Sleeping beauties

How are you all? I do hope that you and your loved ones are well? This is my first blog post since ‘you know what’. I can’t quite bring myself to mention it because the blog is primarily about sharing interior decorative beauty and will continue to do so. But with the seismic shock that one way or another we have all experienced, the virus has frozen in time everything that happened before March 2020.

Blog on pause

It has taken me a few weeks to process my thoughts. I have been seeking inspiration everywhere, finding comfort in the wisdom of our elders (The Queen’s speech as well as from Captain Tom Moore, the WWII veteran who when I last looked had raised nearly £19 million for the NHS) and looking to some of the inspirational work being done by health workers on ‘the front line’ (as scary as that First World War connotation has).

Nature reclaims the streets

Whilst the negative effects of what has happened are plain for all to see, in response the powerful voice of nature has been so affecting. From the almost deafening birdsong to the abundance of Spring blossom as well as animals reclaiming the streets (a herd of goats that recently wandered in to the deserted streets of Llandudno) has given a certainty that life is beautiful and does carry on.

Sleeping beauties

There is one idea that has really captured my imagination, it comes from artist Anne Roberts, the mother of decorative painter and designer, Flora Roberts.

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‘Midnight Garden’ painting by Flora Roberts styled by Mary Norden with Photography by Polly Wreford for Homes & Gardens magazine.

As for most creatives, all on-site work such as the murals Flora does for private clients have now been put on hold.  Flora’s mother referred to these projects recently as the ‘sleeping beauties‘ which would be returned to one day when lockdown is released. A perfectly evocative idea suited to Flora’s magical flower paintings but also an idea that could apply to so many other people’s work too.

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Hydrangea by Flora Roberts

There is a sense that protective vines have grown over the castle walls of all our lives. Slightly less evocative perhaps is the idea of the prince with a vaccine – but it is he or she for whom we must wait!

Flora Roberts new wallpaper collection

What we do have to look forward to in the meantime is the launch of Flora’s new wallpaper collection with Hamilton Weston (who also supply wallpapers to film and TV – most recently to Julian Fellowes’ TV series, Belgravia). I cannot wait, so watch this space for details:

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Camelia wallpaper by Flora Roberts, the first design in a series of wallpapers to be launched by Hamilton Weston.

Dorset lockdown

I asked Flora how she was finding lockdown life. Flora is currently working and living at her parents with her boyfriend in Dorset.

“I am lucky enough to be spending lockdown here where of course I am really grateful to be surrounded by nature and to be with my family. Aside from the underlying anxiety of the situation I’m sure everyone is experiencing, I’m getting a lot from painting flowers from life. I find myself spending longer on painted studies than I usually would. It is really like a form of meditation,” says Flora.

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Spring flowers by Flora Roberts.

Arts & Crafts

Flora’s beautiful work always reminds me of the Arts and Crafts era. William Morris, Charles Voysey, Charles Rennie Macintosh, William de Morgan and artists such as Edward Burne-Jones all had a celebration of nature at the heart of their designs which could perhaps not be more relevant for these times.

Blog rewind

If you missed them first time around, you might like to take a look at the following related blog posts:

Arts & Crafts: Decorating with head, hand and heart

RHS Chelsea Flower Show inspires artist Flora Roberts

Petersham Nurseries: Midsummer styling ideas

Thank you

Finally, I would just like to make mention of some fantastic creative friends and former magazine colleagues who have mobilised their sewing expertise to help supply NHS staff with PPE. Making up scrubs for NHS workers are Sarah Clarke of Mrs Trindle Hat Hire and Kelly Rowe.

Also, the Design and Technology department at Leighton Park School in Reading have been making and are now co-ordinating with other schools to supply face shields to NHS workers. With donations from the public, the Leighton Park School collaboration have so far been able to help 79 Covid-19 frontline organisations including 8 hospitals and 18 GP surgeries.

If you are able to donate money or skills, please click the links above.

Thank you so much for reading, take care, keep healthy and just as importantly keep creative.

With best wishes, Charis x

Charis Headshot
Charis White, interior stylist/writer. Photo: Fiona McLean Photography

6 thoughts on “Sleeping beauties

  1. Lovely to read about Flora thanks so much Charis for a cheering message. Thank goodness it’s spring and our
    gardens are blooming with such energy. Here in Surrey rambling roses with cherry blossom, tulips and daffodils all proudly flowering together, a first for this garden They all look so pleased with themselves it brings a smile and helps to keep our spirits high. Loads of sorting going on in the house. This week old magazines and books. Do I keep or let them go ..hard decisions as space at a premium but will probably do the usual and just move the stacks around yet again! Stay well xx

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  2. Thank you so much for your message Hester. Your garden sounds really lovely and isn’t it fantastic that all the Spring flowers got it together this year, just when we all needed it. The moving of stacks of magazines brought a smile to my face as it is a familiar scene in our house. We start with good intentions of having a declutter but end up fudging the issue. Alex brought a box of my ‘styling books’ in from the garage this morning which he really hoped I would consign to the charity shop visit (one day …) but even though I had forgotten I had these ones – I re-remembered their potential and so half of them have gone back into the garage … Hope you stay well too and enjoy this lovely season. Xx

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    1. Thanks Charis yes what do we do with all these books and mags…..from 1988 when we were at Country Living
      plus older french and Italian mags. Wonderful 80’s and 90’s World of Interiors with their amazing layouts and thick glossy white paper. Danish and Swedish, early Elle Dec’s and some incredible Vanity Fair’s, a veritable representation of abundant creativity. Stacks have emigrated to the greenhouse up on the allotment for sunny afternoons with tea from a flask and yes some in the garden shed. I guess they hold our history…well that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it! xx

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      1. They sound like treasures Hester and the allotment the perfect place in which to revisit them. They really were the days for layout and for luxury of creativity on mags. They were also the days too when Laura Ashley shoots were truly inspirational. Anyway, off to plant a few bean seedlings now in the upscaled ‘Brexit veg’ bed at the end of the garden …! xx

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  3. Lovely Charis. Like a breath of fresh air. Beautiful designs. Thank goodness for the gorgeous weather we have been having. It’s been bliss to really take in the countryside, I never tire of the views and the ducklings, skylarks, blue tits fighting etc on my walks and observe the garden coming into bloom. I’ve have spent hours in the hot sunshine staring/watching the tress come into blossom. Xxx

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    1. Flora’s painting is incredibly uplifting and beautiful, so glad that you like. Wonderful that you are able to make the most of the countryside on your doorstep. It is a magical time of year, I think it is my favourite. Alex noticed 4 goldfinches in the garden today – not sure we have had quite as many as that before, so there are definitely upsides to the world getting a bit of a rest! Hope you have a lovely weekend. Xxx

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