Artist Spotlight: Nina Mae Fowler

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One of my favorite living artists is British artist and sculptor, Nina Mae Fowler.

I met Nina Mae Fowler by accident.  It was an accident meant to happen, a friendship meant to be.

As an art lover, I troll galleries and their websites in search of new pieces that speak to me. I am a fan of London’s Saatchi Gallery and have found pieces of art that suit me perfectly on SaatchiArt.com.  I subscribe to SaatchiArt weekly emails to discover works as they are freshly loaded, to expand my art horizons with new art and artists.  In 2013 I opened an email with Saatchi’s annual list of ‘Ones to Watch’.  There I spotted works by British artist Nina Mae Fowler, and was completely and utterly drawn to them.  The works were full of movement, drama and emotional depth; I was captivated.

Nina Mae Fowler is known for her large-scale, enigmatic pencil and graphite drawings and their accompanying sculptural works. Her subject matter most often centres around icons of Pre-Code Hollywood cinema and popular culture, presenting a dark and contradictory side to the actors’ otherwise idealised lives. Her recently published monograph, Measuring Elvis, exposes her intensive research methods used as well as presents a comprehensive overview of her art and artistic practices, including her trademark cutout drawings, eyelet mountings, and ambitious large-scale installations.

A Perfect Pair

Nina Mae Fowler Lucia Knockers V at Stonehurst Place, Atlanta GA

Fowler’s Lucia Knockers V in the Music Room at Stonehurst Place

Nina’s artworks pair beautifully with my design style; she draws inspiration from Pre-Code Hollywood and her work is classically composed yet wonderfully fresh and new. Her piece Lucia (Knockers V) holds pride of place in the Music Room of Stonehurst Place.  It was this piece that first drew my attention to Nina’s work. As I discussed in an interview for Nina Fowler Print, when I saw Lucia (Knockers V) for the first time, I was enchanted and so taken that I made her the wallpaper on my large iMac so I could admire her daily.  I found this intriguing video of the piece being created (you really must watch!) and posted the SaatchiArt.com image to my Facebook page with two words: I want.  I would go back to SaatchiArt.com every few days just to look at it again. I never could have guessed that my beautiful partner would purchase the piece for my birthday that year. Lucky me!

Nina has been praised widely in print and on the internet as one of England’s finest artists, and her work is admired and collected by British film and fashion luminaries such as John Maybury, Jude Law, Sienna Miller and Caroline Issa. Her works have been incorporated into designer fashions and are included in public and private collections in Britain, Europe and the USA.

One of Nina’s upcoming projects includes consulting with me on the new Stonehurst Place carriage houses suites, but the project is so exciting we are keeping it under wraps … for now. Perhaps the hardest part of our collaboration will be choosing which pieces of hers to use in the new luxury suites!  I’ve spent time with Nina taking private drawing lessons, and from those I learned more than just drawing technique, I drew inspiration for our new project.  Nina is like me – creative and bursting with ideas waiting to come to fruition.  I can’t wait to see what the two of us come up with together!

Shadomy, Stonehurst Place

photo credit: mapandmenu.com

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Travel Ideas: Sky Blue Berlin

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A tour of Berlin like no other.

Always a curious world traveller, I have experienced many different city tours. Most cities I visit are seeped in history, and as a result I’m always excited to take city tours. I have never been a fan of the group tour route. For me, that experience is too general and impersonal. On a bus tour of London, for example, they give you the bare minimum of facts. I don’t want the bare minimum; I want to explore the city, on my own terms and with a local to guide me. Sky Blue Berlin allows me to do that; I’ve been multiple times with guests who visit us when I’m in Germany.  I can’t get enough!

Stonehurst Place owner Barb Shadomy with family on Sky Blue Berlin tour, at the famous Brandenburg Gate.

Sky Blue Berlin is a boutique sightseeing company whose sub-header is “sightseeing in and around Berlin in a Mercedes 280 SE convertible or VW Beetle convertible.”  The owner, delightful Kerstin-Viktoria Flöge, takes small parties of tourists around Berlin in her fleet of classic cars. Not only is Kerstin an excellent host, who has made her historic cars into luxurious relaxing places of respite, but she is also incredibly knowledgeable about German history and the sights of Berlin and Potsdam.  Her restored cars really are luxurious: they are stocked with refreshingly-cool towels, cooled mineral waters, protective sun lotions and – in the case of a fresh breeze – seat heater in front and back and warm blankets.

www.StonehurstPlace.com

Kirstin with her 1969 Mercedes-Benz 280 SE convertible

Kerstin allows you to discover the sights of Berlin that other tourists miss out on. I especially like the grand Wilhelminian era buildings in wonderful backstreets. These buildings have unique and fascinating cultural history that only Berlin insiders know. Kerstin’s tours allow you to see the alternative flair of trendy districts, the government quarter and the parliamentary buildings, the old town wall and the Brandenburg Gate. She chauffeurs you along the famous Unter den Linden and around Alexanderplatz. She guides you past remains of the Berlin Wall and WWII Watchtowers to idyllic, small getaways along the inner-city Spree River. I love the thrill of seeing it all from a classic convertible.  Expect many admiring glances in her beautiful old Mercedes Benz!

