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Nurture Vol. 4 Muse Summer 2019 Cover Image Georgina Harrison Photography Editor Kate Cullen 

Contributors Charlotte Argyrou, Kerri Awosile, KikiSunshine Boonwaat, Iris Cheung, Jess Collins, Emma Cullen, Jen Feroze, Nikki Frettsome, Georgina Harrison, Corrina Lowe, Emily Mulleady, Hayley Potter, Laura E Patrick, Rebecca Richards Designs, Susan Studd, Juliet V

Submissions Kate Cullen Subscriptions Logo Design Gemma Milly


Published quarterly by Nurture & Bloom All Rights Reserved.



Vol 4

TALES Farm To Table


The Artist's Muse Be Your Own Muse An Artist's Garden A Change in Focus The Silk Road The True Muse The Deep


MUSINGS 01 Editor's Letter


9 Relishing the Summer Garden 13 Channelling the Muse 18 Joy in Creativity 44 Recipe 51 Poem




For me, the natural world is my muse, I don't think I could ever cease to be inspired by the soft folds of a petal, or

The word muse means to consider

the green and white hedgerows in the

something thoughtfully or reflect on

spring, the ever-changing moody hues

deeply (something I feel we could all do

of a thundery sky.

more of in our work, to feel that passion soul-deep). The Muses in

I hope that this issue of the magazine

ancient Greek mythology were a group

might become your muse, if only for a

of nine goddesses, inspirational in the

short while. Take in the colours the

arts, science and literature. In modern

shapes, the words. Imagine where your

times we now like to think of a muse

creativity will go to next.

as someone who drives us to create, be it musically, lyrically or artistically.

Allow us to become your muse.

It must be wonderful to be someone's muse in the truest sense, to have driven someone to their very best

Who or what is your

works, to inspire a creative passion that survives fads and fashions, living

muse? What drives

on in a painting, a poem or a song.

your creativity?



“Life is like a flower, it grows into something beautiful”


Art can open our eyes to the intricacy and beauty of the natural world. The idea behind this styled shoot was to celebrate the renewal of life with local flowers and food, featuring a well-set and designed table bathed in the warm, afternoon sun. Seasonal blooms in hues of pink, soft red and orange paired with natural timbers and the handwritten invites make for an effortlessly beautiful affair. Founded by Iris Cheung, “A Day With Flowers” is a concept, a lifestyle and a creative voice. Iris's photography work shows her love of flowers and nature. When designing the concepts of this photoshoot, she also drew inspirations from mother nature and the changing seasons.  This seasonal feast inspired styled shoot took place at the Field Farm in the Worcestershire countryside. The table was set up at the outdoor space in front of a barn structure adorned with rambling roses and climbing plants. The beautiful flowers were sourced locally and the wild romantic table centrepiece was created by India Hurst at Vervain Flowers, who is a floral designer and grower with great passion for flowers.  The handwritten letter suite was specially designed by the Silver Lining Calligraphy.  Taking inspirations from the natural bends and curves of twigs and vines, brown ink was typically applied altogether with the uneven strokes of the letters ooze an organic and rustic charm.









Summer brings a wash of colours into our gardens with such an abundance of flowers providing plenty to cut for a vase without feeling guilty.

It can feel a bit drastic, as if you're halving the precious plant you've so lovingly grown but have faith that this will lead to more flowers and tall slender stems which are perfect for flower arranging.

If you're hoping for a harvest of cut flowers this year from your garden, then do make sure you pinch out any annuals with a branching habit. This involves taking off the top growth either by hand or with snippers once the plant has around five sets of leaves. By doing this, you will encourage the plant to create side shoots on which flowers will form.

This is essential if you are growing dahlia’s, which would otherwise grow a very wide hollow stem –too big for a vase and harder to condition than the thinner stems. As well as dahlias we pinch out all our Zinnia, Helichrysum, Cosmos, Antirrhinum and many more.


As the weather heats up so too does the demand for watering! It is far better to water well once a week – soaking the ground, rather than showering plants little and often. A light watering will only reach the top inch of the soil and this can encourage plants to grow shallow roots in search of surface water. A thorough watering will get further into the soil and encourage plants to send their roots deep down – making them more able to access water reserves and to cope with times of drought.

If you're a bit late to the party and you still want to grow some flowers for picking this year - there's still time. Late season varieties and those quick to flower can be sown in early June for a late crop.

Lots of cut flower varieties are ‘cut and come again’, which means that the more you pick the more you get – great news for anyone who loves cut flowers in the house. Leaving faded flowers on the plant and letting these plants create seed, signals to the plant that it's work is done, and it will cease flower production. So regularly deadhead your flowers and don’t be shy with picking – this is true of Sweet peas, Cosmos, Zinnia, Dahlias, Cornflowers and many more.

It's also a great time to plant established Dahlia plants - add some organic matter in the planting hole as they are hungry beasts and water well. It's a good idea to support these as they can easily fall and break on windy days. A metal plant support does the job but equally good is a circle of gathered sturdy sticks.

