Saturday, 4 December 2010

Shoe Is Art

Ok so I didn't win (this time), but I had great fun in creating my submission for Dune's  'Shoe is Art' competition. My participating piece was one of my papiermaché-mosaics, photographed hanging from the bark of a particularly rugged tree in park near my flat. Let me know what you think! 

To view more of my work:  Alison Day Designs

Friday, 19 November 2010

Anna Brønsted of Our Broken Garden

Anna Brønsted of Our Broken Garden - Illustration © Alison Day Designs   -  Photo: Eva Edsjö. This was my first illustration for, and was first published in Amelia's Magazine  (Music) 19th November 2010.

Alison Day Designs

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Saturday, 13 November 2010

What's Hot, What's Not - Rainbows

 Rainbows are an occurrence of optical beauty and a meteorological masterpiece, caused when the sun shines on droplets of moisture in the atmosphere. It is no wonder then, that this natural colourful phenomenon creates pleasant and positive mental associations in all who view them.

Aside from the natural world, it was the English physicist, Sir Isaac Newton, who developed the theory of colour, when he found out that if white light was shone through a prism, its refraction produced the colours of a rainbow, particularly those of the colour spectrum visible to the human eye. Clever chap for sure and that discovery was but one string in his masterful bow.

As a symbol, a rainbow has always had positive connotations, from the pot of gold at the end of every rainbow, the rainbow that was supposedly seen after the great flood (symbolizing God’s promise not to throw a wobbly again - Christianity and Judaism) and a jolly childrens’ TV show from the early 1980’s (GB). by the same name.

As far as mythology is concerned, the world over, the rainbow is seen as connecting heaven and earth and in the Dreamtime of Australian Aboriginal mythology, the rainbow snake is the deity who governs water.

In the film of The Wizard of Oz (based on the tale written in 1900 by L. Frank Baum), the rainbow becomes a central theme when Judy Garland sings the unforgettable song ‘Somewhere over the Rainbow’, during which we are led along a road of fantasy and colour as the characters each search for their heart’s desire and ultimately their destiny, ending at the Wizard's castle.

Finally, if you look around you, these days rainbows can be found on a multitude of things. Rainbow flags for example, have been around for quite a while. Many cultures around the world use a rainbow flag as: ‘a sign of diversity, inclusiveness and of hope and of yearning.’ Rainbow flags of past and present include South American (Inca origins), Buddhist, Co-Operative and Peace movements as well as Gay Pride. In the case of the Gay community (LGBT), it is also known as the ‘Freedom Flag.’ Established as a symbol by artist Gilbert Baker in San Francisco in 1978, the different colours symbolize the diversity present in the Gay community itself.

© Alison Day
First published in the Connections magazine
#29 Autumn 2010, a publication of Connect International
My website: Alison Day Designs 

Friday, 12 November 2010

The Colour Green

Of the seven colours of the rainbow, the theme of this issue of the Connections, I have been allotted the fourth and middle colour of the rainbow to write about - the colour green.

The usual ideas present themselves, as I sit fingers poised above the computer keyboard, of recycling, reducing ones CO2 footprint and saving energy, but not this time. This time I shall approach the colour green on a tangent in a direction of what I would call, semi-green.

There is a changing awareness of how to tackle pollution when it comes to personal transport, by opting for the lesser polluter. As a reaction to the often-prohibitive costs of running a car, many inhabitants of the Netherlands are opting for a scooter. Previously the domain of the young and often seen as noisy and naff, the scooter is increasingly becoming a favourite, particularly with the more mature clientele of forty something. Evaluating the pros and cons, it’s not rocket science to discover that a scooter is cheap to run, can get you across town in the blink of an eye, avoids traffic jams and can be parked anywhere, just like a bicycle. That said, the millionth scooter has long left the showroom floor in the Netherlands, for the open road and now like a plague of locusts, they are everywhere. Amsterdam is reported recently as having 1.6 million scooters in the city. So what now? Will the famously wide Dutch cycle paths have to be made wider still to accommodate the additional numbers of buzzing scooters and thereby, finally, relegating the car to a narrower one? I may well jest, but methinks the day of personal transportation is evolving towards a more economically viable options, albeit in its infancy.

