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Catch up with all the latest news and articles from The Courtauld Shop

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Gift Ideas for an Artsy Valentine’s Day

Preferring to stay clear of the clichéd bouquet of roses this Valentine’s Day?  We’ve put together a special collection of gift ideas perfect for the art lover in your life. Read on to discover the top five gift ideas we feel will make a splash this Valentine’s Day. Order now to receive your gift in time for the special day. For our loyal readers, we are offering free shipping on orders over £30 pounds by entering offer code HEARTART at the checkout. The offer is valid until the end of February.

Our first suggestion, to set you on the right road to that special person’s heart, is a charming trivet sure to please even the most discerning chef. Made by The Braided Rug Company, in a manner specific to the Blue Ridge Mountains on the eastern coast of America, this beautiful heart-shaped trivet is the perfect complement to your kitchen décor.

Chilli Heart Shaped Trivet

The trivet measures 21 cm x 18 cm and is made from a biodegradable fibre known as Jute. It’s easy to clean and long-lasting.

Our next suggestion may seem one-sided but it is sure to benefit the both of you! Old folding maps have produced a remarkable map called ‘24 Miles Round London’ taken from the work of cartographer Edward Mogg.

24 Miles Around London

The map covers from Ryegate in the south to Hertfort in the north, and from Windsor in the west to Gravesend in the east. This map will provide you and your loved one with all you need for an exploratory Sunday afternoon around the city you love.

Third on our list, is a gift idea for the one particularly fascinated with the art of movement, or what we like to call dance.

Ballerina Pirouette Necklace by Mirabelle

Mirabelle designer, Veronique Henry, has been creating stylish accessories for museums and galleries for some time. As seen on high profile women like Kate Middleton and Ellie Goulding, Mirabelle jewellery is highly adaptable and always classy. The dancer midst pirouette, featured here, comes on a gold chain and is the ideal gift for the Degas-lover in your life.

Our next gift idea is for him. We bring you the leather horseshoe coin purse by Laurige. Laurige fine leather goods are hand-crafted from quality leather and come in a variety of colours. Laurige have been designing and creating fine leather goods in France since 1950. The company is recognised by the French state as a “Living Heritage Company.”

Burgundy Horseshoe Coin PurseThis leather horseshoe coin purse is a classic accessory he’ll be sure to love! Buy it in burgundy or black.

Our final Valentine’s Day must-have is for the special orator in your life who has always dreamed of putting those great words down on paper. The Gentleman's Letter Writer

The Gentleman’s Letter Writer takes the reader on a journey to learn the art of letter-writing with a Victorian twist. Find examples of how to propose to a lifelong female friend, how to get your son into a good school and how to politely wriggle out of the repayment of a debt.

Mia Sarosi Ceramics Category

Capturing the Essence of Movement with Mia Sarosi at The Courtauld Shop

We’ve sat down with the very talented designer and ceramic artist, Mia Sarosi, to find out more about her exclusive artworks inspired by The Courtauld Gallery’s Rodin and Dance: The Essence of Movement exhibition. Mia hand throws and hand paints each piece at her studio in Oxfordshire. Mia began working with ceramics in 1991, spending an initial seven years as an artist in an English Delftware studio. She then moved into designing and making her own work, spending time learning and working with other potters. Following a Queen Elizabeth Scholarship (QEST scholarship) in 2004, Mia has worked exclusively with porcelain. 

Her exquisite ceramics are available for purchase online or in-store from The Courtauld Shop.

Mia Sarosi handpainting her ceramics

Q: Do you have a favourite piece? And can you tell us what has made it special?

MS: Broadly I have lots of favourites, but definitely some are the Rodin pieces. It has been a very nice project for me, the spirit of it. The fact that I’ve been meaning to do something with acrobats before Rodin came on the horizon with the figure and the body, and I’m really pleased with how they’ve come out. I feel I’ve really understood the sketches that he has done using models. There is a whole group of favourites that lie under the heading of being in such a wonderful state of mind when I was doing them. Certain pots that can be quite ordinary things, however, due to my state of mind it is much more enjoyable and more absorbing. My other favourite pieces have been where I do something off the commercial side, i.e. some of the mathematical – type pieces. This year, I’ve done a few looking at the drawings of John Russell who did amazing detailed drawings of the moon. I did some platters with a full moon, that was exciting.

Q: What is the most difficult part of hand throwing your ceramics?