Try Cosmos (on a heated mat these can germinate in three days! Our favourites include Rose Picotee and the Double Click series), Cornflowers, Nigella, Calendula (probably the fastest seedto-harvest cut flower there is - try Snow Princess).

Lastly, don’t forget to take time to relish in the exuberance of summer flowers while they are at their best, whether in the garden or in a vase, they are a joy to behold.



When we ask others what it is that inspires them, quite often we receive replies such as nature, art, music or light. Hardly ever does anyone say ‘myself’. But on considering what to write about for this piece and feeling into the word ‘muse’ I found myself trailing a path of thought strings back to my self. No matter what the external influence the process of receiving that information – whether visual, auditory, olfactory or gustatory – is internal. Energy triggers in our bodies, sensations flooding the pathways of our veins, light saturating through our cells as our chemical response is provoked into action and emotion immerses us in experience.

Our emotions are triggered by our own chemistry. Our perception is a chemistry and experience combination. And it’s from there that we make our unique marks in and on the world. So does a muse - a source of inspiration - really come from outside of ourselves? Or could it be that a muse is dependant on our emotional response and how we then use that to assist us in creating our art, our work and our world?



If you break it down it’s a long old process that's quite exquisite in its design.

If that's the case then the true muse – the true source of inspiration that moves us into creativity, stirring us into action - is our perception, is our selves. Fear, anger, sadness, surprise, love and joy – every thing we have ever felt is self generated by our own chemistry but those emotions only truly become real when they are shared. When we relate or create. When we open our hearts and share a reflection of our emotions, when we allow ourselves that deep self expression that connects us to others and assists us in finding our safety, comfort or belonging in the world allowing ourselves the type of congruency that brings us well being and personal joy. In our quest to strive for more joy in our lives we look for external sources that provoke us, that stir our emotions, that we identify with - moving us into a varied state, a different mood, energy and vibration. What we're truly looking for is a reflection of ourselves. And every muse – every source of inspiration that we find provokes our senses contains a fragment of a reflection of who you are. The true muse is you.

Kiki Kiki is a coach, creative and proud mama of both business and small human. She lives in the picturesque Cotswolds, practising slowing life down so she can really embrace the incredible moments that help us feel we're truly living life. After experiencing a period of personal disconnection post partum, Kiki dedicated the following years to figuring out how we can cultivate a sense of belonging, abundance and confidence – as well as enjoying the reflection of that in our businesses – and now shares her learnings with others through coaching, teaching and her business Gather Co.




trust the pen...

Nothing connects me to my source of creativity like journaling. Journaling takes me into a world of my own, spiralling down the rabbit hole, writing almost trance-like knowing that the subconscious will say what it has to say and later when the dust has settled I can go back and sift for gold.

But I'm a writer, right?  Not everybody can just write reams of stuff straight from the subconscious.  Yes, actually they can.  A writer is someone who makes it sound good to the world outside, who can formulate a piece adding pace to prose and making it sound impactful.  But this isn’'t an article about how to be a writer, it’'s about how to channel the muse and anybody can do that.  All you need is a time and place where you will be undisturbed, a pen and a notepad.

I journal religiously, every single day. What do I write about? Nothing.  Everything.  Topics link to one another, jumping, switching as my pen struggles to keep up with my mind.  Sometimes I only have time for a page, most days it's 4-6 pages. I just trust the pen and know it will deliver.  It always does.

Ready? Let's begin. 14

Firstly, I recommend a dedicated notebook simply for your journaling practice and secondly I recommend setting a date. It can be 6am, 9am, 9pm or midnight but you turn up religiously – same time, same place, pick up that pen and start writing. The biggest problem is often that people don't know where to start but the key is just to start.  Don't think about what to write, simply get stuck in.  Most journal virgins find themselves starting by writing things such as “I don't know what to write” or about a friend they met for coffee that day – this is fine.  Your mind has to get past the everyday banalities and mundane normality in order to get that level deeper.  Sometimes you might write reams of pages but only have one sentence that has meaning.  It doesn't matter how much gold there is, the fact is, if you continue to show up to your journaling practice there will be gold. What sort of gold are we talking?  If you are on a path wandering the wilderness of your mind then your journal is your flashlight.  It will illuminate things you didn't even know were there, cast shadows on things that looked different in daylight.  It will guide the path that was always waiting for you.  Journaling saw me branch into soul coaching long before I did.  My brand plan was always to stick to copywriting, that was my only love until my subconscious indicated otherwise.  It was the inner muse who suggested I create a copywriting course for those who didn't want to work one-toone.  And she showed up for me around 18 months ago to highlight the retreat I was being called to host.  One that had nothing to do with my craft – instead, one provoked by an inner passion, to bring together wild women and create a Goddess inspired retreat to evoke the divine feminine energy. This was so far from my traditional path and not something that was ever in my plan.  But that’s the thing about journaling, it digs down deep into your soul.  Your journal doesn’t care about commerciality, about material goals or marketing plans.  Your journal connects to that deepest part of you, the part that knows who you really are and what you are here for. Starting a conversation with your muse isn't always an easy process.  It takes practice and persistence, patience and perseverance.  You must learn to show up in all weathers and trust that the words will lead you to where you need to go.