So, what’s out there to choose from? Well, there are a myriad of different brands of scooter to choose from, with an equally broad range of prices for every pocket. But, moving right along and ignoring the riff raff, the most popular model to date, is that of the hip and trendy Italian, Vespa. Being totally un-enamoured by cars myself, recently I bought a Vespa as an alternative to my bicycle and yes, I love my Vespa! Decked out in a stylish black with chrome and beige saddle (often with my son riding pillion), I wiz through the streets of Groningen with the greatest of ease. Everyone looks at a Vespa too as it passes, as they are a design masterpiece and very stylish; as a result we are often waved and honked at.

So where did it all begin? The Piaggio Company was founded in 1884 by Rinaldo Piaggio (1864-1938) in Genoa. Vespa’s design has evolved from a single model first manufactured 23rd April 1946, from a design by aeronautical engineer Corradino D'Ascanio at the end of WWII, into a full line of scooters and a total of seven companies, owned by Piaggio. This has made Piaggio a forerunner in the scooter world, producing the first globally successful scooter ever. The unique design of the Vespa appeared during the early years of the post war rebuild and was seen as a symbol of the democratic spirit that supported certain aspects of design in Italy during that time. As a result the scooter’s signature style, of a painted pressed steel unibody totally encasing the engine, flat floorboard and prominent streamlined protective front has made them famous the world over.

Vespa even has a page on Facebook to become a fan of. If, however, you’re looking for the real low down on the variety of models and accessories available, Vespa meet-ups the world over, as well as the whole Vespa lifestyle, shopping and limited editions scenario, then I would point you in the direction of their website:; but be warned, that’s the thin edge of the wedge!

I hope this has warmed you to the charms of going semi-green and maybe even becoming the proud owner of a Vespa in the future too. Otherwise, next time you’re out and about and see a Vespa, why not give a wave? If it’s me I’ll be sure to wave back.


© Alison Day
First published in the Connections magazine
#29 Autumn 2010, a publication of Connect International

My website: Alison Day Designs

Wednesday, 10 November 2010


Lulu (no. 7 of my '9-Women' series), is on my website: here  

Womankind are in themselves chameleons and this series touches on a few of the great variety of differenct qualities present in womankind:
Beautiful ~ Empatheic ~Adaptable ~ Versatile ~ Crazy ~ Loving ~Diverse ~ Multi-taskers ~ Nurturers ~ Supportive ~Adventurous ~ Funny ~ Creative ~ Role Models ~ Formidable ~ Wild ~ Colourful ~ Stylish, to name but a few qualities.

I refer my works  to as papiermaché-mosaics, made from, yes you guessed it, papiermaché and using re-cycled anything that seems appropriate to illustrate the picture. In the 9-Women series and (now that I think about it), in other works too, there are re-occuring objects used for decoration, for example the shells, flowers and mirror.

If you would like to see the first 6 of my ladies please visit my website: here - (Papiermaché - 9 Women).

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Sunday, 10 October 2010

The Shoe as Art

Moleskin project finished and on the point of being popped in the post and sent to New York, to participate in the Art House Co-op project  in 2011, and I suddenly found myself without an artistic challenge. True, I have other projects that run concurrently, but there's no real deadline, no thrill, no competition! Then, all of a sudden, as if the universe is listening,  the above competition crosses my virtual path, on Twitter no less,  via @HelloCreatives.

The brief - 'The Shoe as Art'. As an avid lover of shoes myself (and let's face it, the hefty price tag attached to this competition as prize money, could buy an awful lot of foot art!), I have risen to the challenge and am busy with my creation for the November deadline. I will give no clues as to how I am approaching it, other than it will be done in true inimitable Alison Day Designs style. For those interested, watch this space, as I will be posting it here after the competition ends, for all to see. 

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

The Arthouse Sketchbook Project 2011

UPDATE: July 24, 2012
If you would like to see inside the finished sketchbook 'Face in the crowd,' please visit: here

An example of how a completed sketchbook can look: Art House Co-op Sketchbook Project Tour (2009).

