d always imagined those tapestry chairs you see took a lifetime —I was amazed how easy and how quick needlework can be.” To prove his point, he designed and worked backs and seats for a set of three winged chairs. marvellously mysterious in misty shades of grey, blue and green, based on forests and corals. As we talked Kaffe was stitching a doll’s-house chair, another exquisite forest design, which would set you back £10. whereas a big scale wallhanging could cost up to £2,000. “I’ve always been terribly influenced by the Orient,” Kaffe says. “I can look at patterns on some rugs for hours. Scotland has influenced me, too: there’s an affinity between Scotland and the Orient somewhere.”
JANNIE GOSS is an Australian model, who has lived for the last eight years in London with her architect husband, Ian, their eleven year old daughter. Mini, and a cat. Their flat in Camden Town is big and airy, with white walls. high ceilings and potted geraniums twelve feet tall. Jannie hangs her jewellery on the walls: the effect is bold and beautiful. It’s also highly practical. “The great thing about pinning up jewellery is that I can find it so easily—it’s not just for show: of course I wear the stuff, too. I used to keep my necklaces around a mirror, hopeless because everything became knotted. and you couldn’t get at it in a hurry …I like organised clutter—great areas of space, then areas of things; it makes dusting easier, too. And Ian and I are both keen on a functional as well as decorative environment. I move my jewellery about, to change the shapes and patterns they make, which is fun. I just use ordinary pins. the very long dressmaking ones—anything heavier, like a nail, would mark the walls. I’m a collector by nature, I was buying up Art Deco jewellery before it became fashionable, when it only cost a few bob. I’ve never bought from the antique market, but sometimes at Portobello Road and Oxfam shops; mostly I just nose about in junk shops and jumble sales. People say I’m clever at finding things but for every four looks, only once will You find a piece you really like and want to buy.
OLIVER HOARE‘s house gives you the feeling you’re in the Middle East. You are surrounded by carpets—kelims, to be precise—a dazzling juxtaposition of highly organised patterns and colours. Divans, steps, floors, cushions and wall are all covered with oriental rugs. When people hear about it, they imagine that so many patterns and colours clash. They don’t,” says Oliver. He’s right: the rugs harmonise, like music, and one of the reasons is that all the kelims’ colours are vegetable dyes, so the tones are constant—lots of brick and all the earthy colours. Oliver used to work at Christie’s where he ran the carpet department, but this summer set up on his own to sell Islamic works of art to the Middle East. and Far Eastern objets to Europe and America. “I was brought up with carpets, my father bought masses in Constantinople in the ‘Twenties, and always hung them up. Although I wasn’t terribly interested, something about them had rubbed off on me, and when I went to Christie’s I was immediately put into the carpet department. I became fascinated. I like kelims best of all. These are flat woven rugs, which have always been made by tribes, and it’s a tradition that hasn’t been interfered with or commercialised.” Buying carpets of any kind in the Middle East is an immensely ritualistic business: potential buyers sit for hours in carpet shops sipping tiny cups of Turkish coffee and tea endlessly. Bargaining goes on all day. Although Oliver enjoys this ritual. his business methods are Western. His dealing life means he must travel constantly though he spends as much time as he can in Iran where his caravanserai, on the old silk route, has just been nationalised by the government. Kelim prices have shot up, particularly now that so many are going back to their countries of origin. “Five years ago. you used to buy the really good kelims for £30 or £40. Nowadays, the best are £1,000 or £2,000 —but you can find decorative kelims for between two and three hundred pounds.”
GRAHAM WATSON makes bead curtains that swish exotic-ally as you pass through, like a ‘Twenties shimmy dress, beaded strands trailing in your hair and on your shoulders. His beads can depict your portrait. a fantasy landscape, cinema curtains, an old poster—whatever you want. The curtains are hung in doorways. on walls, around baths. Graham’s clients in-clude Chris Squire of the rock group Yes, photographer David Bailey, and film director Joe Losey. “I started off bead-work when I was at drama school . . . act-ing’s an overcrowded profession, and I found it demoralising,” Graham explains. “I saw a play on television one night, and in the background there was a beaded curtain that looked as though it had some-thing painted on it, I couldn’t quite see. But it intrigued me.” . . . To the extent that the very next day Graham started threading beads him-self. But beads are hard to find in England. and Graham traced the best bead sources to Germany (for wood) and Czechoslovakia (for glass). He declared himself a registered company, and went to work three years ago. “I still import the beads, but we dye most of the colours our-selves, otherwise you’re landed with all the shades you don’t want. I often mix glass and wooden beads, because glass alone is too heavy.” Currently, Graham is working on a huge black and silver portrait of Buster Keaton, and he’s planning a three-dimensional number. If you want a curtain made, and they cost around £120 (door size), you can reach Graham Watson at 13c Cunningham Place. London NW8 (01-286 0891).
