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Don’t you just love the esoteric, asks Robin Dutt? Today, we can probably find any book we are after but the hunt is part of the joy. If you have first editions of the following…Treasure them. If not, you just might get lucky on Amazon…Or some such. These are sure to be fun gifts…

Manners for Men By Mrs Humphry – “Madge” of “Truth”

Originally published in 1897 by James Bowden, London, this livre de poche is full of useless information which will amuse, astound and cause laughter from even the cheap seats. There are sage stupidities like these – ‘ The Man Pays’, ‘A Fall, Generally the Man’s Fault’, ‘Non-dancers should not accept Invitations’ and ‘Small Talk alone will not Suffice’. I am sure you get the picture? A sententious female voice (if indeed Mrs Humphry had any sex to call her own) highlights the ludicrous nature of the Victorian period and provides moments of disbelief and hilarity in equal measure. There are chapters on Driving, Dinner Parties, the Church and Manner. This is the perfect book to guffaw over, accompanied by a mince pie and a particularly good Port. Gawd Bless yer Missus ‘Umphry!!!

The English Countryman by H.J. Massingham

‘Every chapter is crowded with interesting and delightful detail, social, geographical and aesthetic…the excellence of his writing is such that one would enjoy his book even if one did not so heartily agree with it,,,’ So said Sir John Squire in the Illustrated London News. ‘Enough to make a townsman weep’, cried Punch and The Yorkshire Post calls this book, ‘far more than a picture book’. Phew…so far more than so good. Massingham’s passion is evident from the start and whether talking about the poet, John Clare, the fall of the Squire or indeed, the Dorset Peasant, he fills page after page with a lucid and telescopic fascination with a time long gone but still somehow part of the English scene. Pip Pip and Hip Hip Hooray!!!

The Burglar Caught by a Skeleton – And Other Singular Tales from the Victorian Press.
Jeremy Clay.

That the Victorians were passionate about their newspapers is a given. What Jeremy Clay has done here is to amass true stories reported in the press which often seem unlikely if not completely doubtful. Consider his offerings – ‘An Elephant in the Witness Box’, ‘ Desperate Attack on a Hull Policeman’, ‘A Peculiar Bet’ or, ‘Shocking Ice Incident in Regent’s Park’ – all designed by the early journalists to inform but most essentially, to titillate. It’s the perfect Christmas read by a roaring fire. Just to think how our forebears simply had to be informed by slices of trivia still astounds…

Don't you just love the esoteric, asks


The idea that books (in themselves) as fat, beautiful doorstoppers is a thing of the past is quite incorrect. Yes, so a voucher is akin to a certain cheeky liberation regarding spending someone else’s money intended for you but to actually have a real tome delivered or given is a joy. Now…What do we mean by ‘tome’? Easy. Nothing paperback and anything oversized. Thames & Hudson has been in the business of celebrating art, design and aesthetics since 1949 and are past masters when it comes to an oversized book. And of course, this is no criticism. Live it large might be a general call to arms – or charms. T&H certainly does.

Shall we say, their books are ‘statement publications’? In the old days, I suppose they were called ‘coffee table books’ which carried with it the suggestion that they were part of an interior designer’s colour or fake intellectual aesthetic scheme. Somehow the suggestion also is that these books were destined never to be opened and so remained virginally mint. But it worked – and still does. I purchased my first apartment on the strength that the sellers had lavish tomes on their possibly India Jane, blond wood, trunk-cum-coffee table and coincidentally, a copy of an art magazine which I contributed to at the time. What folly. But you see the power of strategy…Perhaps as sellers, they had done some research on the potential buyer?

