Carla’s Christmas Shopping Edit 2021

Carla Coulson, Christmas Shopping Edit 2021, Susan Papazian
Carla Portrait credit: Susan Papazian

One of the best ways you can share the love and keep small businesses in business this Christmas is to shop locally, support family-run businesses and artisans and creators. 

It is with great joy I bring to you a Christmas shopping edit of small, individual makers, creators, and photographers.

I have created this little gift guide together with some of the beautiful creatives from around the globe who I’ve had the pleasure of working with as they bring their work to life and share it with the world.

Drumroll, please…

Paula Franco has created a unique lifestyle brand founded in the transmission of Portuguese tradition, in her words, Luz Editions is borne out of the desire to create quality goods for everyday life. Without memory, there is no future.”

This Christmas I am hankering after one of her amazing candles in a clay-blackened vessel created in the soenga firing process. Its name is Alegria (happiness), and the candle fragrance starts with Petitgrain and then blossoms into a seductive blend of floral accord and orange blossom!!

Paula Franco, Luz Editions
Paula Franco, Luz Editions
Paula Franco's Alegria scented candle

Hello, don’t we all need one or two of those under the tree this year? Speaking of happiness, I am also in love with her linen tea towels and I have gifted them to many friends with her uplifting words of happiness, family, faith, and hope (that run across all her different products) and the images of Portuguese photographer Artur Pastor. This year you can’t go wrong with a little happiness.

Paula Franco, Luz Editions
Paula Franco's Alegria Tea Towels

I love Australia and sitting on the other side of the world this Christmas makes me love this great land even more. Mandy Robb’s photography is twisting my heartstrings this season as we hunker down for the winter. I love this beautifully wild beach photograph of a surfer dwarfed by the beauty of these sculptural rocks that fall into the sea. Wild is what we need in the home and Mandy lends such a gentle and feminine hand to the country around her home Esperance in Western Australia. If your home needs like twenty kilos of sage after 2020 and 2021 and a little refresh on the walls, check out her beautiful collection here.

Mandy Robb
Mandy Robb's fine art print, 'Chilled'

Here’s one for the boys of all ages in your life including the big ones! Photographer Scott Gould lives and breathes trains and he is now sharing his work with the world. I love his photography including collections from Europe and Canada but this season, I’m loving seeing the trains passing through the Australian landscapes dotted with cows and his beautiful black and white that feels like it could have been taken 50 years ago. My dad once bought a train set for Christmas for my brother, and I remember him and his mates loving it almost as much as my brother did. I think the boys are going to love a little railway photography this year as the fascination with trains never ages. You can check out his beautiful work here.

Scott Gould
Scott Gould's As The Crow Flies
Scott Gould
Scott Gould's Smoke Trails
Scott Gould

Documentary photographer Rebecca Carter is one to watch, mark my words! Yes, folks, this glorious Australian photographer is doing very special work and was recently selected as a Finalist in the Bluethumb Art Prize 2021 and I promise this is just the beginning. 

I second these words about her work: Carter’s work is timeless and breathtaking, a fine example of excellence in Australian Art.”

So lovelies, my recommendation for some magic and beauty on your walls this season that may just become a collectible in the future is this image from her series, “Newcastle,” it feels like Monet and Norman Lindsay were whispering in her ear as she was framing this photo. Don’t walk — run to her site and check out her beautiful work of the Omo Valley also.

Rebecca Carter
Part of Rebecca Carter's series called 'Newcastle'.

What the world needs now is love, sweet love! These words just keep rolling around in my head and every time I glance at a sunset, the sea, a paddock, a field, a flower, a tree, and our world, I realise this is what we need more of. Nothing beats bringing Mother Nature inside and this image titled “Wanderlust” from New Zealand photographer Julia Lochhead is like putting the love of Mother Nature on your walls. And, of course, Mother Nature is so amazing. This is her on a regular day out before she gave us water, free food in the form of vegetables, and dazzled us with flowers, bees and birds, and a little sunset magic! She really does it all with so much grace and ease!!

Julia Lochhead
Julia Lochhead
Julia Lochhead's 'Wanderlust'

Millie Brown has a heart as big as the environment she photographs. Millie takes her craft seriously and has wrapped her love of the environment into her work. I love her series on Cradle Mountain, part of the wilderness protected area in Tasmania. You can feel the crisp air and the quietness as though it were you walking along the creaking wooden footway amongst the Pandini trees and the great outdoors that fills your heart with wellbeing. 

Australians have had the joy of growing up in this incredible landscape and our environment needs us and Millie is doing a beautiful job in bringing attention to it using her camera. As I’ve said before, there is nothing that will wash away the heaviness of 2020 and 2021 like refreshing your space and beautifying it with images of the wild. You may be able to put your order for the 20 kilos of sage on hold and just grab one of these beauties instead. 

Millie Brown
Millie Brown's Pandani Family (left) and Valley Wilderness (right).
Millie Brown

I love all the work by Artist Laura Horrocks but this little sweetheart keeps on whispering to me! Laura’s recent work creates magic out of thick brushstrokes, beautiful colour palettes, and innocent flowers. This one titled ‘By The Window’ is a little different and is reminiscent of one of the interiors of Matisse and transports you to a window maybe in the South of France and the beauty and fascination that a single bloom and a sea view can hold. Laura has a range of work that will mesmerize you so my advice is to pop on your running shoes and run, don’t walk, to the link below and explore this Australian artist (who resides in Paris) work ASAP.

