Monday, August 31

Javier Vallhonrat

Are you familiar with the photographer Javier Vallhonrat? Maybe you know his work but not his name. In doing a little research for posts for this blog I was flicking through an old British Vogue and came across one of his shoots which I remember being blown away by . Then, when doing follow up online, I realised that the walls of my studio are littered with Vallhonrat images. I had torn them from magazines and pasted them on my walls for inspiration never realising they were from the same hand.
He originally trained as a fine artist in Madrid before moving on to photography. His images definitely have a painterly approach. His colour palette varies and can be muted or like fondant icing with a neon pop as above but they are always razor sharp! His use of lighting is astonishing, you can see every crinkle in the voluminous chiffon sleeve below. They remind me of photo realist paintings, I think it is fascinating how photography influenced painting and now painting is influencing photography. A subject I am exploring.........(more posts on this theme coming up).In this story entitled "A Very private Affair" and originally shot for British Vogue there are sands, creams and nude with an accent of that zingy red in each shot. This flow of the palette from one image to the next is certainly a signature of his. I wonder how he works with the stylist? Do they decide on a palette together? Is it the same stylist for each shoot? I will have to do a little more research and get back to you on that .

In the shoot below entitled "straight forward" again the colours in each individual photo relate back to the story as a whole. It is like each shoot is a little collection. I love the way her eyeshadow in the third image matches the fluoro pink of her collar and the skirt in image no. four

You can check out more of his work on his agents website Michele Filomeno and I highly recommend a visit.

All images Javier Vallhonrat and originally shot for Vogue UK

Friday, August 28

The Old Rectory

On Thursday evening I went to the celebration of Elevate PR's 8th birthday. As usual Emma from Elevate did a fantastic job. The theme of the event was "The Summer Fair" and there were games, a cake stand, lucky dip and lots of fabulous food but what really caught my eye was the stand that 'The Old Rectory' had set up. The Old Rectory is a screenprinting and design studio run by sisters Stephanie and Joanna Sloan in Brittas Bay in Co Wicklow.
Joanna is an Interior designer and sister Stephanie a graduate of textile design with an MA from The Royal College of Art, London, that's one of her cushions above . I love the clean graphic look of her prints. They run courses on screenprinting from a studio in Co Wicklow which is in the grounds of an old Georgian Rectory. There are day courses and accommodation is available, you can find out more about upcoming events from their website The Old Rectory.
The studio looks amazing so filled with light .....and it opens up on to a private courtyard.

At the party they set up a stand where you could print your own poster or t-shirt in a range of colours.
I thought it was such a great idea for a party it was a focus and talking point as well as being fun and educational. I believe it would be so inspirational to do one of their courses, whether you consider yourself creative or not. They run kid's courses at the studio too. You could organise a really memorable birthday party! They decorated the garden with bunting using the same design.

and everyone got to take home their choice of poster or t-shirt. Oh and they also run courses on setting up a kitchen garden .... what a talented and inspirational pair.
Image 1,2 and 3 courtesy of The Old Rectory
subsequent images Helen James

Sunday, August 23

Hendrik Kersten

I came across the photographer Hendrik Kersten on the blog The Errant Aesthete. I was immediately drawn to his work. The pictures in this series are of the photographer's daughter and take their inspiration from the paintings of the old Dutch masters. The artist portrays Paula, his daughter, with a classical hand but the juxstaposition of the modern items make the series both innovative and thought provoking. The placement of a napkin on her head in the above photo to look like a seventeenth century maid's cap, and again with the use of a plastic shopping bag in the image below are both compelling and surprising, it takes one a few moments on first seeing the image to realise that it is a plastic bag on her head, and it is viewed without an ounce of ridicule. She has such an air of nobility about her, that skin like a jug of fresh poured cream and the heavy hooded eyelid. Kersten says he "paints with his camera" and the brushstrokes are of course his use of light.
If you squint it could be a painting from the seventeenth century but the glint on her leather jacket and the detail of her breast pocket carry her back to today.

Friday, August 21

William Orpen a wish..

If I had a spare £361,250 I would have purchased this painting by Irish artist William Orpen that recently sold in Christies, London. I have loved his paintings since I was a schoolgirl. The sale was actually a few days before my birthday so I thought maybe my darling other half was going to surprise me........alas, it was not so. The subject is Irish Tenor Count John McCormack. I love the relaxed posture, the creases in his suit, his hand tucked in to his belt loop. It feels like a snapshot but it must have taken many sittings and hours upon hours of labour to achieve. The sheet of music in his hand is obviously a nod to his profession but it is so subtle I didn't even notice it at first. The palette is so subdued and calming, I would like to take it and design a room around it, maybe a bathroom. Walls the colour of his linen suit with glossy white paintwork. Tiles of a blue grey lustre with a deep black trim....... it would be a bathroom in a Georgian home of course
.....maybe this one and we could hang the painting on the entrance wall.

