About Rosa Abbott

Rosa Abbott

Rosa Abbott is an arts, fashion and culture obsessive originating from Yorkshire, England, and currently living in Dublin, Ireland. On top of being a student at the illustrious Trinity College, she is a freelance journalist, writing for a number of Irish publications, and also edits the visual arts section of entertainment magazine Totally Dublin.

When she's not up to her eyeballs in writing, Rosa works as an assistant to stylist Aisling Farinella and volunteers at various art galleries. Her musings on life, style and art can also be found over at her blog, Too Gallant.

Latest Posts by Rosa Abbott

A Tribute to Irish Painter Louis le Brocquy

April 28, 2012 by  


Here’s a brief but heartfelt obituary I wrote for the Totally Dublin website after hearing of his death this past week. Read the original here.

It’s not very often people react with shock when someone at the age of ninety-five dies. But breaking the news of Louis le Brocquy’s death to a few fellow History of Art students lurking around the corridors of Trinity, several faces fell as if he was some bright young eighteen-year-old. The painter has dominated the Irish art world for so long, it seems, we all thought him immortal.
A self-taught artist, le Brocquy rose to international acclaim in the mid-twentieth century, an era of staunch Catholicism, economic hardship and de Valera’s ‘family state’: his thoroughly modern style of painting, inspired by the European and American avant-garde, must have been a jolt to Irish cultural life. In 1956, he represented Ireland in the Venice Biennale, where he scooped up awards for his contribution, A Family – now housed in the National Gallery of Ireland’s permanent collection, making Le Brocquy the only Irish artist to have been acquired by the gallery during his lifetime.
Today, he is probably best known for his series of portraits of leading Irish literary and artistic figures. A series of floating heads of the likes of W. B. Yeats, James Joyce, and Francis Bacon, the works are rendered in subtle hues of blues and pink, and suspended almost nihilistically above a plane of unrelenting white. But this series is by no means his best work, and it’s quite an oversight (not to mention a sad reflection on celebrity-worship) the works from this series – and in particular, that poxy Bono portrait – are reproduced more than anything else Le Brocquy painted.
Ramble up to the Hugh Lane, and you’ll be treated to some of his earlier output. His White Series, completed in the 50s and 60s, is dominated by densely layered smears of white and off-white paint that clogs, chalk-like, until it somewhat resembles a plaster cast. Somewhere between fields of snow and the white-washed walls of Spain (where Le Brocquy travelled in 1955), the figures blanketed by Le Brocquy’s powdery whiteness become abstracted, but some how their emotional resonance is heightened. This is especially the case in his portrayals of his wife, fellow artist Anne Madden. Following her injury in a riding accident in the mid-fifties, Le Brocquy painted a series of emotionally charged, intimate and jarring images of female torsos that explored both her physical agony and female sensuality.
As a young artist, Le Brocquy claimed, “I’m struck, not by what I’ve been able to subscribe to painting, but how much this mysterious old art has taught me about the nature of life.” And it was when exploring this complex nature of life, and the personalities and intimacies that shape it, when Le Brocquy was at his finest – and it’s these works that will ensure his popularity for generations to come.

Off We Set Design Conference

March 13, 2012 by  


Having done a few interviews with some of the speakers, I was lucky enough to be given a free ticket to Offset this weekend. A design conference of epic proportions, it provided lots of food for creative thought, and also kind of made me wish I studied VisCom/could draw better/knew how to make vector shapes.

Despite my own lack of design skillz, it was fascinating purely from a spectator’s point of view, and there was still plenty to learn that’s relevant to other creative practices.



Some nuggets of advice I gleaned:
  • Always make face-to-face meetings. Infinitely more productive than faceless emailing.
  • Go back to square one. Don’t just build on the examples before you – re-imagine your brief from the very core.
  • Having a sense of humour is good.
  • Take a different perspective.
  • Find a style, and keep it consistent. Be adaptable, but always put your own stamp on it.
  • Even if commercial work is steady, always work on personal projects to hone your style, add variety to your approach, and exercise your own, unmediated creative impulses.
  • Digital illustration is great, but working with good ol’ fashion paint is way more fun. It’s good to do both.
  • Social media works, but use it effectively. Use it personally and socially, as well as professionally.
  • When it comes to blogging platforms, it seems WordPress is king (even though I’m still in a Blogger rut – I may be moving soon, though.)
  • Take on as much work as possible, but always make sure you’re comfortable with it. Know when to say no.
  • Formal education isn’t essential. Experience and practice is.
  • Simplify.
  • Evaluate everything around you – in the words of Olly Moss, “Learning from your own mistakes is good, but learning from other people’s is better.”
Highlights of the weekend were the ingenious and hilarious Erik Kessels, the charming Stefan Sagmeister, the suave Olly Moss (oh how the girlies gushed), the illuminating UVA, but above all Pony. Pony divided opinion. Some of the people I discussed their show over pints in the Ferryman with were baffled. I, on the other hand, adored it, and spent a disproportionately large amount of the talk thinking about ways in which I could lure them into employing me.
They not only had a giant inflatable baby…
They had disco ball helmets…
They had POP…


