Amelia’s Magazine | Herbfarmacy: Pure Herbal Skincare from Seed to Skin

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La Cream Galeria Collective.

November in Mexico. The Day of the Dead celebrations still leave their mark in the wilting wreathes of marigolds adorning graveyards in the Purépecha towns round Lake Patzcuaro. And La Mano Grafica Gallery in Patzcuaro opened a new show entitled Dia De Muertos 2010; exhibiting painting, no rx ed graphics and wood engraving. Superb prints line the walls of the interior room by Mexican print maker and artist Artemio Rodriguez, information pills who spent some time living in L.A.

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His work although modern in its subject, appears to be ardently crafted very much in the style and fashion of Posada, the engraving master 100 years his superior that I wrote about previously here. In fact I saw some flying monsters stuck onto the glass wall that divides the gallery – They appeared to be taken from Posada’s Mundo Insolito series of prints, but they were Rodriguez’s. Forgive my ignorance.

Painting by Niño. Window stickers by Artemio Rodriguez.

Artemio Rodriguez.

He incorporates a street style, sharply on trend yet occasionally bizarre as many of his characters are skeletons. There were also a mix of prints from various artists mainly featuring imagery from the Mexican Revolution of 1910 – men on horses complete with rifle and sombrero. A mural of Janitizio, the bigger of the islands in Lake Janitizio is painted between ceiling high skulls; if you like murals check out the muralists; Juan O’Gorman, David Siqueiros, Jose Clemente Orozco and Diego Riviera.

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Mural of Janitizio, Guadalupe wood engraving and etching of a revolutionary.

I particular liked a series of small square canvases featuring psychedelic skulls, dolls, and skeletons doing their make up. Actually one of these little canvases really jumped out at me, for a moment it completely threw the exhibition out of context and out of the country. Why? At that moment in time I could have been in a gallery in London or any other global artistic hub. The piece was a wooden owl painted with multicolour stripes, sat on a mini shelf and mounted printed wooden board. Nothing strikingly unusual – except it led me to ask: Why is a graphic gallery tucked into the heartland of sleepy avocado fields showing this particular low brow style of art? Global aesthetic trends, infiltrating everywhere. Everybody wants to be part of the scene.

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The owl by La Cream Galeria Collective. A grave traditionally decorated by loved ones with marigold petals in Patzcuaro.

And why not? Human civilization’s demand for information is well documented. Books and engraving fulfilled our desire to distribute information in the earlier days. The technique of engraving gave us a method to mass print, mass inform and thus communicate ideas. Many artists used engraving or a form of screen printing to create images for newspapers and magazines reporting the drama of the day. The Illustrated London News is one example of this. Back in the 20′s El Chango, one of my favourite Mexican artists Illustrated for the magazine Revista de Revistas. Posada is another magnificent artist most notable for his excellent illustrations, again worked by engraving steel plate.


When the photographic revolution hit the young media industry, newpapers, magazines and posters containing illustrations switched to photographs with fewer printed illustrations. Engraving has evolved and today holds a niche in the fine art and illustration markets. Our sentimental fondness for the classic techniques of the past will not let engraving become obsolete and many artisanal techniques have been appropriated by artists who frequently return to local mythology and folklore for inspiration. The keepers of these stories are the cultural representatives of their country.

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Artemio Rodriguez.

At the same time these artists connect across countries, fusing into international collectives who make use of photoshop, flash, illustrator, pixels and vectors to create a recognisable look… a wave of monomania sweeping through the global art scene, travelling at broadband speed. These artists create artworks that are strikingly similar despite an ocean or mountainscape between them.

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Selection of prints by the entrance.

How is this interconnectedness diluting our respective cultures? I don’t think that preserving cultural traditions, customs and arts is either good or bad – although of course it’s wise to understand our historical footprints – but it’s interesting to note this intercontinental collision of local and global culture in the year 2010.

All images courtesy of La Mano Galleria.

Ada Zanditon, view illustrated by Sara Chew

Wahoooo! Summer is finally here. No really, viagra dosage it is. Seriously I don’t care how damp and dreary it is outside that office window, hospital summer is most definitely here. I’m toasty warm and looking at shorts, t-shirts and dresses ranging from ethereal to barely there. Skipping round London in the increasingly cold weather this can be hard to believe, but that’s how it goes. Here’s a little look at some of the summer outfits I’ve been looking at…

Ada Zanditon
Held eight stories up in Holborn with a stunning view out over the Thames to the Oxo Tower, Ada showed her latest collection. A quick chat with the designer revealed a charming, intelligent woman and in her own words ‘geeky’. Who else would be so inspired by maths and formulas that they borrow text books from libraries? Well if that’s where inspiration comes from, long may it last. Ada is not just a lovely person but also incredibly talented. Three dimensional sculptural pyramids burst forth from the intelligently structured garments.