ABOUT JESS I've been a tell tale as long as I can remember. Someone who lived half in reality and half in a fantasy, curled up creating stories and poetry. Growing up I learnt how to write commercially, to use words to evoke emotions and copy that would convert. These days it's about balance. After over a decade in the industry I've stripped back and found a medium between the two, where I can combine my experience and expertise with a more candid, artisan approach, crafting succinct yet soulful content that is authentic to the brands I represent. 15


common roadblocks?

In the early days it helps to set a timer to ensure you sit with yourself for a set period of time, that you commit to the intention of connecting with your inner muse. But as you lean into and start to soften, your notebook will become looser and so will you.  This is when you can experiment and explore.  Write across the page, be big, be bold, branch into poetry or affirmations.  Track your creativity against the moon cycles, witness the power changes in line with your personal cycles. 

Overthinking it, trying to make the journal sound nice, worse still, trying to make it look nice. Worrying what “they” will think (nobody is reading it, shed your inner critic who has been on hyper alert since the introduction of Instagram).  This is your real self talking, authentically and openly for your eyes only.  Accept that most of what you write will be nonsense but know that it will get better, you will become more honed at listening to your heart and hearing its message.

Above all trust the process. Relax and know that you don't need to be a writer to become a journal-ist. 

Soon you will be able to journal at any time of the day but in the early days discipline is key otherwise you will sack it off and reach for your screen instead. Follow your instinct and learn to move with your journal.

You just need to free your mind and not force your hand, channel the inner muse and magic will happen. 17




Yet a muse, that bewitching something that is the source of artistic inspiration, can take us outside of ourselves to inspire, relieving us of that ideal that we have to constantly find creative inspiration from deep within ourselves, a task that some days, or even weeks, can feel utterly overwhelming. There are no rules when it comes to what our muse may be. It might be a person, a place, an experience, ritual or perhaps something more spiritual. We may, and usually do, have more than one, and they may change over time. What each will have in common though is what a muse does for us. A muse does not just give us a clue as to what our next product may be. We can all usually create to some extent or other, even in the depths of a block, but our difficulty is creating something that is meaningful to us. There are many things that can bring us to a full stop in our creative journeys. Perfectionism, comparison, or the simple but very real fear that what we are doing may just be not very good. When it comes down to it, many of the creative blocks that we face are as a result of the internal pressures that we place upon ourselves, consciously or otherwise.


That appeals to us as creatives. That we like. We want to be excited by our creations, and this is where our muse enters.

So how do we court our muse, enticing her in to be part of that process with us? We cannot expect her to miraculously appear on demand, providing us with all of the answers. We still need to meet her halfway by showing up and putting in the hours, strengthening our individual practices. However, we also have to put ourselves in the right place to allow her in, to let her help us to create that joy in our work.

Put simply, she is there for the attainment of joy in creativity. Just think on that for one moment. Joy in creativity. This is more than a fleeting moment of happiness that you have completed a piece of work. It is continuing curiosity, being excited at starting something new, embracing ‘failure’ and having joy in the process. Is that not what we all want in our creative journeys?

We sometimes forget that the word ‘muse’ is not just a noun but also a verb. ‘To muse’ is to ponder and to think deeply.


More than that, it comes from the old French ‘muser’, meaning to meditate, dream or – wait for it - to waste time. It feels counter-intuitive to even be suggesting that we should ‘waste time’ when we want to be more creative, but sometimes that is exactly what we need. If we allow ourselves some time for purposeful contemplation, it frees our mind, allowing it to wander and make connections that we simply would not have done had we continued to struggle at our laptops or easels. So waste some time. Meditate, flick through a book or daydream in the bath. Notice how the hedgerows are changing as summer peaks or go to your favourite place by the sea and watch the way the water rolls over your toes amongst the pebbles and shells. Take those five minutes to slowly and methodically enter into that wonderfully familiar ritual of making a cup of tea. It is a strangely scary thing to do in a world where being busy is celebrated and efficiency is all, but give yourself permission to waste time, to muse, and that time will never be wasted.






The Artist's Muse - Down by the Water's Edge was a coming together of ideas inspired by the paintings of John William Waterhouse and Hans Zatzka. We wanted to create scenes as if through the artist’s eyes. A mix of sultry romantic poses, lily ponds, sumptuous tones and props, and heavenly Dutch-masters style florals and fruits, combined yellow and peachy pink tones. The florals, just picked from Tammy’s the Wild Bunch flower farm are wild and free, offering the best of the summer blooms and hedgerow jewels.











The idea of seeing myself as a brand has been occupying my mind for the last six months. Re-launching my business this Spring with a new logo, website, photos and tone of voice has been achingly troublesome. The process has forced me to call into question everything from the way I dress to the fonts that best represent me. I’v e tossed and turned at night, juggling all the facets of my personality and how they will translate into my work and they way I portray myself to existing and potential clients.