But here are three beauties to consider for the bookworm friends that you might have who might like the physicality of a book that weighs more than a brace of Koalas but offers better intellectual stimulation…

‘Sapphire – A Celebration of Colour’ by Joanna Hardy. (Edited by Robert Violette)

There are only four precious jewels in gemology and proudly sported by knowing (or lucky) hands, necks and lapels. Rubies, Diamonds, Emeralds – and Sapphires. Reduce any mineral to the basics and you are left with chemical numbering and the dullness of disconnected lettering. But when cut and buffed, this product of the earth attains almost celestial glamour. And it has been the same since time began. The idea of capturing shine, glitter, gloss and sparkle was not lost on the ancients, wherever they came from on this tiny globe and celebrated the rarity and beauty of rough shards and roundels from the earth which could then reflect and project elements of the day or night. It was and still is surely, magic.

In this lavish book, Hardy takes us on a gem-spangled journey which celebrates one of the most beautiful stones ever discovered. And with chapter titles such as. ‘Medicine & Magic’, ‘High Society’ and ‘Showstoppers’, the author stops at nothing when describing the lure of this gem whose colour might be the hue of a spangled night sky illuminated by the moon or those further reaches of the bluest ocean. And one will also learn that sapphires are not only blue in colour.

Famous sapphires are recorded such as Her Majesty’s Wedding Sapphires and Princess Diana’s Engagement Ring (which went on to be worn by HRH The Duchess of Cambridge). But Hollywood royalty also gets a look in, in the form of precious piece worn by the likes of screen legends such as Mary Pickford, Joan Crawford and Cher, who sports in an iconic portrait, the 733-carat Black Star of Queensland – a black star sapphire set in a diamond surround. Sophia Loren, Capucine, Ursula Andress and Elizabeth Taylor also feature as ready made ‘fleshy stages’ for the charm of this beautiful, precious stone.

But there are also other objets hewn from this precious material shown in the book such as a carving of a Hindu saint, a miniature pair of beautiful feet and this writer’s personal favourite – anything made out of a star sapphire where a distinct star shape within the gem, Arctic white – dances in the denseness of the midnight blue. The star shape seems to float and almost vibrate.

One might be reminded of Jonson’s ‘Volpone’ when thinking about gems, as he wrote the words of his protagonist regarding gold – ‘Thou that can do nothing but make men do all things’. It is the same with fine gems. Useless and utterly, utterly captivating…

‘Sapphire – A Celebration of Colour’ by Joanna Hardy is published by Thames & Hudson

‘Versace – Catwalk’ Text by Tim Blanks

It is quite possible that Versace is one of those love it or hate it type of designers. Dare one mention Marmite in connection with this?!? The precise opposite of the minimalism of, say Giorgio Armani, he shares more with the flamboyance of his fellow creators (and rivals?) such as Roberto Cavalli and Dolce & Gabanna. Featuring over 1,200 images, this is a comprehensive look at the late master’s take on florid, fabulous fashion with no nod to restraint. One seems instantly to recall that image of two young film stars, Sophia Loren and Jayne Mansfield at a chic, glittering dinner, the former eyeing the latter, practically tumbling out of her low cut evening dress, one nipple almost eyeing the competition – but not quite. Some might say she was brash. Loren’s expression seems to say so. But this is what some may feel about Versace’s clothes, when he was at the helm of his house before he was murdered and now still under the directorship of his sister, Donatella. But in Versace’s hands, if it is brash, it is beautifully so. And one has to say, there are quiet moments too. Gianni Versace’s brilliancy was to also be sartorially chic when not pursuing chromic ‘madness’ in the form of wild prints and clashing colours, often featuring animal prints, celestial symbols and colour blocks, to say nothing of the extravagance of gold splashes and details.

