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Penumbra: Rashid Khalifa at Saatchi Gallery - PHOTO TOUR

Silhouette of a man cast on an art piece at Rashid Khalifa’s exhibition at Saatchi Gallery, London. / Photo: Eileen Hsieh



Contemporary artist Rashid Khalifa brings his vibrant, three-dimension installations to the British audience, staging his first solo exhibition at London’s Saatchi Gallery.

Spread out across two spaces on the second floor, the viewer will find a collection of colourful, strategically illuminated pieces. The artist — who has been painting for four decades and is a member of the Bahraini royal family, according to Wikipedia - hopes to bring to life the beauty of textured shadows and light cast through polychromatic metal structures.

Aluminium mesh wall works, steel grid mobiles, and a monumental maze form the basis of this immersive exhibition inspired by architectural grids and geometric lattices.

I had the chance to attend the private view, and here’s a photo tour of Mr. Khalifa’s debut exhibition. Enjoy!

Artist Rashid Khalifa posing with guests in front of his colourful maze. / Photo: Eileen Hsieh

Five Super Instagrammable London Florists for Flower-Obsessed Visitors

Do flowers make you smile? 

Everywhere I go, I seek out new and unique floral displays - at cafes, shops, florists and homes - and the close proximity to so much prettiness guarantees to boost my mood and set off a creative train of thought.

London has a strong floral game, and I believe no visitors to this enchanting city should go home without some photographic proofs of local florists' stunning talents.

Hence I've compiled a simple Top 5 List for Flower-Loving Tourists with my favorite florists in central London (Westminster, to be exact), all within walking distances to several popular attractions, so you can stop and smell the roses while soaking up all the magic that London has to offer. 🌹


1. Jens Jakobsen Floral Construction

Close To: Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Downing Street, St. James's Park

The Blewcoat School, Junction of Caxton Street & Buckingham Gate, London SW1H 0PY

www.jensjakobsen.co.uk | Instagram @jensjakobsenfloralconstruction

You can often spot Jens Jakobsen creating his playful floral displays outside the historic Blewcoat, which is now the flagship store wedding dress designer Ian Stuart.

Just down the road from Queen Elizabeth's palace and a few blocks away from the Prime Minister's residence, Jens Jakobsen has been catching the eyes of the rich and the powerful since making his move from Denmark to London. 

But it's not just the enviable location that's made him one of the most talked-about florists in the city - it's down to his never-ending stream of creativity inspired by nature and his own warm, bubbly personality, which has given us the onion garden, bird's nests, and wild bunches of bouquets that raise our spirits. 

You can often spot Jens creating his playful floral displays outside the historic Blewcoat, a former school for the poor during the Victorian times that had been lovingly restored to become the flagship store for wedding dress designer Ian Stuart.

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Jens Jakobsen florist london blewcoat eileen hsieh followthatbug follow that bug

2. Wild At Heart @ Liberty London

Close To: Carnaby Street, Oxford Street, Regent Street, The Photographer's Gallery, BBC Broadcasting House

Great Marlborough Street entrance of Liberty, London W1B 5AH

www.wildatheart.com | Instagram @wildathearthq

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Whether you're paying a visit to Liberty, checking out its Tudor-revival architecture, or simply passing by on the way to Regent Street, this florist will make you want to slow down for a little while.

Occupying the main entrance of the luxury retailer (on Great Marlborough Street), Nikki Tibbles Wild At Heart has carved out a calming oasis for anyone who wants to escape the hustle and bustle of Soho. The intoxicating fragrance of flowers greets you as you enter the building, setting the mood for the visual and sensual discoveries that lie ahead.

Wild At Heart was selected as the in-house florist for Liberty in 2008, and the store front has since become a favorite accessory for visitors and locals who want to add a romantic touch to this stunning landmark. 

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3. Petersham Nurseries @ Covent Garden

Close To: Covent Garden, Royal Opera House,  West End, Trafalgar Square, National Gallery, Chinatown, The Savoy

31 King Street, London WC2E 9FB

www,petershamnurseries.com/covent-garden | Instagram @petershamnurseries

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The first time I visited Petersham Nurseries' new shop in Covent Garden, I thought I had stumbled upon an undiscovered treasure chest of whimsies.

