Monday, 31 January 2011

Meeting Sarah Nicol

Last Friday saw me heading off into the countryside to meet renowned textile artist Sarah Nicol, who I'm writing a feature on for a future issue of Sewing World magazine. Meeting interesting people is certainly a great perk of being a freelance writer and I spent a very happy morning chatting away to Sarah and seeing lots of her fabulous work.

As soon as I arrived, Sarah popped the kettle on! As well as working in textiles, Sarah also creates the most gorgeous range of ceramics, with her partner, Peter O'Neil. In fact, Peter was in the middle of glazing the inside of some large bowls on their kitchen floor, so I got to watch the creative process in action! It felt somewhat apt that I should drink tea out of this mug from Sarah and Peter's collection.

A whole wall in Sarah's studio is given over to boxes that are crammed with just about every fabric imaginable.

Sarah creates all sorts from her collection of fabrics, from framed pictures and book covers, to little houses and doorstops. The piles of ticking are waiting to be made into her little 'herb houses', which she fills with lavender.

Sarah's currently working on her new collection for this year, inspired by the colours of the Bayeux Tapestry. Sarah and Peter were off to France this weekend after a moment of glorious spontaneity that Sarah had had earlier in the week, after deciding on Wednesday lunchtime that she just had to go and see the Tapestry again!

Here's Sarah in action, giving me a demonstration of how she creates her book covers.

Sarah's current style of work came about after what can only be described as a bit of an 'epiphany moment'. Whilst on the Amtrak Coast Starlight train from Los Angeles to Seattle a few years ago, Sarah started to draw the scenery that was going past the window. One long roll of paper and a box of pastels later and "hey presto", it was the beginnings of what can now be described as her signature style. At the top of this photo is part of the long drawing Sarah did on the train...and on the bottom, is her interpretation of it in fabric.

Part of Sarah's Los Angeles to Seattle drawings.

I first saw (and fell in love with) Sarah's ceramics in a gallery in Marazion, Cornwall. Having assumed Sarah was based in Cornwall, imagine my surprise when I found out that she lives only a few miles down the road from us in rural Worcestershire! It was great to see the pottery (in Sarah and Peter's garden) where all the ceramics all made. It's a real team effort...once Peter has thrown the bowls, mugs etc, Sarah adds the painted decoration.

Here's a small selection of finished ceramics. These designs all feature the Cornish fishing boats that Sarah sketches on their frequent visits down south.

On the way to the pottery, I was introduced to Sarah's Bantams, including Baby the cockerel. I'd love to keep chickens and was very taken with the idea of bantams after seeing these beauties!

A huge thank you to Sarah for sharing her creative world with me...and don't forget to look out for the May issue of Sewing World when you'll be able to read my interview with Sarah and discover more about her work.


gill said...

Thanks Katie I don't always buy SW now (too expensive!) but I'll look out for this issue!

Lois Parker said...

Hey Katie, I just bought one of these lovely cups in St Ives. So well balanced and with a lovely large handle for people with arthritic hands too. Glad to see there is a wider range available.