Willow Lane - Welcome to Willow Lane

New glasses from Specsavers

So check out my latest accessory – new glasses! I’ve been wanting new specs for months now and since my beloved Armani frames were in the suitcase that got stolen last month, I knew had to get a new pair, sooner rather than later.

I have pretty bad eye sight and would not be able to venture outside of the house without either my specs or contact lenses. I first got glasses when I was eight years old and I hated having to wear them.  Once I was in my late teens I began wearing contact lenses and loved the freedom they brought. I had basically given up on glasses until a few years ago when I got a nasty eye infection and had to wear glasses until it cleared up.  I picked out a really retro pair of Lulu Guinness frames and since then I’ve loved wearing glasses.

new specs

I picked up my new frames in Specsavers, Belfast after my good friend Caroline recommended I go.  She had recently got a gorgeous pair of Tommy Hilfiger specs and was able to get a second free pair! So I quickly made my way to my local store and was bowled over by all the fab modern frames on offer. I have been with a small family run opticians since I was a child but, whilst I felt very loyal to them, this time round I didn’t see any frames that I really loved.

After deliberating over a few different pairs I finally settled on the  Specsavers ISABELLA glasses. Whilst they are definitely a statement pair, I think they will go with a lot of things in my wardrobe (for this post I paired them with my new checked shirt from New Look). Rather than opt for a free pair of glasses (as part of the Specsavers two for one offer), I decided to get my lenses thinned for free. Unfortunately the other costly drawback of having bad eyesight is milk bottle thick lenses which you want to get thinned!

Specsavers Isabella frames

Hey guys, I’ve done a guest post for my wonderful friend Carolyn over at Forever Scarlet.  And you’ve guessed it, it’s yummy dessert post!  Do check it out and be sure to explore Carolyn’s fab blog if you haven’t already!

No bake chocolate cheesecake

After four years of living in our home, Phill and I will soon be tackling the kitchen. It’s the one room left which we’ve yet to really change and make our own because, let’s face it, the kitchen is one of the most expensive rooms to overhaul. Eighteen months ago we ripped out the old bathroom and everything needed re-done. We took out the existing hot press, took away the oh-so-stylist lowered wooden ceiling and put in a modern white suite with beautiful dark tiles on the floor and along the walls, giving a chic wet room style look.

The kitchen will be an even bigger job but we feel ready for it! We can’t wait to trail out the old cabinets and worktop, the hundreds of wall tiles and yet another wooden ceiling. Not that I’ll be doing much physical labour. I’ll be watching from the sidelines, making cups of tea when required.

modern colourful kitchen

Image taken from casa.com.br

Phill and I have spent months researching and planning our kitchen. As with most rooms we have redecorated, we each have our own individual ideas, which we then try to merge in a way that’s pleasing to both of us. Because we both love art, design and interiors this can be hard to do as we are equally opinionated on what would look best!

Below I’m going to show you some of our favourite looks and the main features we want as part of our new kitchen. Once we get the new kitchen fitted I hope to share the end result with you. In the meantime follow my Kitchen Inspiration board and other boards on Pinterest!

1. Space saving is key!

Our kitchen is rectangular in shape and quite a small space. We know we can be more clever with the existing space and layout. I’m looking forward to more cupboard and worktop space as we both enjoy cooking and baking.

space saving kitchen

Image taken from Shine Design

2. Atmospheric blue walls

Every season I become obsessed with a colour. This season it’s blue. I want a blue winter coat and I want beautiful blue walls for the kitchen. I think this will bring real character to the kitchen and add warmth and a sense of glamour.

atmospheric blue wall

Image taken from vtwonen.nl

3. Glossy glamourous cabinets

I do like modern interiors and I’m a fan of glossy kitchen cabinets. I think they look chic and sophisticated…and they’re easy to wipe clean! Because I want dark coloured walls I’ll keep the cabinets a light neutral colour.

ikea gloss cabinets

Image taken from ikea.com

4. Colourful Accessories

Whilst I like modern interiors I’m definietly not into the minimalist style. I like having bits and pieces on display, especially ones which have a memory associated with them, or which have been gifted to me. I have lots of colourful kitchen accessories that I want to keep and show off in the new kitchen.  And I’m looking forward to gradually updating our dinnerware, electricals and cookware too.

colourful kitchen accessories

Image taken from sugarandcloth.com

Each month in 2014 I will feature a female entrepreneur from Northern Ireland.  I find these smart and creative women inspiring and I hope you do to.  Last month I featured artist Eimear Maguire of Dollybirds Art, and this month it’s Belfast-born Freelance Photographer Sarah Kane.

Sarah Kane photographer

When did you realise you wanted to be a photographer?

I grew up in a very creative household and had decided on a future in the arts when I was very young.

Initially I wanted to be an illustrator and I’d dabbled in all forms of art from graphic design to drama and everything in between. When I was 16 I got my first part-time job working in Jessops (the photographic retail chain) where I learned a lot about the technical side of photography, so when I added that to my being creative, the spark was lit. When I was 18, after school, I went to the University of Ulster to do my foundation year in Art and Design, that’s when I got into all kinds of photography – 35mm, medium and large format, digital. So I applied to the University of the Arts London to take a degree in Photography and from then on in I knew photography was my future.

Sarah Kane photography

What or who do you most enjoy taking photos of?