I wanted to touch everything on display, linger over each darling item's back label, and admire the composition of the lush plants that adored every corner of the stunning space. I clicked and clicked away until my phone ran out of battery, and then I stayed and wandered around some more.

Little did I know that the shop already had a famous big sister in Richmond, and the brand is hailed as a lifestyle destination for its "unique spirit and rare beauty". 

The Covent Garden branch of Petersham Nurseries is much smaller in size but just as beautiful. It consists of a shop with an in-house florist, a delicatessen, two restaurants and a cellar. Trust me, it's easy to spend an entire day here and still not wanting to leave.

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Petersham nursury covent garden interior 3 eileen hsieh followthatbug follow that bug london
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Petersham nursury covent garden flowers eileen hsieh followthatbug follow that bug london

4. Wild Things Mayfair

Close To: Selfridge's, Hyde Park, Royal Academy of Arts, Bond Street, Oxford Street

47 Davies St, Mayfair, London W1K 4LZ

www.wildthingsflowers.co.uk | Instagram: @wildthingsflowers

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When you're a florist in London's most expensive neighbourhood, where ultra-prime properties beat out Manhattan in terms of price per square foot (£3,853 for Mayfair v.s. £3,575 for Manhattan), you know nothing but the best will do.

Based in Mayfair with Claridge's and Vera Wang as neighbors, Wild Things - by designer Louise Bermingham - opened its doors in 1996 and offers some of the most beautiful blooms on the market. 

Outside the shop you'll often find two large buckets - or 'ponds' - filled to the rim with floating flowers that are changed regularly to reflect the seasons, creating a dreamy photo opportunity against the white of the wedding dresses and the red facade of the mansions nearby.

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 5. Fortnum & Mason

Close To: Royal Academy of Arts, Piccadilly Circus, St. James's Palace, Leicester Square, Chinatown, Bond Street

Lower Ground Floor Food Hall, 181 Piccadilly, London W1A 1ER

www.fortnumandmason.com | Instagram @fortnums

Fortnum Mason butterfly floral stairs eileen hsieh followthatbug follow that bug london

Here's a store on every London tourist's must-visit list, so having a good florist in-house is simply the cherry on top.

Fortnum, inventor of the Scott Egg, is as British as a shop can get. With an giant selection of teas and biscuits and a curated collection of luxury homeware, beauty products and fashion accessories, F&M is a feast for the eyes and the senses. With its signature ‘Eau de Nil’ color adorning the shopping bags and various packaging, it's nearly impossible to resist the urge to get some treats once you set foot inside.

You can find its friendly florist in the Food Hall on the lower ground floor, next to the fresh produce and wine sections.

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Beautiful Destination: Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London

There are a number of grand buildings dotted along the south side of Hyde Park, and this one - the Mandarin Oriental - along with the Natural History Museum, are what I find the most beautiful. 

Besides the stunning use of red brick on its facade, this place also holds an interesting history.

Take a moment to admire this picturesque setting at the hotel's loggia, then scroll down for eight facts about the hotel that you may find fascinating.

The park-facing loggia at Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park is the perfect location for special events. © Mandarin Oriental Hotels

The front facade of Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, facing Knightsbridge. © EIleen Hsieh/Follow That Bug // Cover photo  © Mandarin Oriental Hotels


🍁 The original building was built in 1889 as an exclusive "gentleman's club", with the main entrance facing Hyde Park.

🍁 At the time it was also the tallest building in London at 100 feet high (about 9 story by today's standard).

🍁 The Franco-Flemish style architecture uses plenty of red brick and Portland stone and has loggias (exterior corridors) to provide lounging space that overlooks the park.

🍁 A fire struck the property in 1899, and in 1902 it reopened as "Hyde Park Hotel", the newest and the most luxurious hotel in London.

🍁 But the hotel opened with a new entrance facing Knightsbridge instead of Hyde Park -- due to royal request that the side facing the park would only be reserved for royal use or very special occasions.

🍁 The new main entrance of the building now faces Knighsbridge, opposite Harvey Nichols and a short walk from Harrods.

🍁 In 2000, the property reopened as "Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park" after extensive restoration.

🍁 In September 2016 it began another 18-month restoration to keep up its 5-star standard. The first phase on the front-facing rooms completed last month, and now the work has moved to the back of the building, which is expected to finish in Spring 2018.


