We ask the talented Ele Grafton, artist to our beautiful ‘Purple Emperor’ butterfly baby blankets, to tell us a little more about herself…
What/who inspires you?
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been an avid picture hoarder and have box files brimming with images of art, interiors and general beautiful bits ripped out of magazines from my years as an art student and I constantly return to these for inspiration. Then along came the brilliant Pinterest and my arty / visual fix comes in a much more digital (and organised!) form now!
Your biggest achievement to date?
I’m now married with two daughters and I think getting any artwork of my own done whilst they’re charging around is a MASSIVE achievement! But before kiddos I worked in the art world and in my first job at the Art Fund I worked in a team that saved some extraordinary pieces of work from being sold into private art collections, otherwise they would never have been seen by the general public again. I also worked at a corporate art consultancy and it was always a huge achievement to encourage CEOs of the big law and finance companies to invest in artwork by emerging artists.
We follow your Instagram feed with work in progress and photos of family life in Somerset. When did you make the move from London, how have you found it? Is it easier to get inspired in the country?!
We moved in the Spring of 2015 soon after my youngest daughter was born. It was a massive change and a bit of a shock to the system, but I love the slower pace of life and being surrounded by GREEN. I do miss London galleries, walking everywhere and old friends, but Bath is very nearby and I am starting to discover some fab places to explore there. The peace and quiet here definitely helps me to focus on my work (when I can!) and there are lots of lovely fellow creative mothers around and we all support one another.
Finding time to mix mothering, wifing and art must be tricky! Any top tips?!
Ha! I think most importantly don’t put too much pressure on yourself. I’ve really valued the advice I’ve received from mothers I’ve met down here who have older children that are now all at school. The message that keeps coming back is you only get this time with your tinies once, so try and make the most of what you have. I am lucky to be able to ‘work’ from home and I have grand plans for what I want to try and achieve work-wise, but it’s not realistic to start putting them into practice until both my girls are at school. I’m sticking with small, manageable commissions at the moment and making ‘ready to go’ pieces for my Etsy shop; but time and space are limited (building work on my studio starts next year!) so I’ve got to keep it small.
Your favourite Somerset secret/destination/attraction to take the kids?
We live very close to Wells, which ironically was completely off our radar when we were house hunting, but I now do most of my shopping there! It is a beautiful, small city and the Bishops Palace, which is next to the stunning Cathedral, has amazing gardens and a fab children’s play area. Bruton isn’t too far either and is home to Selfish Mother’s FMLY store, which is a wicked place for a coffee, bit of shopping and the girls love to play in the kids area too. The Frome Independent is also a brilliant monthly market to head to, where you can find amazing artisans selling their goodies.
You used to be an art teacher, are your little ones into art? Any easy to do tips/ideas for how to get creative with babies?
Yes both my girls have caught the art bug! Now that my youngest has stopped trying to scoff any pen lid in sight and doesn’t seem interested in drawing on walls / sofas anymore, I have set up a low-level table for them with pencils, scissors, paper and glue sticks, ready for them to attack whenever they fancy. Also ‘painting with water’ on garden flagstones is a brilliant way to make marks without the mess (on a dry day!). We also collect bits from the garden and lay them out to make faces, stick men, fairies etc. Mess that stays outside is always a winner in my book!
We love your Etsy shop selling beautiful light boxes and mixed media illustrations for the nursery. What’s next? Any sneak peeks of work in progress?
I’m currently working on a new series of ‘ready-to-go’ children’s pieces that can be personalised for christening / birth announcement presents.
Thanks for going ‘in the spotlight’ Ele!