Thursday, August 20

colour love

I love the colour of this little vase. It is about 6" high and I bought it on sale from my favourite shop in the world Liberty of London last year for a mere £6. I have it by my bed so the first thing I see when I wake up is a flash of this exquisite coral.
Sometimes I fill it with these
a Rose called "compassion" that has the most beautiful scent and some Sweet Peas that I can't remember the name of. I get such joy from picking flowers from my garden, a simple pleasure that I anticipate all through the Winter. These Roses start as a blushing pink and fade to an apricot sorbet. They are as compelling the day they are picked as they are 2 weeks later faded and fallen like an an old chiffon scarf. If you are looking for a climber that's hardy, beautiful and great for cut flowers then I highly recommend this old beauty.

Sunday, August 16

This week in the garden

Ooooh I feel an Apple and Blackberry crumble coming on.....
Or maybe a Pear tart

Saturday, August 15

Le Bon gift

Back in the Autumn of 2007 myself and my friend designer Eilis Boyle were in Paris for the fabric fair Premiere Vision. We took the last day of our trip to visit the shops and department stores for inspiration and pleasure. We were in Le Bon Marche, which is one of the first department stores in the world and an emporium of style and good taste (the Food Hall alone is worth the trip to Paris). Eilis and I headed upstairs to the designer rooms, where I implored her over to visit the Dries Van Noten collection first. While we made our way around drooling over each piece Eilis saw a white shirt she loved and decided to try it on. She strolled to the changing room and I sat at a table and chair and picked up a little book that was lying there. The French sales assistant looked at me pawing the catalogue and said
"Oh, one moment" and disappeared.
Now French sales assistants in fancy department stores don't exactly have the reputation of being the warmest or friendliest of people so imagine my surprise when she came out and handed me this
Now to call this a catalogue is a bit like calling champagne a fizzy drink. This is a fabric covered hard back book with Dries Van Noten embossed on the cover and inside ............ oh what a parade of delights.
The photographs are by Wouter Deruytter and include images of the backstage area including this incredible scaffolding construction for hair and make up and dressing the models
a page with Polaroids of all the models in the show. and press taking shots and people giving interviews.
It's a little window into the thrilling and chaotic moments before the show. There are close ups of the sleek and understated hair and make up and detail shots of the luscious embroideries, you don't really appreciate the texture of the embroidery unless you see it in person or in a detail shot like this.
Isn't her intensity fantastic! As well as all of that there is, of course the complete collection A/W 2007/08 (one of my favourite seasons at Dries) and some detail shots. Doesn't the above embroidery look like a crustacean, some sort of aquatic anemone or coral formation.I love the simplicity of this paisley print .
I don't know why the sales assistant decided to give it to me but I appreciated it so much I actually started to cry! (sad I know) It is a precious treasure to me and the manner in which I received it makes it all the more valuable. I was not a big spending customer loading shopping bags with purchases, I was just a fan a real and honest lover of the work. So, whoever you were Ms. French Sales Lady, Thank you so much and Mr Van Noten I salute you.

Tuesday, August 11


This has to be one of my favourite photo shoots I ever did. We shot it in 2004 and I think it looks as beautiful today as the first time I saw it. The collection was based on the paintings of Vermeer and i feel it totally evokes that while remaining modern and fresh.

The model is Julie Flynn from Morgan the agency this was her first ever photo shoot. She since went on to grander things, including a John Rocha ad campaign. She totally captured the innocence and grandeur I was after.

We painted Julie's hands to add an otherworldly and painterly feel. Make up by the talented Tom McInerney . The amazing Sonya Lennon styled the shoot for me, she is now the presenter of the TV show Off The Rails but back when we shot this she was just an amazing stylist whose fresh eye and incredible talent made my pieces look so beautiful.

The final touch was the vision and wonder of photographer David Timmons. It was the first time I worked with him and I hope to do so again real soon.
I truly loved doing this shoot, it was hard work organising it and they can be prohibitively expensive , but this one was worth it all

Nationwide appearance

I recently had the pleasure of being asked to appear on the current affairs and culture show Nationwide. They came to my studio and filmed for a day. My beautiful friend Catriona modeled for me. We were blessed that it was such a sunny day and we could film outside in the garden where the delphiniums and roses were shining!. If you would like to see it the link is here

Monday, August 10


Here are a few more points about me

- Creator of Considered by Helen James a range of homewares and irish food selling in
   Dunnes Stores

- Studied textile design in National College of Art and Design in Dublin

- Lived in NYC for 10 yrs where I worked for Donna Karan and ran a freelance textile studio

- Work is in the permanent collection of The Fashion Institute of Technology

- Helen James Design Accessories and clothing sold worldwide for 10yrs

- Design Director at Donna Karan Home NYC, 2010-2011

- Design consultant for clients including Avoca Ireland.

- Currently reside in Ireland

- Mother to 3 boys

- Love to cook, bake, dig my garden, pick flowers, swim in fresh water, drink coffee and eat very buttery shortbread

Design consultancy available for product or interior design 
If you would like to contact me about a custom order or any other queries ,
please do so at
Thank you for visiting


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