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City Lights

November 17, 2011

Ten years ago I made a row of six ‘buildings’ out of white shoe boxes which I placed on the top shelf of the kitchen dresser. Using a scalpel I cut out rows of squares  over the blank facades and called it Manhattan. I lit the boxes with night-lights in jam jars – probably safer to use battery-operated night lights-  but they weren’t available then. I used to light them when we had friends for supper and after a few years of gathering dust and grease I chucked them out.

As the Arab Spring began to gather speed, images from Yemen, were regularly shown on our screens. I loved the traditional tower houses found throughout Sana’a and other towns in Yemen and began to see that they would make the most wonderful boxes. This inspired Backlane Designs which emerged as a project in the winter months of 2010. Coincidentally, and as the design was taking shape, two friends went to Sana’a and brought back more images of the wonderful buildings. My neighbour Helen is a dab hand with a craft knife: each Christmas for the last twenty years she has cut her own Christmas cards. So we gathered images and she made up samples and then we found a local manufacturer and three months later City Lights Yemen was delivered. It has since been followed by City Lights Warehouse which was inspired by the industrial buildings that line the docklands and canals throughout Europe.

We will be giving a set of City Lights away on December Ist. If you would like to be included in the draw please say and state whether you would like City Lights Yemen in brown or white or City Lights Warehouse which is brown only. All names will go in a hat and be drawn by Helen and we will notify the lucky blogger by email.

Meanwhile you can if you wish look at the product on

8 Comments leave one →
  1. November 17, 2011 11:59 am

    When I first discovered your blog I had a sneaky look around & loved the Yemen lights! I think they are particularly seasonal & festive- they make me think of the 3 wise men in the Chirtsmas story…(They also remind me of all the Moorish style buildings in Andalusia that I’ve been admiring!)
    Good Luck with the venture- I’m sure you’ll do really well as they are very beautiful…

  2. November 17, 2011 12:16 pm

    What a clever idea. I have a friend whose dream it is go to Yemen – and this would make such a lovely Christmas present.

  3. November 17, 2011 12:30 pm

    Beautiful! Is this how I enter? If so I’d love a Yemen in white, but not to worry if not as I think I’ll probably buy one if I don’t win as I’ve a cupboard in the kitchen where they would be perfect

  4. November 17, 2011 1:36 pm

    How lovely, they make me think of Christmas too. I’d love to be included in the draw. If I’m lucky enough to win then I’d like the City Lights Yemen in white please.

  5. November 17, 2011 2:19 pm

    Simplicity of design like this always really attracts me – I find your work very beautiful and lit like that, so atmospheric too.

    Good Luck with the venture 🙂

  6. November 18, 2011 1:22 pm

    These are lovely! I’d love to win a set of the Warehouse buildings. I’ve been over to Not on the High Street with the aim of buying a couple of sets as well, but am having trouble with the website at the moment (it puts things in my basket then when I go to the checkout it tells me I’ve got nothing in my basket!). I’ll go back later and have another try. I probably need to set up an account before I start shopping or something.

  7. Ali Smith permalink
    November 30, 2011 1:00 am

    simply stunning – love the white for it s purity…..and good to hear about the thoughts that went into this very beautiful design
    Ali Smith


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