There is something definitely magical about the name, Versace, itself. I recall so well that my friend at university went all the way to London to buy a pullover he had seen advertised in Vogue. It was around 1980 and it cost something just shy of £300. You do the maths! I remember his return when he unpacked the item from the glossy bag and placed it on his bed. Even seeing the bag alone was an event! I had just bought a jumper from the little market in town for £5…This treasure he had snatched from London’s South Molton Street was as a jewel and very restrained in shades of nutmeg and moss. A jumper it certainly was but when my friend tried it on, and lithe and over six foot tall as he was, it made him look even more fabulous. And remember this was really, just a piece of knitwear…

This heavyweight tome begins the Versace journey from 1978 with the Ready to Wear ‘Military Collection’ and ends with 2021’s Ready-to -Wear, ‘La Greca’. As every design house knows, titles for collections are vital. So, in between, we have such themes as, ”Underwater’, ‘In the Cut’, ‘Road-Trip’, ‘On Parade’ and ‘Perfect Imperfect’. ‘I don’t like the idea of forcing a single look on anyone’, the master once told Women’s Wear Daily, before his Spring 1989 show. ‘Fashion should be as easy as drinking a glass of water.’ And he was right – because he was not talking about Style. This is more akin to sipping delicately at an etched crystal glass of Chateau d’Yquem. Preferably Edwardian. The glass, I mean.

Here you will discover or re-discover iconic pieces such as the homage to Andy Warhol dresses, splashed with Marilyn Monroe Pop Art portraits, others plastered with Vogue front covers, fluorescent shifts, glossy satins, studs and lace, embellished denim, floaty silks and of course, lashings of deepest black on everything from a tiny cocktail dress to a billowing gown. Oh…and a sprinkling of oversized safety pins, a la Hurley.

There can be no doubt that Versace was a genius, someone of ‘exceptionally great creative power’ in this case and Tim Blanks’ text goes quite a way to describe his fiery and independent essence as a spirited and unique creator. No shrinking violet he, and as I recall with a seemingly permanent semi-snarl after I encountered him in Harrods (but presumably not because of me) he remains, although he passed on in 1997, the heart of one of the most vital and delightfully experimental Italian fashion houses. Certainly, his house is one of the most vital – and of course not to everyone’s taste. I once encountered a lady at a cocktail do who was wearing a tube dress in I believe some sort of soft but robust jersey material with the house’s name in diagonal stripes. She looked like a stick of rock. I approached with my martini and asked (in a friendly way) and with no suggestion of a whip-smile on my lips, who designed her outfit? Needless to say that was the end of that conversation.

It was largely due to Gianni that we have the term, ‘Supermodel’ featuring such stellar names as Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, Cindy Crawford and Christy Turlington. As a corporate ‘one’ they set the standard that still resonates today even if the name for them collectively has waned and aged. But you can’t do this in clothes which do not positively shriek for attention. ‘Polite’ clothes, in general Mr V did not do. Of course, Thierry Mugler did it his way as also, the wonderful Jean Marc Sinan but Versace ruled the glamour roost and intended them for women who were not afraid of being noticed. They were and are also women who knew that Brash can be Beautiful.

It should be remembered that it is also Versace’s sense of tailoring which is so much to the fore. Remember the much missed Prince, dazzling in strident Versace suiting? That red suit!

And so, now, as I sit in my ebon-hued, glossed to Hell Versace leather coat from the ‘nineties and think of my only other one at the top of the house (also leather) but festooned with those sun disk Medusa buttons, from around the same decade, I am so glad that I was not tempted to save up for a sweater.

‘Versace – Catwalk – The Complete Collections’, is published by Thames & Hudson.

Vogue Paris – 100 Years. Edited by Sylvie Lecallier

For many people, Paris Vogue was the only Vogue, writes Robin Dutt. I recall the difference of the French edition compared to all others – the chic, the style, the downright arrogance of being simply, right. This was at a time when buying a copy was akin to being quite wealthy – or thinking that you were or simply, wanting to be. And more than that…A person of discernment. Those days are gone. There used to be a ritual every month with my friends, of buying their ‘Vogue Moment’ – a cappuccino and a copy in the town square and making sure you folded the magazine in half and clutched it on your way back to your digs, branded with the title you were all to happy to be branded with. It cannot be a coincidence that several clutch bag designers, created examples which looked like folded magazines in rigid plastic – a fashion that began in the 1950s and perhaps, even earlier.