My Simple Secret to Happiness

Tilt up your head, and hold it there -- what do you see?

Close your eyes, and absorb a heavy breath all the way down to your tummy -- how do you feel?

Stand firm, wiggle those heels deeper into the ground, and just listen to your own voice coming from within.

🌿🌿🌿

This is what I like to tell people who ask me: "Eileen, how do you stay so happy and hopeful all the time?"

Some ask, because they find my outlook frustrating, unrealistic and even privileged.

"You don't have the baggage of ______ (children, family, bad job, discrimination, pressure from everywhere, etc.). That's why you can talk as if nothing weighs you down."

These people, in their minds, they've drawn the short straw in life, which is the one excuse they use for everything they believe they deserve but can't seem to achieve.

The truth is, we all have been one of these people at some point in our lives. Some of us may still be in this mindset, and some of us may return to it.

So what, if you feel bitter and unloved? It's nothing to be scared or ashamed of. It's a genuine feeling from within, so own it.

Then, use it as the ignition to drive you forward -- be honest with your fears, tackle them gently, and praise yourself along the way for having the courage to face the struggles head on, whatever the outcome.

As the title of this post says, this is my very simple secret to happiness! 

It is how I stay happy. And I am, truly.

Eileen xx

Autumn sky in London's St James's Park. © EIleen Hsieh/Follow That Bug // Cover photo by  Teddy Kelley  on Unsplash

Autumn sky in London's St James's Park. © EIleen Hsieh/Follow That Bug // Cover photo by Teddy Kelley on Unsplash

What Is Courage? - My InstaReflection

#COURAGE (noun) -- which one of these definitions do you agree with the most?

(1) The ability to do something that frightens one.

(2) Strength in the face of pain or grief.

(3) The quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear.

I pick 2, because if you can overcome the pain of fears or the grief of regrets, you will have gained the key to a whole new world. 

Eileen Hsieh Buckingham Palace sunset pastel sky followthatbug London England UK

Courage is:

📍 to let go of your ego, and act on this thought. 

📍 to own up to your shortcomings, recognise strengths in others, and learn to grow in a different and better direction.

📍 to ignore outside voices, and say and do things that you truly believe are right.

📍 to let go of your past, and start every new day learning to be the "you" that you would like to become.

Today I saw a flash of courage in someone, so I just want to throw this message out to the universe -- you can do it.

You may feel lonely, you may stumble, but there will always be people cheering you on, because we all wish we had a little bit more courage within ourselves.

Beautiful Destination: Churchill Arms Pub in Kensington, London

This is probably the most photographed pub in all of London, if not the most beautiful -- and it's easy to see why. 

Located near the midpoint on Kensington Church Street connecting Kensington and Notting Hill, the Churchill Arms pub is a beloved historic landmark built in 1750. It's most famous for its flower-covered facade, and it also serves very nice Thai curry dishes.

Before your next visit, take a look at these wonderful facts about Churchill Arms and deepen your appreciation for this true London gem!

🍺It was the first London pub to serve Thai food. Yum!

🍺The pub has a flower bill of around £25,000. Every. Year.

🍺 The pub has some 100 flower tubs, 42 baskets and 48 window boxes.

🍺 The pub also goes all out for Christmas. Last year it was adorned with 21,000 lights and 90 Christmas trees. 🎄

🍺Winston Churchill's grandparents were regulars at the pub in the 1800's. The pub was given its current name after World War Two.

🍺 The pub's true legend is its landlord, Gerry O'Brien, who came to London from Ireland as at age 17. He joined the pub in 1985 and retired in July 2017 after 32 years of service, during which he had pulled about 2 million pints of London Pride!

Royal Gossip: The Albert Pub of Victoria

Standing proudly at the crossroads of London's past and present. © Eileen Hsieh /  @FollowThatBug

Standing proudly at the crossroads of London's past and present. © Eileen Hsieh / @FollowThatBug

If you've ever done the tourist trail of London's landmarks, you've probably seen this pretty Victorian pub somewhere along the way to Buckingham Palace, Big Ben or Victoria Station. 

The Albert is a Grade II listed pub built in 1862, and the only remaining building from the original phase of the development of Victoria Street. 

