I am extremely passionate about living as holistically and organically as possible so it was only a matter of time beore I added a lifestyle element to the blog.
Each month, I will approach experts in various fields (or highlight their work) for insights on how best to achieve total wellbeing - inside and out.
This month's guest is the author of some of my favourite books, Victoria Alexander. One, in particular, made quite an impression on me - to say the least! - so when Inside|Out came into being, I knew that I had to interview her for it. She very graciously agreed to answer the following questions about her life and work.
/Image by Ray Lawrence/
I came to know you through your wonderful book, One, and it has fast become one of my favourites to dip into for a quick burst of inspiration, encouragement, gorgeous imagery or an inspiring story. Which books have had the same effect on you?
There is no particular book per se. I have what many would call a library and believe there are different books for different times in your life. My collection is diverse. There are many photography books on specific places, particularly those I have visited; tomes on textiles, art, architecture, crafts, and anything in-between. I've enjoyed the writings of the Dalai Lama; a small but wonderful book on Wabi-Sabi by Leonard Koren; The God of Small Things, Shantaram, and I read Fountainhead when I was about 20 and it felt meaningful. I find autobiographies fascinating including Mahatma Gandhi's and Obama's. The Way We Live is my favourite interiors book. I'm a bookshop's dream.
What is your personal recipe - for want of a better word - for inner and outer wellbeing?
An early morning walk, some occasional yoga when I make the time, healthy organic (where I can) diet and a mantra that I took up many years ago: "You only have now, the present, so be present." My family's love surrounds me and I keep company only with people who have a positive receptive outlook and know the value of supporting each other and true friendship.
In your book, Colour: A Journey, you describe the manner in which colour retains memories, affects us emotionally and intellectually and therefore the way we express ourselves aesthetically. From that point of view, what are your favourite colours to surround or adorn yourself with and why?
I don't think there are any bad colours, just bad combinations. I have avoided pure primary tones in both Colour and One and the overall feel is purposefully calming. Because of my fair colouring I tend to wear muted tones, secondary and tertiary colours not primaries except a certain crimson red. I mix them up with either discord or harmony depending on my day. Never just one big block of the same colour as I love to play tonally and think texture and natural fibres are just as import as colour itself. I dress for who I am going to see to try and make them comfortable in my company - for instance I gave a talk to a Garden Club the other day and wore wisteria coloured accents with earthy grey as I knew that would be the first image on the screen and I wanted my audience to feel connected. Pleasingly two women quickly noticed, interrupted and commented. I took the photographs for the Palette pages in Colour (p.300-301) of small things gathered up from my home so that's a good indication of the way I live. Everything is set against textured white walls, some wooden tongue and groove, others old plaster or brick.
Your description of your work as a "make ideas happen and home making consultant" is fascinating and has definitely piqued my curiosity! Could you share what this involves?
I help people realise their vision. It may be a small specialist shop, someone who is starting a food co-op, or people making a new home their own. I work collaboratively. Some of the best working relationships are those in which people are willing to be a part of something they don’t yet fully understand, they have an end goal but are not sure of the steps, and I can see potential where they see a problem; they’re happy to come along for the ride and learn. The best clients are the ones who admit they’re not really sure what it is they want-an acknowledgement of a goal with the path to the end an unknown. We have a wonderful time together, so much so that I have become Godmother to a child born to a family whose house I helped create. A trust builds up.
You cite the best choice you ever made as that of becoming a mother and you have had a varied, instinct-led career as a fashion editor, stylist and art director. You also established and ran a television production company, a boutique hotel and a restaurant-cum-cafe. Do you have any unfulfilled dreams or goals?
No. I live only in the moment. Currently I am working on my fourth book and loving trolling through my 300,000 images in a forensic way to find just the right ones, and I'm soon to go to Myanmar and Colombia to photograph two places that have recently opened their doors to the rest of the world for it. I am also in the process of creating a website that will be a photo library and somewhere where people can buy my books, signed and wrapped.
What a lovely idea! Thank you so much, Victoria, for your time and I wish you every success with your next book.
You can immerse yourself in Victoria's evocative photography here.