Kerstin offers eight different tours, some of which are by plane or a small yacht.  Many can be combined; when my beloved godmother visited Germany (see photo above!) we combined the Berlin In Very Big tour with the Potsdam tour, for a long and full day of sightseeing.  Berlin is an amazing city to explore, and discovering it with Kerstin in her classic cars is an experience not to be missed.

Shadomy, Stonehurst Place

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Exploring England Through Castles

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Tourism Through Castles and Historical Monuments

As I mentioned before, I lived in London for a while. My partner and I loved exploring the historical monuments, especially all the castles. We had two large dogs and I was enrolled in interiors and garden design school, and as a result exploring the beautiful countryside of England was the ideal getaway. One of the best vacations I have ever taken was during this idyllic time in England.

The UK is a place rich with history. Walking through an unknown town seemingly in the middle of nowhere, you’ll come across house foundations older than any in the United States, and roads from Roman times. I always loved this rich historical aspect, and as a result was enchanted by the suggestion of a friend. He told me that the Landmark Trust was a UK-based building conservation charity, founded in 1965 by Sir John and Lady Smith, that rescues buildings of historic interest. It then rents them out for vacations. And they are wonderful. So obviously, my partner and I decided to stay in a property owned by the Landmark Trust.

We stayed in a beautiful small castle off the coast in Devon that slept 4.kingwear castle, castles Kingswear Castle was built in 1502. That’s only 10 years after Columbus’s first voyage across the Atlantic! The castle is a small defensive castle part of a pair, which represent the most advanced military design of their day. It did not, however, last long. Once military weaponry improved, Kingswear Castle became redundant. It was left to decay in the 1650s, but then rescued and turned into a summer residence in 1855 by Charles Seale Hayne. The Landmark Trust bought it in the 1950s, and now its an incredibly comfortable castle right on the ocean. The castle is fitted with all the important modern amenities, but I loved its remoteness, which meant that my partner and I could enjoy the beautiful countryside with our dogs in tow.

The thing that I love about Landmark Trust accommodations is the same thing that I am trying to achieve with Stonehurst Place; they are authentic buildings which allow you to enjoy the local culture in ways a hotel stay never can.

Shadomy, Stonehurst Place

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“Love all there is to look at here!”

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The history of the place and the “current story” are interesting and inspiring. The place is charming, colorful and comfortable. The breakfast was to die for! And I helped myself to a glass of wine after checking in and a few sweets after returning from a night out. Before checkout the next morning, I found a great spot upstairs to do a little work, on the “sleeping porch.”

Green Features: Great to know Stonehurst has its own rain water collection and filtering system.
Reviewed by Patty Lundy, Atlanta, Georgia on March 29th, 2016
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Successful Business: Power Positive Words

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Stonehurst Place: Sensationally Successful

Facebook and Pinterest often recommend to me power positive words and advice, ways to help me be successful, but often I find the topics don’t really appeal to me.  Posts showing me how to be a tidier person or helping manage my time don’t grab my attention. But recently, an image on Pinterest entitled “10 Ways to Be Sensationally Successful at Your Job” from the American Express #Passion Project struck me. It didn’t only appeal to me because I love charts and diagrams, but mostly because I realized almost all the points on the chart were covered by how we manage Stonehurst Place.  How we manage Stonehurst Place is directly related to our guests’ satisfaction and to our success.

Sensationally Successful

To me, one of the most important thoughts on this image is number two, “See your manager as a person you help, not a person who tells you what you do.” As a manager, I love this. It is exactly my style and work ethos.  I also immediately thought about Stonehurst Place innkeepers Paul and Lori, who are sensationally successful at their jobs. As wonderful hosts and team leaders, Paul and Lori are always in step with me. Whether they are reminding me to do managerial tasks like renew my business license, or I am reminding them to give each room a “What-Would-Barb-See Inspection” before they leave, we are a team. That’s what makes Stonehurst Place work so well. In the end, my design of the new Stonehurst Place Carriage House is vetted by and done in conjunction with Paul, while my designs of the interior areas are always in conversation with Lori.

