travel

The Playground of the Gods

The Playground of the Gods

Mount Asahidake, the highest point of this wild island, rose up before me in a great mass of black ash and eternal snow. The volcano hasn’t erupted for 200 years but the smell of sulphur still stings the nose. I stood on the edge of Sugatami Pond, one of many lucid pools that mark this marshland, and watched as the fog thickened around the slopes. The water at my feet was like glass, without crease or wrinkle despite the rain, almost mythical . . .

The Weekend - Cornwall

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Here at Lodestars Anthology we love a beautiful travel journal as much as the next person (a lot more so, probably).  So imagine how happy we were when we chanced across Cornwall by Weekend Journals, a definitive guide to exploring the fairest English county which features unique and special venues, from verdant gardens to visionary galleries, independent shops and exceptional restaurants. The book is written by Milly Kenny-Ryder and produced by Simon Lovell, who both have strong links to Cornwall, and have been visiting with their families since they were young.  Using these connections they have gone off the beaten track to discover the venues that the locals love, while also showcasing some of Cornwall's most iconic sites and stories.  For a hint of what this edition of The Weekend is all about, read on, and be inspired by all that Cornwall has to offer (or click here to order a copy).

The dining area at the St. Tudy Inn

St. Tudy Inn

Emily Scott is an ambitious and optimistic chef who took over the St. Tudy Inn, determined to offer locals and visitors great food in a delightful setting. This charming Cornish pub is situated in St. Tudy, a quaint village in North Cornwall. After extensive redecoration the pub feels cosy and welcoming, with Nicole Heidaripour prints on the walls and vintage furniture.

All Emily’s cheffing experience has been put to good use in the kitchen, where seasonality and local produce reign. The menu is full of comforting classics with a twist, such as the fish and chips, upgraded to the irresistibly tasty Monkfish tails in rosemary focaccia crumb with fries and citrus mayo. The St. Tudy Inn also runs regular events, including Pig and Cider nights with a hog roast and regional ales, so there's many an enticing reason to visit.

St. Tudy Inn, St. Tudy, Bodmin, Cornwall, PL30 3NN

01208 850 656

sttudyinn.com

A spin on the classic fish and chips - monkfish tails in rosemary crumb

Beautifully Cornish floral arrangement at the St. Tudy Inn

Surfside

Surfside is an exciting venture from London-based mixologist Tristan Stephenson, author of The Curious Bartender and part of the drinks company Fluid Movement who founded Purl and The Whistling Shop bars in London. Surfside has become a local hit, serving fresh food and cocktails at the water’s edge in Polzeath. Located on a corner of the beach, the restaurant is only accessible via the sand which adds to the experience.

Lobster crackers at Surfside Restaurant

Although the venue appears casual from the exterior, inside the offerings are for serious foodies with surf and turf platters and inventive cocktails. Thanks to the isolated location Surfside feels intimate and exclusive, with panoramic sea views adding something special to the meal.

Surfside Restaurant, On the Beach, Polzeath, Cornwall, PL27 6TB

01208 862 931

surfsidepolzeath.com

The choice is yours: drinks at Surfside Restaurant

Trevibban Mill & Appleton's at the Vineyard

Situated on the slopes of the Issey brook near Padstow, Trevibban Mill is one of the newer Cornish wineries but is already producing award-winning wines. Liz and Engin began planting in 2008 with an ambition to produce top quality Cornish wines and ciders. Native sheep graze on the land and their wool is for sale in the vineyard shop. Tours and tastings can be arranged to sample a range of the different wine and cider varieties.

Trevibban Mill and Appleton's at the Vineyard

Also on site is Appleton’s at the Vineyard, where ex-Fifteen head chef Andy Appleton is managing the kitchen, feeding hungry visitors with fine Italian dishes showcasing the local produce. Choose from a beautiful piece of sustainable fish, or a bowl of comforting pasta. The dishes provide the ideal accompaniment to a glass of Trevibban Mill wine.

Trevibban Mill & Appleton's at the Vineyard, Dark Lane, near Padstow, PL27 7SE

01841 541 413

trevibbanmill.com

Pasta and Wine at Trevibban Mill & Appleton's at the Vineyard

Trevibban Mill's Wine and Yarn

Hidden Kitchen

Hidden Kitchen is a supper club and culinary concierge serving unique food to its St Ives clientele. Located on the corner of St. Andrews Street, in the centre of the historic town, it is easy to miss this understated dining room. Chef James Watson and his wife Georgina worked together in the catering business before opening their first venue. The intimate dining experience in the boutique restaurant makes it feel like a dinner party at a friend’s house.

