Biba and Beyond: Barbara in Brighton

Biba models, c1973, photographed by Brian Duffy © Duffy Archives.

Excitement is building for the upcoming Biba and Beyond exhibition at Brighton Museum & Art Gallery, which I have already blogged about here, helped by Visit Brighton‘s fascinating short documentary video about Barbara Hulanicki.

The exhibition will be celebrating the Biba look and lifestyle, so much admired and coveted forty-odd years later, but also looking at Barbara’s career beyond her most famous creation. I’m certainly looking forward to more coverage of her illustration and interior design work.

Left:- Barbara Hulanicki in 1969 © Neil Libbert. Right:- Photograph Tessa Hallmann © Royal Pavilion & Museums

If any of you are visiting specifically for the exhibition, don’t forget that you are welcome to pop in to my new studio to say hello, browse the rail (yes, there’s Biba!) and have a cuppa. Just email me a bit in advance so I can make sure I’m there, armed with tea and biscuits…

Trouser Suit, c1971

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Cosmo Gets Delayed at the Office

Photographed by Tim Street-Porter. Scanned from Cosmopolitan, February 1973.

Still slowly settling into my lovely studio space; trying to avoid the pitfalls of the ‘I must fill it up, it must look exactly how I want it to immediately‘ mentality, to which I know I am vulnerable. Slowly, but surely. My beloved Lloyd Loom table and chair are out of storage and awaiting a respray from their slightly grotty boudoir pink to… I don’t know yet.

I am on a promise for an original ladderax bureau unit, inherited indirectly from my grandparents, to store my reference books, magazines and paperwork. The framed pictures are stacking up in the corners, waiting for locations. The last thing I want is for it to feel like an office. I want it to feel like a creative, comfortable studio space. I discovered a long time ago, whilst temping, that a ‘trad’ office environment is really, really not for me.

So while I am developing things slowly, I am also taking inspiration from this fantastic Cosmopolitan feature on businesswomen and their office spaces. The chaos of Diane Logan’s millinery studio is probably closest to my natural style:

“You have to create a look like this out of rubbish*. It doesn’t just arrive.”

But there is plenty to admire and covet in all three.

*I don’t approve of the word ‘rubbish’, but I approve of her sentiment.

Scanned from Cosmopolitan, February 1973.


Why I’ve been quiet…

Frocks! New rail! Excitement!

Or perhaps you’ve not noticed? Either way, my life has been a little busier lately (and a lot more complicated) because I have just taken on a studio/office space in Brighton. As you can tell, I haven’t yet decided which definition is more appropriate so it remains interchangeable. The plan is that I will move down to Hove properly in due course, but in the meantime – wouldn’t you know it? The perfect space made itself known and, though the timing wasn’t perfect, sometimes you just have to take things as they come to you.

We walked in, saw the amazing bay window and fireplace and bam! Knew instantly it was right.

I’m a sucker for a bay window…

It has been my dream for the past eight years to have a private workspace, separate from my home life and with a lockable door (while working from home has definite advantages, the constant need to clear everything away – or else have it in my face 24/7, gets rather tiresome in the long term) and this is the first time in my life I have been able to achieve it.

It is proving to be a slow process, the whole settling-in thing, made harder by the fact that I still have to spend a few days a week working in London, but it is nice to be able to sit and work in peace. And for Roxy to finally have a permanent home where people don’t take fright or make daft comments about her. Poor love.

Shoes!

The plan is also, eventually, for people to be able to come and visit and try things on in person. It is a frequent request, understandably, but I have always been uncomfortable with inviting customers into my all-too-messy home. So you will be able to book a time to come and visit, have a cup of tea and some non-twee cakes or biscuits, and try before you buy. Hurrah! It is still early days, but if you can allow for spartan surroundings (and are in the area) then you’re welcome to come and visit me…

I am also a sucker for a fireplace… Artistic hand placement (and photo) courtesy of Mr Brownwindsor.