Shepherds Bookbinders – The beauty of paper

At the beginning of this year, I had the chance – a very lucky one – to visit Shepherds Sangorski & Sutcliffe’s bindery. Thinking about my craft project, a few weeks before, I was looking for interesting places where to photograph artisans working with paper and books, so you can imagine my joy when I found a few articles speaking about one of the oldest bookbinding companies in England. For a woman, and before that, for a child who believed that books, especially the antique ones, smell even better than flowers, having the opportunity to access to a similar place was already a small exciting miracle. Everyone at the bindery welcomed me with an happy smile. I spent a few hours (more than planned) looking at the craftsmen working. While I was not taking photos, I simply enjoyed listening to their stories. Some of them where in the middle of restoring an old book, some where carving and decorating precious leather covers, some other were hand sewing pages and bringing ancient maps to life. I believe that the images below will give you an idea of what I briefly but happily took part into: art, in another of its form, art shining through layers of delicate paper.

I really suggest you to pay a visit to Shepherds Bookinders’ shop, whether possible, or to look at their website: http://www.bookbinding.co.uk/

©2017 Flavia Catena

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Mirror

“For I do not exist: there exist but the thousands of mirrors that reflect me. With every acquaintance I make, the population of phantoms resembling me increases. Somewhere they live, somewhere they multiply. I alone do not exist.” Vladimir Nabokov

Working with reflections, dreams and delusions with the sweet Marlena.

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Comfort Station – Looking at the stars

Another chapter about my craft project is going to be open. Today I want to tell you a bit about Comfort Station, a jewellery brand I have discovered a few years ago, while I was visiting Shoreditch as one of those turists that always make the city of London crowded, noisy and happy. As soon as I noticed the shop’s window, I knew I had found something special. I immediately fell in love with all those necklaces and rings inspired by the constellations and the grandness of the universe. Being a real “vintage girl”, I was close to scream of joy seeing how old maps had been used on beautiful pendants, and how books had been hung on the wall to display the jewels. Not to mention the antique instruments, the suitcases, the music paper that were murmuring, together with the bracelets and earrings, words about love and beauty. Since that day I was waiting for the opportunity to photograph the person who was behind that work. And late in January this year I had that opportunity. I was very happy when Amy Anderson, the British fine artist who is the creator and designer of Comfort Station, replied to the email I had sent her saying she was interested in having me in her studio. When the day arrived, and I was friendly welcomed in her own little world (just in the basement of the shop), I was really excited and curious to see her at work. My camera was ready, so my eyes! I always find “behind the scenes” interesting. What can be better than photographing an artist who creates something in front of you? That’s why I want to thank Amy, once again, and leave you with the photo I took that magic afternoon!

Don’t miss to visit Comfort Station website: https://www.comfortstation.co.uk

©2017 Flavia Catena

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Illyria Pottery – The elegance of craftsmanship

My interest in craftsmanship and beautiful handmade pieces of art is as old as my passion for photography. I can say that somehow they both grew up together, since I moved from Rome to Milan and I bought my first camera.

With the idea to complete a documentary series dedicated to craftsmanship, I recently started searching for local artists interested in collaborating on the project. Katie immediately showed me her desire to partecipate, and I could not be more excited when I read her reply to my email. I had already visited her shop, finding it wonderful, and I could not wait to get a deeper look at it again with my camera. Finally that moment arrived, last week. Katie Coston, owner and creator of Illyria Pottery, welcomed me in her studio – right below the shop – with a lovely smile while working on some new ceramic pieces. I spent there some time, taking photos at her modeling bowls and vases and speaking about her business, first launched in the United States, the country Katie is from. I ended shooting a few more pictures in her shop, fascinated by the way each item is displayed, by the minimal yet accurate composition, and the smart use of vintage furnitures-objects.

Since my words will never say enough about Illyria Pottery’s great work, take a few seconds to relax and have a look at the photos! One more line to thank Katie for her friendliness, and to invite you all to visit her shop in Oxford, and her website: http://illyriapottery.co.uk.

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Irma

She was walking on a silent path, in the forest. Spring still looked so far from there. Arid bushes, bare trees; a thorn hunted her hand as she tried to pick a blossom up from a branch. The light of the clouds made her eyes almost cry, and yet it was close to rain. When the wind raised and everything around started to shake and swing, she stopped for a moment. There were rabbits running to their burrows, birds flying to their high builded nests; she looked at them and smiled. It was the time to take a breath and to wait for the end of the storm.

Thanks a lot to my model Irma Benitez.

©2015 Flavia Catena

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Poetic elegance

I could never have dreamt that there were such goings-on
in the world between the covers of books,
such sandstorms and ice blasts of words,
such staggering peace, such enormous laughter,
such and so many blinding bright lights,
splashing all over the pages
in a million bits and pieces
all of which were words, words, words,
and each of which were alive forever
in its own delight and glory and oddity and light.

Note on the Art of Poetry, by Dylan Thomas

Model and make up: Thu-Linh N.

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Skin – Portraits of Andra

Soft skin, natural light, subtle colors, and silent emotions. Thanks to Andra for being such a lovely model and thanks to the improvised location too, as I discovered new ways to use the light and to talk with it.

Model: Andra Chizeveter

©2014 Flavia Catena

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All’angolo… la vita

Two weeks ago I had the pleasure to have in front of my camera a male model, Neil Chatterjee. I really enjoyed working with him (so thank you Neil!). Here a few conceptual photos I took on a rusty and old platform we found along the Thames river. And when life seems too far and we walk and lay down on crosses, suddenly we discover something that is coming to save us.

©2014 Flavia Catena

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