I get it. We are our businesses’ greatest asset. There will always be other photographers, artists and writers just as capable and enthusiastic as we are, but there is only one of us. I downloaded every free PDF, read the personal development books and looked around me for inspiration - how exactly should I be representing myself as a botanical illustrator? All I felt was dissatisfaction. If I were professionally trained, I could brandish those credentials. If I were more genuinely outdoorsy, I could be pictured in a wild landscape, maybe walking the dog that I don’t own (or even aspire to own). The list of “ifs” went on and on, but its function was deeply unproductive.

Focusing inwards steered me towards acceptance that in this rebranding process, I am my own muse. The contradictions that I grappled with have become my strengths, for they are what makes me unique. So where I initially struggled to marry a passion for high fashion with my craving for simplicity in nature, I just went with it. That's why you’' ll see me in these photos dressed in luxurious, sensual fabrics, yet clasping an understated single-stem bloom.

I am my own muse...

I decided to turn down the noise. I reduced the list of people I was trying to impress, and instead focused inwards on the brand I wanted to live within. Working with a business coach, I learned that I was constantly seeking reassurance from others and was simultaneously crippled by criticism. By literally listing the names of people whose opinions really mattered to me, I was liberated from the self-imposed weight of responsibility of trying to please everyone. It was an eclectic, even odd, mix – a short line-up of people I know best (my husband included, but not my parents), friends I barely see and virtual strangers with whom I have a loose connection via the internet. These are people I’' ve shared sneak previews with or asked for a second opinion on font and image selection. But no-one else. Not siblings, school friends or curious relatives. 33

Or wearing a contemporary wedding dress, though it makes no sense that a wedding industry supplier should choose to be dressed that way. I surrendered to the will of my imagination, instead of confronting and questioning it with anxious insecurities. I suppose time will tell if allowing myself the freedom to be my own muse is a good thing, if it seduces the clients I wish to partner with. It's certainly sustainable, because I don't have to assume a character to show up as myself. And it's fun – really! – giving me an almost teenage lust for experimentation and awakening.


Finally, it feels good to be at home in my business.



“Virginia Woolf goes gardening one day in May which sets me thinking about the curious apposition between gardening as reality and metaphor”. [1]

Penelope Lively’s book ‘Life in the Garden’ serendipitously fell into my hands in spring this year, as my husband and I found ourselves owning our own garden for the very first time. Lively's book is a biography told through gardens.  She describes the importance of them as a character in their own right, a catalyst or even simply a metaphor for something that words may not describe so powerfully without the creation of a natural image.  She begins with a description of Virginia Woolf's garden and it is the chapter ‘The Written Garden’ that captured my imagination.  This book has inspired me to consider the significance of gardens in my own life, and in the lives of the artists I've always felt an affinity with. [1] Penelope Lively, Life in the Garden, Penguin, 2017

[1] Penelope Lively, Life in the Garden, Penguin, 2017


As gardeners throughout time have found, tending your own piece of land not only nourishes the body, but it also feeds the soul. [2] Artists have found the garden to be full of symbolic potential, a palette to play with, it can be a rich and varied source of inspiration. I also believe that to feel able to quite literally 'put down roots’' is essential to a grounded creative practice. I have rented the various rooms, apartments and houses I’v e lived in for many years.  I’ve enjoyed the flexibility of being able to move with a month’'s notice.  Having now owned our first home for a month, knowing we cannot be moved on so easily by a landlord whose plans change – there's a real sense of nesting in that.  Space to grow, collect and transform within the space.  Suddenly my many plant pots have permission to be planted in the ground, I can look at this garden with the eyes of both an amateur gardener and an artist, a lover of the wild and someone who appreciates the story behind this garden and how I may add to it.

“Be wild; that is how to clear the river.” Clarissa Pinkola Estes [3]

Our home was originally built in 1910 and unlike many modernised properties in the area, it still retains many of its original features. The owners before us kindly left behind an old map, which shows that this house was once surrounded by fields and trees before the land was gradually sold off.  Some of the original trees still exist here, and we have several mature plants and trees in our garden that support an abundance of wildlife.  It is a wild garden supporting birds such as goldfinches and many sparrows, the Holly Blue butterfly, squirrels and the occasional bird of prey. I only intend to add to that wildness as best I can.  I have sat looking out of the window, wondering what may have happened if someone who didn’t appreciate the creatures in the garden had bought it, had paved it and not noticed all the nests.  I can’t really think about it!