Hidden Kitchen

Reading material at the Hidden Kitchen

James regularly plays host to visiting chefs who provide diners with constantly changing, exciting international cuisines. Guest chefs have included Gordon Ramsay student Lee Skeet and Japanese cook Naoko Kashiwagi. After the meal leave a message to show your appreciation on the blackboard tables.

Hidden Kitchen, The Masonic Lodge, St. Andrews Street, St Ives, TR26 1AH

07792 639 755

hiddenkitchenstives.co.uk

Hidden Kitchen - a feast for the senses

Drinks at the Hidden Kitchen

Espressini

There are more and more promising independent coffee shops in Cornwall; Espressini on Killigrew Street in Falmouth is one of the best. This characterful venue serves a bespoke blend of beans sourced and roasted by Yallah Coffee, selected specially for them from growers around the world. Inside, the café is cosy and familiar with mismatched antique furniture, and the chatter accompanied by a thoughtful playlist. The coffee is bold in flavour and served to your preference. Brunch is particularly popular with a menu of tempting and indulgent dishes displaying a wide range of influences from world cuisines.

Coffee at Espressini

Nearby, on Falmouth harbour, is Dulce, the smaller sibling of Espressini which, as well as offering freshly brewed coffee, sells equipment to help you make the perfect cup at home.

39 Killigrew St, Falmouth, TR11 3PW

espressini.co.uk

Sweet treats at Espressini

Fabulous interior design at Espressini

In Iceland - the Water and the Sky

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Photographs by Tom Bunning In winter our thoughts turn to candlelit rooms and warming fires.  But Tom Bunning's photography reminds us that the cold comes in many guises and draws our gaze to Icelandic landscapes - the waterfalls, the birds wheeling under eggshell blue skies and the endless snowbound vistas.  Be warned though, if you venture out into the cold, you may not come back again...

 

Land Rover Iceland - Photographed by Tom Bunning

Land Rover Iceland - Photographed by Tom Bunning

Crete on Film

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Words & Photographs by Richard Kelleher In Crete, one feels transported back in time. The island is characterised by dramatic landscapes - harsh, cragged cliffs sculpted by coastal winds, gold-washed sunsets and the deep blue hue of the sea. It is a place of strength and beauty, embodied by uncompromising family values and regional pride.

When choosing what camera to take, I decided that the depth and texture gained from shooting on film would best capture the island’s natural allure, as well as the feeling that Crete really is a place rooted in times gone by.  The island’s economy, tourism aside, is still reliant on its finest local produce: olive oil. It was Odysseus who bathed in this “liquid gold”, and indeed, your imagination feels inspired by tales of Ancient Greece whenever you set eyes on the rugged coastline.  A place of mythic renown, Crete’s weathered aesthetic is only the first step on an experience rich in culture.

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Marti Illustration

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We take the chance to talk about music, cartoons, techniques, influences and inspirations with Michaela Pointon of Marti Illustration, whose work is featured in Lodestars Anthology Canada (which you can pre-order here). For more of Michaela's illustrations, visit her website at www.martiillustration.com and follow her on Instagram @marti.illustration. Could you tell us a little bit about your background – where you trained, how you learned, and what inspired you to become an artist and an illustrator when you were younger?

I’ve always been passionate about storytelling – creating something magical out of something not so magical seemed to be the thing I found most exciting when growing up. I grew up in Southport, which is a small seaside town in the North West of England and there was just something about it that fascinated me and made me question what was out there beyond the water.

I originally studied Fine Art in Southport as a diploma, and went on to specialise in Illustration as an A-level equivalent.  From there I went on to The Glasgow School of Art to do my degree in Visual Communication, which was the perfect course because it wasn’t tied to any specific skill and allowed me to explore different ways of working.

I was so lucky to be placed in a class full of really great and talented people, we were all very close and I’d say they were a huge influence on me throughout the four years I was there. It helped so much to belong to a group who also lived and breathed the things they were most passionate about.

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You’re based in London – do you take the city as an inspiration?  Does it feature in your work?

I adore London, living here certainly has its ups and downs, but the energy of the city never stays still and I really enjoy that. There is so much see, and everyone you meet will have a story to tell about how they came to be here or their experience of the city and I find that so inspiring. There’s a real sense of determination and strength of character, which I love.

I wouldn’t say the City of London is featured in my work, but most certainly the journey I’ve had since living here and the people I’ve worked with along the way have influenced how I work.

You’ve mentioned that you’re inspired by mid-century design and travel – what is it about these themes that drew you to use them as an inspiration for your work?