MS: The medium of porcelain is much more difficult to throw with compared to say stoneware and earthenware. This is because of the composition being mainly china clay and feldspar as the glass former within the body, so it really not a proper clay as could be dug straight out of the ground. There is an addition of a plasticiser to make the body more workable, in my clay it is bentonite, but you can’t have too much of this because it compromises the look and feel of porcelain.

If you imagine trying to make something out of toothpaste, this is somewhat like trying to make something out of porcelain on the potter’s wheel. It is not very stretchy, and it requires structural compromises such as having a thicker cross section at the base to support the walls. Also, porcelain absorbs a lot of water very quickly and so can collapse easily.

Mia Sarosi at her potter's wheel

Q: Is it a lot of trial and error?

MS: Yes, it is a lifetime of trying to master materials and understand the clay: How to prepare it, the best state it should be in before you throw, and what forms will work. By doing a lot of repetition you begin to discover things about the nature of the porcelain.

Q: So it really boils down to experience?

MS: Experience is very important.

Q: What is something no one would know about you?

MS: I am a complete nerd when it comes to the technical side of it.

My degree was in Math and Philosophy. It’s definitely an arts degree but not visual art as when you study Math and Philosophy you have to visualise the concepts in your head.

Mia Sarosi at the potter's wheel

Q: Can you walk us through the process of creating one of your Rodin Dancers?

MS: With a project like this, I have to come at it from an artistic side and commercial side. Certain things were established quite quickly which were the small and medium pieces which were straightforward forms. I did some research on Rodin watching documentaries and the Cambodian dancers, and I could see how he was interested in that. There are many meaningful gestures and silhouettes formed with Cambodian dancers. The research part helped me to understand the sketches and drawings. I began doing copies of sketches, then I realised I needed to work with a model as I couldn’t understand them. For example, if I want to paint something I need to engage with the object. I often learn a lot from watching things, I’m a very visual person. There wasn’t enough information about what was going on. I needed to see the poses from life, really. I needed to understand them in terms of my body and experience them more at hand. It’s what I try to do with a lot of my work. For example, when I worked with the Oxford Museum of Natural History on a project about their Arctic, I would’ve loved to jump on a boat and go there, but I can’t. Some of the Rodin poses were so bizarre so I just wanted to understand what was going on with them.

I found a model who was also an acrobat. We took quite a few of the poses and she tried to replicate them. We would talk about how difficult it was to get into a pose. Some of the poses I looked at appeared quite erotic. So I asked, ‘what’s going on with that.’ As she was going in and out of the poses, she was able to tell me that some of the poses were specialise contortionist poses, for example. I started to understand how you could think they were erotic or sexualised, but when you’re trying to capture a moment of movement, it’s just a fascination with what the human body can do, and what it can’t do for very long.

It was a very inspirational afternoon. I’ve done life drawing and the different positions of the body are fascinating to draw. After that experience, I could really understand why Rodin was so fascinated with the dancers.

I did a tiny bit of photography, but sketching from different angles was the majority of the preparatory work. Then the light bulb went on and I was able to do my ceramics and brushwork in a way that I could gain the understanding I needed to capture the essence of the movements.

Mia Sarosi Nibble Bowls

Q: So how long did the acrobat have to hold her poses?

MS: I didn’t realise she wouldn’t be able to hold the poses for more than a few moments. But that was the most interesting part of it, that these were sketches of moments.

Q: What is it about Rodin’s work that compelled you to undertake this project with The Courtauld Shop?

MS: I was familiar with Rodin’s work. I would love to be a sculptor honestly but have never had the time to go down that road. It’s very moving work. In part of my reading I came across his quote, ‘sculpting is just drawing from many angles’. I could just paint on canvas but I like making something that is three-dimensional and that must be experienced in the round. My pots work best when someone has had a cup of tea out of it or is washing it up, the pot itself is a form that is working from as many different angles as possible.

 Mia Sarosi Vases

Q: Is there a specific artist or period in art that inspires your work?

MS: I started out painting in a Delftware studio. I spent seven years doing that job. A lot of reproductions of old English Delftware designs. Some designs are simplified from looking at Chinese porcelain and so is very much influenced by the East. If you go and look at a lot of Delftware some of it’s quite naïve and it appears as if a child has painted it. Noah’s Ark in the Ashmolean Museum, for example, the expressions on the faces are very funny, and some of the portraits of Royalty are equally amusing. However a lot of it is very skilfully composed and executed, really quite abstract. I am influenced by the quirkiness of Delftware and the sense of humour in many of my own designs.