I received my moleskin in May this year, with the idea that I fill it however I want according to a theme chosen from a long list thought up by Art House Co-op.  - 'Face in the Crowd' appealed. Now in September I'm pretty much finished, just last minute touches and I want to scan it (as I don't own a video camera), otherwise a little film would be a great idea, like the one featured above.

Shortly, I will be sending off my completed moleskin to New York, USA to join the throng of other sketchbooks for the 2011 tour around the United States. The books can be seen and borrowed (like a library book) in various preselected galleries and museums before finally ending up in the Brooklyn Art Library for posterity.

Monday, 20 September 2010

The Kiss

This summer, whilst on holiday in my hometown of Oxford, in England, I was party to what I can only describe as the best kiss ever! 

In the words of the band INXS ‘…two worlds collided...’ and boy did they, as it was a kiss of total abandonment, insatiable in it’s duration, hot and familiar, but in its action uncanny, as we had literally just met.

Upon reflection, I will admit that the cause of this was probably partially due to a night on the town with my sister-in-law and the predetermined ‘a half in every pub’ along the way pub-crawl. Poison of choice was cider, and, several pubs later with ample amounts of the golden beverage inside us, the wheels of the lack of inhibition had been well oiled. 

Our tour of Oxford pubs ended at a club (as by this time it was well after midnight) belting out good music, and heaving with dancing people, plus, it served cocktails as well! Fatal mistake, but a very tasty one, as the cider was traded in for the funkily named Woo Woo cocktail, as we joined the heaving throng on the dance floor, which seemed to be just about anywhere you wanted it to be in the club.

How to make a Woo Woo:

1 ½ oz Peach Schnapps
    1 ½ oz Vodka
    3 ½ ox Cranberry Juice

Pour all ingredients into a highball glass over ice cubes, stir and serve.

Well, one Woo Woo, of course led to another and after a while I was definitely feeling no pain. All of a sudden, a tall, dark and very fit, handsome stranger appeared at my side and asked me if I knew of anything to do around here.  Much to my amusement, upon questioning him I found out that he was Dutch and on a couple of days visit from Amsterdam. What were the chances! Laughing, I told him that although Oxford was my hometown, I had lived out of the country for many years in the northern Netherlands, and was not really up to date on what there was to do in Oxford these days, except the obvious, like museums, bars and restaurants, visiting the colleges and a bit of punting along the river. After that the Woo Woo’s were replaced by Sex on the Beach cocktails, the taste of which I have absolutely no recollection.

One thing led to another, and by the time the club closed we were kissing passionately on the street, outside the club with my sister-in-law and his entourage standing and staring in bemusement. It was obvious that this was a kiss with a mission and it wasn’t going to let up for a while. When I finally did come up for air, I made a Cinderella-like dash for the white, black-cab we’d manage to hail, leaving behind my website address scrawled on a piece of paper, for if future contact was desired. Whatever happened to a simple phone number, I hear you ask? Yes, I kicked myself several times the next day. Well, let’s not forget I was totally Woo Woo-ed at the time and it seemed a less threatening option with more potential in the long run. Oh, who am I trying to kid!

So, why do we kiss? Putting one’s lips to those of a stranger is not only very intimate, but a total invasion of body space not to mention the potential exchange of a vast array of bugs on both sides. Also, hanging onto someone with the sucker-like tendencies of an octopus tentacle and at such a close proximity too, does tend to obscure one’s vision of the other person. That last point (although I think it had more to do with my cocktail-ed state than distance), I managed to clarify by demanding that my sister-in-law describe him fully to me the next day.

Quick surf on the Internet and I find an article where kissing is said to have possibly stemmed from the pre chewing and passing of food by mothers to their offspring. It’s also equated with social bonding, and the exchange of pheromones during such an interaction can become a prelude to courtship and even sexual encounters!

Back to this summer’s pheromone encounter, although I probably won’t see Mr tall, dark and handsome again, he scores a definite 9 out of 10 for that kiss. Only 9? I hear you ask. Well, there’s always room for improvement isn't there? After all perfection is rarely attained. Maybe he’d like a re-match sometime! Until that time, it goes on record as a kiss to remember – ‘Ow Zat!

