Success often comes at a price. Ironically, for many artists and designers, it’s the time and space to explore ideas, free from the trappings of business demands. Brave is the creative who forces the freedom of time out, prioritising creativity over commerciality, but that’s exactly what Donna Wilson did last summer. ‘I had to do it for my own sanity,’ she says. ‘I just needed to stand back.’
Wilson found three precious days. Her parents looked after her two children while she escaped to a cottage on the Scottish coast. ‘In between walks on the beach, I began to experiment – drawing and painting, and enjoying the freedom of watercolour and the fluidity of ink.’
This approach has taken Wilson in a fresh new direction – a departure from the winsome faces and woodland creatures that have won her devotees around the world. The fruits of her experimentation? ‘Carefully Considered Confusion’, a new collection for SCP that displays Wilson’s talent for using colour and pattern in a more experimental, abstract way. There are hand-painted stoneware ceramics, produced in Portugal, featuring a series of elementary and organic shapes in a soft earthy palette, lending them a retro feel.
More excitingly though, encouraged by long-time champion of her work, SCP founder Sheridan Coakley, Wilson is branching out and developing limited edition timber pieces. Some will remain as sculptures, while others will be transformed into chairs and mirrors. ‘It’s a progression from last year’s rugs, which came from my abstract watercolour paintings,’ she says. ‘I wanted to move into the three- dimensional.’
Wilson is bringing her paintings to life using oak and beech offcuts, but also Douglas fir, which is her favourite timber: ‘I love the grain and softness of it and how some end grains look really stripy.’ The intention was for each piece to be unique. ‘Even if two are similar shapes, they will be different colours,’ explains Wilson.
She has no idea how her new work will be received, but is finding the process-led experience exhilarating. ‘It’s the best part of working for yourself,’ she muses. ‘Sometimes it’s easy to forget, but you really can make your own rules.’ donnawilson.com.
View Donna’s collection at SCP, 135-139 Curtain Road during London Design Festival from 14-22 September and hear more at 100% Design.
This article first appeared in the October 2019 issue of ELLE Decoration
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