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


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