With the nights still long, there is nothing more comforting than lighting a candle to add a warm glow to a room.
Once, we might have used tealights or pillar candles, but now the trend is for quirky candles in the shape of classical busts, modernist forms or humorous trompe l’oeil.
‘It’s always fun to inject some personality into your home and unique candles are an easy and affordable way to do this,’ Vanessa Riding, founder of The Waxness, says.
Melting marvels: Candles are being created in playful shapes and sizes but with some examples costing over £100 you might want to put the matches away
It’s a growing trend. ‘On Etsy [an online marketplace], we’ve seen a 149 per cent increase in searches for sculptural or decorative candles,’ says Dayna Isom Johnson, Etsy’s trend expert.
‘These artful, sculptural candles are not only functional as they provide light and warmth, but also double as artwork.’
Of course, the point of candles is that you burn them. But with some waxy sculptures costing upwards of £100, they might be strictly for viewing pleasure only — just keep them away from the radiator.
An easy way into the sculpted candles trend is choosing beautiful twisty shapes that elevate a normal table candle.
Lex Pott’s Twist Candle Light Blue (£28) is double ended and eliminates the need for a candlestick as it loops to support itself.
Meanwhile, lockdown-founded brand Viisiions’ hand-sculpted ‘wigglers’ (£24) aim to bring ‘fun magic and eye-candy into our daily lives’.
For a take on the pillar candle, try Sculpture Candles by Octaevo, which are inspired by ancient mythology (£34) or the ‘adorable blob’ that is the Goober Candle from Brooklyn designers areaware (£29), which comes in a range of colours.
The whole point of this trend is to have fun — so candles shaped to give you a double take fit the bill.
Instead of bringing flowers to a dinner party, how about a candle looking like a plant in a flowerpot — the Flowerpot Candle, £10.
‘It’s a great way to bring the outdoors in without having to worry about watering it,’ Riding says.
Loewe’s Honeysuckle candle, developed by Jonathan Anderson and perfumer Nuria Cruelles is designed to look like a candle and candlestick in one (£80).
Or fancy a sweet treat without the calories? Try a cupcake candle made from soy wax and fragranced with Cherry berry oil for £7 by BarnardsNatural on Etsy.
If you can’t afford a Roman sculpture, try a tasteful nude in candle form instead. The Caia brand, which takes its name from the Roman goddess of fire, Caia Caecilia, has a range of nudes, including their 500g Drusus Candle (£35), a male torso.
The female Roman bust candle from Anthropologie (£34) has artfully draped robes and carefully styled hair.
It’s not just the ancient world that has inspired candlemakers: Cire Trudon celebrates 18th-century French Queen Marie-Antoinette in candle form (£110).
For a modern take on the naked form, Etsy has a mind-boggling array of options, from the Naked Body Candle set (£9 by DecorCandleUK on Etsy) to Blossom Soul’s Booty candle, £6.80.
The IMEC was jointly announced by US President Joe Biden and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the G20 summit in Delhi. Designed to fortify transportation and communication networks between Europe and Asia via rail and shipping routes, the project not only holds regional promise but also reflects a strategic move by the US in its geopolitical interests, particularly concerning China.
However, the IMEC faces a formidable contender in the form of China’s BRI, which celebrated its tenth anniversary this year.
Despite facing some headwinds, including a slowdown in lending due to China’s economic deceleration and concerns raised by nations like Italy, Sri Lanka, and Zambia regarding debt sustainability, the BRI remains a monumental global undertaking.
With investments surpassing a staggering $1 trillion and over 150 partner countries, the BRI has transformed from a regional initiative to a near-global endeavor.
Comparatively, the IMEC may not immediately match the scale or ambition of the BRI. While the US, Japan, and the G7 nations have introduced similar initiatives like the Global Gateway and Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment, none have achieved the expansive reach or influence of the BRI.
The emergence of these projects over the past five years, however, demonstrates the BRI’s pivotal role as a catalyst for global economic growth.
Viewing the IMEC solely through the lens of opposition to the BRI may not provide a comprehensive understanding of its potential.
Instead, the IMEC contributes to a broader trend of transactional partnerships, where countries engage with multiple collaborators simultaneously, underscoring the complex and interconnected nature of global trade relations.
Yet, realizing the IMEC’s aspirations demands meticulous planning and execution. A comprehensive action plan is expected within the next 60 days, outlining key governmental agencies responsible for investments, allocated capital, and implementation timelines.
“If I couldn’t prevent Fables from falling into bad hands, at least this is a way I can arrange that it also falls into many good hands,” Willingham wrote in an online post in which he decried the label’s repeated attempts to take over his creations and opposed them with this final extreme remedy. But the company responded that it considers itself to be the true owner of the series.
In a statement published by the specialized media IGN, the company threatened to take “necessary action” to defend its rights. Thus, the end of the dispute is uncertain. But it is unlikely that everyone will end up happily ever after.
In the meantime, in a new post, Willingham celebrated the massive support he received. In fact, for the moment, he has declined all interview requests — he did not respond to this newspaper’s request, nor did the publisher — arguing that he preferred to spend the next few days working on new artistic projects. Meanwhile, the dispute continues.
Fables is one of the most celebrated graphic novels of the last 20 years, and it has spawned spin-offs and a video game adaptation (The Wolf Among Us).
This situation also touches on a key issue, namely, the intellectual property rights of characters and works, especially in a sector where, for decades, dozens of cartoonists and screenwriters have accused comic book giants Marvel and DC of pressuring them to cede their ideas and accept commissioned contracts.
Willingham sums it up as a policy aimed to make creators sign “work for hire” agreements and crush them. All of this makes a gesture that was already intended to make a splash even more resonant.
