spring forward

dafsUntil this time last year I had never once applied for a job.

Then a friend pointed out what looked like a suitable ‘position’ for me – actually it was for an artist in residency. After some hesitation…. reader, I went for it. There was a lot of untypical-for-me work to be done, including another first – writing a cv! (No, I wasn’t even shortlisted. Yes, I was a bit miffed.) I really like the idea of this sort of intermittently immersive work – not that I’m short of things to do – and I was reminded of the whole thing again when I saw Fra Biancoshock’s particularly witty and practical arrangements!


So I’m remaining my own artist in residence for the foreseeable! Sophie speaks of an especially energising and wonderful time she’s been having lately as A in R deep in the forest at Fermynwoods where she’s been getting found and lost. image_2

At this very moment she’s preparing an illustrated book for publication, with upwards of 60 story drawings and poems written in the woods – tales for the telling.


Could I be tempted to be an Artmaid in Res at this extraordinary underwater sculpture park I wonder? Here a mysterious population lives among the fishes – the submerged sculptures of Jason deCaires Taylor await coralisation in the clear seas off the coast of Cancun.

On a recent trip to Leeds to give an illustrated talk to the Textile Design students I found myself amidst a little cluster of people whose favoured political colour is red. On a very packed train I got talking to the young woman adjacent to me; a student of politics at Leeds Beckett, she’d been impressed the night before listening to the Leader of the Opposition at a Free Speech debate at Greenwich University. We talked politics, lamenting somewhat, and then the woman opposite piped up telling us that she happens to be the prospective Labour candidate for a Yorkshire constituency – how unlikely was that?


We might have guessed – her two small children, in between the meticulous fair-sharing of blueberries, were singing revolutionary songs from Les Mis! My neighbour discreetly googled and handed me the phone to read all about her. “Now’s your chance” I murmured. “You want to be a political journalist – ask her for an interview.” I wonder if she did – later.20150313_141400

My audience at the College of Art was full and fun, and it was good to spend some time with the students later in their studios too. Nobody wanted to talk on the return journey as far as I remember.


That white wool warp and I finally met one recent sunday. Venturing into Epping Forest I reached the London Cloth Co’s outlying factory. Much busy-ness was already in full swing, with the marvelous Margaret mixing dyes, students fixing chains, machines ready to go.


We set to with our exciting experiments, painting the dye directly onto the warp, drying it rather too quickly and then watching as Daniel wove it off. You can see it here (16th March).

Margaret and I did a big piece together trying various techniques, scales and colours, and in the afternoon I worked on these giant circles on my own. Learning how the dye travels, what works and what doesn’t, how the weft affects it, the immediacy of the process, was all so exhilerating – I can’t wait to get back there and do some more…

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Ontree the way to West Sussex the other day I was in awe of an avenue of really gigantic old trees – beeches perhaps – standing opposite the gates of Cowdray Park in their last winter nakedness. I wanted to stop and stare, but was late for my meeting so only got a passing glimpse.


There are other monumental trees in the park there, including the famous Queen Elizabeth Oak.

West Dean, my destination, is magnificence itself with its beautiful solemn gardens and square-cut, knapped flint walls interset with sandy pebbles. I hope to be teaching a course there in the new year.


At some point in this journey I was fascinated to hear the French pianist Cedric Tiberghien talking about the essential and particular characteristics of compositions written in the different musical keys – what he called in French ‘tonalités’. I was just thinking about designs appearing so altered in their different colourways when he translated the word as colours. He was in London to play at The Wigmore Hall – a concert of works especially chosen to show the effect of neighbouring but different keys – major, minor, B, C.


He made it sound like visiting a street of terraced houses, each one home to a closely related but very individual family. I know almost nothing about musical forms; I love the idea of the colour groups of compositions.


You may not have heard that song before as I just made it up: I met a physicist one evening who told me that this is the International Year of Light. For Earth Hour, this Saturday March 28, everyone in cities around the world is asked to switch off their electric light bulbs at 8.30pm local time, and give the planet back its natural light and dark. It starts in Sydney. I’d got quite excited about the prospect of experiencing the partial eclipse of the sun during tai chi practice last friday, but I’m afraid I was disappointed – the clouds over SE19 spoiled the fun, and although it did get a little bit darker the birds didn’t even bother to stop whistling! More exciting was this dynamic jacket streaking past my window the other day.


In the world of design it’s been nice to see the Surface View Texprint 15 Edits getting some exposure (in April’s issue of The Simple Things), and ditto some of our old prints from the last century on Ali’s Vintage; and nicest of all to hear our dear friend and fellow textiler Pat Albeck choosing her Desert Island Discs. I can’t pretend I’m not a little bit jealous.

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img64oI always like to see the new WestElm product coming through – the organic sheets look nice, and the jewellery boxes are selling well in London too, I’m told.


And very very soon we’ll be launching our newest collaboration involving a first petite range of cotton fabrics by the metre designed especially for home sewing and quilting – watch this space.


We get a lot of visits to our website from all parts of the globe – so we’re running a special offer in the shop – free postage worldwide until the 2nd of May – get clicking!


Thanks Molly, Steve, Daniel Harris, Margaret Campbell and Joe

and finally – all is not what it seems in the world of dating, as you’ll see if you watch this little film to the end….

19 thoughts on “spring forward

  1. Pingback: lifetimes | Sarah Campbell Designs

  2. Delightful, as ever, Sarah.

    I find this time of year so invigorating, the woodland is bursting into colour from its long winter sleep.

    Hope to seee you soon.


  3. Sarah, I was at West Dean in Feb with my sister Woman of the Cloth, Kim Winter, where we took a workshop with feltmaker Liz Clay – Barbara of TexPrint was in the next room taking a course with Matthew Harris, so we all had a good old chinwag over G&Ts in the bar after dinner. Seeing your mention, and drawing, of trees en route I wonder if you saw them on the A286? That’s the road which goes off the A31 to West Dean. I often take my mum to the college for a spin round the gardens in her wheelchair and lunch in the garden cafe, mainly because it is such a lovely drive through magical tunnels made of overhanging trees along the A286, so worth it just for the drive! Lovely to hear of your many and varied ventures as always.

    • Hi Carol, what a gathering of talented women! I think the trees may’ve been on the 272 – they seemed to be bang opposite the gates to Cowdray. I’m expecting to get another look at them in January…

  4. Always love your blogs, ever since I came to one of your workshops at the ftm.
    If you get any free time in your busy life try and see our joint exhibition, drawn to london, at the tabernacle, 35 Powys square, Talbot square, notting hill. 6th – 12th April. You can find me on flickr/ photos. Best wishes, April

  5. Best blog so far Sarah, where do I start. From the amazing sea sculptures in Cancun ( I’d love to dive there) to the witty video and all the bits in between. You always inspire me to get my paints out again. Thank you X

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