Five Go Mad

Sunday 13 June 2010

Q and A with Serena Hall of The English Seaside Company

Southwold based artist Serena Hall paints vibrant and colourful paintings of the seaside where she lives, these paintings are the inspiration behind the designs and collections of The English Seaside Company label. In 2006 Serena produced a small collection of hand printed interior textiles which were shown alongside her large coastal paintings in the Serena Hall Gallery in Southwold. The collections were an immediate big hit. 

How did you start out as an artist? 
I have worked full time as a professional artist since graduating from Edinburgh College of art in 1995.

How did The English Seaside Company come about? 
It started with a small collection of hand-printed fabrics inspired by my paintings in 1996. They were shown alongside my large canvasses in an exhibition in Southwold and they were an instant success. I have a small team that use my paintings as a starting point for The English Seaside Company products.

What is it you particularly love about the English Seaside?
It evokes a huge emotional response to many people in the UK, including myself. Wonderful memories of holidays spent with family and friends. It's not about having the latest modern technology or spending loads of money but mucking about in the sand and eating ice creams and having a fabulous time, whatever the weather! From a work point of view, the place I live is a beautiful seaside town and gives me endless inspiration. 

What techniques do you use when making your products? 
Our products are either hand printed or handmade in the UK. For example our collection of silk ties are all hand woven in 100% silk, here in Suffolk.

Your designs are very vibrant; what inspires that?
My paintings are very colorful and bold and provide the creative source behind The English Seaside Company collections.

Where are your products made?
All our products are hand printed or handmade in the UK.

What are you working on now? 
I work full time in my studio for various exhibitions throughout the year. I have an annual summer show in my gallery in Southwold every July and August. The English Seaside Company will be launching a new collection of t-shirts, this summer based on images taken from my sketchbooks.

Tell us something fabulous about where you live/work. 
I walk on the beach everyday with my dog and yet everyday is different. I have lived in the beautiful seaside town of Southwold from a very young age and its working harbor, fabulous beach, the huts, boats and gulls all give me endless inspiration for my paintings and consequently my designs for The English Seaside Company. 

Which Artists, past or present, inspire you? 
Matisse, Hockney, and Picasso inspire me but also I am inspired by vintage fabrics, collections of shells and old metal toys.

What would be your dream commission? 
I start working on a new series of exciting large sculptural projects for 2011, which I have been planning for many years, so that’s very exciting.

"Quintessentially British" (FiveGoMad's slogan) what does that mean to you? 
Individual, original and a good sense of fun.

What do you enjoy doing when you aren't working?
My work is so intertwined with my lifestyle that really the two go together; I enjoy chilling out on the beach with a sketchbook and a glass of wine.

What does the future hold for English Seaside Company and Serena Hall? 
As long as I can continue to work everyday in my studio for various exhibitions and projects, I am happy. The English Seaside Company will slowly evolve and I hope grow into a brand that people enjoy and associate with good quality and good times.

Liz Appleby

Q and A with Ella Doran

Ella Doran started out with an academic background in textiles but no experience in product design. The catalyst was a studio sale of her textiles, at which she sold out of photographic coasters she had produced using images from her trips abroad. 

After receiving a grant form the Princes Trust and subsequently winning an award at UK show Top Drawer for Highly Recommended Best new Product, Heals, Harrods and others started to stock her products. Fast forward to now and with two awards scooped at the recent Grand Designs for her GEO wallpaper, FiveGoMad asked what's next for Ella Doran. 

What inspired you to start up your own business? Where did it all start for you?
As a child I always made things, and loved pattern making from a young age. In my foundation year I realised I wanted to do a degree in textiles.

Who was your biggest influence on your work? 
My Mum comes from a creative background, her father was an engineer and painter and her grandfather was William Friese-Green, the inventor of the moving picture.You could say I continued two family traditions with the art and photography.

What are you working on at the moment?
Lots of projects, we're finishing off a great collection for Christmas stationery, wrapping paper and other things. I am working on a new range of candles, along with launching a very special collection of mats and coasters for the vinyl lovers later this month.

Do you have a favourite product from your range?
No, it changes all the time, I find I finish a collection and go through a period of not liking it! Then I start to like it again when I see it in context and working on the products it's made for.

What inspires your designs? 
My surroundings, my children, nature, the crazy London town we live in.

What is your favourite material to work with?

How would you describe your style?
Eclectic, fresh and modern.

What makes a house a home for you?
The people and the furniture inside.

How did you get involved with FiveGoMad?
They approached us a few months ago. We love what they are championing British stuff and British designers.

FiveGoMad's slogan is quintessentially British, what does that conjure up for you?
Fantastic products from creative designers, the obvious icons from red buses to telephone boxes, milk in a bottle. Hand made products with a quirky attitude.

What would be your dream commission? 
Something different to what I do now, I am currently following my dreams creating my own business, making beautiful products for the home. Maybe an assignment from The National Geographic, taken to a far off land to take photographs for a report. 

Which of your contemporary's do you admire?
All of them.

What's next for Ella Doran? 
Wait and see!

by Liz Appleby 

Friday 4 June 2010

Q and A with Thea Cutting of Gallery Thea

Gallery Thea is a working studio, shop and gallery in Southwold, Suffolk. Owner, Thea Cutting makes gorgeous hand made ceramics for customers locally and internationally. Thea was selected as one of the finalists in Country Living magazine's Rural Women in Business Award.

