Happy New Year! Boy, am I glad to see the back of 2020, although I think we can all agree that the beginning of 2021 hasn’t been the greatest. But still, let us hope for better things. For the first time, I’ve decided to set three words for the year as an experiment to see whether it makes any difference to what I achieve and, more importantly, how I experience the coming year. I have chosen:


1. Compassion – to remind me to be kind, to myself in the first instance so that I can be kind to others.
2. Connection – to remind me that no one is an island and connection is what makes life worth living.
3. Collaboration – to remind me that my best work is rarely something I’ve done in isolation (!).


It will be interesting to see how this works out for me. A lot of folks swear by this so there must be something to it. And it feels much more useful than setting a series of resolutions I know full well will be completely forgot by the time February rolls around. It may be I’m just not that good at setting resolutions. Goals though are something different. Goals are good. Generally. This latest article from Mark Manson gives an interesting perspective on goals, alongside his trademark inventive use of expletives, which I find adds a certain something extra to my enjoyment of his writing.


Goal number one for this year is to get going on doing up my imaginary house, which has had the handy bonus of finally forcing me to sort out my collection of tear sheets from magazines. I have rather a contradictory taste in interiors as I love those contemporary neutral ones, you know, with lots of texture, minimal decoration and big expanses of glass. And then I also love those with deep, rich, saturated colour, and plenty of ornament and embellishment. Since putting together the compendium of my heart’s desires (aka a scrapbook), I am delighted to discover that the two are not as incompatible as I had feared and it would be possible to marry them into a cohesive whole, perfectly exemplified by this my favourite restoration of the moment – Massimo Adario’s apartment in Rome’s Palazzo Sacchetti. Just look at that ceiling…


Another favourite is the New Palace, an Art Deco gem in western Gujarat. Something similar, without the hefty price tag and just a tad smaller, would be wonderful. Too much to ask, do you think?


I’ve also been busy collecting inspirational images for realising the imaginary house for of course atmosphere is of vital importance. Colour and light are paramount. (Not to mention adequate storage. I’m nothing if not practical.) My go to artists in the first instance include Johannes Vermeer, Jan Davidsz. de Heem, Mark Rothko, Georgia O’Keeffe, Giorgio Morandi, Rembrandt, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Sarah Gillespie, and photographers Tim Walker, Barbara Cole, Christy Lee Rogers and of course Hendrik Kerstens.


My current object of desire is anything by Junko Mori; I was fascinated by this BBC article on how the medieval church shaped the western mind; and I’ve been reading lots on how COVID-19 will change how we live, work and socialise. I confess I find none of it particularly enlightening so far, though I did quite like this one about 15 minute cities. Wouldn’t that be nice? Oh, and the samples of my latest cushion designs have returned. They are just as I had hoped and are now on their way to be made up. I know, bet you can’t wait.


So, all in all, not too bad a start to the year. It’s the small things… you know, like that there’s still a mince pie or two to enjoy. No punishing diets here. COVID is quite enough, thank you.


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The featured photograph is by my good friend Tadej Turk. He has just won an honourable mention in the Monochrome Photography Awards. Congratulations Tadej! You can see more of his wonderful work here.