She Sells Shells...

March 08, 2021

Peacock Bouquet Shells Cushion
I've found that as the intermittent lockdowns have worn on (and worn us all down!), I've been craving to reconnect with nature in a way that I never have before. Just as the old adage says; you don't realise what you have until it's gone. Although I am lucky enough to live in the heart of Northumberland, with plenty of walking trails spiralling outwards from my home, I find myself missing the coast which is only a few miles away.
At times, I catch myself daydreaming of warmer climes. I am not much of a 'beach' person - in that I feel restless if I am on a sun lounger for too long - but the tactility of walking barefoot on the sand and collecting pebbles, shells and other organic materials always made me feel peaceful and connected to my surroundings.
Fantasy Tapestry Shells Cushion
I've explored the Victorian fascination for classification before through my design work. Their need to create taxonomies to understand and appreciate the world around them reminds me of the curatorial process of the editor from my past life in the fashion industry. You become the magpie: picking out beauty where you find it occurring and showcasing it to the world. 
Coral Tapestry Shells Cushion
Grottos are usually associated with Italy, but what many do not realise is that this trend exploded in England in the 1600s as aristocrats clamoured to create their own versions in their country manors and display their wealth and exquisite taste. 
They used the shell as a mosaic piece, decorative centrepiece and a recurring motif - often carving furnishings that mimicked the shapes of shells to finish their secretive, ethereal underground rooms. Around 200 shell grottos still exist around the country today - and at least one of them will be the first on my list of places to visit as soon as it's safe to!
Lavender Tapestry Shells Cushion
Shells are intrinsically decorative. Their mathematically precise swirls and repetitive ridges contrast with my more elastic marbled prints that stretch and swell of their own accord. Placing them on top of one another emphasises the structural constellations of each and the compositional tension between the two. 
They are also an object rich in symbolism - from the first mention of the pearly gates in the Bible to Indian connotations of fertility - their ornament has inspired man to imbue them with meaning for millennia. There is something mystical about them - the way that they wash up on our beaches, carried in from the oceans. They are a portal to another beautiful, intriguing but ultimately largely unknown world... perhaps that's why we tell our children to hold them to their ears and listen for the sea.
Sand Swirls Shell Cushion
These designs were created to bring a sense of summer and breeziness to the home, no matter where you are based - and how far the beach may be! They can also be paired with the plain marbled versions of their designs, and could be swapped out seasonally if preferred. They are printed on fresh oyster linen that brings out the vibrancy of the marbled inks without sacrificing the intricate details of the shells. 
You can browse this range here.

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