My work both as an artist and a writer, is inspired by the wild, folkore and the magic in the everyday. It has taken me a while to realise that these are the core themes in my work that I cannot live without and that for so long the call to create in and about the wild was so strong that without that regular connection to nature and natural materials, I and my work would often wilt like a flower without water.  My ‘well’ as Julia Margaret Cameron so perfectly describes in her writings about the creative process was running on empty without it.  Sometimes there's a lot of pressure in the creative industries to feel you must live near the hub of it all, perhaps a fear of disconnection from the latest everything.  For several years I think that anxiety distracted me from following what I knew about myself and my work all along.  I am to be in the wild, I need a green space of my own to be reliably inspired – that fuels my work.  I often need to place my bare feet on the grass and watch the birds, I need to be able to work outside sometimes, I need to be able to look out of the window and see green.  When I followed my intuition towards that, that was when the magic reignited in my work in a way it hadn't since I had the space to dream freely at art school, because it was my truth.  I followed where I felt called, there is a huge amount of peace in that.  It is perhaps why I have felt so connected to the work of artists such as Barbara Hepworth and Kiki Smith, and more recently the work of Vanessa Bell.  Three artists for whom the garden has been an essential part of their creative practice.

(2) Debra N. Mancoff, The Garden in Art, Merrell, 2011 (3) Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Women Who Run with the Wolves, Ballantine, 1992 36


“Wander around the garden alone. Let them (the sculptures) look at you and they'll speak to you”. This is what Barbara Hepworth (1903–1975) would say to visitors of her Trewyn Studio garden in Cornwall.  To visit that space when Hepworth was making there has been described as an unforgettable experience.  The garden in St Ives provided Hepworth with a working environment, a showcase for her sculpture, and the opportunity to pursue her love of gardening for 25 years.  “Finding Trewyn Studio was a sort of magic” Hepworth wrote of her Cornish studio. It is a haven of peace and creativity amongst the cobbled streets, houses and shops of St Ives which hums with tourists all year round.  The garden was an essential part of Hepworth's creative process and important in the message she wished to convey with her sculptures.  “Hepworth's garden helped to secure the association of her apparently abstract works with the natural world. Its exotic planting and location in West Cornwall with its sub-tropical climate and clear light, served to link her to a Mediterranean sensibility that was in contrast to orthodox British Culture.

(4) Barbara Hepworth Sculpture Garden, Tate, 2002 38

Hepworth understood the importance of her natural surroundings and the effect that had upon her work. She thought through making, she felt her way through it.  I believe she absorbed her natural surroundings and processed it in her body to create the sculptures that brought her such attention and fame.  There is a total balance which happens between her work and the landscape and the garden that I’v e not experienced when visiting her work in a city location.  When in close proximity to one of her sculptures, it is possible to feel the energy and intention about them, but the natural environment of the garden amplifies this.  The garden is where many of them were made, it was their first home, its where they just fit.  I have visited Hepworth's garden in Cornwall several times since making the commitment to becoming an artist myself. It made a huge impression upon me when I was 18 and a student at art school, and its continued to be a space in which I find both inspiring and harmonic.  Hepworth spoke of the land as though it may be a living organism in itself, she felt the energy of places, and she intended to transfer that energy into her own artworks. 39

“I rarely draw what I see. I draw what I feel in my body.” (5) Even though Hepworth’'s sculptures have been placed in urban settings, she continued to maintain that the environment in which she worked was crucial to the outcome.

“Nature is my source, as it is all there is, there is living nature and inert nature and our nature. Everything on this planet is natural, so yes it’s my source for sure!” (7)

“This relationship between figure and landscape is vitally important to me. I cannot feel it in a city.” [6]

At 16, it was Kiki Smith's work (b. 1954) that taught me that I could be a storyteller and an artist all at the same time. I didn't need to separate my writing from my making in the way that school had made me.  I could be both and I wasn’t the only person out there making work from my connection to nature, to tales.  Nature as muse was a perfectly acceptable starting point for a creative occupation.  It was a visiting lecturer who gave me a copy of Smith’'s book ‘Telling Tales’ and said that she saw the essence of what I was making in this book, she wanted me to know I wasn’t alone in how I saw the world.  That book felt like coming home.  I still have it.  I don't think I had the maturity to connect with all of the themes in Smith’'s work at that age, but I am forever grateful to that lecturer, who made a fleeting appearance in my class that afternoon, only to look at my work and give me Smith's book.

I have spent time in several cities. London was the city I lived the longest in and yet I constantly found myself looking for the green spaces, for the water, for the trees.  My first accommodation there was an attic room (no garden) and so my garden was a houseplant in my attic room and Hyde Park which was opposite the college I attended.  I then lived in a top floor apartment, my garden was a window box and Wimbledon common which was my nearest green space.  To create work surrounded by concrete felt jarring for me, it was as though my creative process struggled to complete, as much as I tried, quite often, creating work in areas with very little nature was near impossible for me to manage.  Every time I moved, I moved a little further out until five years into my living in London, my partner and I took the leap and moved to the South West of England.  It felt both mad and right all at the same time, but then sometimes following intuition over logic sets you upon a path that would never have happened if you'd played it safe.  A few years after leaving London, I received an email telling me I'd reached the top of the allotment list near our flat in Raynes Park.  Somehow though, I’m not sure the little allotment patch would have felt immersive enough for me.  I was living between the forests and the beaches by then and I didn't feel tempted to return for the allotment.