What also adds to how “sensationally succesful” Stonehurst Place is that we, like number five, “Spot the high performers and mimic them.” Stonehurst Place opened in the October 2008, and by January 2009 we were TripAdvisor’s #1 Atlanta inn.  This catapult success was not only because we work tirelessly to ensure the highest quality and standards at Stonehurst Place, but also because we are observant.  Every chance we get to evaluate another property’s success and adapt it to our own guest experience to make it that much more perfect, every time we ourselves are inn or hotel guests – we take in everything and bring back the best to Stonehurst Place.

My favorite is number seven: “Find a way to stand out.”

We did.

Shadomy, Stonehurst Place

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Lovely surprise in Midtown Atlanta!

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Pros: Everything.

Cons: None that I noted.
Location: Great restaurants located within walking distance of Stonehurst.
Made a reservation for an overnight stay here after being a little dissatisfied with a chain hotel a week earlier. This was a delightful surprise, arriving at 6pm,relaxing for a while on the covered deck with a glass of wine provided by the Inn itself. We were directed to the most excellent Italian restaurant within minutes walk of Stonehurst so all in all a delightful stay. Breakfast was quite tasty, a delicious frittata with extras, pressed coffee etc., Great!!
Posted on Expedia on March 17th by a verified Traveler
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“Purely Excellent B&B”

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We recently stayed here for a two day business trip. We were really looking forward to our stay! Upon arriving the first evening, we rang the bell and were promptly greeted. Upon the inn keeper coming to the door we realized that we had made a terrible mistake and did not have a reservation for the right dates. Swiftly they welcomed us to the one room they had available that evening. They did inform us that they were booked full the following night. No problem we thought, we were just so grateful that they had a room, a spectacular one at that, for our first night. The next morning while having an excellent breakfast they told us there was a possibility of one of their guest needing to leave early. If so, we would have to move rooms but could stay. In the mean time they let me stay in our room past check out time until they found out if the guest would be checking out early. Lucky for us they did and we were moved to an equally lovely room upstairs.
Highlights -Great service and so accommodating
-Comfortable beds and linens-Comphy sheets are the best!
-Beautifully resorted and decorated.
-Breakfast was excellent and plentiful
-Inn Keepers are top notch
-Location Is excellent-Neighborhood has great restaurants and good access to the interstate.
-Cold and hot beverages available all day long with great snacks!
This property is gorgeous and has a great history. It is by far our favorite place to stay now in Atlanta!

Posted on TripAdvisor by Jennifer E, Cherry Hills Village, Colorado on

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Drawing the story – the art of Wendy McNaughton

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Wendy McNaughton's TO DO tells a story

How did Wendy McNaughton draw my story?

Artist and illustrator Wendy McNaughton knows a bit about everyone. Just watch her describe her art as she tells her own story in this PBS NewsHour’s ‘Brief But Spectacular’ video.  A good deal of my personal art collection adorns the walls of Stonehurst Place; I collect contemporary art work partially because I am interested in its deconstructive aspect.  Wendy McNaughton, whose art and illustrations are a breath of fresh air to me, holds pride of place beside my desk in the Master Suite of Stonehurst Place.  There I hung her print, TO DO, so that I can see it and be reminded 1) Get To Work and 2) Laugh at Yourself Whenever Possible. McNaughton takes witty artistic concepts and then makes small venn diagrams, flow charts or readable sketches of rational ideas. Her art puts large ideas into context, and portrays irrational thoughts and emotions in a rational manner. I find her art evocative because she manages to both make anxiety, imposter syndrome and confusion a rational and quantifiable idea, while at the same time making light of these traits that make all of us human.

Wendy McNaughton's TO DO tells a story

When I saw TO DO I was struck .. then I laughed and laughed.  She drew my life story, and we’d never even met!  I suspect many readers who look closely at the venn diagram of my story that she’s documented will find their own story in it, too.  I am a big over-thinker, so much so that it can paralyze me.  I’ve recently experienced this designing the new Carriage House at Stonehurst Place.  I need to examine every possible option, and even then if I haven’t found the right design I think tomorrow, or maybe next week, it will come to me.  I am like a terrier on my own pants leg, not understanding the word ‘no’ but just determined not to let go until I get it right.  McNaughton’s venn diagram dives deeper and deeper into my story, drilling down through things I think about doing, things I want to do, things I plan to do, the things I avoid and procrastinate, until she gets to the small segment of All The Things I Actually Do.  She has illustrated me.

As an aside, I will be part of my alma mater Oglethorpe University‘s Alumni Weekend this April 16th by spinning a tale from my college years in a storytelling seminar.  Facilitated by the Southern Order of Storytellers, current students and a few alums like me have been selected to share our OU story with the audience, who will then enjoy learning from the professional Storytellers how to share their personal stories in the interactive seminar.  I’m looking forward to this experience, I’ve got a doozy to tell!

Shadomy, Stonehurst Place

 

 

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