‘Vogue Paris – 100 Years’ is a wonderful book celebrating style and the photography that captured that style. And of course, it is amazing how forward-looking past fashions were. The heart of it all is surely an understanding of timeless elegance. Vogue might simply mean ‘what is now’ but it means so much more than that. To be ‘en vogue’, ‘in vogue’ au courant’ ‘ and even dans le vend’ are all markers of the life blood of fashion itself and the understanding of discernment. And of course, money well spent on frivolity. Well…One might as well spend it on something…

As a reminder of how vital architecture is to couture, there are images here, a-plenty which compare and contrast marble and fabric, sweeping stairs and monuments, street scenes and park benches. Juxtaposition, after all, can be…everything! It may be well worth remembering that so many couturiers and even fashion designers had their beginnings in the study of architecture – Dior, Balenciaga, Cardin, Alaia, to name but a few The list goes on. It was the great, late Scott Crolla who once said that a designer can design anything be it a luscious, juicy liquid gown or a set of strident, steely cutlery and all true creators (especially Monsieur Cardin) would have surely agreed. He, after all, designed everything from bubble dresses to aeroplanes! Crolla designed glittering coats and velvet chairs and so much more besides.

So many images will be all too familiar to so many. The book has amassed treasures by William Klein, Irving Penn, Arik Nepo and later stars, Mario Testino and Bruce Weber. Then there are marvellous drawings. One often forgets that photography was an invention dating from around the 1840s and that images in periodicals of all kinds were often hand drawn. Engravings and etchings featured too., to partner the words. The charm of the hand drawn was never lost on Vogue magazine. It was a connection with the artistry of clothes design and especially, couture. So prepare for blasts from beautiful pens and pencils from stars such as Pierre Brissaud and Georges Lepape, Pierre Le-Tan and Mats Gustafson. Drawings make fashion live in quite another way to the blatancy of photography. Cinematic might be what we expect but drawings are elements of the soul of the creator, in quite a different way.

Vogue Paris – 100 Years is published by Thames & Hudson

BOOK REVIEWS: By Robin Dutt The idea that

What exactly is luxury, asks Robin Dutt? The unattainable, the strategically unaffordable, the saved up for, the impossible, the salaciously needed … The sad desire to be?

Well whatever you think luxury just might be, Savile Row welcomes Argent Timeless to ‘The Row’. Timelessness and Savile Row, of course, go hand in hand, for craftsmanship and style are never part of the vulgarity of the fashion world. This writer, for one, is glad that there is a difference. After all, wasn’t it Jean Cocteau who said that ‘We must feel sorry for Fashion. She has such a short time to live.’ ? She…Or indeed, He… And even if he didn’t say this…Isn’t it true? Of course…

Argent Timeless is timely indeed when it came to their pre-Christmas opening of this magnetic boutique, a specialist in automotive, bespoke apparel and luggage items which remind of the time (Covid apart) when travel was not simply a luxury but an expansion of the mind. Travel may indeed broaden the mind, or of course you can be an armchair traveller but there is something about the efficacy of the feel of elegantly crafted leather and objets which simply reassure for any journey, whether you leave the drawing room – or no. Do you know…I am the proud owner of the jewellery box of the ‘Swedish Nightingale ‘Jenny Lind? Sadly no jewellery within…BUT the jewel was without, a piece in itself. It is purple plush velvet. And there was a letter which I will never read.

Small for a flagship store but crucially on Savile Row, the intent is to target the ardent driver, perhaps, in us all. My first car was a Mini. She was beautiful…A black beetle carapace. I recall giving a lift back from Llandudno with a charming blonde and the Mini practically conked out (because I hadn’t checked the oil level). BUT I got her back to Kensington. A Mercedes crashed into me some time after and I was pulled out of the wreckage by a passing policeman.