Laura Horrocks
'By The Window' by Laura Horrocks. Acrylic on canvas.
Laura Horrocks
Other original artworks by Laura Horrocks. Left: Blanc Bloom; Right: Flower In The Morning Rain.

Dear Expat, this one’s for you! If your heart is hurting as you glance outside your office window in New York listening to the icy winds howl, or if you are throwing another log on the fire in upstate New York or in the mountains of Italy, you are going to love the work of Laura Reid. Award-winning photographer Laura Reid trains her eye on the quintessential things that make our collective Australian heart long for summer in Australia at this time of year. Laura brings her love of modernist architecture with a human element in it to create iconic images of Australians at play in her unique way, like famed photographer Max Dupain once did. You will love her joyous work of Australians at play.

Laura Reid
Sun Worship by Laura Reid
Laura Reid
Summer Joy by Laura Reid

What I say about the work of Jilly Bennett will never be as tender or express the intricate stories that she tells in her images of the daily life of dogs and their owners.

They are chronicles of the love, care, and joy taken in the South of France and Italy in the great tradition of documentary photographers such as Elliott Erwitt, always with a dash of humour and a huge dollop of warmth. They are the perfect gift for your dog/European/street photography-loving friend who doesn’t need another plastic toy for their pooch or a box of Calisson from the South of France. They will light up their walls and their hearts. Some of my favourites are these:

Jilly Bennett
The Best Treat by Jilly Bennett
Jilly Bennett
Backstreets of Bari by Jilly Bennett
Jilly Bennett
Patience by Jilly Bennett

For those who have resisted meditation and need some peace and quiet on their walls, American photographer Janice Murray specialises in whisper-quiet images. Her images are so peaceful and calm you could hear a pin drop. So if you feel like you can’t make it down to the yoga studio or meditation group, simply pop one of her beauties on your wall this Christmas and glance at it every time you feel stressed. Her love of small coastal towns on the American New England coast means you may also be able to find a glorious sailing image for hubby’s pool room or boathouse this season! Bring on the calm.

Janice Murray, JLM Photography
Janice Murray's Rockport MA Chaloupes
Janice Murray, JLM Photography

Photographer Karen Alderson has a secret weapon of not only being a talented photographer but also a florist which means her work has the eye of someone looking at flowers every day. Karen doesn’t photograph just any type of flowers, she has developed a love and sensibility for flowers that are delicate, romantic, and pastel, you can imagine them in an English or French garden. Every image is imbued with romance and her soft touch. If we needed an image to go with the definition of pretty in the dictionary, we could simply pop in the photography of Karen Alderson. Her work will give a feminine touch to your home.

Karen Alderson
Karen Alderson's Etienne de France
Karen Alderson

Artist Erica Diazoni’s tender touch and respect for mother nature are evident in all her work including her selection of watercolours. Using the same subtle colour palette reminiscent of her love of natural pigments you also see in her weaving, Erica has brought her poetic and feminine nature into her art. These sensitive watercolours of a Swiss Mountain, a piece of lichen, and a Rowan tree in winter make you love Mother Nature and all her subtleties even more. They would be heavenly for a treasured corner of your home or to brighten a space that needs a little poetry. You can contact Erica via her Instagram and make one of these fine art prints yours this holiday season.

Erica Diazoni
Erica Diazoni
Erica Diazoni

And last but not least, I can’t tell you how much joy it brings me to share with you Filippo Carbonari’s idea to produce hiking shoes in his natal village of Fratte Rosa in Le Marche with Franco Cesarini, one of the descendants of the local shoemaking atelier that has been making shoes since 1870. I am beyond excited to see this photographer friend of mine create an amazing product that not only helps people like us get good-looking and comfortable hiking shoes but keeps a tradition alive in his village in the mountains of Le Marche.

Le Frattesi, Filippo Carbonari
Left, Filippo Carbonari; Right, Franco Cesarini (Image Credit: Le Frattesi, Filippo Carbonari)
Filippo Carbonari, thetownfratterosa
The town of Fratte Rosa (Image Credit: thetownfratterosa on Instagram)

Good news for the ‘big feet’ amongst us (me), they make all their range to measure. These folks at Le Frattesi make my wide foot that has been tortured its whole life dance with glee as we walk off into 2022 with a whole new view of the world. And who wouldn’t want to buy shoes from peeps that have this as their mission statement: “Our commitment is to continue to work with humility, fairness, and passion, to guarantee all those who buy from us a pair of tailor-made shoes that rock and a pleasant and carefree experience.”

le Frattesi
Le Frattesi, La Fighetta
La Fighetta (Image Credit: Le Frattesi)

I want to send you much goodness, kindness, generosity, and love this Christmas and holiday season.

I want to remind you that you count, you are enough and that simply by staying open, kind, and compassionate you are filling the world with your light and that is what we need right now. Keep beaming your light and all the light will gather and fill our world with good.


From me to you, much love always.


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1 month ago

So proud to be included in your list, dearest Carla. So many fabulous artists, photographers, artisans – love those boots! Thankyou!

1 month ago

Thank you for the introduction to some fabulous, inspiring creatives through your carefully curated Christmas Shopping Edit 2021.

1 month ago

I am so honored to be included in your Christmas Shopping Edition, Carla. So many wonderful creative people. Thank you and Happy Holidays!

millie brown
1 month ago

Thank you very much Carla for the inclusion and your kind words, and ditto Jilly, I’m also very proud to be amongst so many incredible creators.