It survived the Blitz in World War Two, and still has many original features intact -- ornate ceilings, wrought iron balconies and hand-etched frosted glass windows, etc.

As London Victoria undergoes another phase of regeneration, with endless building work erecting shiny new offices, shops and residential flats on every corner, The Albert continues to coexistence happily with its younger neighbors. 

Including this brand new crossing that begins and ends at its doorstep. ✖️💜

*    *    *    *

Social media can be a very helpful source for curious information.

After I posted the above image, someone pointed out that the windows at The Albert were adorned with engravings allegedly depicting Prince Albert piercings. ("Somewhat X-rated" was the warning I was given.)

Being none the wiser, I threw the question to London Historians - a Twitter account that I follow for random knowledge about the city - already dismissing the claim as an urban legend.

Then came this photo -- "You decide," said the accompanying caption!

What's your first reaction? I can certainly see where the gossip stems from, but I shall pay the pub a visit for a closer examination! 😜

Window engravings at The Albert pub on Victoria Street. // Courtesy of London Historians

Window engravings at The Albert pub on Victoria Street. // Courtesy of London Historians

Give Less, Give Smarter - My InstaReflection

Always be kind to yourself, and help others who deserve it.

But do not confuse being kind with giving unconditionally, because kindness - when presented to someone who doesn't want it - is wasted energy that could be used to empower someone else who truly desires it, or yourself. 

If you're reading this and thinking that I'm talking about you, you're mistaken. 😘

This question -- how to strike a happy medium between helping others deal with their struggles and focusing on my own challenges -- is one that I've been thinking about a lot lately. .
.

Lo and behold, while scrolling through my boring twitter feed earlier, I came upon this article called "Why I Stopped Helping People and You Should Too" by Cammi Pham (link in my insta stories), which gave me the reassurance I was looking for. 

It's time for me to give less, and give smarter. 🤓 💜

Eileen x

Little White Flowers - My InstaReflection

For you... just because. 🌼

Just because I want to say hello with these pretty little flowers.

And to thank you for sending over so much love and support for my #FTBTimeOfMyLife project. 
I write every entry on the day of post. Some take minutes to finish. Others take hours as I wade through decades of memories to identify the one single moment that helped shape me into the person I am today.

Coming up, as I enter a new chapter of life, the posts will be become darker, more complex, and possibly even difficult to digest. 

So you may find me sneaking snapshots that reflect my Present into those of my Past, just to break up the intense emotions that I know I'm about to trek through. 

So here they are, tiny little flowers, so perfect in their harmony, so consistent in their form, no matter how close you look. 

Eileen x

#thankyou 💛

P.S. This comment from viviennejlevick adds so much more meaning to this post:

Made me smile to notice that considering the context, you chose yarrow, achilliea millefolium, or 'soldiers woundwort' - used for centuries to help heal wounds xx

FTB Time of My Life is an exercise to celebrate the things that have shaped our lives. Click here for details on how to participate.

FTB: Time Of My Life

My birthday is coming up, and I want to mark the occasion by showing my love for... everything that matters to me.

So starting from June 15, my #FTBTimeOfMyLife project begins. Every day, for 40 days, I will be sharing a piece of my memory from the year in focus... that's quite a few years to flip through, and a lot of forgotten events to recollect! 

But this will be a beautiful exercise, and I hope you'll join me in going down the memory lane and sharing a piece of the puzzle that's shaped your life. 

You can share your thoughts in a few ways -- in post comments, on Instagram, or simply write them down in your private diary.

Now, let's go and explore the Time of Our Lives!

Eileen x

The Chocolate Box Life - My InstaReflection

A quaint 17th century thatched cottage near Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

I came, to find a quiet place to clear my mind.

I arrived, to find that I still quite like a mind brimming with thoughts, senses and fascination, except now the deafening sirens are replaced by chirping birds, the air is perfumed with wildflowers and horses instead of car fumes, and the skyline is embellished with not highrises but cottages and cattle.

Right now, I'm looking out from the bedroom window of this 17th century chocolate box cottage, watching the morning sunlight dance across the garden and turn a row of rose bushes into sparkly yellow diamonds under the gray sky. 

I'm in the home county of Buckinghamshire, and I feel home.

