After graduating in Design & Printmaking from the Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art, I spent 20 years in the commercial world of Art Consulting and Project Management; four years ago I decided it was time to dust off my 19th century Letterpress in the old Victorian outbuilding at home in rural Rutland and start creating my own work again, and so Please Shut the Gate was established!
I admit that, when faced with a stack of blank linoleum, cutting tools and tubes of coloured ink, I had no idea what I was going to create; but with a need to produce a sign for the front gate (as my hens were getting a little too free range) and then a pile of Christmas cards for the festive season, I was on my way! Hand cutting the designs out of the lino first, then printing each piece individually.
Four years later my range of products has expanded, with a collection of kitchenware, home furnishings and fashion accessories including aprons, tea towels and hand applied decal bone chinaware (as well as a range of left handed jugs and mugs!). Within the home furnishing collection I have doorstops with removable covers (for easy cleaning and mail ordering) as well as cushion covers, placemats and napkins. I have exhibited with the BCTF, Contemporary Textile Fayres, Rural Crafts and, more recently, with Country Living at the Burghley Horse Trials, all of which have created a demand from galleries and clients alike; new collections are being developed all the time and the latest Burghley Collection was featured in Tatler and latterly in House & Garden.
The collections are made up of pieces that are complementary in style or subject, and are influenced by the animals and countryside that surrounds my home in Rutland; by combining these natural images with text from lyrics, proverbs or prose the designs are realised.
All my designs are unique and, no two pieces are ever identical – they may be printed from the same lino block but the ink, fabric, pressure, temperature in the studio all play a part in making the pieces individual.
Once printed the designs are made up into bags and cushions; by combining British print furnishing fabrics with fine linens, the finished items become totally unique pieces.
all images © Nicola Elstone