April 15, 2013
The composition of the picture
A trip to Kettles Yard in Cambridge when I was a child inspired me to look at how even the humble pebble can be transformed into a work of art or, carefully arranged, a beautiful focal point. From that day, my passion for interiors has become a way of life. Spending much of my childhood on the beaches in Norfolk, I collected shells, pebbles, seaweed and small pieces of driftwood along with ‘treasures’ washed ashore by the tides. From these, without realising it at the time, I trained myself to appreciate colour, texture and form. Camera in hand, I loved to photograph the soft pastels and pearlised shades of the shells along with the inky blue of the mussel shells, often smoothed by the elements but many still with the ripples and grooves of their character and the white barnacles attached in different formations. Seaweed, some silky smooth like mermaids hair and others shaped and nobbly draped from rocks and shells to which they were attached and from where they hung, changed texture and tone as they dried. My collection of little ‘finds’ washed upon the shore, seemed to be one of the most exciting shopping trips which cost absolutely nothing.
The unpredictable, ever-changing weather under the big Norfolk skies, transformed the sea from sapphire and cobalt blues to pale greys and blue black, often with a lacy frill of frothy white. The sand, with its shades of yellow ochre and pale raw umber constantly changing formation, often reveal punctuations of bright green grass, a scattering of shells or fragments of treasure given up by the sea in the form of old fishing nets and litter.
Even the dreary English weather (brightened with the occasional spell of sunshine!) played with the light, enriching the colour and tone of what I saw. Elongated shadows cast by a post with a chirping seagull perched, boats with brightly coloured sails bobbing on the water – natural compositions on the beach created by the elements and the creatures which inhabit it, have all stimulated my ability to ‘look’ and to ‘see’. Even the randomly placed red stripy deckchair punctuating the depth of sand – the shoreline composition of colour and shape have become the canvas on which I build my interior style.
Spending time in Florence as a student, exploring the art history and exploring the rich antiquity of Italy, I loved the beautiful tones in the cold marbles used for building work and surfaces and the shapes sculptured from the white marble. The pinks, greys, blue and whites of this locally sourced natural material, also cut into table tops, is frequently supported by carefully carved gilded legs. Enriching and breathtaking warmth of colours and gilding in the frescos and frames of ornate mirrors and art works, sung out from the neutral walls, natural stone and bare wood. The scents and fragrances of the profumeria served to enrich the experience.
Village markets in the south of France provide inspiration in abundance. The lighter fragrances of the lavenders and herbs, softly faded printed natural fabrics of linen, lace and muslin, simple but elegant painted furniture and endless curiosities, will transform the neutral palette creating a warm, relaxed homely feel.
Africa, the vast breathtaking continent brought to life through a spectrum of rich and vibrant colour in the beautifully woven fabrics and rugs, contrasting with the carvings of dark wood. From these experiences combined, I build what I envisage as a stylish interior.
Build on the canvas
As an artist builds a painting with layers of paint, so we construct a room, layer by layer, item by item, driven by shape, colour and texture. Through my love for art and its history, I explore how styling an interior should be like painting a canvas; creating a picture.
In any room, the ornate gilded frame of a mirror on a neutrally painted plaster wall gives a room a quiet feeling of opulence without being grand. Drapes and loose covers made from linen, with its sculptural quality (because of the heaviness of the fabric) add to the grounding effect of the room. Add rich velvet and sumptuous silk; the room will immediately take on a more luxe feel. In short, an interior should create a mood or atmosphere, it should be a pleasure to inhabit and welcome friends. Anyone can gain inspiration from the world around them and all it has to offer, we simply need to train our eye as to ‘see’ and ‘picture’ the interior…