Why not see if you're up to scratch on kissing, with the ultimate Kissing Quiz

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Lola - Portrait

Meet Lola...she was my submission for the 2010 Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 2010 in London, England. 

Yes, I was actually mad enough to send her, packed in kilometres of bubble wrap and cardboard, from The Netherlands to my sister (Caroline) in London. Using UPS, which was a story in itself, as during tracking she got stuck in the depo for 24 hours, went round and round in circles on their carousel for no apparent reason, until they finally decided to send her on her way. Shortly after that I flew over end of March and together with my sister and niece, Carina, took her to the RA. The whole project was incredibly exciting from start to finish and even though this year my work wasn't chosen to take part in the exhibition, my interest has been awakened...and there's always next year!

On another visit to England in July, we of course had to make a trip to the RA to see what did finally get into the exhibition...we saw a lot of great work and some monumental crap too, from so-called 'eminent' artists. I won't mention names, as I don't want to give them extra publicity, but also don't want to be sued for slander! That said, I still think Lola would have fitted nicely into the exhibition, but of course I am biased and it probably was very difficult choosing 1267 pieces out of 10,000 submissions!

A word of criticism, however, directed @ the RA...I do think that prominent artists should be limited to a maximum of two pieces of artwork, seeing as space is at a premium. Also, to the misguided person who decided that it would be better to space out the artworks and not 'paper' the walls from floor to ceiling,  as has been tradition since 1769, resulting in less artists' work being exhibited...'if it ain't broke, don't fix it' I'd say!

Lola is one of my papiermaché-mosaics. So far, my subject matter has the re-occurring theme of portraits of women. In my eyes, I choose the fairer sex, because of their chameleon-like diversity as well as their unequaled adaptability and creativity. As a result womankind has provided me (and still continues to do so) with an endless supply of studies for completed as well as future projects.

...For more of my work have a look at my website: Alison Day Designs  (papiermaché)

Thursday, 15 July 2010

So, there you have it...

Phew! As editor and designer, those are all the articles I have written and just a few of the pages and covers I have designed to date over the last 5 years. The Connections magazine is a publication distributed by Connect International. A fair amount and the joy continues, in the Autumn issue... so watch this space for more.

Feel free to Tweet, FB or distribute my articles in any way you wish, but please keep the credits intact.

For now, until I can think of something of 'interest', to say meet ~ Scuba Cat ~ (courtesy of Sabotage Times) I love cats' condescending honesty... if it doesn't hang right, they'll be sure to let you know the extent of your inadequacy!

Re-Cycle - Re-Use - Re-Invent

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Connections Cover Summer issue #28, 2010

We set a children's competition to 'Design a a Summer cover' for the Connections magazine.

The winning entry was created and sent in by Sam Kompier.

© Alison Day
First published in the Connections magazine
#28 Spring 2010, a publication of Connect International

My website:
My webstore: Alison Day Designs

Houtmagier (Wood Magician) Arjan Portengen

Finding some studios and their artists isn’t always a breeze, but once I had found a large and obviously empty building that looked like a perfect space to house a furniture designer, I knew I was on the right track. Previously a warehouse for kitchen supplies, the building is now totally empty, except for the presence of four artists who have made personal studios out of the space within it. One of these is Arjan Portengen; also know as ‘De Houtmagiër’ (Wood Magician).

The revolving entrance door to the building had to be unlocked in order to let me in and opened out onto an enormous interior space of concrete floors, large high windows and a motionless escalator to the upper level. As we walked through it towards Arjan’s studio of six years, the abandoned feel of the building, reminded me of the atmosphere in the film ‘Escape from NY’ starring Kurt Russell.

The building is one of a multitude of properties managed by Ad Hoc ( a nationwide company responsible for vacant buildings. These are rented out, for a token monthly payment, until such a time as the property is reused or demolished. The tactic is to prevent vandalism and break-ins, so often prevalent in empty buildings.

