Here at Figura we are very lucky that clients understand that we are design company first and foremost. There is always quite a buzz surrounding the first design presentations we hold with clients. A definite sense of anticipation fills the air and a feeling of ‘prepare to be excited’!
I think that it is this that keeps us looking forward positively all the time. It is always a thrill to be able to surprise clients with a concept which will transform a space, a lifestyle and be beautiful. Its what we are here for.
I always love to go to artists studios – sometimes where living artists are still painting, sculpting or designing. There is something about standing right in the spot where artists who I have always loved, stood and created. It’s the sense of history, creativity which is almost tangible when you stand there.
There are a few favourite artist studios I wanted to share with you. If you are ever in their vicinity it may be worth taking the detour and feeling that same energy and excitement.
Charleston - East Sussex
Charleston in East Sussex is a seventeenth-century farmhouse that became a retreat for the Bloomsbury Group.
Charleston was the home of Vanessa Bell (1879-1961) and Duncan Grant (1885-1978) and a focal point for the so-called 'Bloomsbury Group', including Bell's sister Virginia Woolf and her husband Leonard Woolf, the economist John Maynard Keynes, the art critics Roger Fry and Clive Bell and the biographer Lytton Strachey.
The house opened to the public in 1986 after a major restoration, and today visitors can enjoy the historic interiors decorated by Bell and Grant, as well as the artists' studio looking onto the garden.
The Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden - Cornwall
Cornwall is one of our favourite family escapes. We try and spend a week at least there every Easter (when the weather doesn’t matter). This studio is well worth a visit, especially when the crowds are not in full flow!
The Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden offers a unique insight into the work and and perspective of one of Britain's most important twentieth-century artists It.is part of the Tate St Ives and based in the Trewyn Studio, St Ives, Cornwall; the place where Hepworth lived with her husband Ben Nicholson, and their children, and where she worked from 1949 until her death in 1975. Here she explored the potential of bronze for the first time, as well as continuing her work with stone and wood carving.
'Finding Trewyn Studio was a sort of magic,' Hepworth wrote, 'Here was a studio, a yard and a garden where I could work in open air and space.' Today, visitors to the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden can see some of Hepworth's most monumental sculptures in the environment for which they were created.
This year celebrates the 40th anniversary of the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden with a special series of events and activities.
Watts Gallery Artists' Village - Limnerslease, Compton
On our doorstep and yet so often overlooked Watts Gallery and Studios house a gallery, chapel and artist's studio in the Surrey hills.
Limnerslease was the autumn/winter residence of G F and Mary Watts. Wishing to escape the smogs of London that caused George's bad health and to find a place of tranquility for them both, "the little house" grew into a source of inspiration and a place of great productivity. Limnerslease was designed by the great Arts & Crafts architect Sir Ernest George and was completed in 1891. On Saturday 18 July the Wattses took possession.
Mary notes in her diary:
“We stopped the cabs & walked up from Bolter's cottage, Signor stepping in by the drawing room window to take possession, & I following, the blessing hand of the ceiling was over our heads in an instant – then hard work began, & went on all day & by five o'clock we had something like order, last week's van load in the Hall was unpacked & put in its place, & today's unloaded & unpacked - Darling May came - & we planted the gentians & had tea in the drawing room – she went home & sent back some flannel – spirit for the lamp & promise of long ladders for putting up the blinds - About seven Andrew came – dear old fellow – welcoming us & almost hugging Signor in his arms, he kissed my hand & I kissed him; the beginning & end of all our reason for building and rooting here – they have been like the dearest children to Signor."
Limnerslease was very much an artists' home. "Limner" - the Old English for artist - and "lease" - to glean hope for the future - were aptly combined. Mary was not the only one who found new inspiration in Compton; George set up a new studio designed with his large canvases in mind and desire for good light, a place where he was able to work on the many pieces that he had been meditating on throughout his career.
As the years passed, time spent at the little house grew, taking precedence over their London residence, New Little Holland House. Free from the interruptions of London society that George's fame attracted, the couple were able to work uninterrupted while becoming a celebrated part of the Compton community. The house also welcomed a number of well-known artists and figures of Victorian society, including the great violinist Joseph Joachim and the young Vanessa Bell.
Upon the death of George in 1904, Mary made Limnerslease her permanent residence. She became a recognised figure within the local community as both an artist and the keeper of George's legacy in the form of the Watts Gallery and The Annals, the biography she published on the life and thoughts of her dear husband.
Following Mary's death in 1938, Limnerslease became separated from the Watts Gallery estate. In the 1950s it was divided into three separate residences, and considerable changes were made to the east wing where George and Mary's studios had been.
Watts Gallery Trust has now secured the east wing of Limnerslease and has transformed it into Watts Studios, a new museum that has reinstated George's studio and has a dedicated gallery to the work of Mary, also telling the story of the Wattses' time in Compton.
Watts Gallery Trust continues to fund raise to save the rest of the house and preserve it for the future.
Access to Limnerslease is currently by guided tour only, every Tuesday, Friday and Saturday at 12 & 2pm.
Portmeor Studios is a working studio dating back to the early 1800s.
From the 1880s onwards, Porthmeor Studios provided studio space for Ben Nicholson, Francis Bacon and Patrick Heron - among others. Today it continues as a working studio, but the public are welcome to visit.
The Studios are usually open during normal office hours. However this is a working building, and guided tours with access to artists' studios is usually only possible during the September Festival.
Carl Larsson Garden (Farm)
Carl Larsson Garden is my all time favourite. Maybe its because of my Swedish Heritage, this house and farm nestled deep in one of the most beautiful regions in Sweden called Darlarna is achingly beautiful and evocative of all thins Swedish to me. An iconic example of Swedish interior design.
Situated in the small village of Sundborn, 'Lilla Hyttnäs' was the shared home of the watercolourist Carl Larsson (1852-1919) and his wife, the artist and designer Karin Bergöö Larsson (1859-1928). It also became their shared artistic project, and its light, colourful interior decor was preserved after the couple's deaths by their children.
Today visitors can see many examples of Carl's watercolours of his wife and children, Karin's tapestries and embroidery and original furniture from their time in the house.