Telling Tales is an artist’s book that captures Smith’'s interest in the figure and nature alongside the stories that are woven into everything we may take for granted in our environment. She weaves and spins her own versions of fairytales in mixed media.  The garden appears in Smith's work in several forms, the primary that she became well known for was her reference to the Garden of Eden, the Christian creation story in which she explores the physical and psychological impact of being expelled from the Garden.  Essentially, she looks at Adam and Eve's disconnection from nature, what happens when the human is removed from their natural environment.

(5) Barbara Hepworth Writings & Conversations, Tate, 2015 (6) Barbara Hepworth Writings & Conversations, Tate, 2015 40 (7) The All-embracing Nature of Nature: An Interview with Kiki Smith,, 2019

They are works that depict isolation, fragmentation and damaged bodies. Yet this is not the end of this body of work, the Garden of Eden is then reinvented, Smith creates an enchanted place that is the natural and miraculous setting of Biblical stories, myths and fairytales. “In Smith's Garden we discover the Old Testament figures of Eve and the serpent as well as the fairy tale characters of Little Red Riding Hood and the wolf and Sleeping Beauty and other mysterious companions.  However, the sanctity of the garden is soon disturbed by curiosity and temptation.  In each story the heroine seeks more and goes through a critical rite of passage or initiation to attain the experience and knowledge necessary for individual growth.” Helaine Posner (8) Smith has maintained a successful connection to nature in her city environment, living in a house in New York, her work thrives in her domestic environment which she is pictured sharing with cats and doves that fly freely around the room. (8) Helaine Posner, ‘ Once Upon a Time…’, Telling Tales, International Center of Photography, 2001. 41

She is best known as an artist, but she is also a beekeeper and she looks after over sixty hives with her husband. For a long time her work was very figurative, but losing her sister to Aids in the '90s changed the orientation of her subject matter. “The thing I noticed is that she liked watching nature programmes during the time she was ill. She was losing the facility of communication, but I still saw the intent with which she watched nature. I thought: this is what I am meant to be paying attention to. It took me a few years after that to stop doing figurative work.” (9) In an interview with Vogue last year, Smith describes nature as a catharsis, a solace for herself.  She grew up on the edge of a forest and so that is what feels like home to her.  However, forty years of living in New York has not deterred her from seeing nature in the urban road she lives in.  She creates work about the moths, the wasps, and she has a passion for painting turkeys.  She describes nature as an infinite resource wherever you are.  In recent works, it seems to be the creatures that appear the most frequently in Smith’s work, the stars and the birds and women in nature. She is a master of anthropomorphism, her work seems to represent a oneness with the creatures around her, perhaps not the land like Hepworth.  For Smith it is the insects, the animals, the birds to which she draws her inspiration from.  This is what she channels into her work at this point in her career.  Like Hepworth, the magic of organic inspiration is channelled into her work purely, and what appears effortlessly.  She trusts the intuitive process of making as much as she trusts that spring will become summer.

‘…when a fictional world invades the real one, and you no longer know quite which is which.” (10). Penelope Lively. To create artwork outside is unlike the studio experience. You are choosing to be under the sky, to be at the mercy of the elements, for the creatures you share that space with to inspire and interfere with how you make at will.  The sun beats down upon you and the wind blows your papers to one side when you least expect it.  The garden as a studio changes as the weather changes, as the seasons change.  The studio in a garden also has the potential to effect the work you make. In 1916 Vanessa Bell (1879–1961) and her partner Duncan Grant moved into a modest farmhouse in East Sussex.  Whilst they lived at Charleston they transformed the walled garden into an eclectic collection of plants, sculptures and mosaics.  The studio looked out onto the garden, as did the dining room and both artists painted cut flowers and garden scenes from life.  Bell adored red and so she collected everything form roses and poppies to foxgloves and red-hot pokers.  I have become fascinated with Bell's ceramics and paintings since seeing them exhibited alongside Hepworth in the show ‘Virginia Woolf:  An exhibition inspired by her writings’' at Tate St Ives which was curated by Laura Smith in spring 2018.  Vanessa Bell was Virginia Woolf's sister and they shared a mutually influential relationship, each of them having a unique creative partnership with their own gardens (and most likely each other's).  Many of Bell's works hung in Woolf's home and her writings inspired her sister.  Bell describes their relationship as being without jealousy because their practices complemented each other, they did not compete.

