Cabin Fever: Painting, Pottery and Pilates


Sarah Halliwell, beauty editor 

Drinking … Morning coffee is a key ritual in our house, and much improved by drinking it out of these pottery cups from Joan Woods’ lovely West Cork perfumery waters+wild. Woods calls them candle cups – her eco soy candles usually presented in these pots are sold out just at the moment, but there are sets of four cups available (€50). Handmade by a local potter, they have a multitude of uses, from making your morning espresso a whole lot more elegant, to holding your make-up brushes or favourite pencils. Stock up on hand sanitiser while you’re there – waters+wild have turned their production to making an effective organic hand sanitiser at the moment, and are providing them to frontline workers.

Zooming … I’ve singularly failed to learn a new language, or bake perfect banana bread (not even the dog will eat mine), but I have started to get back into Pilates, after several years of procrastination. Even though I know this is the one thing that can help with a dodgy back and tight shoulders, I’ve talked myself out of it. And Zoom classes don’t sound appealing, until you try them; in fact, in some ways they’re better for people like me who resist exercise classes – you don’t need fancy kit, or to make time to get to the studio, and it’s far more anonymous. But Laragh at Reform Pilates Dublin in Blackrock is a particularly kind, patient and skilled instructor, and even the most shy and reluctant exercisers, and complete beginners, can find something in these classes to make them feel longer, stronger and much better. There are excellent teachers for all levels here.

Watching … Some world-class theatre, via National Theatre Live on YouTube (free, donations welcome) – this week it’s Ralph Fiennes in Antony & Cleopatra, and coming soon are A Streetcar Named Desire starring the Gillian Anderson and Vanessa Kirby, originally performed at the Young Vic – unmissable – and Tom Hiddleston in Coriolanus. Subscribe on Youtube.
Meanwhile, The Met Opera has Puccini’s La Bohème from 1977 starring Luciano Pavarotti available this evening via its website I also love the idea of Marie’s Crisis Virtual Piano Bar – the legendary piano bar in New York’s West Village has music available every night of the week; pianists who would be playing at the bar will be livestreaming their sets on Facebook (Maries Group; tips welcome).

Sending … I’ve always been a letter writer – the ping of an email inbox never quite has the same appeal as a handwritten envelope, somehow. And it can be a comforting connection with friends and family – the free postcards delivered by AnPost were a great idea. The Kind, a sustainable (zero waste) shop in Dublin’s Fade Street, also has a good idea: from today (Friday May 8) at 2pm, if you cover the €3 postage charge The Kind’s Sheelin Conlon will send out a box to a frontline worker that you can nominate (they have 100 to give away), donated by small local suppliers such as Three Hills Soap, Yogandha aromatherapy oils and Tinnock Farm Tipperary candles. Check out the rest of the online shop while you’re there – some brilliant small sustainable Irish brands are available, including Oxmantown skincare and perfume oils (divine), as well as home items such as beeswax wraps and bamboo toothbrushes, and some rather fancy yoga bags made from reclaimed truck tarpaulins.

Síomha Connolly, digital editor

Reading… I’ve just started Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo, the joint winner of the Man Booker Prize 2019 (alongside Margaret Atwood) which follows the lives of twelve black British women exploring race, class and modern society. I’m looking forward to enjoying it in the garden in the sun over the weekend!

Watching… Live videos every week from Business of Fashion which feature industry leaders such as Jonathan Anderson, Silvia Venturini Fendi and Lucinda Chambers. So far my favourite conversation has been between Tim Blanks and Spanish magazine publisher Luis Venegas, who showcased his seemingly encyclopaedic memory of 80s and 90s magazine covers throughout the hour long chat.

Admiring… The latest collection from slow Irish fashion brand Four Threads. I love the emphasis on indigo in this collection and the continued use of natural fabrics that designer Alanagh Clegg has become known for. The long shirt is on my list, as are the drawstring trousers and long kaftan, I can’t think of anything better to wear during lockdown.

Penny McCormick, deputy editor

Painting … Pre-corona I very much enjoyed the National Gallery of Ireland’s regular “Tipple With Art” evenings, and until they begin again, this week I decided to try an at home art kit from MasterPeace, a mindful art studio based in London. They provide a choice of six contemporary art works at different levels. I opted for a seascape (called Hope) and was sent a painter’s palette, acrylic paints, two brushes, a canvas board and step-by-step instructions (cost £25stg). A photo of the artwork and a 40-minute virtual class via Zoom with the original artist Victoria Obolensky is also included. We were advised to light a favourite candle and have some nibbles to hand for this Zoom lesson (tick!) and the class began with a short meditation to align our chakras. (No, it wasn’t that woo woo). Victoria then demonstrated the techniques of working between the two brushes, sponge and fingers to create the seascape. I’ve spent some time each day “building up layers” (translation – getting a lot of paint on my fingers and clothes); it’s been fun and, more importantly, absorbing. Victoria was incredibly reassuring, urging us not to copy her work but create our own versions of Hope – something I look forward to completing both literally and metaphysically.

Tapping … My Pilates teacher Deirdre Souchere of Inner Light Yoga & Pilates, Blackrock, Co Dublin is also a qualified acupuncturist, who regularly began our classes just before lockdown with some tapping. Inspired by a powerful Chinese massage therapy called Pai Sha, Deirdre especially recommended this process to help boost immunity. Tapping the thymus gland (located behind the breastbone where the T cells which fight infection are produced) is beneficial as is tapping the abdomen, spleen and sides to improve circulation, encourage lymphatic drainage and clear toxic waste. I’ve invested in a bamboo body tapper for this purpose – it looks like a prop from a Harry Potter film, but really is magic according to it creator, the founder of The Hayo’u Method, Katie Brindle. She believes “tapping firmly for a few minutes each day also improves vitality and helps achieve radiant skin”. I’m hoping she’s right;

Taking … tests. Three types of pandemic personality emerged during Phase One of Covid-19 according to a research team at the King’s College London: accepters, sufferers and resisters. I know into which group I would place members of my family. I could also name a few other types too – Quarantini queens, Zoom zealots and WhatsApp wallies – and I wonder what new tribes will emerge as the nation edges towards Phase 2? The most reliable of all personality tests is the the famous Briggs Myers Type Indicator which identifies 16 personality types, developed by Isabel Briggs Myers in the 1940s on the principles of Carl Jung. I will be taking this at the weekend to compare with the results of a ViaCharacter test I took this week. The point? The more you know yourself, the more you’re able to assert what you really need in life, relationships or otherwise. Lockdown seems the perfect opportunity to figure things out once and for all.


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