Wednesday, 24 October 2012

A Prince among men.......

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There have been mighty kings, fierce warriors & chivalrous knights, those who forged great empires in their sleep, felled foes for breakfast & dazzled a damsel or two at too, princes who pounced & poets who brooded, men seeking knowledge & beauty, others only pomp & power....yet, few among these could lace a boot, petit-point a cushion or give a jolly toss for the finer elements of 'House & Palace'......that was the stuff of ladies, that is until.....'Henry Wilson'. Sure, there are countless, caravans full of creative men.....but for the 'Indophile', there is only one. To the unacquainted, Mr Wilson is a notable photographer, designer, writer & interminable interior-design-guru with a singular appetite & appreciation for all things India.

* * *

While Henry's design books are widely available & showcase the gloriously rich, colourful & diverse interiors of India lovers, lesser known & viewed, perhaps, are photographs of his own heavenly abode. Below, you can take an exalted walk through his magnificent, (self-styled) majestic kingdom.

Holy Maharajah!
Wall-to-wall wondrous wallpaper*

Mhmm, he sews!
Luxurious velvet cushions with 
'petit-point' stitch* 

Regal is as regal does
Beaded skirting & gilded door-ways*

It is not uncommon in many Indian Palaces & homes, to find every square inch of space, carved, painted, tiled, tinseled, mosaiced, marbled, furnished, fussed-over, rugged, 'joojed', color-strewn & bedazzled. It is merely a part of the Indian aesthetic to 'layer-on' the love & adornment. There is a sense of intimacy that comes with this.......knowing that nothing has been overlooked, neglected or given that extra regal touch.

Deep jewel-toned walls of warmth...
Yes your Majesty!*

Pomegranate vines & dramatic contrasts*

  Gold, sandstone & wood  
for his OR her 'Palace'*

Vibrant & earthy, characteriz
the stylish Indian home*

No Rani or Indian-Interior enthusiast need face life without a little piece of style on their dial. 'India design' & 'India contemporary ' by Henry Wilson are staples of lavish livelihood & I have spent many an evening drowning deliciously into the pages of both. Few wouldn't be intrigued by his  keen eye for colour & detail & none unaffected by his bold & imaginative celebration of the Subcontinent - layer upon layer of vibrancy, design, history & ideas, all melded into the perfect decorative soup.

A bath & a half!
Interesting tribal & geometric designs
add masculinity

A cosy kitchen-bench of 
 Henry's stencils*

# # #

Style sensibilities are so personal & individual, rendering it nigh impossible to say who or what's best....all possess the genius to beautify & enhance, but only some have that rare ability to exploit the imagination, give expression to it in the most abundant & complex way. I've known a chap or two in my time who have each created a rare item of beauty, but I tell you sincerely, a man who can decorate, match a paint to a tile & loop a thread through the eye of a truly a man worth knowing.

Thank you for making space in your day to read my post
# Photos from the 'House of Rani'
* Other images taken from 'Elle-Decor' - Celebrating India, Collector's Edition. (Personal copy)
#All Writing & Photography by Rani.C (Char) 

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Thursday, 23 August 2012

Collections & Reflections


To whomever wrote 'A thing in & of itself is sufficient ', (i.e., one thing is enough), while I mostly adhere to the principle & honor the sentiment, I need, at this precise & divine moment, to fully shut-out such thoughts......because here comes Rani in her chariot of clinking, clanking collectibles, happy as hell & unlikely to ever get off!

One genie's lamp does look dashing, 
but 10 in a row takes you to Turkmenistan #

Oh, the joy of a colourful new 'find' to christen a solitary interior space or, even better, to add to a bevvy of existing beauties. Any decorative house, homestead or Palace can attest to the cumulative bliss of a spectacular collection. Items that stand soulfully on their own, when placed together, create a splash & a symphony.

Yes, I'll take 15 pairs thanks

There's no doubting the fact that placing, spacing, styling & arranging beloved items of worth &/or sentiment creates a wondrous visual story. Whether it be the perfect alignment of tea-pots in a row or the seeming disarray of a pile of oriental shoes. What matters most is the theme, the element of quirk, of whimsy, that circular path of interest that propelled your passion in the first place.

A cornucopia of copper, bells & brass #

Mixed metals for the Maharajah

Collections of any kind exhibit keen, if not astute, interest. From modest, artful home displays to powerful posturings of wealth. Which Palace or stately home ever failed to impress with its fine gatherings of silver, armoury, furniture, glass-ware, brass-ware, pewter & paintings? Collections that speak of grand-eloquence & the history of ages.  From the Russian Hermitage all the way to the magnificent Topcapi Palace of Istanbul.

Coloured glass of varying sizes & aperitifs

Some collections, however, need not be palace-guarded. They can take shape using virtually anything. Items of common material, colour, cultural interest, size, texture, pattern, era, theme, function, sentiment......& infinite other inspirations.

Turkish tiles of distinction

No object of beauty was ever diminished when placed side by side in Rani's Palace

A selection & 'collection' of coffee-table books

Roses of Ribbon

In keeping with my palace textile passions & collections, rolls of trim & ravishing ribbons, make for beautiful floral substitutes & displays. Pile high into glasses, vases & brass cups.

