This Christmas I am very proud to be a part of the creative community exhibiting at the Artists Open House known as Forty Two. Every year the city’s artists set up shop in their homes to provide an alternative to the mass-produced Christmas shopping experience. This year I am taking part in the house carefully curated by my good friend Vivienne Ridley. Vivienne (formerly of jewellery designers Ridley & Dowse) has launched her new collections at Forty Two. I am particularly pleased because one of these collections is a collaboration with me. I adore Vivienne’s jewellery and she has been nothing but supportive of my writing career, I’ve hardly done a public reading without her present. In the summer I suggested that we could combine jewellery and creative writing to produce stories inspired by unique pieces or vice-versa. I was sure she wouldn’t be interested but to my delight she was very interested and 6 months later we have The Riddler Collection.
The Riddler Collection consists of four stories paired with precious charms in the form of necklaces or cufflinks. They make truly unique presents. We have tried to connect each piece to life events, Sunflower makes a great gift for new mothers or anyone embarking on a new career. The Greyhound could be a retirement gift or a good luck charm. Indian Summer would make a beautiful heart-felt present for the man in your life, combining as it does etched silver cufflinks and the amusing tale of a doctor discovering the meaning of life. Especially for Christmas we have The Christmas Monkey, a pretty silver marmoset and a seasonal story of snow and charity. The jewellery is beautifully packaged in a deep blue box with the story printed on sumptuous heavy card, this is no ordinary Christmas present.
Vivienne’s other collections include Gumball Grandeur in which she takes low value 1950s gumball machine prizes and transforms them into lifelong treasures. With Buttons & Coins everyday vintage items are re-imagined as rings and necklaces and histroy is made current and wearable. Vivienne says, ‘ when I don’t know the history I like to imagine one.’ This is the ethos behind our collaboration. Forty Two is getting loads of local press attention (The Argus, Ect Magazine, We Love Brighton) and it’s no wonder, because it’s not only The Riddler Collection that offers the opportunity to pick up a unique gift. There is gorgeous jewellery from Alexa de Castilho, bright and bold pieces reminiscent of exotic holidays featuring gold and silver palm trees, sharks teeth and animal etchings. There’s plenty to wear with the jewellery too as local fashion labels Modern Love and Alium B are selling their much loved originals. Both labels already have a fond following locally and Forty Two stocks their current collections as well as discounted one offs. Lark Rising provide utterly unique knitwear, no one else will have a winter cardigan like it. Dress your new outfit with vintage wooden decoupage from Use & Take Care, who combine modern and traditional techniques to produce incomparable items.
Maria Tilyard makes heart-stealing creatures from re-cycled materials – foxes, greyhounds, the gorgeous elephant shrews, almost everyone left last week’s private view with a new pet under their arm. The same can be said of the monochrome prints from One Must Dash, who give us posters, T-towels, cards and bags, all in their distinctive quirky modern style. Take it to the other extreme with a handmade bird from Amanda Lawrence, her collection of tiny avains recalls the treasues of Victorian drawing rooms and prove very popular with all who see them. In keeping with the clever naturals theme are De Casa Limited Editions, showcasing bold silk print cushions, tea towels, lights and even deckchairs.
The sell out starat the private view was the work of Vivienne’s seven year old daughter Kitty with her still life collection Kitty Blossom – almost all gone I’m afraid.
I may be biased but my husband Robert Mettler is exhibiting his photographs at Forty Two and they really do have a rare and wonderful beauty. Rob reinvents Brighton’s familiar images by giving them a new and usually unseen quality. The West Pier is bared down into monochrome in Filigree Pier, floating like an apparation over an almost white sea. Scooby Doo Pier captures the modern one from below so that we see what is underneath the surface. Robert has prints that make particularly thoughful presents for locals, showing them a different side to the place we all share, far better to open one of these on Christmas morning than a pair of socks. Robert has collaborated with Rattle Tales on a number of times when we have asked members of Brighton & Hove Camera Club to provide images for the stories read at our events always with unexpected and striking results.
On the next two Sundays several authors will be reading at Forty Two. I will be reading stories from The Riddler Collection, Stephanie Lam will treat us to an extract from her Penguin published debut The Mysterious Affair At Castaway House, and Myriad Editions authors Hannah Vincent and Ian Williams will be reading from their latest books. You can also buy my Brighton-based novel Starlings. There are how to craft books on embroidery and print making from Super+Super. Come to these salons to hear inspiring tales, sample the refreshment provided by Brighton craft brewer Goldstone, scoff homemade cakes and afterwards meet the authors and stock up on signed books. We really hope you can join us in this very special shopping experience.