Turning the World Upside Down - My InstaReflection

Westminster Abbey at sunset, after the rain. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

This image is the product of a combination of minor frustrations. And how I love it. 💙

Westminster Abbey at sunset, with soft sunlight caressing its facade, is a serene beauty. As I approach the spot where the building can be viewed in full, I discover that my perfect shot has some unwelcome guests - cars parked on the roadside, and puddles everywhere. 🚙 💦 

Up until now, I’ve taken countless pictures of the Abbey and they all look fairly similar — postcard worthy, maybe, and also run of the mill. 

Not today. 😊

“Do not worry that your life is turning upside down. How do you know that the side you are used to is better than the one to come?” - Wisdom of Rumi. ✨

Have you ever had to flip your world up side down? And how did it make your feel?

Eileen x

Life is like a Park Bench - My InstaReflection

Watching our lives go by.  St. James's Park, London. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

An escape to London’s city parks is one of life’s simple pleasures. 🌳

Here you’ll find urban greenery, wildlife, and free entertainment from the entourage of tourists who’re chasing squirrels as if following the Pope. 

Here, you never know who’s going to be sitting in the bench next to you. In any given frame of time, a complete stranger may be the closest person within your reach, and the smallest gesture of goodwill from either side may lead to delightful surprises that will stay with you long after the stranger is gone. 

Occasionally, the stranger becomes no longer strange and accompanies you on part of the journey towards your next destination. 

This is what I call fate, and it all begins with a small smile and an open heart. 

Eileen x

Photography & I: Bringing Dreamscape into Reality | 攝影與我:把夢想帶入現實世界

Happy Instagram birthday to me!

@FollowThatBug is five years old this month, having been actively sharing photos since April 2012.

That is by far my longest happy relationship with any social media platform, and my infatuation with this app and its community is growing stronger day by day.

Not long ago, I received some comments from fellow Instagramers that nearly shot me to the moon with elation. In different ways, they described my editing style as a "professional makeup artist", making whatever that's in front of the camera appear as paradise on earth, and bringing out the quiet beauty of my subjects that others may fail to notice. 

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BEFORE: What my lens sees -- a classic London icon.

AFTER: What I see -- Big Ben and his candyfloss.

My Rose-Tinted Lens

Filters were what initially attracted me to Instagram. It was like trying on new clothes, I got a lot of satisfaction accessorizing my pictures with different layers of effects, then taking them off and starting all over again, and again, and again, because I could never decide which style I liked the most.

I became BFFs with the filters. Not only did they add colors to my images, they also camouflaged any imperfection that I didn't know how to remove.  

BEFORE: What my lens sees -- a lonely bird overshadowed by the shiny yellow blooms.

AFTER: What I see -- a sweet little creature enjoying the view from her flower castle.

Finding "Me"

Slowly, as I gained more confidence in my photographic expression, I began to see filters in a different light.

I still loved them, deeply, but I also realized that as Iong as I continued to rely on them to gain attention, I would never be able to develop any style that was truly, uniquely "me".  

Filters were someone else's creation, someone else's vision. They showed me the amazing possibilities of effects and manipulation, and now I wanted to be that "someone else" and leave my own stamp.

BEFORE: What my lens sees -- intricate craftsmanship from a bygone era. 

AFTER: What I see -- ray of hope and possibility shining through from all directions.

Painting the Stories of Our Lives

I'm a storyteller, and I appreciate the power of human touch.

When appropriate (this is key!), I like to run my hand over things that catch my attention, so I can feel their heaviness, their bumps and cracks, try to peel of their layers and see what hides beneath.

More often than not, I discover a diamond in the rough, ready to shine.

So what is my 5-year Instagram birthday wish? Make the world sparkle! And I'm taking concrete steps to help make this vision a reality, so watch this space. :)

And if you like, I can keep you updated on my progress -- just sign up here.

Eileen x


Related reading

5 Tips For Taking Amazing iPhone Photos

Eileen Hsieh, iPhone Photography School

What does it take to create amazing iPhone photos? Apps can help with editing and special effects, but you can produce beautiful images using just the iPhone’s native camera and a few simple composition techniques. In this tutorial, you’ll discover five highly effective tips that’ll help you take stunning iPhone photos that you’ll be proud to share. With just a few small tweaks to your technique, you’ll have the tools you need to become a really great iPhone photographer.