I wasn’t influenced by art school as I never went. I think that might have been a good thing because I was not taught what to think or what not to think about art, but I still would have liked to go.

Mia Sarosi at work

Q: Have you made your magnum opus yet? If not, what would it be?

MS: For me personally, I don’t think it exists. Or it’s made up of everything I’ve ever made. I think it’s a Zen thing, ‘the journey is the way’. If I make a pot and someone falls in love with it, and it brings lots of joy, then that is my greatest work.

Q: When was the first moment you knew you wanted to create ceramic art?

MS: I still remember it now. I was discouraged in doing art at uni and so I did my degree in maths and philosophy. I went directly on to become a painter in a ceramic Delftware studio painting designs on various shapes that they had. I realised that I wanted to create my own shapes and designs in porcelain. So it was in that moment that I knew what I wanted to do.

Mia Sarosi Oops!

Q: What does the future look like for Mia Sarosi?

MS: Stay in business so I can keep doing this full-time and do what I love to do. Keep improving my skills, coming up with new designs and make the best pots that I can. Keep finding new projects, and keep being creative. I don’t like to look too far into the future, I think it’s better to get from day to day and enjoy it.

The Courtauld Shop Entrance

The Courtauld Shop, Retouched

Do you hear it as well? Can you make out the subtle sounds of scarves being meticulously draped, pearls gently refastened, and hardbound books accurately straightened? The small sounds easily missed whilst browsing shelves, or skimming a book on Art Deco. Every so often, you hear them as you try on a Bloomsbury Group bangle. What are they? And who are the culprits? They are the sounds of creating the desired shopping atmosphere, ensuring that the Redoute Tea for One is in place. These murmurs, or low, continuous sounds are from The Courtauld Shop team as they’re busily pricing and displaying new arrivals.

Welcome back to The Courtauld Shop blog, we’re here to tell you about our refresh.

Shop interior behind the tills

We officially launched our new website and are thrilled to see it up and running. Agreed, a new website equipped with bells and whistles was anticipated, and we hope you are enjoying your new online shopping experience.

To those of you already familiar with our previous online shop, we know you’ll appreciate the upgrade. You will notice our new website offers a complimentary customer account so you may track your order history and create shareable wishlists. We now offer a shipping calculator to facilitate the ordering process and the option of Click & Collect. We will also be featuring our favourite mentions on social media on our home page ‘Social Buzz’ section. Remember to follow us on Instagram @courtauldshop and tag us with your favourite art-inspired product to be featured.

But we almost forgot.

Our online shop wasn’t the only one to receive a bit of attention. Doesn’t the physical shop look brighter with regal purple accents? And the new signage above the tills for courtauldshop.com with @CourtauldShop by its side. The windows of the elegant Somerset House facing London’s Strand are dressed to depict favourite art-inspired products from the gallery collection such as an authentic replica of a Degas dancer and a Monet-inspired scarf.

We hope you enjoy the changes we have made and are still making to better provide our favourite art shoppers with everything necessary to find the perfect art gift this festive season.

Welcome Blog Featured Image

Welcome to The Courtauld Shop Blog

The Courtauld Shop Entrance

Welcome to the new Courtauld Shop website, and the Courtauld Shop blog!

If you are new to The Courtauld Shop, thank you for visiting. For our loyal visitors, welcome back and we hope you will enjoy the upgrade.

For those of you wishing to know more about us, The Courtauld Shop is both a physical and online shop that generates income to support The Courtauld Gallery. You will find our physical location among the elegant surroundings of the Somerset House in the heart of London. Alternatively, you may browse our online shop by visiting www.courtauldshop.com.

We are very excited to bring you our new website, as we wish to create a space for art lovers, friends, family and loved ones where it is easy to find the perfect art gift. Our services and features include Click & Collect, shareable Customer Wish Lists, a Customer Area, parcel tracking and international shipping on a variety of art-inspired books, textiles, fashion, designer jewellery, stationery, fine art prints and homewares.

We invite you to sign-up to our newsletter to receive a special offer with your first purchase. For our loyal followers, please check your inboxes for your next offer.

You may have noticed that we have a designated blog where you will find exclusive interviews with acclaimed designers, updates on shop news and events, buyer picks, product reviews, gift guides, and entertaining bits to reinvigorate the passion we share for quality, art gifts and fine art prints.