They had lads with unidentifiable neon orbs on their heads (lampshades? tennis balls?)…
They had Panti spitting ping-pong balls into the audience…
They had a seagull singing Talking Heads…
And it was brilliant.
They put me in good spirits for venturing out into the night, and made me promise myself to be more inventive, and more camp.

Loads a Material: Fabric Samples & Then Some…

March 12, 2012 by  


The landlord of my studio just presented me with eight black bin bags of fabric samples, for me to sort through and do as I please with.

I rummaged through and grabbed everything lace, geometric, black and white, and deliriously printed, so now have lots of bits of jazzy cloth, that I’m not entirely sure what I’m doing with yet. I may well be stitching some frilly/print-happy detailing on a few of the more neglected items of my wardrobe, as well as mustering up some detachable collars, bow ties and neck ties.

Expect to see lots of botched DIY up-cycling jobs appearing soon.


Y.S.L., You So Lovely

March 6, 2012 by  


A few weeks ago, my life was turned upside-down when my bag miraculously disappeared in a certain city centre bar (honestly, I’d only had one bottle of beer). Amongst the missing items was my make-up bag, which, bearing in mind I also lost my passport, keys, wallet, and iPhone, sounds like a rather petty thing to fret over. But the sad truth is, a month without make-up (or using sub-standard back-up make-up) can wreak havoc on a girl’s self-esteem.

I was very happy, though, to collect a package from the post office yesterday which contained a myriad of girly goodies – new YSL foundation (that actually matches my skintone, hurrah) and Touche Eclat, Urban Decay eyeshadow and liquid liner, a Frost French make-up bag to keep it all in and cookies and a cream egg for good measure. As well from proving that I officially have the best mother in the world (seriously – thanks ma), I now feel a bit more confident taking on the world. And a bit of extra confidence is well-needed right now.

The single item I’ve been fawning over the most though is, typically, the one I needed the least. YSL lipstick in Rouge Pur Couture. I have several lipsticks at home, but never have I tried one that glides on like this baby. It gives a smooth, even colour in a vibrant red, comes in a very shiny case and, best of all, it even stayed on after I’d eaten Leo Burdocks fish and chips for dins. All round winner. You So Lovely, You Splendid Lipstick.

Berlin: 10 Things To Get Up To…

March 6, 2012 by  


For the first half of Reading Week, I was whisked off to Berlin to eat lots, walk around lots and drink Jaegermeister out of the bottle. Here’s a list of ten other rather good things I got up to while there.

1. Danced up a sweat at Stattbad

An ex-power station, turned swimming pool, turned art gallery / club / skating rink. Only in Berlin would you get that. Joe Godard of Hot Chip was spinning some very-dancable tunes, and visuals by Paula Scher (who, weirdly, I’d interviewed a few days before) were projected onto a head-meltingly industrial setting. As a new club, it was happily quite tourist free, and a much more authentic and enjoyable Berlin experience than Tresor, which was not-so-good, and full of Trinity students. Which, though I’m a Trinity student myself, isn’t really what you want on holiday.*

*In the words of Martin Parr, there’s a lot to be said for hypocrisy.

2. Came very close to blowing my rent money on cheap tat at Mauerpark market

Despite the bone-trembling cold, a stroll around the market in Prenzlauerberg’s Mauerpark was a rather lovely way to pass a Sunday afternoon. The Boy picked up a rather brilliant vintage jumper, and we had to pull ourselves away from the multitude of prints and trinkets that lined our walk, before warming up over Cuba Libres in a nearby bar.

3. Gasped, giggled and marveled, in turn, at graffiti

Graffiti is everywhere in Berlin. No building, wall, railing or structure – permanent or impermanent – seems to be left uncovered. Some of it was of great artistic skill, often it was on a huge scale. But the pervasive were perhaps the yobbish tags that marked out each bar as being either “EMO”, “YUPPIE”, or, most frequently, “TOURIST SHIT HOLE”.

