Still Lifes & Shelfies – The Art of Repeat!

Shelfie, Nordic, Scandi, Muuoto, Ikea, Kinfolk

As ‘NeoNordic’ and ‘Scandinavian Chic’ become buzzwords in design-conscious homes across the UK- it got me thinking about how most trends are generally cyclical! If you think Still Lifes (think meticulously administered narratives of home/travel/food- things set against equally considered backdrops), and Shelfies (shelves or any homespace that have a few lifestyle markers indicating the sort of things “you’re into” ) are a new age phenomenon – think again! Both art forms ironically trace back to Northern Europe and as far back as the 1600’s. I’ll let this lovely page on Wikipedia fill you in on the engrossing details of Flemish and Dutch still lifes ! ;P

Every year, I ‘cache’ a few words in my mind and they become linguistic symbols of what moved the year in my memory – this is apart from my children ‘brunging’ me water or ‘growding up’ etc! 2013 definitely included “government” and “surveillance” as we horrifyingly zoned in on information breaches, security or the lack thereof. One that’ll hold strong for 2014 is the ‘shelfie’, the sorta more intelligent version of the ubiquitous selfie that’s been around in it’s evolutionary trajectory from the early kissy face to the more suprise-driven ‘o’-pout – often with a strategic but oh-so totally unpremeditated lipstick held against the cheek! Barring the lipstick, Van Gogh’s self portraits weren’t too different. ๐Ÿ™‚


apples, still life, shelfie, vintage, farmhouse, reclaimed wood table, baking
Still Life of the birth of an Apple&Cinnamon Swirl…or bun!

And then there’s “artisanal” – I love this word! Added to a deli menu or sribbled on a chalkboard, it inevitably raises the mark-up on everything – Herb Butter. Handmade Crisps. Wooden Cacti! And linen. Non-artisanal linen blouses? just so wrong! Artisan in my humble opinion is the new ‘Designer’ – before “buying designer” came to be seen as plain lack of good sense or insight ๐Ÿ™‚

I am often well aware (Yes, I am!) that all the aerial shots I take of tables set for the making of cinnamon apple rolls or shelves dotted with my kitchen pride can be construed as a form of self-absorbtion, adding to a world already free-falling into an obsession of pictorally cataloging their lives! Why else would there be place for something like Instagram or the “VSCo Grid”?! <bows deferentially!>


Apple&Cinnamon swirl, dessert, pastry, baking, foodporn, blossom
Still Life of the existence of the Apple&Cinnamon swirl…or bun in Spring!

To me, shelfies and still life shots are very similar to dressing up and personal grooming -the reason why we generally don’t prefer to dress in nondescript clothing – grey – lacking any ornamentation or accessories. (Arguably, it all hits “Taupe” when you move past your mid-thirties, but moving swiftly on…!) Why should we condescend on a description of a life/hobby/ pursuit which is invested with self-expression – regardless of how self-involved it be! After all, being well groomed is not an act of philanthropy either!ย  If the penny hasn’t dropped yet, this post IS in the defence of every Blogger, Facebooker and Instagrammer’s right to take “carefully assembled snapshots of beautiful things”‘!


croissants, french, pastry, foodporn, bonne maman, jam
A Cornucopia of Croissants..and a nifty Jam!

The ease of creating a beautiful picture without a lot of expensive equipment, calling for an eye for beauty and attention to detail (which is admittedly a dying artform) , is all that’s needed! If it was good enough for Cezanne and his apples – strategically placed for weeks till he completed a painting that would forever be viewed as the inner landscape of his psycholgical state, it’s good enough for me!ย  My friends argue that in the making of beautiful settings , spontaneity is lost. I agree, there’s a a place for cheap plastic bowls filled with uninspiring potato crisps and cheese puffs, and a place for pull-ons and jogging bottoms; but sometimes you want to go that extra mile, set the table. Invest in your aesthetic. Even if you walk that path one corner at a time! ๐Ÿ˜‰

brown paper packages, string, ale, stout, local, grain, Norfolk
Still Life : An Urban Ploughman’s Lunch!

There is nothing original in our obsessive control-freakishness to pictorally depict our world… generations dating back to the Pharoahs of Egypt did it! We do it exponentially to our circumstance of modernity! Art has always been about creating one small aesthetically gratifying corner, about beauty reigning in the face of the inane (often personally translates as my one clever corner in a tip inhabited by two severely messy little girls – probably a reason why young mums have taken to it like fish to water –ย  the idea of controlling a few cubic feet in a home spiralling out of control!) ๐Ÿ™‚

All considered, we must admit that all trends go from hot to NOT – we bore of it as it oversaturates our senses and we take on something fresh. According to sociologists and those who actually know what they’re talking about (coughs!), trends that are a no-no regain their appeal 50 years into their death when they begin to be viewed as ‘quaint’! That leaves me assured that in time, my grandchildren or great grandchildren will come pottering about, looking for my esteemed MacBook or dSLR-ย  to dust off and complete their cleverly curated and rejigged tableaux of 3D simulated reality!



map, Boden, diary, coffee
Somewhat Shelfie : Destination Abroad. Holiday to be undertaken Circa Autumn 2014.


If you’ve enjoyed this post, you’re very likely to enjoy these too ๐Ÿ™‚ :

Retro-Chic and the Cult of Neo-Sobriety!

Like Rain on Warm Scented Earth!

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