2 women, 2 artists

Everyone seems to call themselves an artist nowadays.  Loosely, it seems to apply to anyone who exhibits. Anyway, last week I interviewed two such startlingly different women who both feel equally passionate about their art forms…

The first artist, a Milanese who has recently relocated to London, is an illustrator. I found Sara Pitta‘s work before I found her as you’ll find her brilliant mark in 100s of Moleskine notebooks at the Covent Garden store. Flicking through (trying to choose one), I begged the sale assistant to put me in touch with the artist behind these caricatures.

Sara Pitta, illustrator

Sara has a background in communication, illustration and teaching.

When we finally met, I discovered that Sara’s artistic mission is so much more than her colourful cartoons. She teaches (adults and kids alike) sensory illustration. Wanting to know more (and smelling a story!), I immediately invited her over for a BIG cup of tea while Mini and I smelt and drew and smelt and drew…

setting up for Sara's lesson in sensory drawing

setting up for Sara’s lesson in sensory drawing

Mini draws her superhero

Mini draws her superhero

… until we realised that Sara had enabled us to create our very own superheros. The whole experience was enlightening and totally charming - I’d recommend it to anyone looking for an unusual kids’ birthday party or if your corporate team needs building!

Sara Pitta's box of scents

Sara Pitta’s box of scents

More info about Sara’s ‘Scents and Storytelling’ for adults (£15 each) and ‘Draw your scented character’ for children  email: info@sarapitta.com

The second artist is pure LA. A friend of a friend, Elisabeth Caren is a photographer with a lifelong passion for dramatic arts. I interviewed her at Lloyds Club, the private members club where her work is temporarily hung as part of the Young Masters competition.

Lloyds Club, London

Lloyds Club, London

another of the Young Masters finalists

Elisabeth Caren and her Ophelia

Elisabeth Caren and her Ophelia

It’s the ability to freeze time‘ she explained when I questioned her love of photography. You see, her past experience includes costume design, feature film development and production, entertainment publicity and marketing… but she feels most comfortable behind the lens.  Except when shooting underwater with a leak, Elisabeth told me a disastrous story resulting in thousands of dollars of sacrificed kit.

Elisabeth Caren's Ophelia (series)

one of Elisabeth Caren’s Ophelia series

Elisabeth’s Ophelia (series of 5) shows how she explores the traditional beauty of Old Masters’ techniques but using a modern and contemporary twist.  Theses photographs were shot in her brother’s pool and have had very little photoshop magic added.  Utterly brilliant shots, full of drama and mystical magic… oh and I adore the vintage dress worn by the model…

Elisabeth Caren's Ophelia

Check out Elisabeth’s work (from fashion magazine covers to award winning drama) here.



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sponsored post: crafting real life bags with Village England

Village England handbag designs

If you already carry a Village England bag, it might surprise you that co-founder Eddie Knevett didn’t start out as a handbag designer.  But then he also wasn’t hiding a million miles away from women and their love of leather bags. This former head of accessories at House of Fraser (and previous to that, a buyer for Harrods) knows his eggs when it comes to what we’re all looking for in a perfect bag.

Eddie designs the stunning – yet surprisingly practical – range from his home in leafy Queen’s Park so I dropped by last week to find out what it takes to draw up and plan the new season’s collection.

How long does it take to design a handbag from start to finish?  About 5 months overall, initial designs/details/thoughts happen over about 4 weeks, leathers are dyed and/or ordered, then sampling process begins. I constantly go back to review/question is it right, does it feel fresh, does it work in real life, are the proportions beautiful, is it the right price.

Villlage England leather choices

What makes a perfect bag?  Versatility, good design, something that you love, works for you everyday and also looks great.

How do you know if a bag designed on paper will hang perfectly?  By understanding how leathers work, behave, drape as well as understanding structures and how it will work on a body, as well as experience and practice. And even then they sometimes just don’t work.

Eddie at his desk (check out his 'sunny' painted walls!)  - this man LOVES colour!

Eddie at his desk (check out his ‘sunny’ painted walls!) – this man LOVES colour!

Where do you find yourself drawing ideas from?  Seasonal England, riots of summer colour at Great Dixter garden, autumn leaves at Grasmere, frosted fens on the Wash, equestrian detailing at Burghley, May poles, cakes at village fetes, personal style on the street and feed back from customers and friends on how they use their bags.

