There are a few days in the month where everything slows down a bit for Boxcitement. Boxes have been posted, items have been ordered for the following month and we are nervously waiting for customer feedback – and it’s on those days that I usually find the time to go on a cool-hunting trip. This month was no exception – I managed to sandwich a meeting in London between a visit to the National Gallery and that magnet for all stationery lovers, the flagship Paperchase store in Tottenham Court Road. In one day I saw one of my favourite masterpieces AND admired a display of sparkly unicorns – what’s not to love?!
The National Gallery is one of those places I didn’t visit nearly enough when I lived in London and then missed terribly after we moved to Australia. On this visit I decided to ignore the guidebooks and just wander, getting hopelessly lost in the labyrinth of rooms. It’s the best way to spend a few hours – it seemed every corner I turned, I came across a hugely famous painting from a hugely famous artist. The most famous of the famous were generally surrounded by groups of giggling schoolkids, and students vainly trying to copy their idols’ styles on canvases set up on spindly easels. That’s how I came across Van Gogh’s sunflowers, and those wonderful paintings of lili ponds painted by Matisse.
My favourite painting in the whole gallery, however, was all on its own – which suited me just fine. Painted by Hans Holbein in 1538 in just three hours, the portrait of Christina of Denmark was created so that Henry VIII could decide, based solely on her likeness, whether or not to pursue a marriage with the young widow. The marriage plans foundered, but Henry kept the painting for the rest of his life. It was, if you like, one of the first selfies created for a dating site – things haven’t changed! I love this painting – the colours, that teal blue and mustard combination have definitely been used in Boxcitement designs! And the look on her face – totally inscrutable. What must this young woman have been thinking – Henry’s previous three wives had been abandoned, beheaded and had died in childbirth and he was by then a fat and grumpy man. I feel relieved for her that the wedding never went ahead – and so pleased that this painting survived the tumultuous history of the time to be gazed on by modern eyes.
After the meeting (exciting things being planned for Boxcitement – watch this space!) it was time to turn my attention to Paperchase. I can’t help but smile when I walk into this bastion of stationery silliness, and as always I came out full of ideas. The top floor is full of the most gorgeous papers, textured and metallic and rustic and neon sheets of loveliness that will be finding their way into our upcoming boxes, I couldn’t help it! And the displays of unicorns and llamas and cacti filled that little space I reserve for kitsch in my life. No other shop manages to make a pack of paperclips so desirable – and those planners! Whether you’re a scrapbook fanatic, a diarist or, like me, a hoarder of beautiful notebooks which will never be used, there’s something for everyone in this wonderful emporium.
A long day, sore feet (I always walk everywhere when in London – so much nicer than taking the tube!) and a late night – but all completely worth it. Now I am back to designing some stationery for our own customers – creating some modern day masterpieces, if you like…
What are your favourite places or paintings? I’d love to know!
Stay happy – Deb