For me, mid-century design is the perfect example of something being able to function in a beautiful and simplistic way. I love how bold and charming it can be just through its use of form and colour, I find that method of working very inspiring!

I wrote my dissertation on The Festival of Britain and just adored the psychology behind how things were designed for the purpose of healthy living and happiness. I think there’s so much to take away from that in our own lifestyles.

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You’ve travelled to some interesting locations, and produced work relating to travel – have your travels influenced you significantly?  Do you have a favourite country that you’ve visited?

Travel has always brought a change of scenery and a new experience. Everywhere you go people and places have a different story to tell.

I love the East Coast of Spain and have had great adventures in Greece, but I also feel a real connection to Blackpool and Glasgow, which are very contrasting!

I also enjoy illustrating places that I haven’t seen. The idea of creating a journey you haven’t yet experienced is a nice way of travelling on a budget!

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You’ve worked across a number of different mediums and techniques, such as pen and ink – can you explain a little about the mediums/ techniques you use? Do you have a particular favourite?  Do you find that working with one medium/ technique helps, or feeds into working with another?

I think the medium you use can really alter how you express the things you’re working on.  I wrote a lot of poetry and short stories for my final year of my degree and found the words alone weren’t enough by themselves, so I began building installations to allow the reader to experience the sequences I played out in my mind when creating these stories.  Since then I’ve become much more confident in illustrating and realising that you can tell a story with just as much meaning and expression with the stroke of a brush and some ink.

Illustrating with a tablet has become second nature, but I’d hate to lose touch with my ever-faithful brush set and pastels, so I try as much as I can to keep that up.

Studio

Some of your work has a lovely, Picasso-esque feel to it – has Picasso ever served as an inspiration to you?  Do you have a favourite artist or illustrator?

That’s a really lovely complement!  His used of big bold colours and exaggerated shapes have always been huge win for me.

Satoshi Hashimoto’s work is incredibly beautiful, and I just love the subjects he illustrates. They’re very clever and a real treat.  I could also look at the works of Paul Rand, and Miroslav Sasek all day, every day and never get bored.

Mary Blair has also been a huge inspiration for story telling and vision. I could go on!

Peace, Doves

Your website mentions a fondness for Tom and Jerry, and your work can be quite playful – have cartoons been a significant factor in your work?  Do you have a favourite cartoon?  Is working in animation something you’re interested in?

Cartoons have played a huge part in my work. The further back you go the better they get! I’m fascinated by the work which was being produced in the 50s and the 60s because it adapted so much of its style to reflect design trends at that time. I’m still a big kid at heart and love that so much of what you find in the animation industry is created by people who are also living out that part of their imagination to entertain the masses, it’s a really lovely thing.

Disney’s 1953 Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom and UPA’s 1951 Rooty Toot Toot get a regular screening at home, not to Mention Ren & Stimpy!

Animation is something I’ll always be interested in, I’d love to be clever enough to make my work come to life, but I think I’d need some help from the pros!

You’ve mentioned Kryzsztof Komeda – do you find that music helps you produce your work?  Do you have a particular piece that you enjoy?

I love listening to music when working, it’s a healthy way to free your mind a little more when it’s rammed full of day-to-day admin. More recently I’ve been listening to lots of podcasts, they’re so great for learning on the go, especially if you just want something easy to tune into in the background. The Bancroft Brothers Animation Podcast is top of my list.

Piano and Jazz

You’ve worked for a number of publications as well as producing personal work – do you have a favourite piece out of all the illustrations you’ve made?

I feel really excited about the things I’ve been lucky enough to work on so far, Lodestars in particular! The world of illustration is so exciting, and seeing your work in print is always a really special moment.

The great thing about working on editorial pieces is that it allows you to work on subjects you wouldn’t necessarily think to explore, so I’m learning all of the time, and that’s super rewarding.

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Dapper

 

Manhattan in the Springtime

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Words by Sarah Kelleher, Photographs by Liz Schaffer. Armed with a list of recommendations as long as my arm and travel companions who were already familiar with New York, I stepped off the plane at JFK.  My first glimpse of the city was suitably fitting – late at night, through the window of a yellow taxi cab I could see the outline of towering buildings and neon lights.  Exhausted by the flight, I had just enough energy to register the glorious eccentricity of the lobby at The Jane Hotel, originally built as a hotel on the banks of the Hudson River for sailors on shore-leave, complete with bellhops in maroon outfits with brass buttons, dark wood panelling and a pair of antlers.