Why did you decide to start Gallery Thea? 
I was working in an arts studio in London painting pottery for the window display, which became very popular. Customers began commissioning me to paint mugs, plate and vases for them. I thought, I could start my own company doing this. I moved back to Suffolk and bought a kiln and cleared out my parents barn behind their pub in Walberswick. That was the start of Gallery Thea, nine years ago.

What's your earliest memory of being creative?
Having a picture of my mum I drew at 7 years old selected for a school exhibition, I was so proud.

What are you working on at the moment? 
A wedding order at the moment. 112 name coasters, table name plaques and table plan, all hand illustrated with skiers. The groom proposed in the Swiss Alps so it's a ski themed wedding, it's been fun. I am also painting bird themed canvases for a hairdressers.

Where does your inspiration come from?
Everything I see, I am so visual. I love colour and beautiful lines.

What techniques and materials do you use?
I use a bottle with a nib filled with underglaze for drawing. For the canvases I use a mixture of acrylic, water colour and emulsion. For my cards I draw images and fill in colour using photoshop.

Do you have a personal favourite in your range? 
I always love drawing or designing anything with flowers on.

What would be your dream commission?
To do design fabrics or wallpaper for something wonderful!

Does your location and environment influence your work? 
The Gallery is in Southwold, by the sea, I love it. I feel so lucky to live and work here, it influences all my seaside designs.

How did you get involved with FiveGoMad? 
I was invited to join, which was very lovely.

FiveGoMad is quintessentially British what does that mean to you?
FiveGoMad being quintessentially British is a brilliant idea. We seem to have lost our identity for beautiful things made and created in this country, I am passionate about bringing it all back.

Which British artist/creative do you admire?
I love Quenton Blake's illustrations, Orla Kiely's designs and Angie Lewin's prints.

Who/what is your favourite british icon?
Terence Conran, he has designed some amazing stuff.

Tell us something fabulous about where you live.
On a beautiful morning before work I can sit on the beach and have a coffee, with the only sound being the odd seagull and the gentle sound of the waves breaking, bliss.

What's your favourite cafe/restaurant to visit?
My favourite Cafe is Munchies is Southwold where I get my coffee before going to the beach.

What's next for Gallery Thea? 
To create an interior bespoke service. Then I can design anything from plates and bowls to wallpaper and fabric,  greeting cards, wedding invites, children's party invites, paintings to complement fabrics, murals on walls, there is so much to do. It may have to wait until my youngest little boy starts school in a couple of years, I just do what I can for now.

by Liz Appleby 

Q and A with Samantha Mark

After winning the Young Designer Competition in 2006 created to recognise talented designers within the Fashion and Visual Arts Industries, Samantha Mark was given the opportunity to exhibit her designs at the prestigious New York fashion week in 2008, and exhibited there again recently in 2009. Her eye for detail and gorgeous fabrics and colours has been put to use to design her line of bags, available through FiveGoMad later in the year. Made from recycled materials and inspired by objects from the past, they are sure to make every fashionistas wanted list. 

How did you start out?
I have always been immersed in fashion. Whether looking through pretty pictures of my mother’s fashion magazines, being overwhelmed by colour and texture at my grandparent’s home, or my countless attempts to create my own Barbie fashion line. I started out with a love and passion for the idea to create, which naturally evolved into expressing this through the concept of design and fashion.
Any advice for budding designers?
When you feel and understand exactly what you want to do, just do it! Always carry a note book, you never know when you will be inspired. Be open minded to as many things as possible; art, music, your environment and other cultures around you. This widens your knowledge and understanding of what fashion is. Work as much and as hard as you can. Placements are perfect, they give you first hand experience to get a real grasp on what you feel particularly passionate about.
What has been the biggest thrill of your career to date?
Winning the ‘Young Designer Awards’. I had no idea what the prize was until I won it! It was exhibiting in one of fashion’s most prominent capitals, New York.

What are your favourite fabrics to work with?
I tend to work in wovens, such as tweeds and shirtings, I usually have a strong interest in tailored garments. I have used materials from plastic to paper, both are challenging to work with. You feel a sense of accomplishment when you see the finished garment or accessory. At the moment, denim appeals more and more. A fabric so old and covered in history, yet it always attracts the young. It's stood the test of time and test of durability. Companies spend time manipulating and recreating it for the masses. 
What are you working on at the moment?
Experimenting with new and interesting fabrics for my bags.
What's your definition of British style?
Alexander McQueen. Quintessentially British. An Eastender with a knowledge of Savile Row tailoring and the innovation and interest in the unconventional beauty. He continued to always be inspired by his surroundings of great architecture, history of fashion and anarchic sensibility. Long live McQueen.
Who's hot in British Fashion right now?
Holly Fulton, Mary Katrantzou and Peter Pilotto. A group of designers showing a great sense of colour, shape and design within their work. I feel more and more people will become aware of their eye and design for detail and their forward thinking.
How did you link up with fivegomad?
I received an email saying FiveGoMad would really like to have my products on their site. I took one look and thought, I could definitely see my bags on there. A company made with passion, who only want to display the best British design talent has to offer, who could say no to that.
Quintessentially British what does that mean to you?
Experimental, History, Style.
Do you have a favourite British design icon?
Alexander McQueen. A cliché to some, but a true icon to me.
What's your favourite place/thing to do in London?
Roam the streets of London finding new places I’ve never seen, or revisiting places I know, looking at them in a different light. London is a beautiful city, bathed in great history and culture, a city that will always be home.
What's up next for Samantha Mark?
An extremely long ‘To Do’ list!

by Liz Appleby

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