Indeed, the battle over intellectual property is as old as contemporary comics: the copyrights for Superman, Batman and The Fantastic Four all have unresolved disputes and complaints from Jerry Siegel, Bill Finger and Jack Kirby over the contemptuous treatment they suffered. And heavyweight Alan Moore has been lamenting for years that DC took away his ownership of famous works like Watchmen.
Along with prestige and principles, tens of millions of dollars are at stake, especially now that the film industry has become interested in comics.
“When you sign a contract with DC, your responsibilities to them are carved in stone, where their responsibilities to you are treated as “helpful suggestions that we’ll try to accommodate when we can, but we’re serious adults, doing serious business and we can’t always take the time to indulge the needs of these children who work for us” the Fables author wrote on his blog. Following the impact of his original message, Willingham posted two other texts. He maintains that he had thought about sending his work into the public domain when he passed away, but that “certain events” have changed his plans: among them, he lists the changes in management and attitude at the top of the publishing company; the multiple breaches of obligations such as consultations about covers, artists for new plots and adaptations; DC’s forgetfulness when it came to pay, which forced him to demand invoices of up to $30,000; the suspicious frequency with which the publisher attributed it to “slipping through the cracks” (to such an extent that the author insisted that they stop using that expression); and the time and chances he gave them to respect the pact, renegotiate it or even break it and consensually separate.
“Shortly after creating Fables, I entered into a publishing agreement with DC Comics. In that agreement, while I continued to own the property, DC would have exclusive rights to publish Fables comics, and then later that agreement was expanded to give DC exclusive rights to exploit the property in other ways, including movies and TV.
DC paid me a fair price for these rights (fair at the time), and as long as they behaved ethically and above-board, and conducted themselves as if this were a partnership, all was more or less well. But DC doesn’t seem to be capable of acting fairly and above-board.
In fact, they treated this agreement (as I suppose I should have known they would) as if they were the boss and I, their servant. In time that got worse, as they later reinterpreted our contracts to assume they owned Fables outright,” Willingham laments. Hence, he concluded that “you can’t reason with the unreasonable.”
Having ruled out a lawsuit as too expensive and time-consuming at 67 years of age, he found a more creative solution: if they prevented him from owning his works and benefiting from them as he was entitled to do, he would not let the publisher do so either. Or, at least, everyone could use the comics as they wished. But the label was quick to clarify in its statement to IGN: “The Fables comic books and graphic novels [are] published by DC, and are not in the public domain”.
There will be additional chapters in this dispute, as well as in many other ones like it: in 2024, the historic first image of Mickey Mouse, the one that starred in the 1928 short Steamboat Willie, enters the public domain in the U.S. and other countries. Copyright in the U.S. lasts for 95 years, and math is an exact science.
Therefore, in a few years, King Kong, Superman and Popeye will meet the same fate. But The New York Times has wondered how the “notoriously litigious” Disney will react and how far it will go to fight in court. And who would dare to freely use all these works for fear of a million-dollar lawsuit? The same question surrounds DC and similar companies. Because in the real world, fairy tales are rare. Or they end up in court.
Do water features like a pool, pond or fountains add value to a home?
He may be used to making a splash in politics. But now it seems that Boris Johnson will be able to do that closer to home, too.
This week, it was revealed that the former prime minister has been given permission to build a swimming pool in the garden of his £3.78 million Oxfordshire country home.
A move which will doubtless provide a restful place to unwind, exercise and relax as he navigates post-political life.
Deep pockets: A country home with outdoor swimming pool
But even if you don’t have deep pockets for such deep-water projects, it’s still possible to create the tranquil benefits of waterside living.
Whether it’s through installing a hot tub, pond, or even decorative fountains.
But, as our experts point out, it’s important to weigh up the pros and cons before splashing out…
Introducing any kind of water feature to your garden requires some upkeep.
During the spring and summer, you’ll need to top up your water feature regularly to replenish water loss caused by evaporation.
And there’s also the task of removing branches and leaves as well as pruning bushes nearby.
‘It’s also a good idea to give your water feature a thorough clean and add a wildlife-friendly algaecide or UV steriliser after cleaning,’ says Will Haxby, home and garden sales director at Haddonstone, which specialises in stonework ‘as this will prevent algae growth build-up caused by the warm conditions.’
When the temperatures drop, drain off water before the winter to protect your feature from frost.
You’ll also need to clean the pump to remove any limescale build-up.
Will it add value?
Installing features like fountains can add to the kerb appeal of your home, says Tabitha Cumming, a property expert at The Lease Extension Company, says: ‘This means that it will make a better first impression and potentially add value to your home.’
Amer Siddiq, founder and CEO at Landlord Vision, believes that water features such as fountains can have other benefits, too.
‘They can help mask unwanted noises from roads or neighbours. They can also attract birds and wildlife, adding a touch of nature to your surroundings.’
Andrew Landers, director at Property Rescue, a home-buying service, says: ‘The post-covid world has seen the importance of outside space massively increase, and any enhancements that make this space more enjoyable is going to have a positive impact on the value of a home.’
Factor additional costs into your budget, too, since water features rarely boil down to a single, one-off payment.
‘For example if any of your water features have fish, these can incur additional costs from the food and care that they will require, and you will also need to be vigilant to keep them safe from predators,’ says Cumming.
Some features can cause structural issues, too.
‘Fountains may become damaged through wear and tear or have cracks caused by water freezing over,’ she adds.
In summer, having a water feature will make you a magnet for friends and family who want to pop around and cool down.
All of which, says Anna Giles, an associate at law firm Wedlake Bell, could increase scope for accidents
‘Homeowners should bear in mind that they could be subject to a claim for compensation if someone injures themselves at their property, so reasonable care needs to be taken to ensure that visitors and/or occupiers of the property will be safe.’