Rising much refreshed from my bunk the next day (the rooms at The Jane were built to resemble cabins on a ship) I breakfasted in Café Gitane, next to the hotel’s lobby.  The décor is French, as the name would suggest, and the European/ North African/ Middle Eastern cuisine is delicious, perfect fuel for urban adventurers.  I was surprised by the continental flavour of the café, but came to realise that this is very typical of New York, a city that simultaneously wears its immigrant heart on its sleeve whilst remaining distinctly American.

After that first meal my feet hardly touched the ground.  I was lucky enough to be in New York in the spring when the city is at its most romantic, the square lines of tenement builds softened by the pink and white blossom hanging from the roadside trees.  A lifelong bookworm and confirmed geek, I couldn’t pass up on the chance to visit some of the city’s bookshops and took in the Strand, an enormous family-run independent bookstore, and Forbidden Planet, a famous comic book emporium.  Having satisfied one appetite I turned to another, and had lunch at Veselka, a Ukrainian restaurant and New York institution that serves tasty pierogi and sweet raspberry pancakes.

A visit to Central Park was in order, so I found my way to this oasis in Manhattan.  Central Park is just extraordinary – a long rectangle of green space carved out of New York’s urban jungle.  You can see the city’s skyscrapers closing in from almost all points in the park, but they seem curiously far away when you’re surrounded by so much nature.  A quiet wander up and down the paths, past New York joggers and tiny dog-walking Manhattanites, followed by a trip to Café Lalo of You’ve Got Mail fame blew away the last cobwebs of jet lag.

My first taste of the city was short-lived, as I had another plane to catch to New Mexico and a road-trip to complete.  Late at night, tucked up in my cabin bed at The Jane, I consoled myself with the thought that I’d be returning to New York in a matter of weeks on my way home.  When I closed my eyes, all I could see were skyscraper lights.

Two weeks later, and New York had progressed from the chill and damp of early spring to the first hints of summer. Returning to The Jane felt like a homecoming of sorts, and I wasted no time in ensconcing myself back in Café Gitane for a coffee and plotting session.  My first stop was to meet up with a friend who was serendipitously in New York at the same time as me; she suggested the High Line.

The High Line is a remarkable piece of New York history – a living monument to the city’s transport past.  Originally a railroad running on an elevated track through the Chelsea district on Manhattan’s West Side, it closed in 1980, only to re-open in 2009 as a public landscape.  Carefully planted with perennials, grasses, shrubs and trees, the planting design is based on the wildlife that sprang up after the tracks fell into disuse.  After ambling through Chelsea Market we ascended to the High Line; on a sunny spring Saturday locals and tourists were out in force, wandering through the trees and tracks and enjoying the views over the city.

If attractions such as the High Line and Top of the Rock demonstrate anything, it’s that you can always find a fresh vantage point to enjoy New York from.  There are so many ways to see this city, whether you’re at the pinnacle of the Rockefeller Centre, matching up the buildings with your map, or down on the streets, wending your way through beeping yellow taxi cabs.  In the evenings, though, I was after a different kind of spectacle.

At the top of my list for New York was written ‘must see the New York City Ballet’.  This world-famous, and world-class ballet company was founded by George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein in 1948 and resides at the Lincoln Centre.  Balanchine, who served as Ballet Master of the company until his death in 1983, choreographed numerous ballets in which he pioneered a new, athletic style, such as Jewels, the one I’d chosen to watch.

I’d picked Jewels for a number of reasons: partly because it was typically Balanchine, energetic and thematic instead of having a traditional plot with a happy or tragic ending, and partly because I was drawn to the story behind the ballet.  Enamoured with the jewellery on display at New York stores like Harry Winston, Balanchine envisioned a ballet where the acts were named after jewels: emerald, ruby and diamond.  Each act embodied different types of music and ballet: the Emerald act was set to Fauré and was choreographed in the French manner, the Ruby act featured Stravinsky and a spiky modern American technique and the Diamond act was danced to Tchaikovsky in the Russian style.  Of all the sights I saw in New York, this was one of the most spectacular – the dancers leaped higher than I thought possible, and danced in formations that did indeed look like glittering ropes of jewels strung together.

I could continue to wax lyrical about everything I saw in New York – tea at the Plaza (decadent, luxurious), a trip to the Tenement Museum to learn about New York’s immigrant history and lunch at Tableau One followed by a visit to the Museum of Modern Art, where I stood, transfixed, in front of Picasso’s ‘Starry Night’ for a good twenty minutes.  At some point though, I had to accept that I wasn’t going to be able to see everything the city had to offer, that I had simply run out of time.  In the end it didn’t matter too much – after all, it wasn’t a case of if I’d return to New York, but when.