Once ensconced on a large sofa with a cup of coffee I asked Arjan what led him to becoming the wood magician and furniture designer. In reply, he said that for him, old furniture has always had more soul than new and many of his pieces have started out life as an object thrown away on the street, by a previous owner. This interest in furniture and bric-a-brac in turn has led him develop his signature style by creating a new object, by way of a collage of both new and old elements, which at the finish becomes a completely new piece of furniture in it’s own right. Most of the time he already has an idea in his head to start with and this is translated into a sketch, but as with most sketches, the idea evolves as he works. He coupled his interest in furniture with a study, where he trained as a furniture maker for a year and a half, thereby learning the basics of furniture construction, the rest (in his words) came from him and has resulted in what he makes today.

In a lot of his work there lies a conceptual joke, cupboards dance or take on a new form or life of their own. For example, there is the ‘ribben kast’ (ribs cupboard), a white skeletal spine-like construction supporting a series of draws, of varying sizes, at intervals along its length. The skeletal spine symbolizes death and the draws represent memories. Each draw is individual and brightly coloured. In this case (which is an exception to his general colour use), it is a reference to the Mexican traditional use of vibrant colours and their intense relation with the dead, particularly during the annual ‘Day of the dead’ celebration.

 When asked about influences in his work, he says he tries (hard though it is) not to be influenced by external influences and if he is, it is not done expressly.

Other than his creative side and the ‘kronkels realiseren’ (realising the twists of ideas that present themselves), he is a restorer and carpenter able to make and mend traditional doors, cupboards and interiors, which he enjoys. At the moment he is restoring a farm interior and its built-in cupboards, so the creative projects are temporarily on hold.

I ask him if money and support were no object, what would he like to make here in Groningen, to leave his mark? After a bit of thought Arjan came up with two. The first would be to work his wood magic on the east wall of the City Hall or a whole room as artwork, with total free licence to do whatever he wanted. The second came just as I was leaving. To build a tram carriage totally out of wood and in his inimitable style and attach it to one of the future trams that Groningen will be getting. I pitch in, that he should work his website address into the side of the tram too for a bit of publicity! With that the revolving door is unlocked again, I step out into bright sunlight, take my leave of Arjan and hop onto my bike in search of some retail therapy at the nearby IKEA.

If you would like to contact Arjan Portengen his details are as follows:

Studio: Sontplein 4-8, 9723 BZ Groningen
Arjan's website can be found here

© Alison Day
First published in the 
Connections magazine #28 Summer 2010
Read & download issue here

Friday, 18 June 2010

What's Hot, What's Not! - CRAVE

Crave * v. 1 feel a powerful desire for. 2 dated ask for: I must crave your indulgence
ORIGIN: bef. 1000; ME craven, OE crafian (‘demand, claim as a right’), of Gmc origin; akin to ON krefja to demand, lay claim to

Early February, when the mornings are still too dark to be enjoyed by any stretch of the imagination, and feeling as though I have a starring role in the movie Ground Hog’s Day, I crawl behind my computer, backed up by a pot of tea, with the idea of finding something for the ‘What’s Hot, What’s Not’ spot in the Spring issue of the Connections magazine. 

Yes, it would be easy to take the low road and continue on the traditional negative downward spiral of Monday morning that I so often suffer from, but I decide I should make a concerted effort to lift my spirits, after all I am writing for the spring issue of the Connections. This is a time of re-birth, when everything comes back to life again. The infernal snow and permanent living in ugly walking boots (party shoes in a bag) scenario, has come to an end and attractive footwear rules once more. Crocuses and snowdrops emerge, wagging tailed little lambs and fluffy chicks are born and yet, I crave something… My permanent bar of big chunk chocolate in the fridge is temporarily gone and I can’t lay the blame on anyone but myself, as my son is at school and I have yet to see a cat eat a piece of chocolate, let alone open a fridge door; although I must say I used to own a very clever large black tom cat who could open doors, but I digress.

So, I turn my attention to the Internet and tick in the word crave. The search offers up a variety of sites, which cover edibles, games, sexy videos, a perfume by Calvin Klein, as well as a hospitality public relations and marketing services firm. That’s all very well and good, but it doesn't hit the spot. How about Wikipedia? That presents, of course, a definition in much the same way as my trusty Oxford dictionary, some music, a band and a brand of cat food. With the party (Soul Train) from a previous weekend still playing clearly in my mind, I idly tick in crave and party, well nothing ventured as they say… and so I come across The Crave Company. I enter their website hoping to be pleasantly surprised.