And then…I had a Karman Ghia – a poor man’s Porsche as they still say. Gone now, too…

At Argent Timeless you will find jewellery, prints, of course sturdy luggage and various accessories – such as impossibly glossy gloves. Don’t you hate it when you lose one? These here, you will strap to your soul.

Don’t forget to take a look at the 60s & 70s furniture too. The Argent Timeless leather collection has been hand crafted by its bespoke factory partner, established in the reign of George III and each piece in this collection is cut using traditional clicking knives and then stitched by craftspeople and individually hand finished. Leather has , of course, always been a source material – some might say, a bi-product.

Reassuringly expensive, with an Argent Timeless Handmade Weekend Bag at £595 or consider the Argent Bespoke Handmade Travel Watch Roll at £195. Quality is as always has been…all.

Old wisdom says…buy well once, you won’t buy twice.

Sounds just about right.

What exactly is luxury, asks Robin Dutt?

While this year’s grape harvest in France’s Champagne wine region may have had its challenges thanks to late frost and biblical hail, there have been some outstanding releases from some top producers. Helena Nicklin, pictured below, picks five of the best for us to toast the end of another tricky year.

One thing I have loved about my job over the years has been really getting to know the personalities of some of Champagne’s most famous sparkling wines. Fizz was always the final frontier for me when I was learning to taste as it’s so much harder to understand the nuances of what makes a bottle of bubbles exceptional than it is for still wine. Here are five producers who have released champagnes that have really shone this year, and all for different reasons. Everyone deserves to raise a glass of something special this season and with these fantastic bottles, you will not be disappointed.

Dom Pérignon 2003 Plénitude 2

Dom Pérignon is globally recognised as the benchmark for an elegant, pure and precise style of “Grande Marque”, champagne. Made only in the best vintage years where the weather is ideal, Dom Pérignon is always an almost equal blend of 50% Pinot Noir and 50% Chardonnay and as it ages, it takes on a haunting complexity that seems to change with every sip. Lees ageing is very important to the cellar masters here and they like to keep some of their vintage releases back to give them a new lease of life several years later under the name “Plénitude”. Normally, a champagne from DP will age on its lees (the dead yeast cells left over after fermentation) for eight or so years before being “disgorged”. When Dom Pérignon releases a wine in its second Plénitude (also known as P2) however, the time on its lees before disgorgement will have been in between 12 and 15 years, keeping the wine fresh and adding even more body and complexity. There is even a third Plénitude (P3), where the ageing is between 30 and 40 years! The wines are constantly tasted over time to find the exact moment when they start to shine again in their second and third iterations.

The 2003 vintage of Plénitude 2 is quite special in that it is from a particularly warm vintage, which gives the wine more body and tropical fruit character than other years. Quietly opulent with a creaminess from the extra time on lees, you’ll also find notes of hazelnut, apricot and toast. It’s a fantastic wine to have with food. Try roast quail or even guinea fowl served with nuts or dried fruit.

Stockists:, Berry Bros & Rudd, Jeroboams, Hedonism Wines The Finest Bubble, The Champagne Company, Harrods, Selfridges. RRP £335

Dom Ruinart Blanc de Blancs 2009

Benedictine monk Dom Thierry Ruinart was a contemporary of Dom Pérignon around the time of Louis XI in France but was a lot more worldly wise and well-travelled. He discovered the famous “wine with bubbles” while galivanting around Paris at parties with young aristocrats and eventually came home to Champagne with his new-found interest and worked, strangely enough, with Dom Pérignon to improve the bottling process of sparkling wines. Dom Ruinart passed his passion onto his nephew Nicolas who managed to realise his uncle’s dream, founding Maison Ruinart in 1729.

Today, the house has a strong focus on the Chardonnay grape and, while they produce three non-vintage wines – the Brut NV, a blanc de blancs (100% Chardonnay) and a rosé NV, which uses both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir – at the top of their tree sits their finest wines labelled Dom Ruinart.

