24 Blogs of Christmas: Day One

Colours May Vary

I don’t remember how Jenna found me, but I’m glad she did.

She and her friend Jessica were launching a new magazine called NRTH Lass – a celebration of women working and living in the North - and wanted to interview me under the heading ‘A Day in the Life of…’.

I turned it down.

I had just started my freelance adventure and was not yet ready to say: ‘I get out of bed, put on some elasticated pants and an oversized jumper, make a Very Strong Coffee, and sit at my desk staring for a long time in a blind panic wondering what I’m going to do’.

So instead I pitched in a client who made the front cover.

Everyone’s a winner.

The NRTH Lass launch was held in an independent bookshop in Leeds called Colours May Vary (CMV); I went along and slurped lots of free Prosecco with Jenna’s stepdad (you couldn’t find a more generous pourer), and that’s how I discovered the shop.

As well as books and magazines, CMV stocks cards, ceramics, stationery, wrapping paper, prints, posters, and lots of lovely creative gift ideas – all of which you’d be hard pushed to find elsewhere.

Their focus is graphic art and design, typography, illustration, and product design; everything in the shop reflects this theme. Sometimes I go in and just stare at the typography stuff, such is my nerdery.

Every time I visit CMV I have a thoroughly enjoyable chat with Andy and Becky, the owners. They are so passionate and incredibly knowledgeable and are happy to share that knowledge. (I feel I should mention here that I don’t know Becky and Andy at all and I’m not sure if they remember me from my Prosecco-slurping - I kind of hope not - but they just seem to be bloody decent human beings who are happy to take time out for a natter with whoever drops in.)

The joy of a shop like this one is that visiting it is a discovery; you wouldn’t necessarily find that stuff online because you wouldn’t know what you were looking for.

That’s what I call ‘proper’ gift buying. No idea what to get so go have a look around and be inspired. For this reason CMV is often my first port of call.

It was here that I bought my super-cool nephew, Erol, a beautiful board book called My First Book of Patterns. Filled with instantly attractive, brightly coloured shapes it became his favourite and I got Smug Aunty Points which I’m going to try hard to maintain because my hilarious elephant impression is wearing thin and I’m sure he prefers my husband. That’s why I went back this week and bought him another board book which made me guffaw out loud in the shop. Owner Andy joined me. There we were admiring this beautiful piece of work and laughing like kids.

(I’m not going to say the name of the book here as 18-month old Erol is so smart he may be reading this, but if you have youngsters to buy for go take a look. There isn’t loads for kids, but what they have is treasurable.)

Alongside the shop is a gallery space that hosts regular exhibitions; group shows curated by CMV, solo shows, book signings, magazine launches (the aforementioned NRTH Lass), and workshops. Every purchase made in the shop goes to support the exhibitions so it’s the customer that helps maintain its fabulousness. And to me that’s just, well, fabulous.

To add to the shop’s attraction Becky and Andy now have Stevie Dog – a very cute, gentle creature who can often be found under the counter.

They adopted Stevie earlier this year and, much like me with Stanley-the-Cat, fell totally in love with her.

Stevie has inspired their new exhibition Year of the Dog which opens this week and runs into January.

Year of the Dog is a celebration of all pooches and the joy they bring their owners. The show will feature work by Alex Sickling, Jonathan Edwards, Roman Muradov, William Grill, Yuk Fun, Matthew The Horse, Walter Glassof, Tom Bingham, Pet Stories, Susie Hammer, Dustin Harbin, Kieran Blakey, Helena Covell, Alice Bowsher, Abbey Withington, Idiots Pasture and Nama Studio. I don’t know for sure, as it hasn’t yet opened, but I reckon you don’t even have to like dogs to enjoy this.

It launches this Thursday 6th December with beer and grub from 6 – 9pm and all are welcome.

There’ll be a ‘pup-up shop’ (see what they did?!) and a raffle in support of the Dog’s Trust – the raffle will be drawn on 21st December in time for Christmas.

The exhibition runs until January 27th and who knows what will appear next?! Find out by signing up there newsletter here and do drop in and say hello to Andy, Becky and Stevie. You won’t regret it. Feel free to mention me, the North Lass Prosecco Slurper.

Colours May Vary, Munro House, Duke Street Leeds

Opposite Leeds Bus Station in the area most of us refer to as Quarry Hill.


Find out more about NRTH Lass Magazine here



  The carousel of images is made up of just a few pics that I selected and does not, in anyway, reflect this Aladdin’s Cave of loveliness.

Faye DawsonComment