Maharani's mountain of cushions

A mass of marvellous, mosaic tea-light holders #

Whether it be the simplest decor items or the most highly collectible, a discerning art collector or a lover of modest, market buys.....all can create a tableaux of equal impact & sophistication.

No Palace would be complete without
vintage perfume collection

Such is our nature to want to repeat the thrill of a first-time buy, to partner, pair & place together pretty items of import & significance, to add value to them by 'arrangement', to reflect upon each with fondness & love, to tell a story, create a lasting impression....& for those among us with a penchant for veritable 'altars' of admirable adornment, the temptation to keep adding to our decor-family is always irresistible & never, ever 'entirely' sufficient.

Thank you for making space in your day to read my post
*All images are from inside the 'House of Rani' except (#) which are my personal travel photos.
#All Writing & Photography by Rani.C (Char)

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Sunday, 17 June 2012

Every pilgrim's home is their Palace

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Those who are an intimate to the Rani know it is with not too little irony that her humble abode is referred to as a 'Palace'.......the irony lies in the fact, that in actuality, it is but a small, unassuming, unintentionally sparkling spot on a busy highway (not exactly the sprawling desert setting of ones dreams!) Yet neither its tiny size, nor its positioning, diminishes its individual 'grandeur' or its ability to keep friends coming back, time & time again, for a little piece of  'Palace-Pleasure'.

Do valuable saris, size, silks & sequence 
maketh a palace?

 It got me pondering common notions of grandeur, wealth & beauty - particularly after one very gormless guest to the Palace squealed at how 'small' it was (a reaction that betrayed a certain condescension, namely 'If it ain't the Taj Mahal, it just ain't special'). She now languishes in the 'tiny' Palace dungeon!. I hitherto came to regard the pervasive idea that 'Grandness' derives solely from the proportions of a dwelling & the expensive contents of it's corners as pure, palatial, puffery.

Grand Bhavan / Ashram of Rabindranath Tagore #

Sure the Versailles, Winter Palaces & stately homes of this world fill our hearts to the brim with 'decor'-ous rapture (& our mouths too heavy with lead, forcing them to the floor!). But so too do the lovingly filled, small & modestly furnished homes of those less fortunate, but no less rich, in creativity.

Stunning painted interior of a tribal hut #

Seems what the pocket forgot, the imagination makes up for. All across the Orient, & world at large, there are boundless examples of decorative dexterity that rival the grandest of palaces.

Bright blue & red washed walls  
add some drama to the ordinary #

Happily discarded becomes 
happily included #

Pots, painting, plaster & textiles
Pedestrian or palace-worthy? #

A one-room wonder-hut #

Tiny house-caves in Cappadocia,Turkey #

A bag & a blanket
The pilgrims prize essentials #

While tribal arts are all the rage in the western world, they reflect a lifestyle of near-often, subsistence living for the artisans. The importance of these crafts for the continuance of culture, history & survival is often taken for granted. These simple, yet beautiful & inexplicably intricate textiles & crafts, indeed 'furnish', lend character, texture & warmth to earthen, modest spaces, & are also bartered in marriage as prized possessions.

All that glitters is NOT gold #

Camel couture as palace regalia!

It is these 'possessions' that come into focus. For how does one put a value on what is most 'valued' by any given individual. Utilitarian utensils, toys, paper, bottles, tops & other objects are routinely collected & used in novel, innovative ways to create colour, character & ambiance, often culminating in eye-catching displays of creative wealth & ingenuity.

* * *
Disused light-bulbs, painted pots & glass,
bindis & boxes, turbans & tea-strainers all take centre stage. 
Recycling, up-cycling & all the other latest trends, owe a debt to centuries of resourceful artistry.

To the Rani, richness, grandness, palatial living are all a matter of perception, if not imagination. It comes from a sense of knowing oneself & one's place in the world. A sense of history & geography, culture & economy, of wanting more but accepting & cherishing less. From understanding the gap between inspiration & aspiration, reconciling that difference, then sitting back comfortably in one's little Palace, safe in the knowledge that what you have, what you've worked for & created, is surely enough.

Thank you for making space in your day to read my post
*All images are from inside the 'House of Rani' except (#) which are my personal travel photos.
(***) Is a collage created by Rani using photos from 'Rajasthan' by Pauline Lynden & 'Indian Interiors' by Taschen books. Both copies owned by Rani.
#All Writing & Photography by Rani.C (Char)

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Tuesday, 15 May 2012

The Princess & the Peacock

*MPW featured in 'An Indian Summer'

From time immemorial, the peacock has been regarded as a highly symbolic bird. Exotic & vain, with a plume so dazzling, even humans gush & blush brightly. Its symbolism is steeped in centuries of noble decadence, glory & excesses, with the ancient Greeks attributing to it power & caution, the Indians, knowledge & compassion, & the Persians, royal guardianship. Is it any wonder then, the Grand Palaces of the past rendered the pretty pheasant to 'domestic deity' status?....a garden pet of flaunting, racy, regal magnificence.