Why are some designer handbags such a ridiculous price?  I think that sometimes people don’t appreciate how much leathers can cost but also it’s the craftsmanship, skill and time involved. I am also personally very worried about the human cost of some working practices.

Eddie's colourful bookshelves with plenty of ceramics

Eddie’s colourful bookshelves with plenty of ceramics

Most elegant woman?  Is a woman who is comfortable in her own skin.

First job after school?  A three week temp job in Harrods, ended up staying 10 years buying accessories.

Village England handbag designsWhere do you go to escape life?  Making ceramics, the world just goes away when you are concentrating on making something with your hands. Or the countryside, I have an urbanite’s romantic view of the great outdoors… fresh air makes me relax.

Do you paint?  Not any more, form and shape is more interesting to me, hence the love of ceramics.

Where would you LOVE Village England to be stocked? USA and Asia here we come!

… and more ceramics!

… and more ceramics!

What might we see that’s a bit of a departure for VE in the next year or so?  We are broadening our offer on handbag accessories and gifts to bring more fun, colour, texture to the collection. I am also working out our men’s collection concept, though that is very much for the future.

How should your handbags accommodate technology? All our bags have leather bound mobile phone pockets, a majority of our bags also have a padded tablet pocket, our bigger bags will take a 11’’ or 13’’ laptop, technology is part everyday life so these pockets are essential.

If not handbags, what? Making ceramics in a shed somewhere…

What are your feelings about man bags? I use them daily, I don’t have big enough pockets for all the stuff I carry around!

Tell us a handbag secret.  The nicer you treat them the longer they will last

Eddie Knevett co founder of Village England

Check out Village England’s range of bags here – or drop into your local House of Fraser or Anthropolgie to try one on!  

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All things BRIGHT and beautiful

beauty uk nail polishcolourful make up

Colourful war paint is bold, powerful and attention grabbing. But experimenting with a little splash here and there (in a non-80s way) is a brilliant way to rock one of this season’s make-up looks.


colourful make up

I morphed myself into a magpie and went in search of a small injection of vibrant face drama.

And this is what I found:

  1. Posh Palette £5.99
  2. Teal malachite goddess pencil £17
  3. Daffodil Delight nail polish £2.99
  4. Pink My Ride £3.50
  5. Eternity Longlasting eye liner £9
  6. Jewel eye crayon £3.99
  7. Posh pout moisturizing lip balm £2.99
  8. Kabuki Crush Brush £6

I haven’t (yet) applied it all simultaneously.  But might… just to get the #flashback Kajagoogoo look…

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a real diamond of a story

I loved the sound of a diamond photo shoot. Who wouldn’t?

We’ll style you – clothes, make-up, hair – and you’ll just wear the diamonds and strike a pose,’ explained the PR.

So I agreed.

But then as it got closer to the date, I wasn’t quite so convinced. Hayley, our stylist, had been asked to guess which clothes might suit us based on a pre-shoot phone call.

our stylist, Hayley Korn

our stylist, Hayley Korn

And then there’s the added fret that I really don’t like having my make-up done. That whole dewy skin thing just isn’t me.


However I had confirmed I’d take part in The Diamond Store’s #MillionDollarBlogger shoot and I am (almost always) true to my word. So off I went.

Of course we had such a giggle on the day. Hayley blew me away with her unreal choices of clothes – all from Oxygen boutique – and I discovered a whole new brand which I love, Sea NY!

Lauren styled my post-holiday barnet into a cool boho look and Sara tackled my not-so-happy skin (again post sun plus long flight) with sensitivity and focus!

The jewels (all ethically and responsibly sourced) speak for themselves. Honestly the lowest prices I ever seen diamonds ever sold, The Diamond Store makes rocks all the more accessible and ultimately stackable too!

This is what I wore:

All shots taken by Jennifer West at Venture Studios, Knightsbridge AND – they’ve given me a shoot worth £350 to give away for one of my readers! All you have to do is follow me on Instagram and leave me a comment under a photo from this shoot… The winner will be contacted via Instagram on Friday 10th October. good luck!

The Diamond Store’s site is really easy to navigate. It took me all of 10 seconds to choose my gift (more of which in a later post!) from their 20,000 or so products!


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