4. Got into the spirit of things at Geist im Glas

Any company with a clever pun in the title catches my heart. Berlin has many originally named shops and bars, but the best we encountered was Geist im Glas in Neukölln. ‘Geist’ meaning ghost, or spirit, and the bar’s speciality being home-infused spirits, served in rather nice glasses. We sipped on the day’s special cocktail, vanilla vodka and champagne, munched on toasties and admired the bewitchingly ethereal decor.

5. Failed to get zen at the Yoga Cafe

To be honest, the service was piss-takingly slow here. We did wonder whether or not the very rushed-looking waitress was actually teaching a yoga class next door, at the same time as running the cafe, as the modest handful of customers smattered around really didn’t seem to warrant such delays. But my goats cheese and fig jam sandwich, aptly titled Sweet Tooth, was worth waiting for, and the serene decor helped quash my impatience… well, to a certain extent.


6. Fumbled a greasy thumb through lots of lovely magazines at Motto

Two magazine workers/fanatics, on holiday in Berlin together. First stop? Has to be Motto. We gushed over the many splendid pages that lined the shelves of this boutique magazine and bookshop for quite some time. There is an online store, but I still wished I could have taken the bricks and mortar version home in my pocket. Unfortunately my pockets weren’t spacious enough for that, but I did take home a copy of Journal magazine, and a lot of snappily designed flyers to decorate my walls with.

7. Was socially tactless enough to take photographs of nice things in Voo

A very chic clothing store, with lots of clothes I can’t afford, but spent a while pouring over anyway. Also had some delectable magazines, a fashion calendar, sharply fitted furniture and ridiculously good coffee.




8. Learnt about the history of ‘Dinge’

The vaguely-titled Museum der Dinge, or ‘Museum of Things’, is essentially a museum documenting German product design, from the late nineteenth century up until around the sixties, taking in the highs of the Werkbund and the lows of Nazi kitsch. Along the sides of the room are cabinets stuffed full of more eclectic, but categorically organised, ‘things’. In the toys section I had the nostalgic delight of spotting not one but two Polly Pockets I owned as a young ‘un.

9. Ate myself stupid at Eckbert Zwo

A quaint little restaurant tucked away in a corner of Kreuzberg, Eckbert Zwo apparently does the best schnitzel in Berlin. As a veggie, I didn’t get to sample it, but the mushroom gnocci and fried bread I ordered instead was quite possibly one of the most divine things I’ve ever tasted. Very rich, but it felt all the more sumptuous for it. The only time I’ve eaten a meal where I’ve not been more interested in the chips I got on the side.

10. Slept lots and horsed around at Die Fabrik

Last but not least, the little hotel in which we lay our heads. It had spacious rooms, a courtyard with a sign reading ‘NO HORSEPLAY’, amazing industrial wardrobes (which we both climbed into at some stage), and super-chintzy curtains. What it lacked in Wi-Fi reliability it compensated for by having a night-porter who was extremely chirpy even when we returned to the gaff with take-away food at 6am.


Mary Katrantzou for Longchamp!

February 24, 2012 by  


When these Mary Katrantzou for Longchamp arrived in my inbox tonight, the first thing that popped into my head was “I need to share this”.

I’ve been a huge MK fan for a couple of years now. The fact that her designs are now feasibly within my price range is very exciting.

If you’re a Dubliner, you can pick these up at Arnotts. Prices range from €61 – €365.



However, this does not make me ogle her own collections any less. Her AW12 collection still made me swoon.








P.s. These pictures don’t even do them justice – go onto Vogue.com and hover your mouse over the detailing for a long, long time.

Fashion & Home Decor via Cardboard Safari

November 26, 2011 by  


For those that want the prestige of a mounted head on their wall, but don’t have a long lineage of blue-blooded relatives to inherit from (or a taxidermist on speed-dial), step in Cardboard Safari. The ethical brand produce a whole series of ‘mounted trophies’ from recycled cardboard.

There are also skull-inspired designs, for those who want to take their macarbre home decor one step further… a goth is for life, not just for Halloween, kids. All available from eco-fashion site Fashion Conscience.

About Stylist-Extraordinaire Grace Coddington c.1975

August 29, 2011 by  


It’s no secret that stylist-extraordinaire Grace Coddington used to hold her own on the other side of the lens. My imagination is captured particularly by these luscious and previously unseen images from the mid-seventies, taken by her then-husband Willie Christie.

P.s. If you haven’t see any of Christie’s other work before, do check it out. It’s as rich, sensual and evocative as these beauties. Throw in that other past-muses include Jerry Hall and you quite possibly have the ultimate capturer of seventies glamour.

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