# # #
Who's a pretty peacock?

The vibrant, iridescent feathers of the peacock, not only illuminated the manicured lawns of the Royals, but also served as the perfect decorative feature to their bold, sumptuous interiors & exteriors, by way of painted motifs, tiles, sculptures & more........

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Precious peacock gateway, Jaipur Palace

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Painted peacock tiles, Bundi Palace

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Velvet peacock tapestry. 
Ephesian stately home, Turkey

Nothing speaks Mesopotamian-magic louder than pretty peacock feathers & other peacock paraphernalia. Plonk a partial plumage into a vase today & you'll have yourself a tiny slice of Cleopatra's Crib, Zeus' Ancient Acropolis or even Rani's heavenly Palace!

Long stems, short stems or 
baby plumes, all create a
magical, whimsical feel

Dainty marble peacock coasters
Serving it up, Palace style

Large peacock-feather earrings 
hung from bamboo-reed blind

The striking blues, greens & golds of the peafowl (a perfect combination of primary colours ordained by the Gods) blend brilliantly with earthy browns, yellows, pinks & sandstones, as well as contrasting strikingly against white, black & navy.

Peacock-fans of handy handbag size to
full-body frou-frou, elevate any interior

Colourful devotional deity
'Lord Murugan' with peacock

* * *
Peacocks emblazoned on white 
village walls in Rajasthan

The Rani (and other 'bonafide' Princesses before her) has lived and luxuriated happily amidst the sublimely hued feathers of the peacock, been protected from the evil eye & passionately propelled towards knowledge, beauty & compassion. Bold & enigmatic, it takes confidence to style with these colours & items -- especially given such popular beliefs as 'blue & green should not be seen'. I would hazard a guess, whoever uttered these eternal words, never had the privilege of witnessing the seductive, magnetic power of the Regal Peacock on 'display' its manifold varieties & exuberant expressions, in either home, garden, zoo or Princess Palace!

*Rani's Palace on 'An Indian Summer'
Thank you for making space in your day to read my post
*All images are from inside the 'House of Rani' except ###, which are my personal travel photos, and ***, which is courtesy of Gill Davies' 'Spirit of India'.
#All Writing & Photography by Rani.C (Char) 

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Sunday, 1 April 2012

Crazy for Paisley

*Recently featured front page of the Top Morocco Daily*

Seems ever since the Rani was knee-high to a golden foot-stool, a love for all things decorative & decadent has consumed her every waking thought & deed. From climbing up curtains, age 3, for the express purpose of attaching Mother's diamante clips to the pleats & folds, to attacking any white-washed wall within a mile, with crayons of every hue & fancy (resulting often in a light pat to the tush!), to plastering a whole library of books with fabric, glittering stars & flower-power motifs. And while this may describe the life & times of many a young'en, for Baby Rani, however, these were more than just the musings of girly youth.......these were the early expressions of interior decorating gone mad & a deep-rooted connection to her history. The need to adorn, embellish, 'make ones mark' so to, as the Rani will share, older than time itself.

Divined into wood-block

Earliest amongst those with this desire have been nomadic tribal groups, groups who have historically used the decorative tool to beautify, enhance &, above all else, 'communicate'. The 'Adivasis' of Northern India, illiterate as they were, devised an inventive marking, using the clenched fist, dipped into paint & pressed side-down to a surface.......a design that signaled their cast, creed & individuality. This design would come to be known (courtesy of the East-India Company & the weavers of a certain little Scottish town) as the iconic, indispensable, highly ornate & sensual 'Paisley'.

Rani's cotton, paisley bed-spread

Few patterns so vividly evoke the exotic, sumptuous style & grace of Indian arts & crafts. The Rani has been hypnotised since childhood. A true disciple of the lusciously curved 'droplet', who has incorporated the pattern into many of her own creations, not to mention wrapping her whole Palace in various interpretations of it.

See & judge for yourself the level of her Paisley madness!

Crepe-chiffon sari curtain with decorative floral/paisley borders

Pretty paisley detail

1960's vintage dress material with luminous paisley applique, used to upholster old drawers.  
Cut, stretched, folded, tucked & tacked by yours truly!

Silk/cotton, paisley-covered photo-album.
Made with love by yours truly.
Wrapping history with history!

Psychadelic scarves of paisley distinction,

& lastly

 My 'OneRoseOneRuby' shop's tribute to paisley

Above items can all be bought
from my On-Line Shop
(Click on tabs at top of page)

From the ancient Egyptians, right through to graffiti artists of today, a sign, a symbol, a flourish has captured & engaged us, started a dialogue & been the inspiration that has triggered more creative impulses. With her finger firmly on that pulse & a crazy passion for paisley.....the Rani's palace continues to positively vibrate!

#Committed to paisley? 
Do let the Rani know of any paisley invasions or manifestations going on at your Palace; in word or image.....the more divine 'droplets' the better!

Thank you for making space in your day to read my post
*All images from inside the 'House of Rani'
#All Writing & Photography by Rani.C (Char) 

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'comments tab'...I love to hear from you all!**