Even the prints were inspired by fractal geometry and swept across many garments from a particularly stunning floor length bias cut 1930s dress with backless detail to a leather minidress complete with a chiffon front panel. Hard seaming was juxtaposed with soft fabrics and details. The jewellery carried the same prints as the dress and were another hard counterpoint to some of the softness. Look out for more on Ada’s ethical collection in Amelia’s new book.

Giorgio Armani

Armani called and off to Bond Street I went. Giorgio showed some great pieces with open weave jackets and low-breaking double-breasted jackets for the men, soft and light in beige, grey and smoke. T-shirts emphasised the lightness with sheer elements. Maybe this is a way to get the ‘heavage’ out without looking like a modern day medallion man. The shoes and accessories were simple and classic, from a soft leather briefcase to a brown woven leather shoe catching my eye in particular. Suede and salmon skin belts helped to further soften the tone. All very simple and invoking a cool Italian summers evening.

On the far side of the partition was the womenswear. Strong tailoring was paired with sheer blouses in varying shades of blue and deep purple. Skirts were long and flared slightly to the hem, though I will admit it was the shoes and accessories that stood out. High perspex wedges with wooden platforms excuded both freshness and class. Chunky cuffs, twisted silver necklaces and amulets of large dark blue/black stones hung on leather and fabric. Powerful, yet clean and sophisticated.

Emporio Armani

Illustration by Stéphanie Thieullent
Emporio, the delinquent nephew of Giorgio, was my next visit. There may have been a similar colour palette across the brands, but that’s pretty much where the similarities ended. No Giorgio man is ever going to be seen in a chainlink bondage harness. The use of sheer panels as highlights was also shared, this time showing off what one imagines will be gym-honed biceps. The highlight for me was a double-fronted crock effect suit. Hiding underneath the croc, a layer of leather gave the hint of something more to come.

Draping and ruffles were mixed with simple clean lines in womenswear. A grey and purple halterneck knee length dress particularly appealed, not to mention vertiginous heels. A dainty black chiffon bow, gave the vampiest pieces a demure side. Combining both the soft and the sharp, a draped jersey dress was teamed with a pale grey cap sleeve tailored jacket. It’s youthful and energetic but with a business edge.

Paul Costelloe

Illustration by Karolina Burdon

Showing menswear for the third season Paul opened London Fashion Week with a strong summer collection including short suits, lightweight long coats, and intricate print details. The menswear of this brand is growing on a season by season basis and whilst the formalwear is available in stockists such as John Lewis and Austin Reed, it’s hoped the casualwear and the odd catwalk piece should start hitting the shops soon.

Illustration by Natsuki Otani

You can see reviews of Paul’s collections by Matt and Amelia here and here.

Snake & Dagger

This London based denim company are growing stronger and stronger. Having trained in Japan, they hope to bring a more traditional feel to the denim market. The quality of the denim and the range of finishes are exquisite and the designers behind the brand bring together the best of their training and the city of London to create a unique look.


Illustration by Joana Faria

Wherever you thought you were going to buy your Christmas party dress, forget it. Scrub that idea now. Go straight to Aqua and get yourself sorted. This Christmas’ collection ‘Out to Sleigh’ is affordable glamour at its best.

The pieces are daringly cut but clever and in no way trashy. More importantly, whilst you’ve been eyeing up that dress on the high street for the last three weeks so has every other girl in your office, but it’s unlikely you’ll be in the same number if you visit Aqua.


Illustration by Gareth A Hopkins

Having previously shown in India, Morphe is thankfully launching in the UK. Playing with shape and form, the pieces are both dramatic and cutting edge. Born from countless hours of work, the statement pieces are surprisingly easy to wear, if somewhat out there.

However, the true gems in the collection include a one shoulder dress with silver trim along the neckline. Creating more than a simple point of interest this is a brand to watch as they develop their continued success in India.

Asher Levine

This was a fantastic collection from a burgeoning menswear designer. In particular, the asymmetric leather biker jackets were right on trend. Using differing leathers as well as digital printing, Asher showed a dynamic and contemporary collection.