Nikoi Island

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Flying from Australia back to London we had wanted to break up the trip by having a week to recharge and plan for the year ahead. Within easy reach of Singapore, and only eight kilometres from Bintan, Nikoi Island seemed to be the perfect option for us. A private island, 15 hectares in size, we stayed in one of the 15 beach houses that all sit facing the water.

Often most content just lounging downstairs in our beach house reading, we almost felt guilty for not taking up some of the activities that were on offer - such as snorkelling, sailing or a rainforest walk. For a week we enjoyed barefoot luxury and witnessed local fisherman on their boats under soft pink sunsets. We were a little sad to leave but grateful to feel relaxed and recharged for the year ahead.

Photographs by magazine contributor Renae Smith.

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Porto

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We first worked with Hannah Sheffield on our England issue back in 2014 when she captured the country's seasons. She made a stunning appearance again when she photographed the Scottish Boarders for issue 2, and so when she told us she was off to Porto for a holiday we had to see (and share) her photographs. This is a different side to the Portuguese city, a quieter side, a look at its detail. All we know is that it makes us want to travel! To purchase the Scotland magazine, and see more of Hannah's work, click here.

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Etna Moments

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To get your week off to an exotic start we thought we would share some writing from our Italy issue. Please enjoy Etna Moments, written by Ed Henry and Photographed by Renae Smith. You can buy the Italy issue here.

Sicily, Italy

On an island off Italy’s boot you quickly learn that if it’s not Baroque, don’t fix it.

When you think of Sicily, what comes to mind?

The answers I received were split between those who hadn’t travelled there and those who had. The former would mumble something vague or hesitant - “it looks nice,” or “the birthplace of the Mafia right?”. The latter would gush a living eulogy for an island that captures the imagination and remains lodged there well after the holiday’s end. Now that I was visiting, I was suddenly a member of this club, the cognoscenti if you will. And in keeping with the island’s own warmth and generosity I will extend an invite, or provide a window at least, into this rocky triangular mass in the Mediterranean.

A whiff of context: Italy and I have history, from a grandfather who called it home to friends scattered across the North. I have had the privilege of seeing this country from many angles and so my objectivity is questionable. But this was my first jaunt to Sicily, and for my (much) better half, her first trip anywhere south of the Alps.

Sicily is a place that Italian mainlanders very consciously visit, such is the distinct identity that the island enjoys. Not forced, it is forged through the rich history that simply doesn’t exist anywhere else. Sicily is distinctly Italian, and the architecture and gastronomic traditions are on full display, alongside other axiomatically Italianate amusements. But it’s been combined and entwined with Greek flavours and Arabic influences, not to mention Spanish rule, and much more besides. I say this not to intimate a deep knowledge of the island but because it’s there for you to see, smell and taste. To the visitor more accustomed to the waterways of Venice or the sleek Milan cityscape, Sicily offers a warm, rugged and almost rough embrace.

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Trains do snake their way around the island, but your own set of wheels is thoroughly recommended. For a fully immersive experience, we plumped for a Fiat 500 (new model), but it wasn’t available, so they gave us one with a retractable roof. Oh fine, if you must. A less composed traveller would have squealed with excitement.

From Catania on the Ionian Sea we pointed the car north and meandered up the coast to our first base: Taormina, which is in no way defined by its undoubtedly touristy centre. We used the town as a launchpad for the surrounding area, and were handsomely rewarded. I do caveat that point, and indeed all of this article, by saying that we travelled in June. Intentionally so, as the temperature is a happy 30oC at this time of the year, rather than a sweltering 40oC plus. More crucially, we avoided the period between late July and the end of August which sees the mainland descend upon the island for tanning and indulgence.

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Once installed in our apartment (more immersive than a hotel), we spent days visiting nearby beaches, sunning ourselves on Spisone, sea kayaking around the grottoes and walking up Isola Bella. Later we trundled down the coast to Siracusa, a functioning commercial city. Whilst it does have spots for archeology enthusiasts, and some top eating experiences, the big draw is the historic centre, Ortigia. To be blunt, it’s stunning. An afternoon walking around Ortigia’s backstreets is sheer joy, the main square a deep white, dominated as it is by the Duomo - I didn’t think places like this existed anymore. Ortigia itself is an island off an island, so if you walk for much more than ten minutes in any direction you’ll come upon the azure abyss that surrounds it.