I’ve always found it hard to define or pick a personal favourite subject. Initially I was mostly interested in photographing the basics – landscapes or portraits. As my experience has increased and my interest in the critical and conceptual side of photography has expanded, I’ve formed a niche for photographing documentary style photographs for a fine art setting through staging. It sounds a bit complex, or pretentious, but it’s something I’ve been trying to achieve for years now.

I definitely have a love for taking photographs of scenes that have a hint of horror, a cinematic approach, which I think is a reflection of my other biggest love in life – movies (especially horror films).

Recently though I have become more drawn to portraiture as I like the idea of recording the personalities of people. Given that as time passes, landscapes change but remain in place for other photographers, people don’t.

Sarah Kane photography

You travel around a lot.  Does this keep you feeling inspired on a professional level?

Well, I must admit, although I have been fortunate to travel a lot – the majority of my travels are between the UK/Ireland and the USA. I think each place I’ve had the good fortune to spend time in brings out a different side of my creativity.

For example, if I’m in London, my love of history and architecture gets me inspired. If I’m in New York, my teenage punk roots are in full bloom or the fun and free side comes out if I’m in Texas. With Belfast I certainly have that raw inspiration of connecting with my heritage and my own past. I think the place that brings out my creativity the most has to be the Tampa Bay area of South-West Florida. I’ve been lucky to spend a good chunk of my twenties here and it encapsulates a lot of what I love visually – palm trees, flamingos, the sea and Americana.

Sarah Kane photography

What has been one of the most fulfilling photography projects you’ve worked on and why?

In 2008 I had a small book independently published which ran along the theme of Americana and my dreams, growing up in Belfast, of Americana.

In the commercial sense it was fulfilling that I was selling copies internationally and that my photography was reaching a wide audience. On a personal level that entire project was fulfilling as I was really getting to express myself through photographs that I felt encapsulated a visual collective that I had been working on and dreaming up for quite some time.

Who do you admire in the field of photography?

The list is long. Very long.

Gregory Crewdson would probably be my biggest inspiration. His work was the biggest game changer for me and to this day his ‘Beneath the Roses’ series in my all time favourite. I also love Martin Parr for his raw honesty and humour. Andreas Gursky for his ambition. Dorothea Lange, because I did a lot of critical study into the FSA Photographers in 1930’s USA and her dedication blew me away. Nan Goldin was the first photographer I really loved back when I was in high school and my art teacher gave me a book on her work.

I was really lucky to study under the incredible Tom Hunter when I was at University. He was my personal mentor on and off for two years and to this day his work remains a big influence on me.

Sarah Kane Photographer

Do you have a motto that you live by, and if so what is it?

It isn’t so much a motto but I like the idea of making sure I share my ideas, inspiration and art/photography in general as much as I can because I’ll only ever get one chance at doing it. It’s less about making an impression as it is about sharing who I am and what I want to express.

What’s been your proudest professional moment?

Probably my very first solo show. It was very rough around the edges, hardly the most professional, but it was incredibly rewarding. I was just finishing up my degree and putting on my graduate show in London when I got the offer to have a solo show in The Black Box in Belfast. I was commuting back and forth, getting both of these exhibits together, but it was a great way to end my degree and begin my future in photography.

Sarah Kane photos

Who or what drives you to be successful?

I’ve always had a great support network of family and friends around me – near and far – so that is a real drive for me, they are my cheerleaders. However, I strongly believe, like many artists, it’s all about fulfilling some kind of personal ambition, not a professional one, that keeps us going.

Do you have a favourite camera to use?

It really depends on the situation. I use a range of cameras and each one is specific to the job. If you’re shooting something commercial, or even for fine art, really just anything you want printed big, it’s probably best to stick to medium (or even large format). Hassleblad and Mamiya are the best, Rolleflex is great. I am a huge advocate for digital though. For example, I have a range of Nikon DSLRs that I love, but a couple of years ago I bought a Fuji X100 (which is lovely because it looks like a Leica) – it looks like a compact camera but the quality of images is phenomenal.

I’m a strong believer in the lens being more important than the camera and the photographer being more important than either of those.

Sarah Kane photography

What would be your top three tips for amateur photographers?

1. The line between professional and amateur is thin – in fact, it’s just a couple of labels and labels mean nothing. Some of the best amateurs trump the professionals by a mile. Don’t get bogged down about your status in the world of producing photographs. If it’s a good photo, then you have talent. Labels are for snobs.

2. Submit your work as much as you can. It doesn’t matter how many rejections you get. It will all be worth that one email or letter letting you know that someone has appreciated your work.

3. Read. Read all you can about photography. Not just the technical side, but the history of it. When I began studying the roots of photography right until current day contemporary photography, I saw it as such an advanced and different art form than I had previously.

What do you like do get up to in your spare time?

Another question I could answer with a long list!

As I said before, art, art, art – all it’s all about art for me. Put it this way, I consider The Oscars to be my Olympic Games. Movies are a huge part of my life – David Fincher is my hero. Old, new, colour, black and white – I’m a movie nerd. Apart from cinema, I like tattoo art (traditional mostly), the 1990’s (big Grunge and Riot Grrrl fan), illustration, drama/acting, design of all sorts, going to gigs, 1970’s music (again, thanks Dad), fashion, travel and prosthetic make-up design. Like I said, the arts have a big hold on my life.

Visit Sarah Kane’s website.

Sarah Kane photographer