Please provide your feedback by sending an email to shop@courtauld.ac.uk. You may also follow us on Instagram @courtauldshop and tag us in your photos with your favourite art-inspired gift.

Happy Shopping!

Evince Your Inner Colourway at The Courtauld Shop: Getting to Know Jan Allison Jewellery

Founded in 2005, and based in the picturesque Cornish seaside town of St Ives, Jan Allison Jewellery is a partnership between Janet Stevens and Allison Carter. Janet and Allison have been the closest of friends since childhood. Their unique, hand-crafted pieces of jewellery reflect the vibrant, colourful watercolours of ‘Spirit Drawings’ by Georgiana Houghton. They are available for purchase at The Courtauld Shop or online at courtauldshop.com. Jan Allison Jewellery is exhibited in galleries across the UK and has been purchased by clients from all over the world.

st-ives-3

Q: Allison, you and Janet have been the closest of friends since childhood, do you have a favourite childhood memory you’d like to share with us?

We were bridesmaids together when our siblings got married. It was my sister and her brother. We were teenagers at the time and the relationship may not have survived but our friendship certainly did.

Q: Is there anything else from your long-standing friendship that you’d like to share?

In school, we were on the same hockey team and netball team. Janet was absolutely brilliant at sewing and embroidery, whereas I went to Art College at Birmingham Polytechnic and did fabric and textiles. Years later, I actually had my own business where I decorated glass wear. I did that for quite some time. Then when I started working at the jeweller’s, that’s when I started making my jewellery.

Q: Allison, throughout your worldwide travels as an air stewardess, was there a place or event that made you realise you wanted to create colourful, unique pieces of jewellery?

It has to be Sri Lanka. It was my favourite place. There were so many colours and so much beauty. My idea of paradise. I actually purchased my first natural stones on a market stall. Janet actually went to Sri Lanka herself years later and she enjoyed it just as much as me.

me-and-jan-2

Q: Janet, was there something specific that prompted you to enrol in your jewellery course at Penzance College?

The love of jewellery inspired me. My intention was to create personal pieces of jewellery for my friends and family. At that stage, a business was far from my mind, we just sort of fell into it.

Q: How did you start the business?

We were working together in a jewellery gallery, Pebbles Jewellery Gallery in St.Ives. It has recently closed. I worked there for twenty years out of the thirty-four years they were in business. The owner of the business and I had been going to trade shows. While she was buying jewellery to supply the shop, she was picking up necklaces and I was saying ‘I could make that.’ I had said it so many times that she ended up buying some stones and giving them to me, telling me to give it a try.

Our first batch of jewellery was sold through the owner of the business. We probably made about twenty. Now we’ve probably made thousands. We are still making every piece ourselves. We don’t make every day at the moment. We normally make stuff very regularly. We probably work a few hours a week now. When we start a new collection that’s when we spend a lot of time together.

 

Q: Does the natural semi-precious stone hold a special meaning for you?

Semi-precious stones have great healing properties that appeal to both. We both love colour and mix different colours together because we like the combinations.

Q: We noticed that you use very colourful stones; does something inspire the choice in design and colour of your work?

Not really. We both have different ideas which when we put together seem to work. We like asymmetric patterns and our work often portrays that.

Q: Is there an art period, style or movement that has majorly influenced your work?

I am a big lover of Art Deco and Art Nouveau.

Q: How long does it take to create one piece?

I cannot commit to how long it takes to design one piece, because each piece is very different. Each strand of stones is laid out and sort of played around with until we get the look that we want. Then, the silver components are added before we start the threading.

Q: We know that lapis, sodalite and Andean opal are among the semi-precious stones used in your designs, how do you source the stones?

We’ve been making jewellery for over 11 years, over that time we have sourced many different stones. We’ve become great friends with our suppliers. One of which actually mines the stones himself in South America, an amazing man and his wife. They bought a mine in South America. My sister lives in Egypt and gets our lapis lazuli from there.

Q: You live in a beautiful place, does it inspire you?

Oh yes, sometimes it inspires us a great deal. The natural light here has made it one of the UK’s major art havens. We are surrounded by a wealth of incredibly talented artists, sculptors and potters. Many of which are friends of ours so we’ve grown up with amazing creativity around us.

Q: Finally, looking forward, what are your plans for your next collection?