At this point you think you’re aesthetically there, at the apotheosis, and that you can relax with a cool beer. Not so, or Noto so - if you will. A winding 40 minutes’ drive away is Noto, which would scream UNESCO heritage site, if only it weren’t so tranquil. The cathedral gleams in the Mediterranean light, the numerous supporting cast of churches and palaces resplendent under the sun. It’s a visual feast, and if you’re into architecture, it will probably satisfy more needs besides.

The best way to wind down from such an experience is to step into one of the local ice cream shops. Not just any gelateria, mind. Where do you think the best gelato is? That place in Soho? Don’t joke. San Crispino in Rome? It’s up there. But the number one and number two are within 50 metres of each other in Noto. A locale called Caffè Sicilia sounds like a tourist trap, but it’s not. It does to your mouth what the rest of the town does to your eyes. I’ll leave it there, and say to you go. Go.

The inner island is matched in beauty by what you find on the coast - picturesque beaches lapped by clear blue waters. They all deserve a mention, but only one gets that honour. Riserva Naturale Orientata Oasi Faunistica di Vendicari, as the names suggests, is a nature reserve, one where you can walk through ancient ruins, jump (cautiously) from rocks into the cooling waves below, or tiring of that, find your own spot on the pristine stretch of coastline.

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Subsumed in the beauty of the landscape, we avoided Sicily’s cities apart from a brief drive through Catania. This city has more to offer than suicidal driving, but it’s a different trip. Its vibe is long weekend, not a week unwinding in the sun. The single greatest thing about the city however, is the elephant in the room of this piece so far. Mount Etna, which stands behind Catania, dominates the skyline up and down much of the coast, which means that you can have your own Etna moment no matter where you are as it’s visible from, well, everywhere. The classic way to take it in is from the amphitheatre in Taormina, although others prefer to see it in contrast with Catania’s urban grit. We found our Etna moment when looking down at the valleys and beaches from picture- perfect Castelmola, a hilltop town you wouldn’t believe existed until you saw it. The only thing towering over us? Etna herself. The millennial traveller is accustomed to mountains, au fait with tropical climate and quite frankly used to white sand. A volcano is a treasure of nature not often seen. If you leave Sicily in any doubt, you won’t arrive home with it; as the plane climbs into the sky it skims Etna just above her peak.

The food. Oh yes. I’ve saved the food for the end so as to contain it, for memories of my trip, as with much of life, are marked, or should that be stained, by what I ate at the time. The food here excites and subverts and is as much of an experience as any of the vistas. You farewell Sicily with a new found love of aubergines, you’ll remember how wonderful tomatoes can actually taste and best of all, you’ll discover that fish needn’t be dry, bland and deep-fried.

Sicilian food is independent of mainland Italian cuisine. The two styles are not unrelated, but think of Sicilian food as a proud cousin. The same historical and imperial forces responsible for Sicily’s formation, have brought similar import to its cuisine. This is not to say that classical Italian strands are not evident: my travelling companion’s dish of the tour was the definitive Pasta alla Norma served at La Piazzetta in Taormina. Named after the work of one of Catania’s most famous sons, this dish became almost a standard for restaurants up and down the east coast.

Not every meal can be indulged in print, but it would be remiss not to pull out a couple of highlights. Osteria da Carlo was a gem hidden in Ortigia. We had the legendary six- course fish menu, for the grand sum of €35, washed down with the best bottle of €5 house plonk I’ve ever swilled. If it swam in the sea nearby, then it was on that menu. You order sea bass, and not one, but two of the fullest, freshest fillets turn up, naturally served in the juice of the finest fruit Sicily has on land: lemon.

Flavours on the island, like the setting, shall not date. Consistency, textures, even viscosity are all different, all exciting. Entirely Sicilian. As Sicily’s perhaps most prominent literary son, Giovani di Lampedusa, proffered: “Sicily is Sicily - 1860, earlier, forever”. Long may she be, and proudly too. More’s the better for me, as I will be back soon.

Sicily, Italy

Sicily, Italy

Sicily, Italy

Tom Bunning

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Death Valley - Photographed by Tom Bunning We met Tom Bunning in a coffee shop in South London where he greeted us with coffee and a portfolio. Understandably, we fell instantly in love with his photographed world, made up of etherial landscapes that play with light and scale and intimate portraits that capture the sitter's soul in the most artful way possible. We just had to chat to him about what makes his work so easy to get completely lost within.

What do you love about photography?

Where to start. I think I love a photo’s ability to transport the viewer: be it back to a special memory; forward to a place they’d love to visit, or to give a glimpse into a person’s mind. But in less romantic terms, I’m basically a lazy painter. If I found that wielding a paintbrush gave me as much immediate pleasure as taking a photo does I’d probably be trying to do that now, probably rather badly. For me the greatest pleasure right now is to be able to earn a living doing something that I love. Fingers crossed that continues. I also really enjoy seeing other photographers’ work. I feel part of a community of like-minded souls, all of us trying to create something meaningful or beautiful or interesting, using photography to try to make sense of our world.

