New Designs and Their Subliminal Roots

I’ve just finished some new designs and was asked ‘why pears?’ The answer is easy, the simple organic shape of a pear is beautiful and a perfect form to celebrate a simple line of colour. No fuss, no interference, just a very pleasing shape. I hope you agree.

Red Pear Mug

Pear Mug in Red designed by Niki Fulton.

 

But it has just dawned on me that I was heavily influenced. I’ve been living underneath an enormous pear tree for the last twenty years. It produces clouds of white blossom in Spring which literally stops people in their tracks.

 

pear blossom

By September hundreds of small green pears fall from a great height (thirty metres or so) smashing into pulp on impact with the tarmac below attracting rabbles (had to look that collective noun up) of butterflies. The pears are small and hard and gather such a speed that it actually becomes quite treacherous reaching my front door!

Pear Mug Green

Pear Mug in Green. Design by Niki Fulton

 

So walking underneath a pear tree every day seems to have seeped into my psyche and appeared in my designs. So that’s where it came from.

The pears have also made their way onto Fife Linen which can be ordered by the metre from Printed & Co , an exciting new venture which fully launches on the thirteenth of February at the Kalopsia Collective Gallery with a taster on show this Friday at the launch of The Facility .

Pear Drops, tan

‘Pear Drops, Tan’ on Fife Linen. Design by Niki Fulton. Available from Printed & Co.

Pear Drops

Pear Drops on Fife Linen. Design by Niki Fulton. Available from Printed & Co.

 

So realising quite how influenced by our surroundings we obviously are, I had a closer look at a design I’m currently working on called ‘Vaki Rocks‘.

This was a purely spontaneous random design… or so I thought.

I have a stunning piece of Lewisian Gneiss in my bathroom. In my eyes it’s one of the most beautiful things I have and the fact that the rock is over three billion years old and has therefore been around for longer than any animal, it’s pretty mind blowing. I look at my ‘random’ design and there I spot my beloved rock. I certainly didn’t set out to paint a rock, I just went with the flow.

Gneiss & linen

Chair & rock

Vaki Rock Collage

‘Vaki Rocks’ print on Fife Linen design by Niki Fulton

This revelation also backs up my theory that children’s toys should be beautiful/interesting objects because between the ages of 0-5 our brains are even more receptive and children often handle toys for hours and hours, turning them over in their hands, feeling them, and viewing them from every possible angle. I doubt great lumps of mass produced plastic are ever going to have such long term positive influences on us as a beautifully carved timber toy or a piece of nature found on a walk. Timber toys last for generations and need not be an expensive option as they can be small, beautiful, robust and more importantly, kept. Surely if our surroundings are having such a big impact on us we should pay attention to what we use, even if it’s an every day object. This is one reason why good design is so important. But over to you,

Can you spot any subliminal influences in your creations?

 

 

Stormy Weather, Stop by at Etsy

With a Winter storm forecast here for tomorrow, I’ve turned all festive here at unifiedspace and I am unashamedly going to give my etsy shop a little plug…

Tjornin Mug

Tjornin Mug

Tjornin tea towel

Tjornin tea towel

cotton fennel bag

cotton fennel bag

Two tone tjornin mugs

Two tone tjornin mugs

funky apple cushion

funky apple cushion

urban tea towels

urban tea towels

Night Fennel silk scarf

Night Fennel silk scarf

Summer Fennel silk scarf

Summer Fennel silk scarf

…and there is plenty more on the shop and free shipping to uk addresses.

Meanwhile I’m off to listen to Eddi Reader’s beautiful new song I heard her sing here in Edinburgh’s Usher Hall on Saturday night, ‘Snowflakes in the Sun’.

What are your favourite festive tunes?

Christmas Shopping Event

Please join me and artists Michele Mathieson and Nikki Monaghan  for our 2013 Christmas Shopping Event.

Red Leaf Christmas Event

We will be at Red Leaf Studio, 6 Church Wynd, Bo’ness, West Lothian, this Sunday 1st of December from 12 – 4:30pm.

There will be a selection of affordable paintings, prints, homewares and accessories, not to mention home baking, tea and coffee. If you are in the area, it would be great to see you!

