I have a thing for book sculptures. I love the woods. I bow down to the seasons. I watch in wonder as my children run arms outstretched towards their future, leaving images of their former selves distinct in my memory, yet pirouetting out of reach. I wanted to encapsulate this, the magical glow that gets cast over early childhood. A time when enchanted princesses exist, stars elicit wonder, each outing is a magic carpet ride of discovery (and the dog comes too).
No longer are we my owl and the pussycat of yesteryear. We turn cartwheels rather than learning to walk in the Easter wood soft and scented with wild spring garlic. The small girl whose first conversation revolved around the naming (and tasting) of autumn berries now has heavy homework and hockey bruises. For me these early memories are based around the ancient woodland our house backed onto and we explored together through the seasons.
So I asked Sophia Langmead to make me a bell jar sculpture, to give me an endless childhood spring complete with ‘the owl and pussycat’, that wild garlic, the bluebells and our whippet then to please sprinkle it all generously with her glitter paint and magic touch. A bespoke commission for Christmas. Sophia is clearly the woman for this, her studio in Primrose Hill takes you into an imaginary world from the moment you go down the stairs:
My eyes kept darting around her place: it’s a mass of treasures, vintage finds and vibrant colour, layer upon layer. What I love is that it couldn’t be anybody else’s, it’s unique and charming, exactly like Sophia.
The books she had collected for my pussycat, the woodland birds and our dog… ready to be painstakingly brought into the scene.
She told me about rabbit holes, woodland deer, glitter birds, jewelled moments and talking animals. I left entranced. Even then the final bell jar was still a surprise. I think what’s most magical is that each element is so finely detailed, even the words running up the tree trunks have a meaning for me.
There are my owl and the pussycat, the whippet running behind.
and then all around, wherever you look woodland magic:
I don’t know how she does it but Sophia makes a fairytale world for ‘ever after’. Thank you. All images are from me or Sophia’s website. Sophia has a range of prints, boxes and bell jars for sale and will create bespoke pieces. For closer detail of the bell jar click into any photo and you can scull through them.