Can you remember the first photograph you took?

I don’t think I can remember the first photo I took, but I can definitely remember an early view that inspired me to take pictures. I grew up in a very small village in Suffolk, our home was surrounded by fields and the view from my bedroom window was of a giant oak tree set in the centre of a field. All year round I’d watch the colours of the landscape change and in the summer the old proud oak would stand tall in the centre of a bright yellow square of rapeseed flowers, the small window providing a perfectly framed photograph in my mind’s eye.

What inspires your work?

My inspirations have changed over the years I’ve been growing - both as a photographer and as a person. When I seriously started trying to take pictures for a living I was working at Abbey Road Music Studios (it sounds glamorous but I was mostly in a dark room QCing music videos!) so my early work was definitely inspired by rock and roll. I had several great years of shooting live gigs, taking portraits of musicians and touring with bands, interspersed with fashion work, which I think went hand-in-hand quite naturally. In recent years I think I’ve become earthier, more inspired by the natural world if you like, and I think this change in personal perspective has affected what I’m inspired to shoot professionally. One of my current projects is entitled Crafted and is a series of photos documenting and celebrating those in Britain who make the small, the hand-crafted and the individual. I’ve always been interested in England’s landscape and heritage and I suppose Crafted is an extension of this interest, focusing in closer on the personal aspect of our environment. On the flip-side, as my commercial work increasingly takes me further around the world, I’ve been enjoying capturing foreign landscapes.

Death Valley - Photographed by Tom Bunning

How would you define your style?

I’m still developing as a photographer and my style will continue to change over the years but I like to think it’s honest, clean and simple. I don’t like to over-process or over-edit my shots and I always try to get what’s on the back of the camera as close to how I want it before it gets to the editing stage. Of course some clients know exactly what they’re after in terms of a feel or look of a shot and when that’s the case I think you have to find the balance between your personal style and their needs - always a challenge but a fantastic one. I recently had a great meeting with an agency and they described my work as having a ‘very gentle approach’ which was a lovely thing to hear.

Does travel influence your work in any way?

As I touched on above, it has done much more so recently. My commercial work over the last year or so has taken me around the world to all sorts of incredible places, from Seoul to Islay, from Vietnam to New York, Kuala Lumpur to LA, among others - although I should say that amidst all this excitement I’ve had many shoots in dirty parts of London to keep my feet on the ground! I think the thing about travelling for me is that as a full-time Londoner, living and working in the fast lane, being away gives me an opportunity to expand my view of the world and gives me time to see things I probably miss at home. Something that seems very ordinary to locals can look extraordinary through a foreigner’s eyes.

Death Valley - Photographed by Tom Bunning

Has there been a particularly memorable project either past or present?

I would have to say my ‘Death Valley’ series from earlier this year, wonderfully displayed here by your good selves! One of my current gigs is working with David Beckham and his team for Haig Club Whisky which has been an absolute pleasure. In the grey depths of January I flew to the sunshine state for a promotional shoot for Haig. The shoot was only for the day but it would have been rude not to make the most of it so my assistant Danny and I stayed out there for a week, hired a car and took a road-trip from LA to Vegas via Death Valley where I spent several days shooting a series of landscapes. An absolute dream trip. The colours and expanse of the landscape out there were so rich and photogenic and I’m really pleased with the results.

What is your dream subject?

That’s a tricky one. In terms of humans I love photographing interesting faces, be they young, old or in-between. I’d love to turn my lens on someone like John Hurt or Morgan Freeman but equally so on a sheep-farmer or a dress-maker. Landscape-wise I have a real hankering to go to Iceland. I don’t have much experience of working with such a cold clear environment and, having recently invested in the new PhaseOne IQ250, I’d love to get out there with it and see what I can capture. My ultimate goal is to bring the two main aspects of my work closer together, working on location to take portraits of interesting subjects, set in interesting environments.

Where can we see more of your work?

I’ve recently had my new book made, by Cathy Robert at Delta Design who’s done a wonderful job, so I’m in the process of making appointments with agencies. Much of my recent work is showcased on my site at www.tombunning.com. I plan to exhibit the Crafted series next year in London so look out for that.