We will probably start sourcing for our next collection in September. We’re thinking of turquoise, carnelian, and lapis lazuli. We’re thinking to go with gold-plated accents. A bit of an Egyptian influence will be present.

Q: Do you know what the future holds for Jan Allison Jewellery?

Who knows what the future holds for anyone. We can be assured ours will include lots of colour, creativity, and laughter.

 

Feel Uplifted In The Courtauld Gallery Shop. Interview with Artist Jonathan Fuller

Currently featured at The Courtauld Shop, is the lovely sculpture by the Cornish artist, Jonathan Fuller. We’ve had a chance to speak with the artist to discover more about his unique and stunning works.

Q: What attracted you to using sea glass as a medium?

JF: I grew up in Cornwall, in North Cornwall, and it was something that I always collected as a child. Whenever we travelled to the coast we would collect it and it began mounting up around me. Upon moving back to Cornwall I decided to put it to use. It was something I started initially in my textile career that was different from the normal day job. My first sculpture took about a year to make and everyone who came to see it just loved it. Galleries became interested as well and it’s something I do whenever I can now. Even though it’s waste, the sea transforms it into something lovely and smooth and I wanted to use a recycled waste material to make artworks.

Q: Do you spend time everyday looking for glass?

JF: Not every day as I make the frames and mounts that go along with the sculptures and that can take a very long time. I often take a beach or coastal walk so I will be looking. It’s really just luck of the draw and depends what you find.

jonathan-fuller-sea-glass-imageQ: How long does it take you to collect enough sea glass to create a work?

JF: It varies. The main colours I find are white, brown and green. It’s the aquamarines and blues that are harder to find. I’ve got a lot of the more obvious colours but it is the special tones that make the pieces unique. It’s very difficult to put a time on it.

Q: What do you draw inspiration for your works from?

JF: It’s about colour and form and texture. It comes from my textile background. It’s the simplicity of the shapes, whether it’s the ring or the circle and the linear pieces. What I find interesting about what I find is that with the changing of the tides, four times a day, it’s a cycular movement. It’s always a motion of change.

Q: Do you have a favourite coastal line you have visited throughout your travels? And what was so special about it?

JF: I travelled a lot with my textile career but when you’re working and doing trade it is always difficult to visit the coast. We lived in London for ten years my wife and I. I always missed the Cornish coast. I do not believe you can get much better than the Cornish coast. There are real differences in the Cornwall coast alone that are fascinating. If I had to pick a coast I would have to pick the one I live on. There is a beach in America (Fort Bragg) that I would love to visit as it is made entirely of glass and there are a few beaches in Hawaii that are spectacular. But if I had to be honest, I think my little piece of coast is just fine.

Q: Is there a specific artist or genre that influences your work?

JF: I’m very fond of the St.Ives school. One of my favourites is Peter Lanyon who is in your gallery at the moment. I think Lanyon is definitely one of my favourites as well. I wanted to see the exhibition when I came up to drop the sculptures off. I couldn’t actually find parking when I was there. But I’ll be up very soon to see it.

jonathan-fuller-studio-image

Q: Does sea glass hold a specific meaning for you? Is it representative of something you could share with us?

It’s something I’ve always been attracted to. I spend my time looking at the sand and not the view. It can be quite compulsive and you keep hoping you’ll find another bit. I also really like the fact that it’s recycled and that it’s had a life cycle; some may be two years old or two hundred years hold. They all have a history. Sometimes they have words on them. You can tell where they’ve come from sometimes.

Q: I know you have a whippet dog, Nell, and that you were hoping to train her to retrieve sea glass. Has that come to fruition?

She’s a lovely dog but she is more of a chasing dog. So to answer your question, I would have loved to but I am afraid the answer is no.

jonathan-fuller-close-up-imageQ: I know you own a Will Eastham Surfboards red long board. Is that going well?

I’m doing pretty good. I’m not as good as him because he is incredible. But it’s a lovely thing just to look at let alone ride. I was in recently since it’s been pretty mild so it’s been going very well.

Q: What does the future hold for you and your work?

I found a beach recently with very white wood on it. There are all kinds of twigs and branches that the sea has basically stripped the bark off and the sun has bleached. They appear almost like bones. I am currently making a piece made from these sticks and branches. I also look at different forms of marine debris such as plastics. There are so many human things that have been discarded that have ended up in the ocean. It saddens me the amount of wildlife that is negatively affected by it. I would like to make more pieces to highlight the impact we are having on our oceans.