(9) Kiki Smith interviewed by Louise Long, In Conversation: Kiki Smith, Vogue USA, 2018 (10) Penelope Lively, Life in the Garden, Penguin, 2017 42

Bell's home was her biggest canvas, she decorated almost everything. The textures, forms and colour palettes often seem to be connected with her natural environment.  All of her work references natural form, as she worked between the dining room and the garden studio, which is something I can very much relate to.  In her paintings and ceramics there’s rarely a woman present without plants or flowers, even if that is only a colour palette that mirrors a flower bed.  ‘I’m painting flowers – one can’' t resist them – when the sun comes out you can’t conceive what the medley of apples, hollyhocks, plums, zinnias, dahlias, all mixed up together is like.’ Vanessa Bell to Roger Fry, 1930. (11) I am sitting in my dining room writing this, I'm overlooking the garden considering how this space I find myself with will transform, will support what I make.  Will support the wildlife that inspires my work.    I feel a responsibility to respect the age of the house and the established trees and plants we have inherited and yet I wonder how it may respond to now being the garden of two creatives.  Like Bell and Hepworth we hope to build a studio in the garden at some point in our restoration journey whilst aiming to preserve as much wild as possible.  My kiln lives in the outbuilding in the garden, and hopefully at some point it will be joined by the rest of my tools when there is space.  There's something quite magical about seeing moonlight fall upon your work as you transport it across the garden…

(11) Vanessa Bell to Roger Fry, 1930,




SOUR CREAM CHOCOLATE CAKE For the chocolate cake 2/3 cup (150ml) sour cream or crème frâiche 2 eggs  1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste  1 1/3 cups (200g) plain flour  1/3 cup (40g) cocoa powder  1 cup (200g) caster sugar  3/4 teaspoon baking powder  1/4 teaspoon baking soda  1/2 teaspoon fine salt 

Preheat the oven to

2 sticks (200g) unsalted butter, softened


160°C (350°F) (with fan)


METHOD Line and grease 2 x 20cm (8 inch) round cake pans • In a small bowl or jug, lightly whisk together the sour cream, eggs and vanilla extract • Place the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and butter into the bowl of an electric stand, we used hand mixer • Beat on low speed until the butter is incorporated into the dry ingredients. The mixture should resemble crumbly, wet sand. About 5-8 minutes • Slowly add the egg mixture and beat until the batter is thoroughly mixed • Pour the batter evenly into the prepared cake pans • Bake for about 25 to 30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean • Place the cake pans on a wire rack and let the cakes cool in the pans for about 10 minutes, before turning them onto the wire rack to cool completely

SWISS MERINGUE BUTTERCREAM 200g caster sugar 3 medium egg whites  250g slightly salted butter, at room temperature but not too soft, cubed  150g raspberries mashed and sieved to extract juice


For the meringue buttercream, put the sugar and egg whites into a large heatproof mixing bowl set over a pan of simmering water and whisk gently by hand for 5-8 minutes until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is warm – it should look like runny cake icing. If you have a sugar thermometer, it should reach 60°C. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer (or another cold, clean bowl) and whisk on a high speed for 5-6 minutes or until it forms stiff, glossy peaks and the mixture has cooled. Reduce the speed to low and add the butter, one small piece at a time – making sure each has been incorporated before adding the next. When it has all been added and the mixture is smooth, add the food colouring. Chill the buttercream for 20 minutes to allow it to firm up to a spreadable consistency. Spread over tops and sides of the cake. Decorate with fresh berries, fruit and flowers!







I've always loved different aspects of each

I’ve been thinking about what

season and picking a favourite would be a bit

inspires me lately and I’ve

perhaps that’s a little would be a

like asking me to pick a favourite child. Okay, bit like asking me to choose my favourite

realised two things.

chocolate or biscuit. Way too difficult to answer!

One: my inspiration changes

In March I always fall in love with spring - the

during the seasons, and two: my

new shoots, the refreshed colours, the sunlight, and sense of ‘life’. However come the start of

focus has changed in the last

May I’m dreaming of the British Tennis season,


fresh fruit, and barbecues; even before the door has opened for summer.

About two thirds of the way

In September I get that ‘back to school’' buzz and a renewed sense of being able to achieve

through each season I’ve

my goals, not to mention the excitement and

historically found myself longing

anticipation of leaves falling - creating a crunchy copper carpet through the Autumn.

for the next to start, despite

Fast forward to the end of October and I’m

proclaiming the current season

already in the Christmas spirit, picturing my

my favourite when it began.

tree decorations, and longing for roast potatoes and a large bowl of apple crumble. From the flowers in spring-summer to the

I know, I know - you could call

skeletal structured trees and shrubs in autumn-winter; there are things to love in each

me ickle, but I promise it comes


from a good place. 49

More than just the physical changes in nature - I’ve realised my real seasonal inspiration lies in those emotive connections. The memories I associate with certain times of year and the expectations I have for what a new season could hold. This is where I’ve seen my focus change in the last year...

I now purposely make myself stop on that edge of raw and perfection, before tipping into over thinking and over styling. I let myself share things socially that have flaws. I except my current limitations, without beating myself and instead strive to learn and improve – whilst at the same time not placing limitations on myself and allowing myself to push my own past boundaries. I aim for bringing people inspiration, light, and fulfilment rather than just another piece of ‘that's nice’.

Over the last twelve months I’ve experienced many life changing and positive events and I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised to find myself re-evaluating what brings me joy and what I consider important. Throughout my life, even as a child, the way things look - the design, style, and overall appearance - has been important to me. Though my taste has changed considerably (thank goodness or I'd still be wearing blue lipstick, tank tops, and fluorescent orange trainers!) it was always clear, even before hitting my teens, that I had an eye for creativity.