Death Valley - Photographed by Tom Bunning

Death Valley - Photographed by Tom Bunning

Death Valley - Photographed by Tom Bunning

“You don't make a photograph just with a camera. You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved.” ― Ansel Adams

Ellis O'Connor

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Scotland Photographer Ellis O'Connor has an eye for the dramatic - soaring peaks dotted with snow, valleys that appear endless, gunmetal seas and a grey scale you can't help but adore. So it's rather fitting that she frequently makes dark and dramatic Scotland her subject. We had a chat to Ellis about her work, Hebridean focus and love of travel.

Can you tell me a little about your training and artistic background?

I am a Fine Art graduate with an honours degree from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design. I am currently studying my Masters Degree in Art and Humanities based in Dundee, Scotland, where I grew up. I am a visual artist and specialise in photography, painting and drawing. I have exhibited widely and have recently undertaken artist residencies in the Northern Isles of Scotland, Iceland and was selected for the RSA Scholarship to Florence last year.

How would you define your style?

My style is based on the aesthetics of remote landscapes. It deals with different elements based on the land; the spirit of place, traces of the land and the sublime. All explored through a series of prints, photographs and paintings.

Within certain remote places there is a powerful atmosphere and through my work I invite the viewer to feel the [landscapes] presence ... and the textures and marks that we do not necessarily notice. My process of mark making, the washes and layers explored through my work are a direct way of showing how the unforgiving elements wear away the land. It all ties together to highlight the underlying meaning of the landscape and elements these vast places are exposed to. I also would say that my style is very bold in terms of capturing the overwhelming presence of the landscape and sublime mountains.

Scotland

Scotland

What inspires your photographs?

My photographs are inspired by travelling, mountains and remote lands. As long as I am travelling and venturing out to places that are unknown to me and far away from cities, then I will constantly be inspired. The intricate detail of the land, the atmosphere of the remote places and the feeling of being surrounded by nature and the wild environment is the main motivator that fuels and enriches my work.

What do you love about your job?

I love being able to go out to new places and capture them. It is a great thing being able to connect new people to a place just by the visual imagery that I put across in my work.

There is a certain drama to your work - is this intentional and where does this come from?

Is this intentional? Yes and no. I aim to capture the drama found within overwhelming landscapes, being out there surrounded by the mountains I feel a sense of heightened intensity and powerful atmosphere so I aim to put this across to the viewer. Also because these places are so staggeringly beautiful and present, it happens naturally that the photos end up with such drama; the place overall determines the outcome of the photograph.

Scotland

Scotland

Does travel influence your work in any way?

Travel is the only thing that influences my work. Without travel I cannot capture. As my studio is in the city, I find that every now and then I go on a road trip of Scotland here and there, to get new images, a new perspective free from the constant stimulation of being connected in a city and create new work! The wonderful thing about Scotland is that most of it is still very much untamed land up North, you don't need to travel far to get away from a city or even civilisation.

You've shot quite a lot of work around Scotland - is there something special about the scenery here?

Yes there is definitely something special about the scenery here. I was lucky enough to grow up in Scotland and with it's dramatic peaks and mountain ranges, layers of dramatic history embedded within the places and the magnificent lochs and valleys, it is simply stunning. I travel a lot to other countries and parts of the world and find a lot of inspiration to make work there but I am very much connected to Scotland.

Scotland

Scotland

Has there been a project (past, present or future) that you’ve particularly enjoyed?

I've been involved in a lot of amazing and inspiring projects but one of the best projects I've enjoyed recently being a part of was working on the Isle of Eigg (one of Scotland's remote small Isles) as Artist in residence with The Bothy Project at the very start of January. You can read my article and find out more about the Bothy Project on the blog here.

I found this very engaging and an amazing place to work. I was located in a beautiful bothy right on the North tip of the Island surrounded by cliffs and looking out to the magnificent peaks of Rum, I made a lot of new work there and most of my new photographs have come from being within that place. The thing I found most important was being off grid. As I had no distractions, it gave me the chance to just fully explore and connect with the island and make a brand new body of work. Also as it was right at the very start of this year, right in the middle of Scotland's winter, the weather was wild and there was not much light so it really pushed me out of my comfort zone in engaging with a place. Simply stunning.

What advice do you have for aspiring photographers?

My advise for aspiring photographers is to find your niche. Find what it really is you are passionate and inspired by and create a new voice for that. Capture what it important to you and find your own style so people will be able to recognise the work. It is also very important to have a level of depth and meaning to the work, find what the calling is. I have come to realise that work with a significant meaning connects and resonates more with the viewer. Lastly, never give up on something you are truly passionate about!

Scotland

Scotland

Scotland

Scotland

Scotland

Scotland

Scotland

Scotland

Scotland