The Crave Company has an interesting concept and their aim is
to, in their words:

‘innovatively connect urban gals to the sassiest, gutsiest, most inspiring people they need to know in town.’

With Soirees, gatherings and online networking, Crave can be found in a multitude of American states, Canada and more recently in Amsterdam too. A peek inside the one of the guides, shows great places to shop for sustainable, organic and Eco friendly products as well as addresses for up to the minute design, apparel, modern jewellery, places to eat and shops designed to pamper your pets. All of these are set up by women with an entrepreneurial flair. 

Much to my amazement there is even a Buzz party at an interior and lifestylestore:, around the time I have planned to pay a visit to a friend in Amsterdam for a couple of days. Interested to meet some of these creative ladies living out their dreams, with one click I have the two of us signed up for the event.

Feeling somewhat uplifted and satisfied by this discovery, it is now

time to head for the nearest supermarket to complete the feeling. Purse in hand, I chuckle to myself as to how some old habits die-hard; it’s time for that big bar of chunky milk chocolate to resume its residence in my fridge again!

© Alison Day 

First published in the Connections magazine
#27 Spring 2010

Jessica Lelieveld

Jessica divides her time between a house in the countryside, situated in Norg (which she shares with her family and two dogs) and her studio in Groningen. With two such different worlds at her fingertips, she finds plenty of influences, which can be photographically captured. After much contemplation, an idea will emerge and this she then interprets in clay.

Particularly interested in the transience of existence, she is fascinated by the process, structure and colours in nature when something dies away. Layers and organic forms are recurrent themes in her work and with this in mind; her interpretation of the four seasons has emerged. This consists of twenty clay panels (mosaic-like in their layout), depicting the flora and colours typical of each season. During my visit to her studio, winter and summer were laid out on display, ready and waiting for the panels to be joined together with a copper-coloured wire to make a wall hanging.

Other current works include lamps; one of which has as its base form, a large stripped walnut tree trunk, encircled by metal swirls. The finished product will symbolize the relentless continuance of life. On display in windowsills smaller works can be seen, comprising of a series of clay tiles, some displaying cross-section slices of a small tree trunk, some a procession of pebbles, ever increasing in size. The roundness of the forms she uses symbolizes nurturing whilst the tile procession that of evolution.

With beautiful high ceilings and ornate decorations, Jessica has renovated her studio-house, imprinting on it her signature style, with a touch of the modern here and there where appropriate. Future plans are to decorate every room, door and space with her work so that it becomes an artistic house, where it would be possible to spend the night, or artistic companies could come and hold workshops and inspirational events.

Apart from the natural world, another inspirational source (as well as his philosophy) comes from the Austrian artist and architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser. He was best known for the colourful buildings he designed as well as being a champion of human and environmentally friendly construction.

Jessica is a member of a collective of artists, Galerie Huis ter Heide, which can be found in a converted stall of a farm in Drenthe. The exhibits are refreshed every couple of months with new work and all works are for sale. More about the collective can be found at:

The aftermath of the economic downturn has had its effect on every walk of life and particularly that of the artist. I asked her what kind of effect it has had on her and her work. From her reply it seems that art fairs have become more important as venues for artists to show and sell their work, as well as making a concerted effort to offer a selection of work in a broader range of prices. Jessica intends to show her work at a couple of these fairs, as well as taking part in Art Explosion, a platform for artists, which occurs annually in Assen.

She has no issues about parting with her work when it comes to selling it, for her it’s the process that is important, particularly whether her idea is feasible, not only from the design perspective, but within the confines of the size of her clay oven. The biggest ‘present’ for her is that she can make people happy with her work.

If you would like to make an appointment to see more of Jessica’s work her contact details are:

Jessica Lelieveld, Nieuwe Ebbingestraat 143, T: 06 29484916

© Alison Day
First published in the 
Connections magazine #27 Spring 2010
Read & download issue here