Eleanor Amoroso

Most certainly one to watch. Eleanor graduated this summer from the University of Westminster. Her work with fringing has to be seen to be believed. Genuinely unique and fresh, I can only hope the future holds big things for Amoroso. This is one young designer who definitely needs to be nourished.

There were more…far more people that I saw during the press days. From the sublime to the ridiculous and everything inbetween. Trying to contain yourself when browsing all these wonders is a challenge, as is trying to get enough photos and remember everything. But I can safely say S/S 2011 is going to be a very, very good season.

All photography by Nick Bain
Herbfarmacy by Antonia Parker.

We discovered Herbfarmacy in issue 9 of Amelia’s Magazine, visit web and the brand has grown considerably since we last caught up with founder Dr. Paul Richards. Time to hook up with Alexandra, their new marketing guru.

When we first met you in 2008 you spoke of plans to build your brand, what has happened since then?
We have been very busy expanding our organic skincare range: growing new herbs, exploring and researching new products. Doing everything from seed to skin is quite a commitment and something of a labour of love. We have added at least ten new products to our original ten, which we sell in our ‘neo-herbal apothecary’ in Hay-on-Wye and on our website. We also supply other shops both here and abroad – including in Hong Kong, where our products have proved very popular! The Hay-on-Wye shop sells herbal tinctures (under the Postlethwaite’s label), our skincare range and holistic beauty treatments. We also support the work of local artists, and we are currently showing the photographs of Jan Sedlacek from harvest time this year.       

Herbfarmacy2 by KavanStudio  
Herbfarmacy, illustrated by KavanStudio.
How big is your team these days, it sounds as though it has grown? And are they as talented as they were when we last met them?
Yes, our team is made up of very talented and busy people: Rupert manages the land with Paul, and also does gardening and general maintenance work. Gabriel and Jayne (who has just left Herbfarmacy to take a degree in Photography) record music and make bespoke yurts. Our neighbour David has helped out many times over the years and he has finally given up his public sector work to join us full time, all for the love of herbs! Carol, Paul’s wife, runs the shop and teaches the Barefaced Yoga exercise sequence that we have on the website. Our two beauty therapists help us to develop products from a therapist’s point of view and one of them, Natalie, also holds a degree in fine art and print-making. I have recently joined the team to help promote the brand, so we are an ever expanding team of interesting people…

Herbfarmacy by KavanStudio
Herbfarmacy, illustrated by KavanStudio.

Why the change in packaging design?
We listened to the feedback from our friends and customers who thought our original packaging was too earthy and masculine. The new labels are much cleaner, conveying the idea of freshness and beauty alongside information about the key herbs. To convey Paul’s vast herbal knowledge we chose the tagline ‘Fresh from the Fields of Paul Richards’ and his signature appears on all the labels. Packaging is kept to a minimum, and we must be doing something right because we were finalists for Best New Packaging Design at The Natural & Organic Awards 2010.

Michelle Urvall Nyrén Herbfarmacy Paul
Paul Richards gathering Mullein flowers, by Michelle Urvall Nyrén.

Are there any particularly hard aspects for Paul, as a man working in the beauty industry?
Paul: I don’t have any problem understanding the active properties of herbs but – not being a devotee myself – I have had to learn more about the mysteries of face masks and advanced skin cleansing operations so that I can get a handle on what ingredients can best contribute to an effective product. I also help out in the Hay-on-Wye shop on Saturdays when I can. Though I have no problem with our herbal remedies and skincare products I find working in the organic and mineral make-up section a bit out of my comfort zone!

Why should men spend more time on skincare? What do you recommend for the unwilling metrosexual?
Whilst men are generally less interested in looking after their skin than women that should not stop them thinking about the health of their skin. A simple cleansing and moisturising regime for the face is sufficient, and we have two creams popular with the male gender – the Starweed Face Cream, which has a more neutral fragrance, and Just Face Cream which is fragrance-free. For those working outside and with heavy physical jobs it is important to moisturise hands, feet and other exposed body parts. The Meadowsweet Muscle Balm is an excellent stand-by for knocks, aches and strains.

Herbfarmacy by Karina Yarv
Gathering herbs on the farm, by Karina Yarv.

What are your favourite flowers and why?
It’s very difficult to choose because we love them all! But I know that Paul has a soft spot for the Marshmallow and Mullein flowers (there’s a photo of him harvesting mullein on the website) – Mullein is a beautiful vibrant yellow flower that makes a lovely oil. Carol loves the visual impact of a field of deep orange Calendula flowers, which produces an oil of a similar beautiful colour.