PIP RAU is hooked on folk tradition, on the embroideries, colours, prints and patterns of Central Asia and the Middle East. Home is like a bazaar, her shop like a souk where she sells dresses, waist-coats, robes, great pieces of faded cloth, incredibly bright embroideries. Her walls are jam-packed with treasures. and Pip’s body is covered with clothes of tribal designs, too. “I’d never put up pictures.” she says, “hangings do so much more for a room. They’re vibrant and vast and warm. Infinitely cheaper, too. I’ve been collecting ever since I can remember. I love markets. I lived in Israel for ten years. I was married to an Israeli. and travelled all over the Middle East. and now we’re separated I’ve come back to live in London.” So it seemed a natural move to open a shop (Rau Gallery, 36 Islington Green, London N1, 01-359 5337) selling all the things she loves, and it means she can justify her passion for travel. “I plan to go away three or four times a year to find stock,” she says. “My last trip took six weeks; I drove all through Eastern Europe, buying in Romania and Yugoslavia, and on to Turkey and Iran. and then Afghanistan. There are always difficulties at frontiers—you need all the invoices and endless bits of paper. Prices are going up and up. sources are drying up, too, as increasing numbers of people get interested. My customers are very mixed—specialist collectors, or people who fall in love with something. I don’t think clothes like these should ever be altered. Just buy what fits.” Pip hangs dresses and the lighter hangings with drawing pins, and uses tacks for anything heavier. Dresses can cost as much as £50 —an antique, hand-woven heavily embroidered Palestinian wedding dress, for example—and wallhangings vary enormously from small Persian cottons at £4 to kelims and Bokharas (large-scale embroideries on silk) at £230, or kelims for £400.
It is of the greatest frustration that this incredible work of art is uncredited. I love every little detail…
Scanned by Miss Peelpants from Over 21 magazine, April 1975.
How many of you have bothered to do anything to your rooms since you moved into them months and months ago? Are you still living in a shamefully untidy bed-sitter, and do you still get that ‘How I wish I had a cheerful, bright room’ feeling every time you come home from work? Have you, for weeks now, been meaning to get down on hands and knees to scrub and scrape? Has your boy-friend repeatedly offered to help wall-paper the ceiling and bang the nails in? We asked Barbara Hulanicki of Biba to design a fairly inexpensive bed-sitter for 19, incorporating a few original ideas that were not unduly complicated to carry out. She chose Pontings, which has a good whitewood department—the result is rather stunning. You can see the 19 Biba and Pontings’ bed-sitter on display, from 19th September, in the window of Pontings, next door to the High Street Kensington tube station. All merchandise can be got from Biba. (opposite Pontings at 124 High Street Kensington, London, W.8) or Pontings.
(All the whitewood furniture illustrated is from Pontings Whitewood Department. The wallpaper and matching paint are from Biba and are available in seventeen colours)
Scanned by Miss Peelpants from 19 Magazine, October 1970.
Grand affairs call for grand clothes, and provide a welcome opportunity to get out of our peasant blouses and jeans and dress accordingly. The nicest thing about fashion at the moment is that everyone is so confused as to what they should be wearing, that you can wear exactly what you like. We opt for the romantic Garbo fashion, tarted up in the ’71 style, because girls are beginning to look like girls again and, although we sympathise with Women’s Lib., we don’t believe you have to look like a fella to get equal rights!
Possibly the most perfect encapsulation of the Seventies-does-Thirties aesthetic, this homage to Art Deco features some of the most lust-worthy clothes from my favourite designers and boutiques. Including Biba, Ossie Clark and some rare Antony Price for Stirling Cooper!
Photographed in the home of interior designer Graeme Gibson rather than in a studio, the authenticity is heightened by the location and the props, and then finished with the sweet illustrated photoframes.
Photographed by David Tack.
Scanned by Miss Peelpants from 19 Magazine, January 1971.
Incredible feature on legendary pop artist and architect Jon Wealleans and his textile designer wife Jane Hill who were heavily involved with the Mr Freedom shops and products.
Photographed by Tim Street-Porter.
Scanned by Miss Peelpants from 19 Magazine, March 1971.
Jon Weallans and Jane Hill are two ex-Royal College of Art students, both twenty-four. They were married in San Francisco six months ago, and they live and work in an Edwardian house in London’s Notting Hill Gate.
