Rosie Shepley talks about the inspirations behind her textiles and stationery brand Opulent Folk and the story of how it developed.
It started with a journey. Three months of artist residencies and travelling through Scandinavia and I discovered my passion for traditional craft and folk art which led to a turning point in my practice. I had a creative epiphany, and that was the beginnings of my design brand Opulent Folk.
During my time in Scandinavia I had the chance to indulge in the wonderful heritage museums and was fascinated by the culture of craft and design. The motifs, patterns, craftsmanship and intricate detail of the traditional designs inspired me. I embarked on a project focusing on natural forms, being so often the subject of folk art, and as a result my ideas and work became more and more decorative. The immediacy and simplicity of the work was refreshing as throughout art school I had felt that I should create work that wasn’t focused on aesthetic. The work I did during these residencies really freed me from that idea.
At the end of my journey, during a residency at a printmaking studio in Finland, I culminated my work for the three months into a screen printed pattern onto textiles inspired by my focus on nature based designs. Through my research I had interpreted the well known contemporary Scandinavian style to be a direct descendant of the traditional folk art of the region that I had seen in museums and I wanted to create something that referenced that. When I returned (with luggage reams of fabric heavier) I began making products and that’s when I had the idea for starting Opulent Folk.
Things went from there. From my love of the heritage of folk art from northern Europe I turned my attention to my own heritage. I discovered my mum’s collection of handmade and embellished table cloths, handkerchiefs and doilies made by two of her grandmothers. This quickly became the focus of my work and I created a new collection of patterns and products which are on display at The Lighthouse. It is very exciting for me to have such a personal connection to the designs and to add to the story of these beautiful items as a part of my own family heritage.
I see my digitally printed, contemporary products as a descendant of the original items made by my great grandmothers. They are a reference to the history of craft and design and the journey it has been on. By using up to date processes I am creating accessible products that contain the intricacy and beauty of these traditional and detailed crafts.
Opulent Folk is on display at The Review Gallery until 17th July. Rosie will soon be launching her online shop and website, opulentfolk.com, to coincide with the exhibition.