Stags on Red Mountain by Nikki Monaghan

‘Stags on Red Mountain’ by Nikki Monaghan

 

The Story Behind The Design

After having a conversation with a customer today it dawned on me that there is often a reason behind a design – unless of course you are like one of my all time favourite artists Agnes Martin who claims her head was like an empty vessel which captured external artistic messages which she then applied to canvas – she doesn’t seem to take much credit for her beautiful paintings as she claimed she was just a receiver and her hand automatically carried out the work. Wow.

pencil sharpens

You may well find yourself connecting with a piece of art or design but be totally unaware of the inspiration behind it. That’s great but I find if I am able to speak to the artist and hear their story, the art takes on a new depth or an extra layer.

I was lucky enough to meet artist Sandra Robinson at the Waterside Arts Centre, in Sale, close to Manchester last month and I made an instant connection with her ‘21:00 From London Euston’ train window series. I found them immensely atmospheric as each painting depicted dramatic and ever changing natural lighting conditions on a journey. She explained she was on a train from London to Manchester and she made written notes of what she saw from the window. She took these notes back to her studio and painted from her written instructions and the result is a very intense series of beautiful paintings full of movement.

A series of ten paintings by Sandra Robinson

A series of ten paintings by Sandra Robinson

The designs I have on my mugs also have a story attached. I was working in Iceland last January and as you can imagine there was very little light and it was brutally cold. I was watching the birds at the central lake, ‘Tjornin’, in central Reykjavik when I spotted some tiny low lying flowers growing on the banks of the lake. They made me smile that despite the very harsh conditions they were still determined and gutsy enough to grow! I knew straight away that I wanted to use these brave flowers in a design. The finished design is screen printed onto bone china mugs because I liked the idea of a hot steaming drink (obviously there are lots of steaming hot geothermal pools in Iceland) being enclosed by these tough little Icelandic flowers. The sky changes very quickly in Iceland and within a few hours I witnessed a stunning pink sunrise, intense clear blue skies, grey, snow laden skies and was hoping for a green Northern Lights sky – hence the colours of the mugs…

Tjornin Mugs

I also found the town and the Icelandic people very colourful so the two tone set of mugs represent the brightly coloured houses of Reykjavik, the black one the dark winter sky – nobody would know this but I thought you may like the reasoning behind the design!

Two Tone Tjornin mugs

T

house facades Reykjavic

The powerful, strong and elegant birds I was watching are depicted on these mugs.

Flying High Mugs

My ‘urban’ series of linen tea towels were inspired by the huge brightly coloured cranes and loading machinery at Leith Docks, Edinburgh. It’s a gritty, industrial and efficient place where tonnes of cargo start and finish their massive journeys across the sea. A magical place actually, full of intrigue. I really wanted to convey the bold, brash, powerful bright shapes and screen print the designs onto linen.

urban linen tea towels DSC_0019

And lastly, my Botanical DNA scarf was inspired by my Dad who was both a geneticist and a gardener. When I placed the plants in long rows, they reminded me of DNA helixes! The design is printed on a semi- sheer, floaty silk cotton blend.

Botanical DNA Scarf

Well I think that’s probably enough about my own designs for now (!) but you can see more (like my Sol LeWitt inspired cushions) on my shop

What are the stories behind your creations? 

Unifiedspace at Stockbridge Market This Sunday

I am very excited to tell you that unifiedspace will be at the fabulous Stockbridge Market, Edinburgh this Sunday 9th December 10am – 5pm. I have made lots of Christmas Gift Packs and greetings cards so come along, choose your colour combo and get your Christmas shopping sorted!

Christmas bird card

mug range

detail from linen union tea towel

twigs linen union tea towel

Some New Work

You may have noticed a certain lack of posts recently, and there is a reason for that – I’ve been working on a new range of products which I’ve literally just finished this week.

They are designs that I started while working in Reykjavik earlier this year and as a result I hope they have a light and Northern feel to them. I will add some very exciting stockists details shortly.

I am also happy to tell you that I have work in a new book, Languages of Colour, an anthology edited by Alexandra Loske which will be published by Frogmore Press on 31st May. Frogmore Press is well known for its book cover art and I am delighted to show you the cover of Languages of Colour, by artist David J Markham.

And finally, the research I was carrying out on identifying some art nouveau wallpaper will be published in The Wallpaper History Review this September – and I’ve been on quite a trail attempting to uncover the designer.

Apologies for only writing about my own activities in this post but I was keen to let you know my lack of posting is for a reason!

Well, I’m off to stomp over some mountains this weekend so I hope to catch some good images to share with you next week.

Keep you posted…