The white is always a vintage wine made only in the very best years and solely from grapes grown in their top, Grand Cru vineyards. Dom Ruinart is also always a blanc de blancs, i.e. made from 100% Chardonnay. Named in homage to the monk who brought back his Parisian passion to the region, the first release of this wine was from the 1959 vintage. The 2009 therefore, 50 years later, celebrates a rather special milestone. Think candied pineapple, a squeeze of lime, honey on toast and Brazil nut. Another foodie champagne, try this with scallops or poultry or hard cheeses with a touch of truffle. Fabulous.

Stockists:, Master of Malt. RRP about £150

Henri Giraud Argonne 2013

Champagne Henri Giraud is a true wine lover’s champagne. Lesser known than the bigger brands but prized equally highly by those in the know, Giraud has been a family-run business for 12 generations. Located in Aÿ and currently headed up by Claude Giraud, it is a champagne house that has a close relationship with the oak forests of Argonne that lie some 60 kilometres north-east of the house. The wood from Argonne trees is particularly dense and so barrels made with it require a very slow process of toasting. While fermentation in oak hasn’t traditionally been a huge part of champagne production in the region, Champagne Henri Giraud have always found that this particular wood complements their finest vintages and blends in a deliciously opulent, unique way.

The Henri Giraud Argonne is champagne you cannot ignore thanks to its unapologetic, striking oak presence. The top cuvée in the range, it is always a blend of 90% Pinot Noir and 10% Chardonnay and the 2013 presents itself as luminous gold, voluptuous and voluminous. Despite being vinified and aged in new oak barrels, the wood flavour is not overbearing. Instead, it adds an intensity of flavour to the wine where notes of nutmeg, vanilla and spiced incense intertwine with flavours of exotic fruits, both fresh and dried. The bottle, with its unusual shape and flash of gold leafing, is just as memorable as the liquid inside too. A very special drop.

Stockists: The Finest Bubble, Hedonism, Woodwinters, The Whisky Exchange. RRP about £370

Rare 2008

Rare Champagne was the prestige cuvée champagne of the house Piper-Heidsieck until it separated to become a brand or marque in its own right – and deservedly so. Originally created to celebrate 100 years of Heidsieck Champagnes, Rare was presented to the French queen, which is why its presentation boasts a rather fabulous tiara (that you can remove and wear, should you so wish). Now its very own entity, Rare goes from strength to strength under the watchful eye of cellar master Régis Camus.

As the name would suggest, it is not every year that we see a new release of Rare. Only 12 vintages have been deemed worthy of producing a Rare since its first vintage in 1976. Pinot Noir dominant always, Camus manages to strike that incredible balance between body, fruit, complexity, texture and perfume in every vintage he produces, each a true labour of love and a work of vinous art. The 2008 is another example of this impressive balance, bringing a softness and youthful freshness together with brioche, red apple skin, perfume and spice. It’s a wine that would work well with meaty, white fish dishes but equally, it’s a champagne to sip and to savour on its own to let every playful, complex element show itself. Glorious.

Stockists: The Finest Bubble, Hedonism, Harrods, Selfridges. RRP £180

Bollinger PN V16

A brand-new style of wine from the iconic house of Bollinger, the PN V16 is made exclusively from Pinot Noir grapes that come specifically from their plot in Verzenay (hence the V) and largely from the 2016 vintage. Bollinger has long favoured Pinot Noir for its famously rich style, so with these new terroir-focused editions, they are taking things a step further and showcasing the grape from several of its terroirs separately to show what they bring to the wine. The majority of juice that makes up the base for the PN V16 comes from the 2016 vintage and it is blended with older “reserve” wines to maintain the house style.