In the last twelve months it’s become clearer that I do perhaps in fact have a favourite season - a front runner ahead of the others. The season that to me signifies chances and positivity, and opportunities to just ‘begin’. The season that doesn’t worry about what people might think and instead bursts forth with new life anyway. The season that forgets whether its creations might clash in colour or make a ‘mess’ of pink petal confetti.

Over the last year, however, I’ve started focusing less on how things look and more on how they make me, and others, feel. Now I can’t deny, with an artistic brain, things that look pleasing to the eye usually also bring joy - but it goes beyond that. I’m more and more looking past a perfect image (and more importantly – past imperfect images) and searching for the connection. I want honesty, I want feelings, I want ‘real’. I can’t help but aim for good design, nice styles, and creativity (it’s just part of who I am) but my focus is now on the meaning and emotion.

The season that holds my favourite memory as a child (of playing in the garden, my dad mowing the lawn, mum tending to flowers, and sister skipping by my side). The season that most reminds me life is about that feeling of ‘light’ and not just its appearance… Spring.



Glimpses of a turquoise hue... Swoop! Dart! Hover! Gem colours are prevalent like parts of a crown Iridescence wings glisten in the atmosphere Waiting in the sunshine to warm your wings Water attracts you to rear your young A magical transformation is what you perform young to mature is amazing to view! Fly in a way no others do... you are amazing how you have adapted over millions of years Swoop, dart, hover! Colours are amazing to see and view Turquoise, damson, emerald, and iridescence too how spectacular you prove to be!



Magical elements fill the breeze



Once I dreamt of standing on a cobble stone street by Santa Maria del Fiore wearing a black chic blouse, a gold skirt with a black lace blossom overlay and black ribbon tie heels, seeing into the Renaissance stone antique mixtures of creation. For me silk is the cloth of dreams and beauty, of love and desire, of fashion and comfort, of health and wealth. On the ancient Silk Road traders considered silk worth its weight in gold. As the rarest form of textile today, it still glows with the glory of its quality. A substance spun from a silk moth cocoon, the result of mulberry leaves and intense focus on transformation. One could claim silk is the wrap reminiscent of metamorphosis. Silk accompanies an awakening of the soul, transparent and delicate, pure with glamour, able to give both solitude and society with all the facets of her character.   Essentially silk translates colour, the refinements of marble I imprint on her, with stalwart nobility. Her fluid grace gives the wearer a way to become both vintage and modern, a way for the soul to shine, a context of poetry for each one who chooses to resonate with her kind of beauty. This power of purity becomes an eternity of light. Stone comes from the heart of the globe, unseen and invisible till touched by the breath of life, all the ancient mixtures of heat, metallic elements and colour drawn from global dreams. Wrap yourself in one of these silks and open your soul to a new life, out of the cocoon into flight.


THE MAGIC OF THE MUSE Milky jade current brushes past twigs and silt with the song of the blackbird charming sparks of glinting light I stand bemused on the lifted soil of the riverbank, the furrowed brow of the landscape surprised by the quantity of water flowing by Drought has turned through thunder and storm to plenty,  an abundant supply of the carefree liquid Milky jade turns to midnight moss then starred ebony,  gleaming quietly by the trees and nestled birds The constellations draw maps to straighten the river It's the magic of the muse


THE DEEP WHAT INSPIRES YOU? It's a question that sparks a flickering film reel behind the eyes of every person asked it – transporting us all somewhere else. Some soften at the edges, lost in talcum powder and tiny footprints, tears and triumphs. Others flash with sudden points of light – the shock of an upturned face to a sky splashed with stars, a shaft of amber sunlight creeping through whispering trees.

ARTICLE BY JEN FEROZE Jen is a writer, editor and self-confessed word nerd. After ten years in commercial publishing she started Jackdaw Editorial, offering copywriting services for the wedding industry from her house by the sea.


I know these well. I too have felt that upward tug of heartstrings and the gentle settling of calm on entering a woodland; on feeling the spring heat on my face and the points of green above coiled and ready to unfurl in a froth of blossom and scent; on seeing my daughter waddle-run down the hallway intent on a hug. But these last weeks, these last months; the film that plays behind my eyes is deep and blue, and it sinks me gently among the whales. I feel peaceful in the face of the vast ocean; aware that down here in the inky stillness there are colours we have no names for. It's a happy solitude, a comfortable silence – until it is achingly, beautifully broken with song that stretches across the many blue miles, the cathedral of my rib-cage shuddering with it. And when it's time to taste sunlight again, I surge upward. Upward, through midnight and sapphire and cobalt shot through with gold. The surface breaks, I feel the rush of life returning. The pain of unanswered questions, of half-formed anxieties and what ifs, the edge of tears shot skywards in a powerful column of spray and spume. Its droplets fall like stars.



We don't only make things beautiful. We look at how and why too. The drivers behind our creative pursuits, the passions that expand our curiosity, the inspiration from the world around us.

Profile for Kate Cullen

Nurture Magazine Volume 4: Muse