Do you make any products on the day of harvest?
Our tinctures are made on the day of harvest, as are some of our ingredients. Hypericum (St John’s Wort) and Starweed (Chickweed) oils are made from fresh herbs. All other herbs are harvested and dried immediately in our purpose-built Drying Shed.

Can you tell us a little known fact about any of the plants that you use?
Burdock – which features in our Whole Body Lotion and of course the Dandelion & Burdock tincture – is grown widely as a vegetable known as gobo in Japan. In fact we grow a Japanese variety, and we have occasionally had enquiries from Japanese restaurants about growing burdock for them.

Echinacea by Lisa Stannard.

How is the organic and ethical skincare industry changing? What have been the most obvious shifts over the years?
The organic and ethical skin care industry has matured rapidly over the last two or three years with the expansion of the use of recognised symbols that guarantee the organic, natural and ethical integrity of products. However, the term ‘organic’ still has no legal status in skincare as a trade description – the result is that a number of high profile brands have appeared with pseudo organic names that exploit this loophole, and through using cheap ingredients they are able to give the impression that you can buy organic products for next to nothing. The organic industry is working hard to tackle this and I would emphasise the need to read labels properly and check the authenticity of products.

Herbfarmacy by Matilde Sazio
Herbfarmacy by Matilde Sazio.

Top tips for living a “balanced, not boring” lifestyle?
Paul: Balance is definitely the key – eat a balanced but varied diet, keep your body hydrated and well exercised, and make sure you take time to nurture mind and spirit. But forget a fanatic adherence to strict regimes that creates obsessional behaviour which is a long way from balanced.

What are your current favourite products and why?
One of Paul’s favourite products is the Mallow Beauty Balm – the pure herbal oils melt into the skin to give ultra-rich moisturising with a fabulous aroma. We have recently introduced Mullein flower oil into this product to smooth fine lines – and are also in the process of adding this oil to a new lip balm to help soothe cold sores. Carol’s favourite products are Just Face Cream, which is a great everyday moisturiser that suits her (mature) skin and Skin Rescue Balm. She loves the pungent aroma of Marshmallow, Calendula, Chickweed and Comfrey when she use it on her cuticles and as an intensive treatment to prevent dryness and cracking on the heels of her feet.

Herbfarmacy try-me pack
Herbfarmacy try me pack face
The Try-Me GIft Pack contains beautifully packaged pots of Organic Rose Oil, Whole Body Lotion, Luxury Foot Cream, Working Hands Cream and my personal favourite – Starweed Face Cream. Since Christmas is soon to be upon us I asked Herbfarmacy what they recommend as ideal presents:

For The Boyfriend – the Basic Maintenance Pack for Men contains everything a man could need: Nourishing Body Oil, Luxury Foot Cream (winner of the Natural Health Beauty Awards 2009, Working Hands Cream and handmade Herbfarmacy soap.

For Mums and Aunties – we recommend the Divine Face Pack or Replenish Gift Packs which each contains the full works for the face. For a smaller gift try the Complete Skin Cleanse Pack, which offers everything to cleanse and tone the skin and includes a Dandelion and Burdock Tincture, which is a great internal cleanser for the liver and kidney tonic – ideal for the Christmas season!

For an Active Girl – the Totally Balmy pack is a great rescue kit for after the gym – featuring a great after-shower moisturiser, a muscle balm for any aches and pains and a skin rescue balm.

For Grandad – try our Meadowsweet Muscle Balm which is gently warming, along with our Just Face Cream, which can be used after shaving and to combat the effect of cold wintry weather on the skin.

Some of the gift packs are exclusive to the Herbfarmacy shop and our website… so please do visit us!

Categories ,Antonia Parker, ,Barefaced Yoga, ,Beauty, ,Best New Packaging Design, ,Burdock, ,Calendula, ,Chickweed, ,Comfrey, ,Dandelion, ,Echinacea, ,ethical, ,Gobo, ,Hay-on-Wye, ,Herbal, ,Herbfarmacy, ,Hypericum, ,Jan Sedlacek, ,Karina Yarv, ,KavanStudio, ,Lisa Stannard, ,Marshmallow, ,Matilde Sazio, ,Men’s grooming, ,Metrosexual, ,Michelle Urvall Nyrén, ,Mullein, ,Natural, ,organic, ,Paul Richards, ,Postlethwaite’s, ,Skincare, ,Starweed, ,The Natural & Organic Awards 2010, ,Tinctures, ,Yurts

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