What the Verzenay terroir brings here is depth of flavour and a sense of tension. There is also a touch of Pinot from Avenay and Tauxières, which add aromatics and complete the effect. Think creamy hazelnut paste, baked fruit, exotic spice and a touch of smoke all rounded off with a moreish, saline finish. It’s a sultry and serious champagne that needs a little time to open up but, once it has, it makes a fantastic match for smoked meats or grilled poultry. A little hard cheese works wonders with it too. Cin cin!

Stockists: House of Malt, Harvey Nichols, The Whisky Exchange, The Finest Bubble. RRP about £80

Helena Nicklin is an award-winning drinks writer and broadcaster. See more about her at or follow her on social media @HelenaSips.

While this year’s grape harvest in France’s

Christmas Gift Ideas

The work of the painter, Andrew Flint Shipman is known around the world, writes Robin Dutt. Famed for his technicolour expressions of flowers, esoteric symbols and occasional ‘landscape nudes’, his sense of bright hues has seen him transfer his expressions on canvas onto a host of functional and purely decorative objects. His Useable and Wearable art features aprons, T-shirts, candles and bags emblazoned with blooms and skulls and often accompanied by what has come to be his signature motif, a glossy apple used either as a centre stage emblem or more often, a deliberate pointe finale. It is something of a stamp or seal. And some four decades of creativity later, it is chiefly associated with him.

His paintings make fine presents and most of these are realised in Acrylic and liquid metal on canvas, linen or wood and his use of gold leaf or fluorescents inform the whole image and make it punchy and almost cinematic or stage-referential. So there is no surprise in learning that theatre was in this creator’s blood from a very early age.

Somehow, there is a surreal element to his work but the viewer is invited to interpret the different messages, almost like reading lush hieroglyphics of a secret world. Just as when we read Egyptian hieroglyphics we are unaware of how these shapes exactly sounded. We can approximate but not completely know. So it is with Flint Shipman’s fruits and flowers, esoteric symbols of life in mind, such as the Ankh or the Eye of Horus and indeed, thoughtful depictions of say, an insect pushing a miniature sand timer like a scarab beetle or a mystical triangle accompanied by three emerald green sentinel apples and a black feather, that he invites us into his world.

It is tempting to imagine the word-sounds of these motifs or even how they might be translated into musical notes. Obviously, there is a sense of magic and esoteric lore in what the artist is conveying and his titles such as, ‘Don’t just look, see’, ‘The Unknown just got more mysterious’ and ‘The sun disk and Om’ and in the main devoid of humanity, he paints the sorts of images and symbols human kind has been enthralled by for thousands of years in a continuum which is constant despite whatever new technology and developments emerge to challenge our feeling of the power of mystery and imagination. Flint Shipman will always be a painter first but his works are so adaptable onto a myriad of other affairs that he spends a good deal of time coming up with ideas for the home too.

Especially for Christmas, revel in his selection of attractive trivets (£50 each) made of toughened, recycled glass. he is often asked by his customers how they are supposed to go on a wall as there are no fittings. They aren’t! Although they look as if they could easily pass as unique works for display, seen either singly or in a massed conglomeration or simple set of rows. No, these are trivets for the table with large central blooms providing splashes of colour and tactility to any setting. Choose from Christmas Lily, Orchid, Fig, Oranges and Lemons among the fifty designs in the range and look far more magnetic when mixed than matched – particularly at this season. But for a more formal setting, six white lilies or deep purple agapanthus motifs add a sense of chic and propriety.

The table mat and coaster collection (£100 for a set of six or £35 for a set of six, respectively) will add more than a splash of colour whether you choose backgrounds of festive gold or acid Pop Art hues, with a central contrast bloom. Scented candles (£45) made in the UK with natural wax infused with essential oils will provide that welcome olfactory backdrop.

If you’re looking for the unusual when it comes to gifts this Christmas, Flint Shipman invites you to luxuriate in his art.

Paintings –
Useable & Wearable Art –

Christmas Gift Ideas The work of the painter,