Both designers, Jane studied textile design at college, and Jon studied interior design; so, to put it simply, Jon designs the furniture, and Jane covers it. They don’t often work together but, whether working alone or together, both produce pretty off-beat stuff, as you can see from the photographs of their living-room.
Jane, who made the escalator blind, says her ideas come from magazines.
“I’ve just got a huge pile of visual references. Suddenly I see a picture of something and think, I could use that, and start drawing. I’ve always been interested in escalators, anyway – I have recurring dreams about them! The red flowing down these could be blood or it could be ketchup. It’s not really supposed to be morbid. There may be submerged sinister implications, but they weren’t deliberate.” (The blind is to be produced as a poster by Gallery Five.)
Jon’s answer to it is: “It’s all about making a very strange juxtaposition of two things. An escalator is an object you can identify with, and there’s suddenly a strange ooze coming out of it. It’s sinister, but afterwards you can look at escalators in a new way.”
Jane is also responsible for the cushions. She used ‘Thirties’ motifs and giant shoes; silk-screened on to satin, then quilted and made up into cushions. She commented: “I suppose in the ‘Thirties, people said, ‘Why on earth paint a piece of newspaper and a dead fish?’ And perhaps the artist replied: ‘Because people haven’t looked at an old newspaper and a dead fish before.’
“It’s important, because I think a decorative thing usually ends up being around for quite a long time, and I don’t very much like the idea of doing things which you can’t look at, and afterwards think: ‘Ali, I didn’t see it quite like that before.’ ”
“We’re both designers, and that’s all we’re good at,” confeses Jon. “We have no other perks, this is how we make our bread. The people I respect most are the people who have come to terms with the fact that they are making a living, and that they are not arty dilettantes. They are the people who are really on the ball, and who can get up and do a bit of graphic design on their knee, whilst eating beans on toast, or whilst watching television.
“What you need in all forms of art is a sense of humour. I can’t stand people who get all heavy, and take themselves that seriously, be-cause I don’t think anybody should think like this unless they are in a fantastically serious cause.”
Jon was commissioned to design the new Mr. Freedom shop in Ken-sington, London, and it is for this that he designed the false teeth chair. It is made of PVC covered foam, and has a fake fur tongue—a masterpiece of upholstering by Felicity Youett. (It’s sold by Mr. Freedom for £160.)
“The teeth may seem pretty funny,” he says, “but if you go and sit on the Underground in the rush hour and look at those people, they’re pretty funny. I mean, who’s the funniest? Maybe Mr. Freedom are the most honest funny people in Lon-don, because the people who wear their clothes look really happy. And, with my furniture, I’d like to give just a few people a bit of a buzz, by looking at it. I’d like them to think again.
“My ideas usually come in a functional way. I really did want a unit that could make up a bed, sofa or a room, which is what the jigsaw seats do.” (Each unit costs £30 from Mr. Freedom.) “It’s the most obvious thing really, because you can rearrange them to any shape. They are in candy-floss coloured, metallic PVC covered foam.
“The false teeth are a bit of a con, because they originally started out as a piece of pop, soft sculp-ture, and we only realised when we opened them, that you could make a seat. It is really a case of taking something perfectly normal and everyday, and blowing it up to giant proportions, so that people will look at it twice and think about the ordinary item again.
“It seems pointless to keep designing the same things. No one need ever design another chair; there are enough for the next fifty years, because there are guys around who have solved the problem completely. After a while, you get an optimum solution and I think Le Corbusier had the optimum solution for a chair in the ‘Thirties, so why carry on now doing Design Centre chain?”
The only furniture he didn’t design in their living-room, are the white plastic stacking chairs by Jo Colombo of Italy, which are sold in this country in Habitat, £11 each. The chrome dining chairs are sold at Habitat shops for £18 each. The floor is covered with white lino tiles, which you can buy in packets, and lay yourself.
They are working on their bedroom. A giant Orson Welles film-set bed, placed on fur-covered Busby Berkeley steps, is planned, and the room will be in navy, scarlet and silver. They are painting stars on the, ceiling and having a neon ‘hello’ sign on the wall. Jon’s designs are certainly different, but he’s not entirely devoted to the freaky. As he says, “I did the main branch of the Bank of England in Leeds, and they were the straightest people. You couldn’t get further away from Mr. Freedom if you tried.
“The acid test would be to do something like a home for the blind, because you couldn’t do anything visual, it would all have to be spot on, and really good. No colour, jokes or imagery. That would really sort out the sheep from the goats. Or if someone living in this road said, ‘Do my bedsitter for £10.’ Now that’s the sort of problem I’d really enjoy working on.”