In Arcadia…

Summer has finally arrived with blue skies, warmer days and with it has come the latest edition of Period Living.

I’m delighted to be featured as the ‘Made In Britain’ craftsperson and it has coincided with the completion of my latest wallpaper design. It’s a really lovely article written by Rachel Crow, Content Editor, and Kasia Fiszer has captured stunning photographs which evoke the essence of the place.

The article includes photographs taken inside the studio space that we have created and in my Mother’s cottage garden that surrounds it.

‘Arcadia’ is my latest wallpaper design, adding to the slowly growing collection of hand printed paper, and it captures a new take on a very old theme.

Sometime ago I visited the wallpaper archive at the V&A Museum in South Kensington, London. I spent the day looking through wallpaper fragments dating back to pre-nineteenth century.

Several designs caught my eye and so I made detailed studies of them. I have looked at these drawings over the past couple of years and mulled them over in my mind until an idea started to take shape. This is the first of those ‘time capsules’ to inspire a whole new design – further research revealed that this piece dates from circa 1680.

Taking a few images from the piece I’d seen, I built on the theme. We’re talking just a small piece of the original wallpaper, probably found in a property during renovation that has found its way into the V&A archive. I’ve constructed a rural scene with birds and horses and figures placed into the landscape. It felt important to me to maintain the naive style of the original design and to capture the essence of this bucolic pastoral scene depicted in the beautiful historic wallpaper fragment.

A detail of ‘Arcadia’ printed in a warm blueish French Grey: roomset photos to follow shortly!

Artist in Residence

My work always begins with drawing, so I am delighted this summer to have been offered the opportunity to be Artist in Residence at Snowshill Manor; my absolute favorite and the most fascinating National Trust property in the stunning Cotswold countryside, near Broadway, Worcestershire.

The Manor House at Snowshill

My objective initially is to study the flora in the beautiful garden. The garden’s terraces and rooms were originally designed by M. H. Baillie-Scott under the direction of the owner Charles Wade, who lived in the Priest’s House adjacent to the Manor. They are now being given renewed life and interpretation through the creativity and hard work of gardeners Vicky, James and Dorcas with their dedicated team of volunteers. As I visit weekly I am becoming increasingly fascinated with the collection of Mr Wade, housed in the Manor itself. I am ruminating on the creative possibilities that the collection itself holds.

During the spring and summer I am often to be found in a garden, a meadow or on the Malvern Hills drawing plants and flowers, building up a portfolio of drawings from which to work during the winter months. These plants might be architecturally striking and magnificent ornamental blooms, common wallflowers or weeds; I find them all captivating.

Flowers in Tangerine and every possible hue of Purple, Mauve and Aubergine

“Plants are like people; some demand to be seen with huge bold waxy flowers in gaudy colours, they dominate their setting and compromise everything that surrounds them. Others are weeds with tiny delicate blooms, clinging to an existence in the cracked paving, there by chance, breath-taking in their fragility and vulnerability.”

I often find a starting point in a poem or piece of literature that sets its scene in the natural world. I am interested in our relationships with gardens, how visiting, creating and tending them often becomes cathartic, as equally is the work that gardens inspire.

“I am very affected by the transients of the seasons. My soul hibernates in winter when the ephemeral flora recedes to the earth. I wait, with pent-up expectation, for the new spring to burst forth. Each year I revel and soar with Spring’s new growth, but this joy is always tinged with a hopeless knowledge that in time ‘the green thoughts and the green shades’ will wither again and die. I find a sublime beauty in this eternal cycle.”

Establishing itself this spring the newly re-planted Elder Garden at Snowshill

Please click on the link below to find details and directions to Snowshill Manor…